Former WHT scholars always looked dreamy when telling us about the days at the Cumberland Lodge. “It’s really special”, they’d recall. When our bus drove through the bare trees of Windsor Great Park, on a sunny winter morning, we were quickly ushered into the lodge’s old Victorian library to find out why.
Interview and presentation skills were the first part of the programme. But in order to really get through to any public, we were encouraged to look deeper into ourselves. In order to connect, we had to get personal. We had to tell our stories. We had to convey our “personal truth”. It was the start of a journey where we laid bare aspects of our personalities and our aspirations, exposing each other to our colleagues, and even to ourselves. Read more “When Presentation Becomes a Quest for Personal Truth: A Retreat at the Cumberland Lodge”
When did it first occur to you to apply to Oxford? What were you doing then and what sort of changes were you seeking in deciding to apply for your masters in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance?
I had been leading two major projects: social enterprise to create employment opportunities for women in Nepal and a network of diverse women to create spaces for women and young girls to talk about tabooed issues related to bodies, gender and sexuality. The social enterprise, part of a larger non-profit called Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI), wanted to realize a climate-smart world with creative and sustainable solutions. In order to develop green employment opportunities, I launched and operated stores to promote local green products made by women entrepreneurs. I trained, mentored and engaged youths in discourses to reimagine what development should look like in Nepal and led campaigns to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags. My activism and social entrepreneurial experience opened my eyes to larger cross-cutting issues, especially between women and the environment. To explore such interconnectedness, between social and environmental structures, and gain knowledge I can use to design policies and projects at the intersection of these domains, I decided to apply to the NSEG program. Read more “Seeking New Opportunities where Society and Nature Meet – Q&A with Bivishika Bhandari”
For many of us, our greatest childhood fantasies always involved candy stores and unlimited supplies of sweets. Our fantasies grew with us, but I never imagined that one so far-fetched as studying at the University of Oxford with a full scholarship would be realised. The Weidenfeld Hoffmann Trust (WHT) scholarship granted me a once in a lifetime opportunity to further my studies in an area I am passionate about, Water Science, Policy and Management, in a world-class university.
I had these thoughts on my mind the morning of Saturday the 2nd of November 2019, while, too excited to even feel the cold gushes against my cheeks, I was waiting for my very first ride to London to attend the Battle of Ideas Festival, an annual debating event held at the Barbican Centre in the heart of London.
At first, I thought my presence at the debates would be questioned; isn’t that for philosophy and art students? However, looking at the other WHT scholars I felt reassured. There were students from fields such as Social Science of the Internet, International Health and Tropical Medicine, Biodiversity and Conservation Management, Computer Science, Public Policy and Business Administration; an indication of the academic diversity within the cohort, one of the strong points of the WHT programme. Read more “What I learnt at the Battle of Ideas 2019”
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn ̶ ̶ Alvin Toffler
This quote by Alvin Toffler was brought to life for me on the 10th of October 2019 when I attended the Essay Writing Skills workshop organized for the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust (WHT) scholars. The workshop taught me new skills, revealed the flaws in my old habits and reminded me of good habits I had forgotten. In just an hour and half, I had the privilege, together with my fellow scholars, to learn, unlearn and relearn important skills and lessons about writing which I would have otherwise not known. Read more “Essay Writing Workshop: A Toolbox for Communication and Creativity”
When we participate in new experiences that are outside of our comfort zone or our routine, there is always a lot of learning that takes place, especially from people. This was the case for the Robin Hambro Moral Philosophy Seminar, one of the first components of the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarships and Leadership Programme. I arrived at Oxford three days before the start of the Seminar, stressed and anxious, with four large suitcases. Being a lawyer by background, I was not stressed about the upcoming discussions of Machiavelli’s and Weber’s works, as I had to argue a lot about the issues these philosophers raised when I was a law student. What made me anxious was the upcoming meeting with 30 amazing people from all over the world. Read more “Our Introduction to the WHT Family Through Robin Hambro Moral Philosophy Seminar”
Studying at Oxford is expensive, but there are many
scholarships available for MSc students. With advanced planning, there is a
good probability that you will be able to secure at least some funding for your
MSc. In fact, after debating whether to apply to Cambridge or Oxford, this was
a main reason that I eventually opted for the latter; Cambridge seems to offer
significantly less scholarships for MSc students.
Obvious Links, Hidden Links
If you’ve read my page about Oxford colleges,
then you already have some understanding of the separation between Oxford
University and the Oxford colleges. As a result of this, you should apply for
scholarships through both the general university system and through the
colleges themselves! This is something that I, and many of my foreign
colleagues, did not fully comprehend before arriving at Oxford.
For a list of university scholarships, see here.
Although the university search engine is supposed to list all the college
specific scholarships as well, I’ve found that in practice this isn’t the case.
For instance, this page listing
the numerous scholarships specific to New College offers options that do not
come up in the university search engine results. (On a slight tangent, and as a
quick anecdote: “New College” is so called because it was new when it was
founded in 1386!)
My general recommendation is to first exhaust the
options in the university link above, and then to start googling each of the
colleges individually, the good old-fashioned way, starting with the wealthiest
Weidenfeld-Hoffman Trust Scholarship
During my time at Oxford, I was extremely fortunate
to be fully funded by the Weidenfeld-Hoffman Trust (WHT) Scholarship. The
Scholarship is aimed at 1 year MSc students from around the world, and includes
around 30 students each year.
The WHT scholarship staff are exceptionally kind,
generous, and helpful, and they made my year at Oxford so much more warm and
comforting. Amongst other things, the scholarship arranged a several-day,
pre-term seminar for the scholars about leadership and morals, which was both
interesting and allowed the scholars to get to know each other well before the
term started. Throughout the year, WHT hosted further leadership sessions, as
well as lighter events such as tours of Parliament and ice-skating in London
Part of what I believe sets this scholarship apart
from, say, the Rhodes Scholarship, is its intimacy and multiculturalism. Since
there are no more than 3 scholars from a specific country per year, this means
that there are no country-specific cliques and that there is space for
non-American perspectives to be thoroughly heard and focused on. The trust
keeps in touch with its graduates, and we alumnis have always felt that we have
gotten a gift of supporters for life, who will always be happy to help us with
If you want to learn more, have a look at the WHT website, and feel free to email me if you
have any questions.
Advice for Applicants
The trust was created by George
Weidenfeld (1919-2016), who led an inspiring life and built
himself up from scratch in the UK after his move there in 1938, he and his
family having managed to leave Nazi Germany. The trust is further supported by
Michael Lewis and André Hoffmann.
you apply for the scholarship, take the time to read about about George
Weidenfeld and understand the vision he had. Learning about his life will leave
you wiser and more humble, and will also help you better prepare for the
application interviews, since you will have a better grasp of what the
scholarship is looking for.