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Useful Tips and Information for Indian ICCR Scholarship

ICCR Scholarship Portal: http://www.a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in/

Study abroad is always a big dream of most students after their high school as well as of those who want to pursue higher education abroad. However, financial constrain often prevents such a dream from coming true. An alternative is to win a scholarship or fellowship. Thousands of local, state and national scholarships are available. But you will never know unless you do the research and submit the applications.

Scholarship providers usually look for talented, high-performance candidates with the expectation that they, upon completion of the course of study, will contribute to the development of the field they focus.

Many scholarships are given by developed countries to the developing countries in order to contribute to the latter's capacity building. Some countries use scholarship provision as a tool to strengthen their relations with the recipient countries.

India, for example, established its scholarship body called Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for such a purpose.

Cambodia is one of the recipients of this scholarship which to some extent reflected the enduring good relations between Cambodia and India and deep cultural ties between the two countries. 

About Scholarship Schemes

Thoeun Vongdy joined ICCR Summer Camp 2015, Amritsar, Punjab. 
1. Government of India ICCR scholarship comprises various schemes for Cambodian students. The most important and popular one is the General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS) or General Scholarship Scheme (GSS). 

According to ICCR official website, "Scholarships are awarded under this scheme annually to international students belonging to certain Asian, African and Latin American countries for the undergraduate, postgraduate degrees and for pursuing research at Indian universities. However, scholarships for medical studies for MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or for medical research leading to a PhD degree are not offered under the GSS scheme."

Allotted slots of this scheme for Cambodia seem varied between 5 (as in 2013-14) and 13 (as in 2016-17). Air ticket is not provided.

2. Another important and regular scheme is Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Scholarship Scheme (MGCS). ICCR has introduced a scholarship scheme ‘Mekong-Ganga’ as agency work on behalf of MEA (Ministry of External Affairs). Under this scheme, a total of 50 slots are offered and each member country is allotted 10 slots. The countries covered under this scheme are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

This scheme is offered to meritorious candidates who want to pursue under-graduate, post-graduate, and higher studies in Indian universities in areas of contemporary relevance such as IT and vocational training, as well as culture-related subjects, e.g. ancient history, Buddhist studies, Sanskrit, preservation of manuscripts, archaeology, handicrafts, museology, oriental studies and anthropology.

The difference between GCSS and MGCS is that the latter provides two-way economic class air ticket. The rest are the same.

3. Apart from the above-mentioned schemes, since the academic year 2016-17, Government of India under India-Cambodia Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) provides two (02) scholarships for Cambodian students who want to pursue their course of studies in the same fields as provided by MGCS. 

4. Another scheme is university-specific. That is CLMV Scholarship (for Cambodian Students) for pursuing various courses in three schools, namely School of Historical Studies, School of Ecology and Environmental Studies and School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religion only at Nalanda University in Rajgir, Bihar State of India.

This scholarship provision is an initiative of East Asia Summit (EAS) participating countries including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam together known as CLMV. Two (02) allotted slots are granted for this scheme.

CLMV Scholarship at Nalanda University will cover the following: 

(a) One time to-and-fro transportation including airfare 
(b)Application Fee, Admission fee, Tuition Fee and Caution money 
(c) Residence and Meal charges 
(d) US $ 75 per month to cover their monthly expenditure

Khuon Ratanak joined ICCR Summer Camp 2015, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
5. Another scheme which is special is under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. This programme is mainly for the training of Cambodian government civil servants. It is interesting to know that "Under the ITEC programme of Ministry of External Affairs, over 1200 Cambodian nationals have been trained from 1981 onwards."

The variety of courses includes English, Computer Applications, Management, Entrepreneurship Development, Rural Development, Agro Industries, Labour Administration, Audit, Finance, Banking etc. 150 civilian training slots have been allotted to Cambodia in 2017-18.

Under Defence-ITEC courses, 9 slots for Army courses, one slot each for Air Force Navy have been allotted to Cambodia in 2017-18. This is the highest stipend scholarship scheme in comparison to others.

Government of India also sponsors Students Exchange Programme as part of India-ASEAN Partnership. This programme covers the expense of study tour of the students to various sites in India.

Be noted that scholarship terms and conditions are varied depending on schemes. Please see the scholarships' stipend and allowances here.

Process for GCSS, MGCS and CEP

First Stage

Khath Bunthorn joined ICCR Summer Camp, 2015, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
Usually, the scholarship is open for application to GCSS, MGCS and CEP in early December every year. Applicants are required to log onto “Admissions to Alumni” (A2A), the Scholarship Portal developed by ICCR at http://www.a2ascholarships.iccr.gov.in/.

This portal contains all the relevant information for the applicants including details of all State Universities, Central Universities and Institutes, colleges affiliated with them, courses available, availability of hostels, applications guidelines, eligibility criteria and other relevant information for helping the applicants in decision-making while applying for the academic courses of their preference.

