Learning Abroad: A History of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
Commonwealth scholarships began in 1959. They have since moved 25,000 people across borders, launching them into influence as politicians, poets, painters, professors and the rest. Their stories illuminate the sociology and politics of higher education, of the Commonwealth, and of its member countries: they include the last scholar before apartheid took South Africa out of the Commonwealth, who became a high court judge, and the first after it came back, now a vice-chancellor. Half a century of British society shows up in the record of the Scholarship Commission that made Britain's awards. Its first chairman, the son of a general, was the Lord Chamberlain, taking time off from censoring plays. His successor in 2008 took time off from a day-job as professor in a new university. Her father had left school early to look after the pigs.
This book sets out the narrative of the scholarship plan from its unlikely conception in a Commonwealth trade conference. By asking who was selected for scholarships, how, and why, it examines the policies of countries offering scholarships and those receiving them, looks at their role within the universities of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, discusses the experience of scholars as they studied abroad, and assesses the long-term impact of that experience. Three themes stand out. First, scholarship policy, increasingly now part of aid policy, has been shaped by the interplay of national politics and education. Second, crossborder university enrolments are themselves now big business and the stuff of international politics. Changes in the politics of the Commonwealth, as they have influenced international educational policy, provide a microcosm. Third, the experience and achievements of former scholars answer the evaluative policy question: was investing in scholarships a good way of spending public money?
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