Commonwealth Scholarships: All You Need To Know

Commonwealth Scholarships: All You Need To Know

Written by Pierre Noronha

Born and raised in Mumbai, Pierre Noronha thought that he was destined to be a Chartered Accountant, but all that changed when he discovered his love for writing. Taking this new found passion forward, he started working as a content writer for UniScholarz.

February 26, 2021

Commonwealth scholarships are considered to be the greatest international scholarships programme that offer students full funding to international students. A Commonwealth scholarship, Commonwealth Fellowship can cover the candidate’s overall expenses for studying abroad. In order to promote Commonwealth scholarships and fellowships for students coming from other nations of the federation, the governments of many different countries work together to make this possible. That’s why, these scholarships are available to students who are from Commonwealth countries like India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Belgium, etc. This blog will provide you with all the information you need to bag yourself a Commonwealth scholarship and fellowship. 

What Is A Commonwealth Scholarship?

The Commonwealth scholarships are scholarship programmes under which the participating member countries offer scholarships and fellowships to students coming from other Commonwealth countries. There are around 53 different Commonwealth nations, a majority of which were former territories of the British empire. This includes some popular study destinations like the UK, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Africa, Sri Lanka and more. The governments of the UK, New Zealand and Singapore are just some of the prominent nations which offer scholarships under the Commonwealth scholarships. 

Indian students can apply for Commonwealth scholarships offered by the following countries –

  • The United Kingdom
  • Singapore
  • New Zealand 

In India, the Commonwealth scholarships are jointly managed by the – 

  • Commonwealth Scholarships Commission
  • British Council
  • Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Government of India. 

Due to the immense popularity of the British higher education system, we will take a closer look at the most famous UK commonwealth scholarships.

UK Government Commonwealth Scholarship 2021

The UK Government Commonwealth Scholarship’s main purpose is to provide unique opportunities to high performing students from diverse backgrounds to contribute to their country’s progress. This scholarship programme is sponsored by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC), in conjunction with the Department for International Development, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education (DFE) and UK universities. International students who have enrolled in one-year Masters courses are eligible to apply for these scholarships. 

Types Of Commonwealth Scholarships

In the UK, there are two major levels of higher studies which are covered under the Commonwealth scholarships – 

-The Commonwealth Masters Scholarship

-The Commonwealth PhD Scholarship

  • The Commonwealth Masters Scholarships

This version of the Commonwealth shared scholarships, Commonwealth Fellowship is meant for students living in poorly developed countries and fragile states which are part of the Commonwealth of Nations.

  • The Commonwealth PhD Scholarships

This type of scholarship is awarded to students coming from low and middle income countries which are part of the Commonwealth of nations.

Masters or PhD students enrolled in any of the following fields are eligible to apply for a Commonwealth scholarship to study in the UK – 

  • 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.

Benefits offered by the UK Commonwealth Scholarships For International Students

The UK Commonwealth Scholarships are a fully funded scholarship programme in the UK. This programme offers students numerous benefits, some of which are listed below – 

  • Approved airfare to the UK and return at the end of the award. (the CSC will neither reimburse the cost of fares for dependents, nor usually the cost of journeys made before the award is finally confirmed).  

  • Approved tuition and examination fees.  

  • Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £ 1,043 per month, or £ 1,279 per month for those at universities in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at 2016-2017 levels). Thesis grant towards the cost of preparing a thesis or dissertation, wherever applicable. Warm clothing allowance, wherever applicable.  

  • Study travel grant towards the cost of study-related travel within the United Kingdom or overseas.

  • For PhD Scholars, fieldwork grants towards the cost of fieldwork undertaken overseas (usually the cost of one economy class return airfare to scholar fieldwork location).

  • For PhD Scholars, paid mid-term visit (airfare) to their home country (unless they have claimed (or intend to claim) spouse and/or child allowances during their scholarship, or have received a return airfare to their home country for fieldwork).  

