The University of Leicester has announced the names of its 2016 Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholars. These students have been awarded Commonwealth Scholarships to allow them to pursue a Master’s course in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management while living in their home countries.
The Scholarships have been awarded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission here in the UK. Pamela Komujuni Kalule from Uganda, Krishna Mohan Clarke of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Azukaego Nwando Nnaji from Nigeria, Daniel Howell Mendez of Belize, Sangeeta Pal from India and Yovanie Poinen of Mauritius have all been selected to pursue studies for the dedicated MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management (RCDM) by distance learning at the Civil Safety and Security Unit of the University of Leicester.
The six scholars fought off strong competition from over 150 applicants. They were welcomed on campus by the University of Leicester’s president and vice-chancellor Professor Paul Boyle on Monday 26 September while attending their first Study School visit.
Each Scholarship covers course fees, course materials, three visits to attend Study Schools in Leicester and a laptop.
The MSc in RCDM is a specialised course suitable for professionals and practitioners. The course bridges the traditional division between the management of technological, social and natural hazards by combining risk, communication, vulnerability and development theories.
Maximising students’ potential
Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennett, lecturer in risk management for the University of Leicester’s School of Business who won the scholarships for the University, said: “Commonwealth Scholarships are very special because they give opportunities to meritorious individuals from the Commonwealth nations. Scholars are able to read for our MSc in RCDM without leaving their home country which maximises their potential to enhance the development of their home nation with the knowledge and leadership skills they acquire from the University of Leicester.”
Ray-Bennett added: “The Commonwealth Scholarships also allow removal of the financial barrier individuals from Commonwealth nations often face when applying for our MSc in RCDM. This will offer a new beginning for winners of the Scholarships. Hailing from a rural area of North Bengal, I benefited from such scholarships for my entire higher education life. I received several grants from the Government of India to complete my BA in English Literature at Delhi University and an MA in Social Work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and for the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowship Programme in order to finish my PhD in Sociology at Warwick University. These opportunities changed my life. I’m certain these Scholarships will change our new students’ lives, too.”
Professor Paul Boyle (who has met with each of the Scholars) added: “I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome the recipients of the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships to campus. Our annual distance learning Study School allows students to visit their university, network with fellow distance learning academics and meet our academic team. These Scholarships offer the opportunity for students to study for a UK Master’s degree while living and working in their home countries, and have the added benefit of allowing them to develop their careers without having to leave full-time employment. It also means that they can apply new knowledge and insights into their working life while still continuing to study.”
All types of risk in focus
Krishna Clarke, an Enterprise Risk Management assistant for the Caribbean Development Bank based in Barbados, said: “Being from a financial risk background, and working in a development institution, it’s most exciting to complement my knowledge with a degree that can assist tremendously in the work that I do. The Caribbean has been struggling with development for some time. This is further inhibited by the frequency of natural disasters or other crises throughout the years. These events have caused losses of up to and over 100% of GDP. It’s my goal to become an expert in not only financial risk, but all types of risk including disaster risk so that, one day, I may be able to advise leaders or policy-makers within the region. It’s this extra incentive of helping the Caribbean region that drives my ambitions, and I hope to one day see our region be at the forefront of innovation and diversity.”
Yovanie Poinen, an environment officer at the Ministry of the Environment, Sustainable Development and Disaster and Beach Management in Mauritius, added: “This course will help in developing an in-depth knowledge of crisis management. The knowledge acquired will help me in my goal to provide expert input to improve the ability of the newly-set National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Centre of Mauritius in fulfilling its mandate, and notably so during times of crisis and when updating the National Disaster Scheme for Mauritius.”
Professor Zoe Radnor, Dean at the University of Leicester’s School of Business, concluded: “The Commonwealth Scholarships have a long and illustrious history. We’re very proud to welcome our new scholars.”