As a foreign student, it is worth looking into the Commonwealth Scholarships. These scholarships are funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the funds are dispersed by the Commonwealth Scholarship Committee (CSC). Scholarships are awarded to individuals who are able to demonstrate an outstanding commitment to the betterment of their home country. Candidates from one of the eligible commonwealth countries, who require financial assistance to pursue a Master’s degree or PhD degree, are considered for Commonwealth Scholarships.
The CSC has discerned six development themes under the umbrella of Commonwealth scholarships. They are Science and technology for development, strengthening health systems and capacity, promoting global prosperity, strengthening global peace, security and governance, strengthening resilience and response to crises and access, inclusion and opportunity.
Candidates are free to apply to UK universities of their choosing. Potential students are no longer bound by geographical, financial, or intellectual restraints.
Scholarship Amount for Maser’s and PhD Commonwealth Scholarships
With the cost of higher education surging, scholarships have become a lifeline for many lower-income students. Students are deciding which scholarship program to apply for based on the package each scholarship offers. Those that reimburse tuition and have allowances for accompanying expenses have become highly sought after.
Over 30,000 people have been awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship since its inception in 1959. Each scholarship covers the cost of big-ticket items like airfare from your country of origin to the UK and back, the price of tuition, and a living stipend of at least £1,116 per month. In addition, recipients are provided with a thesis grant and a study-travel grant.
The Commonwealth Scholarships have even considered the fine details of studying abroad. Some countries require mandatory tuberculosis testing as a part of the visa process. If you are from a country with that requirement, this scholarship will reimburse the cost of testing once a receipt is produced. Upon returning home, an allowance for excess baggage (within a certain limit) is given. Funds are also contributed to the purchase of warm clothing!
One admirable aspect of this Master’s and PhD Commonwealth scholarship is the consideration it affords to the family of the recipient. Students who are single parents, divorced, or widowed will receive a child allowance. The amount is £478 per month for the first child, and £118 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16. However, there is a stipulation; the children must be living with the recipient at the same address in the UK. The CSC does encourage maintaining a realistic budget as the cost of living may be higher than what the child allowance allows each month. They do not provide funds for dependents in the form of airfare.
Eligibility Criteria for Commonwealth Scholarships
There are basic eligibility criteria that must be met in order to be awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship. Keep in mind that if you do not meet all of the specified requirements, your application will not be approved. That being said, let’s look at the eligibility guidelines set by the CSC.
The first, and most obvious one, is regarding income. Being unable to afford the tuition and expenses necessary to study at a university in the UK is mandatory. Speaking of income, if you lived or worked in a high-income country (such as the United States or Germany) for one academic year or longer, you will not qualify.
Living in a Commonwealth country does not automatically mean you can apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship. The CSC recognizes four groups of people who they have deemed as eligible. Citizens, permanent residents, those designated as a British Protected Person, or a person who has been granted refugee status will be considered.
There are academic requirements as well. Firstly, recipients must be available to begin their academic studies at the start of the UK academic year. Secondly, the student must hold an undergraduate upper second class standard or a second class degree and a relevant postgraduate qualification prior to the beginning of the semester.
For example, if you are wanting to get a Master’s Commonwealth Scholarship, then you will need to have an undergraduate degree. If you are wanting to get a PhD Commonwealth Scholarship, then you will need to have a Master’s degree.
As mentioned prior, not all Commonwealth countries are eligible. However, if you identify as a person from one of the four groups mentioned above, and you live in one of the countries mentioned below, you are well on your way to being eligible! These countries include Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, The Gambia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia.
How do I apply to Commonwealth Scholarships?
All applications must be submitted online by the deadline. The sooner you apply, the better chances you may have of being chosen. The CSC is also adamant in stating that applications submitted in-person or by mail will not be accepted.
Simply applying for a Commonwealth Scholarship is not enough. There are two applications that must be submitted; an application to the university, or universities, of your choosing and the another for the scholarship. You can select more than one course to study; however, you may only select one offer. For example, if you win scholarships to both of the universities you applied to, you may only choose one university and its one scholarship package.
There are also supplemental documents that must be uploaded alongside the scholarship application. Proof of citizenship or refugee status, full academic transcripts (with certified translations in English), and references from two individuals. All documentation should be in the following formats and no more than 5 MB in size: PDF, .doc, .docx, .odt, .jpg, and .jpeg.
Documents that are submitted in a format not listed above will be rejected.
For a complete list of eligible courses, and more information on the application process, visit the Commonwealth Scholarships website.
Deadlines for Commonwealth Scholarships
The deadlines for Commonwealth Scholarships have yet to be announced. The dates in which applications will open for some of the programs for the upcoming school year have been announced.
Applications for Commonwealth PhD Scholarships (low-income countries) and Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships will open in September of each year. Applications for Shared Scholarships will open in October of each year and Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships will open in February of each year.