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Commonwealth Scholarship- Eligibility, Application, Benefits

by Anup chowdhury

Commonwealth Scholarship It is one of the most renowned scholarships in the world, and is also known as Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)” under which the governments of the Commonwealth countries offer scholarships and fellowships to their citizens. Commonwealth scholarship awards aspirants with exceptional talent and potential in various fields.

Indian students can avail this scholarship to pursue studies in three countries: United Kingdom, New Zealand and Singapore. The CSFP is an annual scheme made available to all the Commonwealth countries by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission. In India, this is jointly managed by:

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

In this article, we will cover all the details about the Commonwealth scholarship including its eligibility, awards, application procedure, key dates, and much more.

Commonwealth Scholarship List of Disbursing Countries

53 countries are members of the Commonwealth which span from Africa, Asia, America, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse. They are amongst the worlds largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.The applicants from these countries are eligible to apply for Commonwealth scholarships. India is one of them and its a great opportunity for Indian students to apply for these scholarships to pursue Masters or PhD studies in one of the three countries listed in the table below:

LATEST UPDATE – Commonwealth Scholarship 2020 Scheme

Master’s aspirants must apply to one of the following nominating bodies in the first instance. No direct applications can be made. Commonwealth Masters Scholarships are for candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake full-time taught Masters study at a UK university. Apply via the following:

  • National nominating agencies this is the main route of application
  • Selected non-governmental organisations and charitable bodies

The CSC will not accept any applications that are not submitted via the online application system. Upload following document to online application system:

  • Proof of citizenship or refugee status
  • Full transcripts detailing all your higher education qualifications
  • References from at least two individuals
Scholarships Dates
Commonwealth Masters Scholarship Last date to Apply: 16:00 (GMT)on30 October 2019

Application must include the following supporting documentation by16:00 (GMT)on20 November 2019

Commonwealth Scholarship – Countries where students can pursue Master’s and Ph.D. studies under CSF plan

S. No Scholarship Countries
1. Commonwealth Scholarship United Kingdom
2. Commonwealth Scholarship New Zealand
3. Commonwealth Scholarship Singapore

For full details on Commonwealth Scholarship 2020 for UK – CLICK HERE

Commonwealth Scholarship U.K.

The students who are ambitious for studying in the UK with commonwealth scholarships have the following questions in mind: How to apply for the scholarship? What are the eligibility conditions? What are the documents required? How to compose study plan and research plan? What are the benefits? How to apply for study VISA in the UK? What are the key dates? and other related questions. This section will answer all of these questions in detail.

The Commonwealth Scholarship in UK offered by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) are:

  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships
  • Commonwealth PhD Scholarships

Commonwealth Masters & PhD scholarships are for candidates from low and middle-income Commonwealth countries, for full-time Masters or Doctoral studies at a UK university. It is funded by theUK Department for International Development (DFID). These scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK. These scholarships are offered under six 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

The Commonwealth scholarship in the U.K. comprise of the following programs:

  • Scholarships for Masters and PhD study at a UK university
  • Split-site Scholarships for split-site PhD study at a UK university
  • Shared Scholarships for Masters study at selected UK universities
  • Distance Learning Scholarships to study UK Masters degree courses in your home country
  • Academic Fellowships for early career academics to spend time at a UK university
  • Professional Fellowships for mid-career professionals to spend time at a UK host organization
  • Medical Fellowships for doctors and dentists to spend time at a UK hospital.

For the 2018-19 session, there were 65 nominations out of which 26 were for PhD studies. The eligibility conditions, application process, and key dates are mentioned in detail in the table given below.

Commonwealth Scholarship U.K.- Eligibility, Application, Key dates

S.No Scholarship Eligibility Application* Key Dates
1. Commonwealth Scholarship U.K.

Masters Course

  • The applicant must be a Commonwealth citizen, refugee or British protected person or a permanent resident in a developing Commonwealth country.
  • The applicant should not have already registered for a Masters course at a UK university or Indian University or anywhere else.
  • The candidates who have been abroad for studies or training on scholarships or their own for the period of six months are eligible to apply.
  • The applicant age must not exceed 40 years
  • They must possess the minimum qualification of Bachelors degree.
  • Academic Merit- The candidate must have secured 60% or above in social science and 65% in science subjects.
  • The candidates must be able to afford to study in the UK without the scholarship.
  • The candidates who have received the offer of admission, from any of the university listed with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission are only eligible to apply.
The applicants are required to apply through two portals:
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • Commonwealth Scholarship Commissions Electronic Application System (ECAS)
2. Commonwealth Scholarship U.K.