If the scholarship is at least 18 months long, the following family allowances are applicable:  

  • Spouse allowance of £224 per month if the scholar and his/her spouse are living together at the same address in the UK. (unless his/her spouse is also in receipt of a scholarship; other conditions also apply)  

  • Child allowance of £224 per month for the first child, and £110 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if the scholar is accompanied by his/her spouse and children and they are living with him/her at the same address in the UK.  

  • If the scholar is widowed, divorced, or a single parent (irrespective of the length of her scholarship), child allowance of £448 per month for the first child, and £110 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if scholar is accompanied by his/her children and they are living with him/her at the same address in the UK. 

Eligibility Criteria for UK Commonwealth Scholarships

UK Commonwealth Scholarship for Masters Courses

  • Candidates must not be over 40 years of age as on the specified date.
  • Candidates must hold or expect to hold the certificate of Bachelor’s Degree in the subject field concerned securing 60% or above marks in Humanities and Social Science group and 65% or above marks in Engineering and Technology, Science and Agriculture groups.
  • Candidates who have already been abroad for studies/training/ specialization either on scholarships or on their own, for a period exceeding six months are eligible to apply if they have been in India for at least two consecutive years after returning from abroad as on date specified in the public notice.
  • Application of a candidate who is already abroad is not considered.
  • The candidates must have completed tertiary education in English medium.
  • Candidates whose native language is not English are required to provide evidence that they have sufficient competence in English to study in the United Kingdom.  
  • Nominated candidates will be required to take the IELTS, for which they may contact the local British Council Office. An IELTS test is considered valid if taken in the given time frame. 

UK Commonwealth Scholarships For PhD Courses

  • Candidates must not be over 40 years of age as on the specified date.
  • Candidates must hold or expect to hold a certificate of Master’s Degree in the concerned subject fields securing 60% or above marks in Humanities and Social Science group and 65% or above marks in the relevant subjects in Engineering and Technology, Science and Agriculture groups.
  • A Ph.D. applicant is required to obtain an offer of acceptance from a potential supervisor of his/her chosen University. However, the offer of acceptance from supervisor is not required at the time of applying online but it is mandatory to submit at the time of interview which is conducted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

How To Apply For A Commonwealth Scholarship

Step 1: There are more than 90 UK universities which students can apply to for Commonwealth scholarships. These universities have part funding agreements with the CSC for applicants coming from low and middle income countries.

Step 2: The CSC does not accept applications directly from students, as a result, applicants need to go through one of the following nominating institutions –

  • National Nominating Agencies 

Head over to the Commonwealth scholarships website to identify a list of nominating agencies in Commonwealth countries. In India, students need to go through the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Government of India. 

  • Selected University or University bodies which can nominate their own academic staff.

  • Selected non-governmental organizations and charitable organizations. 

Step 3: Students then have to visit the Ministry of Human Resource Development website to apply for the UK Commonwealth Scholarship, before moving to apply on the ECAS portal. It is imperative that Indian students apply on both portals before the deadline. In most cases, the cutoff date for the Ministry of Human Resource Development is in January, whereas for ECAS, it is in December.

Step 4: Once students have reached the ECAS portal, they will need to create an account on it. Fill in all the required fields, upload documents and submit the application. The deadline to submit the application is in December however, students can upload their documents by January. 

Documents Required For UK Government Commonwealth Scholarships

We recommend that you keep the following documents handy, as this activity will save you a lot of time and effort while applying for the UK Commonwealth Scholarships. 

  • Proof of citizenship – If the applicant is a refugee, documents showing refugee status are required as well.
  • Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualifications.
  • References from two individuals is to be submitted by the referee in the online application system.
  • Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one institution listed in the application form and it has to be directly submitted by the supervisor.
  • The documents uploaded on the online application system must not exceed 5 MB in size and must be in any of the following formats: PDF, Doc, Docx, JPG.

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you wish to read more about Scholarships, here are some blogs that we think you will enjoy reading – 

You can find many scholarships like the ones mentioned in this blog and more on the UniScholarz website. Simply sign up for free today and start applying to your dream scholarships. If you need assistance with student accommodation and education loan, head over to UniAcco and UniCreds respectively, today.

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