Since 1960 the British Council and University Grants Commission in Bangladesh have been supporting the Commonwealth Scholarship in coordination with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) under the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) UK, who administers the fellowship program on behalf of the UK government. Every year, over 800 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development are awarded to commonwealth citizens. Currently, there are over 2000 commonwealth alumni from Bangladesh. The aim of the scholarship is to contribute in providing training for skilled and qualified professionals and academics who would not afford to study in the UK.
The British Council organises pre-departure briefing sessions every year for the departing scholars from Bangladesh to brief them about essential issues pertaining to their study and stay in the UK during the scholarship period.
This year’s briefing session was held on 25 August 2019 at the British Council auditorium. Around 40 Bangladeshi commonwealth scholars were briefed during the session on essential issues relating to visa applications, traveling to and within the UK, healthcare, biometric resident permits, accommodation and life in the UK. Since it was a first visit to the UK for most of the participants, they were greatly benefitted greatly the information shared during the briefing. Many scholars found the briefing sessions matching their queries, so they appreciated having the opportunity to ask questions face to face. Five commonwealth alumni were invited to take sessions on dissertation writing, academic success, and life in the UK. They spoke from their personal experiences which the scholars found immensely helpful and they also had the chance to directly interact with the alumni and seek their guidance. Scholars were invited to register for the Commonwealth Mentorship Programme which pairs them with senior alumni in their related fields by facilitating guidance and knowledge sharing. A number of scholars signed-up for the programme after the event.
Another core objective of the briefing was to provide a platform for the scholars to meet and network with fellow Bangladeshi scholars so they can already form groups or informal networks that would function during their stay in the UK. Some scholars were able to identify fellow scholars in the same universities and that will help them with their preparations.
One of the scholars said, “Participating in today’s briefing and meeting with so many fellow scholars about to go through a similar experience has made me much more confident about starting my UK journey.”
The aim of the briefing session was to prepare the scholars for their upcoming journey to the UK and will also conclude with their return to the country after the completion of their scholarship. Scholars who attended the event found their queries answered and were mentally boosted which will enhance their confidence and preparations for their study in the UK.