Scholarships get a new dimension
The Societe Generale Global Support Centre scholarship, launched this academic year, covers tuition fees and accommodation expenses of 11 students who are pursuing their masterís programme in premier institutes of technology and management studies. It also promises mentoring and support. L Subramani reports
It took a few days for Sumit Anand to truly understand the significance of his achievement. Twenty-seven years old and with a few years of work experience on his resume, Sumit decided that the best way to further his goal of becoming a business analyst was by signing up for an MTech course at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Bangalore. Sumit knew that the programme would be expensive and promptly applied for a loan.
“I was given an application at IIITB for a scholarship. But I applied for it without any expectations,” Sumit says. “Naturally, I was over the moon when I was told that I had got the scholarship.”
The Societe Generale Global Support Centre (SG GSC) scholarship, for which Sumit was one of the 11 students selected for the 2010-11 academic year, covers tuition fees and accommodation expenses, which add up to a few lakh rupees.
“The fact that I am not required to sign a bond that will tie me down to the company offering the scholarship really appealed to me,” Sumit says.
“Our aim is not to covet their skills, but to create leaders who would make their communities better,” says Nippi Kochhar, CEO, SG GSC, the Bangalore-based global processes and solution provider for the French bank that has initiated the scholarship scheme in India.
“When someone has to finance their course in premier institutions through loans, it puts tremendous pressure on them. Rather than focusing on their course, their first worry is to get a job and start paying back the huge loan. This is a constraint on their creativity and innovation, which would otherwise benefit the community they serve. So, we thought supporting them is the best way to ensure that the community benefits at large,” Kochhar adds.
Launched this academic year, the SG GSC scholarship not only provides financial assistance but also promises mentorship and support to students.
“We kept the number of candidates to 11 since our organisation has 11 business streams,” Kochhar says. “The idea is to assign the heads of each of those divisions as mentors for those 11 candidates.”
Prof S Sadagopan, Director, IIIT-B, describes scholarships such as the one provided by Societe Generale as “soft branding”.
“It’s one thing to put out the name when someone has benefitted through Corporate Social Responsibility program-mes, but it’s quite another to just leave an impact and say nothing. This ‘soft branding’ leaves a stronger impression. The best example is the scholarships we got to study in the US. Several years later, it still makes us think warmly of the university that awarded the scholarship and the country where we lived to pursue the course,” Prof Sadagopan says.
Through internal mentoring, IIIT-B faculty members ensure that students availing of the scholarship remain motivated to perform well in their courses.
Prof Sadagopan says the students are told that continued assistance would depend entirely on their performance.
“More than a threat, we use this as a pressure mechanism on them so that they take it seriously and perform,” he says.
“I consider this a tremendous opportunity to focus completely on studies,” says Pushpak Agarwal, who is beginning his MBA programme at IIM-Bangalore on an SG GSC scholarship.
“I’m from a middle-class family in Porbandar (Gujarat). My dad is the only earning member. The scholarship has spared me from adding to his financial burden,” he adds.