From Newman to the Future


My 3-year year undergraduate journey has come to an end. This September I should be starting my primary PGCE course in order to pursue my career in teaching. The PGCE course is intense and teaching is not easy, however I feel that Newman has done a great job in preparing me for the future.


For instance:

  1. We undertake a Placement module– In our second year at university we all have a compulsory placement module that we undertake. This gets carried out in the setting of the career you hope to go into. I chose to go into a primary school. I love the school that I went to, it helped me realise how much I love working with children and it gave me a lot more experience in the setting. This was also very useful when it came to filling in my PGCE application.
  2. Careers team– leading on from the placement module, we also have a fantastic careers teams where they help you to get both part time jobs whilst an undergraduate student and prepare you for full time jobs for once you graduate. For instance helping you with your CV, giving you interview tips and showing you where to look.
  3. We are independent students- we become independent in our learning. For instance, when it comes to writing essays, we are not told what to write, but are instead given the tools to do it ourselves. We are also used to strict deadlines. Each year, though the course gets more intense as we go deeper into our subject knowledge, we are given more freedom and independence in what to write. In the final year, we are required to write a dissertation with no taught lectures, and by this stage we feel confident to do so.
  4. Giving us jobs and projects at the university– by working at Newman University and by participating in various jobs and projects, I feel I have developed a range of useful skills, which has also given me the confidence to work outside of university. Being given different opportunities has also allowed me to explore my interests so that I have a clearer idea of what I want to go into.



University allows you to try out and find out about so many different things. Now at the end, I feel I have gained experience in different fields and I will be able to use it in whatever way I want. I feel in control and I feel independent. University is all about discovering life and discovering you. And then helping you become who you want to be.


As this is my last blog for Newman, I want to thank you all for reading my blogs over the past few years. I hope you liked reading them and found them useful. I wish you the best of luck for the future!


Never stop believing in yourself


Tahne Yafai



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11 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Went To University

Newman University, Birmingham

Newman University, Birmingham

Hi everyone!

I’m glad to be writing again after the past busy few months. I’ve decided to write two more blog entries for Newman as we’re now at the end of the academic year. However, I may decide to start my own independent blog (not affiliated with a university) as I have really enjoyed this experience. I liked that it’s helped some people and I find it useful in structuring my thoughts.

This one is all about things I wish someone had told me before I started Newman. I will number these in no particular order. These are points that I have gathered myself and from friends who have, like me, just finished their final year at university, so here goes!

I wish someone had told me…

  1. How much help it is possible to get at university, so you wouldn’t stress thinking you’re alone. We’re told we have to be independent but that does not mean we are alone. It just means that we’re in charge of deciding if we want help. If we do, then it’s easy to do so. For example, I recently decided to speak to SAST and they were extremely understanding and easy to speak to. Many people I have spoken to have said the same thing.  Find out more about SAST here.
  1. The best way to buy books, particularly if you’re studying English as the reading list could be quite extensive. Now that I have finished university, I realise that you do not necessary have to buy all the books. If you’re writing an essay on only a few, then perhaps you should just buy them and borrow the secondary reading. However if you do like buying books, there’s cheaper options than the regular shops, like Amazon and eBay. You’ll be surprised how much cheaper these could be!
  1. Not to think you have too much time. You will think you have plenty of time to complete something, so you’ll go out to a party or go shopping instead. Then before you know it, a deadline is one week away.
  1. To learn how to skim read and make relevant notes. This may sound simple, but it takes skill and it is extremely valuable when there is lots of reading!
  1. To spend time at the beginning of your first year learning the university system in general. For instance, how your work is marked, how the different years are weighed, where everything is and how to reference. This will be very useful. Once you start the course you will have less time to find out about these things. Newman offers a Head Start course for things just like this- check it out here.
  1. How much harder your final year would be so that you would try to get as much marks in your second year as you can.
  1. How much preparation is needed for each lecture, so that you can prepare sufficiently and make the most out of each lesson.
  1. Not to spend all your grant/loan as soon as it comes in. Make it last, at least until the next one! You’ll be surprised how quick it could go.
  1. That the first year does ‘count’. We’re told by our peers and past students that we just have to pass. But the first year is the best time to learn all the vital skills you need to do your best in your upcoming years, with the safety net of knowing that the actual marks do not get carried forward to your final grade.
  1. How nice the staff and lecturers are. At first they did seem quite scary; we all felt it was weird and odd calling them by their first names! In the final year you will realise how approachable they are and that actually they’re not so different to us. They’re human!
  1. That It’s Ok to feel homesick at the beginning, that it’s OK for things not to go to plan and that it’s OK to not understand everything. All you can do is try your best and not be too hard on yourself.

Finally, enjoy it! You will be fine! I don’t believe how fast the past three years have passed and I would do it all again if I could. University will change you, enjoy the experience.

Thanks to my friends who have helped me put this list together, particularly Tyler, Katrina, Farida and Kaouthar.



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To University and Beyond!

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re all well. It’s officially the Easter holidays! As great as that sounds, it also means a lot of deadlines are looming!

