UK Varsity, MasterCard Foundation Award $27m Scholarship to African Students


About 200 African students will soon be given the opportunity to study at a leading university following a new scholarships scheme resulting from the partnership between the University of Edinburgh, UK and The MasterCard Foundation.

The partners will allocate $27 million over seven years to ensure access to education for bright young leaders who have a personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others.

Full scholarships will be awarded to 80 undergraduate and 120 postgraduate African students. The initiative will enable Edinburgh to offer opportunities to the brightest and best African scholars.

Munini Musembi from Nairobi, Kenya is one of the first undergraduate recipients. She will take her first steps in further education and shortly begin studying mechanical engineering at Edinburgh.

Munini said: “I was so elated when I received The MasterCard Foundation scholarship to study in Edinburgh. This will be an enlightening experience for us as the first cohort of MasterCard Foundation Scholars. I hope that our experiences will also benefit future scholars at the university. It was a long process to get here, but I am very grateful for the opportunity.”

The university will work with partners to recruit talented scholars with great potential but who face significant financial barriers to entry in higher education. Students will receive comprehensive support to remove barriers to study in Edinburgh.

They will benefit from dynamic extra-curricular course elements including summer schools and internships. These will help them to develop their abilities and make a difference to their countries and communities when they return home.

Africa is experiencing huge youth population growth as economic and employment growth stagnates. The university hopes to educate a new generation of African leaders who will create opportunities for others.

To date, the scholars programme has committed over $700 million to support the education and leadership development of over 30,000 young people. Edinburgh is the first university in Europe to collaborate with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme.

The announcement came as part of the university’s Africa Week, a series of events from October 3-7, highlighting the university’s partnerships and research in Africa. The university is committed to expanding access for students from around the world.

Edinburgh welcomed 583 students from 33 African countries last year. Its largest cohorts in 2015/16 included 124 students from Nigeria, 117 students from South Africa and 76 students from Kenya.

The university is engaged in multi-disciplinary research relating to Africa through Edinburgh’s four Global Academies – Development, Health, Justice, Environment and Society. Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies is a world leader of research on Africa and the largest research hub of its kind in Europe.

The President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy said: “We welcome the University of Edinburgh, our first European partner in the Scholars Programme. We are excited to work with a visionary partner who shares our commitment to ensuring that all young people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to a quality education and pursue their aspirations. I know that the university will be a tremendous resource in equipping scholars with the knowledge and skills they need to lead their communities.”

University of Edinburgh’s Vice-Principal International, Professor James Smith said: “The university shares the foundation’s vision of positive social and economic change through educational opportunities for promising African students.

“The partnership builds on Edinburgh’s long history of African engagement. Julius Nyerere and Dawda Jawara – who led Tanzania and the Gambia to independence – studied at Edinburgh, as did two presidents of South Africa’s African National Congress party.

“Our partnership with The MasterCard Foundation will ensure that the university’s legacy of educating Africans, who helped to shape their countries and indeed their continent, will continue.”

The Principal of the university, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea said: “This visionary gift shows the extraordinary global impact philanthropy can have. We understand the transformative power of education and the value of a truly diverse, international campus.”

“Together with The MasterCard Foundation and other generous donors, the university will continue to widen access to education to the most deserving students world-wide.”