Sandra Hiari

Student spotlight details

DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development student Sandra Hiari received a 2019 IJURR Foundation Studentship for her research investigating urban policymaking in Amman.

'Prior to enrolling in the DPhil programme, I was involved in several positions that involved working in both government-led and government-commissioned urban development programmes. One notable position, as the head of the planning and design department at the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, had me thrown into a plethora of situations where I got to observe and participate in decision-making alongside bureaucrats of all levels of seniority. Moving away from this job into others, a nagging desire to understand the workings of government persisted. Hugely intrigued by the need to study and closely scrutinize policymaking in Jordan, I revisited my long-held dream of continuing doctoral education. In my search of a program that could enable me to continue my professional work while studying, I found the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development to be the right home.

'While all pieces fell into place, from developing an application proposal to passing through the daunting interview, I soon matriculated into the program and returned to student life. From the onset of the programme, the challenging part was to reconcile and adjust my way of thinking which is attuned to the practical world and tailor it to academic thought, with its completely different research sensibilities.

'While a DPhil’s best reward is served at the end, there are various milestone-related rewards along the way, such as awards and studentships. I am lucky to have been selected as a recipient of the IJURR (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research) Foundation studentship for 2019. While the financial value is extremely appreciated, it is also morally uplifting to know that my research is encouraged by the academic community. Especially in the early stages, it can be hard to tell if the research is heading in the right direction when drenched in the knowledge-acquiring process of the literature review!

'My word of advice for anyone considering applying for this program is being aware that while the programme is administered in a part-time fashion and enables individuals to continue working while they study, such flexibility has another side to it. The professors assume that students are old and responsible enough to manage their own schedules and balance their commitments. The University resources are rich but one needs to navigate through them properly and thus carve out large amounts of time for the doctorate. I personally love the Oxford format and richness of content provided through the program because it is pretty much unique.'

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