There are a variety of scholarships offered to widen your opportunity to study internationally. You can check which scholarships you’re eligible to apply to on websites which search for scholarships, through external organisations, but mainly through university websites. Information about scholarships is usually under the financial or admissions section of the website. Scholarships vary in value and eligibility criteria.
Types of scholarships
Scholarships can be put into two broad categories; merit-based and needs-based. Merit-based is usually based on someone’s academic record; sometimes the scholarship will ask for a specific grade to be achieved. There are also scholarships offered for people who partake in certain activities such as sports or help out in their local community. Needs-based are often based on financial situation, or are offered to encourage people of minority groups to apply. You may have to give details on your household income and if you receive any other financial aid.
Scholarships are also available based on the subject/department (e.g. scholarships for people studying science subjects) or the geographical region. This means that universities offer scholarships to people from a certain country or region of the world. This aims to attract as many different types of students as possible. Such scholarships can be needs-based or merit-based; or both. Along with scholarships, universities may offer bursary or grant schemes to reduce your tuition or accommodation fees.
Some organisations (independent from the university – such as a charity which promotes a certain subject) offer scholarships. You can apply for such scholarships directly from the organisation’s website, but external scholarships may also be listed on the university’s website. Examples of organisations which offer scholarships for international students include The British Council and CISabroad. Just like scholarships offered directly from a university, requirements for external scholarships vary.
Applying often involves filling out an application form about your details – including your chosen degree course, fee status (EU or Overseas), grades, work experience and financial circumstances. There may also be a section where you write about what you intend to spend the scholarship on, why you wish to study abroad at that particular university and why you think you deserve the scholarship. These can range from a couple of paragraphs to an essay, so make sure every word counts!
Your application may have to be supported by at least one reference – usually an academic reference (e.g. a teacher, academic advisor) who can testify that you can excel academically. The application may also ask for a professional reference (e.g. an employer) or even a personal reference. This is usually written by someone who is not related to you, but can write about the type of person you are. It is advisable to choose someone who knows you well and thinks you are a credible candidate, as they may be expected to write about personal issues relating to your financial circumstances. Make sure they know about the guidelines for writing the reference, which should be detailed on the university website.
Some scholarships require you to download an application form and then send it off. Others require to you to send an email first. To maximise your chances being awarded a scholarship, apply as early as possible, ensure you meet the criteria and look around. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
By Jessica Luong
Scholarships are not just available for special interest groups or those studying in certain subject areas. Here's more information on scholarships for international students.