I’ve promised to continue the post and today I would like to discuss the procedure of application and the preparation for it.
How to apply for commonwealth scholarship:
First of all, the question is whether to apply for the university first or the scholarship first.
Here, I would like to say that if you decide/ plan to apply for Commonwealth scholarship, start your preparation from September-October. Do some research on universities and the subject you want to study.
Suppose you want to study Neurology, there are few universities which offer Neurology ( majority offer Neuroscience which is a more research oriented subject). Look into the details of the courses, their deadline of applications and shortlist the universities according to your priority. The deadline of majority courses of Oxford and Cambridge universities close around the end of January. Apart from those , other universities are relatively flexible and close their entry of applications around April- May. (June/ July in some rare occasions). Then look into the UGC website ( http://www.ugc.gov.bd ) for Commonwealth scholarship applications circular. Till 2016/2017, they called for applications around September- early October. But for the session of 2018, they called in January, 2018. So always look into website and if possible, go to UGC office in Agargaon and ask for the info. There was an officer named Mr. Mustafiz in my time who was very helpful and gave us all the necessary info.
Now, if the circular is there in the website, then what to do. Make your own application using the format given there. They give a template which can be used. All your marksheets, certificates ( MBBS, HSC, SSC) need to be attached. There is no problem if you attach more documents then asked. So take this advantage of attaching all your achievements like awards and everything. Then submit all the documents together enclosed in a brown envelope. ( You have to drop it physically in UGC Agargaon office).
Now wait for their call.(They normally take 10 days after the deadline of submissions). If you get shortlisted (usually 5-10 people get shortlisted), one of the officers will call you and tell you about the interview date and time.
How to prepare for interview:
Now you have few days in hands ( 5-10 days ) to prepare for interview. Decide which subject you would like to study. Because majority of your interview questions will be based on that. I chose Neurology and all my questions were regarding different neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Neurotransmitters, Pain pathways etc. One of the other candidates said Endocrinology and she was asked about the structure of insulin etc. So when you make up your mind about the subject, go through all the 1st-2nd year books regarding that. You can review biochemistry, physiology, pathology of that subject in a comprehensive way so that you don’t mess up the key things. It’s very natural to get nervous and make very easy mistakes. So, revise the basic and key topics.
Some candidates have been asked some personal and professional questions too like-
1. why are you interested to study abroad?
2. If you are in Govt job, do you want to leave the job? or will come back?
3. What you’ll do with the knowledge gained there after coming back?
4. Why don’t you study the same subject here? ( try to find out the specific gap that Bangladesh has in your chosen field. Like I said I want to improve the neurogenetics in Bangladesh so that we can diagnose disease early, even in prenatal period)
5. How Bangladesh will be benefitted by sending you abroad? ( almost same kind of answer in different way)
6. Have you already applied to any university?
Usually 3 panel members are present in the interview board. Usually they are very friendly. All you need to do is take good preparation, remain calm and confident and have faith on Allah.
Some people asked me whether any lobbying works here/ or needed/ or mandatory or not ?
I would like to say that if lobbying is needed, then Mallika Bonna apu, Sanjoy Chowdhury bhaiya, Mufti Mushfiqur Rahman bhaiya, Rafid Ahmed and me, none of us could have availed the scholarship. I believe, your marksheets and your interview skills will say everything about you. They will work as your jack/ lobbying or whatever. So stay confident in the interview session. Because we’ve seen even the best academic result holder didn’t get nominated because of his / her wrong answer to some questions. So, an excellent academic record and good interview skills both are important to get the nomination.
That’s all for today!
To Read Part-1 Click Here
Dr. Sanjida Chowdhury