Journey towards Chevening Scholarship
I came to know about Chevening Scholarship from a newspaper advertisement. In fact, Chevening invites application from August every year (this year it opens on 7 August and applicant can submit application till November 7, 2017). However, actual study will commence from September next year.
Chevening scholarship is UK government's prestigious international awards scheme funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and associate partner organizations aimed at developing global leaders by giving them the chance to study a one year Master Degree at one of the UK universities from their choices in any field they have chosen. This is a full funded scholarship which covers total tuition fees, living cost in the UK, airfare and also give different allowances.
Online application through Chevening's portal (www.chevening.org) is the introduction to begin with the journey. However, to be a Chevener, I needed to prove that I have at least two years of working experience (which is equivalent to 2800 hours). It need not to be paid work only, internship without degree requirement, part time job, unpaid service and even voluntary services could suffice to fulfill the requirement. Nevertheless, being a Bangalee, I also asked to submit IELTS result which is minimum 6.5 on an average but not less than 5.5 in any module. Interestingly, it doesn't necessitate during application submission rather it can be uploaded after conditional selection for the scholarship (this year the deadline is 12 July 2018). So, there is plenty of time to get prepare for English language requirement. If truth be told, I also did the same in my case.
However, to study in UK University, I chose similar courses at three universities according to the condition of the award. Alternatively, you can select same or different courses at any three universities from the list given by Chevening portal. Then you need to acquire an unconditional offer letter to study from your desired university.
Universities are normally delivering this unconditional offer letter without any fee via online after showing them conditional selection letter from Chevening. Hence, it is better to contact with the university early. However, one of the significant conditions of Chevening award is the awardee must stay for a minimum of two years in his/her country after completion of study.
Apart from personal information, academic qualifications and others, I asked to write four essays (500 words of each) on leadership and influencing skills, networking skill, reason behind choosing subject and how it relates with my previous education and profession and plans for the future and fourthly about my upcoming career plan.
These essays are very crucial in selecting the applicant. In my case, I wrote them after consulting the questionnaires very cautiously. Repeated reading of these questions and extracting what they are actually focusing is very significant to organize them. In addition, I think putting my real life illustrations and experiences worked behind getting this scholarship. You must be honest in writing them and must not follow anyone else. Try yourself to demonstrate your skills in your own language. Because, none will be able to present your thoughts in line with your expectations. You are the best person to describe your strength and weakness.
However, as Chevening is looking for potential global leaders, hence you need to express one or two examples from your life with each of them. Moreover, it needs two reference letters after primary selection for interview. I took one academic and another professional recommendation letter. Discussing detail about your need and Chevening's demand with the referee is very important to get a worthy recommendation letter.
However, from choosing course, writing essay to facing interview; I was confident about my future career plan and relevancy between my intended course and previous education. I also demonstrated that very extensively before the interview board. In addition, I researched development goals of Bangladesh and UK and the UK's area of interest in Bangladesh.
Subsequently, I established relationship of my study with them and convinced the board that why Bangladesh needs more expertise on my intended study field. I also explained everything extensively what I wrote in my essays.. I believe all these were impressed them to award me the scholarship.
Whether you have brilliant academic record or not, whether you studied in public or private university are not at all criteria to be considered. Even many people told me that I'll not get the scholarship as I haven't public university background. Nevertheless, the whole selection process is governed by respective UK Embassy/High Commission or Consular office and by an independent secretariat. Therefore, there is no question of influence by anything else; only your ability to write and speak in English, leadership and other skills, capacity to demonstrate your dream and relevancy of your dream with the reality can turn your aspiration to be a Chevener into truth.
The writer is a Chevening
Scholar 2017-18 and now pursuing LLM in International Energy Law & Policy at the University of Stirling, UK.