Commonwealth Distance-Learning Scholarships 2024/25 For Developing Countries(Fully-Funded)

The Commonwealth Distance Learning programme is one of three Master’s programmes offered by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission.

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) provides the UK government scholarship scheme led by international development objectives. It operates within the framework of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship plan (CSFP) and offers a vivid demonstration of the UK’s enduring commitment to the Commonwealth. By attracting individuals with outstanding talent and identifiable potential from all backgrounds and supporting them to become leaders and innovators on returning to their home countries, the CSC’s work combines sustainable development with the UK national interest and provides opportunities for international partnerships and collaboration.

Purpose: Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships enable talented and motivated individuals to access training and skills required for sustainable development not available in their home countries.

Intended beneficiaries: Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are for candidate from eligible low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake part-time taught Master’s study with UK universities while remaining in their home countries.

These scholarships are offered under six CSC development themes.

 

How to apply

Applications for Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships for the 2024/25 academic year are now open. The deadline for submitting an application is 16:00 GMT on Thursday 28 March 2024. The scholarships are for study beginning in September/October 2024. 

Applications to the CSC must be made using the CSC’s online application system. 

The CSC is unable to accept any applications or documentation not submitted via the online application system. 

Applicants must apply and secure admission to study an approved Master’s course at a participating UK university in addition to applying for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship via the CSC’s online application system. 

Applicants can apply for more than one course and to more than one university, but they may only accept one offer of a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship. Please note that Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships are only for Master’s courses and not for undergraduate or PhD study.  

Please check with the chosen university for their specific advice on when to apply, admission requirements, and rules for applying. 

 

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship applications will be shared with UK universities, who will nominate their chosen applicants to receive a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship in May 2024. The CSC will then check that the applicants who have been nominated meet the CSC’s eligibility criteria. Universities will inform applicants if they have successfully been awarded a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship in July 2024. 

 

Supporting documentation

Applications must include supporting documentation to be eligible.

Please note that applicants are required to collect references, on institution letterhead or an email clearly showing the sender’s details, from referees and then upload them to the application system in PDF format with their other supporting documentation.  

The references must be uploaded to the application system by the deadline for applications and we are unable to accept references any other way or after this date. 

Applicants must upload the following documents with the application: 

  • Proof that they are a citizen or have 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 up-to-date transcripts for any courses currently being studied, with certified translations if not in English. Where any transcripts are missing or do not include all pages, the application will be considered ineligible. 
  • References from at least two individuals, in PDF format, signed and on institutional letterhead or an email clearly showing the sender’s details. 
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Applications will be considered ineligible if any of the required documentation is not included by the closing date. 

The CSC will not accept supporting documentation submitted outside the online application system. 

When completing the references, referees should be asked to comment as fully as possible on the applicant, keeping in mind the following points for inclusion, as appropriate: 

  • How long, and in what capacity, the referee has known the applicant. 
  • The referee’s views on the applicant’s suitability for the proposed scholarship and the need for the particular subject of study in the UK. 
  • Information on how, and to what extent, the applicant has shown ability in terms of capability to grasp concepts and reason analytically; capacity for original thought; and motivation and perseverance in achieving objectives. 
  • Assessment of the applicant’s particular strengths and weaknesses. 
  • The applicant’s potential to impact development in their home country. 
  • Any other general qualities which the referee considers would make the applicant a good recipient of a scholarship. 

Advice for applicants

Applicants can find general information about applying for a Commonwealth Scholarship on our advice for applicants page.

Please read and complete the Distance Learning Scholarships eligibility checklist before submitting your application.

 

Choosing a university/course

A list of eligible courses for 2024 can be found on the how to apply tab, sorted by CSC development theme.

Candidate’s may find the following resources useful when researching their choices of institution:

  • Study UK – British Council website, with guidance for international students and a course and institution search
  • Postgrad.com – information for postgraduate students, with a course search
  • Research Excellent Framework 2021 results – results of a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions
  • UCAS Postgraduate – guidance on how to find and apply for a postgraduate course
  • Unistats – the official website for comparing UK higher education course data
  • UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) – advice for international students on choosing a course of study

The CSC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

 

Applicant eligibility

To be eligible for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship, applicants 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 applicants. 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 Procedure and the guidance on reporting fraud.

The CSC is committed to proactively 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: csc.safeguarding@cscuk.org.uk

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Eligible countries

Please see list of eligible countries below as stated in the DAC list published in January 2022.

