Scholarships & Awards

Scholarships & Awards

The BEST Scholarships

Applications for Best Scholarships 2019 are now closed.

The BEST (BUNAC Educational Scholarship Trust) scholarships offer financial assistance to eligible applicants who are looking to undertake postgraduate study in the USA or Canada. They are funded by the BEST Scholarship Trust which is an independent trust administered by BUNAC on behalf of the BEST trustees.

A number of scholarships are awarded each year from a fund of £50,000 allocated for the BEST Scholarships. Included in this, are the sums of £4,000 available as the Christopher J. Harbour Memorial Scholarship to a candidate looking to do sports-related studies and £2,000 as the John S. Ball Award to a candidate looking to pursue a teaching or geography-related career. The individual amounts awarded vary but a typical award is in the region of approximately £5,000 - £15,000.

At the judging stage, preference is given to those whose proposed study in North America is likely to do most to further transatlantic understanding and/or to those who are required to go to the US or Canada to do a specific course.

Candidates must:

  • Be UK passport holder
  • Be currently, or have been engaged in full-time tertiary education at a university or college of higher education in the United Kingdom
  • Have already applied for, but not yet started a post-graduate course in the US or Canada. The postgraduate qualification must be awarded by a US or Canadian institution
  • Not be permanent employees of BUNAC Travel Services Ltd.

Please note, the award is intended for courses of study of between 3 months and 3 years, but the award shall cover a maximum period of the first 12 months and is not available for subsequent years of study. The candidate may not be in employment, including work for a North American employer as part of a sandwich course, during the period in which he/she is to be assisted. He/she may be (and should be) in receipt of other awards, including teaching assistantships, which are solely for the purpose of study and do not cover all expenses.

The BEST Scholarships are top-up funds, not the prime source of funding and candidates should be actively looking to secure funding from other sources while in the process of applying to BEST. Candidates cannot already be engaged in their course of study in North America at the time of application although they should be looking to apply to courses in their chosen field.

Application process & key dates

  • A completed online application form

  • Academic reference – from e.g. your tutor or head of department.

  • Personal reference - from someone who is well acquainted with you outside of university but who is not related to you in any way.

References cannot be from the same person. Applications received after the deadline or without both references as of that date, will not be considered. 

All complete applications will be subject to a short listing process and interviews will be conducted for the final selection of scholars. The interview date is not negotiable and all interviews must be conducted face-to-face. Awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of the BEST interview panel.

Applications for Best Scholarships 2019 are now closed.

Meet our 2018 scholars 

We are pleased to announce our recipients of the 2018 BEST scholarships - meet them below!

Alistair Somerville

Georgetown University  
Master of Arts in German and European Studies  
Alistair graduated in 2016 from the University of Oxford with a first-class honours degree in History and Modern Languages. Following this he went on to complete a PGCE at University College London. He is passionate about travelling and likes to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, whilst perfecting his knowledge of different languages. Outside of academia, he is an accomplished choral singer and has performed at major venues around the world.


From 2017-2018, Alistair was a teaching fellow at Project Rousseau, a non-profit organisation focusing on higher education access. Working with high school students he has gained experience as a classroom teacher and participated in  the Teach First leadership development programme.

In his journey to North America, Alistair is excited not only to engage in discussions about a politically turbulent climate in the US, but also hopes to bring his own unique perspective to discussion on current European issues. He is well-placed to be a great ambassador for the BEST programme, aiming to extend his research onto PhD level and take on teaching responsibilities or move into a policy role within a diplomatic or international organisation.

Emily Albery

Harvard University 
Master’s in Human Development and Psychology 
Emily, originally from Somerset, graduated from the University of Oxford in 2017 with a degree in Experimental Psychology. Through her studies and volunteering efforts in the UK and Sri Lanka, Emily has developed a strong passion for fighting social inequality and improving mental health outcomes for children that experience adverse childhood experiences. Following a year working in mental health research and other roles across the education sector, Emily will but undertaking a Master of Education in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The BEST scholarship will contribute significantly to Emily’s ambitions, as the combination of psychology and education courses are hard to come by in the UK. The opportunity to work with the leading academics doing research around the impact of trauma on early child development and to learn from individuals developing interventions to help counter this impact is an invaluable experience. This experience will help build a pathway to completing her clinical doctorate in the field of resilience. 

