Study fees tend to be higher for international students, but don’t let this put you off. There is a wide range of scholarships that cater to international MBA students in the UK, both from within universities and business schools and from external sources.
Most UK business schools have a set of internal scholarships that they award annually and these are generally based on merit and need.
The good news for international students is that these tend not to be earmarked for domestic students only, but rather take an overview of all candidates when assessing the scholarship contenders.
London Business School MBA Admissions Director David Simpson says the school awards a scholarship to around 20 percent of MBA students.
“They vary in amounts right up to full fees, but most are smaller than that,” says Simpson.
“The vast majority of [our scholarships] are merit based and so our scholarships committee awards these to the strongest candidates. There are also some needs-based scholarships.”
Simpson says many of the scholarships on offer for MBA students at London Business School are grouped into various categories of groups that are underrepresented on the MBA program.
For example, they have scholarships specifically for women, as well as for students who hail from specific regions around the world.
“We have a diverse range from Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, one for candidates from Egypt, a vast variety of different nationality scholarships,” says Simpson.
Additionally, according to Simpson, LBS offers scholarships for people who have served in the military, as well as those who come from specific career backgrounds.
Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the University of Warwick Business School, says her school’s pool of scholarships aims to “promote gender, geographic and sector diversity, alongside recognition for academic and professional excellence”.
“We partner with The 30% Club, which is a body looking to boost the number of women on company boards” she explains, “and award two 50% scholarships for outstanding female candidates applying to our Executive MBA programs.”
“This year we have also introduced a new Healthcare Scholarship for those candidates opting to complete our new Healthcare specialism and progress their careers within healthcare leadership.”
Warwick Business School additionally offers a scholarship aimed at candidates looking to move into a new profession.
The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School MBA Recruitment Manager Aidan O'Halloran says that “the most common scholarships international students receive for the Oxford MBA are in fact offered directly by the Saïd Business School”, via the Saïd Business School Foundation.
And there are attractive donor-funded scholarships on offer, too.
[See FIND MBA's Scholarship search tool to find MBA scholarships at business schools everywhere]
The Pershing Square Foundation offers up to five two-year full-fee scholarships, including living expenses, for top students admitted to the Oxford 1+1 program, where students combine a specialist MSc with the Saïd Business School MBA.
“This scholarship not only fully funds two years of study at Oxford,” says O’Halloran, “but also provides scholars with the opportunity to receive mentoring from world-leaders in social impact, as well as a funded trek to New York City to meet with a range of socially-minded business leaders.”
O’Halloran’s advice for accessing the full range of available scholarships is to “apply early, as the majority of schools offer scholarships in the earlier application stages”.
Scholarships awarded by the school tend to be merit-based. In that case “professional achievements, GMAT scores and performance in the MBA interview are among the factors that are used to decide the allocation,” he explains.
O’Halloran suggests applicants focus on their GMAT scores, because “the GMAT is a core component of the decision making process. The more time spent on practice, the better the score applicants are likely to achieve”.
Researching external MBA scholarships
Many UK business schools list some external scholarships on their websites, but it’s hard for schools to keep track of all the possibilities available to a diverse pool of applicants coming from around the world.
The University of Oxford has an online scholarship search tool that helps applicants to locate potential funding sources based on their profiles.
David Simpson at the London Business School says that applicants need to spend time researching scholarships in their countries and regions.
“I’d advise everybody to do local research,” he says “and, perhaps most importantly, speak to students and alumni from your region and ask how they funded their MBA and whether they know of any channels.”
Simpson says making the most of yours and the school’s network is key.
“Use the research that other people have done as well as looking at websites to see what’s out there.”
Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships
The UK government runs an awards scheme for international students that could be a good fit for some MBA applicants.
“I would encourage international MBA applicants to consider applying to Chevening, which is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders,” says Karen Barker at the University of Warwick Business School.
Chevening Scholarships and Fellowships are awarded every year to students personally selected by British Embassies and High Commissions around the world. Applications dates and processes depend on which embassy or high commission you apply to, so remember to check out the details with your nearest British diplomatic office online.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If the beginning of your MBA studies is approaching and you’re struggling to piece together funding, most university business schools have a financial aid office where staff can help you explore options you might not have though of.
Aidan O'Halloran at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School says that being honest in your communication with your business school will help get you the support you need.
“The [Oxford Saïd Business] School has teams of people who are available to help guide students in their search for funding, including the option to apply for small financial need bursaries that can help students make ends meet.”
“It is also wise to communicate with previous MBA alumni,” he says, “as they can provide guidance on how they were able to pull together funding in order to join the MBA.”
Image: Approaching London by Trey Ratcliff CC BY 2.0 (cropped)