All information is accurate as of January 2022
What does ‘Provisionally Selected’ mean?
Who is the scholarship awarded by?
Who is my Programme Officer and what do they do?
What do I need to do now?
What happens next?
What is the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK?
I have a disability. Do I need to disclose it to the CSC?
Do I need to take an English language test?
What should I do if the English language test centres are closed?
When will I receive my Notification of Award letter?
What happens if I am rejected by my first choice of university?
Can I change to a different course or university from the one I have been selected for?
How are universities delivering courses in 2021/22?
What is blended learning?
I have been selected for a Master’s course. Can I extend my scholarship at a later date, for example, to study for a PhD?
I have accepted another scholarship, how do I decline my scholarship offer?
Can I defer my scholarship to next year?
Will I need a visa to enter the UK?
My visa centre is not open at the point I need to apply for my visa, what should I do?
Will I need to pay visa application fees?
Will I need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?
Can I bring my family to the UK with me?
How do I arrange my travel to the UK?
Will I be offered a pre-departure briefing?
Will I need to self-isolate when I enter the UK and will I need a certificate to confirm I do not have Covid-19?
Will my family need to self-isolate if they travel to the UK?
Will I be able to get a Covid-19 vaccination in the UK?
What financial support does my scholarship provide?
Does the CSC provide health insurance cover for me?
How will my stipend be paid?
Can I work during my scholarship?
Can I stay in the UK to work after my scholarship or apply under the Graduate Route?
Can I hold another scholarship at the same time as a Commonwealth Scholarship?
What do I need to do about tuition fees and deposits?
How do I find accommodation in the UK?
Can the CSC pay the deposit for my accommodation?
What do I need to arrange before travelling to the UK?
What should I bring to the UK?
Where can I find support to help me adapt to life in the UK?
How can I find out more about living and studying in the UK?
‘Provisionally Selected’ means that your offer of a scholarship is provisional upon the CSC securing placement for you at the UK university for which you have been selected. It does not mean that you have actually been offered a scholarship.
Commonwealth Scholarships are awarded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC). The CSC receives funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for awards to candidates from low and middle income countries. The scholarships are administered by the CSC Secretariat, which is based at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) in London.
Your Programme Officer, whose name appears in the provisional selection email you have received, will be your main contact at the CSC Secretariat. For operational reasons, your Programme Officer may change from time to time; you will always be informed of this in writing. Your Programme Officer will be able to answer any questions you might have during the placement process and throughout your scholarship.
It is easiest to get in touch with your Programme Officer by email. Please note that your Programme Officer will have a portfolio of different institutions and due to the high levels of correspondence they receive, they will not always be able to respond immediately. You will have a chance to meet your Programme Officer (as well as other Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows) once you arrive in the UK.
If you have been sent a list of missing documents, you should send these to your Programme Officer as soon as possible.
You must also send us a copy of your unconditional offer letter by email as soon as you receive it. We cannot confirm your scholarship until we receive this. You must ensure that you have applied to all of your chosen courses at the universities named in your application form. If you receive conditional offers from universities to which you have applied, you should also send these to your Programme Officer as they may assist with the placement process.
You must ensure that you are working to fulfil any outstanding conditions on your university offers; any delays in fulfilling the conditions (including English language and ATAS) will cause a delay in your scholarship being confirmed or prevent you from taking up the scholarships.
You will be required to complete a Health and Disability form before your award can be confirmed. The information provided will be used by the CSC to assist you with any support or adjustments that may be required.
You should also check if you will need to be tested for tuberculosis for your visa application and carry out the test as soon as possible to prevent any delays in your scholarship being confirmed.
Once the CSC has secured placement for you at your host UK university, you will receive a Notification of Award. Once you have met all requirements set out in your Notification of Award, you will be sent a Confirmation of Award letter by email.
The Confirmation of Award is the final letter that the CSC will send to you before you start your studies. This letter will be copied to the British Council office in your home country (where applicable), giving them the authority to contact you to offer pre-departure advice. It will also include instructions on how to book your flight once you have received your visa, through the CSC travel provider; any flights booked without following these instructions will not be reimbursed.
Due to the large amount of correspondence we receive, we may not acknowledge receipt of documents that you send. We require only one copy of your documents, so you do not need to send duplicates.
Your details will be sent to the university for which you have been provisionally selected with a form from the CSC which asks the university if they can offer you a place, as well as other administrative questions about the course that you have applied for.
