This is the transcript for the audio How to get the study/work/life balance right

Your path to UTS

My name is Rachael and I am the Marketing Officer for UTS Business School, and I am also a Business School Graduate I studied the Masters of Marketing and I am joined by some of our fantastic current students!

We’ve got Jerry who is in the final year of the Master of Science majoring in mathematics and statistical modelling, Margaret who her third year of a Juris Doctor and Adam who is a final year Master of Physiotherapy student. Now there is no short supply of great University options out there for postgrad study. But why did you guys choose to come and study at UTS specifically?

Yeah so when I was kind of conducting my research of potential Universities to study at one really important factor for me was to find a University that offered a really diverse timetable and class flexibility schedule. I really also wanted student support and a healthy campus life and I think at UTS I definitely got all 3, especially I can speak for the Law faculty I guess we have night classes, we have morning classes so we really do fit people with a range of lifestyles and backgrounds and we also have a lot of on campus support. So, in terms of like student support we have our UTS LSS, we have a lot of on-campus activities that help you integrate into your studies and help give you that support. That was basically the three top factors for me.

And Jerry, what about you? What made UTS the choice for you?

So, it was three main things, first of all the campus is very conveniently located being in the CBD. Convenience is a big thing when you’re working full time and studying part time. It is quite flexible at UTS so that is quite useful in terms of classes available and UTS is a very practical University especially when it comes to a very theoretical subject that I am doing in terms of mathematics and statistics and UTS being a very practical university they teach you a lot of skills that can actually be very helpful in the real world when you’re eventually going into the industry to work and the sealer for me was definitely the researchers available at UTS which is actually world class in a lot of mathematical fields especially probability theory.

You mentioned flexibility in terms of the timetabling and classes on offer. I know my subjects in Business were on offer from 6-9pm. Is it the same for you? Is that when your subjects are structured?

Overall, it is mostly like that. Of course, it depends on the subject. So, with the later subjects especially the ones with much less people where you are much more familiar with the lecturer sometimes, we move the class around so that it is suitable for everyone in that class which is super useful. Because with the larger it is not always possible but then generally there is always 1-2 later classes available.

Adam, why did you choose UTS?

So I had four kind of main reasons, I was very systematic when I was looking at these before I joined UTS. The first one was basically what was alluded to previously, location was a big one for me given its in the heart of the city, I could get to UTS by public transport or car, but it also allowed me to continue my work in the corporate world outside of studying which is fantastic. The second one was that the facilities are updated which is great, particularly for physiotherapy. The other two big ones which were the big selling points for me, the first one was the smaller cohort, particularly within physiotherapy program, so we are capped at around 60-65 students which is fantastic as it allows us to interact with each other and the teaching staff a lot more efficiently.

Now Adam you mentioned that you’re studying full time, but I know you’re working as well. Firstly, can you tell us what it is that you’re doing and also how you have been able to apply the knowledge you’re gaining through your studies to your work?

Sure, so currently I have two different jobs. The first job I have I work as a corporate strength and conditioning coach and I also work at Balmain hospital here in Sydney as an assistant physiotherapist. Everything I have learnt has carried over to those two jobs so within the corporate world injuries are very common, typically more your insidious type injuries such as sustained posture and sitting at a desk all day. So what I have learnt through my Masters has allowed me to achieve kind of a safe and efficient exercise environment for those clients in the corporate world and some skills and knowledge I’ve applied there things like early injury identification, injury screening, implementing and designing injury prevention strategies and programs which has been great. And in regards to Balmain hospital, I kind of work across 3 different wards there, so I work in the neurological ward, the orthopaedic ward and a general musco-skeletal ward as well for general rehab and then that is a very fast paced environment so we need to make sure that we are very accurate and safe within our assessments. Also, our rehab interventions and also, we have to apply a lot of critical thinking in those situations and all those different skills have been things that we have been taught at University and we continue to practice throughout the program at UTS.

Great! Excellent. And I would imagine you know with workplace safety with so many people working from home in perhaps less than ergonomic environments, that would be really important now more than ever?

