Commonwealth Shared Scholarships 2018 – university bidding guidance

Commonwealth Shared 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 and academics who would not otherwise have been able to study in the UK.

Intended beneficiaries: High-quality postgraduate students who have not studied extensively overseas before, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to study in the UK, and who have the potential to enhance the development of their home countries with the knowledge and leadership skills they acquire.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarships support Master’s study for students from developing countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the UK, jointly supported by UK universities. Courses should be developmental in nature and able to demonstrate and immediate development impact.

Financial commitment and branding of awards

Development impact and subjects of study
Duration of study
Eligibility of candidates
Eligible Commonwealth countries
Recruitment and selection
Bidding procedure



UK universities are invited to bid for up to ten Commonwealth Shared Scholarships to be offered in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) in 2018-2019.

The CSC is unfortunately not always able to offer the maximum number of awards for which an institution bids. It is normal practice for the CSC to offer one award to institutions that are new to the scheme or have not taken part in the last three years.

Please note that universities are asked to put forward no more than 10 courses in their bid. These courses must be individually named, not by department; bids for subject areas will not be considered.

The CSC currently expects to allocate around 220 new awards in 2018-2019. Awards are currently for one-year taught courses at postgraduate level usually, and are not intended for research degrees or undergraduate study.

Financial commitment and branding of awards

Shared Scholarships are jointly financed by the CSC and participating universities or their sponsors. Contributions from universities may not come from HEFCE, HEFCW, Scottish Funding Council, or DELNI, or from other public funds.

Any contribution towards the university’s share of the award costs must come from the university’s own funds or from an organisation whose mission and aims are in line with those of the CSC. All promotional and award materials must recognise that Commonwealth Shared Scholarships are jointly funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and the university.

Shared Scholars must not be asked to contribute to the university element of the award. Any university expecting a Shared Scholar to do this will render themselves liable to repayment of the tuition fee to the CSC and exclusion from the scheme in future years.

The CSC will pay the following costs (on receipt of an invoice and relevant supporting documentation from the university):

  • Course tuition fees up to a cap of £22,500
  • Airfares to and from the UK (booked in line with CSC policy)
  • Grant to contribute to study-related costs (exact amount for 2018 to be confirmed); additional sums available for CSC events
  • Tuberculosis test fees (where required by UK Visas and Immigration)
  • Excess baggage allowance on return home, up to the specific rate set by the CSC

The costs of any compulsory field trips should be included in the tuition fee; the CSC will not cover any additional field trip costs.

The university is expected to provide at least the following level of support (please note that these are 2016-2017 figures; figures for 2017-2018 will be available in July 2017, and figures for 2018-2019 will be available in July 2018):

  • Maintenance stipend of £1,279 per month for Scholars in London, £1,043 per month for all other Scholars; this must be paid for the full duration of the award
  • Warm clothing allowance of £405
  • For Scholars who are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of £448 per month for the first child, and £110 per month for the second and third child

These amounts are set by the UK Government for all students on government-funded scholarships.


The university is responsible for managing the welfare of Shared Scholars while they are on award. While the CSC pays for tuition fees, the university must pay for living allowances and provide any additional funding necessary to support the welfare of Scholars. This includes supporting disabled Scholars and funding any reasonable adjustments required.

Development impact and subjects of study

As Shared Scholarships are funded by the Department for International Development, subjects of study must be developmental in nature. The university is therefore asked, as part of its bid, to provide a statement explaining the direct or indirect relevance of the course(s) to developing countries. The developmental value of the course will be assessed and allocations of awards will be made based on the strength of the statements provided. Generic course descriptions will not be considered. The CSC wishes to see a brief outline of how the proposed course will be advantageous and suitable for individuals from developing countries, as well as to their home nations on their return. Bids not including development statements will be deemed ineligible.

The following dos and don’ts lists outline what the CSC expects to be provided in the development statement.


  • Explain how the course is relevant to developing Commonwealth countries
  • Be specific about how the course content can be applied in order to have a development impact
  • Demonstrate how the course could have a development impact on the Scholar’s home country when they return
  • Provide examples of the course and/or the university’s record in development (where applicable)
  • Consult with the course leaders when writing the statement
  • Write at least one paragraph
  • Check that the statement is complete and correct before submitting the bid (only information provided via the bidding form will be considered)


  • Use the same statement for each course
  • Use generic course descriptions (these will not be considered)
  • Rely on the name of the course to demonstrate its developmental nature
  • Copy and paste course information from the university website

Only courses which do not require further study, training or employment in the UK are eligible. MBA courses will be supported only in exceptional circumstances where a direct development focus and aim can be demonstrated.

