Doctoral scholarship a dream come true

A Victorian scholarship program is helping turn dreams into reality for Sayali Shah.
The 25-year-old student from Pune, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, is one of seven Indian PhD students last week awarded the Victoria India Doctoral Scholarship in New Delhi.  The $90,000 scholarship will allow her to take up biotechnology research at the University of Melbourne, later this month. “I am basically from a middle-class family,” Shah told Campus Review. “I aspire to become a scientist and my dream would not have been fulfilled if I hadn’t received this funding.”
Together with the Australia India Institute, the Victorian government launched the doctoral program last June to help strengthen educational relationships with India. “We hope these PhD students will become the future ambassadors for Victoria in India,” Professor Armitabh Mattoo, the institute’s director, said at the time.
Shah has attained a bachelor of science (chemistry) and a master of science (organic chemistry) from the University of Pune. She said she learned about the Australian scholarship program through her supervisor. “I am very thankful to him for choosing me to be a part of his team and guiding me about the various scholarships available,” she said. “I also found further information about the scholarship from the university website.”
Last week, Mattoo and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu were in India to award the first of the scholarships, which will eventually benefit 10 students.  “[The] research will benefit both Victorian and Indian communities,” Baillieu said in a statement, adding that research topics included diabetes, drug delivery, livestock disease treatment, and optical broadband technologies.
The scholarships are designed to attract high-calibre students from India to Victoria.  The state has been hit by a downturn in international education of more than $1 billion, but still boasts more than 150,000 international students who contribute to a $4.8 billion industry, making it Victoria’s largest export sector.
“The government is focused on growing the partnerships between India and Victoria’s higher education sector, for mutual benefit that will strengthen research and development, deliver new global partnerships with industry, and generate economic benefit,” said Baillieu. The Australia India Institute was established at the University of Melbourne in 2009 with $8 million in federal funding. 

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