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The commonwealth scholarship is considered to be one of the largest and most prestigious international scholarship schemes which offer full coverage of an applicant's overall expenses for studying abroad.

The governments of several different countries participate in facilitating Commonwealth scholarships and fellowships to students of developing or commonwealth countries. The purpose of this article is to give you a general idea of ​​the various aspects of a typical Commonwealth Scholarship.

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship program is an international program under which the participating member countries offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens coming from other Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth of nations is basically a group of 53 different countries, a majority of which were former territories of the British empire. This group is a huge conglomerate of nations like the UK, India, Africa, Sri Lanka, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. Some of the prominent nations which offer scholarships under the Commonwealth Scholarship program are the UK, New Zealand, and Singapore. This article will be shedding light on the specifics of these scholarship programs.

Since the UK is one of the most popular abroad destinations for higher education, let us first take a look at the details of the UK commonwealth scholarships.

UK Government Commonwealth Scholarship 2023

In the UK, commonwealth scholarships are mainly sponsored by the Department for International Development, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Department for Education (DFE), in association with UK universities. The Commonwealth scholarship community also nominates UK citizens for scholarships offered by other commonwealth countries.

The main aim of the UK commonwealth scholarships is to provide unique opportunities to talented and motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute to their country’s progress after having studied in any of the educational institutions in the UK for a year. This source of funding is provided by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC). Students who have taken admission into one year taught Master's courses are eligible to apply for a commonwealth scholarship to study in the UK. In India, these scholarships are jointly managed by:

  1. Commonwealth Scholarships Commission
  2. The British Council, India
  3. Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
  4. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.

UK Commonwealth Scholarship Details

Level of Courses Covered by Commonwealth Scholarships offered by UK government

There are two major levels of higher studies that are covered under the commonwealth scholarships awarded by the UK government.

  1. The Commonwealth Masters Scholarship: These scholarships are granted to citizens of least developed countries and fragile states which are part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  2. The Commonwealth Ph.D. Scholarship: The Commonwealth Ph.D. scholarships are awarded to students coming from Low and middle-income countries which are part of the Commonwealth of nations.

Students pursuing their Masters or a Ph.D. in any of the following fields are eligible to apply for a commonwealth scholarship to study in the UK.

  1. Science and technology for development
  2. Strengthening health systems and capacity
  3. Promoting global prosperity
  4. Strengthening global peace, security, and governance
  5. Strengthening resilience and response to crises
  6. Access, inclusion, and opportunity

Read about Best Study Abroad Scholarships For Indian Students

Commonwealth Scholarships Eligibility Criteria for the UK ( Masters & Ph.D. Courses)  

UK Commonwealth Scholarship Eligibility for Masters Courses-

  • Applicant should be a citizen and permanent resident of the Commonwealth countries.
  • Applicant should not be more than 40 years of age as on the date specified on the public notice.
  • The applicants should have completed or are expected to complete their Bachelor's degree by October 2023 in the relevant subject field (indicated above) securing 60% or more marks in Humanities and Social Science group and 65% or more marks in Engineering and Technology, Science and Agriculture groups.
  • Applicants who have already been abroad for a period of more than six months for study/training/specialization either on scholarship or on their own are eligible to apply if they have been in India for at least two consecutive years after their return from abroad as on the date specified in the public notice.
  • Applications from applicants already residing abroad are not considered.
  • Applicants should have completed tertiary education in the English medium.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must provide evidence that they have sufficient competence in English to study in the United Kingdom.
  • Nominated applicants 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 within the given time frame. 

UK Commonwealth Scholarship Eligibility For Ph.D. Courses

  • The applicant’s age must not exceed 40 years as on date specified in the public notice
  • One should hold or expect to hold the certificate of Master’s Degree by October 2023 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 a 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.

Benefits offered by the UK Commonwealth Scholarships For International Students

The UK commonwealth scholarships offer numerous benefits to students who are awarded the same. Some of the notable ones are as mentioned below.

  • Approved airfare to the United Kingdom and return at the end of the award (the CSC will neither reimburse the cost of fares for dependants nor usually the cost of journeys made before the final confirmation of the award).
  • Approved tuition and examination fees.  
  • Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of around £ 1,000 per month. 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 abroad
  • For Ph.D. Scholars, fieldwork grant towards the cost of fieldwork undertaken overseas (usually the cost of one economy class return airfare to scholar fieldwork location). 
  • For Ph.D. 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 around £225 per month if the scholar and his/her spouse are living together at the same address in the UK.
  • Child allowance of around £225 per month for the first child, and around £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 around £450 per month for the first child, and around £110 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if a scholar is accompanied by his/her children and they are living with him/her at the same address in the UK. 

List of Documents Required For UK Government Commonwealth Scholarships

 The basic list of documents required from students is.

  • Proof of citizenship. If the applicant is a refugee, documents showing refugee status are also required.
  • Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualifications.
  • References of two persons are to be submitted by the referee in the online application system(An email request will be sent to the referee for online submission).
  • Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions listed in the application form and it has to be submitted directly by the supervisor.
  • Scan copy of the passport or national identity card
  • The size of the documents uploaded on the online application system should not exceed 5 MB and should be in the required formats.

Timeline

1 September 2022

Applications open for commonwealth scholarship 2022 - 2023

29 October 2022

Applications close at 16.00 (BST) for commonwealth scholarship 2022 -2023

October - November 2022

Shortlisting of applications

December 2022 - January 2023

Announcement of finalists

March 2022

India - national-level winners announced

April - August 2022

Global finalist announcement & digital celebration

September 2022

Global Alumni Awards winners announced

New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships

This particular commonwealth scholarship to study in New Zealand covers the complete expenses of students who have been enrolled in Master’s or Post Doctoral level courses in the field of Agriculture Development or Renewable energy in institutions across New Zealand. The total number of slots available for this scholarship is two.

