IN THIS POST
– About Commonwealth Scholarship
– Commonwealth Scholarships for Pakistani Students
– What Does Commonwealth Scholarship Cover?
– Eligibility Criteria
– Required Documents
– Application Process
– Tenure and Placement
– Academic Calendar
Pursuing higher studies in foreign universities can be rather expensive. Apart from paying the exorbitant tuition fee, you also need to bear the expenses for airfare, accommodation, food, healthcare, textbooks, and much more. However, if you want to study for free at a prestigious university in the United Kingdom, applying for Commonwealth Scholarship programmes may be your best option.
Let’s take a look at how to apply for Commonwealth Scholarship programmes, the types of scholarships available for students in Pakistan, the eligibility criteria, what the scholarship covers, list of required documents and the application process among other important information.
About Commonwealth Scholarship
The Commonwealth Scholarship, which is also referred to as the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), is one of the largest and most popular scholarship programmes in the world. It offers scholarships and fellowships to deserving students residing in Commonwealth nations. The programme is specifically aimed at students belonging to underprivileged backgrounds in middle and lower-income countries.
This programme was introduced back in 1959 and has since helped about 35,000 citizens from Commonwealth countries to complete their postgraduate and doctoral studies as well as fellowships at renowned institutes in the UK. This scholarship is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to around 800 brilliant students every year, allowing them to get an international degree while developing their professional skills in a nourishing and diverse environment – that too free of cost. This programme covers almost all disciplines covering the following 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
In Pakistan, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) serves as the nominating body for the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.
You can find out more about HEC Scholarships here.
Commonwealth Scholarship Programmes for Pakistan
These are the Commonwealth Scholarship programmes available for deserving students in Pakistan.
Commonwealth PhD Scholarships: For full-time doctoral study at a UK university
Commonwealth Split-site Scholarships: For PhD candidates to spend up to 12 months at a UK university as part of their studies in Pakistan
Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships: For full-time Master’s degree at a UK university
Commonwealth Shared Scholarships: For full-time Master’s study on selected courses, jointly supported by UK universities
Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships: For part-time Master’s study by distance learning on selected courses offered by UK universities
In this guide, we will be focusing on the eligibility criteria and application process for full-time study in the UK, as they are the most popular scholarship programmes in Pakistan.
What Does Commonwealth Scholarship Cover?
Here is a detailed account of what Commonwealth Scholarship programmes for full-time Masters and PhD study cover:
- The airfare from your home country to the UK is funded by the CSC. Similarly, the programme will cover your flight back home at the end of your award
- The scholarship programme also covers the approved tuition and examination fee of the host university
- A stipend or living allowance is also provided to each award recipient. This allowance varies as per your location
- If applicable, a warm clothing allowance is also included in the Commonwealth Scholarship programme
- A thesis grant is also provided to cover the cost of preparing a thesis or dissertation
- A study travel grant is provided to cover study-related travel across the UK and even overseas
- The charges for TB tests that students need to take while applying for Commonwealth Scholarship are also refunded
- The programme also provides excess baggage allowance subject to certain conditions
- In the case of widowed, divorced or single parents, a child allowance may also be provided if the children are living at the same address as the award-recipient in the UK
Who Can Apply for The UK’s Commonwealth Scholarship?
Let’s take a look at the eligibility criteria for the Commonwealth Masters and PhD Scholarship programmes:
- You must be a citizen and permanent resident of Pakistan or Azad Jammu and Kashmir in order to study for free in the UK under this programme
- Those applying for Commonwealth Masters Scholarship must have a first-class/first-division undergraduate degree in the relevant field of study by the closing date of applications. It must be equivalent to 16 years of education
- Those applying for Commonwealth PhD Scholarship must have a first-class degree in relevant postgraduate qualification by the closing date of applications. It must be equivalent to 18 years of education
- The candidate must not have any third division throughout their academic career. CSFP allows a maximum of two second divisions. However, the applicant must not have a second division in the last degree
- The award recipient must be in the UK before the start of the academic year (September/October)
- Those applying for the programme must not already be registered for Masters, PhD, or an MPhil leading to a PhD, at a university in the UK or have studied in the UK at the same level before
- The applicant should not have worked or studied in any developed or high-income country for at least an academic year
- The applicant cannot avail another scholarship concurrently
- The recipient must return to their home country at the end of the award
- Students applying for this scholarship must be unable to afford to study in the UK without a Commonwealth Scholarship programme
It is important to mention that each university in the UK has its own set of requirements pertaining to its respective course programmes. You must go through the official websites of your chosen universities and study their eligibility criteria before selecting your study options.
