Owing to political volatility in the region, most Kashmiri students receive a severely disrupted education at all stages. This, alongside systemic barriers of discrimination, asymmetrical information and scarce funding, make it particularly difficult for them to access higher education and other opportunities for professional and personal development.
To address this problem, as well as the distinct challenges that Kashmiri students face, we have been providing customised mentorship support to learners hailing from Kashmir.
As a pilot, in July 2021, we ran a bespoke mentorship programme – the Chevening for Kashmir Mentorship Programme – and worked with 30 Kashmiri applicants on their graduate applications. While over half of them received offers from universities abroad, two of them received the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford and yet another received the Inlaks Scholarship.
In August 2022, we ran a three-day in-person workshop on capacity-building, career counselling and studying abroad for Kashmiri students from STEM, humanities, and social sciences backgrounds. The workshop, organised in collaboration with the University of Kashmir, and supported by the Thatcher Development Award by Somerville College, Oxford, was a great success with 900 participants showing up over the span of three days. You can access resources from this workshop here.
Under our 2022-23 Mentorship Programme, as of May 2023, 18 Kashmiri mentees had received admission offers from universities abroad. One of them received the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship, another received the John Poynter Scholarship to study at the University of Melbourne and a third received an internal scholarship from the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford.
We will continue to support Kashmiri learners with their graduate applications through our India Graduate Mentorship Programme 2023-24. Moreover, we will work towards helping them avail more opportunities for professional and personal development, such as through internships, research assistantships and leadership programmes.