Looking for someone to fund your higher studies in India or abroad? It seems that you need not have to worry at all and run around from pillar to post to acquire a scholarship or funding for your higher studies. Scan newspapers and google with the keywords ‘scholarship’ and, lo and behold, you will be virtually inundated with advertisements and notifications. It may look like quite a large number of ‘oh-so-benevolent’ philanthropists are waiting to meet you with their fat purses!
Look deeper and search behind the veils of the smart looking websites and seemingly well-defined processes of applications, screening, scholarship examinations, disbursal procedures, etc., and you will find a lot many reasons to doubt the true purpose of the various organizations offering scholarships for studies in India and abroad.
After thorough research and analysis of the business of scholarship and scholarship examination landscape in India, the iDreamCareer team has unearthed certain worrisome scenarios, about which an aspiring student, his parents, and teachers must be aware of.
When you are reading or searching about a scholarship/fellowship / another offering for financing your higher studies, be aware of the following scenarios and choose to apply for the right ones.
Dubious organizations offering scholarships
There could be some organizations, typically registered as a ‘Foundation’ under the Indian Trust Act, as a Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act or as a Section 8 Company under the Companies Act 2013 (therefore fully legitimate organizations under the Indian laws), which often fleece students by collecting a large amount of application fees and other procedural fees. It remains mostly unclear whether they have ever given out any scholarship to anyone.
A case in point is the Gaurav Foundation. Their website does not mention any details about the number of scholarships, what is the basis for selecting students for getting the scholarships, and how students are selected for receiving the scholarships. Although Gaurav Foundation claims to be affiliated with or ‘registered’ with NITI Aayog, Nasscom Foundation, Google for nonprofits, Save the Children, etc. but no details about its organization are available except few lines about their objectives, etc. There is no phone number available for contacting except a WhatsApp chat number and an email ID.
Whereas we do not know whether anyone has ever received a scholarship from Gaurav Foundation or not, but the Foundation is part the Gaurav Singhal Group and Gaurav Foundation seems to be one of their 15 brands, as per the group’s website!
Education consulting companies conducting scholarship examinations to collect data
If you are a student appearing for or have just appeared in the higher secondary level school-leaving examination, then you must be receiving hundreds of messages on SMS, WhatsApp and emails about admission offer to various engineering, medical, and management institutions as well as foreign universities.
Where do they get your contact details from? Well, there are many ways to get it, a few are legitimate, but most are by dubious means. One example of a legitimate source of your contact data is the MAT (Management Aptitude Test conducted by the All India Management Association) database which can be bought by the Business Schools using MAT as an entrance examination for admission into their MBA or PGDM programs.
An example of dubious means is the various ‘Scholarship’ examinations conducted by organizations involved in an education consulting or in helping private sector colleges and universities to get students applying for admission into various programs. These organisations typically offer ‘career counseling’, which is obviously biased towards their client institutions and often fleece you by intense persuasion. It is true that not all such consultants do that, but many do.
The real reason behind the ‘Scholarship’ examinations that these education consultants conduct is a collection of students’ contact data. No one really knows transparently as to whether any student has ever received a reasonable amount of scholarships from these organizations as the information that they provide to the public is just a set of pompous claims and decorated content.
It may be the scenario in case of the various scholarship entrance examinations such as the All India EngineeringEntrance Scholarship Examination (Secondary), All India Pre-Medical Scholarship Test (Secondary), and International Pre-Medical Scholarship Test conducted by the company named Brainztorm Technical Excellence Pvt. Ltd. This company is registered with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Their registered office is in Chennai and the operating office is in Noida.
A careful reading of the information provided on the website of Brainztorm Technical Excellence Pvt. Ltd. reveals that it conducts several scholarship entrance examinations and also offers marketing services and career guidance. The details about the scholarship amount, how students are selected to receive the scholarships, selection procedure, etc. are not mentioned in either one of the websites for the entrance examinations conducted by the company or in the company’s corporate website.
We do not know whether any student has received any scholarship from Brainztorm Technical Excellence Pvt. Ltd. or not, but we can advise students to use caution when applying to such scholarship examinations as offered by this company.
The basis of our doubt is the question as to why should an organization conduct an entrance examination for offering scholarships to engineering or medical courses? There are already many entrance examinations including the JEE, NEET, etc. If there is a philanthropic aim, one can easily select students for scholarships based on the scores in these examinations and also on the basis of past academic records.
Fake news on social media
If you are getting unsolicited SMSes, WhatsApp messages or email messages urging you to apply for scholarships or for appearing into a scholarship examination, then there is a high possibility that such scholarships are either fake or have some other hidden purposes, unless the messages are from well-known and reputed educational institutions or foundations like Azim Premji Foundation of Tata Trust. Besides, it is most likely that these reputed organizations will never send you messages. They may publish notifications in newspapers and websites but would not send unsolicited messages.
