Department of Statistics

Shabnam Fani, Iran: Statistics PhD student


"A top-100 ranking was the most important factor for me."


Shabnam Fani’s research involves studying various problems that fall under the general heading of nonparametric survival analysis under shape restrictions. She is investigating various types of shape restrictions on a survival or hazard function, finding out how the corresponding survival or hazard models can be computed efficiently, analysing the properties of the fitted models, and examining their applications and performance using real-world problems.

Why did you choose to do your post-graduate study at the University of Auckland?

The University’s ranking as one of the top 100 in the world was the most important factor for me, because it is the index for the prestige of the University and it will help me in the future to find a good job. Other reasons were the fact that new international PhD students pay the same fees as domestic students; the reputation of Auckland as a top-ranked city; a work permit which allows me to work 20 hours a week while I study; the fact that New Zealand is an English-speaking country.

How important in your decision to study here were the researchers and research topics available in the Department of Statistics?
I was really eager to learn statistical computing and graphics programme R and one of the main contributors to this software, Ross Ihaka, is on the University staff. My research requires me to work with R.

How have you made friends here?
New Zealand is a multicultural country and I have met my compatriots here. I also have friends here from other nations.

How important was Auckland’s lifestyle, climate and amenities in your decision to study here?
The University’s ranking was the most important factor for me, but it is really enjoyable to study and live in a city with a great climate and fantastic nature.

Was Auckland’s cultural and religious diversity an important part of your decision to study here?
The other good thing about Auckland that I didn’t find in other countries I have been to is the diversity of religious views and the respect for them. At the University of Auckland we have access to a mosque, halal food and so on.

What are your main interests outside your study?
Boating and hiking in the beautiful nature of New Zealand.

What questions do you think potential postgraduate students from overseas need to ask when making their decision about where to study?
I think students should ask about financial issues such as the cost of living, tuition fees and job opportunities.

How have you funded your study?
I work as a teaching assistant in the Department and that covers my tuition fees. I enjoy working as a teaching assistant and it’s a good experience for me.

UPDATE: Shabnam finished her PhD in December 2014 and is now working in a university in Iran.