Commonwealth Professional Fellowships – information for prospective Fellows

Overview

Commonwealth Professional Fellowships are for mid-career professionals from low and middle income countries to spend a period of time at a UK host organisation working in their sector for a programme of professional development.

Purpose: To provide professionals with the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills in their given sector, and to have catalytic effects on their workplaces.

Intended beneficiaries: Mid-career professionals (with five years’ relevant work experience) working organisations in low and middle income Commonwealth countries.

These fellowships 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

The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make 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.

If you wish to apply for our Gender and Sexuality Fellowship programme then please see the Gender and Sexuality Fellowship webpage.

Host organisation programmes

Bees for Development

The Fellows will leave Bees for Development with a deep and enhanced understanding of Nature Based Beekeeping and how this can be used to support the livelihoods of people living in poverty. They will also benefit from exposure to organisations in the UK involved in commercial beekeeping and honey import and export; those working in the biodiversity sector with a strong communication presence and organisations offering expertise in safeguarding.

It is very much our hope that, as a result of the fellowship programme, we will establish mutually beneficial relationships with both the Fellows and the organisations they work with.

British Geological Survey

The training programme will build on the experience of hosting 12+ Fellows since 2012. The primary aim is to provide experience and training in modern geochemistry laboratories, alongside learning systems of work for handling research data (e.g. Quality Assurance, H&S, infrastructure maintenance). Further objectives may include experience in contributing or leading on scientific outputs, use or presentation of data for interpretation (e.g. statistics, QGIS). A Theory of Change process will be developed for the Fellows to evaluate how lessons learnt can be applied to their home situation for onward improvement and cascading of information to colleagues. An additional component over previous years will incorporate social science training to encourage the thought process for ‘pathways to impact’ partnering with specialists at the Universities of Plymouth/Nottingham.

Fellows will be linked into a WhatsApp group of previous BGS hosted Fellows from across Africa to contribute to building their own regional support network.

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust has been working in partnership with Mirembe National Mental Health Hospital in Tanzania since 2010 to help them develop the quality of their mental health and substance use services. We are currently helping them to establish a new community based mental health service, and to achieve their aspirations and remit to be a centre of excellence in Tanzania.

The Professional Fellowship will enable up to 4 members of the project implementation team to spend time on placement in CNWL’s community mental health and substance use services, to have exposure to UK practices, develop contacts with CNWL staff for further mentoring/liaison support, and link to ongoing access to online training. Training opportunities will be provided during the programme. The expected impact of the programme will be enhanced clinical expertise and practice and a strong management team to progress the development of community based mental health and substance use services.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust

Professional Fellowship in Facial Plastic Surgery. Previous Fellows hosted have had hands on experience and acted as observers. Unfortunately, the previous fellowship was cut short after a month due to the COVID outbreak.

All the Fellows were trained in various facial plastic surgery procedures and they went back to their country to perform these procedures for the local population and to train junior doctors in the same skills. Regular teaching sessions are organised each year in their institutions, and ongoing support is provided by DBTH in these activities to make sure the training progresses in the expected manner.

Inclusion International

Inclusion International’s fellowship under the theme of ‘access, inclusion, and opportunity’ will provide the opportunity for Fellows working within a national organisation of persons with disabilities (OPD) in the intellectual disability movement to gain exposure to the work of the global disability movement.

Fellows will be exposed to global advocacy work on disability rights in international fora and at the United Nations table, programming to support national organisations of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, and global movement building.

Each Fellow will have the opportunity to design and deliver a project on a topic of importance to the global intellectual disabilities movement (including but not limited to support for families, legal capacity, inclusive education, inclusive employment) and will produce concrete resources to support the advocacy work of organisations in their region.

Fellows will return to their national organisation prepared to support capacity building in their organisation and region.

Knowledge for Change

This programme focuses on training a multi-disciplinary team to develop a preventive and contextually relevant version of Manchester’s ‘Amputation Reduction Strategy’.

Diabetes is fast emerging as the primary cause of lower-limb amputation in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Diabetic Foot Ulceration (DFU) and resulting limb loss represents a major fiscal threat to public health systems and has catastrophic consequences for livelihoods. This proposal builds upon and integrates the work arising from two highly successful previous fellowship programmes on wound care and prosthetic limb manufacture.

