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The University of Southampton
EconomicsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Erik Aelbers BSc Economics, MSc Development Economics and Economic Policy Analysis, 2003

Economist in the Department of Treasury (Papua New Guinea)

Erik Aelbers's Photo

Hi, I'm Erik Aelbers and I studied BSc Economics, MSc Development Economics and Economic Policy Analysis within Social Sciences: Economics at the University of Southampton.

The University of Southampton enabled me to flourish in my chosen line of work, and I will always fondly remember my time on England's sunny south coast.

As a young economist, you will be familiar with the concept of choice. We face problems of choice almost every day, but one of the most difficult decisions we face is where to study.

What did you do after the undergraduate degree?

Having spent a good part of my childhood away from my native Holland, I was looking to continue my international experience at university, and chose to study for a BSc Economics at Southampton, from which I graduated in 2003. While at University, I came to realise that I had merely studied the tip of the iceberg and that further study and specialisation would make my skills more marketable to prospective employers, especially given the increasing numbers of students graduating from universities.

Why did you choose this University and this course?

My initial years at Southampton triggered a specific interest in development economics, and several of my lecturers encouraged me to apply for the MSc Development Economics and Economic Policy Analysis (DEEPA) at Southampton. By offering a broad range of theoretical and applied modules, with a specific focus on the formulation and assessment of economic policy in a developing economy context, I expected the programme to best prepare me for a career in the field.

As to the University and city itself, I was happy to stay another year in a division recognised as being one of the leaders in its field, based in a medium-sized, student-friendly city.

How was your MSc experience?

The DEEPA programme proved to be a good choice for me: it endowed me with the necessary knowledge of economic theory and advanced tools for econometric analysis, while encouraging independent thought and application of techniques to real-world scenarios and case studies. A broad range of core and optional courses were taught in lectures and seminars by enthusiastic lecturers, with a strong emphasis on student–staff interaction.

While I was writing my dissertation on the credit market of Nicaragua, staff were approachable and supportive, while encouraging me to develop my own research skills and giving me freedom to choose the specific hypotheses I wished to pursue.

Importantly, the MSc was enjoyable as well – meeting new friends from different cultures, being part of one of the University's many student societies, and engaging in friendly discussions with faculty members were all valuable aspects of my MSc experience.

What are your plans for after the MSc?

After I completed my studies in Southampton, I joined a European development bank for 18 months, working on the financing of development projects based in many different countries throughout Africa and the Middle East.

These days, I work as an economist for the Department of Treasury of the government of Papua New Guinea, as part of the fellowship scheme of the UK's Overseas Development Institute, putting into practice much of the theory that I picked up at Southampton.

I certainly feel that I was well prepared for the job market on graduation, and being able to assist in the development of a relatively young nation is a very rewarding experience.

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