Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are for candidates from low middle-income Commonwealth countries, for full-time Master’s study on selected courses, jointly supported by UK universities.
Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Commonwealth Shared Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK. These scholarships are offered under six development themes:
- 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
- Access, inclusion and opportunity
UK universities are invited to bid for up to ten Commonwealth Shared Scholarships to be offered in the 2020-2021 academic year.
The CSC is not always able to offer the maximum number of scholarships for which university bids. It is normal practice for the CSC to offer one scholarship to universities that are new to the programme or that have not taken part in the last three years.
Universities should put forward no more than 10 courses in their bid. These courses must be individually named, not by the department; bids for subject areas will not be accepted.
The CSC currently expects to allocate around 220 new Commonwealth Shared Scholarships for 2020. Scholarships are normally for one-year taught courses at postgraduate level and are not for research degrees or undergraduate study.
Universities will be asked within the bidding form to detail the following:
how they will undertake recruitment for the Scholarships
any eligibility criteria in addition to the Commission’s own criteria which will be used for recruitment.
where the funding for the awards will come from (i.e. whether from central university funds or from an external source).
The development impact which will result from the Scholarships.
As Commonwealth Shared Scholars are funded by DFID, subjects of study must be demonstrably developmental in nature. Therefore, as part of their bid, universities must provide a statement explaining the direct or indirect relevance of the course(s) to least developed and lower-middle-income countries.
The developmental value of the course will be assessed and allocations of scholarships will be made based on the strength of the statements provided. Generic course descriptions will not be
- The CSC wishes to see a brief outline of how the proposed course will be advantageous and suitable for individuals from least developed and lower-middle-income countries, as well as to their home nations when they return. Bids not including development statements will be deemed ineligible.
- Only courses which do not require further study, training, or employment in the UK, including courses with industry placements are eligible, MBA courses will be supported only in exceptional circumstances where a direct development focus and aim can be demonstrated.
- Universities must also provide a link to the key modules within each course in their bid.
- Only universities in receipt of government grant funding are eligible to bid for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships.
- Development statement – dos and don’ts
Explain how the course is relevant to least developed and lower-middle-income Commonwealth countries
- Be specific about how the course content can be applied to ensure the development impact
- Demonstrate how the course could have a development impact on the Scholar’s home country when they return
- Explain how the course links to the chosen CSC development theme
- Provide examples of the course or university’s record in development, where applicable
- Consult with the course leaders when writing the statements
- Write at least one paragraph
- Provide links to core modules for each course
- Check that the statements are complete and correct before submitting the bid Don’t Use the same statement for each course
- Use generic course descriptions; these will not be considered
- Rely on the name of the course to demonstrate its developmental nature
- Copy and paste course information from the university website
How to bid
All bids must be made using the CSC’s online application system, available at cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/apply/uk-universities/shared-scholarships
The deadline for bids is 09:00 (BST) on Monday 2 September. Late bids cannot be accepted. Bidding results should be available in October 2020.
For more information about the CSC, If you have any questions about Commonwealth Shared Scholarships or the bidding process, please contact the CSC Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7380 6751.
Recruitment and selection
Universities that are successful at the bidding stage will be notified which courses and how many scholarships have been approved by the CSC.
The CSC will issue a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to universities that will confirm the terms and conditions of the scholarship as well as the responsibilities of the CSC and of the university; this will be reviewed on an annual basis.
Placement cannot go ahead unless the CSC receives the signed MOU.
All universities offering Commonwealth Shared Scholarships must use the CSC’s online application system to recruit candidates.
Candidates are to apply for a place on the course separately through the university’s own admissions application system. Advice will be given to universities on how to use the CSC’s online system to recruit candidates.
- The list of eligible courses for 2020 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships will be published on the CSC website, with university contact details in November 2019.
- Applications for 2020 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are likely to open in November 2019 and close by the third week of December 2019.
- Universities will be expected to nominate their chosen applicants to the CSC before the end of March 2020 and complete a governance survey explaining their recruitment and selection processes.
