Chevening Scholarships, the UK government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and partner organisations is awarded to outstanding potential leaders to pursue a fully-funded a one-year Masters programme in the United Kingdom. The Chevening scholarship covers flight tickets to the UK, tuition fees and a monthly stipend for the scholar to cover other living expenses such as accommodation, meals, and transportation.
Why I applied for the Chevening Scholarship
I decided to apply for the Chevening scholarship because I wanted to pursue a Masters degree in innovation management. I knew the UK was the best place to immerse myself in the innovation sector because it was ranked 4th in the 2021 Global Innovation Index. My goal was to use the knowledge and experience that I gain in the UK to instil innovation within my home organisation and to support Malaysia's social innovation movement. I was intrigued by the uniqueness of the Chevening’s large global network, and was excited at the prospect of working alongside other Chevening scholars to make a positive impact in Malaysia and the world.
The application process
Anyone who is interested in applying for the Chevening scholarship should first ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria. As a mature student with 13 years working experience, I was glad to know that there was no age limit to apply for the scholarship. I am a firm believer of lifelong learning at any stage and am happy that Chevening upholds the same values.
If you meet the eligibility criteria, applicants should next check the application timeline, which differs according to applicants’ countries of residence. The entire process from scholarship application to the scholarship award decision takes around 10 or 11 months. There is only one application window per year so I would urge those who are interested to sign up for the Chevening newsletter so that you do not miss the application deadline.
All applications are submitted through an online application system (OAS). Besides providing personal details, educational background and work experience in the OAS, applicants are required to submit four essays on the topics of Leadership, Networking, Studies, and Career Goals. These four essays are reviewed by an independent committee and if your essay stands out among the other 64,000 applicants, you will be added into a longlist that is passed on to the embassy or high commission of your country for further review.
From this longlist, shortlisted applications are invited for an interview at the local British embassy or high commission. The interview sessions usually lasts about 20 minutes.
After the interview stage, it usually takes another two or three months to learn the outcome of your application. You’ll receive a long-awaited email that begins with “We are delighted to inform you…” and CONGRATULATIONS! You are on your way to the UK. A Chevening officer will then reach out to you with details on how to accept your award, apply for your student visa, and book your flight to the UK.
Advice and tips for success
The Chevening scholarship application was not a difficult process, but it is extremely competitive.Here are some of my tips to help you ace your essays and interviews.
- Use the S.T.A.R. format when writing your essays to showcase your leadership and networking skills.
- Situation – Explain the situation, issue, or challenge that you face.
- Task – Describe the task that was assigned or expected of you.
- Action – State the action that you took to remedy or resolve the situation.
- Results – Share about the results that you achieved from your actions.
- Connect and reach out with a Chevening alumni in your country to proofread your essay. I had five members of the Chevening Alumni of Malaysia to review and provide feedback on my essay and with each iteration, the essay became clearer and more focused.
- The Chevening website is rich with information, interview tips, and application guidance. Read them thoroughly and start planning your essay as soon as possible.
- Let your personality shine through. You have written a great essay, now the panel would like to know the person behind the essay. So, crack a joke or share a personal story that would make a lasting impression.
- Have a mock interview with a Chevening alumni in your country. Make sure to time your interview so that you are within the 20-minute time slot.
- Carefully consider your mode of transportation to the British embassy or high commission. If the area is prone to traffic congestion or lack of parking space, you may want to opt for a friend or relative drive you there. The last thing you want is to be late for the interview and feel flustered about it.
My experience as a Chevening Scholar
What I love most about being a Chevening scholar, having completed this process, is attending the various Chevening events that are organised throughout the year. Through these events, I have learned about aspects of the UK’s history and culture that I would never have known if I had just been a regular tourist. What’s more, I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with other Chevening scholars from different countries. The Chevening scholarship has helped me to rediscover my passion and fueled my desire to make a positive impact in the world, together with other aspiring leaders.
Pik Tze Hong is an MSc Entrepreneurship & Innovation student (2022-23). These views are the author’s own and do not represent the Chevening programme or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).