If you have applied for a Commonwealth PhD and Split-site Scholarship and anticipate any research support or fieldwork costs associated with your study, you must discuss these with your supervisor now to ensure that they can be included in your scholarship. The CSC is under no obligation to pay any costs identified after the placement process (once your Notification of Award has been issued) and will expect your university to cover any unforeseen costs.
Once the university has returned the form to us, and if they have agreed to offer you a place under terms acceptable to the CSC, we will offer you a Commonwealth Scholarship. You will be informed of this by a Notification of Award letter, which includes an award acceptance form. You will also be sent a link to the Handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows in the UK, which outlines in detail the rules and regulations of your scholarship.
Currently, there are no Covid-19 restrictions in the UK or for travel to the UK; for up-to-date advice on Covid-19 in the UK please also check the GOV.UK website. The virus has not gone away and there is still a risk of infection. The government advises that there are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19:
- Get vaccinated
- Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside
- Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
University campuses are open and the majority of universities are planning mostly face-to-face teaching with some blended teaching for the 2022/23 academic year. All Scholars are expected to arrive in the UK in time for the start of their course and to be present for face-to-face teaching.
Your host UK university will be able to advise you on the format of teaching proposed for your course. If you will not be able to carry out this format of teaching, please let your Programme Officer know straight away.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has lots of helpful advice for international students on their website.
You are asked to bear in mind that this is an evolving situation for the CSC as it is for UK universities and students, and we may find it necessary to change some of our policies or procedures as situations develop and change. We will inform Scholars straightaway if this should be the case.
We have tried to address some of your questions around the 2022 academic year related in particular to your Scholarship in these FAQs but please do seek further advice from your Programme Officer if your question is not answered.
We strongly encourage you to tell us about any disability, health condition, impairment or issue that may affect your studies. The CSC actively welcomes applications from candidates with disabilities and a range of support is available to help you excel in your studies. For information on disability-related support, see the CSC disability support statement. If you have any disability related queries, please contact email@example.com.
Most candidates need to meet the English language testing requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and/or their UK host university. Your university offer letter will state what these requirements are. You should check which test you should take and what score you will need to obtain carefully with your UK host university. You should arrange to carry out any test required as soon as possible to prevent any delay in your scholarship being confirmed and in submitting your visa application.
You should check with your UK host university whether they are accepting alternative proof of English language proficiency or what their advice is to ensure that you are able to obtain an unconditional offer letter. Please inform your Programme Officer if you experience any difficulties in carrying out an English language test.
We aim to issue your scholarship offer as quickly as possible. However, this process can take some time, as it depends on your chosen university finalising your placement and sending back their form. As a result, we cannot give you a specific date by which this will be done. Your Programme Officer will be working on your placement, so do not be concerned if you do not hear from us for some time. You do not need to check on progress with the Secretariat; if we need further information from you, we will be in touch.
If you are rejected by your first choice of university for academic reasons, or if we are unable to place you at your first choice institution for other reasons, we will attempt to place you at your second and third institutions in turn. If we are unable to place you at up to three of your chosen institutions, your provisional selection will be withdrawn and you will not be offered a scholarship.
No. The CSC selection committee’s decision is final. In most cases, you have been selected for the course and UK university which you specified on your scholarship application form. In some circumstances, the CSC selection committee will decide that a different course or UK university would be more appropriate. Such decisions have been made after careful consideration based on independent academic advice.
University campuses are open and most universities are planning face-to-face teaching with some blended teaching for the 2022/23 academic year. All Scholars are expected to arrive in the UK in time for the start of their course and to be present for face-to-face teaching.
Your host UK university will be able to advise you on the format of teaching proposed for your course.
Some universities are offering courses by blended learning during the 2022/23 academic year. This means that Scholars will be expected to be in the UK, but the course might be delivered through a mix of face-to-face tutorials in small groups and lectures to be delivered online. Scholars are required to travel to the UK to take up their award.
I have been selected for a Master’s course. Can I extend my scholarship at a later date, for example, to study for a PhD?
No. Your scholarship is for one course of study or research only. If you would like a scholarship to study another course after your scholarship, you will need to apply again for another Commonwealth Scholarship.
If you would like to decline your offer of a Commonwealth Scholarship, please contact your Programme Officer.
The Commission cannot normally agree to deferments. Please contact your Programme Officer with any individual concerns.
Most Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows will need to obtain a visa to enter the UK. This can be a lengthy process; your award will not be extended or deferred if you have not completed the necessary visa and immigration requirements in good time.
For further information on current visa regulations and guidance on applying for a visa, visit the GOV.UK website. UK immigration rules change frequently. For up-to-date news and information on changes, you should contact your university’s international students’ department and consult the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.