The wound care work will extend to the specific challenges of identifying and managing diabetic ulcers (led by nurses) whilst the prosthetics and orthotics work extends to an entirely new area of service development (namely the skills in ‘off-loading’ orthotics). The goal is to establish, for the first time in Tanzanian and Ugandan public hospitals, diabetic foot clinics designed to interrupt the journey from a diabetes diagnosis to limb amputation.

Lancaster University

Against a backdrop of sustained engagement with African stakeholders, we were funded through the British Council’s Digital University Africa programme to conduct action research around the development of an exemplar digital training programme that will ‘stimulate sustainable entrepreneurial thinking in scientists’ (SETS) in Africa. We worked with 5 African partners in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya to undertake the co-design and piloting activities and developed an online toolkit to empower institutions to develop their own entrepreneurial capacity as well as design their own programmes that create impactful collaborative solutions to place-based challenges.

The toolkit provides the essential ingredients to engage scientists, researchers, and academics in thinking more entrepreneurially, and being more creative in how they generate greater impact from their research activities. These Fellowships will strengthen this pilot programme and support 4 Professional Fellows to champion the toolkit and encourage a catalytic effect on uptake and outcomes from connected entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

  1. Paediatric anaesthesia – to develop specialist skills for delivery of anaesthesia to paediatric patients.
  2. Paediatric physiotherapy – to support the development of a specialist paediatric service within the physiotherapy department.
  3. Clinical pharmacology – to support the development of a new clinical pharmacy service at the hospital and support Antimicrobial Surveillance.
  4. Speech and Language Therapy – to support the development of a new service for the hospital.

Sheffield Hallam University

The complex nature of global challenges today can be epitomised within the domain of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The non-orthogonality of the SDGs means that global challenges of today cannot be tackled in isolation. Thus, in the big data era we need to prepare future scientists to cope with the dynamics, volumes, variety, and veracity of data and raise awareness, through data, of how interconnected and complex the SDG data attributes are.

The fellowship is for those directly/indirectly involved in handling multi-faceted data in any field. The fellowship is designed to prepare Fellows for interdisciplinary operations in the big data era, focusing, mainly, on proper management of data intensive activities leading to data-driven solutions to societal challenges. Preference will be given to those with a clear passion for their area of work who can demonstrate ability to impart newly acquired skills onto colleagues upon completion of the fellowship.

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

The Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust has had a partnership with health services in Gulu, Northern Uganda since 2012. During that time 27 health professionals have visited Sheffield using a Commonwealth Fellowship to learn new skills and knowledge and improve existing ones. They have also broadened the perspective of staff in the NHS in Sheffield.

The impacts of previous Fellows from Gulu have been to initiate service improvements and create new structures for learning. It is expected that this will continue in the current round of fellowships and will bring renewed momentum to health services, particularly in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

Tackle

The fellowship will provide focused training in key areas of the nominees’ skill sets with nationally recognised qualifications in some instances. UK training is extremely valuable, respected, and sought after in the countries Tackle operates in and so will benefit staff in their jobs but also beyond.

Each Fellow will return to their programme not only with new skills and knowledge but also the remit to share this with and train other members of their team in order to further spread the value and impact of their training.

The scheduled meetings with UK partners will strengthen links between the projects running on the ground and the INGOs who have supported them. By delivering face to face reports and feedback it is hoped that those links will continue to develop over time giving the UK stakeholders a better understanding of each project and our work in general.

University of Bradford

The University of Kelaniya and University of Bradford Commonwealth Professional Fellowship programme will focus on capacity building in healthcare services in Sri Lanka through knowledge transfer and training on curriculum development and delivery to meet the growing needs and skills gaps in the field of occupational therapy in Sri Lanka.

University of Salford

This proposal builds on Ackers’ work on supply chains. Supply chains are overlooked in global health as the focus is on medical ‘treatment’. COVID-19 drew public attention to the role of supply chains in health systems.

Ackers’ work on laboratory strengthening during COVID-19 focused attention on the stark impacts on low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Overseas development assistance has had the unintended consequence of undermining supply chain development (through reliance on donations). This undermines the potential to build manufacturing capacity and local supply chains in essential drugs, devices, and consumables. This programme will bring together a multidisciplinary, cross-national team, to identify ‘low-hanging-fruits’ in supply chain development supporting a model for scale-out to other contexts/products.

