The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford. It was established in 1902 making it the first large-scale programme of international scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship was founded by English businessman and politician Cecil John Rhodes, to promote unity between English speaking nations and instil a sense of civic-minded leadership and moral fortitude in future leaders irrespective of their chosen career paths. Although initially restricted to male applicants from countries which are today within the Commonwealth, as well as Germany and the United States, today the Scholarship is open to applicants from all backgrounds and from across the globe. Since its creation, controversy has surrounded both its former exclusion of women (thus leading to the establishment of the co-educational Marshall Scholarship), and Rhodes' Anglo-supremacist beliefs and legacy of colonialism.
Prominent recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship include former Australian prime ministers Tony Abbott, Bob Hawke and Malcolm Turnbull, and former US president Bill Clinton, as well as Nobel laureates.
The scholarships were established in 1902 under the terms and conditions of the sixth and final Last Will and Testament of Cecil John Rhodes, dated 1 July 1899 and appended by several codicils through March 1902.
Rhodes' motivation in establishing the scholarship can be traced back to his earlier days as a student at Oriel College, Oxford, when he "was enthused by imperial fervor" and wrote a "Confession of Faith". in which he declared his desire "to render myself useful to my country" and to advance the scope of the British Empire. The Confessions also included a proposal for a "secret society," akin to the Jesuits or Masons Rhodes wrote, whose mission was "the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule." That youthful idea was the seed of the Rhodes Scholarship.
Although Rhodes was never a serious student at Oriel College, Oxford, he maintained lifelong emotional ties to his alma mater, which granted him an honorary doctorate in Civil Laws in 1892. Rhodes received the award in person in 1899, in the same ceremony that also honored Sir James George Frazer, author of The Golden Bough.
In the final version of his will, Rhodes is clear on his intention behind the scholarships: "Whereas I consider that the education of Colonists at one of the Universities in the United Kingdom is of great advantage to them for giving breadth to their views for their instruction in life and manners and for instilling into their minds the advantage to the Colonies as well as to the United Kingdom of the retention of the unity of the Empire.":23 By "unity," however, Rhodes largely believed in a sense of cultural union, not policial unity, as he was a firm believer in Home Rule.
Rhodes chose his alma mater as the site of his educational experiment because he "attach[ed] very great importance" to a university with a "residential system.":23 He first set aside £100,000 to Oriel College for various purposes, including new buildings and to ensure "the dignity and comfort of the High Table."
Rhodes next turned to the scholarships. He specified that a select group of "young Colonists" would annually receive a stipend to study at Oxford. The Will first set aside funds for what Rhodes called the "Colonial Scholarships." For each student, he allotted £300 per annum, for three consecutive years at any College at Oxford. He specified 24 scholarships from Southern Africa: nine from Rhodesia, three from Natal, and three each from four all-male, all-white schools in the Cape Colony (St. Andrew's College, Grahamstown, Diocesan College in Rondebosch, Stellenbosch College (now Stellenbosch University), and South African College Schools in Newlands). Rhodes also included 21 scholarships from "Australasia": three each from the five Australian colonies (now the states or territories of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia), Tasmania, and New Zealand. Rhodes apportioned six scholarships to Canada, albeit only to Quebec and Newfoundland, and then three to Bermuda and three to Jamaica. The scholarships from each location were to be spread out in three-year cycles. In total, Rhodes funded 60 "Colonial Scholarships."
Rhodes did not allot scholarships to all British colonies at the time. He neglected portions of Canada, such as Nova Scotia and British Columbia, as well as India, the Sudan, Hong Kong, Papua, Fiji, Borneo, several regions of the Caribbean, and many of other territories.
Rhodes then established a separate set of "American Scholarships," essentially two from each of the 45 states and 5 territories at the time, again on a rotating basis. That the United States received the bulk of the scholarships was not surprising given that Rhodes had for years (e.g., in his "Confession of Faith") lamented the loss of the American colonies.
In a codicil to his Will, Rhodes added 15 scholarships to Germany in reward for the Emperor instituting compulsory English schooling but also because "a good understanding between England, Germany, and the United States of America will secure the peace of the world and educational relations form the strongest tie." More practically, the Kaiser had recently granted Rhodes permission to run his telegraph wire through the colony of Tanganyika (now Tanzania). The German scholars were to be nominated by the Emperor.
