History of the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships


The Power of the Rhodes Community

Key Facts

The Rhodes Trust is a global organisation and we use our deep connections across the world to bring together people of different backgrounds and viewpoints. We encourage them to openly debate, challenge each other’s thinking and generate new ideas.

Key Facts about the Rhodes Scholarships and the Rhodes Trust

The Rhodes Scholarships

The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards to support study at the University of Oxford. Established in 1903, they are the oldest international graduate scholarship programme in the world.

We now award 102 Scholarships a year. The Scholarship covers all fees and a stipend for two to three years, with nearly 300 Scholars in residence in Oxford at one time.

Students from anywhere in the world can apply.

20 percent of Scholars in residence are Black, and over half are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. The Trust makes an important contribution to Oxford’s aim to increase the diversity of its postgraduate population, particularly in relation to Black students, and we are committed to continuing to partner with the University to pursue this goal.

Since 1977, women have been eligible to apply and a majority of Rhodes Scholars in Residence today are women.

Rhodes Scholars may study any full-time subject at Oxford and are distributed across 35 of Oxford’s 38 colleges.

Nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, education, the arts, NGOs, commerce, research, journalism, and other sectors. They include well known advocates for social justice and individuals who have advanced the frontiers of science and medicine. Our alumni include Nobel, PEN/Faulkner, and Pulitzer Prize winners, heads of state, university presidents and vice chancellors, high court judges, leaders of major organisations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Oxfam, and much more.

As of 2020, nineteen Scholarships are awarded annually to students from Africa through six constituencies: East Africa, Kenya, Southern Africa (including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and eSwatini), West Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

African students outside of these constituencies are eligible through our new Global Scholarship, established in 2018. An Ethiopian Scholar was selected in the first Global cohort and a Scholar from Cameroon will join us in 2021.

Our goal is to expand the number of fully endowed Scholarships across the African continent to 32, with an initial focus on raising endowment to support more Scholarships in West and East Africa, funded in perpetuity. In recent months we have raised over £5M to fully endow a second West African Rhodes Scholarship and secure initial funding toward a third. We are also working to raise the funds to launch more Scholarships across the Global South, including Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The Rhodes Trust and Our Core Partnerships

In its second century the Rhodes Trust has partnered with several remarkable individuals and organisations to create:

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation,an independent South African-based charity launched through a partnership between Nelson Mandela and the Rhodes Trust on the occasion of the Trust’s centenary in 2003. The Foundation, which is one of President Mandela’s three official legacy organisations, was established through an initial £10m gift from the Rhodes Trust. It is dedicated to developing exceptional leaders for Africa through a focus on education, leadership, entrepreneurship and reconciliation. Since its founding 17 years ago, it has provided scholarships to over 500 Mandela Rhodes Scholars from 28 African countries. Eighteen Mandela Rhodes Scholars have also gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships.

In 2016, the Trust partnered with The Atlantic Philanthropies to establish the The Atlantic Institute, which works with seven fellowship programmes around the world, including the Atlantic Fellows Program for Racial Equity. The Institute’s mission is to eradicate inequities and to promote fairer, healthier and more just societies. It is committed to the radical inclusion of global leaders who are agents of change in communities most impacted by injustice and inequities. More than 50% of Atlantic Fellows are from the Global South.

In 2017, the Trust partnered with Schmidt Futures to launch the Schmidt Science Fellows, which is developing the next generation of science leaders to transcend disciplines, advance discovery, and solve the world’s most pressing problems.

In 2019, we launched Rise, a new partnership with Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust. This talent program is designed to create a global network of exceptional young people, starting from the ages of 15-17, who have the potential for significant positive impact. The first cohort will be announced in July 2021.