Next academic year will feature merit scholars
By Anirudh S. K. (Writer and Interviewer), Aliya Sheriff (Interviewer)
Fellows will continue living off-campus in the IIT Delhi Techno Park, Sonipat premises rather than in the Ashoka campus as previously mis-written.
A previous version of this article said that ten, and not around ten, Fellows from the Class of 2024 will receive the Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship. The Edict regrets these errors.
The Young India Fellowship’s (YIF) administration is looking to fix the number of Fellows it admits every year to about 100. Around ten Fellows from the Class of 2024 will be Ashoka’s first Chancellor’s Merit Scholars.
Decreased class size
In a conversation with The Edict, YIF Dean Aniha Brar said the administration wanted to add greater value to activities that facilitated individual development and peer-to-peer engagement. After conversations with current and past Fellows, it realized this was more effective with smaller batches.
“Even when we went down from 300 to 200 [Fellows], the conversation was always on the table that we should go back to our early years of about 100 Fellows, where they would at least be in the core courses together,” she said.
The YIF is a one-year long postgraduate diploma program. The number of students it admitted decreased from 300 in 2020 to 100 in 2023. The last time the YIF admitted 100 students was nine years ago, in 2014.
Source: AMS student directory
Brar said the administration had noticed this academic year how Fellowship activities such as immersion programs, engagements with alumni, and cross-listed courses had a more meaningful impact on their 100-strong Class of 2023.
“Our aspiration is to be impactful per individual, to give them individualized attention, and to really get to know people and their goals,” she added.
Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship
Students in the YIF Class of 2024 will be the first to receive the Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship (CMS), which was announced in October 2022.
According to Ashoka University’s website, the CMS will be awarded to around ten applicants who excel “in more than one area of engagement while also demonstrating leadership.”
The CMS will cover Fellows’ tuition as well as residence fees. Fellows will not need to maintain a certain grade during the YIF in order to keep the scholarship.
YIF Director Karan Bhola said the CMS is offered to applicants regardless of whether they opted for need-based aid. “It is not true that only people with merit and not need qualify for the CMS. If you qualify for both 100% financial aid and the CMS, you'll keep the CMS, as it covers both tuition and residence fee,” he said.
Fellows share accounts of living off-campus
Young India Fellows used to live on campus like Ashoka’s undergraduate batches, but have lived in the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi’s (IIT) Sonipat campus nearby since 2022 due to a lack of space here. The Edict asked some Fellows what they thought living at IIT was like.
“The rooms there are big, we get a personal washroom, and [IIT] is very responsive to our requests,” said Rahul Sahay (YIF 23), though he also noted that some Fellows find it tricky going back to IIT after a late-night study session at Ashoka.
“There is a car service that takes YIFs back to IIT after midnight, but there have been some communication issues with them,” he added.
Yastica Sikaria (YIF 23) said that Fellows have experienced some challenges in the past few months living at IIT, such as “rat infestations, stray animals like monkeys and dogs running about at night, lack of clean drinking water, and low working Wi-Fi access.”
“While the fellowship experience at both campuses has been enriching, issues like these are disheartening and inconvenient,” she said.
Although the administration doesn’t have an exact date for when Fellows will move back to Ashoka, it expects this will happen when Ashoka University’s upcoming ‘north campus’ will have developed more.