The MPP as a door to a lifelong community committed to public service

Agnes Nakirya and Sakaria Ali

Agnes Nakirya and Sakaria Ali (MPP 2017) at the event 

Earlier this month, the MPP class of 2017 returned to Oxford to celebrate their official graduation.

It was the first ever graduation event held by the Blavatnik School – in previous years the School hosted an informal gathering in addition to the formal graduation which is organised by each college. The event included a formal ceremony and dinner in the Inamori Forum and a speech by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, founder and chairman of the Africa Initiative for Governance, and a member of the School’s International Advisory Board.

Far from being the end of a shared experience, the graduation is just the start of a journey that will connect alumni for life. They will build networks with alumni from previous years and faculty members, and will be able to turn to them when they need help or support.

“The MPP at the Blavatnik School brings you into contact with a whole spectrum of vastly experienced people from different fields; sometimes remembering their stories and lessons helps me make better decisions – or avoid bad judgement!” – Ian Shepherd, MPP class of 2013, senior civil servant, UK.

The MPP’s comprehensive and cross-disciplinary approach encourages students to develop their skills and networks, as well as helping them to sharpen their thinking and nurturing their confidence.

Studying and discussing in a group of around 120 people from 50-70 different countries each year, our students have the unique opportunity to learn in a globally diverse environment that constantly challenges one’s thinking – and it is not uncommon for alumni to notice some kind of shift or expansion in their mindset after they complete their MPP.

“I expanded my knowledge base on the course; both inside and outside the classroom. My world was a lot smaller before” – Saim Saeed, MPP class of 2015, reporter, POLITICO Europe.

“Before I did the course, I looked at a policy with a narrow focus. On the MPP, I learned to consider an issue from a legal, economic and even moral or ethical perspective.”Itrat Zahara, MPP class of 2016, Finance Division, Pakistan government.

“Before I went to Oxford I was a lawyer making public policy. I returned to Brazil as a more complete policymaker, with a broader knowledge of how to make policy.” – Vivian Grassi Sampaio, MPP class of 2014, Central Bank of Brazil.

The broadening of one’s personal views is something that many alumni have experienced, including Rose, who found it essential to navigate the work she does in the Kenyan government.

“At the very core of the course was the Foundations module that taught me how to place my own assumptions, political preferences and biases with regards to current public policy issues. It also taught me how to place the approaches of others, including those of leaders, in this same framework.” – Rose Wachuka Macharia, MPP class of 2015, Ministry of Education, Kenya.

Our alumni show that the MPP experience can take multiple forms, from being exposed to new ways of thinking brought about by the diversity of the class, to the benefits of applied learning that focuses on the real-life public policy challenges. More experienced students have the chance to step back, reflect and return to their career with renewed enthusiasm.

“We spent a lot of time discussing different complex issues, and often went on trips together, during which we’d talk about world issues and reflect on what we’d learnt. The course gives you a close global family and this continues after the MPP – you can meet up in different parts of the world, and you know that there are people who will support you wherever you are.” – Steven Wang, MPP class of 2013, founder of Yiqiao China.

“It was a big adjustment. All the study skills and habits were still there, but it was extremely challenging after working at a career for 20 years. However, it was a cohesive social experience, and very different from my undergraduate degree. It’s such an enriching environment – you miss that afterwards.” – Stephen Belongia, MPP class of 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“I wanted to challenge myself, and give back to the country and more specifically, the region that shaped me. The Blavatnik School instilled this perspective in me; I felt like I should do something that directly impacts the common citizen on the ground. I also realised that I was able to look at issues through a different lens and bring positive and lasting changes.” – Manjit Nath, MPP class of 2013, National Skills Development Corporation India.

Visit our alumni profiles to find out more about them and why they decided to study for the MPP at Oxford, and what they are the learning points that have made a difference for their career.

Admissions to the MPP are open right now until 25 January 2019.