Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships – information for UK universities

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are offered for citizens of developing Commonwealth countries. These scholarships are funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), with the aim of contributing to the UK’s international development aims and wider overseas interests, supporting excellence in UK higher education, and sustaining the principles of the Commonwealth.

Purpose: To contribute to development needs of Commonwealth countries by providing training for skilled and qualified professionals in key development areas.

Intended beneficiaries: High-quality postgraduate students who wish to access training not available in their home countries, who wish or need to remain in their home country while they study, and who have the potential to enhance the development of their home countries with the knowledge and leadership skills they acquire.

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships support distance learning Master’s degree courses offered in partnership with local providers in developing countries, as well as courses delivered directly by UK universities.

Expressions of interest for 2017 Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are closed. Expressions of interest for 2018 Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are expected to open in November 2017 – updated information will be available on this page then.

Terms and conditions

All expressions of interest must meet the CSC’s overall funding cap of £18,000 per scholarship. This figure must cover all elements of the award, including tuition fees, grants to recipients, applicable partnership development costs, and any UK residential programmes.

If the actual costs of delivering the course are higher than £18,000, the university must clearly identify the source of top-up funding in its expression of interest, and any subsequent proposal.

Funding is available for five years from the start of an approved programme.

For full details, see the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships 2017 terms and conditions

Selection criteria and 2018 process

Expressions of interest and proposals are considered according to the following selection criteria:

  • The quality of the course, the quality assurance record, and the track record for delivery of the course through distance learning. Applications are strengthened by copies of any independent/external reports of the programme undertaken in recent years.
  • The learning opportunities provided for developing country students, including whether the course takes into account appropriate use of technology, whether course providers can identify a target audience of potential applicants and recruit them successfully, and the factors likely to affect candidates’ successful completion of their studies.
  • The development impact of the course of study, including how the course content can be applied to the Sustainable Development Goals and DFID priorities, and the subsequent career patterns of course alumni.

If the university is working with a partner, the partner must be based in a developing Commonwealth country.

The CSC’s selection committee will consider all proposals at meetings held in November. The committee will also decide on the number of scholarships to be allocated to each selected course.

Selected universities will be required to enter into a formal agreement with the CSC, detailing the various obligations placed on the university and the financial arrangements between the university and the CSC.

Selected universities will then conduct their own recruitment process to nominate a specified number of candidates for Distance Learning Scholarships to the CSC. The selection committee will select Scholars from these shortlists of nominated candidates in July.


Enquiries from UK universities only about Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships should be sent to General enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships sent to this email address will not be answered; please use the Contact us form instead.

Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its scholarships or fellowships through its Electronic Application System (EAS), and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.

Photos on flickr

@commschols on Twitter