Published: 06th June 2020
Here's how Hyderabad-based WeMakeScholars helps students apply for loans and avail scholarships to study abroad
WeMakeScholars had started expanding their offline presence last year by recruiting on-field representatives for students who would hand-hold them through the whole application process
With the hope that 'this too shall pass', 'this' obviously being the pandemic, a significant percentage of students continue to hold on to their acceptance letters from universities abroad and even those who have bagged scholarships continue to keep calm. This is what we gather after a conversation with Damini Mahajan, CEO and Co-founder of Hyderabad-based WeMakeScholars, a start-up with a humongous database of scholarships. They also help students apply for loans through one of the 14-odd banks they have partnered with. Speaking of loans, they have also started a petition on change.org requesting the RBI and Ministry of Human Resource Development to extend the moratorium period of education loans to six months. "With so many students losing their job offers, this is the need of the hour," asserts Damini who launched the start-up back in 2014 with Arjun R Krishna who is the CMO.
They have over 1,700 signatures on their petition
This start-up, which began as a non-profit group and used to post regular scholarship updates on their Facebook page, continues to receive loan inquiries and currently, they have about 15,000 applications running. But what's happening to those students who have received their acceptance letter? "As per the survey we conducted, about 30 per cent of students are sure about going abroad, so they're waiting for things to get better because they have no backup plan, while another 30 per cent are clear about their decision to drop out. The remaining 40 per cent are choosing to wait and watch," says Damini who is from Jammu.
Damini also informs us that students are not thrilled about the fact that some of the universities have chosen to begin their first semester online. "Students sign up for the whole international experience when they decide to go abroad," points out Damini, who herself bagged a full scholarship to study Bioprocess Engineering at The University of Sheffield, UK, along with Arjun about six years ago. While students are also deferring their admission, there are certain universities who are not open to this because they are expecting more competitive profiles for the next term, she informs. Wait, what? More competitive profiles? "So, during the recession of 2008, because many were laid off, they took up international courses in order to upskill themselves or switch fields. We could expect a return of this trend," she points out. So, inquiries are still coming in though the students currently with them are in a dilemma but remain hopeful that this too shall pass.
The team | (Pic: WeMakeScholars)
Now that most of your questions about studying abroad have been answered (hopefully), let's get to know the start-up better. Because the duo themselves bagged a full scholarship each, many people turned to them for advice. That's what led them to start a Facebook group. When they realised the scope in the space they were operating in, they decided to scale up and offer loans to students too. On April 29, 2015, it was Dr Shashi Tharoor, politician and author, who launched their start-up in New Delhi. They were also incubated at BITS Pilani - Hyderabad who nominated them for a scheme through which they received funding from the Government of India.
"Though top management in banks promote education loans, those sitting at the desks remain tight-fisted," shares Damini. This is what happened when they had to deal with their first partners, SBI. But because they knew the management at SBI's head office in Mumbai, they could make things happen. "And the issue with private sector banks is entirely different, they have 'hidden charges' or are not completely transparent about the process," she says. So, with all this information, will you be going abroad to study?
Scholarship listed in their database:
43,019 - Engineering
27,402 - Social Sciences
25,315 - Life Sciences
22,867 - Arts
4,189 - Management
3,391 - Law
2,992 - Agriculture
2,973 - Architecture
For more on them, check out wemakescholars.com