Ultimately, as Rhodes wrote, his dream was "the furtherance of the British Empire, for the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire.":59
The Rhodes Scholarships are administered and awarded by the Rhodes Trust, which is located at Oxford University in Rhodes House. The Trust has been modified by three Acts of Parliament: The Rhodes Estate Act 1916, the Rhodes Trust Act 1929, The Rhodes Trust Act 1946; and most recently by The Rhodes Trust (Modification) Order 1976, a statutory instrument in accordance with Section 78 (4) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
In 1925, the Commonwealth Fund Fellowships (later renamed the Harkness Fellowships) were established to reciprocate the Rhodes Scholarships by enabling British graduates to study in the United States. The Kennedy Scholarship programme, created in 1966 as a memorial to John F. Kennedy, adopts a comparable selection process to the Rhodes Scholarships to allow ten British post-graduate students per year to study at either Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It also cooperates with universities in China, BLCC for example. BLCC offers high-level scholarships for international students who aim to study Chinese in Beijing. In 1953, the Parliament of the United Kingdom created the Marshall Scholarship as a coeducational alternative to the Rhodes Scholarship that would serve as a "living gift" to the United States.
Cecil Rhodes wished current scholars and Rhodes alumni (in the words of his will) to have "opportunities of meeting and discussing their experiences and prospects". This has been reflected, for example, in the initiation by the first warden (Sir Francis Wylie), of an annual warden's Christmas letter (now supplemented by Rhodes e-news and other communications); the creation of alumni associations in several countries, most prominently the Association of American Rhodes Scholars (which publishes The American Oxonian, founded in 1914, and oversees the Eastman Professorship); and the holding of reunions for Rhodes Scholars of all countries.
In recognition of the centenary of the foundation of the Rhodes Trust in 2003, four former Rhodes Scholars were awarded honorary degrees by the University of Oxford. These were John Brademas, Bob Hawke (Western Australia and University 1953), Rex Nettleford and David R. Woods. During the centenary celebrations, the foundation of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation was also marked.
In 2013, during the 110th Rhodes anniversary celebrations, John McCall MacBain, Marcy McCall MacBain and the McCall MacBain Foundation donated £75 million towards the fundraising efforts of the Rhodes Trust.
In 2015, Rhodes Scholar R. W. Johnson published a critical account of the decline of the Rhodes Trust under its warden, John Rowett, and commended the recovery under wardens Donald Markwell and Charles R. Conn.
As of 2018, due to the introduction of the Global Rhodes Scholarships, the Rhodes Scholarship is open to Postgraduate students from anywhere in the world. Many of its greatest scholars have subverted the intentions of its founder by becoming some of the foremost voices in Human Rights,social justice and criticism of Cecil Rhodes himself (see Rhodes must fall). Because access to further education, particularly post-graduate education, is linked with social mobility and racial wealth disparity, the scholarship (which is for post-graduate students) continues to attract criticism; however, the scholarship's recent partnership with the Atlantic Philanthropes is intended to help addressing those issues.
In his will, Rhodes specified that he did not want his scholarships to go to "merely bookworms." He wanted candidates assessed in regard to:
To assess candidates, Rhodes specified a 200-point scale, unequally applied to each of the four areas (3/10 to each of the first and third areas, 2/10 to each of the other two areas). The first area was to be judged by examination, the second and third by ballot from the candidate's fellow-students, and the fourth by the head master of the candidate's school. The results for each candidate would be sent to the Trustees of Rhodes's Will, or their appointees, who would then give a final assessment by averaging the marks for each candidate. Except for the candidates submitted by the four schools in southern Africa, the Trustees were vested with the final decisions.
Rhodes also added that the scholars should be distributed among the Colleges at Oxford, that the Trustees could remove any scholar at their discretion, and that the Trustees were to host an annual dinner so Scholars could discuss their "experiences and prospects." The Trustees were also encouraged to invite to the dinner other "persons who have shown sympathy with the views expressed by me in this my Will."
In 2018, the same criteria had undergone revision, and now specified no gender. They are now:
Each country's scholarship varies in its selectivity. In the United States, applicants must first pass a university-internal endorsement process, then proceed to one of the 16 U.S. districts committees. In 2016, approximately 2,500 students sought their institution's endorsement for the American Rhodes scholarship, among those 882 from 311 institutions were university-endorsed, of whom 32 were ultimately elected. As such, the American Rhodes Scholarship is more selective than the Churchill Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, Fulbright Scholarship, Gates Scholarship, and Mitchell Scholarship, but marginally less selective than the Marshall Scholarship in terms of university-endorsed applicants. In Canada between 1997-2002, there were an average of 234 university-endorsed applicants annually for 11 scholarships, for an acceptance rate of 4.7%. In addition, Canadian provinces differ widely in the number of applications received, with Ontario receiving 58 applications on average for 2 spots (3.4%) and Newfoundland and Labrador receiving 18 applications for 1 spot (5.7%). According to the Rhodes Trust, the overall global acceptance rate stands at 0.7%, making it one of the most competitive scholarships in the world. 
An early change was the elimination of the scholarships for Germany during the First and Second World Wars. No German scholars were chosen from 1914 to 1929, nor from 1940 to 1969. Rhodes's bequest was whittled down considerably in the first decades after his death, as various scholarship trustees were forced to pay taxes upon their own deaths. A change occurred in 1929, when an Act of Parliament established a fund separate from the original proceeds of Rhodes's will and made it possible to expand the number of scholarships. Between 1993 and 1995, scholarships were extended to other countries in the European Community.
Rhodes Scholars may study any full-time postgraduate course offered by the university, whether a taught master's programme, a research degree, or a second undergraduate degree (senior status). In the first instance, the scholarship is awarded for two years. However, it may also be held for one year or three years. Applications for a third year are considered during the course of the second year. University and college fees are paid by the Rhodes Trust. In addition, scholars receive a monthly maintenance stipend to cover accommodation and living expenses. Although all scholars become affiliated with a residential college while at Oxford, they also enjoy access to Rhodes House, an early 20th-century mansion with numerous public rooms, gardens, a library, study areas, and other facilities.
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Four South African boys' schools were mentioned in Rhodes' will, each to receive an annual scholarship: the Boys High School in Stellenbosch (today known as Paul Roos Gymnasium); the Diocesan College (Bishops) in Rondebosch; the South African College Schools (SACS) in Newlands; and St Andrew's College in Grahamstown. These have subsequently been opened also to former students of their partner schools (girls' or co-educational schools).
During the ensuing 100 years, the trustees have added about another 40 scholarships at one time or another, though not all have continued. Some of these extended the scheme to Commonwealth countries not mentioned in the will. A more detailed allocation by region by year can be found at Rhodes Scholarship Allocations. Very brief summaries of some of the terms and conditions can be found on the trust's website. Complete details can be obtained from the nominating countries.
As of 2017 In 2015 the Rhodes Scholarship extended into new territories, first with the announcement of a number of scholarships for China, later with the announcement of one to two scholarships per year for the United Arab Emirates. The organisation administering the scholarships is preparing to begin naming scholars from China. The move into China is the biggest expansion since women became eligible in the 1970s.scholars are selected from over 20 Rhodes constituencies (64 different countries) worldwide.
The Rhodes Scholarship was originally, as per the language used in Rhodes's will, open only to "male students." That stipulation would not change until 1977. Rhodes developed his scholarships partly through conversation with William Thomas Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette and confidant of Rhodes, and at one time an executor of the Will who was stricken from the role when he objected to Rhodes's ill-fated effort to seize the Transvaal. Shortly after Rhodes's death, Stead implied in a published article about the Will that he suggested that Rhodes open the scholarships to women. But Rhodes refused. Nothing more is said on the matter.
After his death, the will was under the control of the Board of Trustees of the Rhodes Trust. In 1916, however, the trustees introduced a bill into the House of Commons that, catering to popular British sentiment during the War, "revoked and annulled" the scholarships for Germans. Since then, legal control over the will has resided with Parliament.
In 1970, the Trustees established the Rhodes Visiting Fellowships. Unlike the regular scholarship, a Visiting Fellow was expected to have a doctorate or comparable degree, and to use the two-year funded study to engage in independent research. Only 33 Visiting Fellowships were awarded.
In 1975, Parliament passed the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 that banned discrimination based on sex, including in education. The Trustees then applied to the Secretary of State for Education to admit women into the scholarship, and in 1976 the request was granted. In 1977, women were finally admitted to the full scholarship. To a large degree, this change was the result of the advances of the feminist movement as well as the importance of Title IX legislation in the United States that made illegal sex discrimination in colleges that received federal financial assistance.
Before Parliament passed the 1975 Act, some universities protested against the exclusion of women by nominating female candidates, who were later disqualified at the state level of the American competition. In 1977, the first year women were eligible, 24 women (out of 72 total scholars) were selected worldwide, with 13 women and 19 men selected from the United States. Since then, the average female share of the scholarship in the United States had been around 35 percent.
In his 2008 book Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarship (Yale University Press), biographer and historian Philip Ziegler writes that "The advent of women does not seem notably to have affected the balance of Scholars among the various professions, though it has reduced the incidence of worldly success." The idea has persisted that women Rhodes Scholars are less successful overall than their male peers. But The Rhodes Project seeks to challenge this idea.
In South Africa, the will of Cecil Rhodes expressly allocated scholarships to four all-male private schools. In 1992, one of the four schools partnered with an all-girls school in order to allow female applicants. In 2012, the three remaining schools followed suit to allow women to apply. Today, 4 of the 9 scholarships allocated to South Africa are open only to students and alumni of these schools and partner schools.
Rhodes clearly specified in the will that "No student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on account of his race or religious opinions." Rhodes often in his writings used the word "race" with reference to black Africans, what he called "natives." But in the will, it is clear that Rhodes was referring to European nationalities, especially the Dutch and English, whom Rhodes also called 'races.' In the context of the historical era, it would have been entirely out of character for Rhodes, and seen as absurd by the Trustees and Oxford, to suggest that some of the scholarships might go to Africans. Furthermore, as Rhodes himself knew, and as Oxford University insisted in the early years of the scholarships, all applicants for the scholarship were required to pass the entrance exam for Oxford, or its equivalent, called Responsions, which included ancient Greek and Latin. It would have been highly unusual for any Africans in that era to be admitted into those European schools in southern African that taught such subjects. Rhodes's scholarships intentionally excluded women and Africans, and those stipulations were followed carefully in the implementation Nothing in the Will or in any of Rhodes' other writings suggests his desire to educate non-Europeans. In fact, the four South African schools named by Rhodes only admitted whites, and would not open their doors to black Africans until the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.
Beginning in 1970, scholars began protesting against the fact that all Rhodes Scholars from southern Africa were white, with 120 Oxford dons and 80 of the 145 Rhodes Scholars in residence at the time signing a petition calling for non-white scholars to be elected in 1971.:238 The case of South Africa was especially difficult to resolve, because in his will establishing the scholarships, unlike for other constituencies, Rhodes specifically allocated four scholarships to alumni of four white-only private secondary schools. According to Schaeper and Schaeper, the issue became "explosive" in the 1970s and 1980s as scholars argued that the scholarship be changed while the trustees argued they were powerless to change the will.:236-237 Despite such protests, only in 1991 with the rise of the African National Congress did black South Africans begin to win the scholarships.:240
Public criticism of the scholarship has also focused on Cecil Rhodes's white supremacist views. For example, in 1966, regional committees in interviews asked a white American candidate to assure them he would not publicly belittle the scholarship after he referred to its founding on "blood money".:238 In 2015, a South African Rhodes Scholar, Ntokozo Qwabe, began a campaign to address Rhodes' controversial historical and political legacy, with a focus on "dismantling the open glorification of colonial genocide in educational and other public spaces - which makes it easy for British people to believe that these genocides were 'not that bad' - and props up the continuing structural legacies of British colonialism, neocolonialism, and ongoing imperialism". Among other things, the campaign called for the removal of a statue of Rhodes from Oriel College and changes to Oxford's curriculum. While the college agreed to review the placement of the statue, the Chancellor of the university, Lord Patten, warned against "pandering to contemporary views".
A group of Rhodes Scholars also created the group Redress Rhodes whose mission was to "attain a more critical, honest, and inclusive reflection of the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes" and to "make reparative justice a more central theme for Rhodes Scholars." Their demands include, among other things, shifting the Rhodes Scholarships awarded exclusively to previously all-white South African schools (rather than the at-large national pool), dedicating a "space at Rhodes House for the critical engagement with Cecil Rhodes' legacy, as well as imperial history", and ending a ceremonial toast Rhodes Scholars make to the founder. While the group does not have a position on the removal of the statue, its co-founder has called for the scholarship to be renamed as it is "the ultimate form of veneration and colonial apologism; it's a large part of why many continue to understand Rhodes as a benevolent founder and benefactor."
Public criticism has also focused on the alleged hypocrisy of applying for and accepting the Rhodes Scholarship while criticizing it, with University of Cambridge academic Mary Beard, writing in The Times Literary Supplement, arguing that Scholars "[could not] have your cake and eat it here: I mean you can't whitewash Rhodes out of history, but go on using his cash." Reacting to this criticism, Qwabe replied that "all that [Rhodes] looted must absolutely be returned immediately. I'm no beneficiary of Rhodes. I'm a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and slaved." A group of 198 Rhodes Scholars of various years later signed a statement supporting Qwabe and arguing that there was "no hypocrisy in being a recipient of a Rhodes scholarship and being publicly critical of Cecil Rhodes and his legacy - a legacy that continues to alienate, silence, exclude and dehumanise in unacceptable ways. There is no clause that binds us to find 'the good' in Rhodes' character, nor to sanitise the imperialist, colonial agenda he propagated."
The tendency of a growing number of Rhodes Scholars to enter business or private law, as opposed to public service for which the scholarship was intended, has been a source of frequent criticism and "occasional embarrassment". Writing in 2009, the Secretary of the Rhodes Trust criticised the trend of Rhodes Scholars to pursue careers in finance and business, noting that "more than twice as many [now] went into business in just one year than did in the entire 1970s", attributing it to "grotesque" remuneration offered by such occupations. At least "a half dozen" 1990s Rhodes Scholars became partners at Goldman Sachs and, since the 1980s, McKinsey has had numerous Rhodes Scholars as partners. Similarly, of Rhodes Scholars who became attorneys, about one-third serve as staff attorneys for private corporations, while another third remain in private practice or academic posts.
According to Schaeper and Schaper, "From 1904 to the present, the programme's critics have had two main themes: first, that too many scholars were content with comfortable, safe jobs in academe, in law, and in business; second, that too few had careers in government or other fields where public service was the number-one goal."Andrew Sullivan wrote in 1988 that "of the 1,900 or so living American scholars ... about 250 fill middle-rank administrative and professorial positions in middle-rank state colleges and universities ... [while] another 260...have ended up as lawyers."
In 2007, an op-ed by two American Rhodes Scholars caused an "international row over Oxford's status as a top university" when they criticized the university's post-graduate education as "outdated" and "frustrating" in comparison to their education in the United States, specifically pointing to the perceived low quality of instruction and an insufficient scholarship stipend for living expenses. They also criticized the Rhodes application process itself, arguing that potential applicants should not apply unless they are "ready to study and live in Oxford."
The original op-ed spurred responses on both sides of the Atlantic. Other students criticised the authors for their tone of "ingratitude and entitlement," while The Sunday Times noted that it fueled the "long rivalry between Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford" and existing concerns about the quality of British graduate education. In response, the Rhodes Trust released two statements, one to The Sunday Times saying that "the criticisms ... are unrepresentative of the vast majority of Americans" studying at Oxford, and another as a reply to the original op-ed arguing that "false expectations," particularly for those uncertain about their degree choice, and going to Oxford for the "wrong reasons," could contribute to dissatisfaction.
Surveying the history of the Rhodes Scholarship, Schaeper and Schaeper conclude that while "few of them have 'changed the world' ... most of them have been a credit to their professions ... and communities", finding that "the great majority of Rhodes Scholars have had solid, respectable careers." Eight former Rhodes scholars subsequently became heads of government or heads of state, including Wasim Sajjad (Pakistan), Bill Clinton (United States), Dom Mintoff (Malta), John Turner (Canada), Norman Manley (Jamaica) and three Australian Prime Ministers: Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.
From 1951-1997, 32% of American Rhodes Scholars pursued careers in education and academia, 20% in law, 15% in business and 10% in medicine and science. Although Cecil Rhodes imagined that scholars would "pursue a full-time career in government [...] the number of scholars in local, state and federal government has remained at a steady 7 percent" over the past century. Of the 200 or so scholars who have spent their careers in government, "most of them have had solid, but undistinguished careers," while "perhaps forty or more can be said to have had a significant, national impact in their particular areas."
As the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, the Rhodes Scholarship inspired the creation of other awards, including:
In structure and selection criteria, the scholarship is most similar to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship and UK Fulbright Program. Like the Rhodes, the Marshall is a two-stage geographic scholarship organised through districts in selecting countries. Like the Gates Cambridge, the Rhodes is tenable at only one university. In structure, the Marshall Scholarship is more flexible than the Rhodes Scholarship, in that Marshall Scholars can study at any British university and can also attend a different university each year during a scholar's tenure. In addition, a limited number of one-year Marshall scholarships are available. The Marshall Scholarship also places a greater emphasis on academic achievement and potential, requiring a minimum grade point average of 3.7. For example, winners of the Marshall Scholarship from Harvard University have had average GPAs of 3.92, while winners of the Rhodes Scholarship from Harvard have had an average GPA of 3.8.
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In 2009, the stipend was UKPounds 958/month
Amongst other things, the press release states that the value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree (B.A., master's, doctoral) chosen. For American Rhodes Scholars, Gerson estimates that the total value of the scholarship averages approximately US$50,000 per year, or up to as much as US$175,000 for scholars who remain in Oxford for four years.
Books by former Wardens of Rhodes House, Oxford: