Studying abroad is a life-changing experience. But not everyone can afford it. The good news is that hundreds of study abroad scholarships enable meritorious students, who may not have the financial wherewithal to study abroad, to pursue their academic dreams.
Most of the scholarships are aimed at students who wish to do a postgraduate course or pursue a PhD programme. But you will find scholarships even for graduate and undergraduate programs, though the options are fewer.
Types of scholarships available
Zeroing on the type of scholarship to apply for is crucial because there are scholarships that cater to specific groups of people and some that are meant for a specific field of study such as medicine.
Broadly scholarships consider the following criteria:
Achievement and ability:
Your achievements academically and in co-curricular activities are assessed, and the scholarship is offered to those who display the highest ability and performance. This could be in the domain of research or a particular trade or profession or fields like the arts and sports.
Most scholarships consider your economic condition while evaluating your application. Foundations, governments and universities that operate these scholarships want to know if you really 'need' the grant to fulfil your goals.
It's not just your economic background, but many scholarship foundations also consider your social background. Your gender, race and religion are considered and placed in context with the social conditions that exist in that country. There are scholarships tailored to cater to specific segments of society that have traditionally not had higher education opportunities such as women or minority groups.
Subject or field of study:
Several scholarships are aimed at specific subjects or fields to promote research in those areas. These scholarships often look at your field of study and what you wish to do after completing your course. Some of these scholarships' core idea is to encourage people to research more in traditionally under-researched areas.
Country or region:
Several scholarships are intended for citizens of a particular country.
Scholarships often have more than one of the criteria mentioned above, and hence it is important to find one where your application has the best chance of being accepted.
How to find scholarships to study abroad?
The easiest scholarships to look for are those offered for a specific country or region. The Government of India, Indian universities, corporates and foundations, and governments of other countries offer numerous scholarships to Indian citizens.
Another easy way to find scholarships is online for websites dedicated to curating scholarships. You will find such websites for most countries, many of them even run by a government department. It would help if you went through the websites once you have selected the course or university you wish to apply to.
If you are looking for scholarships in countries that are popular destinations among Indians, here are a few points you must remember for each of them:
International students in Australia pay full fees for their studies, and there are several scholarships available to assist them with the cost of their education. Some major scholarships available for international students pursuing a course in Australia are Australia Awards, Destination Australia, Australian Government Research and Training Program (AGRTP), the Australia APEC Women in Research Fellowships and the John Allwright Fellowship. Universities also offer scholarships for their own courses and programs to deserving students.
Canadian universities and the government offer several scholarships based on many criteria. However, during the application process, some ask you to provide an IELTS score. Nearly all Canadian universities accept this English proficiency test along with TOEFL. So, make sure you meet the scholarship requirements before choosing between IELTS and TOEFL. No point spending twice for an English test.
Another distinct feature about Canada is scholarships offered by their provincial governments like the Quebec Provincial Government Scholarship for students studying in Quebec and the Ontario Trillium Scholarship for doctoral students studying in Ontario. Some important scholarships include the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and the Trudeau Scholarships and Fellowships.
Scholarships for courses in New Zealand are highly competitive. Many are based on academic achievement, but some consider factors such as country of origin, area of study and leadership potential. New Zealand Excellence Awards (NZEA), New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships and NZ-GRADS New Zealand Global Research Alliance Doctoral Scholarship are some of the major scholarships offered to international students wishing to pursue postgraduate and doctoral courses.
Scholarships for courses in the UK are limited and are generally aimed at providing support to a specific segment of society or for a specific field of study. Many of the scholarships are from the government and charities and foundations. Some scholarships are managed by the British Council such as the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. These are open to students of Commonwealth countries such as India.
Some of the most prestigious and popular scholarships include the Chevening Scholarship (offered to students in over 160 countries). The Rhodes Scholarship programme is the oldest international scholarship programme in the world. It provides 100 fully-funded scholarships each year for postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. Scotland's Saltire Scholarships, which the Scottish government offers in collaboration with Scottish universities are prestigious too.
Some scholarships are specifically for Indian students such as the Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships. These are aimed at Indians in the early to mid-stages of their careers. The Felix Scholarship aims at providing gifted underprivileged students from India and some other developing countries the opportunity to pursue a postgraduate course offered at three universities - the University of Oxford, the University of Reading and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). You can also explore Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation's scholarships and grants.
Most leading US universities have their scholarship programmes. In many cases, schools within the universities have their own programmes. You can go through the scholarship programs while you are researching for courses you want to do. The application for such scholarships is a different process, and you should conduct it independently and simultaneously with your application for the course.
Besides scholarships offered by US Universities, Indian students have several other options. These include government-funded scholarships such as the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships and the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program. There are also non-government scholarships such as the AAUW International Fellowships that caters to women who plan to pursue full-time study and research in the US.
Applying for a scholarship
Scholarship applications have their own process and timelines, which is separate from applying for a course. The conditions for applying for a scholarship vary, and hence you must begin your research as early as possible. Each scholarship programme has its requirements, some of which may be common such as submitting a score report of an English language proficiency test (IELTS or TOEFL). The other requirements could include essays, a statement of purpose, recommendations -- academic or professional -- and financial statements.
While scouting for courses, you should check what scholarship options are provided by the university. If you get into multiple courses, universities' in-house scholarships could be a deciding factor for you.
Many scholarships are offered to a specific section of students. For such scholarships, you may have to submit a lot of paperwork and show your eligibility. You must read the requirements carefully and make sure you fall into the category of students they wish to assist. If you are unsure about the requirements, call up the foundation or organisation that administers the scholarship.
Most scholarships cover either the full cost of your tuition fees or a portion of it. Some also cover other costs, such as accommodation or living expenses. However, you have to brace for other expenses like health care, travel costs and more. Remember to buy travel insurance before flying abroad for higher studies.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be best if you started as soon as you can. Do not wait for a confirmation from a university to begin the process. Scholarships have their deadlines before which you must apply. However, it is ideal that you start early and submit it before the advertised deadline.
Some websites provide information about the significant scholarships on offer, but we recommend you do your research. There are a wide variety of scholarships offered by numerous organisations, governments, trusts and universities. Rules and requirements for scholarships keep changing, and hence you must check the scholarship website for accurate information. A good place to start are websites run by governments or government agencies such as the British Council.
The scholarship application is a more personal document than an application for a course. It is essential to outline your skills and personality, and your application should answer the question 'Why you?'. Remember, it is not only about grades and marks. Most universities seek well-rounded and unique individuals and place importance on your extra-curricular activities.
It is important to make your scholarship application simultaneously, along with your course application. There may be common points but remember they are two distinct processes.
Yes. It is advised that you do that. You may not have the time to make a fresh application to a new scholarship after being rejected. As mentioned above, scholarships are highly competitive, and you may or may not get one. It's better to be safe than sorry.