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Why alumni join our international alumni associations and groups

Illustration of arms against a black background
Illustration of arms against a black background

Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
28 July 2020

It can be strange moving back home after university, or to a new country where you don't have the same connections. Luckily we have UAL alumni who volunteer to set up and run our international alumni associations and groups. These networks help people make new friends, reconnect with former classmates and build-up business contacts.

We recently asked our international alumni to tell us why they join our alumni associations, and how being part of the groups' has helped them.

Here are some of the responses we received…

Portrait photo of a man in a bowler hat, looking to camera, with painted circles
Image credit: Leo P H Chan

Leo P. H. Chan, Hong Kong

I joined the Hong Kong Alumni Association because…

I wanted to connect with the local industry and creative people in HK. I felt out the loop after studying in London for 5 years.

I believe every graduate will miss the good times in UAL and so do I. I found UAL alumni are great people with passion and vision to develop their professions in order to create better art, design and cultural atmosphere in HK.

I became a volunteer and committee member of UAL HK Alumni Association, work with other committees to curate exhibition showcases for HK alumni, panel discussions, meet-up gatherings and seminars, as a bridge between UAL and corporates like K11, Land Crawford and Affordable Art Fair. Through the experience, I learn a lot from HK alumni in different sectors.

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni association?
Making new friends especially knowing our group of committee members is the greatest benefit for me as they are all talented and outstanding in their field that I can collaborate with them to make good things happen, that not only an advantage to an individual but also for all HK alumni and the industry.

More opportunities to network with corporates and organisations like the British Council can also gain experience in large scale event curation.

Full length photo of woman posing to camera
Image credit: @YYZEvents

Jess Gill, Canada

I started the UAL Canada Alumni Group because….

The Canadian alumni group started five years ago because we felt it was important to cultivate a creative community in Canada. We wanted to build a strong network to support graduates in their return or relocation to Canada and to provide a place for alumni to develop a network which will allow for collaboration across various disciplines.

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni group?

It’s been a great way to make new friends who had a similar experience of studying in the UK and now with so many virtual events, we are hoping to grow our network in the digital space across the country.

Man working
Image credit: Alexander Hinnerskov

Alexander Hinnerskov, Denmark

I started the UAL Denmark Alumni Group to…

  • connect with the local creative community and to enable others to do the same.
  • share knowledge and experiences
  • build relations both professional and social

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni group?  

I really enjoy being part of the local alumni group! I have expanded my professional network and have made some friends as well. Being able to discuss projects with likeminded people has had a great impact on my work. I hope my fellow alumni are able to use the group in ways that benefit them and the UAL alumni community.

Man painting in a studio
Image credit: Ian Hsieh

Ian Hsieh, Taiwan

I joined the UAL Taiwan Alumni Association because…

It makes me happy to help others, so during my student years, I was always keen to support freshers and my peers. I was later elected chair of the Taiwanese students' society and organised many activities and exhibitions, which was very helpful in preparing me for my career. That is why a significant part of my work is now curating exhibitions, and helping companies and brands to collaborate with artists and designers.

I enjoy making new friends and working with fresh ideas. Over the years I have become really good at collaborating with different types of artists and designers and built up a great network in this industry.

I get to meet lots of different people from our Taiwanese alumni network, which is great for inspiring new ideas and creativity!

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni association?

Three years ago, we brought together dozens of alumni to help set up Taiwan’s first art-focused “experimental education institution” (high school), with the aim of applying what we have learned overseas to catalyse better art and creative education, “out-of-the-box” critical thinking and experimental spirit in Taiwan. We began adopting more innovative teaching and learning methods to help Taiwanese teachers and students develop their synaesthesia and pursuit of serendipity, discover their unique self, inspire more creative thinking and energy.

Our Taiwanese Alumni Association works with other UK partners (LSE, Imperial College, Cambridge, Oxford and UCL) to organise an annual alumni event, Viva Britannia Ball, along with other civil society and corporate partners. We also organise regular exhibitions, talks and gatherings, including our upcoming life drawing party in August. We are keen to work with alumni associations from other countries on similar events in the future.

Group of people in front of a printed screen
UAL Korean Alumni Association Committee

Ji-Hyun Oh, South Korea

I joined the UAL Korea Alumni Association because…

After graduation, I had to go back home because I couldn’t have an extended visa. Being back in Korea, I didn't have any connections, I didn't even have many Korean alumni friends. In Korea, connections are quite important, especially university connections. That’s why I started to come to the Alumni events.

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni association?

I think the domestic and international connection is getting more important. Now we can share anything on YouTube and Facebook, and we can also collaborate wherever you are. Also, UAL alumni network is so huge globally we can help and collaborate with each other.

Woman in a black polo-necked jumper, against a white background.
Image credit: Melissanthi Spei

Melissa Spei, Greece

I started the UAL Greece Alumni Group because…

It was a perfect way  to meet other creatives, to share ideas and experiences from London and to create a network of talents for future collaborations, creative alliances and friendships.

What are the benefits of joining a local alumni group?

I have met lots of interesting people from all sorts of backgrounds and ages, that remember London and the colleges throughout different phases and stages.

A few companies have also approached the group to post job opportunities and graduates are able to share their work and invite us in special showcases both Athens and London.

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