One advice I would give is to make a *realistic* plan early on (now) for how you want to split your time for your essay writing/exams prep etc and try as best as possible to stick to it. I emphasise ‘realistic’ because I find it’s usually the reason as to why we don’t always follow our plan. (It’s not always laziness/procrastination).

In my last blog I wrote about what it’s like to study at Newman and some examples of some of the things you can get involved in.

A recent project I started is called the ‘SAP Marketing’ project. SAP meaning ‘student as Academic partners’. This is basically a project where staff and students work together to better the university in some way. This project basically markets it.

It’s going great so far and I’ve learnt a lot from it already because it involves so many different things. From organising meetings and bookings, meeting with a range of people, recording and editing videos to creating websites and leaflets.

It’s also great for confidence as you can read a lot about something but it’s only once you actually do it that you learn so much. Therefore, when asked at work if I’m happy to organise a family fun day I was happy to take up the opportunity. (Taking place this Friday and so far everything’s pretty much under control- looking forward to it!)

An undergraduate degree is usually 3-4 years but the effect and benefit of this is definitely long lasting!

Thank you for reading!

Good luck with everything!


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Studying at Newman

Hello everyone!

It was great seeing so many potential students this Saturday on the open day! Hopefully you have all enjoyed your time and gained a lot from it. For those of you who were unable to attend, there is another one taking place next month on the 24th April between 4-8pm. Click on this link to register .

This is a day packed with different activities all tailored to benefit you; providing you with important information regarding university. You will also have the opportunity to speak to current students and staff; this is particularly useful if you’re unsure about what subject you want to study, or whether you want to study at university at all!

Just like an open day, this blog will give you a glimpse into your life as a Newman student. I will use English for some examples purely because that is the subject I am taking.


A quick summary of what it is like to study at Newman:

  • We are taught by specialised staff and during a typical week you would be expected to attend lectures, seminars and/or workshops for three or four different modules. (In the lecture – the lecturer goes through the specific subject knowledge, while the seminar/workshop will give you the chance to reflect and apply what you have just learnt.)


Example of our Moodle page

Example of our Moodle page



  • You need come prepared to each class. In English, this usually means reading the primary and secondary texts. This then gives you the chance to talk about what you have learnt and allows you to further develop your understanding.


  • You also have the opportunity to meet with your tutor if you need to. (For instance to talk about your work, progress, issues etc.)


  • Library is a useful learning environment, with books and work stations to meet your needs. A number of useful workshops are also run in the library such as ‘research skills’ and ‘how to reference’.


  • We also regularly get talks by well-known writers. In English for example; we met Jonathan Taylor, Mike Gayle, Kate Fox…


  • Outside of lectures: we can attend events at the Birmingham Literature Festival, for example, last year’s students met Birmingham based poet Benjamin Zephaniah!


  • You might even take a trip as part of a module. This year’s creative writing students attended a residential field trip to Ingestre Hall!

I Hall 2 I Hall 4 I Hall Ingestre Hall


There’s so much to do at Newman, from speaking to the excellent careers service about jobs to meeting people and relaxing in the social café!  All fun and beneficial!


Hope you have learnt a bit about what it is like to study at Newman. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.



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Newman Scholarships!

Hi everyone.

Hope you’re all well.

This week for the first time I tried telemarketing at Newman (with three others). You know, those annoying callers who sell you these ‘amazing products’, or tell you how ‘you can claim lots of money’; from the moment you pick up you know that you’re not interested, but feel inclined to listen to the end.  Well…yeah that was me this week (great build up right). Well let me tell you something, it was a lot more interesting being at the other end! Also, I was genuinely giving good news and speaking as a student to other students and so I did get a lot of interested people.

Although, there were some awkward moments, like this:

Me:  *phone rings*

*phone is answered*

Me: Hello can I speak to Clare please?

Recipient: Hi this is Clare…

Me: Hi Clare

Recipient: …I can’t take your call right now, please leave me a message after the tone.

Me: *Hangs up awkwardly* Guys guess what just happened…


Then I would proceed to tell the rest of the ‘callers’ this story.

These ‘awkward’ moments actually made it really funny; I think we all had stories like this. For instance one of the guy I was working with stopped mid-way through speaking to someone on the phone and said ‘one second, let me just get my script’ :’D


Anyway, what was this good news that we were bringing! It was all about…



Newman offers an: Academic Achievement Scholarships

What do you get: £10,000!

What do you need to get: Either a minimum of BBB or ABC from three full A-levels

What else: select Newman as your conditional firm or unconditional firm choice and be classed as a Home student.

Pretty cool right! To find out more information about this and for scholarships for non-A level students as well as other scholarships, check out:


If you have been made an offer at Newman, our next applicant visit day is on the 18th February. You can find out about the course you’re looking to study, meet current students, have a campus tour and so much more. More info:


Thank you for reading. If you have any questions,  please feel free to ask.



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What Is A University Student?


What is a student? What is a university student? Is it the same as a school student? What exactly do they do?

Sounds simple right? I find myself answering these questions quite a lot recently, mainly because I’ve been giving quite a few presentations to sixth form/college and first year University students, and I realise it’s not what everyone tends to think.

