Commonwealth Professional Fellowships are for mid-career professionals from low and middle income countries to spend a period of time at a UK host organisation working in their sector for a programme of professional development.
Purpose: To provide professionals with the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills in their given sector, and to have catalytic effects on their workplaces.
Intended beneficiaries: Mid-career professionals (with five years’ relevant work experience) working in organisations in low and middle income Commonwealth countries.
These fellowships are offered under six development themes:
- Science and technology for development
- Strengthening health systems and capacity
- Promoting global prosperity
- Strengthening global peace, security and governance
- Strengthening resilience and response to crises
- Access, inclusion and opportunity
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.
Professional Fellowships in 2024
Organisations from any sector can apply to host two or more Commonwealth Professional Fellows within their own organisation.
The Professional Fellowships will:
- Begin in mid-February 2024
- Run for between six weeks and three months
If you are interested in hosting a fellowship programme as part of our Gender and Sexuality Fellowships Programme then please visit the Gender and Sexuality Fellowship page on our website.
Host eligibility and guidelines
Organisations from any sector can apply to host a minimum of two and maximum of five Commonwealth Professional Fellows.
To apply for these fellowships, prospective host organisations must:
- Be based in the UK
- Be a publicly funded organisation (including public bodies, universities, research institutions, local government departments and NHS Trusts) or a Charity (registered with the Charities Commission)
- Design a clear six week to three-month programme of professional experience and exchange for mid-career professionals. Visits to, and periods of experience with, relevant UK organisations are particularly encouraged. Attendance at short courses or conferences during the fellowship is acceptable, providing that this can be justified within the selection criteria and that attendance is not the main focus of the fellowship
- Be able to demonstrate the capacity to set up and manage the fellowships on a day-to-day basis including being able to demonstrate that they have cash funds of at least £30,000 available and that the previous year’s income was greater than £50,000
- Be able to identify between two and five fellows who they wish to nominate, through existing networks or wider advertising (the CSC will not accept applications for programmes set up by host organisations at the request of an individual wishing to undertake a Fellowship). The CSC will decide on the final selection of Fellows for each host organisation
- Ensure every effort is made to achieve a balance in nominations across genders. CSC may request a statement for explanation if there is a significant overrepresentation of one gender
- Agree to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the CSC which includes obligations to have anti-fraud and safeguarding policies in place and for the CSC to be given permission to audit funds dispersed for the purposes of the programme (the CSC will share a copy of the MoU at the application stage on request of the host organisation)
- Only apply for fellowships for the prescribed dates ensuring the programme dates are the same for all fellows
Prospective hosts should also note:
- The Commonwealth Professional Fellowship scheme does not support programmes that require General Medical Council registration
- Fellowships must be UK-based for their full duration
- Host organisations are responsible for obtaining any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or ‘good character’ checks that may be required
- Applications will not be considered from candidates who are undertaking a course of full-time study (including Master’s and PhD study) at the time of application; seeking assistance towards the cost of commencing or completing a formal academic or professional qualification; or wishing to undertake an academic programme or research of any kind.
- Applications presenting an academic research proposal or plan will be considered ineligible.
- Candidates who have previously taken a leave of absence to study or work abroad in a high-income country should make an additional case for why they should be considered for a fellowship in the UK and make clear what they have gained from their previous experience
- CSC reserves the right to use the data given on the host application form to conduct due diligence on your organisation, to satisfy itself of entering into a formal agreement or contractual relationship with you. In most cases, the due diligence checks will be straightforward, however further information may be requested, so we ask for your full co-operation to speed up the process.
To be eligible for these fellowships, prospective fellows must:
- Be a citizen of or have been granted refugee status by an eligible Commonwealth country or be a British Protected person. Eligible countries are listed in the information for prospective fellows
- Be permanently resident in an eligible Commonwealth country
- Have at least five years’ full-time, or equivalent part-time, relevant work experience, in a profession related to the subject of the fellowships programme, by the proposed start of the fellowship – voluntary work experience will not be counted towards this minimum
- Normally be in employment at the time of application, that they will return to upon completion of the fellowship
- Provide at least two references, one of which must be from their current employer. Any applications for which references are not received by the reference closing date will be considered ineligible.
- Not have undertaken a Commonwealth Professional Fellowship within the last five years (at the time of taking up the award)
- Not be seeking to undertake an academic programme of research or study. Academics are eligible to apply for the scheme, but only to undertake programmes of academic management, not research or courses relevant to their research subject
- Be available to undertake their fellowship from the prescribed date.
