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The Student Insider

Independent learning: a path to academic excellence


Written by
Tom Brady

Thanks to his research on combating corruption in Latin America, current student Omar Espejel was invited to present at the prestigious Carroll Round conference.

Omar Espejel speaking at the at the Carroll Round at Georgetown University

University of London students are unique in the sense that they are part of a worldwide community, unconstrained by borders or distance. Gaining a world-class education in this way can of course be challenging, as it places significant emphasis on the student to learn independently and make effective use of the resources available to them. However, independent learning represents a genuine opportunity to achieve great things in your chosen field, as the experience of BSc Mathematics and Economics student, Omar Espejel shows. 

Omar is a distance learner based in Mexico, who recently had his research on combating corruption in Latin America accepted into the prestigious Carroll Round. The academic reputation of this conference cannot be overstated – based at Georgetown University, it provides the world’s top economics undergraduates with a forum for research and discussion, with illustrious past keynote speakers including the likes of Joseph Stiglitz and William Easterly. In addition, Carroll Round alumni have gone on to work at international organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF, as well as leading financial and consulting firms. 

In order to present his research at the Carroll Round, Omar received a Student Conference Travel Award from the University of London. This award provided him with financial support for his travel and expenses, and the University was happy to grant it given that Omar would be representing UoL on such a high-profile academic stage. 

For Omar to have the opportunity to present at the Carroll Round is testament to his hard work and the quality of his research. More broadly, it serves as an example of how distance learners need not be inhibited by a lack of face-to-face tuition, but are in fact free to build on the rich resources provided through the Online Library and the University of London course material. Through this, they can make their own discoveries and pursue their areas of keenest interest. 

Omar described the reactions of his counterparts at the conference in his blog post – they were surprised that someone studying remotely could make it to the Carroll Round. However, as he illustrates, there is no reason why distance learning should be a barrier to great academic achievement. In fact, the skills which University of London students develop through the varied ways in which they engage with their chosen subjects will give them everything they need to be successful.

Omar’s achievements should serve as a strong motivation to every distance learner studying with the University of London – access to the course material, the online resources, and an enthusiasm and curiosity for your chosen academic field is all you need to succeed.