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Scholarships for international students | Study abroad fully funded

Welcome to this comprehensive guide to help international students find scholarships to fund their university education, regardless of level of study. This guide covers the cost of scholarships, where to find scholarships, how to apply for a scholarship, tips for application forms and how to prepare for a scholarship application

    January 10 2024
    young woman celebrating receiving a scholarship award next to her computer with her two friends smiling in the background


    When looking to study abroad, students can often be deterred by the high cost of university. However, scholarships can help to alleviate the cost by providing funding to students to help with the expense of tuition fees, accommodation, travel and academic materials.

    This guide outlines everything international students need to know about applying for and getting scholarships.

    This guide will address:

    • What is a scholarship?
    • How to find a scholarship
    • Types of scholarships for international students
    • Tips for getting university scholarships
    • Scholarships for the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
    • Scholarships for Europe
    • Global international scholarships for university students
    • Scholarships based on your country of residence
    • Scholarships for refugee students
    • Scholarships for students with disabilities
    • Scholarships for postgraduate students
    • Scholarships for STEM students
    • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about scholarships

    What is a scholarship?

    A scholarship is a financial award granted to students to help with the cost of studying at university. Scholarships can vary in amount and can usually be used to pay for tuition fees, living costs, travel costs and academic materials among other things.

    Scholarships can be awarded based on various criteria such as academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, research areas, leadership potential or financial need.

    Scholarships are open to all students including domestic, European Union and international students and can be used for all levels of university study including undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, research programmes, doctoral programmes and PhD programmes.

    Where can you find scholarships for international students?

    1. University scholarships: These are given by the university based on good grades, extracurricular activities or financial need. Universities will set their own criteria for applying to scholarships, and each university has its own list of scholarships it provides.

    2. Academic or merit-based scholarships: These are for students who achieve high grades in school, either in a particular subject or in final exams and have a good academic record or GPA.

    3. Performance-based scholarships: These are for students who are exceptional in areas such as sports, arts or music and are looking to pursue that at university.

    4. External scholarships: These come from organisations outside universities, such as businesses, charities or higher education associations. Applications to them are usually separate from any university application forms.

    5. Government scholarships: Most governments will have their own range of scholarships that will fund tuition fees and travel expenses (such as airfare) for international students wishing to apply to study in their country. Many will also be targeted at students from specific countries or regions.

    6. Country/region-based scholarships: These can come from a range of sources including universities themselves, government departments, businesses or charities and will be aimed at students from a particular country or region.

    What types of scholarships available for international students?

    1. Partially funded scholarships: Unlike a full scholarship, these will cover only some of a student’s expenses. Therefore, students may need to find other ways to pay for the rest of their university expenses such as personal savings, help from families, part-time jobs or other scholarships. Some may offer funding for only one or two years of study.

    2. Fully funded scholarships: These cover all expenses, including full tuition fees, accommodation and living costs throughout the university degree course.

    3. Research grants: Research grants are financial awards given to university students so they can do in-depth studies and learn more about specific topics in their courses. These are offered globally and can be provided by institutions, government bodies or private organisations.

    4. Work-study programmes: Some universities offer programmes in which students can work and gain experience while earning money for their studies.

    5. Undergraduate scholarships: These are awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree.

    6. Postgraduate scholarships: These are awarded for students pursuing postgraduate degrees, doctoral programmes and PhD programmes.

    How to get a university scholarship

    Obtaining a scholarship as an international student can be competitive. Here are some tips to help your application stand out.

    1. Begin by researching all the different types of scholarships available, including those from governments, universities, companies and charities for the study abroad country of your choice. Contact universities to find out what they have available, and ask teachers or counsellors at your school if they know of any.

    2. Ensure that you meet the criteria for each scholarship, including academic grades, country/region of residence, and thresholds for funding requirements.

    3. Try your best to maintain your academic grades, as you will often have to list these as part of your application.

    4. Partake in extracurricular activities or activities that are related to your degree, which can help to boost your application.

    5. Connect with current university students, alumni, school counsellors or university admissions officers for insights and guidance on applying for a scholarship.

    6. Ensure that you have all the correct supporting documents, such as university acceptance letters, proof of financial need, English language test results and academic transcripts.

    7. Write a compelling personal statement outlining your achievements, extracurricular activities, academic goals and how the scholarship will help you to develop these skills while at university.

    8. Secure recommendation letters from teachers or professionals aligning with the scholarship requirements.

    9. Proofread your application as many times as you can and, if possible, find someone else to review it.

    10. Submit applications well before the deadline to avoid last-minute issues.

    11. You can apply to multiple scholarships at a time, so keep a list of all deadlines and requirements for each application so you can stay on top of them. Remember, each scholarship is unique, so adapt these tips to fit the specific requirements of the opportunities you pursue.