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 fellows with a disability, see the CSC disability support statement.
Further information is available on Commonwealth Professional Fellowships – Information for prospective fellows.
Each fellowship provides:
- Approved return airfare from the fellow’s home country to the UK
- Reimbursement of the standard visa application fee
- Stipend (living allowance) payable monthly (or pro rata) for the duration of the award at the rate of £1,944 per month, or £2,397 per month for those at organisations in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at 2022/23 levels
- If a fellow declares a disability, a full assessment of needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered by the CSC. See the CSC disability support statement for more information.
- Arrival allowance of up to £1,061.10 (rates quoted at 2022/23 levels), including an element for warm clothing
- Flat rate contribution of £800 per fellow to the costs of the host organisation relating to the administration and support of the fellow, setting up of appropriate meetings, any materials required, and incidental travel for the fellow during the award (to be paid to the host organisation on receipt of an invoice).
- Fees can be agreed for costs associated with fellows attending short courses/conferences as well as travel to visit other UK organisations where this forms an integral part of the Programme. Up to a maximum of £3,000 can be agreed for awards of three months (to be paid to the host organisation on receipt of an invoice). See further guidance below.
Guidance on claimable costs
In addition to the £800 fee payable per fellow to all hosts which is to contribute to the cost of hosting fellows within their organisation (e.g. to cover costs of printed materials, access to equipment whilst on award etc.) a payment of up to £3,000 can also be agreed for costs associated with fellows attending short courses/conferences as well as travel to visit other UK organisations where this forms an integral part of the programme and a separate allowance for this has not been agreed. No assumption should be made that a cost has been approved before this has been individually agreed with the Secretariat at the time of selection. Host organisations should particularly note the guidance below on specific costs that are not permitted under the Scheme.
The Following costs are not permitted to be claimed under the Scheme:
- Costs which are covered by the Host Allowance already provided by the Commission
- External facilitators for evaluation programmes. Induction/ Evaluation programmes can be beneficial but their costs must be in scale with the programme.
- Additional accommodation costs at the beginning or end of an award for orientation/evaluation programmes.
- Funds for contingencies cannot be agreed at the outset of the programme.
- Expenses that are covered by the fellows’ arrival allowance and stipend already provided by the Commission (e.g. travel to and from the airport as well as daily travel costs within the local area where the fellows are living)
- Cultural and social events
- Certificates and gifts to fellows
- Computers, mobile phones and other equipment
- Professional association membership
- Funding for MSc modules can be agreed exceptionally and only if these constitute a very small part of the planned programme.
- Bench fees and/or consumables relating to academic research as programmes of research or lab work are not eligible under this Scheme.
- Costs for conferences or any activities which take place outside the period of the award
- Costs for visits outside the United Kingdom
- Staff time including for delivering short courses
- Costs for domestic travel that are not in line with the CSC travel policy
- Accommodation costs for attendance at conferences or visits to other institutions within the UK that exceed amounts outlined in the CSC travel policy.
Stage 1: Prospective host organisations submit an application to CSC through our online application form. As part of the application process the host organisation will be asked to provide documentation to show they meet the eligibility requirements as well as a detailed description of the programme of work fellows will undertake whilst in the UK. The CSC is happy to consult and support potential host organisations with their programme outline.
Applications for prospective hosts is expected to open in April and will remain open for 4 weeks.
Stage 2: Applications from Host organisations will be reviewed by a Commission selection panel with results communicated to all organisations who applied. Confirmation at this stage allows the prospective host to recruit and nominate prospective fellows, it is not a guarantee that the organisation will be awarded fellowships.
Stage 3: Details of all programmes will be published on the CSC website and prospective fellows will be invited to apply for a programme using the CSC’s online application form.
Programme details are expected to be published on the CSC website at the beginning of July. Applications for fellows will open at this time and will remain open for four weeks.
Stage 4: Following the application deadline the fellows’ applications will be shared with the relevant host organisations. Host organisations will nominate between two and five applicants to the CSC.
This stage is due to take place between late August and early September with nominations to be received by the CSC in mid September.
Stage 5: Nominees will be considered by the CSC selection committee and the Commission will make the final selections of individual fellows and their host organisations.
Results are expected to be communicated in October/November 2023.
Completing Host Application Form
Host Applications are now open and will close of 4pm BST Wednesday 10 May 2023.
