African students set to benefit from $27m scholarship programme

Some 200 African students will benefit from the chance to study at Edinburgh, thanks to a new package of scholarships.

The University's partnership with The MasterCard Foundation will allocate $27 million over seven years. It will ensure access to education for bright young leaders who have a personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others.

Full scholarships will be offered to 80 undergraduate and 120 postgraduate African students. The initiative will enable the University to offer opportunities to the brightest and best African Scholars.

Munini Musembi, from Nairobi, Kenya, is one of the first undergraduate recipients. Munini will take her first steps in further education and shortly begin studying mechanical engineering at Edinburgh.

I was so elated when I received The MasterCard Foundation scholarship to study in Edinburgh.  This will be an enlightening experience for us as the first cohort of MasterCard Foundation Scholars. I hope that our experiences will also benefit future Scholars at the University.  It was a long process to get here, but I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Munini MusembiFirst Year - Mechanical Engineering


This film features three of the first group of students to benefit from the programme.

Talented Scholars 

The University will work with partners to recruit talented Scholars with great potential but who face significant financial barriers to entry in higher education. 

Students will receive comprehensive support to remove barriers to study in Edinburgh. 

They will benefit from dynamic extra-curricular course elements including summer schools and internships.  These will help them to develop their abilities and make a difference to their countries and communities when they return home.

Africa is experiencing huge youth population growth as economic and employment growth stagnates.  The University hopes to educate a new generation of African leaders who will create opportunities for others.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

To date, the Scholars Program has committed over US $700 million to support the education and leadership development of over 30,000 young people. Edinburgh is the first university in Europe to collaborate with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.

We welcome the University of Edinburgh, our first European partner in the Scholars Program.  We are excited to work with a visionary partner who shares our commitment to ensuring that all young people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to a quality education and pursue their aspirations.  I know that the University of Edinburgh will be a tremendous resource in equipping Scholars with the knowledge and skills they need to lead their communities.

Reeta RoyPresident and CEO - The MasterCard Foundation

Africa Week

The announcement comes as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Africa Week – a series of events from 3-8 October – highlighting the University’s partnerships and research in Africa.

Africa Week provides a forum for students, staff and the public to share ideas, discuss aspects of African research and take part in cultural activities at the University of Edinburgh.

Events include screenings of award winning films from Nigeria and Kenya, a seminar with James Turing from the Turing Trust - focusing on sustainable energy in Ghana and Malawi, and a workshop highlighting the use of technology to challenge poverty in developing countries.

Events will conclude with an African wine tasting on Friday and a dance showcase on Saturday.

A full programme of events can be found here.

African Students at Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is committed to expanding access for students from around the world.

Edinburgh welcomed 583 students from 33 African countries last year.  The University’s largest cohorts in 2015/16 included 124 students from Nigeria, 117 students from South Africa and 76 students from Kenya.

The University is engaged in multi-disciplinary research relating to Africa through Edinburgh’s four Global Academies – Development, Health, Justice, Environment and Society. 

Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies is a world leader of research on Africa and the largest research hub of its kind in Europe. 

The University shares the Foundation’s vision of positive social and economic change through educational opportunities for promising African students. The partnership builds on Edinburgh’s long history of African engagement.  Julius Nyerere and Dawda Jawara – who led Tanzania and the Gambia to independence – studied at Edinburgh, as did two Presidents of South Africa’s African National Congress party.  Our partnership with The MasterCard Foundation will ensure that the University of Edinburgh’s legacy of educating Africans who helped to shape their countries and indeed their continent, will continue.

Professor James SmithVice-Principal International  - The University of Edinburgh

This visionary gift shows the extraordinary global impact philanthropy can have. We understand the transformative power of education and the value of a truly diverse, international campus. Together with The MasterCard Foundation and other generous donors, the University of Edinburgh will continue to widen access to education to the most deserving students world-wide.

Professor Sir Timothy O’SheaPrincipal of the University of Edinburgh


The MasterCard Foundation

Soufia Bham, MasterCard Foundation Scholar, talks about her Road to Edinburgh

Scholar's Programme at Edinburgh

Edinburgh Global

Africa Week

Centre of African Studies


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