Joti Desour

The New School
Master in arts in Media Studies  
Joti has a love for the arts and a strong interest in many different cultures, sparked by her former years growing up in London and trips to Chile and Spain during her studies. In 2017 Joti graduated from the University of Nottingham with a first-class joint honours degree in history and Spanish, going onto pursue a further American Studies qualification. Joti would like to use the skills acquired during her further studies in America to create a media platform, showcasing the artistic work of ethnic minority communities and exploring the issues affecting these groups. 


Joti’s personal objectives for her time in America are shared with the aims of the BEST programme - to increase cross cultural understanding. New York represents her two core pillars of her professional goal, as it’s one of the most culturally diverse Cities on the planet and is a global epicentre of cultural activity. She looks forward to learning from the masters in her discipline who are on the cutting edge of media innovation, providing a great platform for her overall work aiming to make a positive impact towards the global social issue of racial representation. 

Isabel Straw

University of Pennsylvania
Master of Public Health (Global Health)
Isabel is a London trained doctor who has dedicated her junior years to studying the effects of social circumstance on health. She graduated in Medicine from the University of Nottingham in 2016 with socio-political interests and aims to enter medicine to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society. Isabel has proactively made efforts in her aims of fighting social injustice working domestically and internationally with children in the asylum system. Her experience in humanitarian settings in Europe and the Middle East has furthered her interest in global health inequalities and healthcare in conflict environments.

With Isabel’s aspirations to enter the field of global public health, a transatlantic understanding is essential and believes an insight into American culture would be a major asset in her career going forward. She will be able to share experiences and compare the American and UK health systems, benefiting the overall provision of care for her patients.

Charlie Zhou

Harvard University  
Master of Public Health  
Academic foundation doctor Charlie attended Eton on a full scholarship before completing his medical training at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. His clinical placements both at home and abroad in Australia, South Africa and Vanuatu have led him to appreciate the systematic inefficiencies that can impede health outcomes as well as the global disparities in healthcare delivery. Charlie has raised awareness of contemporary health issues both as the President of the Oxford Global Health Group and as the National Sarcoma Awareness Fellow. He has also contributed towards research looking into factors that impact population-level outcomes.

Charlie loves American football and he looks forward to attending game in person when he visits the US. The BEST scholarship will enable Charlie to attend that Harvard School of Public Health where he hopes to improve his skills in evidence analysis as well as acquiring an global outlook on healthcare provision. This will provide a strong foundation for further research and ultimately allow him to contribute towards health policy to improve cancer care delivery.

Helena See

Harvard Kennedy School    
Master in Public Administration 
Before starting her Master's at Harvard, Helena was Head of Social Housing at Her Majesty's Treasury, where she began as a policy adviser in 2013. She has advised two successive Chancellors on some of the most pressing domestic policy issues of the day, including how to solve the UK housing crisis, reform the welfare system, and implement reforms to the banking system following the financial crisis. Prior to that, she worked as a Researcher on education, skills and employment policy for the think-tank Policy Connect, and for the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, where she organised education programmes and campaigns.

Helena studied History at Oxford, where she graduated with the highest first-class degree in History in her year, was Editor of The Oxford Student newspaper, and founded a new magazine, Exposition. She is now continuing her studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is pursuing a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration. At Harvard, Helena hopes to bring a deeper international perspective to her policy work, and is particularly excited about the opportunities to learn from the diverse international cohort of the Mid-Career MPA program.

Fulbright Scholarships

The Fulbright Commission offers scholarships for academic work in any subject, at any accredited US university. Each year, awards are given to approximately 25 UK citizens studying at postgraduate-level. The Fulbright awards offer scholars the opportunity to have a transformative cultural and academic experience and provide unparalleled support both during and after their Fulbright year. In addition to the all-disciplines category, Fulbright also offer subject-specific awards in partnership with UK and US institutions in fields such as public affairs, journalism, law, finance and information science.

For more information please head to the Fulbright website.

The Howard Crew Scholarship

Introduced in honour of Howard Crew, General Secretary of the British Universities North America Club for 25 years, the Howard Crew Scholarships are for those wishing to apply to a BUNAC work exchange programme to North America. Our 2014 'Win a place on Work America' and our 2015 'Win a BUNAC Travel Internship' were funded by the Howard Crew scholarships. 

For further information on the BEST Scholarships and the Howard Crew Awards and Scholarships please call the London BUNAC office on 0333 999 7516.

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BUNAC Travel Services
Priory House, 6 Wrights Lane
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Phone: 033 3999 7516

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