Please carefully note the following:
  • Applications should be submitted latest by the deadline announced by Indian Embassy through the online application mechanism.
  • Applications should be complete in every detail. Kindly read the guidelines on the portal.
  • Short-listed candidates will have to appear for an English Proficiency Exam conducted at the Embassy of India.
  • Applicants should clearly mention the course to which they are seeking admission while mentioning choices.
  • Applicants are advised to go through the courses offered by the Universities carefully before finally submitting the application form. List of Universities where ICCR students are currently studying which is available at ICCR Website www.iccr.gov.in
  • ICCR does not award scholarship for MBBS/BDS courses and Casual Research/Diplomas/Short-term courses.
  • Applicant must produce a medical fitness certificate from the recognized hospital in the prescribed format available with the online application form.
  • Students applying for M.Phil/Doctoral/Post-Doctoral courses should submit a synopsis along with the application.
  • Students wishing to pursue performing arts should upload Video/Audio/YouTube link
  • An applicant should have studied mathematics, physics and chemistry at Higher Secondary level to be eligible for admission to science/engineering courses
  • Submission of application form does not guarantee confirmed admission.
  • Indian Universities/ Educational institutions are autonomous and independent bodies and have their own eligibility criteria on the basis of which they confirm admissions.

Second Stage

Short-listed candidates will be called for an English Proficiency Exam conducted at the Embassy of India. Hence, there is nothing to worry if you have English Proficiency. But other candidates may also have it. So your chance of passing the test is dependent on you and your competitors. However, you can do nothing with them but you can prepare yourselves better.

What to Prepare for Examination?

As far as I could remember, questions are set in 10 numbers (I-X; each carries 10 marks) which include grammatical part, reading passage, and essay. You are given one hour to write your best answers.

The grammatical part would include articles (a, an, the), synonym and antonym, conditional clause, and reported speech and more.

Passage would require you to read the text and answer the (five) questions.

The essay would often come in three options. You need to pick one and describe it in 250 words (if I am not confused). The essay can be pre-written as I am going to tell you what are those three options, and you are lucky and on the upper hand to know that. The three are (1) Write About Yourself, (2) Write About Any Festival in Cambodia, and (3), Why Do You Want to Study in India?

Question pattern, however, may vary from time to time. So don't totally rely on the pattern given here.

Third Stage

When you passed the written examination, you would be notified by a call or an email from the Embassy. And at the same time, you would be informed about your interview date which is the third state.

However, it is hard to tell about how the interview would be conducted as it is dependent on the interviewer mood and his/her disposal. He may ask about two or three questions on general knowledge or subject related to your past studies. Speaking and listening skills are required here. Do your best!

Fourth Stage

It may take as long as a week to know your result of the third stage. Within this period, a call from the Embassy would mean a happy moment for you. Unless you passed the interview you would not be contacted.

If you passed, next step is to do medical fitness (Calmette Hospital may be recommended and it's free of charge for monks), and recheck your application form and required documents (copy of passport, all academic transcripts, two recommended letters issued by your school or university last attended, and research synopsis for M.Phil/PhD).

Double-check your subject of study and its eligibility in the preferred universities. This is very important as it ensures your admission to the university. Checklist of Indian universities recommended for candidates here.

After that, submit your application form (before in five copies) and medical fitness certificate issued by recognised hospital to the Embassy.

Fifth Stage

The embassy will send your application to ICCR in Delhi or its regional offices in different states in India. ICCR will then send your application for admission to the three universities you have mentioned in your application form.

University will decide your application independently and ICCR has no power to influence the university decision.

Be patient! You have to wait for your admission result until July or August. And Embassy will contact you if they receive the admission letter from ICCR in India.

Sixth Stage

Congratulation! You got admission. Now you know your university name and the city it is located. But you may reject the offer of admission if you find that the university is located in a remote area or in any unfavourable city. But be aware that, you hardly get a second chance of getting admission from other university and hence your scholarship will be nullified.

If you agree to the offer of admission, ICCR officer at Embassy will ask you to sign a contract letter. It is kinda undertaking letter to demonstrate that you will complete your course of study in India in the stimulated time, and if not, you will have to refund all the scholarship expenditure you would have used.

But no worry! We have not seen any case like that yet, though some ICCR students had left before they could complete their study.

Next is to apply for Student Visa or Research Visa (for M.Phil and PhD) online and submit a copy of the application to the Indian Embassy.

As soon as your visa application is granted, book your flight ticket on your own or Embassy will do for you dependent on which scheme of the scholarship is yours. Now you are ready to leave for India, land of diversity and incredibility.

*For scholarship related inquiry, please contact:
Mr Adarsh Kumar Mishra, Attache (Education & Culture)
Tel.: +855 23 210912/913; Email: itecembindia@online.com.kh
For more details about ITEC Programme, visit ITEC website https://www.itecgoi.in

Embassy of India in Phnom Penh
No.50, Street No. 214, Samdech Pan Ave., 
Sangkat Boeung Raing, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
Tel No.: (+855-23) 210912 / 210913
Fax No. (+855-23) 213640 / 210914
Embassy Working Hours: 08.30 AM to 05.30 PM 
Consular Working Hours: 09.00 AM to 11.00 AM

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