Funded by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to gain the knowledge and skills required for sustainable development, and are aimed at those who could not otherwise afford to study in the UK. They offer PhD scholars studying at eligible universities across the Commonwealth the opportunity to conduct research at an institute in the UK for 12 months.
Purpose: To widen access to UK equipment and expertise for high quality doctoral candidates from low- and middle-income Commonwealth countries, and to contribute to UK and Commonwealth higher education and research through collaboration and partnerships.
Intended beneficiaries: High-quality graduates whose proposed research has a developmental focus and who have the potential to become influential teachers or researchers in their home countries.
Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships are offered under six CSC Development themes.
How to apply
Applications for Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships for the 2023/24 academic year are now closed.
Candidates can expect to be notified of the outcome of their application in July 2023.
Candidates must apply to study at a UK university which has a part funding agreement with the CSC. Part funding agreements are at the discretion of individual universities. For a list of universities that have agreed to part fund Commonwealth Scholarships, visit the UK universities with part funding agreements page on the CSC website.
Candidates are advised to complete and submit applications as early as possible, as the online application system will be very busy in the days leading up to the application deadline.
Applications must include supporting documentation to be eligible.
Note that candidates are required to collect references and supporting statements, on institution letterhead or an email clearly showing the sender’s details, from referees and proposed supervisors in the UK and then upload them in PDF format to the application system with their other supporting documentation. This is a change from previous years when referees and supervisors would receive a separate email requesting their references and supporting statements.
The references and supporting statements must be uploaded to the application system by the application deadline. We are unable to accept references and supporting statements any other way or after this date.
Candidates must upload the following documents with their application:
- Proof that the applicant is a citizen or has refugee status in an eligible Commonwealth country: a copy of a valid passport (or national ID card) showing a photograph, date of birth, and country of citizenship
- Full transcripts detailing all higher education qualifications, including to-date transcripts for any courses currently being studied, with certified translations if not in English
- References from at least two individuals on institutional letterhead
- Supporting statement on institutional letterhead from a proposed supervisor in the UK from at least one of the institutions named on the application form
- Supporting statement on institutional letterhead from the current supervisor at the home university
If any of the required documentation is not provided by the closing date, the application will be considered ineligible.
Candidates can also upload any university admissions letter held for their chosen courses.
The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted by nominating agencies or outside the online application system.
Please note that the CSC does not charge candidates to apply for any of its Scholarships or Fellowships through its online application system, and it does not charge organisations to nominate candidates.
To apply for these Scholarships, prospective Scholars must:
- 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 an eligible Commonwealth country
- Be registered for a PhD at a university in an eligible Commonwealth country by the time your Scholarship starts (September 2023)
- Ensure that an institutional or departmental link exists between your home university and your proposed UK university. This link must be greater than simply a collaboration between individuals – see section on ‘Tenure and placement’ for further details. Both supervisors must provide a supporting statement which provides further details of the link to ensure your application is eligible.
- Be available to start your academic studies in the UK in September 2023
- By September 2023, hold a first degree of at least upper second class (2:1) honours standard, or a lower second class degree and a relevant postgraduate qualification (usually a Master’s degree)
- Be unable to afford to study in the UK 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 fellows 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 guidance on reporting fraud.
The CSC is committed proactively to safeguard and promote the welfare of our beneficiaries, and to protect its staff, Commissioners, beneficiaries and all those with whom the CSC comes into contact. The CSC requires staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Applicants should note the CSC’s Safeguarding Policy which sets out the obligation for staff, members of the Commission, applicants for and recipients of CSC awards and suppliers to act consistently with its requirements for safeguarding. Any safeguarding concerns should be reported to the Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that only candidates from the eligible countries listed below can apply for Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships in 2023/24.
Papua New Guinea
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Completing the application form
In the application form, candidates are asked to:
- List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained
- List up to 10 publications and prizes
- Provide details of employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme to be undertaken in the UK
- Provide a statement on how previous work experience is relevant to the proposed Scholarship
- List names and positions of three referees who are qualified to comment on both the candidate’s capacity to benefit from the proposed Scholarship in the UK and the candidate’s ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One of your referees must be a current employer (if applicable)
- Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts.
