#loveHE: 1 in 10,000 chance to study abroad was dream come true

An Indian student who won his Sheffield place in a TV contest has just graduated, writes Neha Popat

September 30, 2010

Growing up in Mumbai, Caezaan Keshvani dreamed of studying abroad and pursuing a career in medical research.

However, with the cost of study already stacking the odds against him, a family tragedy in the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2006 seemed to deal a fatal blow to his ambitions.

"My father was seriously injured in the bombings and needed numerous operations," he explained.

With the family forced to spend its savings on his father's medical bills, Mr Keshvani's only hope of fulfilling his dream of studying abroad was to secure a scholarship.

"Like many others in the city, I was faced with the prospect of not being able to afford to live out my dreams," he told Times Higher Education.

However, that was before he heard about an Indian television game show, Airtel Scholar Hunt: Destination UK, which offered as a prize a full scholarship to study biomedical science in the UK.

"As this area of study is not so developed in India, I had to apply," he said.

From more than 10,000 applicants, Mr Keshvani was successful through five rounds of tests and quizzes to secure a scholarship.

Unlike popular TV talent contests in the West, such as The X Factor, the Indian show tested candidates on attributes such as critical thinking and data analysis, as well as their aptitude to conduct study in their subject area.

"After passing the final test, an experiment set by two academics from the University of Sheffield, I won a scholarship to the institution and could finally see my dreams shaping into reality," Mr Keshvani said.

He graduated from Sheffield with a first in functional genomics and stem-cell science this year, and said his experience had been "life changing".

"Considering my background and financial situation I still cannot believe I got here," he said. "Higher education in the UK holds such immense value all around the world, and has opened up so many doors for me."

The 20-year-old has now been accepted by the State University of New York to study for a doctorate in regenerative medicine.

neha.popat@tsleducation.com.

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