Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are offered for citizens of certain 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.
Development themes and impact
Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those unable to study in the UK for financial and other reasons. These scholarships are offered under six themes:
- Science and technology for development
The scholarship, which may be in any area of science or technology (including, for example, agriculture, veterinary science, or forestry), will develop knowledge and/or skills that are directly related to the specific needs of a low or middle income country. Where possible, applications should cite expressed national or local priorities.
- Strengthening health systems and capacity
The scholarship will develop knowledge and/or skills that will improve health provision or outcomes for disadvantaged groups in low and middle income countries. A range of approaches could be adopted, such as training staff to fill critical shortage areas; establishing better systems, processes, or management; health promotion and improving understanding of non-take up; or developing new treatments.
- Promoting global prosperity
The scholarship will support economic prosperity in low and middle income countries. The knowledge and/or skills gained could lead to, for example, enhanced trade capacity; improved economic understanding or decision- making by business or government; new products and services; or long-term capacity building, through the development of entrepreneurial skills, for instance.
- Strengthening global peace, security and governance
The scholarship will develop knowledge and/or skills that will strengthen peace and security at national, regional, or international levels. Multiple approaches could be used, such as strengthening open and transparent governance; improving mutual understanding within and between societies; or building systems that reduce the potential for conflict or encourage its resolution.
- Strengthening resilience and response to crises
The scholarship will develop knowledge and/or skills which will help low and middle countries adapt to changing contexts, withstand sudden shocks, or increase capacity to preserve the continuity of operations following such events. This could apply to a broad range of threats, including natural and physical disasters; long-term threats such as climate change; interruptions to the supply of key resources; or sudden economic or technological disruption.
- Access, inclusion and opportunity
The scholarship will develop knowledge and/or skills that will promote opportunity amongst historically disadvantaged groups in low and middle income countries. This could be through, for example, expanding educational opportunities; conducting community outreach; enhancing access to decision-making; or increasing understanding of the barriers faced. A range of disadvantage can be addressed – including social, economic, gender, ethnic, regional, or political – provided that the need is clearly stated.
To be eligible for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship, candidates should:
- Be a citizen of or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country, or be a British Protected Person
- Be permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country
- Hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) standard. A lower qualification and sufficient relevant experience may be considered in certain cases.
- Be unable to afford to study the programme without this scholarship.
The CSC aims to identify talented individuals who have the potential to make change. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination, and encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates. For further information on the support available to candidates with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.
The CSC is committed to administering and managing its scholarships and fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For further information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and the DFID guidance on reporting fraud.
Papua New Guinea
For full terms and conditions, see the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships 2020 terms and conditions.
Each participating UK University will conduct its own recruitment process to select a specified number of candidates for Distance Learning Scholarships. Universities must put forward their selected candidates to the CSC by 12 June 2020. The CSC will then confirm that these candidates meet the eligibility criteria for this scheme. Universities will inform candidates of their results by July 2020.
Selection criteria include:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Potential impact of the work on the development of the candidate’s home country
You must apply to study an eligible Master’s course at a UK university that is participating in the Distance Learning scheme. See list of participating universities and eligible courses.
You must also secure admission to your course in addition to applying for a Distance Learning Scholarship. You must check with your chosen university for their specific advice on when to apply, admission requirements, and rules for applying. You must make your application using the CSC’s online application system, in addition to any other application that you are required to complete by your chosen university. The CSC will not accept any applications that are not submitted via the online application system.
You can apply for more than one course and/or to more than one university, but you may only accept one offer of a Distance Learning Scholarship.
All applications must be submitted by 16.00 (GMT) on 4 May 2020 at the latest.
Your application must include the following supporting documentation by 16:00 (GMT) on 22 May 2020 in order for your application to be eligible for consideration:
- At least one reference– submitted directly by the referee to the online application system (referees will be sent an email request)
- An offer letter to start their chosen course of study in the 2020-2021 academic year – uploaded to the online application system
- Full transcripts detailing all your higher education qualifications (with certified translations if not in English) – uploaded to the online application system
The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted outside the online application system.
Supporting documentation uploaded to the online application system must be uploaded as files that are no more than 5 MB in size and must be in one of the following formats: PDF, .doc, .docx, .odt, .jpg, .jpeg. Files submitted in any other format (including Zip files and PDF Portfolios) will NOT be accepted.
Applicants are responsible for seeking permission from their referees in advance of submitting their application; for ensuring that their referees are available to complete the reference by the deadline and have received the reference request email from the online application system.
The CSC’s online application form is now open.
If you have any queries about applying for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship, you can visit the CSC’s Contact us page. We will not use your email address for any purpose other than responding to your enquiry.
For more information on other scholarships offered by the CSC, visit the CSC Apply page.