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 is awarded to Commonwealth citizens.
During this time of the pandemic, where there are numerous travel restrictions and guidance to limit the spread of the virus, we organised a pre-departure virtual briefing session 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. The aim of the briefing is to prepare the scholars for their scholarship journey to the UK with all the necessary knowledge related beginning from leaving Bangladesh and concluding with their return to the country after completion of their scholarship.
The session was kicked off by David Maynard, Director Education, British Council, who congratulated the scholars on their award. Javed Patel, British Deputy High Commissioner to Bangladesh attended the session and congratulated the scholars for their massive achievement, and also discussed what UK education can offer and encouraged the scholars to make the best use of their time in the UK.
About 30 Bangladeshi Commonwealth scholars were briefed on essential issues relating to visa applications, self-isolation period, specific COVID 19 related information that needs to be submitted to enter the UK, traveling to and within the UK, healthcare, Biometric resident permits, accommodation, life in the UK, etc. Since almost all the participants had never traveled to the UK before they benefitted greatly by the information shared during the briefing. Many scholars had queries regarding visa applications, accommodation, and travel so they appreciated having the opportunity to ask questions face to face. Two Commonwealth alumni – Dr Haseeb Md Irfanullah and Refaya Rahsmin, were invited to share their experience of UK education and opportunities and benefits the commonwealth scholarship programme provides and how one can make its the best use. They spoke from their personal experience which the scholars found to be 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 to facilitate the process of guidance and knowledge sharing.
Currently, there are over 2000 Commonwealth alumni from Bangladesh. The aim of the scholarship is to contribute to the development needs of Commonwealth countries by providing training for skilled and qualified professionals and academics who would not otherwise have been able to study in the UK.