- It is the responsibility of universities to conduct their own recruitment of candidates as they see fit in an open and transparent manner and with reference to the CSC anti-fraud policy and procedure, which is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/csc-in-the-uk-anti-fraud-policy-and-procedure
The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make a change. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination, and encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates. For further information on the support available to candidates with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement at cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/apply/csc-disability-support-statement. The CSC asks universities to continue to positively encourage women to apply for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships.
The CSC is also keen to ensure a good geographical spread of these awards; a high percentage of Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are currently awarded to candidates from Pakistan and Nigeria.
Candidates are expected to hold a first degree at either first-class or upper second class level, or at lower second class level plus a Master’s degree. The CSC cannot assess work experience in lieu of this minimum academic qualification.
Pre-sessional English courses are not supported by this programme. Universities must, therefore, confirm that candidates are sufficiently fluent in written and oral English to pursue their studies immediately and ensure that they meet the English language requirement set by UK Visas and Immigration.
To apply for these scholarships, candidates must:
- Be a citizen of or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country, or be a British Protected Person
- Be permanently resident in an eligible Commonwealth country
- Be available to start their academic studies in the UK by the start of the UK academic year in September/October 2020
- By October 2020, hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) standard, or a second class degree and a relevant postgraduate qualification (usually a Master’s degree).
- Not have studied or worked for one (academic) year or more in a high-income country (for CSC purposes this is classified as a country which does not appear on the DAC list of ODA recipients (see: www.oecd.org/dac/financing-sustainable-development/development-finance-standards/DAC_List_ODA_Recipients2018to2020_flows_En.pdf)
- Be unable to afford to study in the UK without this scholarship (note the university may be asked to state its procedures for verifying applicants’ financial status).
- Commit to return to their home country within one month of the end date of their scholarship
These eligibility criteria are current as of July 2019 and are subject to minor changes.
Eligible Commonwealth countries
(As of July 2019)
- The Gambia
- Papua New Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- Sri Lanka
Financial commitment and branding
Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly financed by the CSC and host universities. Any contribution towards the university’s share of the scholarship costs must come from the university’s own funds or from an organisation whose mission and aims are in line with those of the CSC. All documentation and promotional material must recognise that Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and the university.
Commonwealth Shared Scholars must not be asked to contribute to the university element of the scholarship. Any university expecting a Shared Scholar to do this will render themselves liable to the repayment of the tuition fee to the CSC and exclusion from the programme in future years.
The CSC will pay the following (on receipt of an invoice and relevant supporting documentation from the university):
Course tuition fees up to a cap of £22,500
- Airfares to and from the UK, booked in line with CSC’s travel policy
- Grant to contribute to study-related costs (exact amount for 2020 to be confirmed); additional sums available for CSC events
- Tuberculosis test fees at a pre-determined amount set by the CSC where required by UK Visas and Immigration
- Excess baggage allowance on return home up to the specific rate as set by the CSC
- Disability Support Allowance for personal living costs (if eligible)
- For Scholars who are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of £476 per month for the first child, and £117 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16
- The costs of any compulsory field trips or bench fees should be included in the tuition fee; the CSC will not cover any additional costs beyond the listed course tuition fee.
- The university is expected to provide at least the following level of support:
- Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £1110 per month, or £1362 per month for Scholars at universities in the London metropolitan area; this must be paid for the full duration of the scholarship
- Warm clothing allowance of £431
These amounts are set by the UK government for all students on government-funded scholarships. If universities provide free accommodation in lieu of part of the stipend payment, they must ensure that family accommodation is available if required by a Commonwealth Shared Scholar. Scholarship tenure and return home
Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are tenable for one year and cannot be extended or renewed.
All Commonwealth Shared Scholars are required to return to their home country within one month of the end of their courses. No permission will be given to deferring the homeward airfare, except where a Scholar has secured an offer of PhD study in the UK with full funding for three years of study from a university or recognised scholarship body.
In such cases, if the Shared Scholarship host university agrees, the CSC will allow the Scholar to remain in the UK and will issue a ‘no objection’ letter to support their visa application.