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Australian Endeavour scholarships
The High Court in each Indian state shuts every year for roughly a month during summer vacations. Sunita Masani, a practising lawyer in the Bombay High Court, made the most of her break. She left for Australia to begin a four-month study under the Endeavour Executive Award. Valued at Australian $20,000, the scholarship offers professional development and a lifetime of skills. Both the Executive Endeavour and Masani are good examples of the educational and professional opportunities offered by the Australian government. Broadly named Endeavour Awards, these offer various forms of financial support to students and professionals.
The Endeavour Awards is the Australian Government's internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship programme providing educational opportunities for people across the world. Like Masani, several Indians apply every year for a scholarship to an Australian university which promises them much more than a degree. Studying in Australia is also about the experience of living the Australian way of life. Kelly Raj, Counsellor-Education, Australian High Commission, explains why Australia has emerged as a competitive educational destination for students. "Australia offers world-class education and caters to all sections of students and it is great for those interested in vocational and higher studies. More importantly the exposure, lifestyle and weather make it a great place to study. In this recession-driven time, a degree from Australia means much more for less money."
The Endeavour Awards do just that. The Endeavour Executive awards, for example, are designed for working rofessionals, and with fully paid tuition fees, it's a great way to get a break from work, earn another degree and win a scholarship. All in one go. With no age limits, the candidate has to demonstrate the potential benefits of taking the scholarship.
Vandana Nangia, one of the first batch of students of the Endeavour Executive Awards, recounts her experience of studying in Australia in one word: 'fantastic.' A teacher by profession, Nangia won a two-month scholarship to study Special Education at Monash University. How did studying in Australia help her professionally? "The Professional Development Programme at Monash helped me connect theory with practice for the first time. The country is rich in resources and encourages research and development of new knowledge." After her two months of the study of Early Intervention for Child Autism, Nangia finds her professional skills have been sharpened and feels more equipped to juggle the classes she takes in Gargi College and National Institute of the Mentally Handicapped in Delhi.
Getting to Australia
Everything depends on your application there is no interview stage. Nangia has this advice on how to increase your chances. "The panel which considers applications in Canberra comprises really smart people. Most of them are academicians, professionals and government representatives who can sniff a dishonest application in a second. If you want to apply, be sure of why you are keen to study in that particular course and university." Apart from this, make sure you get credible recommendations from people who matter and know you well. Secondly, make a power-packed statement about who you are and why you deserve to be funded. These tips are relevant while applying for any scholarship, but carry greater weight for the Endeavour scholarships as everything depends on the application.
In the last academic year, 12 of the 19 eligible applicants were awarded the merit-based and very competitive scholarships. You need to route the application through the organisation you work with.
What does the Endeavour offer?
The EE Award is not the only one offered by the Australian government for international students. There are five categories of scholarships: Research, Post graduate research, Vocational Education and Training, Professional Development and student exchanges.
1)Research Fellowships If you are a research student, apply for the Endeavour research fellowship. The Australian government offers two of these: the Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship and the Endeavour Research Fellowship. Both programmes offer financial support for short term research in Australia, anywhere between four to six months. What does the panel look out for? You should know exactly what you would like to conduct your research on and the research proposal must be relevant to the needs of both Australia and India.
2)Post graduate Research or Study Naturally the panel looks for good academic achievement. Relevant work experience helps in scoring points. Since the focus is on empowering individuals and bilateral concerns, the panel favours research proposals which would target a problem area in India. If you have done any social work, mention it, because the panel looks for applicants with the potential to put theory into practice.
3)Professional Development - Executive Awards You need not have an undergraduate degree to apply for this. All you need is 10 years of relevant work experience. Or a graduate degree with five years of related work experience would do as well. You could either opt to apply as an independent applicant, the way Vanadana Nangia did. Or your host institution could apply on your behalf as well, the way TERI did for Ranjeeta Buti who opted to apply to MacQuarie University for an exchange programme. This gave Ranjeeta an opportunity to share her experience as well as be connected to the international network of scholars in her research field.
Vocational Education and Training The vocational courses offered by Australian universities are very popular. The Endeavour scholarships are one of the few which encourage vocational studies and fund them as well. For all these applications, the panel appreciates and gives additional weightage to candidates with a record of community service. The community service could be in any field: in arts and culture, environment, multiculturalism, health care, civic education and business innovation. As Kelly Raj says, "Applicants simply need to demonstrate their potential to participate at a high level in academia or the wider community on their return home."