There are a number of scholarship programmes which help students and academic staff from Otago head over the big pond too far off countries to study. One of these programmes is the DAAD scheme. DAAD stands for German Academic Exchange Service and they offer a number of excellent scholarships to help students and staff at any point in their academic career study abroad. Anna Bauer is the NZ rep for DAAD and is coming to visit us at Otago shortly. Before she arrives I thought it would be good to learn more about DAAD so that if you attend the information session you have excellent questions to ask Anna.
Mel Adams, Graduate Research School
Mel: Hi Anna, thanks for taking part in the GRS Blog. My first question is can you tell us more about the DAAD scholarship scheme and what it offers Otago students, particularly those who are studying at post grad level?
Anna: Hi Mel, thank you for hosting me again this year, it’s always a pleasure to come to U Otago, you’ve got a wonderful town here and very well organised university. For postgrads, the DAAD are offering several different things. Students embarking on a 2 year master’s degree can apply for support to spend either one year of their master’s in Germany, or do the entire degree in Germany and receive EUR 750 per month for the duration of their stay as well as a travel grant. Doctoral students enrolled in a PhD programme here at Otago can apply to spend a portion of their research time in Germany in order to gather data or collaborate and learn from researchers over there for anything between 1 and 10 months, receiving a monthly stipend of EUR 750-1,000 as well as a travel grant. The doctoral support is also open to people who’ve just entered their postdoctoral phase, a time when many don’t have a job yet, but are keen to continue research, which will often lead to a job for them.
Mel: How did you get involved with the DAAD scholarship scheme?
Anna: I’d known about the DAAD from early on during my undergrad days. The Service is very well known at German tertiary institutions, and actually, it’s the largest of its kind in the world, giving out well over a 100,000 scholarships per year at present. When I neared the end of my PhD phase, there was a call for applications, and I applied for the DAAD liaison position in New Zealand.
Mel: How do students apply for a DAAD scholarship?
Anna: Nearly all applications are handled online these days, of course. Prospective applicants should go to DAAD scholarship website and take it from there. It’s always good to check things out early to make sure you know your way around the DAAD application portal, and to be able to submit your application ahead of the deadline, so you don’t get stressed. In order to make sure no application is lost, it’s still required at present to send in two print-outs of your application by post. For most programmes, the print-outs are sent to the German Embassy in Wellington.
Mel: Why do you think it is a good idea to spend time at another institute while doing postgrad study?
Anna: It sounds a bit clichéd probably, but it’s basically about broadening your mind. Being educated in one place means that you’re exposed to the ideas there, but even if it’s a vibrant place research-wise, it’s sometimes difficult to think outside the box that is particular to that place. Going to a different place means you’re entering a different box, and that opens up new paths, new ways of going about things, and you’re then able to use these for your research. I studied at three different universities and then worked at a fourth during my time as a student, and I think it’s taught me as much about thinking in different ways as my studies themselves.
Mel: You are a lecturer at the Uni of Auckland, what do you think is the main difference between studying in New Zealand and Germany?
Anna: The main difference at this point, I’d say is that students in Germany don’t have to worry about tuition fees, because there are none at the over 100 public universities, no matter whether you’re a national or an international student. Apart from that, experiences are pretty similar on the whole, I’ve found. A sizeable number of unis are in located in smaller towns and dominate that town much like U Otago features hugely in Dunedin as a town. On top of that, many unis are also quite international, and you meet people from all over the world, something that is made very easy also by the fact that most students in Germany flat with other students, it’s a bit of a rite-of-passage really.
Mel: Finally, Would you like to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?
Anna: Hahah! I think I’d go with the duck-sized horses. Being nearly 1.80m tall, I’m fairly sure I’d be able to outrun them if our fighting goes pear-shaped at my end of the arena.
Anna is visiting us on Wednesday the 20th of May from 12 to 1pm in Quad 2 if you want to learn more about the DAAD Scholarship programme.
