Caymanians sought for scholarship

Marking the 30th year for the United Kingdom’s annual Chevening Scholarships, online registration for the one-year master’s degree program has opened worldwide for the 2014/15 academic year.

The scholarships are funded by the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, frequently in conjunction with a range of partner organizations, both private and public, and are open to anyone of any age. Since its 1983 inauguration, Chevening has enabled 42,000 students in nearly 120 countries to gain postgraduate degrees from U.K.-based universities.

This year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will award up to £12,000 to between 600 and 700 winners out of thousands of applications submitted annually, said Gillian Skinner of the governor’s office.

“I don’t think the awards are limited to the Commonwealth,” she said. “But the overseas territories are looked at as an entity. But the scholarship fund can go anywhere.”

Last year, scholarship administrators selected candidates from both St. Helena and the Falkland Islands.

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The last Cayman Islands winner, Ms Skinner said, was in 2009 – in the previous 19 years, 25 Caymanians have won scholarships. While Ms Skinner declined to identify local winners, she said many worked in government, private financial firms and law offices.

“The idea is basically to enable people to go back and take up positions of leadership, promoting good will with the U.K.,” she said.

The awards are usually for a one-year master’s degree in any subject at any U.K. university, according to a statement from the governor’s office. Last year, 700 scholarships were awarded globally.

The website, “aims to make the scholarships more accessible than ever before. By registering their interest in advance, candidates will receive alerts at key stages in the process, including when applications open, and find out more about the process and priorities,” the release stated.

This year’s application period closes Nov. 1.

While applications are welcome from any “talented professionals who are potential future leaders, decision-makers and opinion formers,” the organization especially seeks candidates in the fields of good governance; financial management; public administration and law; commercial and/or economic development; and the environment, the website reads.

“The scholarships are an important element in Britain’s public diplomacy effort and bring young professionals, who have already displayed outstanding leadership talents, to study in the U.K. “The objective of the Chevening program is to support foreign policy priorities and achieve FCO objectives by creating lasting positive relationships with future leaders, influencers and decision-makers,” it says.

Full or part-time funding is available across nine global regions including Africa; most of Asia; the Caribbean, the Middle East, Oceania and the Pacific, parts of Europe and North America; and both Central and South America.

Funding does not extend, however, to either the U.S. or Western Europe.

Ms Skinner said the awards included not only tuition, but also a monthly stipend, travel to and from a winner’s home country, allowances for both arrivals and excess baggage, the cost of an entry clearance or visa and a thesis or dissertation grant.

Chevening administrators said tuition for a master’s in business administration was limited to £12,000. Additional charges, the website cautioned, must be paid by the student.

Chevening judges generally sought “applicants with some work experience,” Ms Skinner said, “and are not straight from an undergraduate program.”

She explained that the administrators wanted candidates “with a good work ethic and that have thought about what they want to do.”

Integral to a Chevening application is also an application to the university selected for coursework by the candidate: “Researching your course before applying for a Chevening Scholarship is essential,” the website says. “Chevening selection panels will expect applicants to have a clear idea of what course they plan to study, and at which university.

“Remember that you must complete the relevant application form for your chosen universities, as well as submitting an online application for a Chevening Scholarship.”

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