QS Academic Excellence Scholarship: 2019 Winner

Craig OCallaghan

更新日期 January 16, 2020 更新日期 January 16

We're pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s QS Academic Excellence Scholarship is María José Uribe Pérez.

The scholarship, offered every year, is worth US$10,000 and provides support to a student commencing a master’s or PhD program anywhere in the world. Applicants are assessed based on their academic achievements to date, as well as the potential they show to make a contribution within academia or another area.

We caught up with María to find out more about how this scholarship will impact her studies and to find out if she has any top tips for this year's applicants.

What are you planning to study, and why did you choose the University of East Anglia?

I am starting a Master’s in International Development at University of East Anglia, focusing on water security issues in the developing world. I chose UEA because I found a program that seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

I was an engineer looking for a program in the social sciences that could give me a better understanding of the processes that shape development in a country like mine, and of the relationship between access to clean water and life quality.

This program is so flexible that I can tailor it to my precise needs, and it's hosted by a university of excellent academic quality, ranked in the top 15 universities in the world for development studies. Many of my future professors have actually worked on-field solving water conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. What better way to learn about water security and its impact on development from those who have had first-hand experience of contexts similar to mine?

What do you hope to gain from your degree? How will it affect your career plans?

My job has taken me to diverse regions within my country and I've discovered there's a huge inequality problem regarding access to public services. With my degree, I expect to become a decision maker in the public sector, to develop strategies that improve access to clean water in those regions of my country where it is currently scarce and of bad quality.

I want to devise solutions that address the needs of the least favoured population and improve their life quality. A master’s degree is fundamental to acquire such a job position, so it was definitely a key decision that I needed to make to have the chance of fulfilling my career goals, and I expect it to be really enriching on an academic level because it will broaden my abilities and the way I learn. 

How did you find the scholarship application process? How many sources of financial aid did you approach?

For me, applying to scholarships was a long process, especially since I had to juggle lots of other activities. Applications can be simple, but they also tend to be quite time-consuming.

Thankfully it tends to get easier with time, as you gain some experience. I submitted applications to all the scholarships that I could find for each specific program, and general scholarships such as this one. I submitted about six applications overall.

What was your experience of a QS event like? What were the highlights of your time there, and what would you recommend to future attendees?

Being able to attend the QS World Grad Tour at Bogotá was really interesting for me because I got the chance to speak with the representative of UEA for Latin America in person, and he gave me lots of information about the university and the city where it's located, which motivated me even further towards selecting that university for my master’s.

For future attendees, I recommend taking a look at the universities that will be present ahead of time, check out the degrees they offer, and have a clear idea of what you're looking for ahead of time. This way, you can get the most out of meeting the university’s representatives in person. Emailing them questions afterwards is always an option, but I find that communication tends to be easier in person.

What difference will this scholarship make to you? How would your plans have differed without this financial support?

This scholarship will make a huge difference to me because tuition for a graduate degree is quite expensive compared to the average income of a professional in Colombia. Without this support, I would have needed to take out a larger student loan and probably would have needed to take up a part time job for extra income.

With this support, I can now focus more on my studies and participate in student societies in my spare time, which I have heard are great ways to learn new things and make friends.

What advice do you have for other prospective students who are applying for scholarships?

To students looking for scholarships, my advice is to always have hope that you are the right candidate, and to apply to all the scholarships that you can find.

I know that applying can become tedious after a while, but you never know just what might make you stand out from the crowd, and the only scholarship that you have 100 percent chance of not receiving is the one you don’t apply to!

Personally, I recommend looking for a program you're really passionate about, keeping in mind it’s not just the reputation of the university but the actual program content and academic quality that count the most.

本文首发于 2019 July , 更新于 2020 January 。


As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.




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