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Scholarship to study at Oxford University

Rhodes Trust has initiated the process of accepting application for scholarships to be disbursed in 2011 reports Vimal Chander Joshi

education Updated: Jun 09, 2010 09:53 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

What is the similarity between Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, Sanjeev Sanyal, economist, Sagarika Ghose-Sardesai, journalist and Deepak Nayyar, former vice chancellor of Delhi University? Well, all of them have indisputably carved a niche in their respective fields, thanks to their unflinching determination, sincerity to work, incisive intelligence and, quite importantly, an Oxford degree, courtesy the Rhodes Scholarship.

The coveted funding option has turned around the lives of many youngsters across the world. So would it do this year for five Indian youngsters in the age group of 19-25.

In order to be able to apply, a candidate must be an Indian, aged between 19 and 25 as on October 1, 2011. Those who are academically brilliant and have got first class degree in humanities, sciences, law, engineering, agriculture or medicine from an Indian University can apply. One can submit the application online at www.rhodesscholarships-india.com. Else, you can send your application to The Secretary, Rhodes Scholarships (India), International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi. Candidates who are in the final year of a degree course and have an exceptionally bright academic record may also apply.

Applicants are short listed for a preliminary, personal interview, held at four regional centres, including Mumbai (Pune), Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi.

Candidates selected from these regional interviews are then called for the final interview in December.
The scholar will become resident at Oxford in October, 2011.
Do submit following documents along with the Rhodes application. To apply online, send the following scanned documents:
. A school leaving certificate or an extract from an University Register signed by the Registrar, as evidence of age *
. Evidence of courses taken and degrees, honour and other academic distinctions obtained. This evidence must be formally certified by Registrar or any other responsible officer of the candidate’s University *
. A signed essay (typed) by the candidate detailing the proposed course of study at Oxford, general interests and activities, including sports and the future aims. It should not exceed 1000 words and should be in simple English.
. The names and addresses of six persons — well acquainted with the candidate — under at least three of whom he/she must have studied. Please ensure that at least three of the six referees write about the candidate’s academic ability and attainment. These references will be used in making application to Oxford Colleges.
. Passport size photograph.
. A medical certificate on the special form provided by the Rhodes Trust, from an approved doctor will be required from the candidates short-listed.
*(attested copy only, which will not be returned).

It was tough, but they were up to IT

‘Even after IIM, I wasn’t sure of getting the scholarship’
When I was 16, I first heard of the Rhodes scholarship from my mother, an entrepreneur. She mentioned it was a prestigious award, which Montek Ahluwalia and Girish Karnad had won in India. I studied civil e ngineering from Delhi College of Engineering (now DTU) and completed an MBA from IIM Calcutta. While I had an enriching experience at both institutes, I always wanted to study in a top-tier international institute and develop a multi-dimensional perspective (of life/work) after interacting with students from diverse academic, national and cultural backgrounds.

As I had majored in strategy and marketing at IIM, I applied for a graduate degree in advanced strategy at the Said Business School, Oxford. I had a strong academic background, having won the first Aditya Birla Scholarship at IIM Calcutta in 1999. However, I was not confident of finally getting the scholarship, as the competition was tough. Studying on a Rhodes scholarship is truly a privilege. By virtue of being a scholar in the 2001-03 period, I got to attend the centenary celebrations of Rhodes Trust at Buckingham Palace.

Prashant Sarin, Rhodes scholar
Currently working as a manager in a popular consulting firm

‘Your awareness levels should be very high’
After a BA in English from Jadavpur University, I applied for the Rhodes scholarship to study for a second Bachelor’s degree in the same subject. You can, however, apply for a degree in a subject that you have not studied in graduation. In Jadavpur, there is a tradition of people going to Oxford University. This was the primary reason for applying there while I was in the middle of my postgraduation.

To be able to qualify for Rhodes, you must have knowledge of varied subjects besides academics. If you are a student of English it doesn’t imply that you are supposed to know only about literature and books. The selection committee would expect you to know more than that. One should have profound understanding of things happening around one. The regional round of interview is rigorous and candidates are asked all sorts of questions on myriad topics. This interview can last anywhere between 16 to 45 minutes.

The candidates are expected to be very convincing and should be able to justify his/her reason to study at Oxford. S/he must have a clear vision to achieve something after a few years.

Somak Ghoshal; Rhodes Scholar
Currently working as a journalist in Kolkata, and part of selection committee of regional interviews of Rhodes scholarship

‘Rhodes looks for all-rounders’
It was not easy to get the Rhodes scholarship but I was fortunate to have done well in both sports and studies while in school and university and that the scholarship was looking for all-rounders. While in school I was more serious about sports. But once I went to university, the National Law School, I focused primarily on my studies and that ensured good academic and co-curricular record.

I don’t think it is possible to prepare in any way to win the scholarship. Either you have the attributes and are able to demonstrate them or you don’t and you can’t. There is no set formula to determine whether academics are more important or extra-curricular activities are. Having said that, it is also true that one without the other does not make for a very strong candidate, however, exceptional the one-dimensional achievement.

I had a wonderful experience at Oxford at multiple levels. It has no parallel. I couldn’t have got that experience anywhere else in the world. It was truly international, and I was able to interact with most interesting and multi-dimensional people I have ever met and still retain a number of friends from my time there. The experience truly expanded my horizons. The environment at Oxford was very conducive to learning, both academic and non-academic, and there were numerous opportunities to participate in interesting sporting and other activities. The experience equipped me well to become a confident international citizen.

Nandan Kamath; Rhodes scholar Now works for GoSports India, a sports management consultancy