Deepening Knowledge in Islamic Banking and Finance: Sefrina’s Action to Develop Society

Sefrina Widyanti at Magdalene Green, Dundee’s oldest park located near the University of Dundee. Source: Personal documentation.

As one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world, Indonesia has a high potential to be the leader in the development of the Islamic Banking and Finance sector. However, the system is still overlooked, due to its unfamiliarity in Indonesian society, compared with the conventional system.

One of the GREAT Scholarship recipients 2021-22 by the British Council, Sefrina Widyanti, decided to deepen her knowledge by taking MSc in Islamic Banking and finance at the University of Dundee, UK. Her extensive experience in the finance sector, where she was exposed to the Islamic finance system, has driven her to study the field. She believes that developing the sector will create a substantial impact on society.

Hello Indonesia Mengglobal!

My name is Sefrina Widyanti, and people usually call me Sefi. I received my undergraduate degree from IPB University, Indonesia, majoring in Social Economy of Agriculture. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked in two local banks in Indonesia for five years before joining the Central Bank of the Republic of Indonesia (Bank Indonesia) in 2012. 

Afterward, I have been working for the Indonesia Financial Services Authority (Indonesia FSA) or Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) from 2014 until now. I became involved in Islamic finance when I worked from Bank Indonesia until OJK. At that time, my duty was related to enacting the Islamic banking regulation in Indonesia for seven consecutive years.

Sefrina’s motivation to study MSc in Islamic Banking and Finance at the University of Dundee

The MSc Islamic Banking and Finance course at the University of Dundee is a master’s degree collaborating with Al-Maktoum College in Dundee. It covers the skill and knowledge needed in the context of Islamic finance. It was well-elaborated by the experts in the core modules such as Applied Islamic Banking and Insurance, Risk Management in Islamic Banking and Finance, and Islamic Moral Economy, which enlightened the higher objective of Islamic finance.

Sefrina Widyanti In front of the University of Dundee Main Library, her favorite place on the campus where she usually spends most of the time doing her assignments. Source: Personal documentation.

My motivation in choosing the program was the concern regarding Islamic finance development situationin Indonesia, compared with the fact that Indonesia is the largest Muslim population country in the world. As a vast potential market, Islamic finance had not been at the  front of peoples’ minds, which was reflected in its market share in the whole financial industry in the country. With my proven work experience, I wanted to deliver my sincere contribution to Indonesia’s Islamic banking development as a competent Islamic banking regulator.

I am interested in deepening my knowledge in Islamic Banking and Finance to learn more about Islamic banking and finance’s fundamental theory, so that I could compare it with best practice. The skill and knowledge I would gain from this degree would help me minimize the gap between these two sides. Furthermore, Islamic banking and financial institutions’ objectives are mentioned for perceiving the form (Shari’ah compliant) and the substance (social and moral objectives). Therefore, Islamic banking and finance development could lead to socio-economic development.

Sefrina’s experience in applying for the GREAT Scholarship from British Council

I noticed that the GREAT Scholarship became one of the offered scholarships on the university website. The scholarship was worth £10,000 towards tuition fees. To apply for the scholarship, I needed to submit a 500-word personal statement about my previous academic achievement, my previous goals, and why I would be the best candidate for the GREAT Scholarship 2021.

While applying for the scholarship, I focused on crafting my best personal statement. Firstly, I carefully read the instructions and planned a reliable timeline before the submission deadline to write the personal statement. Secondly, I made it unique, authentic, clear, and well-structured. Finally, I continuously reviewed the personal statement to get the most refined form. In addition, having someone proofread my personal statement also helped me polish the quality of the personal statement. 

University of Dundee. Source: Personal documentation.

Sefrina’s future plan after finishing her study

My plan after finishing my study is to go back to my home country, Indonesia, as my purpose for the master’s degree program is to contribute to Indonesia’s Islamic banking development as a competent regulator.

Victoria and Albert (V&A Museum), is a design museum and one of Dundee’s top attractions. source: personal documentation

Tips for anyone interested in applying for the GREAT Scholarship

  • Be prepared. Make yourself ready for the application process by getting to know your purpose of studying abroad, comparing relevant programs, and learning from other people’s reliable experiences of applying for scholarships.
  • Plan well. Arrange your time management to fulfill the application submitted before the deadline.
  • Be honest. It should come  from you.
  • Be confident. Express your inner strength and do not be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Be yourself. Be authentic and unique, be you. You will have your own story, which is distinct from others.
  • Be patient. Never get bored reviewing it until it is final and ask someone to proofread your work.
  • Enjoy the process. Quickly start to write the essay and see what will happen next until it is done.
  • Just do your best and pray for the best.

Editor: Rizkiya Ayu Maulida


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