In the first part you should explain how your proposed Scholarship relates to:
- development issues at the global, national, and local level
- development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector
In the second part you should explain how you intend to apply your new skills once your Scholarship ends.
In the third part you should outline what you expect will change in development terms following your Scholarship, including:
- the outcomes that you aim to achieve
- the timeframe for their implementation
- who the beneficiaries will be
In the fourth part you should:
- write about how the impact of your work could be best measured
- confirm what your award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the Scholarship programme
- confirm what your career plans are for the 5 years following your Scholarship
- confirm your long-term career plan
- provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which your personal background has encouraged you to want to make an impact in your home country. You should indicate areas in which you have already contributed, such as having overcome any personal or community barriers to your chosen career
- summarise the ways in which you have engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities you have had to demonstrate leadership
- provide a scan of your passport or national identity card
Applications will be considered according to the following selection criteria:
- Academic merit of the candidate
- Quality of the plan of study
- Potential impact on the development of the candidate’s home country
For further details, see the Commonwealth Scholarships 2023 selection criteria.
Tenure and placement
- Scholarships are tenable for a 12-month period of study at any approved UK university or higher education institution with which the CSC has a part funding agreement (as mentioned previously) for a specific programme of research.
- Your final qualification will be awarded by your home country university, not your proposed UK university. This Scholarship will not support your period of study at your home country university. Funding will not be extended to enable candidates to complete a qualification in addition to or higher than that for which the selection was made nor for study towards a PhD at a UK institution. Awards are made in respect of full-time study only and no other course of study may be undertaken at the same time.
- Your application must be made in the context of an institutional or departmental link between your home university and your proposed UK university already in operation or currently under negotiation. This link must be greater than simply a collaboration between individuals. It is very important that both your supervisor in your home country and your proposed supervisor in the UK provide supporting statements that highlight current institutional links and collaboration. Applications without both statements will be considered ineligible.
- The 12-month period of study in the UK supported by the Scholarship can be divided into a maximum of two periods of study. If divided into two periods, a maximum of 12 months between periods in the UK is permitted. Usually, you would be expected to spend a period of at least 6 months in your home country between visits to the UK. If less than 6 months is required between visits, further justification as to why this would be beneficial will be required in your study plan.
- The CSC would not normally fund a Split-site Scholarship during the first 6 months of PhD registration, to ensure that the direction of the PhD has already been established in conjunction with your home supervisor. If you choose to apply for a Scholarship within the first 6 months of your PhD registration, you will need to justify why this would be beneficial in your study plan. Otherwise, the 12-month period of study in the UK can be taken at any stage during your PhD study, providing this is justified in your study plan.
- If you have not already started your PhD at the time of your application, you will only be eligible to spend a maximum of six months in the UK in your first year of study.
- Split-site Scholarships are intended to provide access to specific expertise or equipment that would not otherwise be available in your home country. Applications clearly demonstrating the specific value of studying in the UK to your research will be looked upon favourably, as well as how your work will support ongoing research links. Applications that include a significant proportion of activity such as literature reviews or desk research are unlikely to be supported.
- The CSC will make the final decision on institution of study and reserves the right to overrule any preferences indicated by the candidate. The CSC will consider the suitability of the course and its value for money when deciding on any overrule. The CSC will not change the university of a provisionally selected candidate after the point of selection unless exceptional information becomes available that could not have been foreseen at the time of application.
Each Scholarship provides:
- Approved airfare from your home country to the UK and return at the end of your award (the CSC will not reimburse the cost of fares for dependants, nor the cost of journeys made before your award is confirmed)
- Approved tuition fees: full fees are covered by agreement between the CSC and the UK university, and Scholars are not liable to pay for any part of the tuition fee
- Stipend (living allowance) at the rate of £1,236 per month, or £1,516 per month for those at universities in the London metropolitan area (rates quoted at current levels)
- Warm clothing allowance, where applicable
- Study travel grant towards the cost of study-related travel within the UK or overseas
- If you are widowed, divorced, or a single parent, child allowance of £529 per month for the first child, and £131 per month for the second and third child under the age of 16, if you are accompanied by your children and they are living with you at the same address in the UK
The CSC’s family allowances are intended to be only a contribution towards the cost of maintaining your family in the UK. The true costs are likely to be considerably higher, and you must be able to supplement these allowances to support any family members who come to the UK with you.
