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Aanchal Bedi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 26, 2013
After scoring 95.6% in graduation with an all India rank of 779, I was nowhere. I was getting admission to an institute of technology, that was not even ­recognised. Due to hefty fees and a large amount of ­donations, entering a renowned Indian institute became impossible. That’s why I decided to study abroad. I wanted to get into research and development, and there is no place better than Ireland.

I did masters in biotechnology from University College Cork (UCC). The modules ranged from genetic ­engineering, plant genetic engineering, ­bio-pharmaceuticals, functional foods for health, analytical chemistry, molecular microbial biotechnology, bioprocess, cell and molecular biology giving a broader career opportunity at the end of the course.

The modules were taught with the mix of theory and practical experience. Guest lecturers from industry and site visits to pharmaceutical plants were also part of the curriculum.

After the first semester, the university helped me in getting a placement in Teagasc Crops Research Centre, a government research institute for the agri-food sector. Since it was an unpaid internship, my course director ­professor Justin McCarthy ­sanctioned a 250 euros per month stipend to support my living expense.

Besides getting ­high-quality education, ­studying in Ireland is very cost ­effective. I paid 13,800 euros and got a ­scholarship of 5,000 euros. Cost of living is much cheaper as compared to Bangalore and Mumbai. In Ireland, a well furnished double bed room with all appliances in place costs as much as a minuscule flat in Mumbai with a single bed. For internet, electricity and other bills I paid 400 euros every month.

This research ­experience helped me to obtain a fully funded PhD scholarship in plant biotechnology. In addition to my academic studies, I was also an Indian student ambassador for UCC. This enabled me to travel to various universities in Dublin and I was awarded a certificate from the Irish Education minister, Ruairi Quinn. One of the most inspiring moments during my stay in Ireland was when I met the president of Ireland.