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Rhodes ScholarshipRhodes Scholarship

While the 52 scholarships in the original will are still offered annually, a number of changes and additions have been made. These include introduction of scholarships to the Commonwealth countries including India. Prof. Asim Kumar Datta (Christ Church, 1947) and Late Mr. Lovraj Kumar (Magdalen, 1947) comprised the first batch of Indian Rhodes Scholars. For the first 38 years, India had one or two scholarships every year. The number of scholarships was increased to three per year in 1985, and four per year in 1991

Until 1977 no women were elected to Rhodes scholarships, because the will as interpreted by the Rhodes Trust Acts of Parliament confined the awards to 'male students', when the U.K. government introduced legislation to outlaw sex discrimination a clause in the bill permitted single-sex educational institutions and charities to continue to discriminate in favour of one sex. Following lobbying by the Rhodes Trustees, a further clause was inserted into the eventual Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 allowing single-sex education charities to seek leave to open their awards to both sexes. Under this clause the Secretary of State for Education made an order in 1976 declaring Rhodes Scholarships to be tenable by women, and nullifying the effect of the words 'manly' and 'manhood' in the will.

In 1979, Shalini Randeria became the first woman from India to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, and in 1995, Ms. Roopa Unnikrishnan became the 100th Rhodes Scholar from India. Since 1998, six scholars are elected from India every year. More recently this number has been reduced to five. Unlike USA and many other Rhodes constituencies that have a "quota" for each state, Indian Rhodes scholarships are awarded on an All-India basis. However, our selection procedure involves zonal interviews (in the North, East, West and South zones) to shortlist candidates for the final interview and screening process.


Students who meet the following criteria are invited to apply for the scholarship:
  • The Scholarships are open to citizens of India.
  • Candidates must be of such an age that they will have passed their 19th and not have passed their 25th birthday on the 1st October 2011.
  • Candidates must have at least a first class degree in Humanities, Sciences, Law, Engineering, Agriculture or Medicine from an Indian University. Candidates who are in the Final year of a degree course and have exceptionally bright academic record may also apply.
  • Candidates for medical studies should consult the Secretary, as well as the Medical School Offices at Oxford, before submitting an application. Particular difficulties may arise for those wishing to do research in clinical departments.
  • Marriage is not a bar to applying for, or holding, a Rhodes scholarship. However, married candidates should bear in mind that the scholarship stipend is sufficient only for one person, and that the Trust takes no financial responsibility for the support of a scholar's spouse. Moreover, spouses who are not British citizens will find it very difficult to obtain permission to undertake paid work in England.
  • Subject to ratification by the Rhodes Trustees, the Committee of Selection for India is responsible for deciding whether candidates comply with forgoing conditions, and for making the nominations.

Selection Process

In making nominations, the Selection Committee will have regard to those qualities which Cecil Rhodes listed in that section of his will in which he attempted to define the type of Scholar he was seeking; literary and scholastic attainments; fondness of and success in outdoor sports, qualities of truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship, exhibition of moral force of character and instincts to lead and to take an interest in one's contemporaries.

Qualities of intellect, character and leadership are what the committee will be looking for in a candidate. A Rhodes Scholar should not be one-sided or selfish. Intellectual ability must be founded upon sound character and integrity of character upon sound intellect. Cecil Rhodes regarded leadership consisting of moral courage and interest in one's fellow beings as in the more aggressive qualities. It was his hope that a Rhodes Scholar would come to esteem the performance of public duties as the highest aim. Continuing physical vigor to enable a Scholar to make an effective contribution to society is as important as prowess in a particular sport.

Financial need gives no special claim to a Rhodes Scholarship. The will lays down that no student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on account of race or religious opinion.

In the absence of sufficiently qualified candidates the Selection Committee will make no nomination

Material to be submitted by the candidates

Candidates applying online may upload electronic copies of the following documents. However, all candidates for interveiw must bring with them their original certificates, as indicates below.
  • Either a School leaving certificate or an extract from an University Register signed by the Registrar, as evidence of age (attested copy only, which will not be returned).
  • Evidence of Courses taken and degrees, honours and other academic distinctions obtained. This evidence must be formally certified by Registrar or any other responsible officer of the candidate's University (attested copies of certificates only, which will not be returned).
    1. A signed essay (preferably typed) by the candidate detailing the proposed course of study at Oxford, general interests and activities, including sports and the future aims of the candidate.
    2. The essay should not exceed 1000 words and should be in simple and direct English.
    3. Please take time and write this essay carefully because it essentially forms the basis for the candidate's interview. The essay will be read not only by the Selection Committee but also by the Oxford Colleges to which the successful candidates apply for admission.
    4. The names and addresses of six persons well acquainted with the candidate, under at least three of whom he/she must have studied. Please ensure that at least three of the six referees write about the candidates academic ability and attainments. These references will be used in making application to Oxford Colleges. It is neither necessary nor desirable to include names of prominent persons in the country, if they do not know the candidate well. Such references often go waste. Instead include names of those who know the candidates well and know their strengths and weaknesses.
    5. One unmounted passport size photograph.
    6. A medical certificate on the special form provided by the Rhodes Trust, from an approved doctor will be required from the candidates short listed. The Rhodes Trustees reserve the right to cancel the selection of any candidate with an adverse report.

Selection Process Rhodes Scholarship