Gates Cambridge Scholarship: Application Open

By | September 2, 2021
Gates Cambridge Scholarship: Application Open

Overview of the Scholarship

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme was established in October 2000 by a donation of US$210m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. Approximately two-thirds of these awards will be offered to PhD students, with approximately 25 awards available in the US round and 55 available in the International round.

The selection criteria are:

  • outstanding intellectual ability
  • reasons for choice of course
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • leadership potential

Scholarship Structure

A Gates Cambridge Scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge. It also provides additional, discretionary funding.

Core components

  • the University Composition Fee at the appropriate rate*
  • a maintenance allowance for a single student (£17,848 for 12 months at the 2021-22 rate; pro rata for courses shorter than 12 months) – for PhD scholars the award is for up to 4 years
  • one economy single airfare at both the beginning and end of the course
  • inbound visa costs & the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge

* The University Composition Fee varies for different types of students; applicants should see the Graduate Studies prospectus for full details about precise amounts. Where a student from the European Union has been successful in gaining a fees award from public authorities they must accept this and the Trust will not pay these fees.

Discretionary components

The Trust also considers applications for several types of additional funding on a discretionary basis:

  • Academic development funding – from up to £500 to up to £2,000, dependent on the length of your course, to attend conferences and courses.
  • Family allowance – up to £10,120 for one child and up to £14,440 for two or more children (2021-22 rate). No funding is provided for a partner.
  • Fieldwork – you may apply to keep up to your normal maintenance allowance while on fieldwork as part of your PhD (the Trust does not fund other fieldwork costs as these should be funded by the University Composition Fee).
  • Maternity/Paternity funding – should you require it, you may apply to intermit your studies for up to 6 months and continue to receive your maintenance allowance during this time
  • Hardship funding – for unforeseen difficulties

If the applicant is receiving a salary or substantial other scholarship?

If you are receiving a salary from an employer or have another substantial scholarship, the Trust reserves the right to reduce or not pay the standard maintenance allowance. You should let the Trust know ASAP if you are awarded any funding towards your degree at Cambridge.

What is not covered in the scholarship?

Most costs are covered by the Scholarship but Gates Cambridge does not cover bench fees or the costs of scientific equipment or similar academic resources. The Trust expects such core course costs to be covered by the academic department at Cambridge.

Who can apply?

You can apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship if you are:

  1. a citizen of any country outside the United Kingdom
  2. applying to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study at the University of Cambridge:
    1. PhD
    2. MSc/MLitt
    3. One year postgraduate course (with some exceptions – see below)

Courses which are NOT eligible for Gates Cambridge Scholarships:

  1. Any Undergraduate degree such as BA (undergraduate) or BA affiliated (a second BA)
  2. Business Doctorate (BusD)
  3. Master of Business (MBA)
  4. Master of Finance (MFin)
  5. PGCE
  6. MBBChir Clinical Studies
  7. MD Doctor of Medicine degree (6 years, part-time)
  8. Graduate Course in Medicine (A101)
  9. Part-time degrees
  10. Non-degree courses

Important Date

STAGE DATE
Applications open September 2021
Application deadline Dependent on your course – either early December 2021 or early January 2022
Departmental ranking December – February
All applicants notified of application outcome February 2022
On-line review and selection by panels February and March 2022
Scholarships offered Late March
Scholarships accepted 72 hours after offer

Process of Application

  1. Applicants submit their application for admission and funding (Gates Cambridge and other funding) via the University’s Graduate Application Portal.
  2. To be considered for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you must complete the section to apply for admission to a course and a College place and the Gates Cambridge part of the funding section. Gates Cambridge has access to the full application for admission and funding when reviewing applications.

The admission section

In this section, you are applying to a specific graduate course and a College place. You will provide all of the usual details about yourself, your academic background, plans and suitability for the proposed course.

The funding section

In this section, you can apply for a range of funding offered by the University and associated bodies, including the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which has its own sub-section. When applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you will be asked to provide the following:

In the application form they ask:

In no more than 3000 characters (approximately 500 words) please explain why you are applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the four main criteria. Full details about how to apply, including selection criteria and guidance on completing this statement, can be found at: www.gatescambridge.org

The statement is used by the Gates Cambridge shortlisting committees to distinguish between candidates who have been highly ranked by departments on academic grounds. It helps our committees identify those candidates who, as well as being academically outstanding, possess a capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others. This is the only part of the application form where applicants are specifically asked about their fit with the Gates Cambridge programme and you should use your background, achievements, experiences and future aims to show how you would be a good fit with the Gates Cambridge programme.