If you require a Student visa, you should read our FAQs about applying for a Student visa.
You must ensure that you meet all UK immigration requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that your permission to enter or remain in the UK is valid throughout your time in the UK.
Our Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer is monitoring the status of visa processing centres. Please inform your Programme Officer and firstname.lastname@example.org if your local visa centre is closed at the point that you need to apply for your visa.
If a tuberculosis test is required for your visa application, you will be reimbursed for this on arrival in the UK. You must save all documentation relating to this as your Programme Officer will request it in order to process the reimbursement.
If you are applying for a Student visa from outside the UK, you will need to select ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you have a Marshall, Chevening or Commonwealth Scholarship?’ for your application fee to be waived. If you are charged for your visa application, you should query this with the visa application centre immediately and inform the CSC by emailing email@example.com.
If you are applying from inside the UK for an extension of your visa, you will be charged an application fee. If a reimbursement of this fee has been pre-approved by your Programme Officer, you should submit the receipt with a claim form for reimbursement to your Programme Officer once you have started your scholarship.
If you are applying for any other type of visa, as instructed by your university, you will be charged an application fee and, if a reimbursement has been pre-approved by your Programme Officer, you should submit the receipt with a claim form for reimbursement to your Programme Officer after you have arrived in the UK.
If you are applying for a visa for more than 6 months, you will need to register for an IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge) number as part of your visa application. IHS registration enables you to use the UK National Health Service (NHS) in the same way that anyone resident in the UK can. Further information on the IHS can be found on the GOV.UK website.
If you are applying for a visa from outside the UK, the IHS fee will be waived. You still need to complete the section of the form relating to the IHS and make sure you select ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you have a Marshall, Chevening or Commonwealth Scholarship?’ on the form. If you are asked to pay the IHS fee, you should query this with the visa application centre immediately and inform the CSC by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your scholarship is less than 18 months long, you are advised not to bring your family to the UK with you, because of the intensity of shorter courses/periods of study, the high cost of living in the UK, and the difficulty of finding family accommodation.
If your scholarship is at least 18 months long or you are a single parent, you may be eligible to claim family allowances while your dependents (spouse and/or children) are in the UK. However, eligibility for family allowances does not guarantee eligibility for a visa. Please check the UKCISA website for advice on bringing your family to the UK and details of the requirements and procedures for obtaining visas for family members.
You must ensure that any accompanying dependents meet all UK immigration requirements. You are liable for any costs incurred in obtaining visas for your family members and are responsible for supporting your family members while they are in the UK. It is your responsibility to ensure that your accompanying dependents’ permission to enter or remain in the UK is valid throughout your time in the UK.
In your Confirmation of Award email, the CSC will provide you with instructions on how to book your travel to the UK via the CSC’s travel provider. You must follow the instructions provided; the CSC will not reimburse any flights that are not booked using the CSC’s travel provider. Where applicable the British Council will provide pre-departure advice. Contact details for the British Council in your home country will be provided with your Confirmation of Award.
The CSC travel provider will book onward travel from the airport to your university city/town by train or coach. Please check your travel itinerary includes onward travel to your university before you travel.
Taxis are expensive in the UK and you are advised not to travel by taxi. The CSC will not reimburse any costs related to travel by taxi except in very exceptional circumstances and only if pre-approved by the CSC.
The British Council will provide pre-departure advice advice and invite you to attend a pre-departure meeting (in person or virtually). Contact details for the British Council representative in your home country will be provided with your Confirmation of Award.
Will I need to self-isolate when I enter the UK and will I need a certificate to confirm I do not have Covid-19?
All travel rules when entering the UK have now been removed. Travellers do not need to complete a UK passenger locator form before travelling, take any Covid-19 tests, or quarantine when they arrive in the UK. Up-to-date travel guidance is available on the GOV.UK website.
Please note that other countries have rules about what you must do in order to travel there from the UK. You should check travel advice for the country you are travelling from.
You must check the up-to-date travel to the UK guidance on the GOV.UK website and ensure that any accompanying dependents meet all travel and entry requirements. You are liable for any Covid-19 test and quarantine costs incurred for family members.
Information about booking a vaccination is available on the NHS webpage on COVID-19.
NHS England published COVID-19 vaccination FAQs: students in Higher Education Institutions, including a section for international students from page 2.
