The Rhodes Trust has recently announced the expansion of its Rhodes scholarship programme, which will soon begin choosing scholars from China. The Rhodes is one of the oldest and most prestigious international graduate scholarship programmes in the world, supporting outstanding students at the University of Oxford. Established in 1902, the scholarship is currently open to students from over 30 countries, including Germany, the United States, and a number of former British colonies. The move into China marks the beginning of an international push that will make increasingly more countries eligible, although it remains unclear which. Considering the programme’s financial struggles in recent years, it is possible that this expansion is as much about diversifying the group of Rhodes scholars as it is about finding new sources of funding. And indeed, the inclusion of China has secured the commitment of some of China’s and Hong Kong’s most prominent, wealthiest businessmen.
Coincidentally, this April marks the opening of applications for the Schwarzman scholarship programme, a one year Master’s degree programme based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Schwarzman Scholars is actually inspired by Rhodes, and like it, seeks to promote international understanding by cultivating future leaders. Except that, by having China as its base, the Schwarzman programme is set squarely in the twenty-first century, where China is poised to become the world’s largest economy within two decades. Its American founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, believes that future leaders need a deeper knowledge of the rising superpower, and through the scholarship, hopes to foster greater cooperation between the East and West to ensure geopolitical stability. Forty-five per cent of the 200 Schwarzman scholars will come from the United States, 20% from China, and 35% from the rest of the world.
Both the first group of Chinese Rhodes Scholars and the first generation of Schwarzman Scholars will commence their studies in the fall of 2016.
The New York Times