Sustainability scholarships for Africa’s future leaders

Hundreds of talented African students will benefit from a range of sustainability-focused Master's and PhD scholarships in the next phase of a successful partnership.

Mastercard Foundation scholars
Mastercard Foundation scholars

Phase two of the partnership between the University and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program will offer 850 scholarships to African postgraduates from October 2023.

Two-thirds of the students will engage in online learning and the remaining cohort will immerse themselves in the University's campus experience. 

The goal is to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and networks to promote sustainable changes and a green economy in Africa.

Sustainable changes

By breaking down significant barriers to education, it is hoped that the students will go on to shape the future of their countries.

This is critical considering the profound impact that climate change has had on agriculture, health, food security, and communities in Africa, which has resulted in displacement, severe tropical storms, flash flooding, and cyclones becoming all too common.

Additionally, the collaboration will support the establishment of an interdisciplinary doctoral programme between the University of Edinburgh and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

This joint programme will support talented African academics to complete doctoral studies in Sustainability and build collaborative networks across Africa.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program provided me with a toolkit which I can draw from for life. I feel like I am now ready to go out into the world and tackle whatever challenges the world throws at me.

Aisha Janki AkinolaA Nigerian Scholar who completed her Master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh during the first phase of the Program

Historical roots

Mastercard Foundation Alumni with VC of Wits University, Professor Vilakasi and the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson
Mastercard Foundation Alumni with VC of Wits University, Professor Vilakasi, and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson

Since 2016, the University’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program has ensured that hundreds of bright, young, transformative leaders, with a personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others, have access to quality education.

The University of Edinburgh was the first university in Europe to partner with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. The institution has a rich history of engagement with Africa, with over 2,700 alumni living across Africa. 

Since launching in 2012, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program has supported over 45,000 young people in Africa to pursue secondary or tertiary education, creating a transformative network of young people and institutions driving inclusive and equitable socio-economic change in the continent.    

Every young person should have access to an education. This is especially so in Africa, given the transformational potential of its young population. This is why it is so important to us that we help break down the social and economic barriers that prevent so many bright and budding young students - who will ultimately be the world’s future leaders – from accessing quality education.

Since the Program’s establishment, we have had the pleasure of witnessing hundreds of students with a desire to change the world for the better, gain scholarships and flourish from our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, providing them with a head-start into working life. Given the critical climate crisis that is severely impacting Africa, it has been imperative for us to support the continent in any way we can.

Professor James SmithProfessor of African and Development Studies and Vice-Principal International at the University of Edinburgh

Related Links

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Phase One Impact Report 2016-2023

Applications for the 2024/2025 intake are now open - apply here