A new scholarship programme offers 200 places for students from African countries to study at the University of Edinburgh.
The scheme was developed between the University and the MasterCard Foundation. It offers a gross amount of $27 million in scholarship funding to international students from countries around Africa.
The new package of scholarships ensures access to education for young African people who have demonstrated academic talent and proved they have a personal commitment to changing life around them and improving the lives of others.
Over the next seven years, the University of Edinburgh will provide 80 undergraduate and 120 postgraduate students with full scholarships, including accommodation costs, living costs, travel and tuition fees.
60 scholars from the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program institutions will also be able to participate in online distance learning masters programmes offered by the University of Edinburgh.
The University has long-standing connections with African academia, with many notable alumni and one of the first African Studies Centres. In 2015/16, 538 students from 33 African countries were admitted to the University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh joins 23 other institutions of higher learning worldwide in partnering with MasterCard to provide this boost to African students.
Anna Miller, Program Manager of Education and Learning at the MasterCard Foundation, told The Student: “We’re very excited to collaborate with the University of Edinburgh, a world-class institution with a long history of educating vibrant leaders in medicine, the arts and civil society from the African continent.
“For MasterCard Foundation scholars, this is not only an opportunity to receive a quality education, but an opportunity to be a part of a movement of young leaders who will create change that matters within their communities and usher in a new era of inclusive prosperity,” Miller continued.
Miller highlighted the criteria by which scholars are chosen, and the rigorous process they go through. “They are not only selected on the basis of their academic prowess, but also on the basis of the promise they have shown as next-generation leaders who give back to their communities,” she said.
Munini Musembi, from Nairobi, Kenya, is one of the first undergraduate scholars to take advantage of this scheme. She began her studies in Mechanical Engineering at Edinburgh this semester.
Speaking to The Student, Musembi said: “I was ecstatic when I got the news about the MasterCard scholarship because for me it was the only way I could finance my education in the University of Edinburgh.
“I got the news for the scholarship before I got an unconditional offer from the university when Derek MacLeod [Assistant Head of Recruitment & Development at the University of Edinburgh] sent me an email telling me that the MasterCard Scholarship Panel had been very impressed with my application.”
Musembi also spoke about the many worries she experienced when moving to Edinburgh. “I was anxious when I left Kenya because I felt like I would be overwhelmed with settling in and my classes.
“However, I settled in seamlessly due to support from the MasterCard team, the university of Edinburgh staff and my personal tutor Dr Dong-hyuk Shin,” Musembi said.
She also spoke to The Student about some of her favourite things she has discovered in Edinburgh thus far.
“The best experience for me is the flexibility in my degree program. I am studying for a degree in Mechanical Engineering and taking electives in psychology and programming. […] being able to pursue it alongside engineering is an opportunity I cherish.”
Musembi also has bright plans for her and her home country’s future: “Now that I am in Edinburgh I get to interact with people from other parts of the world and I get to see and hear their views about Africa.
“These first and third person perspectives will enable me to identify problems affecting various African countries and then gain the knowledge and skills to come up with solutions for these problems.” Musembi said.
“I also see that being part of the large MasterCard family will provide the best network to work with fellow students from Africa and hopefully we can implement the much needed change that can benefit our families and fellow countrymen.”
Image: Sam Ellis Whitedog Photography