If your an international student then highly consider the Commonwealth scholarships; here’s why. As an international student it can sometimes be difficult to find financial aid for attending college. Many bursary programs are available specifically to citizens of a given country, and are normally available through specific institutions. Scholarships, although being much more open and aimed at a broad audience, can sometimes be restrictive in who is awarded and what areas they may have come from. The Commonwealth Scholarship Program in sharp contrast is specifically designed with the international student in mind. Commonwealth scholarships are offered around the world through an organization called the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowship Plan which was conceived and implemented at the 1959 Commonwealth education conference. Its goal is to establish scholarship programs in individual Commonwealth nations available to students from other countries.
Though the Commonwealth scholarship is not available across the board for all member nations, it is available in 12 including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, India and Malaysia. Initially these programs were created to fund primarily students pursuing graduate studies but it has since been opened up in many countries to include undergraduate students as well. These Commonwealth scholarship programs are hotly sought after and considered highly competitive, so students should plan carefully before application and make sure they have provided the best information they possibly can to put themselves in the best light.
In many ways, the application process for commonwealth college scholarships has advanced and simplified since 1959. For some countries, a single electronic application system is available for all interested applicants, though this has not been implemented in all nations equally. It is useful to know that there is no single commonwealth scholarship plan available, but rather these programs are designed and implemented by individual countries. Because of this, though easier now than in days past, the commonwealth scholarship programs are still rather complicated and students will need to take their time when reviewing scholarships they may apply to.
Applications may be restricted to certain nations in the commonwealth, or they may be broadly available to all member states. Other programs may be available only for graduate or undergraduate students, and eligibility criteria will vary by specific scholarship. Further, it is also important to know that not all programs are scholarships, and that some are designed as fellowships which are a completely different category. The basic message in this is simple: review available programs very carefully and make sure that they are applicable to your interests and financial needs.
Many of these scholarships by Commonwealth are offered through exchange programs, so an important step in gaining access to them is to first check with your university to see if such a program exists. If a students’ institution does not offer such an exchange program they will be ineligible for a number of the scholarships, though this should not stop them as there are many more that will still be available. A good example of such a program is the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship which, while prefers students be enrolled in an existing exchange program, accepts applicants from many different institutions. Students at a college who do not have an exchange program with a college in Canada may begin the process at home, encouraging their university to generate such an arrangement with the student’s chosen destination. Successful applicants to this specific program can receive up to $10,000 to cover travel, living costs and other financial needs while staying in Canada. While the 2010 awards have been given out already, the Canadian 2011 Commonwealth Scholarship Program is expected to announce a new competition for 2011 in the near future.
Commonwealth scholarship programs are a useful way for international students to find financial aid to continue their studies abroad. It may require a little footwork on the part of the student, but the rewards can be enormous. Further, their legwork where exchange programs do not currently exist may facilitate future students in gaining access to these awards, so their efforts are important across the board.
Again, it is important to remember that these programs are highly competitive, so students who apply should have a sincere passion for the work they are doing. Their applications should display their passions, and in all hopes they will find themselves awarded handsomely for their interests.