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Funding boost for Commonwealth scholarship scheme

The UK government has announced a £5m funding boost to a scholarship scheme under which Commonwealth countries offer scholarships to students and academics from other member states.

Image: Mayns82

The UK’s recent £5m will be targeted specifically ay students from countries eligible for overseas development assistance who want to pursue further studies in leading universities in low and middle-income countries

This will allow to create an additional 150 scholarships by 2025 for students who wish to undertake postgraduate degrees at universities in low and middle-income countries.

“This scheme…will enable more of our talented young people to access life-changing opportunities to study across The Commonwealth”

“For young people across the Commonwealth, sharing in this partnership presents a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures. It also gives us the chance to share learning from our respective education systems and to draw inspiration from across the globe, so that every child gets the education they deserve,” said UK education secretary Damian Hinds in a statement announcing the new funding from the Department for Education.

“This investment builds on this celebrated relationship by offering even more young people around the world the opportunity to further their education at a Commonwealth university abroad,” he said.

The new scholarships, which have been renamed Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, were announced by Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in April, where he was appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

“This scheme…will enable more of our talented young people to access life-changing opportunities to study across The Commonwealth, for generations to come,” he said in his speech.

“I am also proud that in recognition of Her Majesty The Queen’s extraordinary service to the Commonwealth, these scholarships will be known as The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships.”

The £13.4m Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme is open to students from all Commonwealth countries.

However, the UK’s recent £5m will be targeted specifically at students from countries eligible for overseas development assistance who want to pursue further studies in leading universities, according to the UK government.

The scholarships cover travel expenses, tuition fees and a living allowance but don’t cover distance learning. Only postgraduate students from a Commonwealth country other than the host country are eligible.

The new scholars will begin their studies in 2019, marking the 70th anniversary of the Commonwealth and the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

“Scholarships have a transformational impact on the lives of individuals”

The scheme is funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan endowment fund, an inter-governmental fund established in 1959 and managed by the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The CSFP has provided over 35,000 scholarships since its creation, according to ACU.

Commenting on the expansion of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, ACU chief executive and secretary general Joanna Newman said the scheme will have far-reaching benefits for both the individuals and the society.

“Scholarships have a transformational impact on the lives of individuals and also, more importantly, on their wider communities and societies, thanks to the skills and knowledge gained,”said Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU in a statement.

“I am delighted that the ACU will play a vital role in securing these educational opportunities for young people across all member countries. The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme is a valuable, inclusive programme which will have a far-reaching impact for generations to come.”

ACU head of strategic partnerships Faye Taylor told The PIE News that higher education is a key element to strengthen relationships within the Commonwealth.

“Mobility between Commonwealth countries builds the personal and institutional relationships that will strengthen the Commonwealth as a network of people,” she said.

“As such, higher education needs to be a key feature of Commonwealth collaboration.”

Additional reporting by Anton Crace. 

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