The Singapore campus of James Cook University (fully owned by James Cook University Australia) is ranked in the top 2%* of universities in the world. The university is based on the Australian curriculum and all degrees are awarded from the main Australia campus.

SchoolApply interviews Abhijit Shankaran, a student from India currently studying at James Cook University - Singapore, to find out about his experiences in a new country and school.

James Cook University’s programs are uniquely designed to produce the next generation of career-ready graduates.

- Abhishek Singh Bhati, Associate Professor,  Campus Dean and Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement at JCU


Location: Singapore

Student Name: Abhijit Shankaran

Age: 22

From: India

Graduation: November 2018

JCU - Singapore in blog 1


Favorite class:  My favorite class is Tourism Management Strategies because my professor actively involves us in the discussions and debates through interesting questions and interactive sessions. Also, his sense of humor and timing is impeccable and the class is full of laughter which makes learning more fun and interesting.

Favorite school event: My favorite school event is the M.A.D concert. I performed a popular alternative rock track at the concert called “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down which was well received and appreciated. The event had a glow-in-the-dark theme and it was a thrilling experience to perform in low lighting and glow costumes.

Four words to describe James Cook University - Singapore: Magnanimity, Conviviality, Resplendent, Diligence

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Tell us a little about yourself. What were your school experiences like before JCU - Singapore?

I am 22 years old and Indian by birth, but have been widely exposed to cultures, values and people from many countries due to the different types of education systems I have studied in from my primary school up until the present.

I completed my primary schooling in Jakarta, Indonesia at the Gandhi Memorial International School, followed by my secondary and high school education in St. Johns Sr. Sec. School and National Public School respectively in Chennai. I then pursued Biotechnology in St. Joseph’s College of Engineering, Chennai.

There is certainly a vast difference between the education systems, style of teaching and the usage of technology in the schools and colleges I have attended. My life in the international school in Indonesia provided me with a platform to interact with students across different nationalities. This made me familiar with various cultures, languages and upbringings and I carried this knowledge into India, where I was mostly amidst students from my own region, thereby gaining further insight into my own roots which taught me the value of critical and subjective analysis from a young age.

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How did you hear about James Cook University - Singapore and what made you decide to study in Singapore?

After earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology, my initial plans were to broaden my horizons with Business Administration. My travel, interactions and exposure to a diverse demographic across international waters instilled in me a sense of interest in anthropology and tourism. My degree addressed medicine and issues related to intellectual rights, which was in perfect confluence with emerging fields like medical tourism and the ever-imminent concepts of sustainable development. I began searching for a program that offered both core business principles and tourism and I was fortunate that my education consultant in Chennai suggested James Cook University - Singapore.

Some of the attractive factors of James Cook University - Singapore included their dual-degree program and the opportunity to interact with representatives of the university at career fairs followed by personalized interviews to assess course options. I was immensely impressed by the attentiveness of the representatives and the help they provided in refining my interests and finding a suitable degree for me. Manageable fees and a good standard of living, followed by close proximity to India cemented my decision to apply to James Cook University in Singapore.

Did you have any problems adjusting to life in a new country and university?

I learned quickly the importance of careful spending as we had to wait for approximately 2-3 weeks to get our student passes which allowed for students to apply for a bank account. My travel expenses were cut down since I lived within walking distance of the university as I had decided to stay in the accommodation suggested through the university website. Being so close to the campus gave me and my parents a sense of security and also ensured I had enough cash in hand to spend on other necessities.

Since campus attendance is monitored by the Singapore government, I had to get used to the biometric system of attendance which involved specific time intervals where attendance could be registered. The student pass can be revoked if attendance is less than 90% per semester. The help desks in the university and my friends educated me on the system and I ensured I checked the online attendance portal at the beginning of the next day to confirm that my attendance had been recorded.

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What degree are you pursuing and why?

I am pursuing a Joint Degree Program opting for the Masters of International Tourism & Hospitality Management and Masters of Business Administration Course at James Cook University - Singapore.

Do your current studies support your interest and talent? If so, how?

I recently presented my research work which I co-wrote with my classmate for the World Luxury Destinations conference. My research was in accordance with the changing reconceptualization of luxury destinations and luxury tourism which is a part of the challenges that tourism academics and scholars face due to both subjective perception of tourists/consumers and the value of the economy across destinations.

My proficiency in the English language and interest in leadership, team management and networking continues to undergo fine-tuning as I organize events through the THESS (Tourism, Hospitality, Events, Sports and Students) Club and I have been fortunate to interact with professionals working for Philippine Airlines and delegates from Vietnam.

I further perform and represent the Music Club to stay connected to my musical roots which brings me both inner happiness and provides an opportunity to interact with musicians with different strengths.

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What has your academic and social experience been like as an international student at James Cook University -– Singapore?  

On an academic level, I was already familiar with an international education system. However, there have been some new experiences such as the prominent use of technology in the classrooms, from using Technology Enabled Learning Rooms to facilitate lectures to submitting assignments online through our student portal.

On a social level, I made new connections with students from across the world. It has been nostalgic for me on a personal level, to revisit an international educational platform. Also, I have been able to regularly visit popular attractions in Singapore like The Universal Studios, Sentosa Island, Merlion Square and the Mustafa Shopping Center, which has been very rewarding. Aside from all this, the university organizes a party with games and activities after the official orientation to break the ice and give students the opportunity to meet new people.  

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What were your first impressions of JCU?

The conviviality of the student-support staff and the professors certainly makes the environment conducive to learning. The open-mindedness of those working in the university enables an easier transaction of knowledge, experience and feedback which creates a pathway for all those involved in the JCU community to progress together in the journey of a holistic educational experience.

I had butterflies in my stomach on the first day of university, but it eased as the friendliness and warmth of the students, professors and other faculty members prompted more eagerness to sit for succeeding lectures.

Do you take part in any extracurricular activities at JCU?

I am presently the Vice President of THESS Club, which provides an opportunity to network with both students and delegates from both the industrial and educational sector of the business field.

As a trained Indian classical vocalist with experience in recording music, songwriting and poetry, I made sure to join the Music Club, of which I am part of the executive committee.

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How has James Cook University prepared you for life after college?

James Cook University prepares students by imparting technical skill sets on both the academic and industrial forefront of their respective courses. I have been taught about the challenges that lie ahead in my chosen field, and this helps me organize and plan my future. The university also ensures that students become more independent and self-reliant to combat the rising competition in the global market.

What would you say to international students who are considering studying at James Cook University - Singapore?

James Cook University provides a hospitable environment in terms of facilities, personalized attention to students, security and good quality food. As students, it is vital to leave behind any preconceived notions of the university or build implausible expectations upon arrival. In my experience, I had an open mind and allowed myself to integrate gradually into the work and professional ethic and student community by simply enjoying the university for the wonderful amenities, facilities and services they provide upon arrival and within the first two months of joining.

There is an undeniable dedication that professors and the administrative department profess, the rewards of which can be reaped through hard work and sole focus on the academics in the first semester. It is vital for students to accept the system for its values and services. It is understandable for students from different countries who embark on a new educational journey to be apprehensive, however, unless students allow a natural transaction of knowledge and gradual integration, the sole purpose of experiencing an international platform for academics will be defeated.

If you are interested in applying to James Cook University - Singapore, click on its SchoolApply profile page to get more information and submit your application.