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Top scholarships in UK for international students

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Part of the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, eastern England. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

A UK education opens doors, wherever you are or go in the world. UK scholarships ensure you get this opportunity to join an illustrious list of alumni, no matter your financial background. One in four world leaders studied in the UK — including 58 out of 377 current heads of state and government today. Recent additions to the list are newly-elected Gambian president, Adama Barrow – who worked as an Argos security guard while studying property management in London – and Myanmar’s state counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, alumni of the University of Oxford and Soas, University of London in the 1960s and 1980s.

Data from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) confirm this: British universities top the table for educating world leaders. Here are some UK scholarships up for your grabs in 2021-22:

Commonwealth Scholarships

To date, over 27,800 people have taken up Commonwealth Scholarship since the first group of 175 scholars arrived in the UK in 1960. Funded by the UK Department for International Development, this UK scholarship is intended for applicants from developing Commonwealth countries who want to pursue master’s study in the UK.

These scholarships are funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).  Each scholarship provides airfare to and from the UK, tuition and examination fees, personal maintenance allowance, thesis grant (if applicable), initial arrival allowance, among others. Commonwealth Scholarships are typically awarded to students enrolling in these subjects Engineering and Technology; Theoretical and Applied Science; Agriculture; and Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Gates Cambridge Scholarship

One of the best universities in the UK and in the world, the University of Cambridge, offers the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to individuals who aim to enrol in full-time postgraduate study here. Each year, Gates Cambridge offers 80 full-cost scholarships to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Approximately two-thirds of these awards will be offered to PhD students, with approximately 25 awards available in the US round and 55 available in the International round.

The selection criteria include outstanding intellectual ability, reasons for choosing a course, a commitment to improving the lives of others and leadership potential. This UK scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge. 

Rhodes Scholarship 

The Rhodes fund was established in 1902. Today, it is regarded today as the oldest scholarship in the world. The Rhodes Scholarship is awarded to postgraduate students aiming to study at the University of Oxford. Every year, 100 exceptional students receive one of these scholarships. It covers all tuition fees and return airfare to the UK. The scholarships are offered in over 22 designated Rhodes constituencies and aim to build on scholar qualities, through retreats during their first and second year, workshops, conferences, in addition to social and discussion events, hosted at Rhodes House. Learn more about eligibility, application and list of constituencies to find out more.

University of Edinburgh: Global Research Scholarship 

The University of Edinburgh offers its Global Research Scholarship to 30 outstanding overseas students who intend to pursue a PhD Research Programme. It covers all field of study offered at the Scottish university. Each scholarship covers the difference between the tuition fee for a UK/EU graduate student and that chargeable to an overseas graduate student. The awards do not cover maintenance expenses. 

UK scholarships from universities

Several reputed universities in the UK offer country-specific scholarships, often through external partner organisations. When you apply for these, you compete only with applicants from your country, and not around the world. Other institutions offer scholarships based on area or level of study. Check them out: London School of Economics and Political Sciences, King’s College London, University College London.