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Guide for beneficiaries of UNESCO fellowships, study and travel grants

All communications relating to your fellowships should be addressed to the UNESCO Participation Programme and Fellowships Section. Always give your full name and project reference on all your communications.

UNESCO fellowships are intended mainly for persons who, like yourself, are eager to undertake short-term specialized training abroad.  Only exceptionally, (for example, under the Sponsored Fellowships Scheme) are they intended for studies leading to a degree.

Fellowships are awarded, in general, for training at one single institute in only one country.  It is the experience of UNESCO that more thorough training is obtained when Fellows settle down and concentrate their efforts at only one place of study. Exceptions can be considered if a case can be made. 

When you have completed your fellowship, you must return home and work for the development of your country.  It is expected that you will apply and put to good use, in the interest of your country, the knowledge acquired during the study abroad.

Preparing yourself for your fellowship


You will have received a letter of award that describes the training programme approved for you, the training grant you will be receiving, and a proposed starting date. Since final arrangements for the fellowship programme can only be completed after you (and your Government) have notified UNESCO of your acceptance of the fellowship, you should, therefore, immediately inform the Organization whether you accept, confirming the starting date.  In accepting the award, the fellow agrees to accept the obligations and to follow the procedures required of all UNESCO fellows and mentioned in the letter of award.

Departure Flight

Should your fellowship include an air-ticket, you must ask a local travel agency for a pro-forma invoice for the cheapest possible airfare to the approved destination.  Without this pro-forma invoice, UNESCO cannot issue travel instructions.  Fellows should, as far as possible, travel on working days and arrive at the host institution at a time when they can be conveniently received.

Before departure, fellows should notify the host institution (with copy faxed to UNESCO, Paris) as early as possible of the estimated time of arrival.  UNESCO can make no arrangements for airport collection so you are responsible for making such arrangements with your Embassy/host institution, etc.  If this is not possible, you are asked to proceed directly with your own means to the host institution.

Passports and Visas 

You are responsible for obtaining your own passport and whatever visas you require, including transit visas if necessary.  Visa applications should be made several weeks before your departure as it often requires three weeks or more to be processed.  If difficulties arise regarding the issue of your visa(s), you should inform the Organization immediately, giving your passport number, your name and date of birth as shown on the passport, its date of issue and date of expiry, and the date of your visa application; the Organization will then try to expedite the visa process through its own or host country channels.

UNESCO grants no allowances to defray passport and visa expenses.

When applying for a visa to train or study in the host country, be sure that your passport will be valid for at least two months longer than the expected duration of your fellowship.  Some countries may require a longer period of validity.

Host Country

If you are not acquainted with the host country where you are to be trained, you should learn as much as possible about it, its customs, culture, climate, currency regulations, etc., before you leave home.  Many countries provide information written especially for prospective visitors.  You may find it useful to apply to the public information or cultural affairs office of your prospective host country’s embassy or consulate for information.


Fellows are encouraged to make adequate preparations in advance for acquiring clothing properly suited to the climate of the host country.  Failure to obtain suitable clothing may create difficulties later, as the stipend paid in the country of study is not intended to cover such extra expenses.

Delayed Arrival 

Delayed arrival could give rise to many difficulties.  Your host institution will have made special arrangements to accept you and to help you get settled in and started on your training.  Late arrival could seriously compromise its goodwill.  You must show your host institution due respect by keeping your part of the agreement, including adhering strictly to the approved arrival date.

Financial Considerations

(The period of your fellowship)


  • International Travel

UNESCO fellows are, in most cases, provided with excursion or economy-class air tickets or rail ticket for the travel from their home country to the training institution in their host country, and for their return home. The Organization usually provides the tickets or, in case of some Sponsored Fellowships, the Host Government provides these.

If, for personal reasons, you choose to travel by a route which is not the most direct, you must pay the additional fare yourself.

If you have been issued with a round trip or return ticket, you must take care to commence your return travel before the ticket expires. If UNESCO extends your fellowship beyond the validity of the return ticket, you must send it back to the Organization (or to the authorities of the Host Government in the case of some Sponsored Fellowships); a replacement ticket will be issued at no expense to you. If, however, you delay your travel beyond the validity of the air ticket for personal reasons, you must pay the additional costs to have the ticket extended.

  • Local Travel

You must pay, from your stipend, the cost of commuting each day from your quarters to your training site. Airport transport and taxis must also be paid by you. These costs are not reimbursed.


