Rhodes Scholarships increase

The University of Oxford is to double the annual number of Rhodes Scholarship it awards to Chinese mainland students to eight by 2025.

The University of Oxford is to double the annual number of Rhodes Scholarships it awards to Chinese mainland students from four to eight by 2025.

It also plans to double the existing single scholarships for Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to Elizabeth Kiss, warden of Rhodes House at the University of Oxford and CEO of the Rhodes Trust, the decision to have more scholars from Asia was made “because we are really thinking about in the next 25, 50 or 100 years, how do we ensure that Rhodes community represent the world.”

The scholarship was founded in 1903 with the vision to bring young people together from around the world to have an excellent academic experience, and as a community build a better world.

The scholarship is looking for people with leadership potential, energy to make a difference and also kindness and sympathy for others, according to Kiss.

“But for much of its history, it was very much focused on the English-speaking world,” she said. 

“What’s been very exciting for me as a Rhodes Scholar is to see how the scholarship has embraced a truly global perspective for the 21st century. China was really the No. 1 priority when the trustees said we have to be truly global, we cannot be a global scholarship without Chinese scholars being a part of our community.” 

The scholarship for postgraduates aged between 19 and 25 was first awarded to receipts from the Chinese mainland in 2016, and the selection for the fifth batch will begin in this fall.

Kiss said several hundred students from the Chinese mainland applied for the scholarship every year, most from top 10 universities in China, while the number was growing steadily. She hopes more universities on the mainland will know about it and welcomes more students to apply.

She said Rhodes House welcomes students from a wide range of disciplines as “there is no one way to lead and make a difference in the world.”

In a recent talk at Fudan University in Shanghai, Kiss stressed the importance of “service learning” which connects book knowledge and society.

“It’s a powerful way for students and professors to think about the connection between academic knowledge and society,” she said. 

“When you are learning something in the classroom, you are also experiencing it in the world. It makes you think more deeply, more critically and more practically. It’s important for our educators to inspire students to think about not to be ambitious just for themselves, but to want to make society better.”

Kiss said she has noticed that many Chinese universities are now promoting service learning and those doing well in social service can be better applicants for the scholarship.

Kiss said she is looking forward to seeing “how, in the years to come, our Chinese scholars will go on to do extraordinary things.”

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