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Chevening Scholarship scheme reopens to Afghans


But only nationals living outside Afghanistan can currently apply

The UK Foreign Office has reopened the Chevening Scholarship programme to Afghans—although it is only initially accepting applications from those living outside of Afghanistan itself.

The Chevening programme, which is the UK government’s international scholarship scheme, stopped accepting applications from Afghans following the Taliban’s seizure of political control in the country last year.

Campaigners have been calling for a reversal of this decision, with an online petition calling for Afghans to be readmitted to the scheme attracting more than 800 signatures.

On 5 October, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office confirmed that applications from Afghans were now being welcomed for the 2023-24 academic year—however, only Afghan nationals living outside their home country can currently apply.

“We have concluded that prospective applicants currently residing in Afghanistan would likely face serious security risks, and financial and logistical implications, over which the UK government has no control,” the FCDO said in a statement. “As a result, we are offering Afghans, resident outside of Afghanistan, the opportunity to apply for a Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK.”

This decision will be “kept under review” for the 2024-25 academic year, the statement said.

Positive sign

Ruth Arnold, a charity and higher education consultant who is in touch with Chevening alumni in Afghanistan and has been campaigning for their safe passage to the UK, said it was “a genuinely encouraging signal” that the scholarship programme was once again open to some Afghans.

“Everyone I have spoken to in the Afghan Chevening community—including those alumni still at risk in the country—hopes that in the future it will once again be possible for applicants in Afghanistan to be considered too,” Arnold told Research Professional News.

“The Chevening programme is so prized because it offers opportunities to outstanding scholars committed to progressive leadership and change in healthcare, education and governance. Afghanistan needs these qualities more than ever, and the hope is that Chevening scholars will one day once again be in a position to help bring about the improvements which motivated them to become scholars in the first place.”