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5 Ways to Find Scholarships to Study Abroad

What will it take to afford an international education? Our friends at TopUniversities say, “Start with scholarships!”

For a large majority of those planning to study abroad, finding funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses is a major priority. I know this from the daily questions we get asked on, as well as from face to face discussions with the prospective international students I meet at our events. While of course there can never be a guarantee that you’ll find the amount of funding you want, there are lots of potential scholarship opportunities to explore. Here are five places to get started.

    1. Check whether your home country sponsors international study

    The first port of call is at home, with your own national government. Many governments run schemes offering scholarships to study abroad, in recognition of the benefits this brings not only to individuals, but also to the wider society and economy. Large-scale examples include Brazil’s Science Without Borders program, which provides tens of thousands of scholarships for Brazilian students to study abroad in science and technology disciplines, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which also provides funding for tens of thousands of Saudi students to study at top universities worldwide.

    2. Look into international scholarships offered by your destination country

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    Similarly, many governments provide scholarships for incoming international students, in recognition of the benefits of attracting talented students from around the world. These scholarships may be general (ie. open to all international students) or specific (available only to students from a particular country or group of countries). For instance, the Australian government’s flagship Australia Awards scheme (which also provides scholarships for Australian nationals to study abroad) has a particular focus on supporting students from developing countries. In the US, the government-sponsored Fulbright Program similarly provides scholarships both for US students to study abroad and for incoming international students.

    3. Search for international funding bodies offering scholarships

    Aside from national governments, there are also a number of international organizations offering large-scale funding opportunities for international studies. Notable examples include the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), which provides scholarships to facilitate student mobility within the Commonwealth countries through a series of bilateral agreements; and the EU’s Erasmus+ program, which supports student exchanges within Europe.

    4. Check what scholarships are offered by your chosen university

    Beyond these national and international funding schemes, individual universities and departments often offer their own scholarships. These include scholarships open to all students, scholarships specifically for international students, and scholarships reserved for students from certain countries. Check the ‘funding’ section of the university’s website, as well as looking into information provided by the faculty or department offering your course. If in any doubt, contact the university’s admissions office to make sure you have access to all the relevant information.

    5. Hunt for subject-specific and other niche scholarships

    Finally, a large and diverse range of organizations offer all kinds of scholarships to support international study. These include international corporations, such as Google and L’Oréal, which offer scholarships to support underrepresented groups in technology and women in science respectively. Scholarships are also offered by many different charities, foundations, societies and businesses, often with a focus on supporting a specific group of students.

These “niche” scholarships may be organized by subject/career area, focused on supporting a particular type of student (eg. mature students, single parents, minority groups), or combine several different criteria. My advice here would be to search for scholarships online from a range of different angles, thinking about your own background and personal identity, your intended course of study, and your future career plans.

Of course, finding the relevant scholarships is just the first step; you then still need to write a killer application in time for each deadline! But if you start by dedicating time to a thorough search down all these pathways, at least you’ll know you haven’t missed out on any opportunities. Taking time to identify the scholarships which best match your own situation and strengths should also give you a better chance of submitting a successful application. Good luck!


Author bio: Laura is the editor of, the home of the QS World University Rankings® and the QS World Grad School Tour. The site is dedicated to providing useful information for prospective international students, including country and course guides, scholarships and funding information, student forums and university listings.



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