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PhD student proves age and challenges are no barrier to learning


It had always been Devika Aldis’ dream to pursue a PhD but she dismissed the idea because of her age and her busy schedule as principal of an international school in Negombo, Sri Lanka.

Devika had a chance meeting with Professor Ganakumaran Subramaniam, the Head of the School of Education at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, at a conference in Sri Lanka. The conversation they shared at the conference reignited her desire to further her education.

As the Principal of Gateway College, Negombo, Aldis already had a vast amount of experience about the education industry. Speaking to Professor Ganakumaran convinced her of how much more she could contribute to the education if she obtained a PhD.

For Aldis, being able to pursue her PhD at the University of Nottingham Malaysia under the guidance of highly experienced supervisors was a dream come true. She emphasises that everyone made her feel so welcomed and she felt like she was part of a big family.

Her age, which she thought was her biggest barrier, had now become her greatest asset and Aldis says that she tremendously enjoyed the hard work on the PhD and found it gratifying.

She expresses her gratitude to her excellent supervisors who facilitated her development by creating an open and supportive culture for her to thrive and grow.

Aldis added that pursuing her PhD was like reaching a goal or achieving a dream. And being able to achieve this made her realise that she could do anything that she set her mind to.

“My PhD experience has definitely helped me understand who I am, what I believe in, my strengths and weaknesses, and the importance of remaining optimistic regardless of the obstacles and challenges you face in life,” Aldis said.

“We are so proud of Devika and what she is accomplishing. She is an outstanding example that age and adversity are no barrier to learning.  I hope many people will learn from her example and consider furthering their education and achieving the aspiration” said Professor Ganakumaran.

Watch the full video here


For media enquiries please contact: Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager University of Nottingham Malaysia at  

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Posted on 26th June 2020

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