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Explaining Scholarships: Part 2 June 18, 2008

Posted by mervatabuelkheir in Research.
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In this second part, I’ll explain the other two categories of scholarships that researchers can pursue. As a reminder, I’ll list the four categories again:

  1. Egyptian-funded scholarships; or what we call “be3that” or in English “missions”. These missions generally involve specific research areas.
  2. Governmental scholarships funded by foreign countries; they’re typically a part of the cultural and academic collaboration between Egypt and other countries. They are called “mena7″ or in English “Scholarships”. Like missions, these scholarships involve specific research areas.
  3. Scholarships offered by foreign entities to promote higher education in developing countries. These scholarships don’t necessarily involve specific research areas.
  4. Scholarships offered by academic institutions abroad and announced by a specific research center, academic department, or school, and always are offered for a specific subject area.

3- Scholarships Offered by Foreign Entities to Promote Higher Education in Developing Countries

This kind of scholarships is offered by organizations that are willing to pay tuition fees for researchers so they can study in the countries of these organizations. The most important condition (besides applying and qualifying to be accepted) is that these researchers have to go back to their mother countries to serve there. Some of these organizations may send announcements to specific departments in universities, but mostly you have to work on you own to find these types of scholarships. Sometimes the scholarships are themed; for example promoting women in science or minorities or things of the sort. So it’s very important that once you find such a scholarship that you identify if it’s “themed.”

What to do: Here you have to do some work besides the routine checking of the department’s secretary. You need to develop a plan of extensive and thorough online search for such scholarships. You can use any of the following search terms:

  • Computer science PhD scholarship
  • Computer science PhD studentship
  • PhD scholarship + “Your general area of research; for example artificial intelligence”

Or any variation on these terms. Three Points to make here:

  • A studentship is similar to a scholarship but involves summer work on a research project. The financial amount paid to the recipient is normally tax-free, but the recipient is required to fulfill work requirements. Types of studentships vary among universities and countries. In the UK, studentships are rarely given out due to limited funding. In North American universities, studentships are more commonly known as teaching and research assistantships. Studentships are almost exclusively awarded to research students, preferably at the PhD. level.
  • You have to focus on the deadlines; announcements for old scholarships are sometimes found and extremely frustrating, so you may want to add the year you want to your search, preferably an academic year ahead (If we’re in 2008 then you want to find scholarships whose deadline is either by the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009)
  • You HAVE TO prepare the language level required by the announcing organization or the institutions in that country. This may not be mandatory, but it sure enhances your opportunities in being elected for the scholarship. Did I forget to tell you these kinds of scholarships are also competitive? They are.

Useful websites that will be valuable in your search for this category are:

4- Scholarships Offered by Academic Institutions Abroad

Now this category is the most complex, but let me explain it a bit more. Basically there are two aspects to this category:

  • Academic schools or departments present scholarships every academic year for their national students as well as overseas students willing to pursue a higher academic degree. It’s a part of the school or department’s contribution to society.
  • Research centers (led by senior professors) have research projects that are funded by their governments. These professors want young researchers to work in these projects; each contributing a part to the total project and in the meantime obtaining his or her degree. Since these projects are funded in advance, the professors can pay for these young researchers to be on the project. Of course this involves getting actual performance and productivity out of the researcher.

What to do: Deciding to go for a scholarship of this kind requires extensive work. First of all, I’d like to refer you to this entry I wrote about establishing correspondence with foreign professors and academic departments. The first four steps will be done anyway (namely: identify countries of strong research status, identify top universities, identify faculties or departments or schools related to your field, and learn about the PhD research program they offer.) Once you’ve done that, you need to check the universities you chose for scholarship announcements, and make sure you check the PhD scholarships as these universities also offer scholarships for undergraduate students. After you put your hands on the scholarship announcements, you’ll find sufficient information about the application process and requirements, just make sure you check what costs the scholarship covers, because some offered scholarships are limited to only tuition fees, after that you have to cover your personal expenses. Not all of them are like this though, so you still have a good chance.

Now if you want to go the other way, which is to search for a research center’s scholarship offering, that would be your most flexible option. You can do this either following my guide here to the end, or by again searching the Internet for things like these:

  • PhD Student required (needed, wanted, and so on) in “your research area” + “preferably the next academic year”
  • PhD studentship + research center + “your research area”
  • Research Assistant required (needed, wanted, and so on) in “your research area”

Of course I’m assuming that people reading this know how to manipulate search parameters to find the best results. I use double quotes all the time, but some people prefer a more generalized form.

My personal thoughts on this last method is that it’s better and more systematic to search for academic departments and research centers in your research area and check whatever they may be offering. It will save you a long and painful screening process of the search results.

Finally some useful link for this entry in general:

I hope this entry would be of use to anyone reading it, and if anything needs more clarification, I’d be happy to respond to the request by e-mail or via comments.