On behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) in the UK, the British Council organised a pre-departure briefing for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows on 24 August 2016. The British Council and University Grants Commission (UGC) in Bangladesh have been supporting this scholarship under Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) in coordination with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) under the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) who administers the fellowship program on behalf of the UK government.
Professor Abdul Mannan, Chairman, UGC opened the event with a short note, appreciating the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme and highlighting how it has been adding value to the economy of Bangladesh. He underlined the fact that the young people of the country – comprising of about 40% of the total population – is the greatest asset of Bangladesh and he encouraged the scholars to serve the country after getting experience from the UK.
Towhidur Rahman, Regional Manager (CSFP) of South Asia, British Council conducted the briefing which was attended by 51 talented scholars and fellows from all over Bangladesh and six Commonwealth Scholarship alumni who shared valuable personal experiences for the young award holders. The session covered essential issues pertaining to travel and life in the UK, health and safety, biometric residence permits, police registration, etc. He advised the scholars to fully utilise the state-of-the-art technologies and facilities offered by the UK institutions during their stay. The briefing was interactive with questions from scholars on issues such as visa, accommodation, flight tickets, medical facilities, etc.
The enthusiasm of the award holders transformed the subsequent session into a lively discussion where the alumni shared their stories about the British weather, visa applications, the transport system, etc. The alumni encouraged the award holders to make the best use of the opportunities created by the scholarship and shared fond memories of how it had opened doors for their professional and personal fulfilment. The event came to a close with a networking and tea session where the award holders assembled into informal groups according to their universities and discussed future plans to meet and coordinate flight dates, dorm bookings, etc. They decided to form a Facebook group consisting of all the award holders of 2016/17 where various issues could be discussed during their stay in the UK. They also intend to keep contact with Commonwealth Scholarship alumni, who offered to share further suggestions from personal experience.