RHODES SCHOLARSHIPS were established by the will of Cecil J. Rhodes, English-born South African statesman and financier, who died in 1902. They provide appointments for study in the University of Oxford to students drawn from eighteen countries. Thirty-two students from the United States are selected annually. Rhodes Scholars are also chosen from Australia, Bermuda, the British Caribbean, Jamaica, Canada, Ceylon, Germany, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, New Zealand, Pakistan, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Zambia.
Candidates for the Rhodes Scholarships in the United States are required to be unmarried citizens between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, and they should have achieved at least junior standing in an accredited university or college. Competitions are held annually in each of the fifty states. Appointments to the scholarship are initially for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal for a third. The stipend is calculated to cover all tuition expenses and to provide an allowance adequate to cover a student's living requirements.
Intellectual distinction is a necessary, but not the exclusive, condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. In keeping with the instructions of Rhodes's will, Rhodes Scholars are also expected to demonstrate qualities of character that promise potential service to others. Although less important than the other criteria for selection, Rhodes Scholars are further expected to possess physical vigor. The will further specifies that "no student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on account of his race or religious opinions." As Rhodes Scholars are free to pursue any field of study available in the University of Oxford, so also have they chosen to enter a wide variety of professional careers.
Since 1904, when the first American delegation arrived at Oxford, and 2000, exactly 2,918 Americans had been awarded Rhodes Scholarships. Until 1975 the competition for the Rhodes Scholarships was restricted, by the terms of Rhodes's will, to male students. In 1976 changes in British law permitted the opening of the competition to women and Oxford admitted the first class of women Rhodes Scholars. By 2000 more than 298 women had won this scholarship.
Thomas, Antony. Rhodes: The Race for Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
William J.Barber/h. s.
See alsoEducation, Higher: Colleges and Universities .