Hi everyone. My name is Vignesh Shanmugam. I need help in securing funds for my Master's degree. I would sincerely appreciate your support in donating to or sharing this campaign. I have currently exhausted all my options for funding. In brief, I had applied for student loans, looked at options for unsecured loans, applied for sponsorships as well as scholarships; so far, none of these options have worked.
I graduated from School of Law, Christ University (B.A. LLB. Honours) in 2019, and I have been offered a conditional offer letter from the University of Edinburgh, to study Innovation, Technology & Law as a taught Master’s programme, commencing September 2021. The offer from the University is conditional on me taking my IELTS exam, which has been postponed due to the lockdown in Bengaluru.
I had initially hoped to secure either a sponsorship/scholarship or a student loan in order to pursue my LLM. However, both those options have become unviable, as on June 5, 2021, and I feel like I have no other options but to seek assistance through crowdfunding. The total tuition cost for the LLM is GBP 25,000 (approximately INR 2,580,000), and including accommodation costs, it goes well above INR 3,000,000. I have been informed that I have to show INR 3,500,000 in my bank account by next month in order to secure a student visa. At the moment, my savings from working for over a year is only around INR 500,000.
If 6,000 individuals are able to donate approximately INR 500/USD 7 each, I will be able to secure enough funds for my LLM.
My Academic Interests
It has always been my passion to pursue education and research in fields relating to data privacy and queer rights. This is not a clinical field which is dissociated from the real world, but has very clear consequences on our lives. The threat of private tech conglomerates and overreaching governments to access and control the data of individuals grows exponentially along with our increasing dependency on technology to make our lives easier. With my Master’s degree in Innovation, Technology & Law, I want to explore the data privacy laws that are in effect, and educate individuals of their rights regarding the same. The postgraduate course in Innovation, Technology & Law is the most apt learning environment for me. This is to gain a more in-depth understanding of the interactions between policies, technologies, individuals, and the society. I also want to interact with various peers and experts on effective technology policies.
On a professional level, the LLM from University of Edinburgh will open up opportunities for me in academia as well as public policy, allowing me to (i) use my experience to suggest effective technology policies in private as well as public fora; and (ii) conduct further research in the sphere of data and privacy laws.
Why I don’t have any other viable options
1. Personal funds
I was raised by a single mother. I have no family wealth on which I can rely for funds. My father died when I was 9 years old, and he hadn’t saved enough money even for primary school education for me and my younger sister. My mother works in sales, and her salary is only enough to sustain our household. My family was not able to even fund my undergraduate law degree. I spent the last two years paying off my student loans for my undergraduate law degree. This is why I cannot rely on my family for funding my LLM.
2. Bank loans
I reached out to several banks for providing student loans for my Master’s programme. I was informed that I would have to provide a security that is worth at least twice the value of the principal amount. Since there is no such security that my immediate family can provide, this is not a viable option.
3. Scholarship programmes
I have applied to numerous scholarships for my LLM. However, they are extremely competitive, and have very few seats to accommodate me. Although my family fits the economic criteria for central government schemes (such as the National Overseas Scholarship Scheme) we do not fit the social criteria for the same.
I have reached out to several individuals and firms seeking sponsorships for my LLM programme. However, I have been informed by several of them that they are either not aware of such programmes or not in a position to set up a sponsorship (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Therefore, sponsorships are not viable options as well.
5. Working a corporate job for a few years
I worked in a corporate law firm from my graduation until July 2020. Working from home during the pandemic exacerbated a lot of my health issues, including significantly worsening my anxiety and depression. I am also currently in the process of formally being diagnosed with ADHD, which has been a constant hurdle for me for working from home. Going back to a corporate job without addressing my mental health would make things worse on that front. Additionally, it would take quite some time for me to adapt to a demanding corporate setting given these circumstances.