Chevening Scholars travelled from around the UK to Edinburgh for the latest Best of British event on Wednesday, 25 November.
A group of about 60 scholars made the trip to Edinburgh, for visits to the Scottish Parliament and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The scholars attended a private tour of the Scottish Parliament, where they learned about its history, procedures, and how the architecture reflects Scotland and its values.
Although the Scottish Parliament has a short history, starting from the Scotland Act of 1998, visiting the institution offered scholars a unique insight into its role and how its establishment gave more democratic representation to Scotland. Scholars were able to go into the Debating Chamber, where the 129 Members of Parliament debate and vote on important topics that affect the people of Scotland.
After the tour, scholars visited the Royal Society of Edinburgh, an educational charity. There, the RSE’s General Secretary, Alan Alexander, introduced the scholars to the organisation, which aims to provide evidence that affects the policymaking process of the government, thus benefitting the people of Scotland.
Next, Professor Charles Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal at the University of Edinburgh discussed Scottish identity and its future relationship with the UK. He focused on the debates and attitudes on Scottish independence throughout the UK. His presentation sparked a long discussion and many thought provoking questions from scholars.
To conclude the day, the Chevening Relay was launched when the blue relay baton was presented to the excited scholars. The baton was given to Joshua Mwamulima, who was the first scholar to correctly answer a question about the Scottish Parliament tour earlier that day.
Joshua, a Zambian scholar studying at the University of Dundee, said he felt honoured to be the first recipient of the blue Chevening Relay baton. He pledged to take it from Edinburgh, back to Dundee, before passing it on to another scholar.
Nikita Rathod, Programme Officer at the Chevening Secretariat, summed up the day: ‘The Best of British presents Scotland event was a unique opportunity for scholars to visit a key political institution in the UK. It also allowed scholars to hear experts speak on the crucial issues affecting Scotland. Whilst there will be other Best of British events across the UK in the coming months, this event was particularly momentous as we launched the Chevening Scholars’ Relay, a new concept that we hope will bring scholars together as they explore the UK throughout the year.’