Total Duration of New Zealand Scholarships

  1. New Zealand Scholarships For Masters Courses: Students who have been accepted for Masters of duration up to two years are eligible for Commonwealth Scholarships from the Government of New Zealand.
  2. New Zealand Scholarships For Ph.D. Courses: Students who have been accepted for Ph.D. courses of duration up to three years are eligible for Commonwealth Scholarships from the Government of New Zealand.

Benefits Covered by New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships

Some of the major benefits of this scholarship facilitated by the Indian government is as listed below:

  • The full cost of tuition  
  • A fortnightly living allowance  
  • An establishment allowance medical and travel insurance for travel to and from applicants’ home country at the beginning and end of the scholarship  
  • Home leave or reunion travel to assist some scholars with research and thesis costs for many postgraduate research students.

Eligibility Criteria for a New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship

Students who wish to apply for New Zealand Commonwealth scholarships are required to meet the following eligibility criteria in order to be deemed eligible for the same.

  1. Applicants should have completed a Bachelor's Degree or Master's Degree in the subject or allied fields with a minimum of 65% marks for a Master's or Ph.D. respectively. 
  2. Applicants 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. 
  3. Application of applicants who are already abroad is not considered.
  4. Applicants are required to produce a letter of offer from a New Zealand university at the time of the interview. However, it is not required at the time of making an application. The list of participating universities is provided in the public notice.

Also, the applicant must:

  1. not hold another scholarship during the period of the New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship.  
  2. give an undertaking that after completion of their study they will return to India in order to contribute to the country's social/economic development for a minimum period of two years 
  3. not currently working in the military 
  4. produce the certificate of English proficiency viz. IELTS or TOFEL. If he/she has no such certificate then an official statement from the education provider that English is the language of instruction in his/her tertiary education.
  5. Please note, each institution sets its own English language requirements. Please check with your preferred institution about their requirements for admission to their institution as they may require additional documentation.

Tentative date of announcement inviting applications for a New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship

  1. Announcement of the name of the applicant shortlisted for interview: In the month of May  
  2. Interview of the shortlisted applicant: in the month of June.

Singapore Government Commonwealth Scholarships

The Commonwealth Scholarship ("Scholarship") is awarded to outstanding graduate students from Commonwealth countries for research leading to a higher degree at the University. This Scholarship is for new, incoming students who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents. The Scholarship consists of a monthly stipend plus a tuition fee subsidy. A number of students are selected each semester by the University for the award. 

Eligibility Criteria for a Singapore Government Commonwealth Scholarship

The Scholarship is open to applicants who meet the following criteria:

  1. Nationals from any Commonwealth countries except for Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents.
  2. Those who have graduated with an undergraduate degree with at least Second Class Honours (Upper Division)/Honours (Distinction) or equivalent.
  3. At the time of award of the Scholarship, must have been offered admission to a full-time graduate research program at NUS; and
  4. Must be eligible for MOE Subsidy.

Award Details

  •  A monthly stipend allocated to the international applicants is as follows:

For Ph.D. applicants

S$2,000

For Master's applicants

S$1,500

 

  •  Tuition fees at the University
  • Scholars in a Ph.D. program may be eligible for an additional stipend of up to $500 per month upon passing the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination (QE), which is normally held 12 to 18 months after registration of candidature. The additional stipend is renewable each semester subject to Scholar’s good performance. The quantum and duration of the additional stipend may vary between Faculties and Schools.

Notification of Award

Successful applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications sometime in May (for admission in August) or October (for admission in January). Successful applicants are required to sign a letter of undertaking agreeing to observe the terms and conditions for the award of the Scholarship.

How to apply for Commonwealth shared scholarship

Indian students can avail of this scholarship to further their education in three countries: UK, New Zealand, Singapore. Master's candidates must first apply to one of the following nominating bodies as no direct applications can be made for commonwealth scholarships. Apply through the following:

  • National nominating agencies
  • Selected non-governmental organizations and charitable bodies

The Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC) will not accept any applications that are not submitted through the online application system. An applicant can apply to more than one course and/or to more than one university, but they can accept only one offer of Commonwealth shared scholarship. 

An applicant is advised to complete and submit their application at the earliest, as the days to the application deadline closes in, the online application system gets very busy.

Commonwealth Scholarship Selection Process

  • There are no quotas for specific countries
  • The applications are reviewed by an academic adviser
  • The potential impact, academic merit, and quality of the candidates

Alternatives 

The reality is Commonwealth Scholarships are very competitive and around 700 scholarships are awarded worldwide, as there are no quotas for specific countries, it depends on the candidate's profile. There are various other scholarships available that you can apply for and can still make it to your dream university in the UK. There are over 26,000 scholarships from all different sources listed on the WeMakeScholars official website that you can look and apply for. 

Or you can opt for an abroad education loan as getting an education loan is fast, reliable and a sure-shot ticket to your study abroad. And WeMakeScholars can help you in getting an education loan. We try our best to get students the best deal they can get. So do reach out to our financial officers by requesting a callback. Our team of financial officers assists you with the entire education loan process until sanction, disbursement, and beyond. 

Note: WeMakeScholars is an organization funded and supported by the Government of India that focuses on International Education finance. We are associated with 10+ public/Pvt banks/ NBFCs in India and help you get the best abroad education loan matching your profile. As this initiative is under the Digital India campaign, it’s free of cost. The organization has vast experience dealing with students going to various abroad education destinations like the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, France among others.