Position Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) in the UK

Body: Appointing Body Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
Appointing Department: Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office
Sectors: Charity & Public Sector, Education, Health and Social Care, International, Science & Technology
Location: UK – Chair to be resident in the UK for duration of tenure to Chair meetings in person
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £8,000 pa Chair duties and £4,000 pa Accounting Officer role
Time Requirements: 4 days approx. per month.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Prof. Robin Mason has been appointed by FCDO as Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK and will take up duties from 1 January 2022 for 3 years.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement


Vacancy Description

The CSC is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), responsible for delivering the UK’s contribution to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. It achieves this through awarding around 750 scholarships and fellowships for postgraduate study and professional development to Commonwealth citizens each year. The CSC receives funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Department for Education, and most UK universities.


The Chair will be responsible for a range of functions which help to ensure that the United Kingdom delivers a high quality contribution to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan and to FCDO, and meets its obligations to government, Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows, and other stakeholders.


The main functions of the Chair are as follows:

Strategic Functions

The Chair is responsible to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs for a range of strategic functions. In particular, the Chair shall be responsible for ensuring that:


The Commission’s policies and actions support the wider strategic policies of the UK Government, through FCDO and other Sponsoring Departments.


The Commission has in place an appropriate Strategy and Corporate Plan and Business Plan, which utilises and reflects the expertise of Commission members, and that the Strategy and Plans are effectively translated into operational decisions.


The Commission, in reaching decisions, takes proper account of guidance provided by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs or sponsoring Department.


The Commission operations make efficient use of Secretariat staff, Commissioner expertise and other resources, and the Commissioners are encouraged and motivated to contribute to policy making.


The Commission operates with the highest standards of propriety.


The views and work of the Commission are effectively communicated to the UK Government through FCDO, other stakeholders and the general public.   It is anticipated that the Chair should be the main channel for communication between the Commission and relevant Ministers, and that a meeting with the relevant Minister should take place at least annually. The Chair will also be responsible for ensuring that the Commission is fully informed of such discussions.


The Chair will represent the Commission and its interests at high level meetings with external stakeholders including Government Departments and Parliamentarians, representatives of other Commonwealth Governments, the UK higher education sector and others as appropriate.


Act as Accounting Officer for the Commission.


Operational Functions

Ensure that the above requirements are met, the Chair shall also undertake the following operational functions:


Chair full meetings of the Commission (currently three per year), having previously agreed the agenda for such meetings with the Executive Secretary and/or Director of Operations.


Chair meetings of the Executive Group of the Commission.


Serve as an ex-officio member of all Commission committees, with the exception of Audit and Risk Management, and attend meetings of these where appropriate to the strategic functions described above.


Ensure that all Commissioners when taking up office are fully briefed on the terms of their appointment and on their duties, rights and responsibilities, and that they receive appropriate induction training. This will include training on the financial management and reporting requirements of public sector bodies and on any differences which may exist between private and public sector practice, as well as the selection procedures adopted by the Commission for its competitions.


Advise the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the needs of the Commission when Commissioner vacancies arise, with a view to ensuring a proper balance of diversity and skills (professional, financial and other expertise);


Assess the performance of individual Commissioners annually in line with the Governance code and within CSC’s Commissioner review process. In particular, to appraise Commissioners who are being considered for re-appointment, and discuss with each member at least annually their contribution to the work of the Commission.


Ensure that a Code of Practice for Commissioners is in place based on the Cabinet Office’s model Code of Practice for Board Members of Public Bodies, and that it is kept up to date and adhered to.


Work closely with, and support, the Executive Secretary, Director of Operations and other members of the Commission Secretariat within the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), providing advice and direction on operational matters as well as holding regular meetings to discuss and agree future strategy.


Consider any complaints or appeals that may be made against decisions of the Commission or its Secretariat, in line with the provisions of the Commission Complaints Policy.


Consider any welfare referrals put forward by the Secretariat.


Represent the Commission at a range of functions, including Welcome and Farewell events for scholars, as well as Commission events held elsewhere in the UK.


Chair at least one annual Selection Panel and take part in others as appropriate.


The post holder will also share with other Commissioners their corporate responsibilities.