Building on previous fellowships (in Uganda) and relationships (in Tanzania and Mozambique) we will demonstrate the ability to stimulate supply chain development in a specified range of commodities (orthotics; IPC consumables, wound dressings, and antibiotics).

University of Strathclyde

The Commonwealth Professional Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for professionals working in the field of science and technology for development to gain exposure to best practices, build international networks, and develop new skills and knowledge. Fellows will return home with a broadened perspective on how science and technology can be leveraged to address a range of development challenges in their home countries. They will have the opportunity to share their experiences with colleagues and stakeholders, disseminate knowledge gained, and foster new collaborations that will contribute to the advancement of science and technology for development. Additionally, the fellowship will provide Fellows with a platform to engage in meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and learning, leading to greater understanding and collaboration between their home countries and the UK. The impacts are anticipated to be far-reaching, both for the Fellows and their home institutions, as well as for the broader communities they serve in.

How to apply

Applications for Commonwealth Professional Fellowships in the 2023/24 academic year are now closed.

The 2024 Professional Fellowship programme is aimed at professionals whose work supports the CSC’s six development themes.

Fellowships will be tenable for between six weeks and three months starting from February 2024.

Host organisation programmes

Please see the ‘Host organisations’ tab for more information about the available fellowship programmes for this scheme.

Fellow eligibility

To be eligible for these Fellowships, prospective Fellows 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
  • Have at least five years’ full-time, or equivalent part-time, relevant work experience, in a profession related to the subject of the fellowship programme, by the proposed start of the fellowship – voluntary work experience will not be counted towards this minimum
  • Be in employment at the time of application at an organisation that they will return to upon completion of the fellowship
  • Provide at least two references, one of which must be from their current employer. Any applications for which references are not received by the reference closing date will be considered ineligible.
  • Not have undertaken a Commonwealth Professional Fellowship within the last five years (at the time of taking up the award)
  • Not be seeking to undertake an academic programme of research or study. Academics are eligible to apply for the scheme, but only to undertake programmes of academic management, not research or courses relevant to their research subject
  • Be available to undertake their fellowship from the prescribed start date

In addition to the above, prospective fellows must ensure they meet any eligibility criteria set out by each individual host organisation.

The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make 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 fellows with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.

Please note: Your personal information will be used to conduct necessary due diligence checks to CSC’s satisfaction, before CSC proceeds with any type of formal agreement or contractual relationship. In most cases, the due diligence checks will be straightforward, however further information may be requested, so we ask for your full co-operation to speed up the process.

If you do not agree to your personal data being used for the purpose of conducting due diligence, unfortunately CSC will not be able to proceed further with the application process.

How to apply

Applicants can find general information about applying for a Commonwealth Scholarship on our advice for applicants page.

Please read and complete the Professional Fellowships eligibility checklist before submitting your application.

Fellow eligibility

To be eligible for these Fellowships, prospective Fellows 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
  • Have at least five years’ full-time, or equivalent part-time, relevant work experience, in a profession related to the subject of the fellowship programme, by the proposed start of the fellowship – voluntary work experience will not be counted towards this minimum
  • Be in employment at the time of application at an organisation that they will return to upon completion of the fellowship
  • Provide at least two references, one of which must be from their current employer. Any applications for which references are not received by the reference closing date will be considered ineligible.
  • Not have undertaken a Commonwealth Professional Fellowship within the last five years (at the time of taking up the award)
  • Not be seeking to undertake an academic programme of research or study. Academics are eligible to apply for the scheme, but only to undertake programmes of academic management, not research or courses relevant to their research subject
  • Be available to undertake their fellowship from the prescribed start date

In addition to the above, prospective fellows must ensure they meet any eligibility criteria set out by each individual host organisation.

The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make 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 fellows with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.

Please note: Your personal information will be used to conduct necessary due diligence checks to CSC’s satisfaction, before CSC proceeds with any type of formal agreement or contractual relationship. In most cases, the due diligence checks will be straightforward, however further information may be requested, so we ask for your full co-operation to speed up the process.

If you do not agree to your personal data being used for the purpose of conducting due diligence, unfortunately CSC will not be able to proceed further with the application process.

