Student profile
Thomas Hithersay, Economics student at University of Surrey

Thomas Hithersay

The amount of support that the employability team, professors, lecturers, and university staff provide the students here is amazing. I believe that Surrey is very “career-focused” and, as such, sees many of its students establish the foundations of successful careers here.

Entry year


Why did you choose to come to Surrey? What appealed to you? 

There are a few reasons why I chose Surrey. Perhaps the most obvious one is that Surrey has an excellent reputation as a university in general, but also within the realm of economics, which is what I am doing my bachelor's degree in. 

Another reason I picked Surrey was because of the location. Being from South London, I find it very easy to commute here from home when I need to. It’s just the right distance for me; not too close to home but not too far either. The campus being located in Guildford is also very convenient, as the town offers a range of amenities that make university life go by smoothly.

One more reason is employability. This is one area where the University of Surrey performs exceptionally well. The amount of support that the employability team, professors, lecturers, and university staff provide the students here is amazing. I believe that Surrey is very “career-focused” and, as such, sees many of its students establish the foundations of successful careers here.

What was your first impression when you got here?

My first impression was that Surrey is a very welcoming and engaging place to be. From the get-go, the various teams at Surrey, including the School of Economics, put in a lot of effort to get students involved in various societies, extracurricular activities, and also just introducing us to the University in general. During the Welcome Weeks, there were lots of optional activities and talks available that helped me settle into Surrey smoothly.

Why are you passionate about your subject?

I am a naturally curious person, and as such, I like to understand why things are the way they are. It is through this that I am passionate about economics. I believe that this social science helps me better understand why things are the way they are in society, the economy, and the world in general. As we enter a new stage of humanity, I think my studies of economics will help me grasp what is going on underneath the surface.

What do you like about your course and why?

One of the key reasons I like this course is because of the very talented professors, lecturers, and academic staff at the School of Economics. Every semester at Surrey has been amazing because the people leading the course are all very passionate about what they teach, have great expertise, and teach it in a way that is engaging to the students.

Another reason I like the course is that it has a lot of emphasis on developing the employability of the students. A lot of the coursework focuses on helping students establish both hard and soft skills that will help them in their career. 

Who were your favourite academics and why?

Two people spring to mind. The first one being Dr Eric Golson, the deputy head of economics at Surrey. Eric was the lecturer who essentially introduced us to the course and led us into our study of economics. His lectures were very interesting and informative, but also enjoyable and funny. Everyone had a good time in his lectures. He is also incredibly passionate about what he does, and I think all the students appreciated that.

Another person that springs to mind is Professor Neil Rickman. Neil is truly an expert in his areas of study. His delivery of lectures was impeccable, and he made every effort to make sure that all his students understood the content that he was teaching. His teachings were detailed and sublime, and I really admired how he approached his instruction of the content.

What were the facilities like on your course? How did they help your studying experience?

One of the great things about Surrey is the number of high-quality facilities and resources available. If I ever need something, it always seems to be available. There is never a shortage of computers in the library either, even in the busy exam period. The lab rooms that we use for tutorials are also well-stocked with high-performance PCs. There is also a huge number of virtual resources that students have access to, which has been able to aid me in making the most of my education and also developing extra skills that will help me in my career.

What careers support have you received? 

The employability team at Surrey does an amazing job at gathering and sharing opportunities for me to help me in my career. The employability team, as well as the student union, regularly put together events where you can develop skills, network, or just learn about a particular career path. The employability team also regularly updates me about job opportunities and internships via email, which I have also found to be very useful.

If you studied abroad, why did you choose to do so? Where did you go? 

I decided to study abroad because, in addition to my passion for economics, I love to travel and explore new places. Studying abroad is both an academic and personal journey, and with a desire to have both, I decided that I wanted to do an exchange as part of my program at Surrey. I did a Turing exchange study abroad program in Singapore, the hub of Southeast Asia. I attended Singapore Management University (SMU), a university that is well-renowned in the social sciences, especially economics.

What were the highlights of the experience? Would you recommend it to others?

Studying in Singapore at SMU was an incredibly unique experience, and I can honestly say one of the best decisions I have made. One of the best parts is being able to meet all the other students who are on the journey with you. Given that Singapore is one of the world's biggest commercial hubs, I made friends with people from all over the world, all with unique life stories of their own. 

Singapore itself is truly an amazing and special place in the world, there is nowhere quite like it! The island state has an interesting history that has always appealed to me, and has in many ways embodied the teaching of economics that I have learnt on my course at Surrey. 

Being able to learn economics in a different educational environment was also an eye-opener. While Surrey tends to be slightly more lecture-based in its approach, SMU was purely seminar-based. The class sizes were much smaller and in-class interaction was strongly emphasized. It was imperative that everyone made a significant contribution to class discussion, which I found led to a wide array of viewpoints being shared.

Given Singapore’s unique location at the tip of the Malay peninsula, I used this study abroad opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia at the end of my semester; this included Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines. The whole experience was completely amazing, and I am incredibly thankful to the University and Surrey’s exchange team for helping me secure this opportunity. I highly recommend a study exchange experience to all students. 

Are you part of any clubs or societies? How have they contributed to your Surrey experience?

Yes, I am a member of the Economics and Finance Society, which is a society that is more geared towards the employability side of student life. The society runs regular events that help students expand their knowledge on certain industries and companies. This can be in the form of panel talks or even training platforms coming onto campus. I think being a member of the Economics and Finance Society has definitely helped boost my knowledge as well as my employability.

What are the best things about life at Surrey? 

One of the best things about life at Surrey is the social aspects of the University. There are a huge number of societies that anyone can become a member of, no matter who you are and what walk of life you come from. There are also various facilities on campus that can be used for social occasions. So much so that I was surprised to learn that Surrey has its own nightclub (Rubix) on campus when I first arrived here. The University's location in Guildford is great, as it allows for easy access into London via train for anyone who wants to go uptown for the weekend.

What has been your best moment at Surrey so far? 

My best moment at Surrey so far must have been completing the Statistics for Economics project with my colleagues Aaron, Nithin, Cameron, Jia Wei, and Best. The project at some points was challenging and frustrating, particularly when we hit a roadblock in our thinking. With that being said, there is something special about completing a project with your friends who are also passionate about economics. The element of camaraderie that is developed throughout a project such as this makes it very much worth it.

How has your time at Surrey had an impact on you?

My time at Surrey has certainly been transformative. I have gained knowledge and skills throughout my studies of economics, but I have also had time to reflect on the past and also to think about the future and what I want to achieve in my life. It is through this that I feel that my time at Surrey has had a very positive impact on me, and I will come out a better person as a result.

Is there a song that reminds you of Surrey? Why?

"Fire In The Sky” by Anderson Paak. I think the positive vibes of the song are reminiscent of Surrey.

What’s something you couldn’t live without at university?

My coffee mug, especially for the early morning lectures where being caffeinated is key!

What’s one food dish or snack you couldn’t live without at university? 

My good friend Mustafa’s homemade pizza that he regularly serves up at Twyford Court, one of the student residences we have here at Surrey.

Describe your experience at Surrey in three words:

  1. Transformative
  2. Stimulating
  3. Awesome!

Share what you've read?