Sheffield Alumni help prospective international students reach university scholarships
Three Sheffield graduates have been praised for the work they are doing, helping the global student community to access university scholarships, bridging the costs required to continue their education.
Damini Mahajan, Arjun R. Krishna, and Vinay Nair met during their masters courses at Sheffield. Two of the group had received scholarships to help them fund their studies, but all remarked on the difficulty they had in finding what scholarships were available, or even that funding support was available at all.
Having completed their studies and returned to India the trio were determined to help other Indian students get past these difficulties. Arjun, Damini and Vinay decided to build on an idea they’d had during their time at University which was an online community to help other students achieve their potential and reach University.
Arjun explains the difficulties many students face:
“In an online survey conducted by our team, among 1576 students of various nationalities, showed that about 73% of them didn’t know about scholarship opportunities they can apply for. This is due to the unavailability of an appropriate information platform.
“The official government education websites of various countries do publish a few scholarships, but there are plenty of other scholarships which are missed out every year. The majority of universities provide scholarships for bright and talented students. Unfortunately, this information is not shared well.”
Vinay goes on to explain how scholarships can be an amazing opportunity for meritorious or low-income students:
“In developing countries, large sections of society cannot afford foreign education, which costs around £20,000 - £25,000 per year. But there are many scholarships for such students provided by either the government of the respective country, or the university where they are headed. We realised a gap exists between the information for these scholarships and it reaching to the relevant students.”
Their idea has come together in the form of ‘WeMakeScholars.com’, a free website which lists genuine scholarship opportunities around the world. The portal was recently launched by Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP; (Ex. Under Secretary General, UN), and lists over 3,000 scholarship opportunities.
As well as listing what scholarships are available to the students, the website also allows potential students to connect with successful scholarship applicants, who can provide advice and guidance on the application process, and candidate’s eligibility. Damini explains:
“Applying for scholarships requires additional time and effort, alongside the application form for the university admission. Usually scholarship application processes are cumbersome and require guidance from a senior or former scholarship recipient. To tackle this we have a pool of about 50 mentors, who are mostly scholarship winners and alumni from top universities and institutions across the globe.”
The trio are now hard at work continuing to develop WeMakeScholars, accommodating the expanding numbers of users they have seen since they started. In 2014 they had received attention from over 40,000 students, and today that number has risen to more than 160,000. This interest has also spread from their home nation of India, with 35% of their web traffic coming from the rest of the world.
If Arjun and Damini sound familiar that is probably because we have previously featured them. Last winter we brought you news of their latest business, Naturlich Global Beverages, a company supported by the Indian Government to develop the first home grown, nutritional, and tasty, health food drink. Arjun and Damini had recently been awarded 5 million INR (roughly £50,000) to take the product to the next stage. The Naturlich team are continuing the development of their product, focussing on scale-up studies of their first naturally fortified fermented drink. They hope to have their products on the shelves within 18 months.
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