This series tracks news and views from our ‘Evidence-Based Policy Research Methods’ (EPRM) course. Many participants work at the highest of levels, both nationally and internationally, including for other parts of the UN system. They come to Maastricht for this unique blended learning programme, covering three weeks in class and 10 weeks online. This time we speak with Roy Utpol, who recently won an Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) scholarship.
How did you find the programme?
This study programme is very comprehensive and includes a blend of research tools that are relevant to developing countries and to practical work in the field. The best part, though, is that my studies are clearly connected to research and to strengthening policy and strategies. Another major aspect is that fellow participants come from all around the world: from Asia, Africa, and Europe – so I’ve gained exposure to numerous cultures and learned all their various problem-solving techniques. Finally, this experience of studying at EPRM has shaped my life – I see it as an asset for my future career because it helped me to have a critical mind to really think out of the box.
How was the workload? Could you complete the activities on time?
The distance learning was challenging for me because I have to combine studying with my office work; and it was even tougher while travelling. But the system was sophisticated, authentic, and accessible, so I was able to access things wherever I was. Overall, the distance learning has enhanced my writing capability as I’ve had to submit one assignment every week. It has also increased my knowledge levels, as I had to study lots of technical and theoretical issues.
Developing my research proposal was another important aspect because it really opened my critical mind. I gained strong knowledge on how to write research questions, how to do literature reviews, how to relate theories with my research question and the methodology part, etc. Ultimately I took the qualitative research methodology for my research proposal. I therefore learned how to conduct data collection, techniques such as focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, data analysis etc. As part of this process, I got very interesting feedback from tutors, which very much enhanced my knowledge level. They always inspired me to work at double speed, so I would like to extend my gratitude to them.
I took the ‘Introduction to Migration’ course as my specialisation, which I found very topical and even exciting to study. I gained insights into the causes of migration, impacts of migration, the contribution of remittances to the development of national infrastructure, the network system of migration, etc. Furthermore, the facilitators were so knowledgeable and supportive. I really enjoyed their interactive way of teaching. Additionally, the web lectures were interesting and I genuinely looked forward to watching them.
You won an OKP scholarship, covering your tuition and major expenses. How key was that for you?
I feel honoured to have received this prestigious award. It boosted my confidence and gave me the chance to realise my dreams — to develop an innovative and creative society. I am very thankful for the award, which alleviates the financial burden to complete this short course. There is a saying, ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’ and, for me, this is just the beginning — to be a change-maker for the betterment of society.
How did you learn about the scholarship? What would you recommend to other applicants?
The OKP is well-known among government scholarships. I found out via its dedicated Facebook page, which included all the information about the scholarship. I always dreamt of studying in an international environment, which would enable me to interact with experts from around the world. The insight and knowledge I have gained from this academic interaction has helped me to face various challenges in my professional life back home.
The OKP scholarship gives me the opportunity to be in the Netherlands and an opportunity to learn from world-class experts in the field of research. I highly recommend other professionals to apply for the scholarship if they are seeking the opportunity to study in an international setting. That said, this scholarship is quite prestigious and highly competitive – so you may have to apply more than once. In fact, I know someone who applied six times before they succeeded!
- PhD Programme in Governance and Policy Analysis, Dual Career (GPAC²)
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
UNU / H.Pijpers