Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme 2019/2020 For For Students Interested In Studying In UK Universities Is Now Open


The Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are for candidates from low middle income Commonwealth countries, for full-time Master’s study on selected courses, jointly supported by UK universities.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Commonwealth Shared Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK. These scholarships are offered under six development themes:

Science and technology for development
Strengthening health systems and capacity
Promoting global prosperity

Strengthening global peace, security and governance
Strengthening resilience and response to crises
Access, inclusion and opportunity

Bidding requirements
Recruitment and selection
Candidate eligibility
Eligible Commonwealth countries
Financial commitment and branding
Scholarship tenure and return home

Bidding requirements

UK universities are invited to bid for up to ten Commonwealth Shared Scholarships to be offered in the 2019-2020 academic year.

The CSC is not always able to offer the maximum number of scholarships for which a university bids. It is normal practice for the CSC to offer one scholarship to universities that are new to the programme or that have not taken part in the last three years.

Universities should put forward no more than 10 courses in their bid. These courses must be individually named, not by department; bids for subject areas will not be accepted.

The CSC currently expects to allocate around 220 new Commonwealth Shared Scholarships for 2019. Scholarships are normally for one-year taught courses at postgraduate level and are not for research degrees or undergraduate study.

As Commonwealth Shared Scholars are funded by DFID, subjects of study must be developmental in nature.

Therefore, as part of their bid, universities must provide a statement explaining the direct or indirect relevance of the course(s) to least developed and lower middle income countries.

The developmental value of the course will be assessed and allocations of scholarships will be made based on the strength of the statements provided. Generic course descriptions will not be considered.

The CSC wishes to see a brief outline of how the proposed course will be advantageous and suitable for individuals from least developed and lower middle income countries, as well as to their home nations when they return. Bids not including development statements will be deemed ineligible.

Only courses which do not require further study, training, or employment in the UK are eligible. MBA courses will be supported only in exceptional circumstances where a direct development focus and aim can be demonstrated.

Universities must also provide a link to the key modules within each course in their bid.

Development statement – dos and don’ts

Explain how the course is relevant to least developed and lower middle income Commonwealth countries
Be specific about how the course content can be applied in order to have a development impact
Demonstrate how the course could have a development impact on the Scholar’s home country when they return

Provide examples of the course or university’s record in development, where applicable
Consult with the course leaders when writing the statements

Write at least one paragraph

Check that the statements are complete and correct before submitting the bid (only information provided via the bidding form will be considered)


Use the same statement for each course
Use generic course descriptions; these will not be considered

Rely on the name of the course to demonstrate its developmental nature
Copy and paste course information from the university website

Recruitment and selection

Universities that are successful at the bidding stage will be notified which courses and how many scholarships have been approved by the CSC.

The CSC will issue a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to universities that will confirm the terms and conditions of the scholarship(s) as well as the responsibilities of the CSC and of the university; this will be reviewed on an annual basis.

The university will be established as a nominator on the CSC’s application system and given advice and support on how to use the system to recruit candidates.

All universities offering Commonwealth Shared Scholarships must use the CSC’s application system to recruit candidates, rather than using their own separate application systems, in order to streamline the process for candidates.

The CSC acknowledges that universities will also expect candidates to apply for a place on the course through their own admissions application system.

The list of eligible courses for 2019 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships will be published on the CSC website, with a list of university contact details. The applicant terms and conditions for 2018 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are available for information purposes only.

Applications for 2019 Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are likely to open in mid-November 2018. From this round onwards, in order to simplify the process for applicants and the CSC, there will be one closing date for all universities; this is likely to be at the end of January 2019.

Universities will have to nominate their chosen applicants to the CSC before the end of March 2019. At the same time, universities will be asked to provide a governance statement explaining their recruitment and selection processes, in order to help the CSC better understand these and how they fit with CSC’s own priorities and procedures.

It is the responsibility of universities to conduct their own recruitment of candidates as they see fit in an open and transparent manner and with reference to the CSC anti-fraud policy and procedure.