The Chair and Commissioners of CSC are expected to attend meetings in person (when social distancing restrictions allow) such as the full Commission meeting held in the offices of the Secretariat in at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Tavistock Square, London, as well as Committee and candidate selection meetings. Attendance is required in person at scholar events held in London and elsewhere in the UK. Second class rail travel within the UK only is reimbursed to attend such meetings. As such, the Chair and Commissioners are expected to be resident in UK to fulfil the role and have no restrictions on employment or time limit on permitted stay in the UK.


The Commission is committed to providing equal opportunities for all and encourages applications from candidates irrespective of race, age, disability, gender, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, transgender or working patterns.



Person Specification


A strong knowledge of higher education (in the United Kingdom and ideally other Commonwealth countries) likely to have been gained through involvement in universities and/or higher education policy issues at a senior level.


A deep understanding of development issues, and the role of FCDO and the United Kingdom in international development policy. The importance of higher education and research and impact of achieving development goals.


The ability to advocate for CSC and its portfolio and to develop and manage relationships with high-level stakeholders, including in the UK government and other Commonwealth Governments.


The gravitas, communication and presentational skills to provide an effective ‘public face’ for the Commission, both in public gatherings and in face to face meetings with Ministers and other key stakeholders.


The ability to lead a small team (max 14) of committed Commissioners in identifying and pursuing a common vision, and in setting strategy. To effectively chair and lead the Commission’s decision-making process, including the ability to drive innovation and organisational change.


The ability and willingness to engage with award holders from a wide variety of backgrounds.



Interest in / first-hand knowledge of at least one other area of expertise necessary to the Commission – such as finance, legal issues, fund raising, international diplomacy or liaison with relevant sector bodies or private sectors.


Knowledge of governance issues, and the ability to understand their application to the legal and administrative environment in which the Commission operates


Demonstrable affinity with the principles and values of the Commonwealth.


Disability Confident Scheme

The Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) has replaced the Guaranteed Interview scheme (GIS). FCDO embrace the Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum requirements for a job or a role and have a positive attitude towards disabled applicants.

If you wish to apply for consideration under this scheme, please complete declaration in the Diversity Monitoring Form provided in the information pack. It is not necessary to state the nature of your disability.

Whether you choose to apply under the Disability Confident scheme or not, you can still ask us to make reasonable adjustments if you are invited to attend an interview.


Advisory Assessment Panel

The following Advisory Assessment Panel will hold interviews: a representative of the Scholarships, Tertiary Education and Partnerships Department, FCDO, Morag McDonald, CSC Deputy Chair and Rosie Varley, independent panel member. (The panel will be confirmed ahead of the interviews).


Governance Code on Public Appointments

The Governance Code on Public Appointments, published by the Cabinet Office, sets out the principles that should underpin all public appointments. The Governance Code can be found at:




The Commissioner for Public Appointments

The regulation of public appointments against the requirements of the Governance Code is carried out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The Commissioner provides independent assurance that public appointments are made in accordance with the principles set out in the Code. The Commissioner is appointed by the Queen and is independent of the Government and the Civil Service. Further information about the role of the Commissioner is available from http://publicappointmentscommissioner.independent.gov.uk


If you are not completely satisfied

FCDO will aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy. If you have any complaints about the way your application has been handled, email Appointments Team at: CSCommissionrecruitment@FCDO.gov.uk.


If after receiving a comprehensive response from the Department you are still concerned, you can write to the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Please contact:

The Commissioner for Public Appointments

1 Horse Guards Road London SW1A 2HQ

Tel: 0207 271 8938

Email: publicappointments@csc.gsi.gov.uk

Additional Information

The role is for 3 years with the option to be considered for re-appointment for a further 3 years

How to Apply

An information pack, including details on how to apply, is attached. Your application and accompanying forms (diversity and monitoring etc) should be completed and returned to the following email address:




Applications should arrive by no later than 17 September (23.00 BST)


Interviews are expected to take place virtually via Microsoft Teams conferencing on week commencing 20 September 2021.



Candidates are encouraged to find out more about the work of the Commission from its website at https://cscuk.fcdo.gov.uk/

Diversity monitoring form
CSC Chair Recruitment Information Pack 2021 (final)
Return to Search