In a disheartening turn of events, the announcement of the third edition of the Rajiv Gandhi Scholarship for Academic Excellence has raised concerns among students who are rapidly approaching their admission deadlines. It is unfortunate that this foreign scholarship program has been unveiled at a time when the admission season for foreign universities is drawing to a close. The program, which provides 500 fully funded scholarships, aims to support students intending to study in the top 150 foreign universities according to the QS World Ranking.
Rajiv Gandhi Scholarship Dates
The evaluation process for the scholarship applications has been divided into four phases spanning seven months, with deadlines set for June 30, July 21, November 15, and January 15, 2024. In the first phase, candidates with an annual income up to Rs 8 lakh will be considered, while the second and third phases will assess candidates with annual incomes falling into two categories: up to 8 lakh and between Rs 8 and Rs 25 lakh. The final phase will introduce a new category for those with an income of Rs 25 lakh and above.
Madhu Sudan, a consultant at SI-UK, expressed concerns about the first phase of applications, explaining that while students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds will be considered, the admission deadlines for prominent universities in the US, UK, and Australia will have already passed by the time the merit list is announced. This unfortunate timing may result in students with conditional offers from April to May missing out on the scholarship opportunity.
For many students, the delayed guidelines and the seven-month evaluation process (June 2023 to January 2024) have caused distress, especially for those facing imminent offer acceptance deadlines. Mahika Singh, who secured admission to a listed university in Australia for an undergraduate program in May, is one such student. The last date to deposit the commitment fee and secure admission is June 25. Singh finds herself in a difficult situation, as her university is unwilling to extend the deadline and her family is hesitant to take the risk of depositing the fee without assurance of the state government scholarship.
Efforts to seek a response from Bhawani Singh Detha, the principal secretary of the higher education department, regarding this issue have proven unsuccessful, leaving students uncertain about their options. The next deadline for submitting applications is July 21, which pertains to candidates falling into two income groups. Those relying solely on scholarships and falling into the latter income slab are faced with a dilemma.
Timing of the merit list
Puneet Sharma, an education expert, raised concerns about the timing of the merit list for the second phase, which will be announced at the end of August. By that time, only a few students are likely to have received offer letters from foreign universities. Students who do not make it to the merit list will undoubtedly be disappointed. It is crucial for the government to recognize that foreign universities adhere to strict admission deadlines.
In the midst of excitement and aspirations, students find themselves caught between limited timelines and the uncertainty surrounding the scholarship application process. It is our hope that the government will take note of these concerns and address the challenges faced by aspiring scholars, ensuring that deserving students are not deprived of this valuable opportunity for academic growth and success.