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Fourteen students from India are the winners of a prestigious scholarship to attend the University of Sydney this semester. This marks the second year of the Sydney Scholars India program that is valued at up to $500,000 (INR 24,500,000) especially for Indian students.
Two of the winners include Ava Khan and Adhip Tanwar, who are understandably thrilled at the news. As part of the application, they had to share their ideas “that would bring change to India” and their impressive submissions have resulted in winning $200,000 scholarships each.
For Ava, who commences a Bachelor of Science (Health) with a major in Infectious Diseases, the scholarship provides an opportunity to combine her keen interests in biology and medicine.
Her unique idea was the development of an e-health system by linking individual medical histories to India’s already-existing Aadhar cards.
“We’ve already linked biometrics, bank accounts, and other information to our Aadhar cards. So I thought – why not use the system to make it easier for public health providers?” Ava told Indian Link.
“India has anganwadis (rural childcare centers) in 400 districts across the country. They’ve been digitised, but the workers themselves aren’t well-versed with the technology and many keep physical records. So why not link every Indian’s medical data with their national identification number?”
The idea came from her own experiences with healthcare as the daughter of an Indian naval officer.
“Our healthcare was always free with the best doctors but as I travelled more, I realised that’s not applicable for a lot of Indians. Households below the poverty line don’t always have access to good health care,” she elaborated.
With the scholarship, Ava has commenced studies at the university remotely due to border closures.
“I’m actually pretty happy to be studying from India as I’m able to immerse myself in academics without having to learn how to adapt to a new country. Also, if studying from home helps stop the spread of the virus, then that’s the least we can do!” she said.
For Adhip Tanwar of Delhi, the scholarship has allowed him to take “a leap of faith” to pursue a Bachelor of Advanced Computing after studying commerce in high school.
Adhip, like his change of course, has a unique story to share – he spent two years after graduation working as the executive assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Times group in India. While his friends began their undergraduate degrees, he worked out of San Francisco and learnt as much as he could about the business.
His “big idea” to bring change is an eLearning mobile and web application ‘TeachIndia’ to provide access to education to all Indian children.
“Of course platforms like Udemy and Coursera exist, but their benefits are limited because the courses are taught in English. As the pandemic has shown, online education has eluded poorer households,” Adhip explained to Indian Link.
“My vision is to host a network of teachers working part-time as tutors, teaching technical and vocation skills in India’s vernacular languages. I’d also envision government involvement so that the teachers are aided by, say, tax rebates or subsidies.”
When asked about his thoughts on pursuing his degree remotely, Adhip can’t help but chuckle.
“Everyone has dreamt of what their university experience will be, and after working for two years after school, I was looking forward to a campus experience. When the borders open, I’ll be on the first plane to Sydney!”
Dr Michael Spence AC, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, has called it a delight “to educate the next generation of leaders in India.”
“We’re proud to have the most generous scholarship package of any Australian university specifically for students from India. Our scholarship recipients are an important part of our university community. They contribute to the diversity of opinions and views at the institution, making our students’ educational experience richer,” he said.
He explained that, despite the pandemic, the university’s international enrolments are just 3.6 per cent lower than anticipated. Of this, 40 per cent of international students at the university are studying remotely.
“We would never have wished for the pandemic, but this experience has meant we’ve embraced the opportunity to enhance our digital literacy and discover new ways of delivering high-quality education,” Dr Spence shared with Indian Link.
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