Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Himanshu's story: UCL Global Undergraduate Scholar

Meet Himanshu, a UCL Global Undergraduate Scholar. Here, he chats to us about his experience applying for the scholarship, and the support he has received as an international student at UCL.

Himanshu Kesari profile picture
Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a second-year economics undergrad at UCL. Coming from the inner-most rural part of India, I have first-hand experience of witnessing poverty traps and massive unemployment. Thus, my curiosity in economics stems from the desire to tackle socio-economic challenges in developing nations through research-led and experiment-oriented policies, for instance, randomised controlled trials (RCTs). 
I was motivated to experience the extent of excellence – be it academic or otherwise. Back at home, in the midst of COVID-19, I was attending online economics classes at Delhi University. I did not feel challenged. Settling for anything less than the best was not a good idea. I applied to UCL 3 hours before the application closed (a good challenge, right?). A month later, the offer came through and I did not disclose out to my family. I knew I possibly could not afford the fee.

I am sure you would have guessed that I like adventures. Beyond that, I am a writer by heart and an orator by passion. A Start-up geek and an age-long avid reader. A badminton enthusiast by birth and a nature-lover and debater at present.

Tell us about your experience of applying for the UCL Global Undergraduate Scholarship.

UCL admission team was fabulous in making me hooked to my personal email with the subject line – what’s next? UCL launched their first-ever scholarship for international students. After pinching myself, I realised this could be my best bet. Although I filled out an extensive form with financial details, it was the first and last stage. Thus, the application was straightforward and explicitly based on financial needs. Little did I know I was one of the 30 candidates who made the cut. Later, the team informed us that they had to review 1000+ qualified applications. Since then, I have struggled to put my indebtedness into words. Nonetheless, I’ll try my best here.

“There was someone who believed in my potential more than myself. I felt empowered and recognised for my work and passion. And this is excellence in itself!”

 What opportunities has this scholarship given you?

It’s incredibly difficult to imagine the alternative turn of events in the absence of this scholarship. At the very core, this scholarship has provided me access to world-class education in one of the most amazing cities in the world. 

If anything speaks the most to me from my first year, it was buzzing weekends. The breadth of opportunities at UCL is unmatched. Every weekend my friends would either find me doing case competitions and attending finance events or going to a panel discussion by industry leaders and reaching before time for guest lectures delivered by Nobel Laureates. This business later culminated into me being elected as SU’s Societies Officer, managing over 200+ societies-related policy decisions.

What attracted you to studying at UCL? 

Apart from the world-class resources, an institution that prioritises merit over financial needs was the absolute selling point for me. Moreover, the breadth of diversity of students in my course and at UCL seemed unmatched. Each represented a unique perspective and behind every face was a genuinely inspiring story that I could not contain but tune in (some of them will be part of my story collection). There is something for everyone here and that everyone can join any society they like is truly embracing. UCL societies capture the extensive diversity and interests of its students. I am confident that the Student’s Union UCL is definitely a place where more happens! 

What support have you received as an international student at UCL? 

The UCL International Experience has done a splendid job since I confirmed the offer. Although the pre-arrival newsletter was exhausting, every minute spent reading was worthwhile. It made me confident and prepare everything diligently from Visa to packing luggage. Upon arrival, UCL’s Welcome Team puts up campus tours and SU showcases the lively cultural performances. Moreover, the Welcome Ambassadors are an amazing group of UCL students who would guide you from anything to almost everything. Like many of my international friends, Welcome Week at UCL was indeed very welcoming and inviting.

Every now and then, the UCL careers team put up country-specific seminars and even international opportunities. But my favourite is the Student’s Union International Cultural Festival. Imagine loads of Asian foods, cultural performances, embassy visits, and multicultural vibes. 

From as basic things as Asian food at UCL cafes and accommodation to clubbing at desi beats, you would miss your home less and less!

What has been your favourite aspect about studying in London?

I would be biased here. London speaks volumes about economics and finance. As the world’s financial centre (yes, it beats NYC), it’s a great place to kickstart a career in finance. And very interestingly, you would find people with a geography degree making strides in banking deals.

But that’s just one thing. London’s history is reflected in its museums, architecture, exhibitions and galleries. One out of many events that stood out was the session with Anil Agarwal, the billionaire Chairman of Vedanta Resources Limited. He said “I have never seen a more diverse place than London, not even New York. Go to an Indian restaurant at night, and you are likely to find Chinese, Japanese, Indian, British and German on different tables”.

What advice would you give to other overseas students wanting to study in the UK?
I remember when I was in your shoes, excited and scared at the same time. When something happens for the first time, you not only have to convince yourself but more importantly people around you!

The most challenging problem will be to make a decision. I would say “Follow your heart and intuition, they somehow know what you truly want”.

What are your future ambitions and how do you think that being a UCL student will help you get there?

UCL has set the bar high! In the short run, I aim to pursue a master’s in economics and a banking job thereafter, while in the long run, I aspire to lead my own venture. The idea of creating something from scratch thrills me. 

[Not because someone has paid for my scholarship, and I am desperate to return back] I am genuinely passionate about steering my own philanthropic foundation (inspired by The Gates Foundation). Addressing issues around access to education, inequality, and gender in developing countries will be my key priority. While I may seem biased in pinning the three areas, I am certain that things that hit us stay with us!

As a UCL student, access to high-quality resources will help me achieve my short-run goals. Additionally, the network of like-minded people will be invaluable for the long-run aim. 

About the UCL Global Undergraduate Scholarship

The UCL Global Undergraduate Scholarship aims to enable and encourage international students from low income backgrounds to pursue full-time Undergraduate degree studies at UCL.

Find out more about scholarships and funding at UCL