Many of us dream of studying abroad and want to experience the diversity and culture while obtaining our degree. However, a dream often remains a dream as most of us do not know the proper procedures to apply to a foreign university.
Also, in some cases, showing bank solvency becomes a real issue. But some scholarships can come to aid students and making their dream come true.
Chevening is such a scholarship that has been fulfilling the dreams of many Bangladeshi students. Every year, many students from Bangladesh go to the United Kingdom to pursue their master's on Chevening scholarship. Bangladesh has had over 315 successful Chevening alumni and this year, a further 16 scholars will embark on the programme.
Established in 1983 by the UK government's Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Chevening scholarship is one of the most well-known and prestigious scholarships around the world. It covers the full expenses of students who want to pursue a master's degree at any university in the United Kingdom. It also includes a stipend every month for students so that they can bear their living expenses.
However, the competition is tough. According to Chevening, 65,000 applications were made in the 2017-18 academic year, and only 1,650 scholarships were awarded.
Another reason why many of us do not apply for scholarships is that we think we need to have good grades to secure a scholarship. This, however, is not entirely true. Anyone can apply for a scholarship as long as they have the urge to learn.
Yes, you may not be accepted to your dream universities, but you will undoubtedly get some that will be more than willing to enrol you. Also, most of the UK universities require an upper second-class, commonly known as 2.1 degree, which more or less corresponds to an average grade of B+.
The Chevening scholarship also requires two years of job experience. The good thing is that every job experience counts. It can be full-time, part-time, or even voluntary activities. You do not need to submit the corresponding paperwork. As long as you remain honest, it will work.
As it is a prestigious scholarship, the number of applications is very high. But it is still doable if someone puts in the effort, believes Dr Rashed Uz Zaman, professor of International relations at the University of Dhaka and a Chevening scholar.
He said he had very little knowledge about the scholarship when he was awarded it in 1998.
"The Dhaka University authorities nominated me for the programme. Later, I submitted my proposal and got the chance to pursue my master's in security and strategies studies at the University of Hull," Zaman recalled.
"Communication was tough back then, and I remember the British Council helping me a lot regarding my application. Communication has now got easier, and the UK government is also extending help in this regard."
The professor suggested students write their statements of purpose very clearly while submitting their scholarship applications.
"For example, they should clearly state what they are doing right now, and what will be the benefits for them and for the country they live in if they are awarded the scholarship," he explained.
The application process for the Chevening scholarship is fairly easy. You will need to be a citizen of a Chevening-eligible country and have a graduate degree. If you think you want to get your master's degree in a different subject, that also is possible. All you need to do is show a proper reason why you want to change the subject, and that is it.
To start the application process, check if you have your passport ready. Also, renew it if it is expiring soon. If everything seems okay until this point, you need to sign up on the Chevening website and complete your profile.
In the next step, you need to choose three master's programme you would like to apply to. This is a crucial step because you will not be able to change them later.
Next, you will be given directions for writing an essay. Here you will need to prove that you are worthy of winning the scholarship. This is the most crucial part of the application process as most of the applicants get eliminated here.
If everything goes okay with the first two parts, you will get an invitation to an interview, and you will need to provide two letters of recommendation.
Proficiency in the English language is another important aspect when you are applying for the scholarship. It would be best if you had an overall IELTS score of 6.5 and at least 5.5 in each band. However, you will need a higher proficiency level to enrol in some of the prestigious universities.
Studying abroad gives a vast opportunity to experience foreign cultures and know more people. Dr Zaman said he used to live in a dorm while studying at the University of Hull. He had friends from all around the world.
It helped him build a strong network with people from different countries, and he cherishes those friendships. He said networking also creates future opportunities. He was awarded a PhD scholarship at the University of Reading after completing his study at Hull.
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said, "Every year the Chevening Programme selects the very best candidates to study in the UK. We are looking for scholars who can demonstrate their potential and readiness to be future leaders and influencers in their respective fields. They receive full funding to study in the UK at some of the best universities in the world, including Cambridge, the London School of Economics, and Oxford.
"Chevening can be a transformative experience, not just for the scholars, but for Bangladesh as they return and use the benefit of their UK experience to make a positive difference," added the UK high commissioner.
Applying for scholarships and studying abroad is easier than you think. All you need to do is follow the proper methodology and not get distracted by agencies. There are alumni groups of almost every scholarship in the country, and they are more than willing to offer help. All you need to do is believe in yourself and pursue your dreams.
How to apply for Chevening Scholarship
Keep your passport updated to start the application procedure. All Chevening applicants must submit their educational documents, references, and one unconditional UK university offer.
To get a UK university offer, you will require a motivational letter, two reference letters, curriculum vitae, academic transcripts along with notarised translations, a note in English from your university listing your average grades and the IELTS academic certificate.
You will also require writing an essay for Chevening application. Chevening provides you with a detailed description of what they want you to say in the essay. So, follow those rules closely.
The deadline to apply for Chevening scholarship is November 3, 2020.