Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

Overview

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship programme is one of three Master’s programmes offered by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) provides the UK government scholarship scheme led by international development objectives. It operates within the framework of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) and offers a vivid demonstration of the UK’s enduring commitment to the Commonwealth. By attracting individuals with outstanding talent and identifiable potential from all backgrounds and supporting them to become leaders and innovators on returning to their home countries, the CSC’s work combines sustainable development with the UK national interest and provides opportunities for international partnerships and collaboration.

Purpose: Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), 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.

Intended beneficiaries: Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are for candidates from eligible low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake full-time taught Master’s study at a UK university.

These scholarships are offered under CSC six development themes.

How to apply

Applications for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships for the 2023/24 academic year are now open.

The closing date for applications is 13 December 2022 at 16:00 GMT.

Applications for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships must be made using the CSC’s online application system.

Candidates must apply and secure admission to study an approved Master’s course at a participating UK university in addition to applying for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship via the CSC’s online application system.

Candidates can apply for more than one course and to more than one university, however they may only accept one offer of a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Note that Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are only for Master’s courses and not for undergraduate or PhD study. Please check with the chosen university for their specific advice on when to apply, admission requirements and rules for applying.

Depending on the application deadlines of their chosen UK university/ies and course(s), candidates may need to complete their university application(s) before or after they submit their Commonwealth Shared Scholarship application. The CSC is unable to accept any applications that are not submitted via the CSC’s online application system.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship applications will be shared with UK universities, who will nominate their chosen candidates to receive a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship in March 2023. The CSC then checks that the candidates nominated meet the CSC’s eligibility criteria. Universities inform candidates if they have successfully been awarded a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship by July 2023.

Candidates are advised to complete and submit their Commonwealth Shared Scholarship application as early as possible as the CSC’s online application system will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.

Supporting documentation

Applications must include supporting documentation to be eligible.

Candidates must upload the following with their application:

  • Proof that the applicant is a citizen or has refugee status in an eligible Commonwealth country: a copy of a valid passport (or national ID card) showing a photograph, date of birth, and country of citizenship
  • Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualifications, including to-date transcripts for any courses currently being studied, with certified translations if not in English

If any of the required documentation is not provided by the closing date, the application will be considered ineligible.

The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted outside the online application system.

Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its Scholarships or Fellowships through its online application system, and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.

Choosing a university/course

A list of eligible courses for 2023 can be found on the Commonwealth Shared Scholarships 2023 Eligible Courses page, sorted by CSC Development Theme

Candidate’s may find the following resources useful when researching their choices of institution and course of study in the UK:

  • Study UK – British Council website, with guidance for international students and a course and institution search
  • Postgrad.com – information for postgraduate students, with a course search
  • Prospects – information on postgraduate study in the UK
  • Research Excellent Framework 2021 results – results of a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions
  • UCAS Postgraduate – guidance on how to find and apply for a postgraduate course
  • Unistats – the official website for comparing UK higher education course data
  • UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs)  – advice for international students on choosing a course of study

The CSC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Candidate eligibility

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 2023
  • By September 2023, hold a first degree of at least upper second-class (2:1) honours standard, or a lower second-class degree (2:2) 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
  • Be unable to afford to study in the UK university without this Scholarship
  • Have provided all supporting documentation in the required format

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

The CSC is committed to administering and managing its Scholarships and Fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For further information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and the guidance on reporting fraud.

The CSC is committed to proactively safeguard and promote the welfare of our beneficiaries, and to protect its staff, Commissioners, beneficiaries and all those with whom the CSC comes into contact. The CSC requires staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Applicants should note the CSC’s Safeguarding Policy which sets out the obligation for staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Any safeguarding concerns should be reported to the Commission at: csc.safeguarding@cscuk.org.uk

Eligible countries

Please note that only candidates from the eligible countries listed below can apply for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships in 2023/24.

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
Saint Helena
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Tanzania
Togo
Tonga
Tuvalu
Uganda
Vanuatu
Zambia

Completing the application form

In the application form, candidates will be asked to:

  • List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained
  • List up to 10 publications and prizes
  • Provide details of their employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme to be undertaken in the UK
  • Provide a statement on the relevance of their previous work experience to the proposed Scholarship
  • List names and positions of three referees who are qualified to comment on both the candidate’s capacity to benefit from the proposed Scholarship in the UK and their ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One referee must be a current employer (if applicable)
  • Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts.

The first part should explain how the candidate’s proposed Scholarship relates to:

  1. Development issues at the global, national, and local level
  2. Development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector.

The second part should explain how the candidate intends to apply their new skills and qualification after returning home.

The third part should outline what the candidate expects will change in development terms following the Scholarship, including:

  1. The outcomes they aim to achieve
  2. The timeframe for their implementation
  3. Who the beneficiaries will be

The fourth part should outline how the impact of the candidate’s work could be best measured. It should:

  1. Confirm what the candidate’s award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
  2. Confirm what the candidate’s objectives are for the next five years and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
  3. Confirm what the candidate’s objectives are in the longer term and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
  4. Provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which the candidate’s personal background has encouraged them to want to make an impact in their home country. Candidates should indicate areas in which they have already contributed, such as having overcome any personal or community barriers in the chosen career
  5. Summarise the ways in which the candidate has engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities where they have had to demonstrate leadership

    Selection process

    Each participating UK University will conduct its own recruitment process to select a specified number of candidates to be awarded Commonwealth Shared Scholarships. Universities must put forward their selected candidates to the CSC in March 2023. The CSC will then confirm that these candidates meet the eligibility criteria for this programme. Universities will inform candidates of their results by July 2023.

