Getting started to search European PhD scholarship online : Brief Guide for Pakistani Students [Full Article]

Moonisa
9 min readFeb 20, 2023
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First, as there are different types of scholarships, sharing it’s few links is not enough. You’re more likely to miss some opportunities because of these limitations. I made this video for more clear process https://youtu.be/Z3UorrM-49A

How to search for scholarships

Directly search on Google to have most results from scholarships forums and Universities/Research Centers as well

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Steps

  1. Search for your required subject domain and education level. For example my case was PhD computer science / information technology scholarships. Also try changing your search words e.g. PhD positions for Pakistani women in computer science etc.
  2. You’ll find many scholarship forums/websites related to your domain. Also, you also get links of Universities offering those positions
  3. Open anyone link, check for the schedule details, find the name of the institution/professor who’s offering this. Then directly search about it on another tab in Google
  4. Try finding scholarship details on the University website. It’s the most authentic source. Just verify the University name on Google Ranking before applying to be sure you’re not going to any scam. At this step you should have information about admission requirements including CGPA, IELTS/TOEFL, language proficiency level, eligibility criteria and other details.
  5. Either you can find a specific position for a project or you can also find a list of universities offering your desired program. Lastly, you read the details on the website to search for your program or masters/phd position.
  6. If you are applying to a university directly, you can apply via their application portal. Or if you plan to contact the professor, then you should find emails and names of the professors offering your required positions, contact them via their email / or email on the given ID provided on the admissions page.
  7. Keep email short and to the point. Attach your good clearly formatted CV with email for initial review. Keep repeating the process till you start getting results. Don’t feel low/disappointed as it’s an unexpected process.
  8. For Masters, you might also need a Pre-Enrollment Letter (You can get more information about it in the facebook group of Pakistani students in Italy. For PhD it’s not mandatory.
    Link: Pakistani Students Association In Italy https://www.facebook.com/groups/929444903850727/

My suggestion is, keep hopes up and don’t get attached to any particular country. Do not fixate to Italy, all countries are fine to apply.
The important thing is you get a good scholarship.

Well-known International scholarships

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Scholarships (I received this scholarship award)
  • CSC Scholarships | China Scholarship Council
  • DAAD: German Academic Exchange Service
  • Fulbright Scholar Program
  • Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship
  • Chevening Scholarships
  • Erasmus Mundus Scholarships for International Students.
  • Türkiye Bursları Scholarships
  • Australia Awards Scholarships (Australia)
  • Eiffel Excellence Scholarship Programme (France)
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships (UK)
  • Clarendon Scholarships at University of Oxford (UK)
  • Max Planck scholarship

Every university has their individual scholarships too, which you can apply for as well. There are more, search by yourself directly for your particular program/subject of interest.

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Scholarship Application Process Timline (Overview)

Step 1 Keep your documents ready. Also get recommendation letters. Get 2 good recommendation letters from Dr title holders / 1 letter from industry(company) is also fine.

Step 2 Find a program (country University etc) subject you wish to apply, Also look for scholarship at same step.

Step 3 You might need to contact admission office and also the Professors for the position details or other particular questions you have.

Step 4 Complete their requirements / follow the interview cycle (if any)

Step 5 Get offer / admission letter

Step 6 Apply visa and wait for the results. It is time-taking process.

Step 7 Hopefully with accepted visa, join the university

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Documents Verification & Attestation Process for Pakistani Academic Profile

  1. Verification of Matric + inter degree from your board (in my case Gujranwala Board).
  2. After verification, attestation of Matric + Inter degrees from IBCC (Inter Board Committee of Chairmen Lahore)
  3. BS / MS attestation from HEC (Attestation of BS/MS documents; take appointment first from HEC and then you should apply for attestation.)
  4. Polio Certificate from government office (depends on country requirements — check the requirements on relevant embassy website)
  5. Attestation of all degrees and documents at MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Lahore or Islamabad.
  • Verification/Attestation of Documents is time-taking task, so better do it asap
  • It took me 8 months to complete the application from start to end. I hope it does not take long in your case.
  • Also watch YouTube videos, vlogs regarding your University admission process, and also get visa requirements about the country you wish to apply to, these videos and vlogs have many details.
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Writing Email to Professor / Supervisor for a particular position

1st Para: Tell about yourself and undergraduate major in 2 lines. And also, for what term you will be applying to and university name.

2nd Para: Tell about your research interests. Tell how your research experience/interests line up with your intended professor’s. Tell about what you know about his work from his online footprint. Why does a specific topic interest you?

3rd Para: Highlight something significant you did recently. And point towards your brief CV in attachments for further details.
Those highlights could be one or more of the following
- Research Experience (Duration/Topic)
- PublicationCGPA High / Excellent Score
- Class position (probably most important point)
- Last 2 years CGPA
- GRE Score
- IELTS/TOEFL score
- Current Affiliation
- Software Literacy

Describe them in a very brief and concise manner.

4th para: Say you are thankful for his/her time; and look forward to her/his reply.

