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Education Abroad

Here we publish experiences of Indian students who are currently undergoing or recently completed higher education in foreign universities with scholarships in the form of online interviews with them. Purpose of this project is to support Indian students in exploring various educational and scholarships opportunities available around the globe. Aspiring students are requested to get updated information from authentic sources as the information related to education is changing rapidly.

Author : Jithin K. Sreedharan

Interviewed By :

University details
Name of the Country: France
State/City: Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (French Riviera), Nice (exact location is Sophia Antipolis)
University Name: INRIA and INRIA-Bell Labs joint lab (host institutes)
In France PhD is sponsored by some industry labs in many cases. The student will spend all of his time in the lab, and will very rarely go to the university. In my case the lab is INRIA and my registered university is University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. Department Name: Computer science. Team in INRIA is Maestro.
Course details
Name of the course: PhD in applied mathematics and computer science
Duration of the course: 3 to 3.5 years. But this will vary and can be up to 4 years in somecases.
Admission procedure
My educational qualification: MSc (Engg.) from Electrical Communication EngineeringDept., Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Experience required: Master’s degree with a good research record in a reputed university.The ideal candidate should have publications in top tier conferences or journals and/or goodacademic background in mathematics and theoretical areas like linear algebra, probability etc.The candidate needs to provide some references, and the process will be easier if the refereeshave strong appearance in the research domain.
Language qualifications required: English (especially good written skills). It would also bebetter to have a working knowledge in French for the social interactions outside the academicworld.
Financing agent: NRIA, France
Name of scholarship: INRIA-Bell Labs joint lab fellowship
Criteria for getting scholarship: Master’s degree and admitted to the PhD program
How to apply for scholarship: This is some kind of unusual scholarship. Such kind ofscholarships exists throughout Europe. Usually when a professor agreed to take a student as aPhD fellow, he will find some ways to get the funding. So the student need not apply to anycentral agency and things are very easy.
Amount of scholarship: Around 2000 euros (gross)
Traveling requirements
Application procedure of visa: Got the invitation letter (convention d'accueli) from thehost institute(INRIA), and applied for scientific visa at the French consulate in Bangalore.
Expenditure for availing visa: Around 7500 INR
Vaccinations required: None
Air ticket (From where to where): Kochi to Nice
Average ticket fair: Around 30000 INR. My ticket was booked by INRIA and I have seenthis happen in many cases.
Traveling from airport to university: My host welcomed me at airport and dropped at the residence
Hostel admission procedure: Not staying in hostel. I took an apartment with cookingfacilities.
Hostel fees: It varies considerably. I pay around 700 euros for 1-BHK apartment in Nice. Ifone is ready for shared accommodation, which is very common here and called as `colocation',the rent and expense can be reduced considerably.
Documents required for admission: I had to provide copies of job contract (PhD contract),identity cards, previous rent agreements etc.
Food availability: Indian food is expensive and is scarcely available. It is better to cook.
Facilities offered by university
Medical facility: Social security is provided. An extra insurance needs to take for completemedical coverage.
Insurance facility: They will have many options, but we need to pay for it.
Traveling allowance to home country: No
Language learning facility: Plenty
Managing income and expenditure
Sources of Income: Scholarship
Average expenditure: 1100 euros (including rent)
Food: 300 euros
Tuition fees: 390 euros per year
Hostel fees: 700 euros (residence)
Is the scholarship sufficient for all expenditure? More than sufficient
Part time work felicities: Not allowed as per my contract in INRIA
Any other income generating opportunities: One can teach in university
Spare time
Off days in a week: Saturday and Sunday, and many other holidays
Working time of university: official (09.00h to 17.00h), but time is very flexible and one canwork home also. The institute will be closed after 22h00.
How do you spend your spare time? Traveling and reading. But to be honest 3 years PhD isshort and very tight, so not much free time.
Vacation period: PhD student is considered a job employee here and have the rights stipulated by French labor law. Each student in INRIA should take mandatory vacation of 20 days.Many students like me take leave for around three to four weeks in August. Summer period isalso a good opportunity to take off from the institute and do internship in industrial labs.
How do you spend your vacation? Traveling, either to India or to nearby places.
Opportunities for higher studies and career excellence: A PhD from INRIA with goodresearch background will take one further. Many of the alumni are working in well-knownindustrial labs and in reputed universities.
What do you like most ?
- The funding allotted to research. In India many of the great researchers stumble due to lack ofopportunities and funding. Apart from that the system here is much disciplined.
What are the difficulties you faced?
Accommodate myself into French culture. Indian culture, way of thinking and food habits are not anyway related to that of French people.
Career options available
Campus placement: Usually PhD students get jobs via referral and external recruitment.Campus placement is not a common procedure in European universities.
Advice for PhD aspirants in engineering or mathematics
- Get a master’s degree from a good institute in India like IISc, top IITs, TIFR Mumbai, or ISIKolkata/Delhi.Work hard with a well-known professor and publish in reputed conferences orjournals. The educational background from the above institutes is valued very much abroad.On the other hand, unless you find a good reason to move from India, try to do PhD in Indiaitself at a well-known institute. Indian academia is now getting flooded with young, dynamicand good researchers, and it is the best time to make use of it.