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Esandi Kalugalage stands in front of a red phone box on a street in London with Big Ben in the background

Studying overseas: a UQ engineering student experience

Esandi went on a journey of personal and professional growth from sunny Brisbane to bustling London.
UQ people
Published 18 Aug, 2023  ·  3-minute read

When I first applied to study abroad in London, I didn’t realise the profound impact the experience would have on me, both academically and for my own personal growth.

Supported by the Liveris Academy, I was given the amazing opportunity to study the course ‘The Ethics of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ at the London School of Economics (LSE) for three weeks throughout June and July 2023, as part of the UQ Short Term Global Experiences program.

What I learnt

In the classroom at LSE, I was introduced to the ethical questions raised by different steps in the data science pipeline, such as ‘can technology discriminate?’ and ‘why is it morally important that we understand AI systems?’. We also discussed the ethical questions raised by the use of AI in society, such as ‘how does automation impact economic inequality?’ and ‘how do we embed human values into AI systems?’. As I study a minor in Data Science alongside my Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree at UQ, I enjoyed how the course at LSE took a philosophical approach in discussing the impact of AI in society. This was very different to the focus on the practical application of AI and data science in my usual course at UQ.

Why it was worth it

A highlight in my learning experience at LSE was the opportunity to be in a classroom with people from all over the world, including the US, Singapore, and Europe. The difference in opinions raised in class discussions due to different life experiences and cultural backgrounds was very interesting to witness. It provided me with a much wider understanding of this subject than I could have received by taking a similar course in Australia.

Esandi Kalugalage standing out the front of the London School of Economics

Esandi outside the London School of Economics

How studying overseas helps you grow

My greatest moments of personal growth were outside the classroom. As this was the first time I have travelled alone internationally and the first time I have been to the UK, I loved getting the chance to step outside my comfort zone. This experience has definitely made me more confident, and I would not have had the chance to attend this program if not for the Liveris Academy’s financial support.

Esandi is a recipient of the Liveris Academy Undergraduate Scholarship, which provides $10,000 per year to UQ students studying select STEM undergraduate degrees. Through her scholarship, Esandi was also awarded an additional $10,000 specifically to help her with the travel-related expenses of completing a course in London.

Find out more about the Liveris Academy Undergraduate Scholarship.

A day in the life of UQ student in London

A typical day during my time in London would involve a few hours of classes at the LSE inner-city campus in the morning, followed by free time to explore London and surrounds in the afternoon and evening. My favourite days were spent exploring England’s smaller countryside and seaside towns during the weekends.

I have returned home with new friends from all over the world, a thorough understanding of the impact of AI on society as taught by leading professors at LSE, and incredible memories of London and Europe that I will never forget.

UQ offers plenty of opportunities for students to undertake financially supported short- and long-term global experiences. Learn more about study abroad programs at UQ or browse our range of engineering undergraduate programs.

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