  • Stipend Rates

You will receive a stipend to cover your living costs either from UNESCO or from the Host Government. Your stipend is not a salary, but rather an allowance to cover your own expenses for accommodation, meals, local travel, and incidentals while on your fellowship. For fellowships paid by the Organization, the stipend is based on a rate calculated to be sufficient to cover living costs. Often, the host country/institute is consulted with a view to defining a fair and adequate rate. The rate applied is never higher than the maximum stipend rate established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for each host country. The rate, determined on a case by case basis, depends on the costs of accommodation, meals, local transportation, and other incidentals in the country. For long-term studies, the first month’s stipend is normally higher than that for subsequent months to allow for settling-in costs. However, for short-term studies the monthly stipend is slightly higher and remains constant for the full duration of the study. The stipend rates are fixed and paid in the currency of the country of study.

Unless the fellow has lived in the country of study for six months or more at the time of the award of the fellowship, the monthly stipends are paid to fellows according to two different rates. For the first thirty days of a fellowship, the fellow is considered to be on travel status and receives the applicable ad hoc travel rate. For the remaining period of studies, the resident status ad hoc rate is applicable. Where the programme of study calls for a number of study or observation visits in different locations, the fellow may be put on ad hoc travel status beyond the first month. On a case by case basis, UNESCO considers and applies, if deemed appropriate, ad hoc rates, lower than the standard rate. The fellowship becomes effective on the date of arrival of the fellow in the first country of study. Stipends are calculated by UNESCO from that date; they are payable monthly (or every two months) in advance in local currency through the channels indicated in the letter of award.

  • Stipends for Sponsored Fellowships

These stipends are established and paid by the Host Government, and do not necessarily coincide with the UNDP rate or with the Organization’s payment modalities. The specific rate is specified in the letter announcing the scheme and in the letter of award. These stipends may be given as contributions-in-kind and not in cash.

There is only one schedule of stipend rates, and UNESCO does not provide higher stipends for senior persons.

  • The Fellow’s Family

Current regulations relate solely to the fellow, there being no provision for any accompanying members of the family. UNESCO strongly discourages you from taking any members of your family to stay with you during the period of your fellowship. Many of the institutes in the various countries that accept fellows are reluctant to welcome families as they lack the facilities to provide appropriate living conditions.

If the fellow were to be so accompanied, UNESCO will not cover any maintenance or travel expenses thus incurred. It must be understood that no exceptions will be made in case a family member accompanies you, and any additional costs are at your entire expense.

In all cases, the host authority and host institute must be consulted, and you must obtain their agreement before making arrangements to take any family members with you. It is recommended, in any case, that the fellow first proceed alone to the place of study so as to be able to judge on the spot whether it would be possible, with the means available to her/him, to provide for the accommodation and maintenance of one or more members of the family.

In this context, it should be noted that your stipend is not adequate to support members of your family in the host country. If members of your family do accompany you, not only must you provide proof of additional funds for their travel and subsistence but you must also subscribe to a local medical insurance for them. You are the only person who will be covered by a medical insurance policy during the period of your fellowship, and UNESCO will not assume any responsibility for dependants and will not cover them under its own medical scheme.

  • Tuition and Fees

When these are included in the terms of the fellowship spelled out in the letter of award, and if these are required by the fellow’s study programme, UNESCO undertakes to pay them directly to the host institution upon receipt of the invoice.

  • UNESCO Publications

You may purchase UNESCO publications at half price. Requests for such publications must be made through the Fellowships Section.

  • Book Allowance

A monthly book allowance for the duration of the fellowship, established by the UNDP and periodically revised, is paid to those fellows who receive their entire stipend directly from UNESCO. The book allowance is included as part of the stipend payments and is to be used for the purchase of books, technical publications, calculators and supplies related to your field of training

  • Thesis Expenses

In cases where a Fellow incurs financial expenses for the preparation (typing and binding) of a thesis, dissertation, memoir or other paper required for completion of a degree programme, the Organization will reimburse up to a maximum of US$200 provided that the relevant receipts (originals, not photocopies) are submitted to the Organization.

  • Equipment

Only on an exceptional basis, will UNESCO provide for the purchase of small items of equipment essential for the acquisition of knowledge in the country or countries of study. However, prior approval of UNESCO and the recommendation of a tutor are necessary prior to the purchase of such equipment. No provision is made for the purchase of a personal computer or software.

  • Termination Allowance

This allowance is foreseen to enable the fellow to pay for the transport of excess baggage as she/he sees fit. A lump sum payment, usually included in the last payment, is made along the following lines as termination allowance:

  1. US$100 for fellowships up to six months;
  2. US$200 for fellowships up to one year;
  3. A maximum of US$400 for long-term fellowships, at the discretion of the Organization if the circumstances of the fellowship, including duration, so warranted.
  • Payment

The terms of payment are spelled out in the letter of award that should be perused carefully by each grantee. If your letter of award so specifies, you should immediately open a bank account for receipt of stipends and payments and inform the Organization of the name of the bank, its address and your account number. If you delay informing the Organization of your arrival and of your bank account number, your stipend payments may be delayed.

