Searching for universities (or colleges) outside your country is not as easy as it seems. Add to that looking for a scholarship and the task just got harder. I thought it was a matter of searching for universities on Google and the results would send all the universities that I could apply to. I never thought that some sites would come along with offers from scammers or fake university offers. Many international students in Uganda look for universities rather than colleges; however, in many cases the challenges faced while applying are similar. I looked up the Commonwealth Scholarship and African students’ scholarship. Within two months, I was receiving offers from foreign men seeking an African wife.
After a month, I decided to ask around for some advice on how to get a scholarship or how to be admitted into a university abroad (for my case, Britain). These are a few pointers I picked up:
- Find out the seasons/semesters when universities advertise. (e.g. Summer, Winter or Fall)
- Look at the university website for information on location, funding and scholarships
- Look around for university exhibitions in your country. Education sections at Embassies and High Commissions have this information.
- Look at the Alumni page on the university website to find a contact for your country
- Ask those who have attended another university in your country of choice to see whether they can confirm its existence and location.
- Contact the university for more information and avoid “middle men” as much as possible, unless it is the university or college country office. Although some scammers do also respond to an inquiry as if they are a genuine university or college.
- Beware of scholarship programs that seem too good to be true. There is always a catch.
- Most universities in English speaking countries require you to take an exam in English proficiency. This is a requirement even for those countries where English is the official language, such as Commonwealth member states.
- Approach the universities or colleges in your own country for any referrals they might be able to make with any institution they partner with on a given course.
And while I say it can sometimes be a daunting task to weed out the fake from the genuine, keep researching and you will eventually find a great university course or scholarships program that suits you. Happy searching!