Ugurcan Acar - graduate profile

Project Support Officer, Centre for Factories of The Future (C4FF)

"My former college, TUDEV Institute of Maritime Studies, held a competition and the successful students would be sent to Plymouth University with a full bursary. The support was part of the SOS (Safety of Sea) project which aims to create well harmonised, well assessed and well documented programmes to educate and train merchant navy officers. The project focused on international standards, with a view to improve safety at sea. Having researched the university and what it provides, the competition became an inspiration for me to work hard in order to gain funding to study at Plymouth University. It was initially a dream to make this happen; however, with a bit of motivation, ambition and hard work, my dream came true and I was the only student in 2008 who was funded to study at Plymouth University.

Having qualified to work at sea, through ‘Officer of Watch’ training, this was the course that was best suited to my profession as well as the added benefit that this course provided a shore-based job related to maritime. In addition, my college friends who have studied this course strongly recommended it to me. English is the language of the sea, and it is a great advantage to have experience using this language, especially in an English speaking country.  My fluency in English has definitely helped me in my career; for the variety of reasons mentioned, I am so pleased to have studied this course. 

In Turkey I studied an EDEXCEL accredited BTEC course. The Higher National Diploma degree I obtained enabled me to directly start from final year of the course in Plymouth University. Before I enrolled with Plymouth University, I worked at sea for 12 months as a Deck Cadet and secured my Turkish Certificate of Competency to work as an Officer of Watch at sea in 2008. I also worked several months at sea as an officer of watch before I started my course at Plymouth University. 

At first, my expectation was to improve my maritime knowledge in the different culture as well as to see how Plymouth University approaches maritime education and training. I knew that the UK has a long heritage in Maritime, and is one of the best in maritime education and training. Besides, knowing that Plymouth University is one of the best Universities in the world, my decision to study there was not difficult. Initially it was difficult to adapt myself to the culture and overcome the language barriers. Although I was okay with my English where I have used it internationally in my nearly 16 month’s sea training, getting used to English in the UK took a while. However, what I always believe is “what cannot kill us makes us stronger”. It was a challenging experience to overcome in this respect but I am quite happy that I opted to study at Plymouth University.

I am quite pleased that Plymouth University offered a number of services for students. Accommodation services were the first to help me upon my arrival to find the best place for my budget. The career service was really great and helped by reviewing my CV and important e-mails for my career progression. In addition, the lecturers did not just lecture; they also offered mentoring for the personal issues and situations that I sometimes needed to deal with, for which I would like to thank them for!

After graduating, my career prospects and goals were much greater than before I attended Plymouth University. I created new plans for my career progression with support from the university career service and I have achieved them all so far.

I have already given a lot of positive feedback about the course which I enrolled on and seven of my friends have consequently also studied the same course. I would recommend anyone to study in the UK and especially at Plymouth University as there are a number of benefits especially for career progression. With respect to the degree, having a qualification in an English speaking country and experiencing the multi-culture environment Plymouth offers is great experience.

Upon graduating I obtained an additional qualification from the Maritime Coastguard Agency and have been the first to do so in my class and as a Turkish citizen. I also worked as a mentor assisting Turkish students for their MCA exams. I was then offered a position in a research company based in the UK as a project support officer. I have been working in maritime related projects funded by the European Union for over two years." 

I worked as a Mentor for Turkish Students in Glasgow. This role included delivering coaching to improve Turkish students’ performance in MCA Written and Oral Exams as a MCA qualified Officer of Watch. Since 2010, I have been working at C4FF (Centre for Factories of The Future) as project support officer. I assist the development, coordination and management of several European Union funded projects related to maritime sector.

Plymouth University has been a turning point in my career. The options for me in 2008 was to either directly start my sea career or to go to Plymouth University. Although I was going to miss out on earnings from a potential salary and experience, I opted to study at Plymouth University. I am very happy that I made the decision to come to Plymouth University as this enabled me to gain practical experience and provide more opportunities that would be available if I had not studied at Plymouth.

I was the only student of my college who was fully funded to study in Plymouth University in 2008. I am the only student from my college year and the only citizen of Turkey to secure a MCA qualification at Officer of Watch level. Since then, I have attended many major conferences and project meetings for the last two years as per my current job. I have also been the author and co-author of a number or papers and articles. It is one of my goals to expand my studies at Postgraduate level with an intention to do an MSc or PhD course in the near future.

To me, what you achieve in your studies is usually a good indicator how you will perform in your career. Before I studied at Plymouth University, I had some experience in my family business. A pure academic ability may no longer be sufficient to achieve your career goals and I would recommend other ways to display your ability, for example through work experience. Progress in your job will surely need some dedication, hard work and ambition; you need to try to be different and show that you are willing to work hard.

I am in contact with my old friends and lecturers since I graduated. Luckily, I managed to work with Plymouth University and with my lecturers Capt. John Hooper and Capt. Robert Hone. In 2011 Captain Robert Hone and I attended the UniMET conference in London where I spoke. 

I always recommend and have recommended my colleagues in Turkey to study at Plymouth University because of how much the course contributed to my career progression. My achievements are usually enough for them to be convinced to study in Plymouth University."