About us

We award over 800 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development to Commonwealth citizens each year. The CSC is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by DFID.

The CSC aims to contribute to the UK’s international development aims and wider overseas interests, support excellence in UK higher education, and sustain the principles of the Commonwealth. We select candidates on the basis of merit and their potential to contribute to the needs of their home countries.

Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships in the UK are funded by the Department for International Development (for developing Commonwealth countries), and the Department for Education (for developed Commonwealth countries), in conjunction with UK universities.

Who we are

The CSC comprises up to 14 Commissioners and a chair, who are appointed by the Secretary of State for International Development in line with the Public Appointments Commissioner’s code of practice.

The CSC’s secretariat is provided by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, based in London; overseas services are provided by the British Council.

The CSC manages the UK’s contribution to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), an international programme under which member governments offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens of other Commonwealth countries.

Our scholarships and fellowships

The CSC offers:

We also nominate UK citizens for Commonwealth Scholarships to study in other Commonwealth countries.

Our responsibilities

We’re responsible for:

  • providing academic and professional scholarships and fellowships to able and motivated Commonwealth citizens
  • selecting candidates to receive Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships in the UK on the basis of merit, and particularly their potential to contribute to the needs of their home countries
  • placing Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows in universities or other host organisations in the UK, and providing support during their time on award to assist them in meeting the objectives of the scheme
  • effectively evaluating the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships, and maintaining contact with alumni to help make sure that this evaluation can take place

Our priorities

Our priorities for 2017 to 2018 are to:

  • ensure that awards take full account of the objectives of DFID, other sponsoring organisations, and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, while maintaining academic and professional integrity
  • ensure that our provision of awards remains relevant, accessible, and good value for money
  • ensure that our monitoring and evaluation activity is at the cutting edge of international practice, and continues to provide evidence of the impact of our awards on recipients and the wider objectives of the scheme
  • deliver and further develop a programme of engagement activities that encourages award holders and alumni to maintain closer links with the scheme, and thereby contribute more effectively to development and maximise wider benefit to the UK
  • continue active collaboration with other HMG scholarship schemes and government departments, in response to the recommendations of the 2015 cluster review, and opportunities arising from the greater use of overseas development assistance (ODA) funds throughout government
  • contribute to the development of a vibrant Commonwealth-wide CSFP, including implementation of the findings of the international CSFP Taskforce, which was instigated by Commonwealth education ministers at their 2015 conference
  • further highlight and encourage the contribution of our doctoral students to research, by developing new links and an identity for this category of students, and continuing the pilot for funding four-year doctoral degrees within Doctoral Training Centres
  • continue to monitor current provision and recruitment methods to ensure that awards are fully accessible to those qualified to benefit from them
  • review our relationship with national nominating agencies and other nominating partners, to ensure that the scheme continues to attract candidates of the highest quality and relevance to national needs, as well as to maximise partnership funding
  • seek ways to expand awards to candidates from developed countries, through new partnership arrangements with UK universities
  • develop a clear communications strategy, including regular stakeholder events as well as wider engagement within the Commonwealth, including with the Commonwealth Secretariat, and further establish scholarships and fellowships as a central part of the UK’s global relationships and business opportunities outside the European Union
  • further align the work of the CSC to HMG priorities, through targeted expansion of the Shared Scholarships and Distance Learning Scholarships programmes
  • continue to analyse our portfolio of programmes with respect to their potential for impact and cost effectiveness, and propose modifications that improve this, where funding permits expanding provision to meet untapped demand and support areas of particular priority to DFID
  • ensure the highest and most transparent standards of governance and audit
  • continue to focus on the proportion of our administration costs, thereby maximising the proportion of resources devoted to scholarships and fellowships, and other directly related activities

Our governance arrangements are set out in a financial memorandum with an associated framework document and the 3 year Corporate Plan and 1 year business plan.

Anti fraud policy

Our anti-fraud policy and procedure states our zero-tolerance attitude to fraud. We require Commissioners, members of the Secretariat staff, members of selection committees, applicants, Commonwealth Scholars, Fellows and suppliers to act honestly and with integrity at all times, and to report all reasonable suspicions of fraud.

We will investigate all instances of actual, attempted and suspected fraud committed by the above named bodies and individuals and will where appropriate seek to recover funds lost to the CSC through fraud. Perpetrators may be subject to appropriate action, including legal action.