QS Academic Excellence - Judges' Award Scholarship Winner 2021: Augustė Dudutyt | Top Universities

QS Academic Excellence - Judges' Award Scholarship Winner 2021: Augustė Dudutyt

By Niamh Ollerton

Updated January 26, 2022 Updated January 26, 2022

"Scholarships are the great equalizers; they ensure that academic opportunities are available based on merit and not a predetermined privilege," says Augustė Dudutyt, this year's winner.

Attending university is a huge expense for students, with international students paying even more in tuition fees than domestic students to undertake their studies.

Scholarships, financial aid, and funding offer students’ additional monetary assistance should they need it to help with the expenses associated with higher education.

Augustė Dudutyt, a student from Lithuania, begins her studies on The London School of Economics and Political Science's (LSE) MSc in Inequalities and Social Science this year.

Augustė joined us for our virtual Global Online Learning Summit in June 2021. She is passionate about human rights issues and is researching cases of social inequality and analyses their structural causes.

Augustė won this year’s Academic Excellence - Judges' Award Scholarship (worth US$1,000). Topuniversities spoke with her to find out what the scholarship meant to her and her future studies.

How difficult was the scholarship process?

The scholarship process was quite clear and not overly complicated. The main task of providing a detailed explanation of my motivation for the Academic Excellence scholarship was a pleasant and insightful process inviting me to challenge my own vision of my academic and professional future. 

How important are scholarships for education today? Especially as an international student?

Scholarships are crucial for unlocking opportunities for young people and investing in the future. Most of the time, highly driven and motivated young professionals manage to access certain opportunities due to their merit but face a wall due to their socio-economic background.

Scholarships are the great equalizers; they ensure that academic opportunities are available based on merit and not a predetermined privilege. This is especially important to me as an international student - coming from a country with a less developed economy, and therefore significantly smaller income, I find it borderline impossible to pay for the high-quality education all by myself.  

Would you have been able to go to school without the scholarship?

I have heavily relied upon such scholarships as the ones QS is providing to accept the study offer. As a young professional working in a non-profit NGO, I did not have the financial basis to cover tuition fees and everyday expenses. I would not be able to use this opportunity to study Inequalities and Social Science at LSE if it weren’t for the support of others. 

Do you think there should be more scholarships available for students across universities?

For sure. I am aware of a number of cases when my friends and colleagues had to refuse study offers in top universities due to their financial situation. More such initiatives as scholarships, loans or other financial support schemes for young people could unlock a lot of potential and talent. 

Would you have gone to school later without the scholarship?

I seriously doubt whether I would be able to accept the university offer without the scholarships I received. Especially keeping in mind that the Lithuanian average income is significantly smaller than the average income in the UK - my educational destination. So, it would have taken me years before I managed to save up enough money to cover tuition and living expenses.

Which other scholarships did you look at? And why did this appeal to you?

I have looked into Lithuanian scholarships as I plan to come back to my home country after graduating from LSE. I aspire to bring back the knowledge as well as gained competencies and apply them in practice to work on reducing social exclusion in Lithuania. However, QS’s Academic Excellence scholarship appealed to me because of the simple application process and clear criteria.

What about your academic career stood out for the scholarship?

In my application I shared that over the last four years I have sought out opportunities to apply attained education - theories, insights and methodological frameworks - to decrease social exclusion in Lithuania.

While interning at the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights, I regularly used my skills and knowledge working nationally on human rights advocacy, activism, and education. The highlights of this experience include working on the National Human Rights Forum, National Emancipation Day, lobbying at the Parliament hearings for passing legislation defending child rights and running a national campaign against hate speech.

Along with my experience at grassroot level, I have interned at the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the UN, which allowed me to gain perspective for connecting social inequality instances to a phenomenon on a larger scale. More recently, I have delved into tackling social exclusion more professionally as a Head of Advocacy and Communications at a VA Caritas Foreigners integration programme. The hands-on experience of working on reducing the social exclusion of refugees provided me with valuable insight into how public policy translates into everyday changes. Possibly my past experience appealed to the scholarship commission.

If you could give advice to prospective students hoping to earn the academic excellence scholarship, what would you say?

If you are a student looking into scholarships to apply for, I would like to emphasise how crucial it is to not be intimidated by the process or scholarship criteria and just apply. From my personal observations, it is often the case that young people underrate themselves, start doubting their merit and give up on even going through the application process thus robbing themselves of opportunities that otherwise would be available to them. So, I would advise other students commit to the process and not doubt their merit. 

What is next for you in your studies?

I am applying for the MSc of Sociology with a focus on Social Inequalities to deepen my knowledge and skills in analysing social issues and, consequently, to contribute to the academic discourse regarding the questions of social inequality. I am confident studying at LSE will advance my efforts to become a professional researcher dedicated to tackling social issues and consequently will allow me to pursue my academic ambition - to produce applicable insights into the substantive problem of limited social mobility for those who are from the less privileged socio-economic backgrounds

This article was originally published in October 2021 . It was last updated in January 2022

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