If you have found yourself reading this, chances are that you, your family, or your friend is interested in pursuing a postgraduate study in the UK and is currently searching for scholarship opportunities to financially support that decision.
There are several different scholarships with varying amounts of funding, terms and conditions that might cover your needs. However, in this article, the author will specifically discuss the British Council’s GREAT Scholarships Indonesia —what they are about, what they are not about, and how to apply for one—written from the perspective of a 2020 GREAT Indonesia scholar herself.
First of all, if you’re not familiar with it yet, British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. British Council helps young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. British Council supports them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. British Council work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise.
British Council, along with the UK government’s GREAT Britain Campaign and participating UK universities, jointly fund the GREAT Scholarships through the Study UK campaign. For 2021–22 academic year, it is available for citizens of 13 countries, including Indonesia. The funding is worth a minimum of £10,000—which is around 40–50% of most UK postgraduate-taught course. However, it can reach up to £25,000 depending on the university.
It’s important to note that not all UK universities have participated in this program. The countries that are eligible for GREAT Scholarships in each university also change every academic year. As such, it’s important for you to check whether the university that you plan to be enrolled in offers GREAT Scholarship for Indonesians that year (click here for the list of 2021–22 GREAT Indonesia Scholarship universities).
Also, remember to check the university website to see if the course you’re applying to is eligible (some universities only give GREAT Scholarships to selected courses e.g., STEM)!
Once you hold an offer to that course, you can then apply for the GREAT Scholarship before the deadline (ranging from late March to early June depending on the university).
The application process for this scholarship is actually pretty straightforward. You don’t have to send a separate application to Study UK. You just have to go to your chosen university portal and apply through their scholarship portal (which usually is the same portal used for your initial course admission).
Basically, as we Indonesians call it, the whole thing is pretty much ‘satu pintu’ (served through one point of access).
This enables ease of concurrent applications to various scholarships in the university that you’re eligible to. However, if you manage to get approved for more than one scholarship, you need to ask the university’s scholarship assistant if you can stack them. It would be a huge advantage if it’s allowed. Otherwise, you have to decide and choose which one will be most beneficial for you (in my case, I decided to let go of my university’s International Postgraduate Excellence Award to receive the GREAT scholarship).
Regarding the required documents, the general rule of thumb is that you have to give details of your academic achievements as well as your motivations and goals. Different universities ask for this information in different ways. You either need to upload them as documents, fill up a form, or both.
And that’s it!
In due time, you will receive an email notifying the result. In addition to that, you can always check the status of your scholarship application in the scholarship portal (whether it’s on hold, in review, rejected, etc).
If you’re awarded this scholarship, the university will directly apply the fund to your university account. It can only be used for tuition and you won’t receive the fund directly, so you can’t use it to pay for your living cost. However, unlike some fully-funded scholarships, you are not required to return home for a period amount of time following the completion of your degree. Therefore, once you graduated, you can directly go ahead and look around for PhD opportunities or gain work experience in the UK or other countries.
You also automatically become a part of a large and diverse network of GREAT Scholars and get to be involved in the promotion of UK higher education and culture.
All that’s left is to perhaps ask yourself whether coming to the UK in such an unprecedented time is right for you.
I admit, travelling 11,751 km from home to pursue a postgraduate degree overseas in the middle of the pandemic was not the easiest choice I’ve made in my life. However, in addition to my parents’ encouragement, I believe that life will always be filled with surprises and turbulences—and worrying about those things constantly will get me nowhere.
Besides, rest assured that whatever happens, there are still ways you can stay active (i.e., in addition to my study, I’m currently working for the university’s COVID-19 testing service as well as virtually volunteering for a local social enterprise).
I hope this article will be useful to you in bringing more awareness to the GREAT Scholarship and giving you a vote of confidence to pursue your dream. Best of luck!