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International student, Ziyue Zhu, is graduating this summer with a first-class honours degree in Finance and Investment Management, despite facing the obstacle of returning to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the 2+2 programme, Ziyue spent 2 years studying at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Northern China and 2 years at Ulster University. Speaking on why she chose to study in Northern Ireland, Ziyue said:

“I chose Ulster University both because of the fantastic partnership the two universities have and the great reputation of their Finance programme and its employability prospects.

I also admired the international diversity of the university and it gave me the opportunity to communicate with people from different cultures. I found Northern Ireland to be a quiet and peaceful environment to study. I would say these past two years studying at Ulster has been the most happy and enjoyable time in my life.”

When the current COVID-19 pandemic began, Ziyue had difficulty returning home to China:

“When the travel restrictions began, I wanted to return my home-city of Guangzhou but my flights back to China were cancelled again and again. I found it difficult to focus on my studies during this time but thankfully I was able to return home eventually. As I was isolating, I studied for my final exam and the lecturers in my course were extremely supportive throughout my online learning experience.”

While studying at Ulster, Ziyue won the Marsh Ltd award for top performing student in her course in second year and this year has won the Funds Axis award for top performing student in final year.

“I am so proud to have been the top performing student for two years.  My motivation to perform well was to try and do the best I could and make every day studying at Ulster count.”

In September, Ziyue will begin further study at the University College London and undertake a MA in Comparative Business Economics.

“I often push myself out of my comfort zone by travelling, firstly to Northern Ireland and now to London. While studying I hope to gain internships in some multinational companies so that I can experience different business culture and management systems.”