Anthony Henderson

Head of Press, Projects and Politics, British Embassy, Havana

Guest blogger for Tim Cole

Part of Chevening Conversations

31st July 2016 Havana, Cuba

Chevening Scholarships in Cuba – our 23rd year

Around this time of year, I get to work on one of my favourite parts of the job – Chevening Scholarships. These provide fantastic opportunities for professionals from over 160 countries and territories, including Cuba, to go to the UK for a year to study a master’s course, fully funded by the UK Government and its partners. It’s always a pleasure, very often inspiring, for me and the team to meet dynamic Cuban professionals who are keen to take their career to the next level, and make a positive contribution in their own country.

We’ve been running Chevening Scholarships in Cuba since 1993 and are now in our 23rd year. With a bit of luck, we should send our 90th Cuban scholar to the UK this September – this will be a great achievement. Many previous scholars have achieved a huge amount on returning to Cuba. We keep in touch with them to follow their careers, and how they are putting their knowledge and experience to use in Cuba, invite them to embassy events, encourage them to develop their networks and, I’ll be perfectly honest, use their positive experiences to attract our next group of scholars.

Attracting new applicants shouldn’t be that difficult. There are plenty of great reasons you should study in the UK. Our challenge is to make sure a wide range of people in Cuban know about them.

• We have four of the world’s top ten universities, and your degree from the UK will be recognised globally. Many of our institutions have world-leading reputations for teaching and research. It’s not that rare to be taught by the academic who wrote the textbook you’ll be using!

• Satisfaction rates for international students are at almost 90%. Yes, you’ll be asked plenty of times during your master’s what you think of it, and your general experience of studying in the UK.

• You’ll be following in some pretty illustrious footsteps. UK universities and research institutions have produced over 100 Nobel Prize winners, and a study in 2014 estimated that one in seven world leaders studied in the UK.

• Want to perfect your English – the global language of commerce, science and technology? Chevening provides the perfect opportunity.

• Fancy yourself as a global citizen? You’ll also be studying in one of the most diverse countries in the world, exposing you to a variety of cultures, opinions, and experiences. You’ll meet people from every corner of the world. Inevitably, our relatively small number of Cuban scholars always attract a little extra interest on campus. One alumnus was dubbed ‘El Cubano de la Uni’ at his university. Enjoy it and take the opportunity to share your own culture more widely.

• Cuba and the UK are both cultural centres. In the UK, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Live gigs, festivals, cinema, theatre, fashion, art. All experienced in the country that produced William Shakespeare, the Beatles, Adele, Glastonbury, Harry Potter, the Rolling Stones, Vivienne Westwood, Damien Hirst…..

So, how do you get a place on Chevening? First, check you’re eligible. You can do that here.

Breaking it down to the very basics, you will then need to start looking and applying for eligible courses in UK universities for the 2017/2018 academic year. Do that now. Meanwhile, you’ll also need to submit an online scholarship application (from 8 August) to the Chevening Secretariat in London, in which you’ll state your university preferences in priority order. This online application will be assessed by an independent reading committee of experts, and also by a panel in Cuba. Some of you will then be invited to interview in the first few months of 2017. If successful at interview, you’ll have a period of time to fulfil all the other requirements of Chevening – for example the English language requirement, before departing for your course in the UK in September 2017. You can see a detailed application timeline here.

The standard of applications in Cuba is generally very high, but we’re always trying to increase the quality. You’ll be asked in your online application to describe your professional and academic background, and to answer a number of questions about your motivations, your career plan, and how you demonstrate the qualities of a good leader. One tip – please answer the questions on the application form succinctly and directly. We see too many applications that are clearly from good candidates, but who tend to write too vaguely about their achievements and future plans. So my advice is: stay on topic – be focussed and show that you have a really well-formed plan of how you’re going to become a leader in your field. Show your confidence and belief in your ability to do this. Very importantly, we’re looking for people who aren’t just in it for themselves and their career, but who are driven to make a positive contribution to the societies they live in, and who have a real understanding of the value of a professional and academic network to help them achieve their goals.

If all this sounds of interest, then we look forward to reading your application. The website will be open for applications from 8 August 2016 to 8 November 2016. The best place to get updates, and information on the application process and eligibility criteria, is direct from the Chevening website for Cuba and we in the embassy will be publishing updates on Facebook too.

Good luck, and please pass this on to any of your friends or contacts you think could benefit from Chevening.

4 comments on “Chevening Scholarships in Cuba – our 23rd year

  1. Soy Yamilé Martinez Toledo y estoy interesada en una beca de las q ustedes ofertan,soy Licenciada en Inglés

  2. Soy Licenciada en Comunicación Social y Actualnmente trabajo de Relaciones Internacionales en el Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes.

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About Tim Cole

Hi! I’m Tim Cole, the British Ambassador to Cuba. I arrived in Havana in August 2012 and presented my credentials as British Ambassador the following month. I’ve been a diplomat…

Hi! I’m Tim Cole, the British Ambassador to Cuba. I arrived in Havana in August 2012 and presented my credentials as British Ambassador the following month. I’ve been a diplomat since 2001; before Cuba, I spent 5 years in London where I worked on Pan-African policy and global economic issues and 6 years in southern Africa as Deputy Head of Mission in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Most of my career has been in Africa as before joining the FCO I ran humanitarian aid programmes in Central Africa for the British NGOs Christian Aid and Save the Children. I’m married to Clare and we have 2 children – Jonathan and Zea.

The idea of this blog is to tell you what the British government is doing in Cuba and why. If you enjoy the blog and want to read more, please follow me on Twitter.