  • Insurance

Some host countries provide medical insurance for UNESCO fellows. If this is the case, your letter of award will so stipulate. All other UNESCO fellowship holders and study grantees may be covered by a special accident/illness insurance policy, taken out by the Organization for the period specified in the approved study programme. This insurance coverage, the costs of which are charged to the fellowship, is contingent upon:

  1. receipt of the required medical certificate; and,
  2. being declared medically fit by the UNESCO Medical Service. The terms of this insurance are summarized in Appendix II.

This insurance should cover most of your personal medical expenses in the event of accident or illness, but does not, however, cover medical expenses of members of your family. According to the terms of this insurance policy, you must pay your hospital and medical bills yourself and then submit the original bills with proof of payment to J. Van Breda and Co. International in Belgium. They will reimburse you promptly. Do not send medical bills to or via the Organization. It is important to note that this policy excludes amongst other items, optical expenses, hearing aids and spa cures.

Employment and Supplemental Grants

The fellow is expected, during the entire tenure of the fellowship, to devote her/his full time to the approved programme of study and not to engage in any income-producing activities.

You may not accept paid employment or a supplemental grant, fellowship, stipend or honorarium while receiving your stipend for your UNESCO fellowship. This restriction does not apply to the normal salary paid to you by your own Government or institution (should you be employed at the time of the award of the fellowship), which is expected to be paid to you while on your fellowship.

Arrival in the Host Country

Notification of Arrival

You must notify the organizing authority of the host country of the exact date and time of your arrival. Upon arrival at your host institution, you must notify UNESCO, by email, of the actual date of your arrival in the host country.

  • Accommodation

Fellows are advised to contact the organizing authorities of the host country or the institute providing training for assistance in finding suitable moderately priced accommodation. You are responsible for paying your own hotel bills, rent, telephone bills, laundry expenses, etc. You should notify the Organization of your mailing address to facilitate correspondence.

Fellows coming to Paris should do likewise. Should they so wish they may request their Permanent Delegation to UNESCO or their Embassy to assist them with this matter. UNESCO assumes no responsibility whatsoever for arranging accommodation for its fellows.

  • Liability

If you are involved in an accident or incident causing injury or death to other persons or damage to property, you should immediately inform your training institution and the competent authorities in your host country, as well as UNESCO. (Fellows are not staff members of UNESCO, and the Organization assumes no liability or responsibility whatsoever for the payment of any compensation in respect of the fellow’s possible involvement in any accident. Furthermore, the Organization assumes no liability or responsibility in the event of an accident resulting in injury or death to a fellow or of any member of her/his family, or damage to her/his or their property).

Reporting to the Organization

On arrival, you must immediately notify the Organization of this fact and, at least two weeks after, you must send an administrative communication giving your address.

Your first report to UNESCO should be sent mid-way after the beginning of your fellowship.  It should include a detailed training plan, prepared by you in collaboration with your supervisor for the duration of your fellowship, with comments on the availability of facilities needed for your training.  This report will be carefully reviewed by the Organization to make sure that the training programme being undertaken corresponds to the one approved by the Organization.  Technical progress reports are also required, as well as a final report.  Your supervisor must countersign the first technical report and any progress reports.  The final one may be submitted directly to the Organization.  All technical reports will be reviewed.

When the duration of the fellowship is more than six months, the fellow is asked to submit reports on the conditions of study and progress achieved. These reports will be written on special UNESCO forms and submitted through the study supervisor.

Publication of Scientific Papers

The importance of prompt publication of the results of scientific investigations or development projects cannot be overemphasized.  No prior approval of UNESCO is required for publication of a scientific paper resulting from research you have done while on your UNESCO fellowship.  However, you should acknowledge the UNESCO in your paper as having provided support for your fellowship, and send a copy of the printed article to the Organization for information.  UNESCO has no obligation whatsoever to publish these scientific papers and no allowance will be provided for that purpose. 


A UNESCO fellowship is awarded for the purpose of providing a period of intensive training abroad.  It is not intended that part of the fellowship be used to support a vacation period. 

