About references

References are an important part of the scholarship selection process and they will be considered when your application is assessed. Candidates are required to obtain THREE different reference letters from three different referees and to upload them to their application form prior to submitting their application. It will not be possible to accept references after an application has been submitted or after the deadline has passed. Candidates are responsible for obtaining their own reference letters; the Saïd Foundation is unable to collect references on your behalf.

Candidates without three different references will not be considered for a Saïd Foundation scholarship.

Who can be
a referee and
what should
be included?


It is important to select your referees carefully. They must be known to you and must not be a relative or a close personal friend. You must provide three different references – one academic, one professional and one voluntary.

An academic referee

• They must be an academic who has taught you.
• They should comment in detail on your academic ability including your final position in the class (e.g. 1st out of 15 students).
• They should also comment on your potential to complete a demanding postgraduate programme in the UK.

A professional referee

• They can be either a current or recent employer.
• They should comment on your role and experience and how it is relevant to your chosen course.
• They should also comment on your leadership skills and experience and potential to bring change in your field.
• If you do not have any professional experience then you must provide a second academic or voluntary reference.

A voluntary or

• They should be an individual who can comment on your voluntary or community service.
• They should comment on your role and how long you have participated in the voluntary or extra-curricular activity.
• They should also comment on your commitment to the role and provide details of any notable achievements.

for referees

References must:

• Be written in English, signed by the referee and provided on official headed paper where possible.
• Include contact details for the referee (both a telephone number and an email address). If you are selected for an interview the Saïd Foundation will contact your referee to verify the information they have provided.
• Be written in support of your application for a Saïd Foundation scholarship. References that have been written for other purposes will not be accepted.

You should download our Guidance for Referees and give a copy to each of your referees.

Download Guidance for Referees
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