Studies in Stirling and Spain proved the perfect international combination for Icelander Dagur Óðinsson, who now works as a Red Cross project manager.
The 28-year-old graduates with an MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations with Merit. Dagur’s degree is a joint award from the University of Stirling and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
The chance to spend one semester at each institution and the fact the entire course was taught in English, were strong factors in him opting to apply.
“To be able to live and study in two different countries is a wonderful opportunity,” says Dagur, from east Iceland’s regional capital Egilsstaðir. “The courses and teachers were excellent in both schools.
“I loved the combination of a semester in each country. It was great to be able to experience the fall in Scotland and then the spring and summer in Barcelona.”
Dagur knew Scotland was renowned for its history. But he was also impressed at the history of PR studies at Stirling – it having been the first UK university to introduce a Masters in PR.
“My Bachelor’s degree from the University of Iceland, in Reykjavík, was in Sociology and Political Science. I’m very interested in social affairs and politics and PR plays a big part there.
“For my Masters' dissertation I analysed what NATO and the Secretary-General were tweeting during the Crimea crisis. There I was able to combine public relations, public diplomacy and politics. Also I love Twitter, so it was ideal.”
A visit to Brussels proved a course highlight. “It was very informative. Iceland at that time was in access talks with the EU, so for me it was very interesting to get to see how it really operates.”
Dagur also cites international classmates, from India to Turkey, as another reason why the Stirling MSc programme was a great decision. “I have made good friends from all over the world and you can’t put a price on that.”
Dagur received Stirling’s Sam Black Prize for Best Public Relations student (2014/15).
Dr Alenka Jelen, Programme Director of the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations, said: “Dagur was an excellent student, who always delivered excellent quality of work and performed to a very high standard. It was a real pleasure to have him on our programme. Teaching teams in Stirling and Barcelona commended him on several occasions.
“He was known for his very creative ideas, excellent research and study focus, highly original critical and analytical thinking skills as well as very friendly, enthusiastic and warm personality. We are all very pleased that he received the Sam Black Prize, which was very well deserved!”
The degree has opened up doors for Dagur, helping, he says, to secure his job with the Red Cross. This involves co-ordinating, assisting and communicating on behalf of 10 Red Cross divisions located in East Iceland, and no two days are the same.
Their work ranges from volunteers teaching school pupils first aid and visiting the socially isolated, to drills and training for emergencies like earthquakes and plane crashes.
An interest in humanitarian work emerged while studying Public Affairs in Semester Two. Dagur says: “The cause is good and you get to work with a diverse group of people, all of them with a common goal which is helping other people.”
The future for the international graduate looks bright. “I feel that my time on the programme has given me the tools and confidence to achieve in various fields, all over the world.”