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Development Management MSc secures Commonwealth Scholarships at ‘end of era’

Photo of Commonwealth Scholars from earlier years with OU tutor
30 January 2019

Commonwealth Scholarships worth a total of £180,000 have been awarded to fund 10 Ugandan development practitioners to start The Open University’s MSc in Development Management in November this year.

This award extends a track record of success in obtaining Commonwealth Scholarships which goes back to 2006, and has enabled more than 100 students in Uganda and Kenya to study for this qualification to date.

It also marks the end of an era, as these Scholars will be part of the last intake of students to register for this MSc, which is being withdrawn. The final opportunity to complete it will be in October 2022.

In its place the OU is creating two new Masters: Development Management launching in October 2019 on the Futurelearn platform, and Global Development, the OU’s new in-house MSc planned to launch in October 2020.

“I am delighted we have 10 scholarships, which is five more than we were awarded last year,” said Richard Pinder, Qualifications Lead Postgraduate Development Management, in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).

“It shows that the MSc continues to be held in high regard externally, and by agencies in a position to appreciate the impact and value of what we do – the scholarships are funded, effectively, from DFID’s UK aid programme.”

Track record of success

The MSc in Development Management has secured Commonwealth Scholarships every year since 2006, bar two, in the face of increasing competition from other distance learning providers. 

Alongside the high quality of the support Scholars receive from OU Associate Lecturers (tutors), the MSc’s success in securing Commonwealth Scholarships has been built on the OU’s partnership with Kulika, a Ugandan educational trust with a commitment to developing skills in the country’s voluntary sector.

Another factor is the success of previous Scholars who report gains in skills and career advancement. Notable achievers include two former Scholars who are now MPs in Uganda’s Parliament. 

Support to indigenise

“When we started with the scholarships in 2006 one of the things we were deliberately setting out to do was to build up civil society in Uganda,” says Richard Pinder. 

“The NGO sector at that time was underdeveloped and run largely by expatriates, so the scholarships have supported indigenising the running of Ugandan civil society.”

He said the OU has also benefited. “It’s a cliché, but the encounter with these Scholars, Ugandan professionals, has really helped us develop our teaching.

“And scholarships make a huge difference to numbers and where they are drawn from. A very significant minority of our international students are in Uganda and Kenya, and most of them are on scholarships.”

The OU hopes to see the link between Development Management and Commonwealth Scholarships continue with the new Masters, said Dr Peter Robbins, Head of Discipline in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Economics, Development and Geography. 

"This era is coming to an end, but we are expanding and growing with new opportunities for students, including Commonwealth Scholars.  

“We have received substantial investment from the University in our new curricula, building on our leadership in the field of distance Masters-level education in International Development since 1996."

The deadline for applications for the Commonwealth Scholarships is 22 March 2019. Anyone wanting more information is welcome to email Richard Pinder.

Image above shows previous years Commonwealth Scholars at Kulika Uganda with their Open University tutor (second from right)

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