The Bartlett


Becoming a Commonwealth Scholar

By Areej Al Medinah

The process of applying to a postgraduate programme is tough. There are multiple factors to consider such as the programme content, university life, extra-curriculars, etc. For me, while I researched about the most suitable postgraduate options according to my background and experiences, I also considered the scholarship opportunities available to fund my studies. Logistically, funding your studies and living expenses is a challenge for most of us as students. In this blog, I will share how I was able to get a full-ride scholarship to UCL, and its impact on my postgraduate experience.

What is the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme?

I was awarded the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) to study MSc Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Institute of Global Prosperity at UCL. The aim of the CSSS is to assist students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the UK. Awards are for taught Master's programmes only, subjects must be related to the economic, social and technological development of a candidate's country.

Four Commonwealth Shared Scholars from UCL: Amisha Pathak, Patrick Vidzo Katana, Areej Al Medinah and Patricia Tiimah Naya


What does the scholarship offer?

The CSSS covers your tuition fee, and provides you a monthly stipend to cover your living expenses. It is enough to cover your rent, food, books, commute and clothes. You are also provided with an additional budget for your dissertation, conference travel and warm clothing allowance. In addition, the scholarship covers your visa expenses and return flight. As a result of the generous scholarship, you can focus on your programme in a dedicated manner without worrying about your financial expenses.

However, the benefits of the scholarship are beyond the financial support it offers. As a scholar, you have a network of other scholars in UCL, in London and in the UK. The network has hundreds of international students and alumni who share goals similar to yours. You will find several opportunities to have dialogues, build connections and work collaboratively on projects that can bring an impact in your country, or in the world at large.

How do you know if you’re the right candidate?

It is best to ensure that you are fulfilling the eligibility criteria for the scholarship. The application is time-consuming, and crafting an effective application takes effort. Therefore, if you are eligible for the scholarship, definitely give it a shot. If you are not eligible for the scholarship, please look for other funding opportunities. The eligibility criteria is provided in detail here. Once you have reviewed the eligibility criteria, make sure you review the terms and conditions as well. 

Another aspect you should keep in mind is the list of programs offered by the CSSS. Make sure the programme you are interested in is included in this list. You should also review the eligibility criteria of the programme you are applying to at UCL.

Image of student in front of Portico

What is the application process?

If you’ve checked the eligibility criteria and are eligible, that is great! To start your application process for the CSSS, access the online application. When the applications open, you will have access to a portal where you can submit your application. Remember that the CSSS application does NOT have an application fee.

The application requires you to provide your personal details, educational background and professional experiences. In addition, you have to answer a few questions to elaborate your interests, motivation to pursue the selected program, and plans for the future. You should be authentic in your application. Your story is unique, and you should communicate it in the most effective way possible. Try to include the impact you have created so far through your activities, and present how you would bring a change to the world around you.

Remember to submit UCL’s application to the programme separately. Usually, you have to submit the UCL application before the CSSS deadline.

After you have submitted your application, sit back and relax. You will hear from your university about the nomination process around summer time of the intake year. This can differ and your university will remain in touch with you about the timeline. If you are selected, you will get an official offer letter before the start of your programme.

As a postgraduate student, being a CSSS has provided me with a huge network of the global scholar community as well as strong financial support. If you are a prospective postgraduate student, do check out the scholarship and apply to it if you are eligible. Good luck with your applications!

About the author

Areej is an international student studying MSc Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Institute of Global Prosperity. Being an electrical engineer and an entrepreneur, she likes to solve complex civic problems through entrepreneurship.She is a fellow at the Resolution Project, ambassador at One Young World and cohortee at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Image of current student, Areej Al Medinah