Bangladesh
Belize
Botswana
Cameroon
Dominica
Eswatini
Fiji
Gabon
Ghana
Grenada
Guyana
India
Jamaica
Kenya
Kiribati
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mauritius
Montserrat
Mozambique
Namibia
Nauru
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda
Saint Helena
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Tanzania
The Gambia
Togo
Tonga
Tuvalu
Uganda
Vanuatu
Zambia

 

Completing the application form

In the application form, applicants are asked to:

  • List all undergraduate and postgraduate university qualifications obtained.
  • List up to 10 publications and prizes.
  • Provide details of their employment history and explain how each job is relevant to the programme to be undertaken.
  • Provide a statement on the relevance of their previous work experience to the proposed Scholarship.
  • List names and positions of two referees who are qualified to comment on both the candidate’s capacity to benefit from the proposed scholarship in the UK and their ability to deliver development impact afterwards. One referee must be a current employer (if applicable).
  • Provide a Development Impact statement in 4 parts.

In the first part applicants should explain how the proposed scholarship relates to: 

  1. Development issues at the global, national, and local level.
  2. Development issues connected to your chosen CSC development theme and the wider sector.

The second part should explain how they intend to apply their new skills once the scholarship ends. 

The third part should outline what they expect will change in development terms following the scholarship, including:

  1. The outcomes they aim to achieve
  2. The timeframe for their implementation
  3. Who the beneficiaries will be

In the fourth part applicants should write about how the impact of their work could be best measured and evidenced. Applicants are also asked to: 

  1. Confirm what their award objectives are and how each of them will be met by the scholarship programme.
  2. Confirm what their career plans are for the 5 years following the scholarship. 
  3. Confirm their long-term career plans. 
  4. Provide a detailed plan of study. 
  5. Provide a personal statement to summarise the ways in which their personal background has encouraged them to want to make an impact in their home country. Applicants may wish to highlight any areas where they have already made significant contributions, including overcoming personal or community barriers in accessing higher education or within their field. 
  6. Summarise the ways in which they have engaged in voluntary activities and the opportunities they have had to demonstrate leadership. 

Selection process

Each participating UK university will conduct its own recruitment process to select a specified number of applicants for Distance Learning Scholarships. Universities must put forward their selected applicants to the CSC in early May 2024. The CSC will then confirm that these applicants meet the eligibility criteria for this scheme and universities will inform applicants of their results in July 2024. 

Selection criteria include:

  • Academic merit of the applicant
  • Potential impact of the work on the development of the applicant’s home country

General conditions

A Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship covers tuition fees and study grants where required. Other scholarships, awards, or bursaries that cover the same costs may not be held concurrently.

For the CSC to administer the application effectively and efficiently after submission, it will be necessary to create a record in the applicant’s name. If they apply for an award to the CSC, their 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 personal information and to being transparent about the information we are collecting about applicants and what we do with it. To find out more, see our privacy notice. 

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Applicant’s personal information will be used to conduct necessary due diligence checks to the CSC’s satisfaction, before the CSC proceeds with any type of formal agreement or contractual relationship. In most cases, the due diligence checks will be straightforward, but further information may be requested, so we ask for full co-operation to speed up the process. 

If an applicant does not agree to personal data being used for the purpose of conducting due diligence, unfortunately the CSC will not be able to proceed further with the application process. 

If an application is successful, the applicant’s university will notify them that they have been selected.

The CSC does not require any applicants to take an IELTS (English language) test. Please note, however, that, as a further condition of a scholarship, applicants may be required by their university to provide evidence of a particular level of English language proficiency.

The CSC will not be able to offer a scholarship to an applicant if it would contravene the terms and conditions of another scholarship that they have previously held.

When terms of admission to the university have been agreed, the university will send a formal Notification of Award letter.

The following  are not eligible to apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship or Fellowshipan 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.  

Scholars are expected to adhere to the CSC’s Code of Conduct for award holders and the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. 

An award may be terminated at any time for reasons of unsatisfactory conduct, progress, or attendance, or if registration is suspended or terminated by the university for any reason. 

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 at and the FCDO guidance on reporting fraud.

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 at and the FCDO 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 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: csc.safeguarding@cscuk.org.uk

All conditions of award are subject to UK local law and practices and are subject to change by the CSC.

 

FAQs and enquiries

For general information about applying for Commonwealth Scholarships or Fellowships, please see our FAQs page. 

For queries not covered on the website, please use the contact us form.