Shoaib’s scholarship is taking him one step closer to realising his dream of using AI to enhance accessibility in Bangladesh. Without the scholarship, he wouldn’t be where he is today – an opportunity shared by so many of our scholars.

Essex boasts a wide range of scholarships, with many made possible thanks to generous donations from alumni and friends of the University. Our flagship scholarship appeal, Essex Futures, has already raised over £500,000 to empower even more students like Shoaib. Make a donation here.

On a chilly November evening, hundreds of new scholarship students trudged up the path to Wivenhoe House Hotel for a special event hosted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Education. An event to celebrate them and the potential they demonstrated which earned them their scholarship to study on our campuses.

There are scholars for every subject you can expect at Essex – artificial intelligence to social work, human rights to biological science. They start getting to know each other by completing a game of human bingo – it helps break the ice and before you know it conversations are flowing, selfie’s being taken, and the atmosphere really was special.

I chatted with a lot of them, asking them about what the scholarship meant to them, what is special about Essex and ultimately, what they hope their Essex degree will achieve in life, though they are only six weeks into their studies at this point.

Meeting Shoaib

Two male students chatting to someone

Among the students I met was Shoaib. He’s 24, from Bangladesh and received a scholarship to study a Masters in Artificial Intelligence at our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. He had a beaming smile and seemed so happy to be there.

Shoaib lost his right hand as a young boy, just 4 years old, and grew up as one of the 16 million disabled people in Bangladesh. As a member of the 10% of the country's population with disabilities, Shoaib has direct experience of the discrimination they encounter, and simply how difficult it can be to do day-to-day things in a place where accessibility is not always guaranteed.

When I asked him what his goal is, he said: “I want to use AI and technology to create solutions that positively impact society, like innovations that enhance accessibility, promote sustainability and improve people’s lives.”

One idea he has is to create bionic skeletons for people who are paralysed, enabling them to walk like able-bodied people. But the key for him, is making sure it’s affordable.

Shoaib is studying at Essex with a GREAT scholarship and said that it ‘means the world to him’.

“It's not just about the financial assistance; it's a validation of my efforts and potential. This scholarship significantly eases the financial load of my tuition fees, opening doors to a smoother academic journey and enabling me to focus more on my studies.

“Moving from Bangladesh presented a multitude of challenges. Adapting to a new educational system, cultural differences, and being away from familiar surroundings were some significant hurdles. But studying at Essex brings a unique blend of academic excellence, cultural diversity, and innovation.”

When you meet the people behind the scholarships, it’s clear to see how the next generation of Essex graduates really are the best ambassadors for the future.

Support someone like Shoaib by making a gift to Essex Futures.