Applications must be made using the CSC’s online application system.
A representative of all organisations wishing to apply will need to register to use our online system and receive a passkey from the CSC to access the application system. To complete the full registration, please send a request to email@example.com.
In the application form host organisations will be asked to provide:
- Information on how you meet the eligibility criteria, including providing a link to your latest published accounts
- A brief statement on the mission/ key objectives of your organisation (up to 100 words)
- A brief statement about the nature of the fellowship and what the proposed impacts are likely to be upon the fellows’ return home (up to 150 words)
- Brief details of who will be eligible to apply for your programme, including any geographical, sector, partner organisation or role restrictions which might apply (up to 100 words)
- A programme of activities for the fellows whilst in the UK. Specific details, including approximate dates and duration of individual elements of the planned programme, rather than general statements must be provided (up to 500 words)
- Appropriate text that outlines the programme to be included on the CSC website
- A statement on the intended impact of the fellowships. Host organisations should demonstrate that the proposed fellowships provide a genuinely new channel of support and does not duplicate existing provision, unless clear evidence can be provided that current demand is unmet. Applications should also state:
- The extent to which the programme will enhance and give experience to professionals whose work supports the six CSC development themes.
- the extent to which the fellowship will have a ‘catalytic effect’, both within the fellows’ home countries and in developing continuing links with the UK
- the extent to which the proposed fellowships will ensure the transfer of skills relevant to the needs of a Commonwealth low and middle income country
- the extent to which those skills are likely to be utilised to the benefit of the home country following the fellowship
- the extent to which the application differs/builds upon or develops any previous application(s), if applicable (Up to 500 words)
- Impact of past fellowships (only for host organisations that have hosted previously) (up to 500 words)
- Information on any short course, conference or other fees that you would like the Commission to consider
You will also be asked to submit the following support documents:
- A link to or an upload of your organisation’s policy on safeguarding
- A letter on the organisation’s headed paper providing the following information:
- Full name and email address of the person who is authorised by the organisation to make the application and full name and email address of the person who will act as the main contact for the CSC should the fellowship go ahead
- Details of the status of the organisation (for example public body or charity)
- A link to the organisation’s latest accounts registered at Companies House and/or with the Charity Commission (UK universities and NHS Trusts do not need to provide this information)
- Details of any funding the organisation receives from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
Applications will be assessed on the extent to which the proposed fellowship will ensure the transfer of skills relevant to the six CSC development themes. Prospective hosts should consider how their work and the experience fellows will received will enhance various areas of work in this area – for example through advocacy, health, public policy or laws.
Applications are also considered according to the following selection criteria:
- Quality and relevance of the programme
- Development impact
- Candidate potential
For full details see the Selection Criteria for Assessment of Applications.
Roles and responsibilities
The CSC and its Secretariat at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) are responsible for selecting candidates and administering the scheme, including:
- Liaising with the host organisation about the dates and details of the fellowship
- Notifying successful fellows that they have been provisionally selected (selected for an award subject to the CSC agreeing terms of admission with the host organisation)
- Issuing a formal Notification of Award (NoA) and Confirmation of Award (CoA) to each fellow outlining the terms and conditions of the award
- Issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the fellows’ Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa application on behalf of the host organisation (with the ACU as the sponsoring body). The CSC cannot guarantee that fellows will be able to obtain a visa for the UK
- Managing the process for the booking of a return flight to the UK for each fellow
- Making all payments to fellows and to host organisations
Host organisations will be responsible for establishing a suitable programme of activities and the day-to-day supervision of the fellows, including:
- Verifying the identity and good standing of the fellows they nominate
- Confirming that the fellows they nominate have the qualifications and experience that they claim and that these are appropriate to the programme they plan to undertake
- Appointing a ‘mentor’ within their organisation who will act as a first point of contact for the fellows and giving clear information to the fellows about who within the host organisation will be responsible for them and the programme of activities on a day-to-day basis
- Providing information and assistance to the fellows and ensuring that they are able to secure suitable accommodation in advance of their arrival to the UK for the tenure of their fellowship (if possible arranging accommodation for the Fellows in advance of their arrival, recognising how difficult this will be for them to arrange).
- Assisting the ACU with it’s visa compliance responsibilities by carrying out the initial right to work checks when fellows arrive in the UK and reporting any change in fellows circumstances to the ACU. Host Organisations will be sent a document setting out their and the ACU’s responsibilities in this regard, which must be signed and returned.
