Two Commonwealth students are celebrating receiving their Masters degrees from the University of York after three years of online distance study.
Ifeoma Nwakama and John Habonimana are Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship students and successfully completed an online Masters with York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work.
So far, four cohorts of 10 students have started their online studies, but Ifeoma and John are the first to attend graduation.
Ifeoma, from Nigeria, received a Masters in Public Policy and Management, at the graduation ceremony on 26 January. She said: “I work in the National Human Rights Commission Abuja. During the course I was moved from the Research Department to head a new Department of Strategy and External Programmes. The modules I did in Leading and Managing Change and Strategic Planning were life savers to say the least.
“Overall the exposure has helped me immensely and I do my work more confidently now. I am presently working as Head of Human Rights Education and Linkages in the same Commission.”
The scholarships are very prestigious and highly sought after and in the last recruitment round we received 300 applications for 10 places
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK is responsible for managing the scholarships, funded by the Department for International Development, which aim to combine academic excellence with the desire to make a real difference in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Applicants for the scholarships need to live and work in developing countries of the Commonwealth and work in or with public organisations, including NGOs, aid agencies and local or national government departments. They also need to demonstrate how they are working towards the Millennium Development Goals, which include universal education, gender equality, child health and environmental sustainability.
Ellen Roberts, Director of Programmes at York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, said: “We were really pleased to see two of our Commonwealth Scholarship students attending graduation and to meet them in person.
“The scholarships are very prestigious and highly sought after and in the last recruitment round we received 300 applications for 10 places. Students come to the online Masters courses with valuable knowledge to share from their employment and are able to apply what they learn to the workplace.”
This is a big achievement for me which has positively impacted my career and personal development
John Habonimana applied for the scholarship when he was working for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the Republic of Rwanda in Kigali.
John, who graduated with a Masters in Public Administration, said: “I would strongly recommend this course because the ‘virtual classroom’ is a unique learning experience. In addition, you learn from the experience of other professionals from around the world.
"Combining study with work can be challenging and requires a certain degree of discipline and commitment. I'm attending the graduation ceremony as this is a big achievement for me which has positively impacted my career and personal development.”
The Department of Social Policy and Social Work runs three online programmes with Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Public Policy and Management, Public Administration and Public Administration – International Development. It has also introduced three new Postgraduate Certificates in Delivery and Change for Public Services, Delivery and Strategy for Public Services, and Public Management in the Information Age. Start dates are in April and September each year and further details are available at www.york.ac.uk/spsw/postgraduate/online-study.