Flagship scheme starts to bear fruit

November 24, 2000

The first study of the Commonwealth's flagship student mobility scheme for more than a decade shows overwhelming enthusiasm from former students.

How the scheme will be shaped in future years will be high on the agenda of next week's Commonwealth education ministers' conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Until the mid-1990s, there was a heavy bias towards doctorates in response to developing countries' need for PhD-trained manpower to develop their institutions.

Recently, there has been a move towards a higher proportion of one-year awards, which constitute 40 per cent of scholarships. The Foreign Office has requested a further shift in this direction for the developed Commonwealth.

Award holders who remain in higher education have a strong record of rising to senior positions. A substantial number have reached senior managerial positions (head of department and above) and the majority reach at least senior academic positions (including professors, readers and senior lecturers).

A massive 93 per cent of holders of Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan awards felt that it had been extremely or very useful. Just 1 per cent found it not very or not at all beneficial. Little difference was detected between developed and developing Commonwealth countries.

Differences did emerge when former students were asked to evaluate the benefits of awards to the economic, social and cultural needs of their home country.

Seventy-nine per cent in developing Commonwealth countries rated the benefit as being extremely or very high, the figure was 51 per cent in developed countries.

A condition of the award is that holders return to make an impact on their home country. The survey found that 92 per cent of former students were living and working in their home countries.

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