John Raine, Chair, updates on the work of the Commission
As the academic year has drawn to a close, I wanted to wish you all a happy Summer break and share with you developments on the Marshall Programme.
First, we say goodbye to our departing Scholars, whom we were able to give a warm sendoff, not just at the dinner in May, but also in July at the joint farewell event at Alexandra Palace for all departing British Government sponsored Scholars.
For the first time in their history, the three government scholarship schemes, the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth programs jointly hosted a farewell event that attracted around 1600 Scholars from all over the world. My colleague Anulika Ajofe gave a wonderfully inspirational keynote speech based on her own life story which has been recorded and you can listen to here.
A regular fixture in the Chevening calendar, this was the first time Marshall Scholars have been included in the event, and I hope it will now become a fixture for all departing Scholars. Apart from being an excellent opportunity to become part of the global UK Scholar network, it was also a fun occasion and had the feel of an informal graduation. The event also took place on the 4th of July, so provided an additional reason for Marshall’s to be celebrating.
Secondly, the big news for the future of the Marshall Programme has been the announcement of the increase in our annual numbers from around 40 to 50. This is very welcome recommitment of the British Government to the Programme and is particularly timely given this year is our 70th anniversary.
It was also wonderful to see the announcement included in the Atlantic Statement, which was issued on the occasion of the visit of the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the US, which placed the Marshall Programme in its strategic context as a key element of the bilateral relationship. We are currently working with FCDO officials and the US-based selection committees on achieving these numbers and renewing the focus onto STEM subjects, to which the additional scholarships will be directed.
This will give us opportunities to form new partnerships with specialist Universities in the UK and further widen the number of universities and courses which Marshalls attend. We also see this as an opportunity to extend the opportunities of a Marshall Scholarship to groups and regions in the US we haven’t traditionally reached.
Lastly, the MACC met at the end of June and concentrated on preparations for the next Scholar cycle, with particular focus upon implementing the findings of the Government’s Internal Audit of our selection process. Many of the findings of the audit reinforced the view that the MACC had formed in discussions with selection committee Chairs last December in Washington and provided a helpful framework for not only updating the selection process but expanding it to cater for the additional numbers as well.
We also discussed the implementation of the Tripartite Review of the three British Government Scholarship schemes which will be helpful in spreading the benefits across the three schemes without compromising their three, very different identities. The joint farewell event last month was a preview of the benefits of bringing the scholar bodies closer together. It was certainly a reminder, to me, of what a unique global network the three scholarships form and how I, and the Chairs of the other schemes, are keen that scholars derive the maximum benefit from belonging to that network.
I know many of you will be staying over in the UK over the Summer and I hope you are able to maintain the strong tradition of Marshall Scholars making the very most socially and culturally of their time here. Judging by the inspiring and entertaining reports from departing scholars, that tradition is alive and well.
To those of you who are leaving us, many congratulations on the completion of your studies and for being such wonderful Ambassadors for your own country. I am sure you will now become equally powerful Ambassadors for the Marshall Programme. I and the MACC wish you all the very best for your future careers.
Chair of the Marshall Association Commemoration Commission