Eligible countries

Bangladesh
Belize
Botswana
Cameroon
Dominica
Eswatini
Fiji
Gabon
The Gambia
Ghana
Grenada
Guyana
India
Jamaica
Kenya
Kiribati
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mauritius
Montserrat
Mozambique
Namibia
Nauru
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda
St Helena
St Lucia
St Vincent and The Grenadines
Samoa
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Tanzania
Togo
Tonga
Tuvalu
Uganda
Vanuatu
Zambia

Completing Fellowship application form

Applications for Commonwealth Professional Fellowships in the 2023/24 academic year are now closed.

In the application form, prospective Fellows are asked to:

  • List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained (where applicable)
  • List up to 10 publications and prizes (if applicable)
  • Provide details of your employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme you wish to undertake in the UK (up to 100 words per employment)
  • Provide a statement on the relevance of your previous work experience to the proposed fellowship (up to 300 words)
  • List names and positions of up to three referees who are qualified to comment on both your capacity to benefit from your proposed fellowship in the UK and your ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One of your referees must be your current employer

Provide a development impact statement in 4 parts.

  • Part 1: (up to 200 words) Explain how participation on your selected fellowship relates to:
    • one of the six CSC development themes
    • development issues at the global, national and local level
  • Part 2 (up to 100 words) Explain how you intend to apply your new skills once your Fellowship ends.
  • Part 3 (up to 250 words) Outline what you expect will change in development terms following your fellowship including:
    • the outcomes that you aim to achieve
    • the timeframe for their implementation
    • who the beneficiaries will be
  • Part 4: (up to 100 words) Write about how the impact of your work could be best measured.
  • Confirm what your award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the fellowship programme
  • Confirm what your objectives are for the next two years and how each of them will be met by the fellowship programme
  • Confirm what your objectives are in the longer term and how each of them will be met by the fellowship programme
  • Provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which your personal background has encouraged you to want to make an impact in your home country. You should indicate areas in which you have already contributed, such as having overcome any personal or community barriers to your chosen career (up to 500 words)
  • Summarise the ways in which you have engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities you have had to demonstrate leadership (up to 500 words)
  • Provide a scan of your passport or national identity card

Financial assistance

Each Fellowship provides:

  • Approved return airfare from the Fellow’s home country to the UK.
  • Reimbursement of the standard visa application fee.
  • Stipend (living allowance) payable monthly (or pro rata) for the duration of the award at the rate of £1,944 per month, or £2,397 per month for those at organisations in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at 2022/23 levels).
  • If a Fellow declares a disability, a full assessment of needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered by the CSC. See the CSC disability support statement for more information.
  • Arrival allowance of up to £1,061.10 (rates quoted at 2022/23 levels), including an element for warm clothing.
  • A maximum of £3,000 per Fellow can be agreed by host organisations for short courses/conferences as well as travel to visit other UK organisations where this forms an integral part of the programme. Host organisations should bear in mind the restrictions set out in our guidance on claimable costs.

General conditions

  • A Commonwealth Professional Fellowship covers a contribution to the host organisation costs, approved fares, and personal maintenance. Other fellowships, awards, or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.
  • In order for the CSC to administer a Fellow’s application effectively and efficiently after they have submitted, it will be necessary to create a record in their name. The details of Fellows who are nominated to the CSC will be kept on file. Basic anonymised demographic data for all applicants will be kept for analytical research. The CSC is committed to protecting personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about individuals and what we do with it. To find out more, see our privacy notice.
  • Fellows must submit a health and disability form before a Confirmation of Award can be issued
  • Fellows will be asked to sign an undertaking which requires them to return to their home country and their previous place of employment at the time of being awarded the fellowship. Fellows must leave within five days of the end of their award
  • Fellows are expected to start and complete their award on the dates stated in their Notification of Award and for the full term. The CSC is usually not able to agree any changes to these dates after the Notification of Award has been issued
  • Fellows require a Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa to come to the UK for their award and must meet all relevant immigration regulations set by UK Visas and Immigration. These regulations are subject to change at any time. See immigration conditions for more information.
  • Fellows must reside in the UK throughout their award, and seek approval from the CSC in advance for any overseas travel, which will be granted in exceptional circumstances only
  • Fellows must not undertake paid employment during their award
  • The CSC cannot provide a letter of support for any fellow to remain in the UK after their award
  • An award may be terminated at any time for reasons of unsatisfactory conduct, progress, attendance, or violation of visa conditions, or if the host organisation decides it is unable to proceed with the fellowship for any reason before or during the award
  • Applicants and selected Fellows must adhere to the CSC’s code of conduct for award holders and disciplinary policy and procedure which states:

As a Commonwealth Scholar or Fellow, you are an ambassador for both the CSC and your home country, and your actions and remarks will have an impact on the reputation of both. You are therefore expected to adhere to high standards of conduct and behaviour and to show respect to others and your surroundings at all times.

