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What are International Scholarships, and How to Manage Them?

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

What are International Scholarships, and How to Manage Them?

If you landed on this page, you’re likely thinking about international scholarships. Perhaps you even typed “what are international scholarships?” into your favorite search engine. Whatever brought you here, we’re excited to have you as we explore managing international scholarships.

Receiving an international scholarship can open doors to invaluable educational opportunities for students from around the world. As barriers like affordability, visa status, and geographic distance can make studying abroad difficult, scholarships help break down these obstacles by providing critical financial assistance along with support services. Universities and organizations that offer thoughtfully managed international scholarship programs reap benefits too, from diversification to building global connections.

Read on for:

  • Guidance on different types of international scholarships
  • Effective promotion and selection processes
  • Tips for communicating with applicants
  • Administration best practices, and more.

Benefits of Offering International Scholarships - Why Offering International Scholarships Pays Off


Opening up scholarships to qualified students from around the world has significant advantages for a university and its community. It's worth investing time and resources to develop thoughtfully structured international scholarship programs.

Expanding Horizons on Campus

Having more global diversity among the student body exposes everyone to new cultures, perspectives, and life experiences. International students bring unique viewpoints that enhance learning and discussion in and out of the classroom.

Preparing Students to Thrive Globally

With an increasingly interconnected world, graduates need to be comfortable working across cultures and national borders. International classmates give students daily opportunities to communicate across languages and backgrounds.

Gaining Global Recognition

Offering substantial scholarships to top international talent boosts a university's international profile and reputation for academic excellence. Success stories from international scholarship recipients highlight the transformative education the institution provides.

Building Strategic International Partnerships

Funding channels like government education ministries abroad, foreign universities, and multinational corporations may support scholarships to deepen strategic relationships and benefit all stakeholders long-term.

Types of International Scholarships: Supporting Diverse Needs

International students have varying goals, situations and resource constraints. Offering a range of scholarship models and funding criteria allows support to be tailored for recipients' unique needs.

Merit-Based Scholarships - Rewarding Academic Achievement

Merit-based international scholarships apply best to recognizing and motivating continued academic excellence. They may cover full or partial tuition and expenses.

Need-Based Scholarships - Bridging the Affordability Gap

Need-based scholarships help ensure money matters don’t derail studies. Assessing financial need allows the university to alleviate economic hurdles to enrollment and success.

Research or Project-Specific Scholarships - Empowering Research and Innovation

Stipends for international students undertaking advanced research, labs, projects or teaching fellow roles serve mutual interests. Recipients gain experience while benefiting campus life.

Partnering with External Organizations - Strategic External Partnerships

Funding from external government, corporate and nonprofit partners can be directed to scholarships for priority student segments, regions or programs through collaborative agreements.

Choosing Deserving, Diversified Recipients - Criteria and Selection Process


Having clear eligibility criteria, unbiased selection procedures involving experts, and considering diversity helps surface the most qualified candidates ready to get the most value from the international study opportunity.

Mapping Qualifications Clearly

It’s important to clearly define eligibility criteria. Publicize any program or country-specific requirements, along with merit factors like grades, test scores, honors and recommendations that indicate likelihood to excel and contribute globally.

Judging Fairly and Objectively

Transparent selection procedures help to prevent conflicts of interest. You can do this through panel reviews by faculty and administrators already familiar with evaluating applications. Consider applicants’ full profiles and potential, not just test scores.

Seek Diverse Perspectives

It’s a good idea to involve a panel of experts or have a committee of diverse people working on your team. This helps ensure underrepresented regions, backgrounds and fields of study are encouraged to apply, not disadvantaged. Scholarships enabling variety strengthen everyone’s experience.

Guiding Applicants to Submit Strong Applications

Providing resources and information to potential scholarship applicants in their process improves quantity and quality of submissions. This expands the candidate pool.

Providing Clear Instructions is Key

Share the eligibility criteria, award amounts, submission instructions and deadlines prominently on your program’s website and/or in university communications. This is critical to ensure a diverse pool of applicants globally understand what you’re looking for.

Utilize Online Platforms for Applications

Leveraging things like Multilingual application platforms enables more inclusivity. For example, you could offer your application in English as well as other languages like Spanish, Chinese and Arabic to overcome language barriers during the application process.

Communicate with Applicants

Have knowledgeable multilingual staff handle applicant inquiries via phone, email and web chats in a timely, courteous manner. Communication is important to help applicants put together stronger submissions.

Make your deadlines and timelines for your scholarship program public as well. We also recommend making it easy to find. FAQs on your website is a great way to manage fielding questions, and decrease the amount of support staff time required for helping hopeful candidates.