    Applications will be considered according to the following selection criteria:

    • Academic merit of the candidate
    • Quality of the plan of study
    • Potential impact on the development of the candidate’s home country

    For further details, see the Commonwealth Shared Scholarships selection criteria

    Tenure and placement

    Scholarships are tenable for any approved course offered by a participating UK university. Scholars are to obtain one degree; funding will not be extended to enable candidates to complete a qualification in addition to or higher than the one for which the selection was made.

    Shared Scholarships are for full-time study only and no other course of study may be undertaken at the same time.

    Candidates must take the necessary steps to apply for admission to their preferred university. Many courses have strict admission deadlines and candidates should check admission requirements carefully when applying.

    Financial assistance

    Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly funded by the CSC and participating UK universities.

    Each scholarship provides:

    • Approved airfare from the Scholar’s home country to the UK and return at the end of their Scholarship (the CSC will not reimburse the cost of fares for dependants, nor the cost of journeys made before the award is confirmed) – funded by the CSC
    • Approved tuition fees: full fees are covered by agreement between the CSC and the UK university, and Scholars are not liable to pay for any part of the tuition fee
    • Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £1,236 per month, or £1,516 per month for those at universities in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at current levels) – paid and funded by the university
    • Warm clothing allowance, where applicable – paid and funded by the university
    • Thesis grant towards the cost of preparing a thesis or dissertation, where applicable – claimed from and paid by the university; funded by the CSC
    • Study travel grant towards the cost of study-related travel within the UK or overseas – claimed from and paid by the university; funded by the CSC
    • Contribution towards the cost of a mandatory tuberculosis (TB) test, where required for a visa application (receipts must be supplied) – claimed from and paid by the university; funded by the CSC
    • If Scholars have children and are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of £529 per month for the first child, and £131 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if Scholars are accompanied by their children and they are living with them at the same address in the UK (rates quoted at current levels)
    • If Scholars share that they have a disability, a full assessment of their needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered by the CSC.

    The CSC’s family allowances are intended to only be used as a contribution towards the cost of maintaining a Scholar’s family in the UK. The true costs are likely to be considerably higher. Scholars must be able to supplement these allowances to support any family members who come to the UK with them.

    General conditions

    • A Commonwealth Shared Scholarship covers fees, approved fares and personal maintenance. Other scholarships, awards or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.
    • For the CSC to administer submitted applications effectively and efficiently it will be necessary to create a record in the candidates’ name. If candidates are nominated for an award to the CSC, their details will be kept on file. Basic anonymised demographic data for all applicants will be kept for analytical research. The CSC is committed to protecting candidates’ and Scholars’ personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about them and what we do with it. To find out more, see our privacy notice.
    • If an application is successful and the CSC has confirmed that the candidate meets the eligibility requirements, the candidate’s university will notify them that they have been provisionally selected (selected for an award subject to the CSC agreeing the candidate’s terms of admission to the university)
    • The CSC does not require any candidates to take an IELTS (English language) test. Please note, however, that, as a further condition of a Scholarship, candidates may be required by their university to provide evidence of a particular level of English language proficiency.
    • The CSC will not be able to offer Scholarships to candidates if it would contravene the terms and conditions of another Scholarship that they have previously held.
    • When terms of admission to the university have been agreed, the CSC will send a formal Confirmation of Award letter.
    • Candidates will be required to submit a Health and Disability Form before their Confirmation of Award can be issued.
    • Candidates will be required to sign an undertaking to return to their home country as soon as possible after the end of their award.
    • Scholars are expected to start their award on the date stated in the Confirmation of Award letter.
    • If candidates require a student visa to come to the UK to study, they must meet all relevant immigration requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration. Please check the GOV.UK website for updated information.
    • All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration and are subject to change. The CSC has no control over these regulations.
    • Candidates will be selected for an award based on the plan of study outlined on your application form, which is not expected to change significantly during the award. Any such changes must be agreed by the CSC.
    • Scholars are expected to reside in the UK throughout their award, and to seek approval from the CSC in advance for any overseas travel.
    • Scholars must not undertake paid employment during their award without approval from the CSC in advance.
    • The CSC will consider a request to extend a Scholar’s leave to remain in the UK after their award only if they wish to move from Master’s to PhD study. Strict conditions will apply.
    • The CSC cannot provide a letter of support or permission for Scholars to remain in or return to the UK after their award to enable them to work.
    • Candidates are not eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship if they; are an employee, a former employee, or relative of an employee of the Government of the United Kingdom; or a staff member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities or the British Council; or a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner, former Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner or a relative of a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner. Former employees of the organisations listed above are eligible to apply three years after ceasing their employment with them
    • 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
    • Applicants and Scholars will be expected to abide by the Commission’s Code of Conduct for Award Holders and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. Awards may be terminated at any time for reasons of unsatisfactory conduct, progress, or attendance, or if a candidate’s registration is suspended or terminated by their university for any reason
    • 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 at and the FCDO guidance on reporting fraud.
    • All conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices and are subject to change by the CSC.

    Enquiries

    All enquiries about nomination for Scholarships should be directed to candidates’ UK university. Contact details for each participating University can be found on the Commonwealth Shared Scholarships 2023 University Contact Details page.

    For more information on other Scholarships offered by the CSC, visit the CSC Scholarships and Fellowships page.

    For general enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships, please use the Contact us form.