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Spotlight on graduate scholarships: Ernest Plange Kwofie

Ernest Plange Kwofie is from Ghana and was awarded an Oxford Graduate Scholarship to read African Studies at St Antony’s College. He explains how important the scholarship has been to his studies and shares his inspiring plans for the future.

What has been the impact of receiving the Scholarship?

Without a fully funded scholarship there's no way I would have made it here. From my background it would have been difficult to finance postgraduate studies even in Ghana. Without this scholarship, even if I had to pay one tenth of the cost then it would have still been a very difficult thing. But with a fully funded scholarship, I’m just thinking about books and not my pockets.

Also it has reduced most of the crucial things I have to worry about.  Already, I have a number of academic commitments so if I was to add financial pressure then it would have compounded the problem. The Scholarship has given me this moment of carefree time, not worrying or thinking about how I’m going to pay my battels and all the other academic costs. Now my finances are the least of my worries.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to work in academia and I'm hoping I can progress to a DPhil or a PhD elsewhere.

I want to work in academia … Without this postgraduate funding, that dream and that mission would have to retire.

I want to be a researcher and a lecturer and ideally I would like to go back home and do it. The environment here in Oxford is very intellectually stimulating, the structure of the course is very relevant for students, and you don’t have to worry about where the books are; everything is at your beck and call. These are things that I have not enjoyed very much back home in Ghana; there were a lot of things that we were missing. Ultimately, I would like to go back and transfer whatever I learn there, so that I can also help people get to this level. Without this postgraduate funding that dream and that mission would have to retire.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying for an Oxford graduate course and scholarship?

I would strongly recommend it. Previously I had this notion that UK schools don’t offer fully funded scholarships, that it’s difficult living in the UK, that it’s expensive. However, my experience has made me realise that the application process for getting admission or a scholarship in Oxford is more straightforward than you may think. After getting the scholarship, people were asking me ‘How did you do it? Did you have to pay anything? Which channels?’ and I just told them: ‘I just applied’. It’s not a system where you have to know someone in the University or in the UK. It’s very transparent and merit based. Any students around the world in Africa, Asia or wherever who is thinking of a postgraduate course, if whatever they want to study is offered in Oxford, then I would strongly recommend an Oxford Graduate Scholarship as it’s really generous and less cumbersome than other scholarships I’ve heard about.