    What scholarships are available in the UK?

    What scholarships are available in the US?

    What scholarships are available in Australia and New Zealand?

    What scholarships are available in Canada?

    What scholarships are available in Europe?

    Global international scholarships for university students

    Search for scholarships by your country of residence

    When preparing to study abroad, international students may find it challenging to navigate the multitude of scholarships available. Below you will find a list of scholarships organised by country of residence.

    What scholarships are available for refugee students?

    • University scholarships available for refugee students: Many universities worldwide provide scholarships, grants and financial aid to students who are refugees. Explore this guide to learn about the available financial support for students with refugee status from different parts of the world.

    What scholarships are available for students with disabilities?

    • Scholarships for students with disabilities: Financial support for international students with a disability is available from a variety of organisations, charities and universities. This guide covers scholarships for students with a range of additional needs, including learning difficulties, invisible illnesses and mobility issues.

    What scholarships are available for postgraduate students?

    For students looking to continue their studies at postgraduate level, scholarships will be a great resource to help them continue their studies. They can either help with the tuition fee costs or can be used to contribute towards research projects or academic advancements in your chosen subject.

    What scholarships are available for STEM students?

    STEM scholarships provide financial support to students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Additionally, they may include opportunities for mentorship and research experiences to enhance recipients’ academic and professional development.

    Frequently asked questions about scholarships.

    When attending open days or speaking to university admissions officers, consider asking about the available scholarships, eligibility criteria, application processes, scholarship details, duration and renewal, competition, alternative financial aids, student support services, networking opportunities, and cultural and visa aid. Be sure to adapt these questions to the specific university or institution you’re interested in for valuable insights into the available scholarships.

    1. How do scholarships work?

    Scholarships are financial awards given to students based on a range of criteria including academic merit, research proposals, nationality and financial need. These funds aim to support students to pursue their education by covering a portion or the entirety of tuition fees, living expenses or other educational costs.

    2. How to apply for scholarships?

    To apply for scholarships, students need first to find the right scholarship for their studies. They then need to complete the application forms and submit the required documents, which may include academic transcripts, letters of recommendation and personal statements. Each scholarship has its own application process, and it’s important to carefully follow instructions and meet deadlines.

    3. Where can I find scholarships?

    We can help you get a scholarship as an international student through many of our guides and “scholarship of the month” spotlights. Online scholarship databases, university websites and government scholarship portals are also valuable resources for discovering available opportunities.

    4. What do scholarships cover?

    Scholarships can cover a range of university-related expenses, including tuition fees, accommodation, books, airfare or travel expenses, and living costs. The specific coverage will depend on the scholarship provider.

    5. Do scholarships cover all expenses?

    While some scholarships may cover all expenses, others may only partially cover certain aspects of your time at university. It’s crucial for students to carefully review the terms and conditions of each scholarship to understand the extent of financial support offered.

    6. What are the eligibility requirements for scholarships?

    Eligibility requirements for scholarships are different for each award and can include academic achievements, leadership qualities, nationality, financial need, extracurricular activities and more. Read the criteria outlined by each scholarship provider to determine what you need to provide to demonstrate your eligibility.

    7. How can I find eligibility criteria for scholarships?

    Eligibility criteria for scholarships are usually detailed in the scholarship guidelines or terms and conditions provided by the awarding institution or organisation. Students can find this information on the official websites of universities, government agencies or scholarship databases.

    For our “scholarship of the month” features, we provide details on the highlighted award and what a candidate will need to demonstrate eligibility. You can also subscribe to our student newsletter to find out about new opportunities as they arise.

    8. What is the easiest scholarship to get for international students?

    Figuring out the “easiest” scholarship can be subjective as eligibility criteria and competition vary. However, some scholarships may have more accessible requirements. It’s advisable for students to explore opportunities offered by universities, governments and organisations with criteria aligning closely with their academic and personal achievements.

    9. Are there government scholarships for international students?

    Each government will have their own scholarship schemes for international students. Below are just a few of them.

    In the UK, the Chevening Scholarships and Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan support individuals to study in the UK.

    In the US, the Fulbright Program and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program offer opportunities for international students to study, conduct research or teach.

    Canada offers the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and ICCS Scholarships for doctoral students and those interested in Canadian studies.

    Meanwhile, Australia Awards and Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships in Australia facilitate study, research and professional development for international scholars.

    10. Do scholarships consider where you were born or your nationality?

    Yes – some scholarships will be specifically offered for students from a certain country or region. Examples include scholarships for Chinese, Indian, African, Japanese, South Korean, Indonesian and Malaysian students, as well as students from Hong Kong. But there are many other scholarships that provide funding for students living in countries outside of these listed above.