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Sample Email

Generalized email to a professor

Subject: Possible xyz research opportunities

Dear Professor X,

I am a (year, major) at (university) and I am writing to ask about/apply for XYZ opportunities for undergraduate research in your lab beginning (time period). I have conducted xyz research on (topic) with (names) in (program or class). (Expression of interest in the topic). I would like to continue a path of research on (topic) and would ultimately allow me to (career goal). I am especially interested in your previous work on (describe a paper or talk).

(Mention about your significant work). I have attached my CV and official/interim/unofficial transcript to this e-mail, but if there is additional information that I have not included that you would like, I would be happy to provide it to you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Email address

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International CV / Resume

For CV, following are my recommendations
- If you are applying in European countries, then https://europa.eu/europass/en/create-europass-cv is the standard.

- If you are interested in general sample, following are some nice suggestions from my side

Just one tip, no cv is 100% right or wrong, the main purpose is to “clearly mention things that highlight your profile for the mentioned job/study position”. A good CV/resume showcases your academic/technical skills. Whenever you get confused, make sure your layout/content is easy to read and understand, it’s good to go then.

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Expense / Cost of Process (If you have a fully-funded scholarship with insurance) for Pakistani Applicants

Around 1.5 to 5 Lac (prices as per 2018/2019) in total depending on which stage you are, you educational level (BS/MS/Ph.D), major expenses include

  1. Passport
  2. Degrees board attestation,
  3. Degrees MOFA attestation,
  4. Degrees translation by authorized translators (if required by country),
  5. Visa (embassy),
  6. Dov (embassy) declaration of value of degrees,
  7. Traveling expense to Lahore and Islamabad for all these processes,
  8. University Admission Application Tax/Fee
  9. Air Ticket,
  10. Insurance (If required)
  11. Bank Statement (I don’t know much about this requirement)
  12. Initial settlement expenses(first 2months) till you start receiving scholarships.

It could be more or less depending upon the location you’re in and also according to the place you’re going.

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What is generally included in a full scholarship

Generally the scholarship is enough to manage your hostel / shared room, 3 times food, educational tax, transportation, and if you can save, you can have a reasonable amount to spend (clothes, traveling, etc).

For books and academic work, libraries have both physical and online access. Students are also allowed to work fixed weekly hours to earn extra money (e.g., at restaurants, hotels, small companies, private teaching etc, if you know the local language). But in most cases, it is not required since your scholarship is enough to get your expenses covered.

BONUS: If you work hard, get good grades and publish scientific work, the professors practically appreciate it. The university also supports all the financial requirements, fees etc to publish your work at conferences including traveling.

Family Allowance: At PhD level, there are benefits for family(referring to spouse/children only).I don’t know about masters level. You should check directly with your university / type of scholarship.

Expense / Cost of Process

Question: What if you have a no scholarship at all / partial funding or Scholarship without insurance).

Answer: For this, I don’t know clear details, preferably search for it from other sources.

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Residence permit.

Students / Workers get temporary / fixed duration permits to stay and work in the host country.The rules and regulations differ from place to place, so it’s better to do your own specific search on it. Generally international student offices in the universities provide support for acquiring student permits. This topic comes later. It is not a problem, it is just a bureaucratic process that you will go through once you reach the other country.

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IELTS / Language Certificate

Some universities do accept “English language Proficiency Certificate”. Check with your university if it’s required OR not. The embassy/consulate Most Likely requires IELTS / TOEFL certificate for visa application, for that you should check for which country you are applying.

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Facebook Group for Pakistani student community support in ITALY

Before mindlessly posting questions, first check the pinned post and the files, they have all the information, filled forms, sample documents and answers to most questions.

Link to group https://www.facebook.com/groups/929444903850727/

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Be careful

Don’t give personal info on random websites / random people, only follow university’s official website

Avoid scams/frauds for quick admission

Avoid websites with viruses, malware, bots etc

Directly contact concerned departments / universities / offices for any related queries rather than following word-of-mouth

Do your own research and verification before believing any other source (your safety is your first responsibility).

Use Google Chrome browser to auto-translate websites in Italian / other languages

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Lastly

These details are just the overview of MY PERSONAL process, Your process could be different for you. You will find much more details along the way. If you don’t understand anything, Google it; Watch youtube videos, contact relevant university/department offices for clearing ambiguities.

Don’t be shy or lazy in online researching and actively apply in all countries. It is about YOUR future, so YOU should be the most active to PURSUE it.

Don’t feel low/disappointed as it’s an unexpected process. Keep hopes up and don’t get attached to any particular country. You don’t know where your destiny is, so apply wherever you find an opportunity Keep repeating the process till you start getting results.

Hard Work and persistence is the key.

I hope it helps.
Moonisa Ahsan

PrefaceThe author is a year PhD student (Marie-curie fellow) in EU Project at the time of writing this article (20–02–2023). The opinions stated are her personal views and findings. They are not universal truths for all PhD aspirants out there. She might or might not consider reviewing and updating these thoughts in future. Please read it with a pinch 👌 of salt (or other spices of your choice) 😏.

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Moonisa

Graphics and design researcher who likes digital art, photography and performing arts.