Research proposal (PhD applicants only)

Gates Cambridge requires PhD applicants only to submit a research proposal as part of their application for funding. Most PhD applicants will upload a research proposal as part of their application for admission, but where this is not the case a research proposal is required to apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. If you are applying for a degree other than the PhD you do not need to submit a research proposal as part of your materials of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Gates Cambridge reference

In addition to two academic references for admission, Gates Cambridge applicants submit a reference about their fit with the scholarship.

In the application form they ask:

Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. These are awarded on the following criteria: intellectual ability, justification for the choice of course, a commitment to improving the lives of others and leadership capacity.

they also ask:

  • How highly would you rank the applicant for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship?
  • On what overall group are you basing this ranking?
  • What is the size of this group?

The Gates Cambridge Reference is used in the same way as the Gates Cambridge Statement – to reduce a large number of well-qualified applicants to those who match the Gates Cambridge criteria.

Referees are also asked how they rate the applicant for the scholarship: exceptional, strong, not strong, weak. They may paste/type up to 4,000 characters into the on-line reference or upload a separate letter.

Who should write the Gates Cambridge Reference?

This is a common question. You should definitely not ask friends or family, or someone who is unable to comment on your suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

You should ask someone of appropriate standing who is able to answer the question with authority and who understands the criteria and highly competitive nature of the Gates Cambridge programme.

Many applicants ask a current or former academic advisor who is aware of their personal attributes, others ask a current or former employer, while others ask the senior staff in an organisation with whom they may have volunteered.

These are all sensible choices, although this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some applicants ask one of their two academic referees to write the Gates Cambridge reference: this is fine as long as that person has a good understanding of your personal qualities and does not provide a third academic reference. The important point to remember is that the Gates Cambridge Referee must understand what the Scholarship is about and must be able to write authoritatively about how you meet the criteria.

Some points to consider are:

  • It is essential that the Gates Cambridge Referee is fully briefed about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, especially its selection criteria;
  • It is useful when referees use specific examples of how you meet the Scholarship’s criteria;
  • While your referees are likely to be busy, you will need to ensure they understand the need to keep the reference focused on the Gates Cambridge criteria and not, for example, rehash a standard or previous reference.

The process

Gates Cambridge uses a three-stage selection process to ensure Scholars meet all of our criteria to the highest degree.

1. Departmental ranking

In order to ensure only the most academically outstanding candidates are considered, the Trust asks academic departments in Cambridge to rank eligible applicants on academic ability only. Those who are put forward by their departments are considered the most academically outstanding applicants they have received that year.

2. Shortlisting​

Once the Trust has a list of all nominated candidates, these are divided into broad subject areas and passed to our Shortlisting Committees. These Committees look at the candidates’ entire application pack (including the Gates Cambridge Statement and Reference) and apply all four Gates Cambridge criteria in order to identify those who will be invited for an interview. Everyone who is shortlisted for the interview will have gone through an exceptionally competitive process and will show evidence of meeting the four Gates Cambridge criteria

3. Interview

**Please note that for the 2020-2021 admissions process, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they will not be conducting any in person interviews and our selection panels will make a paper review of nominated candidates for the 2021 class.**

All shortlisted candidates have a short interview to assess how they meet all four Gates Cambridge criteria and Scholars are selected after interview. Interview candidates will be sent full details of the format and arrangements. If you are shortlisted for interview you will have already gone through incredibly competitive process you will be invited for a 20-25 minute interview and, depending on where you are, you can interview either in person or by Skype. Where you are able to attend the interview in person we encourage this.

There are four broadly subject-based interview panels:

  1. Arts
  2. Biological Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
  4. Social Sciences

Each three to four-person panel usually consists of academics, a representative of the Trust and Gates Cambridge alumni.

Each interview has four main sections:

  1. Welcome and introduction

The Chair will introduce the panel, set out the format of the interview, and provide any other essential information to allow for a productive session.

  1. Gates Cambridge
    • What you know about the Gates Cambridge Scholarships
    • Your motivation for applying
    • Why you think you could be a Gates Cambridge Scholar
    • Your thoughts on the opportunities and responsibilities that a prestigious, full-cost scholarship at one of the world’s leading universities brings
  1. Academic and career plans
    • Your academic work to date – can you convincingly communicate your passion for, and the importance of, your chosen subject?
    • Your proposed degree at Cambridge – can you provide a convincing justification for your choice of course?
    • Your career plans – can you convincingly link your application for both a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and your proposed course at Cambridge to your future career plans?
    • You may also be asked probing intellectual or ethical questions, to which there are no ‘right’ answers
  1. Final thoughts and question

A chance to add anything further you would like the interview panel to consider, and to ask any questions you may have (having no questions to ask is also fine).

Feedback option*

Please note that they are not able to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Reported By: Palash Sahi


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