Procedures to attend international conference with travel grants
For the many Indians who are looking to find international conference travel grants, we are happy to help you with the procedures involved in one.
When to start?
If you are planning to attend a conference, it must be planned at least 4 months ahead i.e. if you are planning to attend in July start now. Since most of us never went outside the country, it requires a lot of coordination also. (I started late and faced lot of problems)
What you need?
- Lot of patience and perseverance.
- Passport – I advice all to take a passport right away (tatkal is better) than to rush at the last-minute. (I did the same mistake – it leads to unnecessary tension and pressure)
- Money is important but not more than will power and patience
Who will fund my trip?
This is the most crucial part of the trip. There are a lot of agencies that are offering travel funds. Some of them are listed below. Each of these has different forms.
1. Department of Science and Tech (DST), New Delhi
- Webpage: http://serb.gov.in/its.php
- What it covers? Airfare + Visa + Registration fee, No Limit
- Eligibility: At least two papers in international journals,
- How and when they pay? DD will be sent to Accounts Officer of your centre (6-12 months)
2. CCSTDS, Chennai
- Webpage: http://www.cics.tn.nic.in/
- What it covers? Anything like food, lodging, etc. with bills Max. Rs.20, 000/-
- Eligibility: Requires proof of funding from other agencies like DST
- How and when they pay? DD will be sent to student (1-2 months)
3. CSIR, New Delhi
- Webpage: http://www.csirhrdg.res.in/tg_form.htm
- What it covers? 50 % of airfare Max. Rs.50, 000/-
- Eligibility: Same as DST
- How and when they pay? Same as DST
4. DBT (Travel Support for attending International Conference/ Seminar/ Symposium)
- Webpage: http://dbtctep.gov.in/index.php?option=proposal_instructions&proposal_type=50&instruction=1
5. Ministry of Science and Technology: Dept of Science and Technology International Travel Support Scheme
6. Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai
- Webpage: http://srtt.org/individual_grants/education_grants.htm
- What it covers? Partial airfare
- As one can see, DST gives the most. The best combination will be DST+CCSTDS because DST pays for Airfare +Visa +Registration fee and one can claim Food/Lodging from CCSTDS
- Also the funds from DST and CSIR are mutually explicit i.e. since both give airfare, only one can be used at a time
- DST travel grant can be used once in three years up to 35 years. Many of us are eligible for at least two times from now
- In many agencies, two applications from same institute are not entertained during same month. If then, only younger will get travel grant. Check the prospectus carefully
- All agencies encourage getting funding from other agencies – if you get only one agency’s support and can’t make the trip, you are also blocking the trip of another candidate
- All have to be applied at least 3 months ahead. Don’t apply to CSIR/DST much before three months, they will surely lose/misplace the application
- Keep in touch with the agency’s office through phone. Emails are not yet available with them.
Procedure to apply and get the money
- Download the form and send it after attested by Guide/ Div Head/ IGCAR Director along with necessary attachments
- The agency sends you an official communication that you can attend the symposia and they will provide the funds in future (The time taken for sending this communication varies – DST, CSIR, CCSTDS take nearly 4-6 weeks from the date of application) Check DST website for results (http://www.dst.gov.in/)
- You attend the conference and upon returning, apply with the claim sheet and necessary attachments like bills
- They will send you the DD according to your claim. While CCSTDS sends DD to you, DST sends DD directly to Accounts officer, IGCAR along with a communication to you
- Always scan all your documents starting from passport front-page, visa, ticket, bills and have a soft copy with you
- Always carry passport and cash along with you. Do not leave in hotel room.
- Never hand your passport to any unauthorised person except immigration officers at Airport
- If you are changing two or more flights from different airlines, then always make sure at the airline counter that your baggage is checked in. In many chances they may miss your baggage in transit airport and you’ll have to struggle for a day or two.
- Do not exchange foreign currency from airport or nearby places or Thomas Cook. Always take it before hand from SBI or other banks or else you will lose a lot of money in exchange. (I got IGCAR advance money just few minutes before departure and exchanged at Chennai airport resulting in loss of nearly Rs.2000)
- Better to carry map of the city/locality and also routes. Language dictionary necessary if you are going to a non-English country]
- You can avail international roaming facility in your mobile (Airtel, Vodafone) if you are staying there for longer time. Incoming will be free to you and it will be local call tariff to the caller (See the respective website)
Keep all original bills of expenses met during the travel
Visa and Immigration
- Check the website and enquire with the Visa issuing authority like Embassy or VFS on which Visa you require – student or tourist, etc.
Some countries require travel insurance, health certificates, etc.
- Also take note of things not to be carried out into the country
On the flight and airport
- Most agencies require you to travel only by Air-India flights. If the destination is not connected by Air India then you have to take an Air-India flight to the nearest place and take some other airline to the conference city or nearest airport
- Keep the toll-free phone number of your airline for emergency
- You can block your ticket with the travel agency without giving money. Only if you confirm it, then you have to pay. (you may not get the tickets by the time you get permission from DAE and travel grants from other agencies)
- Always keep one set of dress in your hand baggage – it will be highly useful if your baggage is delayed
- By chance, if your baggage is delayed/missed write a complaint along with hotel address at the airline counter in airport and demand for compensation. They will give some cash and later they will also deliver the baggage at your hotel (My baggage was delayed during transit and I spent my pocket-money to buy dress in Australia – I did not know about compensation then)
- Do not carry any liquids in hand baggage – water, perfume, etc. during flight travel.
- Carry light and good baggage. If your bag/handle tears in handling or it is very heavy it leads to fines
- You can ask for second time food/drinks in flights – they won’t mind (??)
- First, one can request the conference organizers for waiver in registration fee, possible funding for air travel and lodging. Mostly they’ll give one of these since they want student participation and it is one way of encouraging. (They gave me registration fee waiver – it is an advantage while applying for funding to DST/DAE)
- Carry a laptop if you have one. Most conference venues and airports have wireless internet facility or internet ports. Also you can make a short presentation, if you are explaining your work to someone
- Better to carry your CV, published papers and visiting card
- YOU ARE THE OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR UNIVERSITY/CENTRE AND OUR COUNTRY AT THE CONFERENCE – ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT