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Student lives

Stuart Hunt and Sarah Curran are first year students at Surrey University and are being helped financially though their courses by a new industry scholarship scheme.

What is the scholarship scheme you are involved in?

It is a joint scheme between Surrey University and the Institution of Civil Engineers and includes 14 companies within the industry.

Basically, it allows construction companies to sponsor students and help them financially through their studies. It also provides them opportunities for work experience.

This is the first year it has been running, but several second year students have been accepted on to the scheme.

Which companies are sponsoring you?

Stuart: Kier Construction Sarah: WS Atkins How do they help you?

Our sponsoring companies give us a total of £1,500 each year in two instalments - one in September and one after Christmas. We receive this as cheques, so the money is available to spend on whatever we feel is suitable.

The amount would more than cover our tuition fees if we wished it to. So far, we have both used it for an increased weekly budget and on textbooks and equipment.

In addition we will be working with our companies for a minimum of eight weeks in the summer holidays - and opportunities are also available to work during Easter and Christmas vacations. A whole year of our degree programme includes a year in industry, which we will spend working with our respective companies.

After we have completed our studies, taking a job with the companies is not binding, but it is expected.

How are you finding your degree so far?

We are enjoying the course, but we have both found that there is more work than we expected.

Stuart: I like the 'properties and strength of materials' module and the structural analysis and structural design modules (even though they do send you off to sleep occasionally). I also like going out and doing surveying work.

I don't enjoy the lab reports too much as they require many hours of work for each. Terrible when there are three due on the same day.

Sarah: I enjoy the practical work such as labs. And I also enjoy the mechanics and structural work.

The map work in geology is also interesting. But I don't like going out doing surveying in the rain.

Is there anything you wish you were doing more/less of?

Stuart: I wish we did more site visits, so we can see civil engineering in the real world instead of just on paper. And I would like fewer lectures in general, although this, I suspect, is wishful thinking.

Sarah: I wish we did more environmental work as I originally applied for a course which included environmental management.

How do you think being on a scholarship is helping you?

We both find the scholarship hugely helpful when it comes to finance. It stops us worrying about running out of money. It means we don't need weekend jobs and can therefore spend more time studying. Also it gives us a better view of civil engineering in the real world as we will both soon be working with our companies this summer.

This will help put the theory into practice and improve our understanding, hopefully leading to a good pass in our degree. It would certainly be a struggle budgeting without it.

Do you have much to do with the ICE?

We are both student members of the ICE and the IStructE. We had our interviews at the Institution, so we had a chance to look around the place. We receive mail from both institutions but, at the moment, that is about it.

Do you think you will become engineers after you leave university?

Stuart: Yes I do, although I don't know what field of civil engineering.

I would like to go for my chartered status as soon as possible - which is another benefit of the scholarship, as the work experience we do counts towards our chartered status.

Sarah: I intend to go into consulting. However, at the moment, I am not exactly sure which area. I also intend to become chartered.

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