A case in point is the WhatsApp messages many people received last year about the scholarships for students by the Prerana Foundation in association with Infosys Foundation. The news was completely fake news although it is not established as to who sent such news. According to the website www.blastfakenews.com, Prerana Foundation clarified that the message was wrong, and they were not associated with Infosys Foundation.
As per the website of the Prerana Foundation, they offer financial aid to meritorious students from an underprivileged background and 2500 students have been benefited as on 11-August 2018. The Foundation offers several programs for the underprivileged students.
Recently, a message informing that the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, is doling out Rs. 10,000 to girls between the age of 1-18 years under a dubious Pradhan Mantri Balika Samriddhi Yojana was being forwarded on WhatsApp. The message was exhorting people to apply before 15th August and also to send the message to all friends. The link given in the message was http://sukanya-yojna.m-indian-gov.in/.
This was fake news and the link didn’t lead anywhere. There is a Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana announced by the Government of India in January 2015. But this is a savings scheme meant for the parents of girl children. The benefit of the scheme is a higher interest rate given to the account holders, which is much higher than the general savings bank interest rate. This scheme provides tax benefits too.
So, the PM was not really dolling out any cheque to the parent of a girl child. How far does fake news can take our imagination?
‘Scholarships’ offered by colleges and universities
You would often find advertisements for many engineering institutes, business schools, and universities in India in newspapers and social media, offering scholarships to meritorious students. Many reputed coaching institutions also conduct scholarship examinations.
Whereas they do offer scholarships to deserving students, but in the opinion of the iDreamCareer team, the main idea behind such scholarships is to ‘fish’ or attract students to apply to their programs. Only a few get the scholarships while most of the examinees get calls later from the admission or marketing teams of the colleges, universities or coaching centers.
While some of these colleges, universities and coaching centers do have good programs to offer but some others may not be good at all. Therefore, before applying for a scholarship examination conducted by an institute, a student should be sure as to whether he or she really wants to study for the institute’s or coaching center’s programs.
Similarly, before applying to a college or university in the lure of a scholarship, a student should be sure about the quality of the degree programs in the college or university and also about the faculty members’ profile, quality of teaching, accreditation status, affiliation or approval status and overall, about the reputation of the college or university.
Thumb rules to remember while looking for a Scholarship
The bottom line is that a scholarship or a scholarship examination could be dubious or altogether fake. When you apply for a scholarship or a scholarship examination, you should be cautious and find out the facts. The thumb rules are:
- Check out whether you can get clear information about how many scholarships would be given, what would be the number of scholarships, and what would make one eligible for the scholarship. Typically, the website of the organization offering the scholarship should have exhaustive and transparent information.
- Check out the details of the organization offering a scholarship. Is it a reputed organization? Is there any doubt or controversy about the organization? Is there any information available on who received the scholarships over the past few years?
- Is the organization asking for a hefty application fee or another procedural fee? If yes, then it may very well be a dubious organization. A genuine organization will not ask for a hefty application fee or other fees. Mostly, genuine organizations offering scholarships do not ask for any fee at all. Few do ask, but the fees are nominal and reasonable.
- Is the organization sending you unsolicited SMS, WhatsApp messages and emails? Is the organization calling you to inform that there is a scholarship available? If yes, then by all probability, the organization is either dubious or ‘fishing’ for you to apply to a college or university.
- Is there a business group or profit-making company behind the scholarship? If yes, is the group or company reputed? If not then, by all probability, the scholarship could be dubious, if not fake.
There are plenty of scholarships and other means of funding your higher education. So, you need not feel discouraged. The key point here is that you should be cautious, research well and use your discretion to apply for a scholarship or sit for a scholarship examination.
iDreamCareer has developed a list of all 1112+ scholarships which are all validated and real. Please read them on this link – https://idreamcareer.com/scholarships
- http://www.gauravfoundation.org/scholarship.html accessed on 11 August 2018 at 1:00 PM IST
- http://www.gauravsinghalgroup.com/ accessed on 11 August 2018 at 1:05 PM IST
- http://brainztorm.org.in/, http://ipmst.com/about_aieese_primary, https://www.aipmstsecondary.co.in/, and https://www.aieesesecondary.co.in/index accessed on 11 August 2018 between 12:30 PM and 1:54 PM IST
- http://blastfakenews.com/2017/09/23/ngo-prerana-infosys-and-scholarship-for-students/ accessed on 11 August 2018 at 1:19 PM IST
- https://www.prerana.ngo/ accessed on 11 August 2018 at 1:21 PM IST
- https://www.thequint.com/news/webqoof/no-pm-modi-is-not-giving-out-rs-10k-cheques-to-girls accessed on 11 August 2018 at 4:45 PM