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Alumni stories: Joey Tang from Queen’s University Belfast

Being in the final cohort of the HKAL examination, Joey Tang experienced disappointing results from the HKALE. Enrolling into an International Year One programme at Queens University Belfast has transformed him into a first-class honours engineering degree student, and now as Assistant Engineer at Jardine Engineering Corporation.

Joey takes us through his study journey, with his advice for current HKDSE students. 

1.         Tell us about your education journey, from HKAL, International Year One to achieving a first-class honours degree in the UK.

Being in the final cohort of HKALE, with unexpected exam results, I didn't get into my ideal university in Hong Kong. Therefore, I decided that studying at an overseas university would be an alternative pathway to success. I was seeking help from an education consultant in Hong Kong and she suggested that I apply to Queen’s University Belfast to do a Mechanical Engineering course. As I could not meet direct entry requirements for the first year of an Engineering degree, I applied to study the International Year One in Engineering at INTO Queen’s University Belfast, a partner of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the equivalent of studying for the first year of an Engineering degree. During my time studying at INTO Queen’s, the support staff and lecturers provided me with lots of guidance to support me during my studies. With their help, I successfully entered into the second year of an Engineering degree at Queen’s University and got the highest average marks at the class. Queen’s University Belfast provided me with the best learning environment while pursuing my degree and I graduated with first-class honours, the highest classification possible.

2.         Can you tell us more about the International Year One programme? How was it different from secondary school education in Hong Kong?

The International Diploma Programme is totally different to the Hong Kong education system as I experienced it in my secondary school. The most notable differences were:

i) small classes – the teacher could really show more consideration to what students had to say. Students paid a lot more attention in class.

ii) how international the classes were – I was able to learn about different cultures and ways of studying from my classmates, some of whom were from Malaysia, India, Japan, and European countries. It was definitely worth learning how these students studied differently from me.

iii) how interesting university life was at INTO Queen’s. The programme provided lots of resources for students to have a well-rounded experience. They also held many extracurricular activities like welcome events and trips around the region so students could adapt to the civic life and culture of Belfast and Northern Ireland more easily.

After studying at INTO Queen’s for a whole year, I realised how willing Queens University is to provide better resources for the international students. I really believe I did well during my time at this university because of those resources. This is why I wanted to study engineering degree at QUB.

3.         What was studying engineering like?

Mechanical engineering is based on physics knowledge, and studying engineering allowed me to understand how machines work. I found it interesting to create new technology with the knowledge learnt from class.  When I was studying the International Year One, I was responsible and serious in my studies and tried to raise sensible questions. The year became my stepping stone to get into a degree course. When I had any questions during my study, I would ask for guidance from my supervisor. Thanks to his supervision and guidance, I gradually found my way through university and on to achieve a first-class honours degree.

4.         What does your current work at Jardine involve?

After I graduated in 2015, I applied for a job in an engineering company, the Jardine Engineering Corporation, Limited. I successfully applied to be an Assistant Engineer. My supervisor assigned two MTRC projects to me. The tasks required me to contact the supplier from the UK and the client from MTRC. With the study experience in the UK, I felt confident when communicating with the supplier. The most interesting and enjoyable part of my job is to take care of projects like this. I have to coordinate with my team to solve a lot of problems and meet the targets specified in the contract. What I am doing in my job is similar to my final year project, so that I can apply what I have learnt from university in my job.

5.         What tips would you give to current HKDSE students?

Some of the HKDSE students already have a clear goal to enter their ideal university in Hong Kong. However, for those students who have not made their decision, I would highly recommend that they consider studying in the UK.

Before I came to QUB, I had no clue of what I wanted to do. Achieving good grades was my initial plan but I was lost when it came to explaining what I wanted to pursue.. I met a professor at QUB who motivated and inspired me, and encouraged me to participate in the First Daimler Student Innovation Competition, EuroBrake 2015, in Dresden, Germany. I had to design a technical plan with innovative ideas to solve an engineering problem. My idea was accepted and was selected as one of the winners. Being a part of this competition was a real highlight of my university life and was a big step that changed my life. I am proud of what I have achieved at QUB and studying at QUB encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming an engineer.