35 years of excellence

35 years of excellence

Every tree was once a seed...

The common oak is a revered species of tree that is arguably the best known and loved of Britain’s native trees. Over time, the oak tree has assumed legendary status in the UK as a symbol of strength and durability, and an excellent facilitator of biodiversity.

By the time the oak tree enters maturity, its roots have spread below ground anchoring it firmly where it stands. Above ground, the tree carries a visibly solid and immovable presence, capable of supporting hundreds of species of wildlife.

However, it would be inaccurate to think of the oak simply as a symbol of strength, durability, and diversity; it also adapts and changes with the seasons. These key qualities of the beloved oak tree are also qualities shared by Chevening.

Chevening showcases the strength of the UK’s higher education institutions to the world. The programme has proven to be durable, having only initially been allocated three years’ worth of funding. Promoting diversity is central to Chevening’s mission, as the community embraces and connects professionals from a range of backgrounds, nationalities, sectors, ages, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.

The Chevening Awards programme has changed over the last 35 years because the world we live in has changed, and is still changing. The programme’s ability to adapt, first under British Council administration and latterly under the ACU’s, has been one of its strengths.

When Chevening was launched in 1983, the World Wide Web and Google didn’t exist, Amazon was a great river and rainforest, the CD had just been launched, HRH Prince William of Wales was a newborn baby, Sean Connery played James Bond for the last time, Nelson Mandela was spending his 21st year in prison, and there were three billion fewer people on the planet.

Chevening Scholars planting trees

Our historical timeline reveals that, in the last 35 years, Chevening has grown from a small scheme to a renowned scholarships and fellowships programme that branches across the world. In that time, 50,000 exceptional professionals from every corner of every continent have been able to broaden their skills, knowledge, networks, and prospects through this programme.

Those who are chosen for Chevening are chosen for their strong academic and professional backgrounds, but also for the passion to drive their professions, their communities, or their countries into the future. It is precisely these qualities that have enabled Chevening to grow into a strong and successful programme, and that will ensure that it keeps on producing leaders who are capable of adapting to the challenges and the changes of tomorrow.

We are proud of the impact that Chevening has already had – it has helped break down borders and build bridges; enabled students to learn at world-class academic institutions in the UK; it has enabled international students to volunteer in their local communities – both in the UK and in their home countries; and alumni of the programme have gone on to achieve great things in all areas of life.

In the right conditions, the oak tree can live for a thousand years. If Chevening were an oak tree, it would be at the age where it is maturing into a producer of seeds of the highest quality.

It is perhaps no coincidence that it takes about 35 years for an oak tree to start producing acorns, the nut that contains its seed. And if every seed can create a forest, then at 35 years young, Chevening has the potential to positively impact lives and communities all over the world for a long time to come.

An English oak tree