The CSC aims to enable a free exchange of ideas during all its activities in order to achieve the maximum potential impact for all participants. Recognising the diversity of backgrounds among our award holders – in terms of race, religion, gender, sexuality and cultural values – you are reminded to always be respectful to others.

The CSC is committed to proactively safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows, and to protecting all those with whom the CSC comes into contact. The CSC requires Commissioners, Secretariat staff, Scholars and Fellows to fulfil their role and responsibilities in a manner consistent with requirements for safeguarding.

  • In line with the UK Bribery Act 2010, any applicant convicted of bribery will be banned from reapplying for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship for a period of up to five years
  • The CSC is committed to administering and managing its Scholarships and Fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For more information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and procedure and the FCDO guidance on reporting fraud.
  • All terms and conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices and are subject to change by the CSC.

For more information, see the handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows. Please note that the conditions outlined in the handbook are subject to change.

Immigration conditions

Commonwealth Professional Fellows require a Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa to come to the UK for their award and must meet all relevant immigration requirements. All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and are subject to change at any time. The CSC has no control over these regulations.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which provides the CSC Secretariat, acts as the Temporary Work visa sponsor on behalf of the CSC. In accordance with immigration regulations, sponsorship duties relating to record keeping, monitoring, and reporting of Fellows must be completed. While the ACU (on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) is responsible for assigning Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) and submitting reports to UK Visas and Immigration, host organisations are required to assist in these activities as per the host organisations’ obligations which can be accessed on the information for prospective hosts page. Failure on the part of the host organisation to provide the ACU with the required documentation and to report relevant details may result in the loss of the ACU’s Temporary Work visa licence and ability to sponsor Fellows’ visas.

Fellows’ obligations

Commonwealth Professional Fellows must provide the following documents before the ACU (acting on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):

  • Visa information form
  • Award acceptance form (signed)
  • Copy of passport personal details page

The CSC Secretariat will send the details of the assigned CoS to the Fellow by email, to enable them to make their visa application, and will keep a copy on file.

After a CoS has been assigned, fellows must provide copies of the following documents to the CSC Secretariat:

  • UK visa, before they travel to the UK
  • Passport entry stamp and/or a used boarding pass and checked baggage receipt, at the end of their fellowship and every time they travel outside the UK during their fellowship

Reporting to UK Visas and Immigration

Once a Fellow has been issued with a CoS and while they are in the UK, the ACU is required to report to UKVI within ten working days if:

  • The fellow does not start the programme within 28 days on their expected start date, or valid from date on their visa (whichever is later). This includes if the fellow misses a flight and will be arriving at a later date agreed by the host organisation.
  • The Fellow is absent from their work location. The ACU requires details of all absences; however, only unauthorised absences of 10 working days or more will be reported to UKVI.
  • The fellowship finishes before the end date stated on the CoS (e.g. if the Fellow withdraws, has their fellowship withdrawn, or finishes their programme early).
  • The Fellow defers their fellowship.
  • The Fellow no longer requires sponsorship under Temporary Work visa (e.g. if they switch to a different visa type).
  • There are any significant changes to the Fellow’s circumstances (e.g. a change of work location, passport details, etc).
  • There is any information which suggests that the Fellow is in breach of the conditions of their visa (including engaging in criminal activity).

Travel outside the UK during the fellowship

Commonwealth Professional Fellowships are tenable in the UK only, and Fellows must seek permission from their CSC Programme Officer and host organisation if they wish to travel outside the UK for any reason.

Further information

This information is subject to changes in UKVI policy guidance and the immigration rules which is available on the UKVI website. UKVI may make changes to the terms and conditions of visas at any point.

Further information can be obtained from the CSC’s Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer, please email: immigration@cscuk.org.uk

Enquiries

If you have any queries about Commonwealth Professional Fellowships, please email professional.fellowships@cscuk.org.uk

General enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships sent to this email address will not be answered; please use the contact us form instead.

To see a list of our previous Fellowship hosts please visit our Professional Fellowship Host Organisation page