A number of scholarships are named after folk who have very generously donated money to help students fulfill their academic dreams. I always find it interesting to learn more about people who do this and in what I hope will be a regular feature here on the blog, this post looks at the person behind the named scholarship. To learn more about the Brenda Shore Award I caught up with Lorraine Issacs who helps with the selection process for the Award and we also hear from students who have benefited from her generous bequeath.
Lorraine: Brenda Faulkner Shore, nee Slade, (1922-1993) earned a BSC from Otago University in 1944-45, majoring in Botany. She was awarded an MSc and PhD, also in Botany, at Cambridge University in the early 1950’s and taught Botany at Otago until 1983, reaching the position of Associate Professor. She was enthusiastic and enterprising, and over the course of 35 years became a prominent figure in the Botany Department as a researcher and teacher. In later life she added the ability to paint botanically accurate plants to her many accomplishments, and always championed higher education for women.
Mel: The Brenda Shore Award is administered by the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women. Can you tell me a bit about the NZFGW and the connection to Brenda Shore?
Lorraine: NZFGW is an organisation of women graduates which aims to improve the status of women and girls, promote lifelong education and enable graduate women to use their expertise effectively. It awards educational scholarships to deserving women: Brenda Shore was the second holder of an NZFGW Fellowship which helped her attend Cambridge University. She showed her gratitude to NZFGW by setting up the Brenda Shore Post-Graduate Research Trust to assist Masters’ and Doctoral research by Otago University women, the recipients to be chosen annually by a panel of NZFGW members.
Mel: When you are assessing scholarship applications, who in your mind is the ideal applicant that you like to support through the Brenda Shore Award?
Lorraine: Because of Brenda Shore’s own preferences and interest, we like to choose postgraduate applicants studying one of the natural sciences (eg. Botany, Zoology, Marine Science, Geography, Environment of Science, Ecology) and carrying out research in the Otago, Southland or Antarctic areas. They also, of course, need to be passionate about their work, have the potential to add value to their society and be doing research to a very high standard.
Mel: I know you have reviewed a number of applications over the years, what is one tip you would give someone who is applying for a scholarship?
Lorraine: We ask applicants to tell us in 100 words about their life experience: women who use those 100 words wisely to tell us about their experiences, skill and potential to be successful in their future endeavours will have more chance of winning a Brenda Shore Award.
Mel: What is your favourite thing about being involved in the process of selecting a candidate for the Brenda Shore Award?
Lorraine: It is wonderful to give away money to serving women scholars and know that the faith we have in them will spur them on in their higher education. Since 2004 we have given 34 awards worth a total of $184, 000 – who wouldn’t be pleased about that!
Mel: Last year the Brenda Shore Award was awarded to Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge and Natalie Howes. I caught up with Kirsten and Natalie and asked them to explain what winning the Brenda Shore Award meant to them
Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge, PhD candidate, Biochemistry: One of the aims of my Master’s project was to determine the phenotype of effector regulatory T cells in colorectal cancer. To do this I had to design a new flow cytometry panel using a large range of new antibodies. The Brenda Shore award allowed me to purchase a variety of antibodies I would not have been able to purchase otherwise, and I would not have been able to get such a thorough phenotype of my cells of interest. This greatly benefited my project as I was able to get a more detailed insight into the cells of interest that I was looking at and to complete my research to the highest possible standard.
Natalie Howes, PhD, Food Science: My PhD has a large component of field work that requires me to travel extensively. At the time of receiving the Brenda Shore Award I was travelling 400km per week to collect samples from a farm in Southland for a period of four months. The Brenda Shore Award assisted with the significant cost of this travel which would have otherwise been financially burdening. The scholarship also enabled me to purchase sampling equipment on a need-to-use basis. This was especially beneficial for my farm trials due to their relatively unpredictable nature.
The Brenda Shore Award closed on 28th of February. For more details about this scholarship including application information please visit the Brenda Shore Award page on the University of Otago Scholarships website.