Fellowship Extensions

The practice of the Organization is to grant fellowships of short-term duration.  It is emphasized that fellows should endeavour to complete their study and training programmes within the period specified in their letter of award.  It is the responsibility of the fellow and her/his supervisor to design a training programme which can be completed in the allotted time.  Failure to complete the work or study within the duration of the fellowship does not justify an extension.  No extensions will be granted for fellowships funded under the Organization’s Regular Programme.  In some exceptional cases, within some extra-budgetary projects, the fellow may apply for an extension provided her/his current programme is such as to justify a prolongation of the original award.  Requests for an extension will only be considered if the following conditions are met:

  1. Submission of fellowship report(s) according to reporting schedule;
  2. Request submitted by the fellow at least three month (or two months in the case of short-term fellowships) before the expiration of the initial fellowship period, and containing reasons for the request;
  3. Recommendation by the fellow’s supervisor, whose communication should be sent directly to UNESCO as a separate document;
  4. Notification by the fellow to her/his own Government, indicating that a request for extension is being submitted and that UNESCO will require a recommendation by the Government;
  5. Approval by the host institution and nominating Government.

UNESCO makes the final decision in light of all the circumstances with which it is confronted and the petitioning fellow is notified accordingly.

Travel Home

Your return home

The fellow is due to return to her/his country of origin immediately after termination of the fellowship; it is extremely important that she/he do so without delay.

Fellows who have not received tickets for their return travel should apply to the UNESCO Participation Programme and Fellowships Section, about three months before the end of the fellowship.  UNESCO will then make the necessary arrangements.  In some cases, the Host Government in the case of Sponsored Fellowships, will provide you with an excursion or economy-class air or rail ticket home if you were not issued with a round-trip or return ticket initially (this will be specified in the letter of award).

The date chosen for the return journey should be as near as possible to the date of expiry of the fellowship, the fellow being required to return promptly to the home country.

If a termination allowance is part of the terms of the fellowship awarded, it is included in the last payment of the stipend, to cover final expenses and shipping excess baggage.  No additional funds will be provided to cover the cost of sending excess baggage home.

Return Postponed

When you made your original application for your UNESCO fellowship, you agreed to return home after the completion of your training and work for the development of your country.  If, upon completion of your UNESCO fellowship, you are offered a scholarship, assistantship or a fellowship from other sources for further training abroad, you should inform UNESCO and obtain the agreement of your home authorities before postponing your return home.

Should the fellow, for pressing reasons, have to stay in the country of study beyond the termination date of the UNESCO fellowship, she/he must inform UNESCO immediately and at least one month in advance.  In such a case, UNESCO may authorize her/him to collect the ticket at a later date than originally planned, but the fellow shall meet any expenses connected with the revalidation of the ticket. (Remember, if UNESCO has subscribed to an insurance policy on your behalf, it’s validity will expire on the last date indicated on your study programme).

Fellow’s Responsibilities

The responsibilities of fellows are set forth in the letter of award.  They normally include the following:

  • The fellow must certify that all personal data furnished is correct.
  • Fellows are required to undertake their studies for the full period of the fellowship and, on return to the home country, to take up the duties, if any, assigned to them by their governments – duties directly related to the studies pursued during the fellowship period.
  • Fellows must remain in the host country (host institution) and depart only upon permission of the UNESCO Participation Programme and Fellowships Section.
  • Fellows are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner befitting their status as holders of fellowships granted by an organization of the United Nations system.  They are expected to avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may reflect adversely on that status or on UNESCO.  Fellows are requested not to speak in public or to give interviews for purposes of  public  dissemination  except  in  their special field of competence and subject to prior consultation with UNESCO.  This provision is not to be interpreted as debarring fellows from speaking freely in informal gatherings, bearing in mind their obligations as UNESCO fellows.  On the other hand, fellows are asked to promote international understanding in their social activities.
  • In the event of conduct unworthy of a UNESCO fellowship holder in the opinion of the Organization, UNESCO reserves the right to revoke the fellowship and terminate payments under the terms of the award.
  • Under special circumstances a fellow may relinquish the fellowship before its appointed end, but this does not free the fellow from the above-mentioned commitment concerning the duties to be taken up in the home country or from the commitment to submit reports.
  • The fellow is required to comply with the instructions given to her/him by UNESCO pertaining to the study programme and with the administrative formalities concerning the fellowship.
  • Changes in the approved study programmes cannot be made save in very exceptional cases and only upon approval with UNESCO.
  • Fellows are required to inform UNESCO not later than three months before the homeward journey if their tickets need to be authorized or renewed. 
  • If, upon expiry of a fellowship awarded by UNESCO, the fellow’s return ticket has not been claimed from the travel agency or airline company three months after being placed at the fellow’s disposal, the ticket will lapse and be cancelled.
  • Fellows must submit progress and an end-of-studies report within the period specified in the letter of award.
  • On expiry of the fellowship, fellows are required to inform UNESCO of their permanent address in the home country so that the Organization can contact them when necessary.

Contact with Former Fellows

A directory of fellows is prepared by UNESCO every 2 years and sent to National Commissions, Permanent Delegations, UNESCO Regional Offices and Representatives, UNDP Representatives and the fellows themselves.

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