    11. How can international students get ready for scholarship applications?

    Preparation for scholarship applications can begin long before completing the application itself. Research where you want to study and then look at government and university scholarships in your chosen destination. Make sure that you keep your grades up and take part in extracurricular activities as these can all help to boost your application. Ensure that you then collect all your supporting documents in plenty of time and that you’ve taken all relevant tests and exams.

    12. What are needs-based scholarships?

    Needs-based scholarships are there to help students who may not have the financial means to fund their education. These will be based on things such as such as family income, assets and how many people are in the household.

    To apply, students usually need to show documents such as income tax returns, parental wages and proof of assets to demonstrate their financial situation.

    13. What documents are needed for scholarship applications?

    Although every scholarship application is different and can require specific documentation, most ask for an accurately completed application form, academic transcripts or records demonstrating scholastic performance, letters of recommendation from teachers or employers, a compelling personal statement or essay, and a comprehensive curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé detailing your educational background and extracurricular activities.

    There may also be other documents required, so be sure to read the application requirements carefully.

    14. Is there support for international students during the application process?

    Yes, international students can often access support during the scholarship application process through their university international office. These offices provide guidance on application requirements, procedures, and may offer assistance in navigating the application process. It is best to contact them directly as you start your application for specialised help.

    Students can also speak to their teachers or high school counsellors for help with their applications.

    15. Are there any extra benefits when you are awarded a scholarship?

    In addition to financial support for tuition, accommodation and living expenses, many scholarships offer added benefits. These may include mentorship programmes, networking opportunities or exclusive events to enhance your overall academic and personal development.

    16. How long do scholarships last, and can I renew a scholarship? What are the conditions for renewal?

    The duration of scholarships varies, and applicants should carefully review the terms and conditions of each award. Some scholarships cover the entire duration of your academic programme, while others may be renewable each year. The conditions for renewal often depend on maintaining a certain level of academic performance or meeting specific criteria outlined by the scholarship provider.

    17. How competitive are scholarships?

    Some scholarships can be very competitive depending on the popularity of the programme and the number of applicants. Usually, prestigious scholarships have a higher level of competition, while others with specific eligibility criteria may be more accessible. It’s best for students to research each scholarship and tailor their applications to align with the specific criteria to give themselves the best chance of submitting a successful application.

    18. What services are available for international students on scholarships?

    International students on scholarship programmes can access various support services provided by universities. These may include academic advising, career counselling and assistance with visa and immigration matters. Additionally, universities often offer orientation programmes and workshops to help scholarship recipients navigate the academic and cultural aspects of their studies.

    19. Is there a specific office or adviser for international scholarship-related questions?

    Yes, many universities have dedicated offices or advisers to assist international students with scholarship-related questions. These offices can provide information about available scholarships, application processes and offer guidance on eligibility criteria.

    20. Can I connect with alumni who have received similar scholarships?

    Yes, connecting with alumni who have received similar scholarships can provide valuable insights and advice. Universities often have alumni networks or associations that can help you make these connections. Alumni can share their experiences, offer tips on the application process, and provide guidance on making the most of the scholarship opportunity.

    21. How to write a great scholarship application essay?

    Writing a scholarship essay involves clearly expressing your goals, achievements and the reasons you deserve the scholarship. Begin by carefully reading the essay prompt and ensuring that your response addresses all aspects. Craft a compelling narrative, focus on your unique qualities and experiences, and illustrate how the scholarship aligns with your academic and career aspirations.

    22. How to prepare for scholarship interviews?

    Preparing for scholarship interviews involves researching the scholarship provider, understanding the goals of the scholarship, and anticipating common interview questions. Practise explaining your achievements, goals and reasons for applying. Dress professionally, demonstrate enthusiasm, and be ready to discuss your academic and extracurricular experiences in a concise and compelling manner.

    23. What are the deadlines for scholarship applications?

    Programmes have different deadlines, so make sure you take note of every due date on your chosen scholarship applications. Carefully review the application guidelines provided by each scholarship and plan accordingly because many scholarships do not accept late applications.

    24. Are there scholarships for community college students?

    Yes, there are scholarships available for community college students. While some scholarships may be specific to four-year institutions, many organisations, foundations and institutions offer scholarships that are inclusive of community college students. It’s essential for students to explore both local and national scholarship opportunities and check with their academic advisers or financial aid offices for guidance on available options. Additionally, some scholarships may be tailored specifically to the field of study or academic achievements of community college students.

    25. Are there scholarships open to high school students?

    Yes, high school students can start their scholarship search early, allowing them to have awards ready for their first year of university. You will often need to know which country or university you have been accepted to, so read the application criteria for each scholarship and get everything ready before you start applying.

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