PhD degree

  • The applicant age must not exceed 40 years
  • They must possess/have completed/expected to complete a Masters degree.
  • They must not have already applied for PhD or MPhil leading to PhD in UK or Indian University or anywhere else.
  • Academic Merit- The candidate must have secured 60% or above in social science and 65% in science subjects.
  • The candidates must be able to afford to study in the UK without the scholarship.
  • The candidate must be a Commonwealth citizen, refugee or British protected person or a permanent resident in a developing Commonwealth country.
  • The candidates who have received the offer of admission, from any of the university listed with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission are only eligible to apply.
The applicants are required to apply through two portals:
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • Commonwealth Scholarship Commissions Electronic Application System (ECAS)

*detailed procedure

Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. Detailed Application Procedure

There are two levels of courses – Masters and PhD. For Masters, the program shall be for 1 year and 3-4 years for PhD. The candidates who are in employment and wish to return after their studies in the UK must get assurance from the organization that they will be granted sufficient leaves to complete the studies. The nominated candidates will be informed through email and public notice on the Ministry website.

In this section, you will get to know the steps that need to be followed for applying to a Commonwealth scholarship at UK universities.

Step 1:There are 90+ universities in the U.K. which students can opt for applying for Commonwealth scholarships (for the full list of universities check out the DFID, UK government website). These universities currently have part funding agreements with the CSC for Commonwealth Scholarships for candidates from low and middle-income countries and we have listed 40+ in the table below:

Commonwealth Scholarship – List of UK Universities

S.No Universities
1. Aberystwyth University
2. Aston University
3. Bangor University
4. Bath Spa University
5. Birbeck, University of London
6. Birmingham City University
7. Brunei University London
8. Cardiff University
9. City, University of London
10. Coventry University
11. Cranfield University
12. Durham University
13. Glasgow Caledonian University
14. Goldsmiths, University of London
15. Harper Adams University
16. Heriot-Watt University
17. Imperial College London
18. Keele University
19. Kings College London
20. Kingston University
21. Lancaster University
22. Leeds Beckett University
23. Liverpool Hope University
24. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
25. London School of Economics and Political Science
26. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
27. London South Bank University
28. Loughborough University
29. Manchester Metropolitan University
30. Newcastle University
31. Northumbria University
32. University of York
33. University of Worchester
34. University of Wolverhampton
35. University of West London
36. University of Westminster
37. University of Warwick
38. The University of the West of England
39. University of Sussex
40. University of Surrey
41. University of Oxford

Step 2: The CSC do not accept direct applications for these scholarships and hence the students have to apply through one of the following nominating bodies:

  • National nominating agencies Check out the link here for the list of nominating agencies in Commonwealth nations. Indian students will need to apply through Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, Government of India.
  • Selected University or University bodies which can nominate their own academic staff.
  • Selected non-governmental organization and charitable bodies.

Step 3: The students have to visit the MHRDwebsite to apply for the cut-off of the commonwealth scholarship U.K. before moving to apply on ECAS portal. It is compulsory for the applicant to apply on both the portals before the cut-off dates. Generally, the applicants have to apply for MHRD cut-off in January and in December for ECAS cut-off.

Commonwealth Scholarship MHRD Portal


Step 4:The students will need to visit the ECAS portal and create a new account on it. Fill in all the required details, upload documents and submit the application. The application deadline is in December every year. The students can upload the documents by January (following year).

Commonwealth Scholarship ECAS Portal


Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. Benefits

Commonwealth Scholarship – List of benefits for Master’s and Ph.D. students

S.No Scholarship Benefits
1. Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. Masters Course
  • The applicants will get approved airfare from home country to the UK and return at the end of your award.
  • The applicants will receive approved tuition fees stipend (living allowance) at the rate of GBP 1,084 per month, or GBP 1,330 per month for those at universities in the London metropolitan area.
  • They will also receive warm clothing allowance, where applicable
  • There will be a thesis grant towards the cost of preparing a thesis or dissertation, where applicable
  • The applicants will also get study travel grant towards the cost of study-related travel within the UK or overseas.
  • If you are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of GBP 465 per month for the first child, and GBP 114 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16 years will be given.
2. Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. PhD degree
  • The scholars will receive airfare from home country to the UK and return.
  • They will receive tuition and examination fees.
  • They will receive a living allowance/stipend worth GBP 1084 per month and GBP 1330 for students at London metropolitan area.
  • There will be a thesis grant, warm clothing allowance and study travel grants.
  • Fieldwork grants when the work is done overseas.
  • Mid-term visit (airfare) to the home country is also paid.
  • For scholarships 18 months long, a spouse allowance of GBP 233 per month is given, if the applicant and his/her spouse are living together in the same address in UK.
  • Family allowance (spouse and children) of GBP 233 per month for the first child and GBP 114 per month for a second and third child under the age of 16 years.
  • Accompanied by children but no spouse, then the applicant receives child allowance of GBP 465 per month for the first child and GBP 114 for the second and third child under the age of 16 years.

Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. – Documents Required

For Ph.D. and Masters applicants, the following documents shall be uploaded to the online application system.

  • Proof of Citizenship or refugee status
  • Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualification
  • References from two individuals submitted by the referee to the online application system (referees will receive an email request upon completion of the application).
  • Supporting statement from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one institution named on the application form and it has to be directly submitted by the supervisor.
  • The documents uploaded on the online application system must be no more than 5 MB in size and in one of the following formats: PDF, doc, docx, or jpg.
Do you want to know about admission timelines 2019 for UK Colleges? Read “College admission deadlines UK” article here.

Commonwealth Scholarship U.K. Selection Process

  • The CSC invites each nominating body to submit a specific number of nominations. They invite three times more nominations than the number of scholarships available.
  • There are no quotas for any individual country and the candidates can face fierce competition to avail such scholarships.
  • The candidate’s application will first be considered by an academic advisor with expertise in the subject area concerned and then by the CSC selection committee.
  • The academic merit, quality of the research proposal and potential impact of the work on the development of the candidates home country are also considered for the selection process.

Commonwealth Scholarship – Singapore

The Commonwealth scholarship in Singapore is awarded to outstanding graduate students fromCommonwealth countriesfor 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. The Commonwealth scholarship application process is common for UK, Singapore or New Zealand.

Commonwealth Scholarship – Singapore – Eligibility

  • The applicants can belong to any Commonwealth countries except Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents.
  • The applicants must have obtained an undergraduate degree with at least second class honors (upper division/honors (distinction).
  • They must be offered admission to a full-time graduate research program at the National University of Singapore.
  • They must be eligible to Ministry of Education (MOE) subsidy.

Commonwealth Scholarship – Singapore- Benefits

  • For Masters students – A monthly stipend of SGD 1500 will be paid
  • For PhD students – A monthly stipend of SGD 2000 will be paid
  • Tuition fees will also be provided by the university.
  • The PhD scholars may be eligible for an additional stipend of SGD 500 per month upon passing the PhD qualifying examination (QE). This is held within 12-18 months after PhD registration.

Note: The scholarship is tenable for 1 year in the first instance subject to scholars satisfactory progress. The maximum period of the scholarship is 2 years for Masters and 4 years for PhD candidates as determined by the relevant faculty or school.

Commonwealth Scholarship – New Zealand

Universities in New Zealand invites CSC to nominate candidates for Commonwealth scholarships for doctoral studies in New Zealand. There were 8 candidates nominated for the scholarships for 2019 Ph.D. programs in the following universities.

1.Auckland University of Technology

2.Lincoln University

3.Massey University

4.University of Auckland

5.University of Otago

6.University of Waikato

7.Victoria University of Wellington

Commonwealth Scholarship – New Zealand- Important Points

  • The Commonwealth scholarship will be awarded for Ph.D. programs
  • In some case, the scholars enroll in a preliminary course of study by way of bridging programme. This can help the scholar to obtain necessary skills for further study before pursuing the Ph.D. program.
  • The students cannot seek an offer of employment or make other arrangements to stay in New Zealand either during or immediately after the course of study.
  • The scholarships are funded by the host university and each university committee determines the value of the award.
Do you want to explore study abroad options in New Zealand? Read “Study in New Zealand” article here.

Commonwealth Scholarship – VISA Information

If you require a Tier-4 visa to come to the UK to study, you must meet all relevant immigration requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration. All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration and are subject to change. The CSC has no control over these regulations.

Briefly, follow the steps below to apply for tier-4 VISA:

  • The students have to apply via the UK immigration services to apply for a tier-4 visa
  • Prior to application, check the eligibility, fees, and the required documents.
  • Once you are ready with documents and other information, then browse the immigration service portal and confirm visa type as a tier-4 visa.
  • Choose “country” and a list of appointment centers will be provided. Select whether you can attend the visa interview at any one of them.
  • Proceed further with filling the online application, uploading documents, and paying the visa fee and submitting the application.
  • Applicant’s biometric will be taken at the VISA application center and you will need to collect biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date when you have said you would arrive at the UK.

Note: The applicants can visit thecommonwealth scholarship government website of UK to check out for the VISA fees for different nationalities.

We hope this article gives you a detailed view of the commonwealth scholarship and should be a great guide for you to apply for the next round of commonwealth scholarship application in 2020.

NEWS: UK offers 2-year post study visa to international students graduating from 2020-21 onwards from a UK university. This will help international students to apply for jobs after completing their studies. READ further in “Why study in UK” article to know top reasons to study in UK.

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