Commonwealth Scholarships are one of the most lauded and respected scholarship programs for international study in the world. Till now more than 27,000 individuals have benefited from these scholarships starting from its establishment in 1959. A vast majority of award holders have returned to make a significant contribution to their home countries, in many cases at the highest level, making the award scheme one of the largest and most prestigious in the world.
The Canadian statesman Sidney Earle Smith had originally proposed the plan of starting with Commonwealth scholarships in his speech in Montreal on 1 September 1958. The first Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) took place in Oxford in 1959. Hosted by over 20 countries, since then this scholarship scheme has selected around 25,000 individuals
Commonwealth Scholarships are not managed by any particular country. Instead, it depends on the bi-lateral arrangements between the host country and the home country. The national nominating agency is responsible for the participation of the countries. The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in UK, which is the biggest contributor to this scholarship scheme, manages the affairs and the selection process.
To be eligible to apply for the awards in Commonwealth Scholarships, the candidates should:
• Be Commonwealth citizens, refugees, or British protected persons.
• Be permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country.
• Be available to commence their academic studies in the United Kingdom by the start of the UK academic year in September/October.
• Have a first degree of upper second class Honours standard (or above); or a second class degree and a relevant postgraduate qualification, which will normally be a Master’s degree.
The applications are encouraged from diverse range of candidates and their respective field studies. The aim of the scholarship scheme is to promote international exchange and gender equity.
The award is divided into two categories which deal with the below mentioned aspects
• 12 months’ support towards completion of a full-time taught postgraduate qualification at an eligible UK institution. The Commonwealth Commission offers awards for one-year Master’s programmes only, and does not fund MBAs.
• Up to 36 months’ support towards completion of a full-time doctoral qualification at an eligible UK institution.
The candidates can apply to study at Master’s or Doctoral level at UK institutions with which the Commission has a part funding agreement with.