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From Thanjavur to Glasgow

Pursuing an MSc (biotech) at Glasgow University was a dream come true for Sumukh Mahesh who also had offers from three other Scottish universities

education Updated: Apr 13, 2011 09:46 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

I had completed my BTech in biotechnology at Sastra University in Thanjavur, the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. I did my schooling from SBOA School and Junior College. My scores have always been good, a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 9.1 on 10 at the graduation level and 86% in Class 12.

My mother is a doctor and it was her patients who got me thinking about vaccines and wondering if there would be a cure for untreatable diseases at an early age. It was this love for biology that made me choose a career in biotechnology, which is the science of constructing a life form.

Scotland welcomes Indians
I always wanted to pursue my Masters in UK. I am what I am today, thanks to the encouragement of my parents. Scotland is an education hub and people from all over the world love it not only for the quality of education it offers but also for the warm reception its people give to any Indian.

India is my home and will always be. I miss my country, especially my home in Chennai. I find Scots to be very friendly and fun loving people. Scotland is one country that has univeristies with a good research base. An intellectual property rights (IPR) department helps every student protect his innovative ideas from being stolen. It is a multi-facilitated university where laboratories are named, starting with a cell laboratory to a genetic cloning laboratory.

Even though I had received acceptance letters from University of Essex, Manchester University and the Aberdeen University, I chose University of Glasgow because it is the best.

The two things I fell in love at Glasgow were my university library and my campus – the university stretches in all possible directions of the city and is perhaps one of the biggest I have ever seen in my entire life.

Application process
I had started preparing for my IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and SOP (Statement of Purpose) a year before the date of admissions.

This planning ensured that I was well prepared and there was no strain when my graduation got over.

I was delighted to receive my unconditional offer letter from the university. It was worth the wait. Getting into one of the world’s top university was always my dream. My counselor Ranjitha Shetty offered me tremendous moral
support.

Much to my delight I not only got admission, I also received 22% total fee waiver which is £3,000. My scholarship was sponsored by the Glasgow University India Scholarships. Only the top 1% of the students who apply get through this prestigious scholarship. I am really proud to have received one for pursuing my Masters in biotechnology. I, now plan to do a PhD from the same university.

Tips for students
You should have good knowledge of your subject and a great score to prove your mettle. A decent score is required, but it’s the knowledge that scores above all the others during the selection process.

It is never hard to write the best SOP – just a small dedication and a focus on what one is and what one wants to be in the future can help you get the ‘prize’.

Social life
Everybody works hard all five days in the week. Friday is party time. The worst thing in Scotland is nothing but the weather. Never step out on a sunny day during summer without an umbrella, that is my advice to all of you who wish to study here.

Teaching pedagogy
The way they teach here is different from how students are taught in India. Notes, dictation, blackboard writing are replaced by modern teaching approaches such as usage of powerpoint, scientific presentation etc.
Students are given application oriented assignments that test their innovativeness more than anything else. There is a lot of focus on self-study. One hour of classroom teaching requires four
equivalent hours of studying. Plagiarism is considered a ‘sin’. Cut, copy and paste can never work here. Innovation is the key.

As told to Vimal Chander Joshi