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. The CSC asks universities to continue to positively encourage women to apply for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships.

The CSC is committed to supporting outreach activities and providing additional investment for scholarships for people with disabilities and in subject areas related to the rights of people with disabilities. Institutions are strongly encouraged to put courses forward in the 2019 bidding round that will support this commitment.

The CSC is also keen to ensure a good geographical spread of these awards; a high percentage of Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are currently awarded to candidates from Ghana and Nigeria.

Candidate eligibility

Candidates are expected to hold a first degree at either first class or upper second class level, or at lower second class level plus a Master’s degree. The CSC cannot assess work experience in lieu of this minimum academic qualification.

Pre-sessional English courses are not supported by this programme. Universities must therefore confirm that candidates are sufficiently fluent in written and oral English to pursue their studies immediately and ensure that they meet the English language requirement set by UK Visas and Immigration.

Candidates are required to sign an undertaking that they:

Are nationals of a least developed or lower middle income Commonwealth country
Are permanently domiciled in a least developed and lower middle income Commonwealth country, and are not at present living or studying in a high income country

Have not undertaken studies for one (academic) year or more in a high income country
Have not worked for one year or more in a high income country

Are themselves, or through their families, unable to pay to study in the UK (the university may be asked to state its procedures for verifying applicants’ financial status)

Will return to their home country within one month of the end date of their scholarship

These eligibility criteria are subject to minor changes.

Eligible Commonwealth countries

(As of July 2018)

The Gambia
Papua New Guinea
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
Sri Lanka

Financial commitment and branding

Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly financed by the CSC and host universities or their sponsors. Any contribution towards the university’s share of the scholarship costs must come from the university’s own funds or from an organisation whose missions and aims are in line with those of the CSC.

All documentation and promotional material must recognise that Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and the university.

Commonwealth Shared Scholars must not be asked to contribute to the university element of the scholarship. Any university expecting a Shared Scholar to do this will render themselves liable to repayment of the tuition fee to the CSC and exclusion from the programme in future years.

The CSC will pay the following (on receipt of an invoice and relevant supporting documentation from the university):

Course tuition fees up to a cap of £22,500

Airfares to and from the UK (booked in line with CSC policy)
Grant to contribute to study-related costs (exact amount for 2019 to be confirmed); additional sums available for CSC events

Tuberculosis test fees (where required by UK Visas and Immigration)
Excess baggage allowance on return home up to the specific rate as set by the CSC

The costs of any compulsory field trips should be included in the tuition fee; the CSC will not cover any additional field trip costs.

The university is expected to provide at least the following level of support (figures for 2018-2019 quoted; 2019-2020 figures will be available in July 2019):

Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £1084 per month, or £1330 per month for Scholars at universities in the London metropolitan area; this must be paid for the full duration of the scholarship
Warm clothing allowance of £421

For Scholars who are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of £465 per month for the first child, and £114 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16

These amounts are set by the UK government for all students on government-funded scholarships. If universities provide free accommodation in lieu of part of the stipend payment, they must ensure that family accommodation is available if required by a Commonwealth Shared Scholar.

Scholarship tenure and return home

Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are tenable for one year normally, and up to two years in exceptional circumstances and where the university agrees to cover the tuition fees for the second year. Scholarships cannot be extended or renewed.

All Commonwealth Shared Scholars are required to return to their home country within one month of the end of their courses.

No permission will be given to defer the homeward airfare, except where a Scholar has secured an offer of PhD study in the UK with funding for three full years of study from a university or recognised scholarship body. In such cases, if the Shared Scholarship host university agrees, the CSC will allow the Scholar to remain in the UK and will issue a ‘no objection’ letter to support their visa application.


The university is responsible for managing the welfare of Commonwealth Shared Scholars while they are on award.

While the CSC pays for tuition fees, the university must pay for living allowances and provide any additional funding necessary to support the welfare of Scholars; this includes supporting disabled Scholars and funding any reasonable adjustments that are required.

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