Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom

Evaluating the impact of international scholarships

The CSC held a workshop to launch its Evaluation Programme from 4-6 May 2007 at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK

Entitled ‘Evaluating the impact of international scholarships’, the workshop was attended by representatives of the World Bank Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC).

Other attendees included representatives from Commonwealth Scholarships national nominating agencies in Canada, Ghana, Malawi, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, the UK and Zambia, as well as current Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows and other interested parties.

With such a variety of delegates, the event offered a forum for discussion and an opportunity to compare approaches to evaluation. Methodologies for evaluating capacity building for international development are well established, but it seems that reliable data for the impact of scholarships, in particular, are not so well documented.

Those involved in discussions were keen to establish a better view of the impact of scholarships and, where possible, to collaborate and share the data generated. Guidelines were drawn up to determine what information to collect, to design a framework for acquiring this information, and to develop best practice in evaluating the impact of scholarship funding in capacity building.

Speakers at the workshop included:

  • Professor Trudy Harpham – Chair, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK: Scholarships and Capacity Building: An Overview
  • Dr Andrew Sumner and Kattie Lussier – Institute of Development Studies, UK
  • Dr Norm Geddes – Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner: Defining the Purpose of Scholarships: How clear are our objectives?
  • Dr Charles Tustin – Chair, Scholarships Committee of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee: Academic Objectives
  • Ad Boeren – Senior Policy Officer, Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC): Development Objectives
  • William Archer – Director, International Graduate Insight Group, UK: Quantifying the Benefits: Lessons from Previous Studies
  • Kamel Braham – Scholarships Administrator, The World Bank Institute: Using the Alumni: Experiences of Past Alumni Studies
  • Antje Schlamm – Director, London Office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • Professor Tim Unwin – Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner: What are our Objectives?
  • Dr Norm Geddes, Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner: Taking Evaluation Further: Summary of key indicators and evaluation methodologies
  • Dr John Kirkland, Executive Secretary, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK: The Way Forward: Proposals for Future Collaboration

Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows’ views

Melissa Felician (Commonwealth Professional Fellow, Institute of Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology):

Having experience in evaluation, including a recent ‘Evaluating Research’ module at my host institution, methodological issues were not new to me, but it was good to see attempts to integrate all relevant aspects. Points relating to quantifying benefits – which I initially saw as a major challenge – were well presented and provided food for thought.

The session on the recipient’s viewpoint was the most interesting part; I came away from that session acknowledging that the impact of the scholarships on the recipient (country and individual) goes beyond the measurable outcomes of the scholarship programme.

While much still needs to be done in building capacity at country level to improve the selection process, it was clear that the CSC is changing many lives by the opportunities that it has created over the years!

Imran Majid (Commonwealth Scholar, MPhil in Engineering, University of Surrey):

Highlights of the event for me included a cost-benefit analysis of the scholarship business and a review of academic and development approaches to scholarship evaluation. The World Bank Institute’s tracer study programme and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)’s success in coordinating alumni activities inspired brainstorming sessions.

My contribution included ideas for prioritising regional cultures in impact assessment, while on the other hand applying the onion-shell concept (from a presentation at the UN Space Generation Forum, 1999) in scholarship evaluation; the individuals (inner core) through skill and experience affect institutions (middle layer) directly and through actions benefit the society (outer shell) indirectly.

Delegates at the evaluation workshop

Delegates at the evaluation workshop

 

Photos on flickr

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