Yes. 100% very very important. Telehealth plays a very big role in physiotherapy and helping to manage people at home.

And Jerry you previously worked at the ATO while studying are you able to tell us a little bit more about the work you did there and how it interacted with what you were learning in your course?

Yeah so, I worked for the data department at the ATO it’s called ‘Smarter Data’ and I was quite lucky at the ATO actually ATO funded half of my degree on an ongoing basis. I did eventually resign from the ATO but for the duration, the two years where I was working full-time and studying part-time the ATO actually paid for half of my degree and my manager was very supportive of my degree so in that sense I could balance my work and study life quite well. In terms of what I have learnt from UTS, it really did help me in terms of modelling for specific ATO requirements, in terms of risk models for identifying tax fraud and stuff like that so the technical skills definitely were very helpful and would be still very helpful I were to go back.

Now postgraduate study is no easy feat in addition to the time studying both in and out of class, working as well as maintaining some resemblance of a social life it can be a pretty chaotic balancing act. Margaret how do you manage the whole work life balance?

Yeah my biggest tip is to never over-commit because I think as postgraduate students I think we are always caught up between wanting to finish quickly or we are scared of taking things really, really slowly but making sure that you are taking care of yourself, being productive and not bleeding the lines between work, life and study into each other is the biggest reward. So, for me I always have an outline of my routine and I always tweak it to what is happening in my life. I always make sure to prioritise exercise and work but amend what I attend to on a week-to-week basis.

One other question for you Margaret is how much time do you spend outside of classes studying?

That is a really tricky question because I feel like I tend to study more when finals are coming up! Like honestly realistically I keep my weekends as free as I can unless I have got an assessment coming up but I always try and get all of my important study work done on weeknights when I know I am just going to be at home, so I usually try and do half-an-hour to an hour every class day of revision of what I have done that week and then after that class the next day if I have nothing on I will go back and do some past week prep but other than it is very minimal just to keep me sane I think.

And I think two other things to keep in mind with that is it depends on your affinity with the subject matter as well. Jerry, you have studied both part-time and full-time. How much time did you dedicate each week when you were studying part-time?

So again I think it is mainly dependent on the subjects, so if you’re doing part-time you have the option of doing 1 or 2 subjects and sometimes, they vary in difficulty. For example I had an easier semester where I was maybe doing 1-2 hours on weeknights and maybe a little bit on the weekend, not much and overall that was more than enough to get a HD but then there are other subjects that are so difficult that it shaves 5 years off of my total lifespan. So yeah it is really dependent on the subject, you’ll know if the subject is hard generally people in the degree will be talking about it and they won’t be the earlier subjects anyway. So, if you’re finding two subjects too difficult while doing part-time in terms of  time management you can always just drop down to one or shuffle them around so that you can line up two easy subjects in one semester or tackle one hard in one semester.

Exactly and if you go onto the UTS Online Handbook you can click through into each subject and there is a rough subject outline there that can help give you a sense of what the assessment tasks will be and how rigorous a subject will be and as Jerry said you can always enrol in 2 subjects and as long as you withdraw before the census date you can drop down to 1 so that can help a little bit as well.

Adam, what has been your experience with working as well as studying? What flexibility has been on offer to you?

I suppose that would potentially depend on what you’re studying but for physiotherapy in particular unfortunately is a full-time degree and it is face-to-face but I suppose the best flexibility option that we have had on offer is the fact that we can select our own timetables it usually depends on what full-time job you have I mean if you’re going to have a job that is running five days a week through the day then it is probably going to clash but there is plenty of people, including myself, who work near full-time hours or close to it and still manage to do full-time study. So, I think being able to select your timetable is a great benefit.

And Margaret what about yourself, like I would imagine that a lot of your peers as well are juggling full-time work and study. Can you comment a little bit on the flexibility available over there in Law?

