What are Commonwealth scholarships?

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) is an international programme under which member governments offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens of other Commonwealth countries. The CSFP was established at the first Commonwealth Education Conference in 1959, and over 27,000 individuals have benefited.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom (CSC) is responsible for managing Britain’s contribution to the CSFP. CSC awards over 900 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development to Commonwealth citizens each year. Awards in the UK are funded by the Department for International Development (for developing Commonwealth countries), and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Scottish Government (for developed Commonwealth countries), in conjunction with UK universities.

What is British Council’s role in the Commonwealth scholarships? 

The British Council’s role on the Commonwealth Scholarships is to engage with Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows before they travel to the UK offering pre-departure briefings. Pre-departure services are offered to all recipients of the Commonwealth Scholarship/Fellowship to equip them with the information they require before travelling to the UK so as to be able to settle down smoothly once they arrive. The British Council also support the CSC alumni strategy through engaging with alumni in Kenya though several activities.

What support is available?

The CSC offers:

•         Commonwealth PhD Scholarships (for low and middle income countries)

•         Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships (for low and middle income countries)

•         Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships

•         Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

•         Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships

•         Commonwealth PhD Scholarships (for high income countries)

•         Commonwealth Rutherford Fellowships

•         Commonwealth Medical Fellowships


What financial support does the plan cover?

The scholarships and fellowships cover most costs associated with your study/time in the UK. This can include, where appropriate, return airfares, tuition fees, personal maintenance costs, study and other allowances.

Eligibility criteria and how to apply

The eligibility criteria and application process for each type of scholarship and fellowship vary. 

A prospectus giving the eligibility criteria and application guidelines for each programme is available on the CSC Website at: http://cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/apply/   

More information

Visit the CSC website for information about Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships in the UK http://cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/

British Council office information@britishcouncil.or.ke

Commonwealth Scholarship Alumni

Over 27,000 individuals globally have held Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships, forming an alumni community with wide interests and high achievements.

If you are a former Commonwealth Scholar or Fellow and have not registered as an alumni member, please send an email to information@britishcouncil.or.ke so we can send you the registration forms. Your details will be updated on the CSC database.

Membership to the CSC Alumni Network is free and comes with numerous benefits including regular issues of the CSC newsletter, access to online professional networks and opportunity to attend alumni networking events in your home country.

 There is also an active Kenya Commonwealth Scholarships Alumni Association. If you are in Kenya and have held a commonwealth scholarship or fellowship in the past, and would like to join the association, please email csc.alumni.kenyachapter@gmail.com

 Commonwealth scholarship awardees in 2015 

34 Kenyans have joined various UK universities this year for post-graduate and fellowship courses as part of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship programme. They include 14 women and 19 men who will undertake various courses in different UK universities. 

The British Council, which is responsible for administering pre-departure briefings on behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, met the successful scholars and fellows who were among thousands of Kenyans who applied for the scholarships in 2015. Agatha Nthenge Mutio is the only candidate who will be pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) focusing on Impact of Community Forest Associations at the University of East Anglia. Three of the scholars will be pursuing short fellowships (spending three to six months working with a UK organisation) while the rest will study one year Master’s in various disciplines.

As the UK’s cultural relations agency, the British Council promotes friendly relations and understanding between the peoples of the UK and worldwide, providing study opportunities to young people especially from the Commonwealth and other countries around the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the British Council plans to connect 200 million young Africans with opportunities in the UK by 2020. The agency, which is celebrating 81 years of cultural relations this year, operates in over 100 countries around the world, including in 250 cities. It is aiming to provide young Africans with life-changing opportunities in education and skills.

This year’s Commonwealth scholars and fellows from Kenya are very excited about their studies, and they hope they will apply the knowledge and skills they gain from their studies in order to give back to their communities. Many come from humble backgrounds and are looking forward to the opportunity of a UK academic experience, as well as the chance to develop professionally.

Annah Macharia, a humanitarian worker with the Danish Refugee Council, has had a passion for working with vulnerable groups and abandoned children since being pulled into this career path by a strange call that came one night. She had just finished her ‘O’ level and was awaiting selection to join university, when she received a call one night of an abandoned child. Unbeknown to her, her involvement in the rescue of that child would pull her into humanitarian work with refugees around the country. 

“ I am joining the University of Sussex to undertake a Master of Arts in Gender and Development. Given my experience in refugee protection issues, I have had the experience of designing and implementing programmes that benefit refugees, vulnerable children such as orphans and women and men who are victims of gender-based violence. This course will bridge my gap in skills and understanding of gender and development issues in general. On completion, I want to make a tangible contribution to society and hope that my contribution not only raises the place of women in the society but also levels the playing field for both genders, “she says.

For scholars such as Annah, they have to go through a rigorous application process for the Commonwealth Scholarship that is advertised through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The advertisement lists the number of scholarships available and the courses, as well as the eligibility criteria and application procedure. Many of the 34 successful candidates for the 2015 Commonwealth Scholarship scheme have expressed how grateful they are to have been awarded the scholarships. 

The Commonwealth scholarships are awarded to applicants with leadership potential and those with a passion to contribute to Kenya’s key sectors of development. Take the example of Neema Aroni Magoma. The 26 year old was among the first batch of graduates in Kenya with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science in 2013. As a fresh graduate joining an already saturated job market with, she says the job market was unforgiving:

“ No one knew what to do with our particular skill sets. Among the things I did to survive was serving as an intern at a government mortuary for two months and my experience of interacting with an overworked Government Chemist who had very few skilled workers to support in that work was quite an eye-opener for me. During my internship, the serology department had a backlog of cases going back six months and this had a serious impact on the legal system as samples needed for criminal cases were delayed. Recent incidents of terrorism in the country has exposed the need for the country to have people skilled in DNA profiling. I am grateful for the Commonwealth Scholarship which gives me an opportunity to study for a Masters in Forensic Science which is a small step in bridging a skills gap in this field in the country, Neema says.

The Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships have enabled young graduates such as Annah and Neema an opportunity to gain skills that will benefit their communities and country at large on their return. Other scholars interviewed by the British Council had similar stories of the change and impact they hope their studies will bring to them as individuals and their societies at large.

The British Council in Kenya is proud to be working with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) which awards the scholarships on behalf of the British Government. CSC awards over 900 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development to Commonwealth citizens each year. Kenyan students have built a good reputation in the UK as hard-working and dedicated scholars and learners, and these scholars have an opportunity to connect with their peers from other commonwealth countries who like them have demonstrated their leadership potential and are committed to the development of their home countries.