Please note, this FAQ applies to England only. The vaccination programme is managed by devolved governments in the rest of the UK and you should refer to the latest government information in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Commonwealth Scholarships provide:
- A stipend (living allowance) to cover your living costs (including accommodation) in the UK
- Full tuition fees
- Airfares to and from the UK
- Other allowances as detailed in your Confirmation of Award
The stipend rate is currently £1,133 per month (or £1,390 per month if you are studying at a university in London). This figure may be reviewed before you arrive in the UK, to reflect changing living costs. Your stipend will begin on the date on which your award officially starts or upon your arrival in the UK, whichever is latest. You will also be paid a warm clothing allowance (currently £439) as a one-off contribution towards living expenses associated with studying in the UK (if applicable).
The CSC stipend rate is the same as other major UK government scholarship schemes, such as Chevening Scholarships and Marshall Scholarships. The stipend is designed to meet all necessary living costs but will not be sufficient to fund extensive social activities, holidays, or activities such as running a car or supporting family members and dependants either in the UK or abroad.
Commonwealth Scholars are not covered by health insurance provided by the CSC. However, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pays the Immigration Health Surcharge for all Commonwealth Scholar applications made outside the UK (please see above). This allows you to access the NHS in the same way that anyone ordinarily resident in the UK can.
This means that the majority of health care is free but you might be expected to pay for some things such as dental and optical treatment and prescription costs.
There are some differences as to what health care is free and what you will need to pay for depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
You may still wish to take out medical or travel insurance before you come to the UK if you wish to access non-NHS medical services. We cannot recommend any specific insurance company and you must cover the costs of this yourself, though you can use your stipend to contribute to this cost once you have received it.
When your award is confirmed, you will be issued with a cash card onto which your first stipend will be paid. You must follow the instructions provided with your cash card and activate it before travelling to the UK. The cash card cannot be loaded with funds if you have not informed the CSC that you have activated your cash card.
Your stipend will begin on the date your award officially starts or upon your arrival in the UK, whichever is latest. Your first payment will be loaded to your cash card after your flight booking to the UK has been confirmed by the CSC’s travel provider and it will cover your first quarter stipend plus your warm clothing allowance (if applicable).
You must set up a UK bank account as soon as possible after you arrive in the UK. We will ask you for your bank details so that your stipend (and any other payments due to you) can be paid into your account.
You are expected to study full time for your entire award tenure and not to undertake paid employment. The only exception to this rule is if you are employed in a role relevant to your studies for not more than six hours per week. If you want to take up such employment, you must inform your Programme Officer in advance.
You must not take up any employment that is not permitted by your visa.
No. By signing your award acceptance form, you are agreeing to return to your home country within a month of completing your studies. Commonwealth Scholarships are funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and are offered for the purpose of equipping Scholars with the skills and knowledge that will help them to have an impact on sustainable development in their home country and for this reason the Commission expects Scholars to return home straight away at the end of their award.
A Commonwealth Scholarship is considered to be a full award (covering all costs). Therefore, the CSC does not allow other scholarships or awards which cover the same costs to be held at the same time. You should refer any offers of other awards of any type to your Programme Officer. If you accept another award without declaring it to the CSC, the CSC reserves the right to withdraw your Commonwealth Scholarship.
The CSC is responsible for paying your tuition fees. If your chosen university requests either a deposit or the full tuition fee, you should contact the university finance office and explain that you are a sponsored student. You must not pay any deposits or fees. If you are concerned about an imminent deadline, you should contact your Programme Officer, who can then speak to your university directly. The CSC will be contacting the university administrative teams to confirm your sponsorship status; you do not need to confirm this at this stage.
Once you arrive in the UK (or before, if requested to do so by your university) you should present your Confirmation of Award letter to the university’s finance office to prove your sponsored status. You should do this as soon as possible when you arrive, to avoid any invoices being misdirected and delaying the payment of your fees.
If you are a PhD Scholar entering your fourth year of study and are charged a ‘writing up’ fee by your university, you are responsible for paying this yourself.
Once you have been offered a place on a course, your UK university will usually send you details of what accommodation is available and how to apply for it. For further guidance, check the UKCISA advice on choosing accommodation, and the Education UK website. You should take whatever steps are necessary to secure accommodation, but you should not commit any funds until your Confirmation of Award has been issued.
If you are studying at one of the universities that form part of the University of London then you can access the University of London Housing Service which provides lots of advice on finding accommodation, has it’s own listings service, and can check any housing contract for you before you sign it. If you are not studying at a University of London institution then your university, or students’ union may provide a similar service for your local area.
Your stipend is designed to cover the cost of your accommodation. Your stipend will be paid 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 must arrange your travel and accommodation accordingly and ensure that you do not pay for accommodation before you arrive in the UK.
