What are the scholarships I can avail of if I am going abroad for further studies?
How do I find out more about these?
When should I apply for them?
How do I know if I am eligible?
These were just a few of the countless questions asked by students aspiring for a foreign education.
Experts at the The British Council's Education UK seminar held in Mumbai recently explained that the process of getting a scholarship requires extensive research and planning.
Where do you begin? Here are some of the basics.
Note: this is not a definitive list. It is merely a starting point to help you on your way to finding the right funding for your future.
UK scholarship basics
Manjula Rao, head of education, governance and science, British Council (West India), says:
~ Start your scholarship search at least one year before the commencement of your course.
~ Scholarships are competitive and mainly based on academic merit. You will need to submit academic records, a personal statement and at least two references.
Note that your references should be relevant and strong, preferably from teachers who know your academic strengths.
Check how personal statement and references must be formatted for each application.
Ensure that your papers are well organised.
~ All things being equal, each candidate's all-round development becomes an important criterion. "We are looking for that extra edge," says Rao.
~ Personal goal congruence is very important. Rao explains, "This refers to how your intended course relates to what you have been doing so far."
If there is a shift or discrepancy in your choice of course and line of study, explain the reasons behind the decision clearly.
~ There is not much scope for error in the information you provide on your application form, since the structure is pre-defined.
However, your personal statement needs to be clear on the following three factors:
- Why you chose this course
- Why you chose to study in this particular university
- Why you chose to study in the UK
Be focussed on your goals; don't provide too much irrelevant background information.
~ Narrow down the courses and universities you wish to apply to and then look for a scholarship accordingly.
There are a large number of scholarships, so do extensive research before finalising your choice.
Where to start your search
UK scholarships are generally awarded for one-year Master's courses or professional courses.
There are a limited number of scholarships for undergraduate-level studies and PhDs. Begin your search at any of the following sources:
~ Sources of Funding For International Students, a booklet jointly produced by the British Council, UKCOSA: The Council for International Education and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
~ The British Council's interactive scholarship database: www.britishcouncil.org/education/qdu/index.htm.
~ Explore UK colleges and universities directly as each institution may have a limited number of specific scholarships for certain subjects. Contact the institution to see if you are eligible.
~ Visit www.britishcouncil.org.in/scholarships for extensive information or attend the monthly British Council Open House Scholarships Sessions. More information on both can be obtained from your local British Council office.
~ Talk to alumni. Getting in touch with students who have experience studying in the UK is a good way to get some practical know-how.
For more information, visit The Association of British Scholars India at http://abs-india.org/.
According the Web site, 'ABS India's primary objective is to act as a catalyst for encouraging member chapters to pool their resources and work in partnership to strengthen the Indo-UK relationship.' It is a good platform for professional networking and sharing of information.
~ Visit the University and College Admissions Service at www.ucas.co.uk/. This offers a course search, scholarship information and a universal application for all UK universities.
Part II: 11 scholarships for the UK
Have you won a scholarship to study in India or abroad? Share your experiences
Tell other Get Ahead readers about your scholarship search, the eligibility criteria required, the application process, the name of your course and institute and any other information that you think will be useful to them if they are applying for the same scholarship.
Don't forget to mention your name, age and location.