- Providing a report evaluating the fellowships within six weeks of the end of the Fellowship. In addition, each fellow will be expected to produce their own report on the Fellowship, commenting on both the appropriateness of the arrangements and the likely impact of the award.
Full details of roles and responsibilities are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the host and the CSC. The CSC will share a copy of the MoU at the application stage on request of the host organisation.
Commonwealth professional fellows require a Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa to come to the UK for their award and must meet all relevant immigration requirements. All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and are subject to change at any time. The CSC has no control over these regulations.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which provides the CSC Secretariat, acts as the Temporary Work visa sponsor on behalf of the CSC.
In accordance with immigration regulations, sponsorship duties relating to record keeping, monitoring, and reporting of fellows must be completed. While the ACU (on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) is responsible for assigning Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) and submitting reports to UK Visas and Immigration. Host organisations are required to assist in these activities as per the host organisations’ obligations below. Failure on the part of the host organisation to provide the ACU with the required documentation and to report relevant details may result in the loss of the ACU’s Temporary Work visa licence and ability to sponsor fellows’ visas. Host organisations will be sent a document setting out their and the ACU’s responsibilities in this regard, which must be signed and returned.
Commonwealth professional fellows must provide the following documents before the ACU (acting on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):
- Visa information form
- Award acceptance form (signed)
- Copy of passport personal details page
The CSC Secretariat will send the details of the assigned CoS to the fellow by email, to enable them to make their visa application, and will keep a copy on file.
After a CoS has been assigned, fellows must provide copies of the following documents to the CSC Secretariat:
- UK visa, before they travel to the UK
- Passport entry stamp and/or a used boarding pass and checked baggage receipt, at the end of their fellowship and if they travel outside the UK during their fellowship
Host organisations’ obligations
Host organisations must provide the following documents before the ACU (acting on behalf of the CSC Secretariat) will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the fellows:
- Signed Memorandum of Understanding
- Signed host agreement form
- Detailed programme information
- A completed UK work locations form
Once a fellow has arrived in the UK, host organisations are required to verify original immigration documentation. This must be completed immediately following the fellow’s arrival to the UK and before the fellow commences their fellowship. The following documents must be provided to the CSC Secretariat within 24 hours of the fellow’s start date in the UK:
- Copy of passport biometric page
- Copy of UK visa and date of entry stamp
- UK lodging address and telephone number(s). If the fellow arrives late (including if they miss a flight or if there are visa delays), change of circumstances form.
Host organisations are also required to monitor a fellow’s attendance whilst they are in the UK and inform the ACU immediately of any changes in a fellow’s circumstances – for example, early homeward departure, change or addition of work sites in the UK, absences from work (including authorised absences), and/or changes to contact details. When required, the ACU will be responsible for submitting reports of these changes to UK Visas and Immigration as detailed below.
Reporting to UK Visas and Immigration
Once a fellow has been issued with a CoS and while they are in the UK, the ACU is required to report to UKVI within ten working days if:
- The fellow does not start the programme within 28 days on their expected start date, or valid from date on their visa (whichever is later). This includes if the fellow misses a flight and will be arriving at a later date agreed by the host organisation.
- The fellow is absent from their work location. The ACU requires details of all absences; however, only unauthorised absences of 10 working days or more will be reported to UKVI.
- The fellowship finishes before the end date stated on the CoS (e.g. if the fellow withdraws, has their fellowship withdrawn, or finishes their programme early).
- The fellow defers their fellowship.
- The fellow no longer requires sponsorship under the Temporary Work visa (e.g. if they switch to a different visa type).
- There are any significant changes to the fellow’s circumstances (e.g. a change of work location, passport details, etc).
- There is any information which suggests that the fellow is in breach of the conditions of their visa (including engaging in criminal activity)
Travel outside the UK during the fellowship
Commonwealth Professional Fellowships are tenable in the UK only, and fellows must seek permission from their Programme Officer and host organisation if they wish to travel outside the UK for any reason. Permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
This information is subject to changes in UKVI policy guidance and the immigration rules which are available on the UKVI website. UKVI may make changes to the terms and conditions of visas at any point.
Further information can be obtained from the CSC’s Senior Welfare and Immigration Officer, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any queries about Commonwealth Professional Fellowships, please email email@example.com.
General enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships Fellowships sent to this email address will not be answered; please use the Contact us form instead.
If you wish to apply for our Gender and Sexuality Fellowship programme then please see the Gender and Sexuality Fellowship webpage.