Health Professions Education, Occupational Therapy, Studying in the UK

Top 3 Reasons to study Occupational Therapy @ Brunel University London

Brunel University London is home to the prestigious and historic London School of Occupational Therapy. Established in 1934, it is now housed in the Mary Seacole Building. (Fun fact: Mary Seacole was a Jamaican nurse and businesswoman. She is widely celebrated for her work with the wounded during the Crimean War and also for combatting racial prejudice. To learn more about Brunel University’s feminist history during World War I – click here).

The London School of Occupational Therapy’s home at the Mary Seacole Building of Brunel University, with Very Important Senior Staff (he does so much for the programme I don’t know what his title is anymore, but I was pretty sure he was division head at one point), Kee Hean Lim.

The London School of Occupational Therapy at Brunel University London has strategically utilised the occupational therapy education reforms as an opportunity to position themselves to receive more international students, and I think they have done exceptionally well in this regard. Here are the Top 3 reasons why I think The London School of Occupational Therapy at Brunel University London is a great place for international students looking to study occupational therapy in the United Kingdom.

1. Its pre-registration Masters in Occupational Therapy is the first university outside of the United States to receive ACOTE accreditation.

ACOTE is the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education in the United States. When occupational therapists from one country want to work in another, one of the things they need to do is to subject their previous qualifications to scrutiny by the local authorities (in the United States, it is OTED – the Occupational Therapist Eligibility Determination; in the United Kingdom, it is the HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council). This part of the process usually involves some form of fee (in the USA, it’s 700 USD and in the UK it’s 450 GBP). Now if you have an ACOTE recognised pre-registration Masters in Occupational Therapy, it means you do not need to submit your qualifications to OTED to be eligible to take the NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) exam – this is the exam that people need to take and pass in order to practice occupational therapy in the United States. And best of all, the tuition fees for the pre-registration Masters in Occupational Therapy at Brunel University are a fraction of the price for a similar programme in the USA – even at international student rates!

*Important to note: pre-registration Masters (also known as an entry-level Masters) is a Masters programme which requires potential applicants to already have a Bachelor degree in another NON-OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY field beforehand. It is a very intense course of study as students are compressing what is typically learnt in most Bachelor programmes into a shorter amount of time, at a faster pace and at a higher level of understanding.

2. Incredibly diverse student body within the occupational therapy programme.

I recently attended a workshop on diversity in the European Network of Occupational Therapy Education annual meeting at Zagreb, Croatia, and I found it very interesting that one of the English students in the workshop commented that she felt that the ethnic composition of her class did not seem to reflect the ethnic composition of the clients they were working with at their hospital placement (I appreciated the critical reflection – the fact that she was thinking about it means a lot for the future of the profession). So I was very pleasantly surprised to see the diverse ethnic composition of occupational therapy students in Brunel University London – in both the pre-registration Bachelors and Masters programmes, I found a significant portion of students of colour (easily around 50% – this is a rough estimate). Even more importantly, a significant number of these students were from British BAME (British, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) groups.

It was nice to see that the diversity in the London School of Occupational Therapy is not only limited to nationality and ethnicity but also extends to age (mature students, student parents) and gender. I did not manage to examine class and dis/ability. But it would certainly be interesting to look further into this. As an occupational therapy educator, I feel that exposure to diverse environments is extremely beneficial to successful practice as an occupational therapist, and the more diverse the student bodies of occupational therapy programmes are, the better.

Research shows that more ethnically diverse companies are more likely to outperform others. What would this mean for a student occupational therapist trained in the London School of Occupational Therapy’s ethnically diverse environment?

3. Strategic Location – great for studies!

Some key points I learnt from students about Brunel University London’s strategic location:

  • It’s very close to Heathrow Airport. This is great for international students as it means you don’t have to go too far when you first move to the United Kingdom!
  • It’s an hour / 1.5 hours away from Central London (by train). So it’s close enough to get to the fun parts of London for a day trip, but far enough to deter students from going out too much and partying excessively!
  • Everything is on one campus. Because they have plenty of space (acres!) so it’s incredibly convenient to have everything close together!

As a former occupational therapy programme leader, I was also very impressed by how efficiently the programmes were run to maximise the use of resources. I have a tremendous dislike of wastage so getting the opportunity to see how the London School of Occupational Therapy was able to provide excellent multipurpose resources to its students which could be reused across a wide range of educational settings was quite a delight. Their student activities were also incredibly innovative and their staff manage student dynamics impressively well.


In a nutshell, it was a very informative visit for me and I certainly appreciated the cutting-edge work the London School of Occupational Therapy is doing to not only keep up with – but stay ahead of the times. Do leave a comment to let me know if you end up studying there at some point!

Thank you Kee Hean, for hosting my visit. It was a privilege and honour to be able to get an inside perspective of the London School of Occupational Therapy!

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