Owing to political volatility in the region, most Kashmiri students receive a severely disrupted education at all stages. This, alongside systemic barriers of discrimination, information and funding, make it particularly difficult for Kashmiri students to access higher education, especially in universities abroad.
Over the years, only a handful of Kashmiri students have applied to universities in the United Kingdom, and even fewer have been successful. Recognising this problem of representation, as well as the distinct challenges that Kashmiri students face, we provide customised mentorship support to students hailing from Kashmir for all aspects of university and scholarship applications.
As a pilot, in July 2021, we ran a bespoke mentorship programme for Kashmiri learners – the Chevening for Kashmir Mentorship Programme. Through this project, we connected 30 potential Kashmiri applicants for the Chevening Scholarship with 8 Kashmiri mentors who previously secured the scholarship as well as admission to UK universities. All 30 mentees submitted their Chevening Scholarship applications in time, and several have also been shortlisted for the interview stage (ongoing 2022 cycle). While the process is ongoing, two of our mentees have been admitted to the University of Oxford on fully funded scholarships. The disciplines we covered included law, engineering, social sciences, humanities, journalism, and fine arts. In 2022-23, these mentees will continue to receive guidance on their UK masters’ degree applications.
Encouraged by the success of our pilot initiative, we are now seeking to extend our support to more Kashmiris through our 2022-23 Mentorship Programme. All residents of Kashmir preparing to apply for a postgraduate degree in the UK are eligible to apply.