Documents Needed for Commonwealth Scholarship
Let’s take a look at some of the documents you will be required to submit in order to apply for the programme.
- Duly filled HEC online application form
- Commonwealth online application form for Masters and PhD
- Detailed educational transcripts verified by the HEC Pakistan
- Statement of purpose
- Study and research plan
- Copies of CNIC
- Domicile certificate
- Two letters of reference (to be submitted directly by the referees)
- IELTS Academic test results (if applicable)
This list of documents may vary according to your chosen study programme. Also, CSC does not require applicants to take IELTS. However, your chosen degree programme might require it.
Moreover, here is a complete guide on how to get your degree verified by the HEC that might help you out.
Application Process for Commonwealth Scholarship
As mentioned above, the HEC Pakistan serves as the nominating body for CSFP. That means all students must apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship through the HEC, which will also conduct interviews and tests for shortlisted candidates. CSFP will not accept any application directly. Moreover, HEC Pakistan also has the authority to disqualify an applicant for submitting false documents or information.
Furthermore, the Commonwealth Scholarship application process varies with the university that you choose, as they each have different rules and requirements. For example, some universities in the UK have made it mandatory for the applicants to submit the official university admission form and fulfil other requirements before the admission deadline. CSFP recommends selecting three UK universities that have funding agreements with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. The list is available on the official website for the programme.
Applications to the selected universities must be made through the Commonwealth Scholarship Electronic Application System (EAS).
Here is a step-by-step process on how to apply for Commonwealth Scholarship programmes through HEC Pakistan.
Step 1: Visit the official website for Commonwealth Scholarships, click on ‘Apply’ in the top navigation panel to access the Electronic Application System (EAS)
Step 2: Fill your form for Masters or PhD on EAS and upload the required documents
Step 3: Visit the online portal for Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and click on ‘Register’
Step 4: Fill out your personal and academic profile on the online HEC portal
Step 5: Click on ‘Learning Opportunities Abroad’ tab under the ‘Scholarship and Grant’ menu in the left-hand side panel of the online portal
Step 6: Submit your application for the chosen programme
Step 7: Wait for the HEC to conduct tests, interviews or both to shortlist candidates
Step 8: Once shortlisted, submit hard copies of your HEC application form along with relevant documents and transcripts
Please note that HEC Pakistan merely nominates the deserving and talented students to the donor organisation, which then shortlists candidates depending on their academic merit, quality of the plan of study, and potential impact of the work on the development of the applicant’s home country.
Tenure and Placement
Here are a few things regarding tenure and placement that you must keep in mind while applying for the Commonwealth Scholarship.
- You should list three universities in the UK and choose appropriate courses in order of preference. Be very careful and make sure to explain your reasons because the CSC will not allow you to change the university or course after the point of selection
- Since many courses have strict admission deadlines, you must secure admission to your preferred universities in advance of your application if you want to avail Commonwealth Scholarship in Pakistan
- This award is only meant to obtain one degree. The CSC will not extend funding for candidates who fail to complete their studies within the allocated time or wish to complete a higher qualification while in the UK
- The CSC only fund full-time study programmes, which means the candidate cannot apply for another course of study at the same time
- The programme only funds a one-year taught Master’s programmes. It does not fund MBAs.
- The CSC has the authority to overrule the preferences indicated by the applicant
- The award recipient must leave the UK within a month of the end of their award tenure or one month after the end of their degree programme, whichever is earlier. Failure to do so might result in the withdrawal of airfare and excess baggage allowance
When do Commonwealth Scholarships Open?
Applications for Commonwealth Ph.D. and Master’s Scholarships are now open for the academic year 2022-23. Candidates can apply up until November 1, 2021.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for more scholarships for developing countries in the UK, US or Germany, here is a list of international scholarships that all Pakistani students must know about.
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Disclaimer: The information mentioned above has been extracted from the official website of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and the HEC Pakistan. We will update this guide as more information about the application cycle is announced. Therefore, make sure to check back frequently.