Teenager who came to Milton Keynes from India for better education wins full scholarship to Cambridge University

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An Indian teenager who came to the UK just three years ago is celebrating being awarded a full scholarship to Cambridge University.

Oishik Mandal persuaded his parents to move to Milton Keynes from India so he could pursue his dream of studying music at top level.

He started in Year 11 at Denbigh School in the midst of the Covid pandemic – and promptly found himself with just eight short months to prepare for his GSCE exams.

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He disciplined himself to study for seven or eight hours without getting tired to master the curriculums that differed widely from his Indian school.

Oishik Mandal in his home studioOishik Mandal in his home studio
Oishik Mandal in his home studio

“The English Language exam was very different. It was a little difficult to get adjusted to it but once you do you really get to learn a lot more,” he said.

Amazingly, Oishik, known as Rich, passed nine GSCE’s with flying colours. He’s now studying for A Levels in Further Mathematics, Physics, and Music and is anticipated to achieve the highest grades in all three.

His true passion is music, and he’s trained in Indian Classical Music since the age of two. He swiftly became a musical prodigy and by the age of four was gracing television screens across India as an anchor and singer.

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When it came to choosing a university, Rich made the unusual choice of opting to study music as his major subject.

He was delighted to be offered a place at his dream college, King's College, one of the world’s most prestigious places to study music, with only five such students a year admitted.

“Alas, his jubilation was shattered when he discovered that due to visa conditions, he would be considered an international student - which meant a whopping cost of around £60,000 pounds per year,” said his father Kamales Mandal.

Determined not to give in, Rich managed to secure a full scholarship – the Royal Scholarship by the Royal College of Music, which is only occasionally granted to one student across all subjects by King’s College.

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He is looking forward to starting in September but meanwhile is concentrating upon his A Levels and composing music in his spare time in his home-made recording studio.

Already he has triumphed in multiple UK composer contests and his music has been performed at the esteemed Gloucester Cathedral.

Rich publishes his music on his YouTube channel here, which has notched up 1.2K subscribers.

"He regards his attainment of a full scholarship in Music not merely as a personal victory, but as a celebration of the art form itself,” said his father.

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He added: ”It’s a story of determination, talent and passion for music...As he steps into the hallowed halls of King’s College, he carries with him not just the hopes of his family and community but also the aspirations of countless young dreamers who wish to study music.

"As a music academic now, he wants the world to know that the brightest minds should pursue and research this art form if that is what they love, and parents should allow the younger generation to find their own tunes, as his parents have done. His journey is a beacon of inspiration, proving that with passion and perseverance, and a little bit of support, even the most ambitious dreams can be realised.”