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Thanks to a Chevening Scholarship – the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders – Khairol Nizam Bin Mansor will graduate from the University of Chester with an MSc in Engineering Management.

An engineer, Khairol is head of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Naval Architect and Marine Engineer Department, which is currently undergoing a transformation programme called 15 to 5. Khairol, 40, explained: “The Royal Malaysian Navy plans to replace old ships with technologically advanced ships and reduce the 15 classes to just five, while maintaining the same number of ships.

“By doing that, the Navy can reduce logistical complexity and also save on the operational costs of maintaining naval readiness.

“The programme needs an engineer to spearhead and manage the programme successfully. I will use the knowledge and skills I have gained here at the University of Chester to develop the programme further and make it workable and achievable.

“I also want to contribute more to my local community in Malaysia, and make a difference by volunteering.”

Khairol’s love for volunteering started in Malaysia and continued when he came to Chester to study a year ago. He spearheaded the Bricks Herbs Garden volunteer project at the Shah Jalal Mosque in Blacon, a project that won him the University’s 2019 Kirsty Craig Award – by transforming the overgrown backyard of the Mosque into an aromatic and medicinal herb garden.

He explained: “We plant various Asian herbs, such as turmeric, ginger, mint and coriander. We started off with just two people, now more students as well as members of the local community are involved, too.

“We learn about growing, tending, harvesting and selling the herbs back to the community and local shops. The project not only makes the mosque landscape more appealing, it also generates a steady income and provides a return of investment to the community.

“Children from nearby schools visit, and it brings the local and Muslim communities together. For me, as well as promoting a healthier lifestyle, it helps improve my leadership, management, communication and negotiation skills.”

He feels the Bricks Herbs Garden project will go some way to breaking down religious barriers. “That’s one of the issues I want to tackle through volunteering. A multicultural country like the United Kingdom needs this kind of project as a catalyst to help reduce the gap between different parts of society.”

Khairol says what he loves most about the UK is that opportunity is open to everyone – even international students. He said: “My motto is ‘every little helps’ and with the support of the staff and fellow students at the University, I’ve learned many things here in Chester, not just academically, but socially as well.”

One of the reasons Khairol decided to come to study in Chester was the compact size of the city. He said: “It’s not overwhelming and feels like a really close community. I love the nature and the architecture of the city. Everything is just a short walk away, so it’s a great place to explore on foot.

“Also, the University of Chester is very responsive to students – always listing to suggestions and providing support.”

Diane Yeoman, Senior Lecturer at the Chester Business School, said: “Our University offers a warm welcome to international students from all over the world and students from 130 countries have chosen to study in Chester.

“Khairol is a great example of how students of all nationalities can get together to make a difference in local communities.”

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