Duration of study

Awards are currently tenable for one year usually, and up to two years in exceptional circumstances.

Awards cannot be extended or renewed. All Shared Scholars are required to return to their home country immediately on conclusion of their courses. No permission will be given to defer the homeward airfare, except where a Scholar has secured an offer of PhD study in the UK with funding for three full years of study from a university or recognised scholarship body. In such cases, if the Shared Scholarship host university agrees, the CSC will allow the Scholar to remain in the UK.

Eligibility of candidates

Candidates are expected to hold a first degree at either first class or upper second class level, or at lower second class level plus a Master’s degree (see also Recruitment and selection). The CSC cannot assess work experience in lieu of this minimum academic qualification.

Pre-sessional English language courses are not supported. The nominating university must therefore confirm that its candidates are sufficiently fluent in written and oral English to pursue their studies immediately, and ensure that they meet the English language requirement set by UKVI.

Candidates are required to sign an undertaking that they:

  1. Are nationals of a developing Commonwealth country
  2. Are permanently domiciled in a developing Commonwealth country, and are not at present living or studying in a developed country
  3. Have not studied for one (academic) year or more in a developed country
  4. Have not worked for one year or more in a developed country
  5. Are themselves, or through their families, unable to pay to study in the UK (as these awards are intended for candidates who would not otherwise be able to study in the UK, the university may be asked to state its procedures for verifying applicants’ financial status)
  6. Will return to their home country within one month of the end date of their award

These award conditions are current as of April 2017 and may be subject to minor changes.

Eligible Commonwealth countries

Antigua and Barbuda
Cayman Islands
Falkland Islands
Papua New Guinea
Pitcairn Islands
St Helena
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent and The Grenadines
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands (British)
Zimbabwe (awards offered to build the capacity of civil society organisations; subject to change)

Recruitment and selection

Universities that are successful at the bidding stage will be notified which courses and how many awards have been approved by the CSC. The CSC will issue a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will confirm the terms and conditions of the award(s) as well as the responsibilities of the CSC and the university; this will be reviewed on an annual basis.

The university will be established as a nominator on the CSC’s online application system and given advice on how to use the system to recruit candidates.

The CSC asks all universities offering Shared Scholarships to use the CSC’s online application system to recruit candidates, rather than using their own separate scholarship application systems, in order to streamline the application process for candidates.

The CSC acknowledges that universities will also expect candidates to apply for a place on the course through their own admissions application system.

It is the responsibility of the university to conduct its own recruitment of candidates as it sees fit in an open and transparent manner and with reference to the CSC’s anti-fraud policy and procedure.

Applications are encouraged from a diverse range of candidates. In particular, the CSC asks universities to continue to positively encourage women to apply for Shared Scholarships.

The CSC also asks that universities give preference to applicants from the least developed Commonwealth countries, and from a wide range of countries. The CSC is keen to ensure a good geographical spread of these awards; a high percentage of Shared Scholarships are currently awarded to candidates from Ghana and Nigeria.

The list of universities offering Commonwealth Shared Scholarships in 2018 and eligible courses, with university contact details and closing dates for applications, will be published on the CSC website.

Bidding procedure

Bids must be made using the CSC’s Electronic Application System (EAS). Full information on how to use the EAS, including detailed guides

All bids must be submitted via the EAS by 23:59 (BST) on 7 June 2017.

Late bids cannot be accepted. Results should be available by September 2017.

Candidate applications for 2018 Shared Scholarships are likely to open in mid-November 2017, with a likely final closing date of 29 March 2018. When submitting a bid, the university should indicate the provisional closing date for applications for its awards – this should be on or before 29 March 2018. The university must nominate its chosen candidates within four weeks of the CSC’s final closing date for applications.


If you have any questions about Commonwealth Shared Scholarships or the bidding process, please contact the CSC Secretariat at or on +44 (0)20 7380 6716.

Please do not use these contact details for enquiries about applying for other Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships offered by the CSC, as they will not be answered – please use the Contact us form.

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