Dementia Studies course expands offer to Sri Lanka

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The University of Stirling has expanded the range of its distance learning course in Dementia Studies to include a student from Sri Lanka for the first time.

Isuru Codippily is the first student from Sri Lanka to be awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Distance Learning Scholarship to study on the part-time course.

He joins eight new scholarship students from India and one from Bangladesh, who enrolled with the University last month.

“This course provides a unique opportunity for these students to develop specialist knowledge on dementia,” said Dr Louise McCabe, from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

“No postgraduate courses on dementia are available in these countries – and very few courses exist that focus on older people. 

“Geriatrics is still an emerging field, but is of increasing importance as the population ages.”

Stirling has offered Distance Learning Scholarship places to a total of 55 students on the MSc Dementia Studies course since 2011, and has seen 31 students graduate with the MSc, one with the Postgraduate Diploma and two with the Postgraduate Certificate.

Students from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are further supported by collaboration with the Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (CMIG) in Kolkata, India, that provides a venue for annual teaching sessions and additional support for students. Sumanta Chattopadhyay, a local tutor from CMIG, also offers guidance and pastoral care.

Most of the students on the MSc in Dementia Studies course are employed full-time in a profession related to dementia care, such as nursing and social work. They continue to work while undertaking the course on a part-time basis over three years. 

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Dr Louise McCabe
Senior Lecturer - Dementia Studies
This course provides a unique opportunity for these students to develop specialist knowledge on dementia.

“The types of students we want to attract often don’t earn wages that would enable them to access the learning we offer, so the scholarships are essential in engaging with the professionals who are directly involved in dementia care in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” said Dr McCabe. 

Rashed Suhrawardy, who was the first person from Bangladesh to undertake the Masters course, has set up the Dementia Care Foundation Bangladesh to raise awareness about, and develop research into, dementia, and provide training and development opportunities.

“This degree provides me with the authority, confidence and knowledge on how to deal with, and approach, this issue,” he said.

Ranadhish Choudhuri, from India, said: "The MSc in Dementia Studies is not just a degree, but a driving force to move ahead in dementia care and research."

Priya Nandimath, also from India, said: “The University of Stirling was a great and an intense platform which gave enormous opportunity to connect with people around the world. It has widened my knowledge and skills in the field of dementia.”

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