We\u0027re pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s QS Academic Excellence Scholarship is Ekaterina Gostiukhina.\r\nThe scholarship, offered every year, is worth US$10,000 and provides support to a student commencing a master’s or PhD program anywhere in the world. Applicants are assessed based on their academic achievements to date, as well as the potential they show to make a contribution within academia or another area.\r\nWe caught up with Ekaterina to find out more about how this scholarship will impact her studies and to find out if she has any top tips for this year\u0027s applicants.\r\nWhat are you planning to study, and why did you choose the university you’ve applied to?\r\nI am going to study Public International Law with a specialization in International Criminal Law at Leiden University. I was always immersed in the issues of international protection of human rights and international criminal justice, that is why I have decided to deepen my knowledge at Leiden University.\r\nIn my opinion, Leiden University is a superb place to obtain a master\u0027s degree with specialization in International Criminal Law for a few reasons. Firstly, the concentration of brilliant scholars and leading professionals who teach in this program is outstanding.\r\nSecondly, the program provides access to international criminal law practitioners, since the campus locates in the Hague – the heart of international justice.\r\nThirdly, I love the extracurricular opportunities, which enable me to work with real international humanitarian law cases and to participate in moot courts.\r\nWhat do you hope to gain from your degree? How will it affect your career plans?\r\nDuring my work in the NGO, I worked with cases which constitute structural human rights problems in Russia: female discrimination, honour and extrajudicial killings in North Caucasus, domestic violence and forced disappearances.\r\nAfter obtaining my degree I will contribute to solving these problems, advocating through the European Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Committee and International Criminal Court. I strongly believe that my master\u0027s degree will become a great platform to exchange experience and knowledge, which will help me to become a better specialist and advocate for victims.\r\nHow did you find the scholarship application process? \r\nThe application process was not complicated. However, I found writing of the essay the most challenging part of the scholarship application, because you have to make people, who assess an essay, pay attention to it and comply with word limit at the same time.\r\nWhat difference will this scholarship make to you?\r\nThe QS scholarship became a turning point for me. Before I received the scholarship, I had doubted whether I should quit my job and devote a lot of time and money to my studies in the uncertainty caused by coronavirus. Besides, the shift of education from offline to online implied some fears that there will be no proper communication and university atmosphere.\r\nThis QS scholarship is definitely the great financial support, without which I would probably not dare to start my studies in the Netherlands that year or start it at all. Moreover, I would probably be more concentrated on alleviating my financial situation, rather than focusing on studying.\r\nWhat advice do you have for other prospective students who are applying for scholarships?\r\nMy advice to all prospective students is to never give up. This may seem banal, but it is crucial to ignore all the rejections which you may receive. It is better to apply for a scholarship, rather than not to do so. To be honest, I did not believe that I will be awarded with the scholarship after the first refusal and I am glad that I proceeded with other applications.\r\nAlso, I would recommend that you build an application plan beforehand, specifying all the possible scholarships, requirements and deadlines.\r\nApart from this, it is important to pay attention to formalities, such as word limit, the topic of an essay and eligibility requirements.