Arpit Jariwala is the Director for University’s department of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (UDOTS), and the Course Director for the prestigious Orthopaedic Surgery MChOrth course in Dundee. Originally from Varanasi, India, Arpit himself came to Dundee to study the same course of which he is now Course Director for, graduating in 2003.
ABOUT YOUR WORK
What does your job involve? My job mainly involves looking after the administration of a department which has about 14-16 staff. This is an academic department and we run a lot of courses. Part of my job involves overlooking the courses, making sure all the courses are running to the best standard and the students are getting the best experience. In addition, I am the Course Director for the MChOrth course, which is a Master of Orthopaedics course and very popular, so I am involved in administration, student recruitment, teaching, and research of Masters students.
What gives you satisfaction in your work? I think gaining a happy student at the end of their course gives me the most satisfaction. Their happiness after completing the course, having achieved their aim for which they came to Dundee and looking energetically towards their bright future, is something that really motivates me to continue doing my job.
What challenges do you face and how do you deal with them? As the Head of Department, the challenges are maintaining the standards of the course, making sure the staff are well looked after and the students are getting what they expect. I always aim to make sure that the students achieve their goals and make sure that the staff are progressing in their career. These two mantras I keep in the core of my decision making which hugely helps me. It also helps that I have a very good and supportive team.
Tell us the best thing about your work? The best thing about my work is meeting students, understanding their journeys and being able to contribute to their dreams and their progress.
And the hardest? The hardest thing I think is when some students who apply but, whether for personal reasons or for financial reasons, cannot attend. It breaks my heart to see as I would like to see everybody achieve their aims and progress on their life as I did.
WORKING DURING A PANDEMIC
How has the pandemic affected what you do? The pandemic, like everyone, has hugely affected us as we had to very quickly move onto a virtual platform. Also, not being able to see staff and students affects your morale because that personal touch vanishes. In addition, the students’ satisfaction ebbs away as you find that they do not interact as well.
Has there been a particular support to you during this time? I would definitely say that the staff around me have been a huge support. I would say two people in particular, my colleague Dr Andrew Murphy, Lecturer within UDOTS, who hugely helped our department to move into a virtual platform, and Mr Sadiq Nasir, our IT man, who made sure that the students were engaged and had no issues with virtual learning, including working evenings and sometimes on the weekend. Both did a tremendous job to keep our department going in the initial stages of Covid-19 disruptions.
Is there anything new within the current situation that you hope will continue? I think like everything in life there is always a silver lining, we were having difficulties in getting external lecturers coming over to Dundee because this would mean a day of travel, taking leave, but now we can engage with more external lecturers as they can do online teaching with the new found experience during Covid-19 times.
And is there anything particular you’ve missed? Yes, I have missed face to face interactions with students and staff. There is nothing better than shaking hands and saying hello in-person to a staff member or student.
What do you like most about Dundee Uni? I think I like the friendly approach staff in the University have.
Any tips for current students? All I would say to current students is that they need to understand that we are all going through the same pandemic, including the staff. Be assured that the staff and the University are making their best efforts to make sure students do not lose out on their learning objectives. I would ask them to be flexible and adaptable, and embrace the newer learning techniques and methods we are evolving to make sure objectives are met.
Favourite spot on campus? Definitely has to be the staffroom in the UDOTS, as sometimes on Friday mornings we would meet up for a coffee and discuss everything other than work.
Is there, or was there, someone at the University who inspires/inspired you? I think late Prof D I Rowley inspired me most as he was the Head of Department of my current department, when I joined Dundee. He was my mentor, guide and supported me well.
How would you describe the University to someone who doesn’t know it? A friendly educational institute which tries its best to help students and staff achieve their aims.
What do you do outside of your work? I really enjoy spending time with my family and travelling with them across Scotland, the UK and abroad.
Tell us something we don’t know about you? (Don’t be shy!) One thing on my bucket list is to be able to do a small tour as a trucker in Canada on the icy roads: Ice Road Trucker. I like watching the Ice Road Truckers series.
Who would you invite to a dinner party? Definitely my wife as we do not get much time to go out, so it would be a nice evening for both of us.
Why Dundee? Good question. I personally was brought up in India in an educational campus which had nearly 20,000 students, one of the biggest universities in Asia, and I loved the diversity we had and the warmth of all our neighbours. Dundee reminds me a lot of that. I have always found that Scotland is a very friendly and warm place. I have been here now for nearly 15 years and sometimes my colleagues and staff, both in the University and NHS, take me as an adopted Scot and give me the title of ‘McJariwala’.