Oxford University

Winy Daigavane: Getting into Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford is a privilege

Written by: Charu Thakur

Name: Winy Daigavane
University: Oxford
Course: Bachelor of Civil Law
Location: United Kingdom

Key Highlights:

  • The seminars and tutorials make the study experience completely unmatched at Oxford.
    Getting into Bachelor of Civil Law is difficult, completing it is a mammoth task.
    Along with grades, Oxford prioritises students who show genuine keenness to study a subject.

(April 11, 2024) When Winy Daigavane was applying for the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), the 25-year-old knew she was in for one of the toughest Master’s degrees in law. But the Nagpur girl was keen to study at the best place – Oxford. “Getting into BCL is such a privilege.” However, it meant hours of study and preparation. “The volume of things that we deal with is so much and so vast. It takes a toll on your mind,” she laughs as she connects with Global Indian.

Despite the gruelling schedule, Winy calls the experience of studying BCL at Oxford “unmatched”. “It’s a different education system and I haven’t seen any Indian university giving this kind of experience when it comes to master’s.”

Winy Daigavane | Global Indian

Winy Daigavane

Harbouring dreams of studying at the best

It was during her first year at National Law School, Kochi that she acknowledged her desire to do her master’s abroad. “However, I was certain that I wanted to gain work experience before pursuing a master’s degree. I needed to know what truly interests me and aligns with my future goal. I wanted to do my master’s in private law, and I know my future is headed towards dispute resolution and advocacy,” says Winy, who applied to LSE, Oxford, and Cambridge and started preparing a year in advance. “It takes a lot of time to write SOP and essays.” She was aware that it was either these three universities or nothing. “With this kind of investment in education, you want the best.” However, it was admission into BCL that kept her awake during the night. “They are very selective about the candidates but what makes it unique is the reputation associated with the course. If someone manages to get into BCL, it reflects upon their academic calibre. They take about 100 people from across the world who are best of the best in what they do,” reveals Winy.

Studying BCL at Oxford is a different experience, and Winy backs it by saying that her lecturers are mostly people whose books she has read these years. “This makes the experience exponentially better and gives me a different perspective on the subject.” Calling the UK education system distinct from India, she reveals the three teaching methodologies used at BCL – lectures, seminars, and tutorials. While lectures follow the same format, seminars consist of discussions and debates. “We are encouraged to share our perspective on the problem or issue, drawing from our readings. I believe this methodology should be promoted within the Indian education system too, where student participation is egged on,” she says, adding that tutorials set Oxford apart from others. “It’s a very personal kind of coaching with only two-to-three students. You come prepared with an essay which is followed by an intense discussion on the topic.”

Winy Daigavane | Global Indian

The admission process

Ask her about her application process to Oxford, and she promptly replies, “You need to write an academic piece, an SOP, and submit recommendations from your professors.” While Oxford values academic grades, Winy emphasises that they prioritise individuals who possess a genuine interest in studying a specific subject and can articulate compelling reasons for their application. “The reasons are reflected in their previous career trajectory. Essays aim to determine whether you can analyse an issue. These are not merely descriptive essays but require individuals to bring in their perspective.”

Those few months after submission of her application passed by in anxiety. However, the emotion soon turned into excitement when she received an email informing her acceptance. “I was so surprised that I couldn’t speak anything,” she smiles.

Stepping into a new world

It was in the fall of 2023 that she stepped foot in the UK and the first few weeks were about adjusting to the new environment – weather, food, and culture. Transition is never easy and Winy felt the same. “You have to deal with academic pressure, the weather change, and the issue of moving out of your comfort zone. Plus, you need to balance your studies with social life.” However, she is glad that the university provides support with any information.

Winy Daigavane | Global Indian

Not many know but Oxford works in a collegiate system. “Everyone who is doing BCL is almost in a different college. So, I am also a part of a college and a part of my department. Your college is responsible for your welfare, social activities, and everything else apart from teaching, which is taken care of by your department,” explains the girl who is in St Hilda’s College. Interestingly, BCL offers over 40 subjects and students can choose four. “Although BCL has over 100 students this year, each class has no more than 20 students. Everyone is essentially doing a different kind of BCL, according to the subjects they have picked. We have interdisciplinary subjects but almost all are connected to law.”

Having moved to Oxford was nothing short of a dream come true for Winy who resides in an offsite college accommodation. “I chose this as I wanted a safety assurance,” adding she pays £800 per month. “It is a hit on the pocket but there are visa restrictions on the number of hours one can work.” Though her college does provide work opportunities like research assistants, she can work only 20 hours during her term time. “Internships and mini-pupillages are allowed. But honestly, with the intensity of the course, it’s not possible. Not a single student in the BCL program is currently engaged in an internship.”

A world of opportunities

Currently in the Trinity term at Oxford, Winy is happy that she has been exposed to varied cultures in the short span that she has been here. “I love the way it is shaping my perspective in terms of my professional life. I love the abundance of opportunities and access given to you in terms of literature. It is up to you as to how much you want to make of it,” she adds.

Oxford has opened up a world of opportunities but Winy had to face her set of challenges too. “This journey is not a sprint but a marathon, and you need to constantly keep on working. Getting into BCL is a task, and completing BCL is a bigger task,” she says, adding, “I need to read a minimum of 100 pages every day. It is intense but you need to remind yourself that you enjoy this, you wanted this for yourself and you are finally here, and might as well make the most of it.”

Winy Daigavane | Global Indian

With a few months left for the course to conclude, Winy is keen to have a career in dispute resolution. “I practiced as a barrister in Bombay High Court bench, essentially in Nagpur. However, I am keeping my options open if I want to be a barrister or a solicitor. I am also looking if I want to do another degree at Oxford.”

Having cracked one of the toughest entrances, Winy’s advice to students is to plan as it takes time. “There is no straight jacket formula, most importantly you should be genuinely passionate about studying a particular subject at Oxford. Once you know that, you will be fine,” she signs off.

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