For Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
in the United Kingdom

Before your scholarship

The British Council has produced several brochures to help you make sure your time in the UK is safe and enjoyable. The brochures, along with general information about studying in the UK, are available on the British Council Study UK page.

Please also read the Student Wellbeing section of our website.

Disability Support

When you are provisionally selected for a Scholarship, you will be required to submit a form, which asks if you have a disability and if you are likely to need any special provision or treatment during your award. We strongly encourage you to disclose any disabilities at this early stage. This will provide the CSC with a clear picture of your needs, so that arrangements can be made for your welfare in the UK, should you be successful in gaining a Scholarship. Any sensitive personal data that you provide will be handled with maximum discretion.

We will use the information provided to determine what (if any) additional support you may need to excel in your studies, during your academic and daily life, and/or at CSC events. Examples of actions will depend on your needs but may include: liaising with your university/host organisation (with your permission) to ensure you are supported; advising you about any preparations you need to make before you arrive in the UK or anything you may need to bring; advising the CSC’s travel provider of any considerations that need to be made for your travel to the UK. We are committed to ensuring you are well-supported during your studies and will work with you to understand your needs.

The disability-related support the CSC provides for Scholars is agreed and determined according to Scholars’ individual needs. We will liaise with you to determine what support we can offer, and will take this into account in conjunction with the information that you have provided, additional details provided by your university/host organisation (if they have conducted a needs assessment), and any other information about additional support that your university/host organisation is able to provide. Additional support provided by the CSC is intended to complement the support already provided by your university/host organisation, ensuring your needs are met throughout your award.

If your Scholarship is tenable in the UK, the CSC will provide support for you in your personal life if your disability-related needs result in the costs of everyday activities being higher than they would be otherwise. If you have indicated that you are likely to have additional financial needs and have declared a disability on the form, a full assessment of your needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered once you arrive in the UK.

The CSC organises events for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows, and coordinates attendance at events hosted by other organisations. If you apply to attend one of these events, you will be asked on the application form if you have a disability that requires any additional assistance. We will make every effort to put adjustments in place to enable you to attend and gain maximum benefit from the event.

Further information on Disability Support is available on our website.


Before your scholarship begins, you will probably need to obtain a visa to enter the UK.

The most common visa for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows is the Student visa for study in the UK. You can find more information about current visa regulations and guidance on how to apply for a visa on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website. A step-by-step guide on how to apply for a Student visa is also available on the pre-award section of our website.

You should be aware that UK immigration rules can and do change frequently. For up-to-date news and information on changes relating to international students, you should consult the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

Please remember that you are responsible for ensuring that your permission to enter or remain in the UK is valid throughout your time in the UK. This also applies to any accompanying dependants.

Commonwealth Scholarship awards, other than those for Distance Learning programmes, are awarded on the basis of the applicant being able to secure permission to enter or stay in the UK.

Family members (dependants)

You must ensure that you and any accompanying family members (dependants) meet all the UK immigration requirements. You should refer to the UKCISA guidance on dependants to check the requirements and procedures for obtaining visas for family members.

Please be aware that you are liable for any costs incurred in obtaining visas for your family members and are responsible for financially supporting your family members while they are in the UK.

Visa application fees

When applying for your visa, you should check if a tuberculosis (TB) test is required for your visa application. If you are required to complete a TB test, you will be charged a fee for this. However, the CSC will reimburse the cost of the test (at a pre-determined rate) once you have arrived in the UK and provide a copy of your TB certificate. Please note that we require the certificate and not the receipt to arrange reimbursement.

If you are applying for a visa, in most cases you will be applying for a Student visa and your application fee will be waived as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). If you are charged for your visa or IHS application, you should query this immediately with the visa application centre and inform the CSC. Please do not make any payments for your visa as this will not be reimbursed by the CSC.

If you are planning to apply for a Student visa from inside the UK, you must seek guidance from your Programme Officer in advance of your visa application.

If you are applying for another type of visa, as recommended by your university, you must seek guidance from your Programme Officer in advance of beginning your visa application.

English Language and ATAS requirements

Most postgraduate courses in the UK require applicants to demonstrate a minimum standard of English Language proficiency before they can commence their studies.

You must check well in advance of your scholarship start date what is required by your university, and the department that administers your degree programme, to ensure that you can demonstrate the English Language requirements that they set.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects. The UK government has produced an online tool where you can find out if you require an ATAS certificate for your scholarship degree.

You must follow your university’s instructions relating to ATAS and meet any requirements that are stipulated by the scheme.

Travel for visa appointments

You may be required to travel to another country to attend your visa application appointment. If this applies to you, the CSC can arrange your flight booking once this has been approved by your Programme Officer.

To request travel for a visa appointment, please contact your Programme Officer at least one week before you intend to travel. Your Programme Officer will then provide you with instructions on how to book your travel using the CSC-approved travel provider.

Please be aware that you will not be reimbursed for any airfare that is not booked via the CSC’s travel provider. The CSC will not cover any accommodation or domestic travel costs for visa appointments.

Financial preparations

Cash card

You will be sent a pre-paid bank card – known as a ‘cash card’ – along with instructions on how to activate the card when your Confirmation of Award is issued.

Before crediting your cash card, you will need to have booked your flight to the UK with the CSC’s travel provider, received your e-ticket, and confirmed with the CSC that you have activated your cash card. The cash card has no monetary value until it has been activated.

When you arrive in the UK, the CSC will credit your cash card with a warm clothing allowance (if applicable) and your first quarter’s stipend (calculated from the first day of your award, as stated on your Notification of Award, or the day that you arrive in the UK, whichever is later). You can use the cash card at cash points (ATMs) across the UK. Please note that your balance will appear as £0 at some cashpoints, so you will need to access the cash card portal online to see details of your balance.

You are responsible for the security of your cash card from the moment you receive it. If you lose your cash card, you should report the loss immediately to the card issuer. There will be contact details for the card issuer on the back of the cash card and in the guide provided to you by your Programme Officer.

Your cash card is a temporary way for the CSC to provide your stipend allowance when you arrive in the UK. As soon as you have settled into your UK accommodation, you should set up a UK bank account and ensure that all remaining funds on the cash card are transferred to your bank account within six months. Your cash card will only be active for a short period of time during your arrival.

Research Support Grant


PhD Scholars: Your PhD supervisor may request a Research Support Grant (often known as ‘bench fees’) during the university placement process to cover the costs incurred by the university for the research that you will be undertaking during your scholarship, for example equipment costs and consumables.


If you think you will need a Research Support Grant, it is very important that you contact your supervisor before your Notification of Award is issued, so that they can submit a request to the CSC. The CSC will not consider any requests made after your Notification of Award has been issued.