I think we are actually quite lucky as law is quite flexible and we do have a range of peers who work full-time, part-time and casual while doing a mixed mode of things. I worked with a lady who worked at Caltex full-time and still managed to do full-time study. It just really heavily depends on the subjects that you are taking and what is going to be on offer in terms of night classes or in terms of day classes if you can attend them. Because from my first year I was essentially was still working full-time in retail management but because I was lucky enough to quit that job and focus on study full-time, but I understand that not everyone has the opportunity to do that. So definitely it is very individual but the flexibility at UTS is really, really good like Adam said you can choose your own timetable and as well you can go at your own pace, because of part-time and full-time flexibility, you don’t feel like you need to take full-time if you simply cannot do full-time.

Absolutely, I mean everyone wants you to succeed, your academics want you do the best you can and if that means not biting off more than you can chew there’s definitely steps and processes in place to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Now there is a lot of services on offer at UTS to help with your studies, what are some of the other services that you have found really beneficial during your time at UTS?

Yeah so one service I found very beneficial was the UTS library service, so we have Ask a Librarian. Sometimes, even now, I have trouble finding readings or accessing texts, so I really like sending them a question asking them to help me and they are really quick to respond with like a step by step guide. So, they kind of help me rehash my skills and research which is important for law, but also teaching you proper ways to search and use the databases.

On a more serious note, in my first year of law 2017 I actually had minor back surgery and that meant I couldn’t sit, stand or walk for about three months so it took away half of my semester and the Accessibility Service at UTS really helped support me to study half the semester distantly, I was pretty much studying full time at home and they made sure that I had the right arrangements for exams if I need a special chair, a break, some extra time. So, just knowing the range of services that UTS is willing to offer is really really helpful.

One thing I do really use is the accessibility to the academic staff and our lecturers, they are very open to allowing us to ask questions whether it be online through email or popping into their office when we are back to face-to-face. Which is great because there’s plenty of questions we always have about teaching topics.

Adam, you’re studying physiotherapy, how have you found this past semester with online learning?

Yeah, it’s been good, realistically the classes have been running as they normally would they’re still highly interactive, but it’s just been online. They kind of made it a lot more case study based so we’re still able to show our critical thinking and our communication capacity and strategies. All that’s really been done is the reorganising a lot of the hands-on practical assessments that we might have to do later on in the year. But all over it’s been quite good it’s runs smoothly I’ve still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Excellent and Margaret you’re doing it a Juris Doctor so a little different to physiotherapy, how have you found online learning?

Yeah very different but I’m actually quite lucky this semester because I’ve only got one class which is company law and from the beginning our final exam was a take home assignment so not much has changed in terms of the structure, it’s just the way that we’re taught.

So basically, like Adam said it is still highly interactive and I still meet with all of my classmates on zoom every Monday and Wednesday.  What I really liked was how they changed the structure just a little bit because we were supposed to have class participation but now they’ve added in a little bit more like problem questions/scenarios and things that can guide us a little bit more intensively while we are separated just to make sure that we are on track and no ones left behind during this time.

So, it’s been great hearing about all of your experiences as UTS postgrad students but what are some real key tips that you would have for those that are considering postgrad study at UTS?

The main thing would be research in my opinion, know what it is that you want to do and just look into the courses, you can even talk to current students such as ourselves or even academics.

I probably have three key tips so the first one would be, like you probably told through your life and at school, is to study hard. I probably sound like a dad right about now, but you’ll be very surprised with what you’re learning undergraduate and how that carries over to postgrad. So, I think if you can maximise your knowledge and experience in undergrad then you’ll probably have a good outcome in your post grad degree. The second one would be as we alluded to before was practising your time management planning skills and the third one would be trying to gain some experience in your field.

Margaret what about you what are your key tips for prospective students?

I have three as well, so I guess my first tip is something that we already talked about which is time management. My second tip is not to rush into any decisions on deciding where you want to go. So right now it’s probably really difficult to do any on campus tours or attend any event days but I encourage everyone who is considering studying postgraduate courses to ask any questions that you may have to the University because it will only help you and there’s no hurt in asking as well and my final tip is to understand what your motivation is for undertaking further studies so I think that if the study could broaden your horizons, I think you should go for it.

Adam, Margaret and Jerry thank you so much for joining us

To find out more, you can head to

Thanks for joining us!