Bobby Danial is currently at SOAS studying for an MA in Intensive South Asian Studies. A recipient of one of the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) Postgraduate Support Scholarships; Bobby, a British Muslim with South Asian heritage speaks to us about his experience at SOAS and why the scholarship matters so much to him.
What were you studying (including work experience) before you came to SOAS for your MA?
After I read LLB Law at the LSE, I went on to work for a number of organisations in the private and voluntary sectors. I was the Missing Persons Coordinator for Barnardos, actively working with young people in the field of child protection. Prior to that, I practised mainly Immigration Law. I returned to academia by enrolling onto a unique PgDip in Law and Community Leadership at SOAS, University of London, in 2012.
What was it about this particular course that interested you and made you want to apply?
Studying at SOAS was a joy and an enriching experience. I was taught by two of the most inspirational teachers I have ever met and they challenged me to ‘unpack’ and think more deeply about the issues that I was enthusiastic about. I came to realise the significant ‘mental blockages’ that I possessed when approaching socio-legal issues connected especially to the South Asian diaspora communities in Britain. This was something I was very keen to address.
I applied for the MA Intensive South Asian Studies programme because I wanted to pursue an interdisciplinary, language-focused, study of contemporary and historical South Asian issues. In particular, I wished to develop deep insights into how diversity is managed in India and Pakistan, especially when involving inter-ethnic conflict and clashes. Moreover, the course offered a unique opportunity to undertake an extended period of research abroad that would allow me to supplement the ‘armchair method’, and draw out meaningful findings about how we can better live together and manage the challenges of ‘super-diversity’. I recognised that learning a language isn’t easy, but I knew that my time abroad would enable me to develop my oral and written Urdu. This is critical because I know the importance of understanding the issues under investigation from the ‘actor’s perspective’. My passion for pursuing South Asian Studies also originates from my ethnic heritage. The possibility of engaging critically with my ancestral past via an MA at SOAS, and under the guidance of leading experts in the world, was an exciting prospect.
What difference has the scholarship made?
I feel privileged to be a HEFCE scholarship recipient. The scholarship covers my tuition fees, maintenance and travel costs whilst abroad. It has undoubtedly allowed me to fully immerse and focus on my studies without having to worry about financial burdens. In short, I have only been able to pursue a 2 year MA course at SOAS on the basis of receiving this scholarship.
What are your plans for after your MA?
I aim to address issues connected to the South Asian diaspora community in Britain, specifically in relation to child protection. I will utilise the knowledge, skills and confidence gained from my MA study at SOAS to contribute to research, policy and campaign work, and to develop intervention programmes with the aim that no child suffers abuse and exploitation.
Find out more about HEFCE scholarships for 2-Year MA Programmes in Language-based Area Studies at SOAS.
For more information on all SOAS postgraduate scholarship opportunities, visit our website.