Overview

The CSC’s evaluation and monitoring (E&M) programme aims to:

  • Monitor the experiences, satisfaction, and performance of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
  • Identify and measure the outcomes and impact of Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships on individuals, institutions, and communities and societies
  • Contribute to the CSC’s learning processes and inform strategic and operational decision-making
  • Strengthen accountability and communicate outcomes to award holders, funders, and other stakeholders

The E&M programme is coordinated by a team at the CSC Secretariat and overseen by the CSC’s Evaluation and Monitoring Committee.

Approach

Evaluation session at the 2014 CSC Welcome ProgrammeThe CSC uses a variety of methods to gather evidence relating to the outcomes and impact of its eight scholarship schemes. In particular, we aim to track individual trajectories to determine personal award outcomes, as well as exploring the cumulative impact of awards on wider socioeconomic development.

Surveys

Each year we send out surveys to incoming Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows and alumni to gather information about their pre- and post-scholarship/fellowship careers. From alumni, we collect details on the knowledge and skills that they gained during their award, and their ability to apply these skills in the workplace after returning home. We also ask for details of their activities, and the impact they are having in key development sectors.

We are also interested in the experiences and views of other stakeholders and partners; we survey hosts, employers, and overseas nominating agencies. We also undertake ad hoc survey exercises.

Findings from these surveys are reported to the CSC’s E&M Committee and the wider Commission, and are also published for wider dissemination.

Interviews and focus group discussions

Understanding the experiences of our Scholars and Fellows while they are in the UK and after they return home is an important part of our work, and we collect detailed qualitative data through individual interviews and focus group discussions. These activities enable us to gain an in-depth understanding of the successes of our alumni and the challenges that they face in their careers, as well as providing a wealth of rich information about wider outcomes and impact.

As with surveys, the E&M team has also initiated interviews and focus groups with hosts and supervisors, in order to better understand their experiences of the programme and to document its benefits to UK universities and host organisations.

Developing new tools and methods

Over the past ten years, the E&M programme has developed and refined its methods, building on an initial (essential) tracing and survey exercise. We have experimented with counterfactual approaches, aligned data collection tools across programmes to allow for future comparative review, and developed a new longitudinal survey methodology. Upcoming priorities include building on existing qualitative work, and developing new and improved means of publishing and disseminating our findings.

Scholarship evaluation: collaborating with others

The CSC is continually striving to improve its approach to scholarship evaluation. As well as attending relevant workshops, seminars, and other events within the evaluation and higher education sectors, the E&M team works closely with external colleagues in the UK and overseas to share experiences and knowledge wherever possible. In addition to our own publications, we work with the Association of Commonwealth Universities to curate the ‘Measuring Success?’ blog series, featuring contributions from colleagues throughout the sector discussing their experiences of analysing the outcomes of scholarships and of evidence-informed policymaking.

For more information

Contact the E&M team at evaluation@cscuk.org.uk

Photos on flickr

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