ABRSM offer a total of eight international scholarships each academic year; one undergraduate and one postgraduate at each of the four associated Royal Schools of Music.
These are the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music in London, the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
These awards are offered in connection with, and on the recommendation of, each of the Royal Schools of Music.
The scholarships cover full tuition fees and part maintenance for the duration of the Undergraduate programmes and for one or two years of Postgraduate study.
Testimonials from past scholars
I am currently in the second year of undergraduate study at the Royal College of Music and enjoy being able to study there. I am really grateful that the ABRSM international scholarship has given me such a fantastic opportunity. Here I have excellent lessons, which give me wonderful and precious experiences. Also, the masterclasses and workshops at the college give me a lot of inspirational and unique ideas.
Besides studying at the college, I have taken part in a number of international competitions in the UK and overseas, and have been awarded prizes.
One of the reasons why I am able to have a productive college life and to participate in competitions is that I am supported by such a fantastic scholarship.
I think that the ABRSM international scholarship is one of the most supportive scholarships available to International students who want to study in the UK. The generous assistance it provides has enabled me to build up my musical career and expand my horizons while studying at an amazing institution.
I would not be able to study in the UK or participate in international competitions if I had not been awarded the ABRSM international scholarship. I cannot express my gratitude enough and recommend this scholarship to all musicians who are eager to study in the UK and are motivated to achieve their musical goals.
Jun Ishimura, Pianist and RCM International Undergraduate Scholar, 2008
The opportunity to continue my postgraduate studies at the RCM in London was a really good springboard for my career. Apart from receiving excellent tuition at the RCM, I made many invaluable professional contacts. Due to the high tuition fees charged for overseas students in the UK, it would have been financially very difficult to study at the RCM – the ABRSM scholarship took the financial stress off me, which left me free to concentrate on my studies and furthering my career.
During my time at the RCM I was exposed to a wide range of speciality fields, which ultimately led me to specialize in a specific field. This obviously had a considerable impact on the direction in which my career took off into.
I was honoured to be part of the select group of ABRSM scholarship holders – the support I got from them was a sign of trust.
Erik Dippenaar, RCM International Postgraduate Scholar
I was brought to the UK, from Australia, as an ABRSM international scholar at the Royal College of Music, London in 2004. The experience has completely changed most things about me, for the good. London was for me an immersive experience: one could not help but get better as a fact of the musical experiences that happen daily.
I believe that the UK, and especially London, is one of the finest places in the world to study music. This is for the simple reason of the sheer amount of music going on. Studying at a place like the RCM means you work with and learn from your heroes. The people once only available to play along with on your iPod are there for you to learn from and play with.
In my hometown of Sydney, an orchestra like the Philharmonia visiting or Bernard Haitink conducting would be a once in 5 or 10 year event; tickets would be eye-wateringly expensive and rare as hen's teeth! During my time at the RCM, Haitink came to work with us every year, and two of my teachers were principals of the Philharmonia. These are only two examples of what is available to you as a student here in the UK.
The concert opportunities are also plentiful, with the only limit to opportunities being how quickly you can prepare a concert. The teaching is the best in the world and the masterclasses are high profile. Your fellow students are of the highest standard in the world, the orchestras and ensembles you will play for rival professional groups, plus you get to live in possibly the most happening musical place in the world.
However, the UK is financially expensive. It is an expensive place to study and to live. The ABRSM scholarship was such a blessing - my entire fees were covered, and the living allowance that came at the beginning of every term meant that I could breathe, and focus on my practice and playing. My parents still had to help me out a little bit, but it was miniscule compared to the burden that the full amount would have been. Put simply, I wouldn't have been able to study, or become the musician I am today, if it wasn't for ABRSM.
Joel Farland, RCM International Scholar
Supporting young musicians at the beginning of their career means investing and encouraging the new generation, focusing on their talent and helping them to develop into individuals who one day might even be able to become role models themselves.
I am delighted to have been fully supported by ABRSM for the whole duration of my undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The ABRSM full scholarship enabled me to concentrate on my studies and performing, without having to worry about the financial aspect of my training: one of the worst enemies of a student! I am extremely thankful that the time I should have spent looking for sponsors was fully dedicated to practising - in this way, obtaining great results and enjoying the satisfactions after all the hard work. My time in College has been extremely rewarding, being able to perform intensively both in the UK and abroad, solo and with different orchestras. I was lucky to receive tuition from world renowned professors, in this way expanding my knowledge, understanding and personal approach to the different styles of repertoire that I perform.
I always felt that ABRSM team was very encouraging and permanently making me feel amongst friends, attending my concerts and constantly keeping in touch through emails or very kind letters. I am extremely grateful for everything ABRSM has done for me - I couldn't have done it without your help!
Alexandra Dariescu, RNCM International Scholar
I was born in Harbin and moved to Beijing in 2000. I attended Beijing Normal University and was awarded a degree in Musicology. I then went on to do a Masters degree in the same subject. When I graduated I became a music teacher in Beijing Number 4 Middle School - one of the best schools in China.
I always loved singing as a child and my parents encouraged me. When I was 6 I joined the children choir in Harbin, which sang a range of traditional Chinese folk songs and performed at local festivals. This is where my real enjoyment for singing and performing began.
My friends and family all loved my singing but I don’t think any of them ever thought that I would become a professional singer - especially not in the west. It was a hard journey involving many hours of practising and work on top of my normal school studies.
I was buying books in the central conservatoire in Beijing when I saw a poster advertising an opportunity to apply to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to take a Masters in Solo Performance. I rang the number on the poster and I received an application form which I filled in. A short time afterwards the RNCM invited me to attend an audition in Beijing at which I sang a German Lieder and a Russian song. During the audition the two panellists gave no reaction and I didn’t think I had performed especially well.
A couple of months later - much to my surprise - I received an email from RNCM inviting me on to the Masters course. I was so happy and excited as they also were so impressed with my audition that they nominated me for the ABRSM scholarship.
I was so fortunate to be awarded the scholarship. I was over the moon with happiness as the money allowed me to concentrate on my studies and not worry about getting a part-time job.
I had a wonderful time at the RNCM and took part in as many opportunities as I could. I attended a master class with Barbara Bonney and had parts in many operas and opera excerpts. I made many good friends. The quality of the other students was amazing and it gave me an appetite to succeed.
Since I graduated I have travelled to Malta and sung in their international festival. I have been a member of the British Youth Opera for two years. My professional career is developing with many opportunities to sing all over the country. I am very fortunate and grateful for the support I got from ABRSM that has allowed all this to happen.
Bo Wang, RNCM International Scholar
Frequently asked questions
Am I eligible for an ABRSM international scholarship?
To be eligible for an ABRSM International Scholarship:
- You must be a national of a country that is not in the European Union (EU).
- You should not have been living and/or studying in the UK for more than a year preceding 31 January in the year of entry to the course. For example, if you were starting your course in September 2012, you could not have been living or studying in the UK for a year or more before 31 January 2012.
- You must be at least 17 years of age for Undergraduate study, and 21 years for Postgraduate study, on 31 January in the year of entry to the course.
What does the international scholarship award provide?
The international scholarship provides full payment of tuition fees for the duration of the course and a grant of £5,000 towards living costs (usually paid in termly instalments).
Further information and application details
If you are interested in an ABRSM scholarship, please contact the school to which you wish to apply or visit their website for more information. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit for candidates who audition for the Royal Schools of Music.
No separate application process is necessary, as candidates are automatically considered for the scholarships by the Admissions Board at each Royal School of Music. Recommendations are then made directly to ABRSM.
Top photograph © Chris Christodoulou and Royal College of Music