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Grants up for grabs

education Updated: Jan 11, 2012 11:08 IST
Aarthi Gunnupuri

It’s that time of the academic year. Applications to top global universities are due, nerves are raw in the student community and funding options seem limited, with many scholarship deadlines already over. Prospective students in need of positive news to help them traverse the last mile in the admission and scholarship trek, rejoice — even at this time of the admission cycle, there are many funding opportunities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Of course, full-fee waivers may be hard to come by, particularly for studies in Britain and the United States, but many university-based scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students are only due over the next few months. The extent of these scholarships varies from one country to another, and also depends on the level of studies.
Besides, there are scholarships being administered by organisations in India. These are viable options for study in countries like the US that offer limited funding to international students.

Grad vs undergrad
If you have applied to two or more countries, you must be aware of scholarship trends prevalent in each of them.

Sapna Trivedi, senior consultant for Australia at Edwise International, says, “Generally, PhD students secure full-fee waivers in Australia. However, this is not possible at the graduate level. For undergraduates, funding options are available from universities.”

For those considering undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in Australia, the group of eight universities, known as G8, is the best option, according to Trivedi.

Students looking for university-based scholarships are more likely to find them at these institutes: University of Adelaide, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, University of Sydney and University of Western Australia.

If undergraduate options for scholarships are better than graduate ones in Australia, it’s the opposite in the US. A 2005 report by the Institute for International Education, revealed that close to 80.9% students used personal and family sources to pay their tuition fees.

According to NAFSA, a non-profit professional association dedicated to international education, most American universities do not offer aid to international students at the undergraduate level, as this is reserved for graduates.

The good news for graduate students wishing to go the US is the flexibility of scholarship criteria.

“Scholarships offered by US-based organisations and universities are not restricted to academic merit, although it is taken into consideration, and there are a range of scholarships for those with demonstrated achievement in sport, arts and other areas,” says Mehnaz Soonawalla, manager, Study Overseas.

Fill the form
Prestigious scholarships for study in the US, like Fulbright, are no longer on offer for 2012-13, but experts advise that you submit the financial aid form available to prospective international graduate students across all major American universities. Fellowships are also offered on different criteria, and administered through the university, and students
must submit applications if they qualify.

Various British organisations and groups offer a number of scholarships to international students.

The application window for scholarships, including Chevening and Commonwealth, is not open anymore. However, almost all major British universities offer bursaries and scholarships for undergraduate as well as for graduate international applications.

“The scholarships as well as the admission process of UK universities works eight to 10 months in advance. Detailed information is available on the respective websites. Students need to apply for admission to UK universities and simultaneously apply for scholarships. Forms for admission to the universities as well as most of the scholarship forms are online. Students should provisionally work on their statements of purpose and have their references in place,” says Manjula Rao, head - programmes, west India, British Council Division.

Given the change in the Britain’s post-study visa structure, Canada has become the destination of choice for many Indian students. Many Canadian universities are capitalising on this shift and scholarships, including full fee remission for undergraduate students, are available.

Conventional overseas scholarship wisdom advises students to start applying a year in advance. For this period, the best thing would be to focus on scholarships and bursaries given by universities and try for as many non-university options.