Imperial College London

PE-CDT students share their experiences of International Exchange Programme


Hundreds of samples

PE-CDT students say International Exchange Programme is "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

PE-CDT students Joel Luke, Matyas Daboczi and Sam Hillman have shared their tips and experiences of the PE-CDT International Student Exchange Programme in a lunchtime session where they gave short presentations on their own exchange visits.

Introducing the programme, PE-CDT science coordinator Lisa Bushby explained how the centre can financially support up to five students on exchange visits each year.

Visits are typically 2-3 months in duration and should be taken within the course of the students' PhD research. The current main academic partner is Tokyo Institute of Technology, but this is expected to open up to include other institutions in the coming months. In return, students get a unique opportunity to develop their global network, immerse themselves in a new culture, supplement their research with additional techniques and perspectives and return to the UK with a report on the collaborative research that will form the basis of a future publication.

Joel recently returned from an exchange with CSEM, the industrial partner supporting his PhD where he carried out work on inverted organic solar cells for low light applications and the role of light soaking. He has already written up a report on the research work he carried out, which will be published in due course. Joel's recommendations for any student going on exchange are to learn at least a little of the language before you go, take some time off afterwards to explore and make the most of your time.

Matyas went to Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and spent four weeks carry out research related to the work he had already begun at Imperial, making the most of the time and different working practices in Korea by working in a very focused way (without the distractions back home!) to spin more than 1000 layers and prepare more than 300 samples! Matyas was able to coordinate his time to attend a conference in Korea that he said was a fantastic opportunity to get to know other young researchers.

Finally, Sam is our latest student to return from exchange. Sam, who joined the Vacha group within Tokyo Institute of Technology, encouraged interested students to ask questions of himself and others who have been on exchange and said it's a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity and would recommend it to everyone. Focusing on how to apply, Sam also advised students to take a look at Imperial's website for the wealth of information available there, particularly in relation to travel insurance. He also said it's a good idea to have Plan A, B and C in place with regards to research while abroad, as things don't always go to plan, and to maintain contact with your supervisor back home.

Look out for the fifth call for Exchange proposals, which is coming soon. Any questions about the exchange programme can be directed to

  • GIST
  • Coordinate timing to include a conference
  • Take time to network and have fun
  • See your research from a different perspective


Lisa Bushby

Lisa Bushby
Department of Physics