Using a scholarship management platform like SmarterSelect makes communication with your candidates a breeze! Automated application confirmation emails assure students their submissions went through successfully. And, sending regular program related messages will keep your hopeful candidates from thinking you have forgotten about them.

Post-Selection Communication - What Happens After Recipients are Chosen?

Thoughtful communication practices after awardees are selected, from announcement to pre-arrival guidance, makes students feel supported to succeed both during studies and long-term as alumni.  For example, sending customized congratulatory emails, letters and phone calls inform recipients of the great news as soon as possible.

Explaining Terms and Getting Commitments

Formal award letters need signing to accept scholarships on agreed terms like course loads, GPA requirements, changing status reporting and commitment periods post-graduation suit overseas employers’ interests.

Responding Helpfully to Queries

Address questions, appeals or issues raised professionally via dedicated contacts students are introduced to, as selections involve judicious processes. Proactively reassure waitlisted applicants also.

Be Strategic with Your Scholarship Management and Administration

Thoughtful scholarship management encompassing finances, progress monitoring, supportive programs and showcasing achievements ensures student success, evolves offerings and cements the institution’s global reputation.

Budgeting and Safeguarding Scholarship Funds

Careful financial planning covers multi-year support commitments, tapping into varied funding streams like endowed funds, external partners and reinvested returns to sustain programs.

Tracking Progress Proactively

While respecting privacy, monitoring indicators like enrollment status, grades and milestone completion allows checking recipient progress to unleash additional guidance like tutoring if required proactively, not punitively.

Building Recipient Community and Mentorship

Cohort networking events, mentor assignments and communication channels help navigate academics, integrate socially, access other opportunities like conferences and volunteering and form lifelong institutional connections.

Showcasing Successes Multi-Platform

Consent-based published profiles, media releases, university website features and graduation ceremony mentions highlight international scholarship recipient achievements, raising the program’s profile.

Cultivating Enduring Bonds - Building and Strengthening Relationships

Building lasting connections with scholarship recipients and strategic partners through engagement opportunities leads to goodwill and continued support.

Staying in Touch with Alumni

Sustained outreach post-graduation like profiles in alumni publications, invites to networking events, access to career resources and requests to host current students for informational interviews or internships keeps alumni actively affiliated.

Collaborating Closely With Funding Partners

Consistent communication via in-person visits, progress reports and stewarding naming opportunities cements external government, nonprofit and corporate funder relationships beyond just transactions for mutual benefit.

Seeking Continuous Feedback

Regular satisfaction surveys of students and external stakeholders help gauge efficacy of processes and offerings to feed into enhancements increasing program accessibility, diversity, value and graduate outcomes.

Overcoming Scholarship Management Challenges

Even well-intended international scholarship programs encounter hurdles from changing regulatory environments to limited budgets. Developing strong foundational processes along with adding flexibility positions programs to persevere.

Adapting to Fluid Regulations

Keep current on evolving visa, tax, employment and data protection regulations across enrollment and post-study work in key countries, modifying guidance and resources to scholarship recipients accordingly.

Planning for Lean Times Strategically

Pursue diverse, recession-resilient funding streams like endowed funds versus single external sponsors. Create tiered or partial scholarship categories rather than cutting headcount drastically in times of austerity.

Measuring and Reporting Impact Consistently

Collect meaningful metrics like graduation rates, employment outcomes, career trajectories, and community engagement both during studies and post-graduation. Quantify value delivered to recipients and partners through consistent reporting channels.

Build Your Scholarship’s Reputation by Sharing Success Stories and Impact

The public wants to know who recipients of your scholarship are. They also want to know what achievements they have had. It’s a great way to build your scholarship’s reputation and showcase the impact your scholarship has had. We recommend sharing testimonials and progress reports from past recipients. Not only will this give you some positive public favor, it can also help your scholarship program build a stronger sense of community.

The Transformative Power of International Scholarships

So what are international scholarships? They are a tremendous way for students to gain access to life-changing educational opportunities, for institutions that become richer and more reputable thanks to greater global diversity, and for external partners that develop talented graduates.

International scholarships break down barriers like affordability, geography and visa hurdles for deserving students worldwide. Funding channels that recognize merit, assess need, or collaborate strategically empower recipients’ academic and career success while allowing them to share their talents globally. Managing inclusive, ethical and sustainable scholarship programs does require investment and effort from universities over the long-term. But the personal and collective gains make it profoundly worthwhile.

If you would like help managing international scholarships for your organization, we’d love to help you do that. With SmarterSelect it’s easy to streamline outreach, selection and administration. Our scholarship management platform optimizes your process so you can focus on forming stronger global bonds, and showcasing your program’s success. Click here to schedule a demo today!


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