I am a student at university, and a teacher of two faith schools and an assistant in two further mainstream primary schools. So when answering this question, I am telling others about what I think a student is and also trying to apply it to myself as a student.

A few weeks ago, there was a ‘Learning and Teaching Conference’ at Newman, and that too has also inspired what I am about to write. It’s also important to remind you that I am a Newman University student. Everything I write and what I think is somewhat based on that.

A student is someone who learns. Simple enough! But to me, a university student is an inspired, excited, enthusiastic student, someone who chose to be there, who appreciates that knowledge and believes in the power that it brings.

A day before the learning and Teaching Conference, I had a meeting with Dr John lea – head of academic practise in Canterbury Christ Church University.

(His name may be john but I insisted on calling him ‘the other John’ because we already have a John at Newman who’s the head of the academic practise -John Peters. I did ask him if all the heads of academic practise are called John, but he said no. Anyway he wanted to speak about exploring the possibility of co-writing an academic guide but we somehow spoke about ‘names’ for a while. I told him that he’s lucky to have a common name because his name will appear in books and movies and shops and roads, something I’ll probably never have.)

John said a number of important things, inspiring and thought-provoking things, and things that I’m still thinking about now. One thing he said was coming to university is like having a gym membership. You do not make a gym membership then sit and wait to get fitter, you have to spend some time at the gym, use the equipment, think about your diet etc., and that’s the same thing as university. We have to spend time at the university, we have to come prepared to lectures, do the reading, make use of the resources it offers and take the opportunities that it provides. Coming to university is a success, but that’s just the beginning.

He quotes “We, as students, should not ask what the University has done for us, but rather ask about what we have done for the University.” Something I firmly believe in.

One question I’m constantly asked when giving a student presentation is ‘what is the point of first year if it doesn’t count?’ You see, university is not just about the degree qualification at the end even though that is an important aspect of it. It’s about you growing and developing as a person, discovering things and making important decisions that will impact your life. First year is what I like to call it ‘the experiment year’, where you have the opportunity to get used to the university, your modules, your assignments, exams and everything else. Is it to learn to write at an undergraduate level, and to attend as many workshop and societies and clubs as you can. To basically get involved in everything. To test everything. In your second and third year, more time will be dedicated to your studies, and you won’t have as much time to do these things anymore. Besides, if you fail your first year, you will have to retake. I say all these things, but I also give the short answer: ‘it does count. Off course it does.’

That’s what I try to do as a student, when I go off to teach, I try to give students the same message. Yes their exam results are important, and off course I will try to help them achieve the best they can, but their grades alone do not define them, and not everything is purely about grades. I’m still at university, and I only spend a small portion of my time with young students, so partly for that reason I do feel unsuccessful in portraying that message.  Students from an early age are separated based on academic ability, are praised based on academic ability and are spoken to differently based on their academic ability, which is no wonder that that is really all they care about. Society has ingrained that within them. But you know, life is so much more than that, and I hope one day to be in a stronger position where I can say that. I feel that University helps you to become stronger as a person.  It gives you the voice and power. It helps you think. It introduces you to important ideas, theories, places and people.

So yes, a student is someone who learns, but it’s not just about taking in, but also giving back. Everything you learn is useful, but it’s what you do with that knowledge that helps you to better the world.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to message me on here, Facebook, email or Twitter (@TahneYAF) if you have any comments or questions.

Tahne Yafai


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OK now it truly feels that semester one is over!

Assignments have been handed in and semester two Moodle page has been opened.

…now it’s the perfect time to reflect.

‘Reflect?’ ‘What?!’ ‘Why?’

By reflect I mean look back at semester one and…

  • Think back on the good things that you have done and carry on doing them.
  • Think back on the not so good things and think about what you could do differently.

Good things might include:

  • Learning how to write a suitable plan for yourself and how to follow it (so here you will carry on writing and preparing similar plans)
  • learning (or getting a better idea) on how and when you work best
  • learning how to minimise distraction
  • A better idea on how long it takes you to do everything

Not so good things:

  • Leaving everything to the last minute (so here you will know that you need to start earlier, or set yourself earlier deadlines)
  • Procrastinating
  • Not having sufficient notes
  • Not understanding a particular topic

Now is a good time (or going to be), as you have handed in your assignments (or taken exams) and have seen the direct results of your actions.

It’s usually during this time, at the beginning of the semester, where we are the most positive and optimistic. The perfect mood to make a plan!


I like how the Newman timetable is scheduled. I like that our exams and assignments are generally handed in the first week of Jan (maybe first two weeks) and the majority of our lectures are not due to start until the end of Jan. This means we have a mini break between handing in all essays/taking exams and starting semester two. I like that we have a gap in between and we don’t feel rushed into returning. (I never realised this first, until I saw my brother and friends from different universities already going back this week before their semester one deadlines- they broke up before us).

You might prepare for semester 2 by purchasing or barrowing the new books you need and reading them! Getting your project books or folder…or whatever you write with, getting familiar with your timetable, sorting travel…etc.

All the best with everything!


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