If you accept university residential accommodation, you will usually have to stay there for one academic year. Since this type of accommodation is in high demand, you may have to live in private rented accommodation instead. If you are considering renting privately in England, you should check the UKCISA advice on immigration checks that landlords are required to carry out before granting a tenancy agreement. Any signed contract is legally binding, so you should always check the terms and conditions carefully before signing. If you decide to leave your accommodation before the end of your contract, you will be personally liable for any fees and outstanding costs.
If you need any further advice about your accommodation rights and responsibilities then there is some information on the Citizens Advice Bureau’s website and the specialist housing charity, Shelter, have a free phoneline.
Accommodation that is suitable for families can be scarce and in high demand in most university towns. You are strongly advised not to bring your family to join you in the UK until you have arranged suitable long-term accommodation.
Many universities can provide or advise you about accommodation suitable for disabled students, or they may adapt accommodation to meet your individual needs. If you require accessible or adapted accommodation, we recommend that you contact your university to discuss your requirements as soon as possible.
You must consult your academic supervisor, your Programme Officer, and an international student adviser at your university before renting accommodation far away enough from your place of study that it may be considered unreasonable (for example, in London, over 15 miles).
The CSC is unable to reserve or pay a deposit on your behalf for any accommodation before you arrive in the UK. Your Programme Officer is also unable to act as a referee or guarantor for you in any application for accommodation. If you have been offered university accommodation that requires a deposit to secure the accommodation before arrival, your Programme Officer may be able to provide a deposit deferral letter once your award is confirmed, provided your university will accept this. If this is the case, you will still need to pay the deposit upon, or shortly after, taking up your accommodation.
It is very unusual for private landlords to accept this type of letter. However, some universities do provide guarantor schemes or services so you should ask your university accommodation department or student services about this.
Before you leave your home country, there are a few key things that you should arrange. They include:
- Your visa and passport
- Details relating to your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which you will collect once you arrive in the UK
- Your flight to the UK and onward travel to your university city/town (arranged via the CSC’s travel provider)
- Accommodation (for at least your first night in the UK)
- Travel insurance
- Medical insurance (if you are to be in the UK for less
than six months)
- A tuberculosis certificate (if required)
- Making sure you have your offer letter (known as a Confirmation for Studies or CAS) and Confirmation of Award letter
- Activating your cash card (instructions are sent with your Confirmation of Award email)
- Making sure you have a contact telephone number and email for your university or institution
- Finding out if your university offers a meet and greet service which you may be able to arrange before you travel
You should try to ensure you bring the following with you to the UK:
- Warm clothing
- You may want to bring a few sets of formal and/or traditional wear
In your hand luggage:
- A valid passport and visa
- Your travel ticket and departure details including onward travel from the airport to your university town/city
- The offer letter from your university/institution (known as a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, or CAS) and Confirmation of Award letter
- Confirmation of your accommodation (for at least your first night in the UK)
- Confirmation of your medical insurance (and if necessary, a tuberculosis report)
- Copies of your bank drafts/information about your bank accounts
- Contact details for your university/institution
- Emergency numbers/ contact details
- Cash to cover your immediate needs
- Your activated cash card
- Any medication you require. (You will be able to arrange a new prescription once you have registered with a doctor in the UK. Do note that you will be charged for prescriptions)
- Clothes for a few days in case of lost luggage
- Copies of original academic transcripts (as required by some universities for verification purposes)
- UK power adaptors
It is always a good idea to save digital copies/screenshots of any important documents to your email or cloud storage.
Moving to a different country to study might be quite daunting and you may experience culture shock. However, this is completely normal and not something that you should be hard on yourself about.
Many universities host a welcome week where there are opportunities for international students to find out more about things they can do to help them settle into the UK. This is also a great opportunity to meet new people, such as key university staff, people from local organisations, such as the police or NHS, and other new students. If you feel that you have missed out on anything during your university welcome week, then please speak with your student services.
Most universities provide a comprehensive range of student services to help you adapt and settle into life in the UK and your local area. The support that they can offer can includes help on topics such as banking and finance, health and wellbeing, accommodation, and much more. Universities will often have similar information and self-help guides on their websites.
If you have any wellbeing concerns then your student services can provide support for you including counselling services. You can also find wellbeing resources for support on the the CSC website and if you feel you need further advice or support then you can email the Welfare Team.
You can also find helpful information on the British Council’s website, including a comprehensive guide to studying in the UK.
You should use the time between now and the start of your scholarship to find out more about living and studying in the UK. The following websites offer useful information: