The HMC scholarship programme provides full scholarships for middle school students from certain countries in Central and Eastern Europe to study in the United Kingdom for two years in prestigious independent schools. This programme has been running since 1993 and currently places about 55 students on full scholarships and around 30 students on reduced fee scholarships every year from fifteen countries.
What are the aims of the scholarship programme?
The aims are to:
allow talented and deserving students from Central and Eastern Europe to study for two years in an independent school in the UK;
allow those who are awarded scholarships to experience life in a British school and to develop their knowledge of the life and culture of the UK;
allow those on the programme to develop their interests beyond academic studies in areas like sport, art, music and other cultural activities;
Do I qualify for a scholarship?
To be eligible to apply for an HMC scholarship you should:
have citizenship of the country where you live;
not be younger than 16 yrs or older than 17yrs and 6 months by August 31st of the year you would take up the scholarship;
be currently studying at school in your own country;
If your parents’ combined net annual income does not exceed £30,000 you are eligible to apply for a full scholarship. If your parents’ total income is marginally greater than this then you still qualify to apply for a reduced fee scholarship.
What qualities and qualifications are required?
HMC would expect you to:
have a very good command of English;
have an excellent academic record including a range of academic achievements;
have a commitment to a range of interests and pursuits outside academic work;
be independent and prepared live away from home for long periods of time;
a form giving personal and academic details to be completed by you;
a Personal Essay written by you;
a reference from certain teachers, in particular, your English and Mathematics teachers; and
an official school transcript is required.
When should I apply?
Applications are usually submitted in November for a scholarship for the following year. The final date for applications will be in the information provided by the programme co-ordinator in your country. You should contact them for further information.
How are the successful applicants selected for a scholarship?
In many countries applicants will take an English language test to demonstrate their level of English and may be required to write an unprepared essay in English. There is normally a charge for this test. You should contact your programme coordinator to find out what the pre-selection process is in your country.
Applicants who are successful will be interviewed in January or February, depending on the country.
Interviews will be conducted in English by one or two representatives of HMC Projects, who are responsible for selecting the successful students.
If successful, how do I choose which school to go to?
You do not choose the school. HMC Projects will decide which school will be most suitable for each successful applicant, based on his or her interests and talents.
If, however, you are applying for a reduced fee scholarship then you can apply to up to four of the schools offering a reduced fee scholarship. In this case you choose which of these schools to apply to. Each school then chooses which applicants it wishes to award a reduced fee scholarship to. It is a competitive process with typically 50 or so students applying for a total of about 30 to 35 places.
When does the scholarship start?
Almost all independent schools start their academic year in early September. The academic year is divided into three terms – the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms (sometimes known as Michaelmas, Lent and Trinity). The Christmas and Easter holidays last about four weeks and the Summer holidays, which normally start at the beginning of July, last for about eight weeks.
How long does the scholarship last?
The period of the scholarship runs for two years and HMC Projects provides support for scholars in their first year. In the course of the first year schools will want to see that a scholar is demonstrating the high academic level expected and that he/she is contributing well to school life. In very rare cases where a scholar has not performed as expected a school may withdraw the scholarship for the second year.
What qualifications can I expect to get by the end of the scholarship?
This will depend on the national examinations chosen by each school. At the end of the first year of the scholarship, some scholars will have taken examinations at AS level in England and Wales and Higher examinations in Scotland. Those scholars studying for the international baccalaureate (IB) diploma will only take examinations at the end of their second year. Examinations for A levels and Advanced Highers are normally taken at the end of the second year and these qualifications along with the IB are very important for entrance into university both in the UK and elsewhere, particularly Europe.
Will qualifications obtained in the UK be recognized in my own country?
Scholars will need to check with their own country’s education authorities, and their country’s universities to find out if they recognise and give credit for UK qualifications. Many do, but it is essential that each scholar investigates this in their own country. In some countries a process of nostrification of UK qualifications is required for university entry.
Will this scholarship help me to get into a British university?
Yes. However, the tuition fees charged by universities are normally an insuperable obstacle for most HMC Projects scholars. One of the consequences of the UK leaving the EU (Brexit) is that all students from outside UK now have to pay university tuition fees at the rate for international students. This is more than double the cost which UK students have to pay. In addition, only UK students have access to student loans and so these are not accessible to students from outside the UK. This means that, regardless of whether you hold an EU passport or not, you will have to pay university tuition fees at the rate for international students and you are not eligible for a student loan. Visa requirements are also different for students at universities in the UK compared to those required to study in schools in the UK.
Scholars are recommended to investigate opportunities to study at universities outside the UK, either back in their home country or elsewhere in Europe where some courses are taught in English and the tuition fees are much lower.
Some careful research is necessary!
What is the total cost I might be expected to pay towards the scholarship?
In almost all countries, applicants will be charged by their national (local) coordinators for the administrative costs of handling their application and also for the English language test if required. These charges are not refundable. Parents of students successful in winning full scholarships will be also expected to pay a fee to HMC Projects to cover the administrative costs of the scholarship programme. This fee is currently £1000. While schools pay all tuition and boarding fees, there will be ‘extra’ charges to parents arising from school trips and the purchase of textbooks and uniform, and (in some cases) examination fees. Parents will need to provide financial support for their children, much as they would provide ‘pocket money’ at home. Parents will need to pay the visa application fee for a Child Student visa and the mandatory immigration health surcharge (IHS) which together will cost around £2,400. Parents will be required to meet the cost of air fares and other travel expenses to and from the school in the UK at the beginning and end of the school year and for school holidays and (if applicable) half-term holidays. This will require at least three return flights and a further three if returning home for half-term holidays.
Parents of students awarded a reduced fee scholarship do not pay an administrative fee to HMC Projects. They have to pay the reduced fees: normally about 25% of the cost of the full boarding fees. As is the case for full scholars, there will be ‘extra’ charges as described above and also the same visa fees and travel expenses.
Schools now insist that scholars have a guardian who is resident in the UK. Commercial guardian services are very expensive and many scholars’ parents appoint an adult who is a relative or close family friend, resident in the UK, to act as a guardian with the agreement of the school.
How often can I return home during the year of the scholarship?
All pupils must vacate their schools during the school holidays. Most scholars fly home to return to their families during these periods. Some may choose to stay with friends or relatives in the UK. In such cases the school would need approval from a scholar’s parents to be satisfied that the arrangement is safe and satisfactory. In addition to school holidays, most schools have short half-term breaks and also additional weekend breaks. Pupils will normally be expected to vacate the school during these periods.
How can I find out further information about these scholarships?