From India to Australia – studying Optometry at Flinders

Flinders International Student - Sheela Kumaran


It was February 2016 when Sheela Evangeline Kumaran came to Australia from India to pursue a PhD in optometry at Flinders.

“I came to Flinders because I wanted to pursue study in a particular area – patient-reported outcome measures – and the team at Flinders University are world-class in that area.”

World-class research

It was the work of Professor Konrad Pesudovs and the research team that caught Sheela’s interest.

“I wanted to work on patient outcome reported measures, so I chose Flinders University because a team of internationally reputed researchers were working on that,” she says. “And Flinders itself has a reputation internationally of being world-class.”

Award-winning students

Almost four years on, the Flinders International PhD student has celebrated success at the StudyAdelaide 2019 International Student Awards, for Academic Excellence, Postgraduate (research).

“It’s a big recognition and I was honoured to receive it, my work for the last three years has paid off,” says Sheela, who attended the awards at Government House on October 25 2019.

Sheela was one of many Flinders University students who represented at the annual StudyAdelaide award ceremony. The students won in both postgraduate awards, the joint undergraduate award, community engagement award and the artistic achievement award – also taking out high commendations for postgraduate coursework and artistic achievement.

Flinders StudyAdelaide Award Winners
StudyAdelaide 2019 Award Winners Back: L-R, Kitty Wong, Keren Wu, Alessandro Sereni, Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling, Leslie Nachula, Vice-President & Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Sebastian Raneskold Front: Henry Zhang, Meixi Chen, Sheela Kumaran

Postgraduate study in Australia

Sheela began exercising her passion for optometry back at home in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in optometry. She won an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship, now called the Australian Government Research Training Program, and made the move to Adelaide, with her husband and young son to pursue a PhD in optometry at Flinders. Sheela’s PhD thesis explored the quality of life of people with amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes) in Australia and India.

Moving to Adelaide with a family

There is often a period of transition when moving a young family abroad, it can be a tricky time. Yet for Sheela, the warm welcome and family-friendly city proved to be a positive change and entry point into the Australian lifestyle.

“When I moved here, I came with my family – my husband, son and daughter. We didn’t have any challenges at all,” says Sheela. “Adelaide is wonderful. It’s warm and welcoming, and I love the beaches!” It didn’t take long for Sheela and her family to settle in.

“When I came here I didn’t know anyone, initially,” she says, “my son started reception recently and we all love Adelaide. I have made a lot of friends.”

She would love to stay in Adelaide if given the opportunity and is now looking for post-doctoral positions.

Why study at Flinders?

“Flinders is very welcoming, like a family. People help each other and there are a lot of support groups. You can always go to people and ask for help.”

Sheela has some advice for prospective students who are considering studying overseas at Flinders University.

“The most important thing that I love about Flinders University is that it continuously strives to improve.  And it considers a student’s opinion in each and every action that they take.”

“If growth and knowledge are paramount to you, then come to Flinders University.”

If you would like to study in Australia and learn more about Flinders University, enquire with our friendly International team here.

Want more of this? Discover fellow health student Amalia Dwi Susanti’s Flinders experience – here.

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Adelaide Living Flinders International India

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