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Overseas Students: Scholarships

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the 2006 review of Chevening scholarships which he has placed in the Library was the same review of scholarship funding to which he referred in his written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships. (202691)

The 2006 review of Chevening scholarships was the first of several reviews which led to the changes in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) scholarships announced by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 March. There was an external review of Marshall scholarships completed in February 2007 and a formal internal review of Chevening fellowships completed in September 2007. In the context of the development of its new strategic framework, the FCO looked again at scholarship and fellowship funding in late 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, whether he has undertaken separate assessments of the Chevening, Commonwealth and Marshall scholarship programmes. (202692)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, several reviews led to the changes in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) scholarships. There was a review of Chevening scholarships in 2006, an external review of Marshall scholarships completed in February 2007 and a formal internal review of Chevening fellowships completed in September 2007. In the context of the development of its new strategic framework, the FCO looked again at scholarship and fellowship funding in late 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written Ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-24WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, what comparative analysis he has made of his Department’s engagement with alumni of his Department’s scholarship schemes, including (a) Commonwealth scholarships, (b) Chevening and (c) Marshall programmes; and whether his remarks in the statement on this matter related to all three schemes. (202986)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, we have not consistently done enough to build the personal relationships with the scholars which we need to get the most out of these schemes. This applies to all three schemes, and as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also said, we are working hard to improve the ways in which we build links with scholars right from the start of the selection process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written Ministerial statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-24WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarships and fellowships, whether his statement, that his Department had pursued high numbers of scholars which had sometimes reduced focus on quality, applied to each scholarship and fellowship scheme. (203004)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, we found a number of weaknesses in our scholarship schemes. But those weaknesses did not apply equally to all our schemes. The pursuit of numbers, which sometimes led to a reduced focus on quality, is a point which applied to the selection of some Chevening scholars.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his statement of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 22-4WS, on FCO scholarships and fellowships, that his Department has not always maintained contact with alumni, applied equally to (a) Commonwealth, (b) Chevening and (c) Marshall scholarships. (203307)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, Official Report, columns 22-24WS), we have not consistently done enough to build the personal relationships with the scholars which we need to get the most out of these schemes. This applies to all three schemes, but as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also said, we are working hard to improve the ways in which we build links with scholars right from the start of the selection process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has assessed the steps taken by the (a) Commonwealth scholarship, (b) Chevening scholarship and (c) Marshall scholarship programmes in maintaining contact with alumni. (203308)

The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) maintains good contact with Commonwealth scholarship alumni and we would like to work with the CSC to develop links between Chevening and Commonwealth alumni. The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and our US posts maintain good contact with Marshall alumni through the Association of Marshall Scholars in the US. In recent years we have done much to re-establish links with Chevening alumni. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 13 March, we are working hard to improve the ways in which we build links with all scholars right from the start of the selection process.