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Celebrating 60 years of Commonwealth Scholarships

Published on 10 December 2019
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2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) – one of the most prestigious scholarship schemes in the world. Since it was founded in 1959, over 35,000 individuals have had the opportunity to study in another Commonwealth country, building strong people-to-people links and increased understanding and collaboration.

On Monday 2 December, friends and supporters of the CSFP gathered to celebrate 60 years of achievement at a reception kindly hosted by the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in London, UK. Guests included High Commissioners, UK Parliamentarians, ACU Council members, and members of the CSFP Support Group, as well as Commonwealth Scholars past and present. The reception was also attended by youth leaders participating in the Commonwealth Futures: Youth Perspectives workshop co-organised by the ACU, Cumberland Lodge, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the British Council.

The event also marked the 10th anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme, which offers unique opportunities to study in low and middle income countries. The scheme – which was renamed last year in recognition of Her Majesty’s service to the Commonwealth and its youth – is managed by the ACU, on behalf of Commonwealth governments.

Speakers at the reception were united in praising the impact of Commonwealth Scholarships, as well as their important role in fostering the Commonwealth network.

HE Andreas Kakouris, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in the UK, said: ‘The CSFP builds strong people to people links and is of renewed relevance and importance under the guidance of the ACU. Education in the 21st century cannot be static or monolithic – the fostering of active citizenship and the development of skills for the benefit of society is critical.

‘The CSFP is a constant reminder of what our commonwealth can deliver for our youth and it is of utmost importance that this programme is supported and expanded.’

Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth, added: ‘The statistics are remarkable, and the intangible impacts which cannot be enumerated or measured even more so. The need for the scheme is now greater than when it was established 60 years ago.

‘To live up to the true meaning of the word Commonwealth we have to plan and work for ever greater inclusiveness and equality of opportunity - particularly for young people from poorer, more remote or marginalised communities or sectors of society.’

HE George Brandis, High Commissioner of Australia to the UK and a former Commonwealth Scholar himself, said: 'The CSFP has changed minds and changed lives – it is one of the greatest things the Commonwealth has ever done, and it is something in which we should all take the greatest pride.

‘Commonwealth scholars include Nobel prize winners, prime ministers and government officials, leaders of the world's greatest universities... and of course the greatest cohort of all who've gone on to highest level of academic achievement. '

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said: ‘This is a long-held belief at the ACU, that international academic mobility – the movement of people and ideas across borders – brings benefits to both individuals and countries. We are proud to be the custodian of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, because it is an investment in knowledge and understanding, in the power of our networks, in the unquantifiable but unbreakable bonds of the Commonwealth, and in the future.’

The ACU is working with Commonwealth governments to expand the number of Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships available, through support for the CSFP endowment fund.

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60 stories of change

To mark the 60th anniversary of education cooperation in the Commonwealth, the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, and the 10th anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme, the ACU is sharing stories of how we have made an impact on the lives of individuals, communities and societies through higher education.

Find out more