Niranjana Pillai

Mathematics BSc

One of the main things I wanted was somewhere with a dedicated school of maths and Kent has a brilliant School. 

Why did you choose to study Maths at degree level?

It’s always been one of my strong subjects, and I like the fact that, for Maths, you have a definite answer. At A level you just learn maths on the surface. At university level we look at the proofs: how we got there, how we got the equations.

What was it about the programme at Kent that appealed to you?

One of the main things I wanted when I was looking at universities was somewhere with a dedicated school of maths and Kent has a brilliant School.  You get a lot of support and we have really good lecturers.

What have you particularly enjoyed about the programme?

In first year, for my statistics module, I really enjoyed the group work we had. We were given a data set and we analysed them in whatever way we wanted, which is how you work as a statistician. That helped me understand more about analysis. It’s been one of my favourite aspects of the degree.

What are the other students on your programme like?

You meet people from all over the world, it’s great to understand different cultures. Normally on maths degree there aren’t many girls, but at Kent there’s a good gender mix. We all help each other because we want everyone to do well.

How well supported do you feel?

If I have any questions about my programme, then normally I go to my lecturers. In first year, we have tutorials where you can ask your tutor, or academic advisor, any questions you have. There’s also a peer mentoring scheme where students in their final year help newer students.

In third year, you’re expected to go straight to your lecturers with any queries. The system’s set up to make you gradually more comfortable with doing that. In terms of personal support, we have our own student support officer and she’s very approachable.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I’m a School Rep. The School has Student Reps, who speak to their course mates and get feedback on what’s working well and what could be improved. My job is to speak to the Student Reps to gather all of that feedback and put that forward in staff meetings.

I’m part of the Canterbury Homeless Outreach society. We have a partnership with Greggs so we get leftover food from there and then distribute it to homeless people.  We’re doing every little thing that we can do to help.

What are you planning to do in the future?

I’m thinking about going into statistics, as a statistician or as a data analyst or computer science, areas such as cyber security and artificial intelligence. There are so many things I could go into, it’s just a matter of choosing. I’ve applied to the Fast Stream as a data analyst, and to Sky’s cyber security graduate programme, so I’m just waiting to hear back.

How have you changed since arriving at Kent?

It’s given me the chance to be independent and to develop all the skills I need like cooking for myself. On the academic side, it’s been a great opportunity to study more in depth a subject that I’m passionate about.

What advice would you give to someone about to start the same programme?

For academic advice, I’d say that maths is a really enjoyable subject and it’s very challenging. If you don’t understand something you need to ask a lecturer or someone who can help you straight away. You need to know the basics, so focus well during your first year. In terms of university life, everyone’s in the same boat and feeling a bit scared so join societies, be approachable, talk to people and make friends.