If you share that you have a disability, a full assessment of your needs and eligibility for additional financial support will be offered by the CSC.
For more information, see the Handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
Please note that the conditions outlined in the Handbook are subject to change.
- A Commonwealth Scholarship covers fees, approved fares, and personal maintenance. Other scholarships, awards, or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.
- For the CSC to administer your application effectively and efficiently after you have submitted, it will be necessary to create a record in your name. If you are nominated for an award to the CSC, your details will be kept on file. Basic anonymised demographic data for all applicants will be kept for analytical research. The CSC is committed to protecting your personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about you and what we do with it. To find out more, see our privacy notice.
- If your application is successful, the CSC will notify you that you have been provisionally selected (selected for an award subject to the CSC agreeing your terms of admission to the university)
- The CSC does not require any candidates to take an IELTS (English language) test. You should note, however, that as a further condition of award, you may be required by your university to provide evidence of a particular level of English language proficiency.
- The CSC will not be able to offer you a Scholarship if it would contravene the terms and conditions of another Scholarship that you have previously held.
- When terms of admission to the university have been agreed, the CSC will send you a Notification of Award (formal offer of a Scholarship).
- When all conditions of the Notification of Award have been met, the CSC will send you a formal Confirmation of Award.
- You will be required to submit a Health and Disability Form before your Confirmation of Award can be issued.
- You will be required to sign an undertaking to return to your home country as soon as possible after the end of your award.
- You are expected to start your award on the date stated in your Notification of Award.
- If you require a Student visa to come to the UK to study, you must meet all relevant immigration requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration. You should check the UK website for updated information.
- All UK immigration regulations are set by UK Visas and Immigration and are subject to change. The CSC has no control over these regulations.
- You will be selected for an award based on the plan of study outlined on your application form, which is not expected to change significantly during your award. Any such changes must be agreed by the CSC.
- You are expected to reside in the UK throughout your award, and to seek approval from the CSC in advance for any overseas travel.
- You must not undertake paid employment during your award without approval from the CSC in advance.
- Collaboration is a feature of doctoral research. The CSC expects that participants in collaborative projects will develop a collaborative agreement to clarify the contributions and rights of each partner. The CSC will not get involved in negotiating an exploitation agreement, but will need to be assured that an arrangement acceptable to all parties exists. Arrangements should be made to identify, protect, and value any arising intellectual property and to secure a suitable return to the institution and the investigators through exploitation. The CSC considers the intellectual property ownership to lie initially with the student; however, many universities have their own locally applicable policy. In many cases, it is in the best interest of a student for ownership to be vested with the university, which will have greater negotiating powers and will be likely to be able to seek the best returns in any exploitation agreement. Award holders are expected to notify the CSC when CSC-funded intellectual property is exploited.
- The CSC cannot provide a letter of support or permission for you to remain in the UK after your award to enable you to work, complete your PhD or undertake postdoctoral study.
- You are not eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship if you; are an employee, a former employee, or relative of an employee of the Government of the United Kingdom; or a staff member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities or the British Council; or a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner, former Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner or a relative of a Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner. Former employees of the organisations listed above are eligible to apply three years after ceasing their employment with them.
- In line with the UK Bribery Act 2010, any applicant convicted of bribery will be banned from reapplying for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowship for a period of up to five years.
- Applicants and Scholars will be expected to abide by the Commission’s Code of Conduct for Award Holdersand Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.
- The CSC is committed to administering and managing its Scholarships and Fellowships in a fair and transparent manner. For more information, see the CSC anti-fraud policy and procedure and the FCDO guidance on reporting fraud.
- All conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices and are subject to change by the CSC.
For more information, see the Handbook for Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows. Please note that the conditions outlined in the Handbook are subject to change.
For general enquiries about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships; please use the Contact us form.