The Standard Bank Africa Derek Cooper Scholarship

With over 150 years of history, Standard Bank has firmly rooted itself in the African soil, growing, thriving and adapting at pace along with the continent itself. Together, Standard Bank and Africa have transcended humble beginnings to achieve international prominence amongst our global peers.

The partnership between Standard Bank and Derek Cooper

With over 150 years of history, Standard Bank has firmly rooted itself in the African soil, growing, thriving and adapting at pace along with the continent itself. Together, Standard Bank and Africa have transcended humble beginnings to achieve international prominence amongst our global peers.


The Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship marks the culmination of over thirty years of direction, vision and action attributed to Derek Cooper, a true South African business leader and former Chairman of the Standard Bank Group.


Africa's role in shaping the 21st Century

It is becoming clearer that Africa has a critical role to play in shaping the 21st Century. The continent is increasingly interacting with the rest of the world on its own terms. Through this commitment, Standard Bank aims to champion those African leaders who will actively build a future for Africa, led by Africans.


These leaders will be asked to exercise global influence through visionary leadership. Nine students will be selected to complete their post-graduate studies at the prestigious institutions of Cambridge, Oxford and The London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. Each specialising in their unique areas of expertise. These individuals will represent the best and brightest Africa has to offer, introducing thoughtful challenge amongst their peers as they grow in courage, fair-mindedness and integrity.  Their stay and studies will be fully funded and backed by Standard Bank as part of our commitment to enable and empower them to become effective leaders in Africa.


So before you become an innovator, a leader or an entrepreneur - become part of a diverse African Alumnus. A network of peers that share a vision and determination for Africa, who are committed to driving Africa's growth.

Derek Cooper is a man who has achieved remarkable accomplishments during his tenure as Chairman of Standard Bank. He was at the core in co-leading the Standard Bank Group through the complex process of introducing a Chinese strategic partner and 20% shareholder. This led to a massive influx of foreign investment that still resonates across the African economic landscape. In order to trace the success of Mr Cooper, one needs to look at his career in a more holistic manner.


When recounting his earlier years, Derek Cooper said this, "Jeppe High School for Boys was for me a great experience. I was a reasonable scholar, moderate but keen and an involved games player, I received a wonderful grounding and preparation for life. I left Jeppe with an excellent education, a love of games, an eagerness to read and an ability to mix with people from every walk of life."


Jeppe, however, was a stepping stone for greater things to come. In 1963 Derek Cooper obtained the title of Chartered Accountant, after completing his academic studies and required work experience at The University of the Witwatersrand. After attaining his accreditation, Mr Cooper spent the next thirty years of his career establishing himself as a forward-thinking, success-orientated businessman, skilled in the management of mergers and acquisitions.


In 1964, he joined Barlow World Limited and rose through the ranks to eventually fill the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director position. From this position, he steered the way for Barlow World to become one of South Africa's largest and most successful companies with interests that spanned the globe.


It was from this sphere of influence that Mr Cooper could contribute to the shifting social climate within South Africa and lend his expertise and empathy to the growing concern of worker equality. He was instrumental in aiding the adoption of the Sullivan Principles, which laid the groundwork for the recognition of trade unions in South Africa. His involvement in these matters also led to him joining an advisory team for the New South African Government to give input on the social and economic impact of dismantling the Apartheid Government. It was during 1999 that Mr Cooper was asked to join the Board of Standard Bank and lead the defense against a hostile takeover by a rival bank. After a gruelling nine months of negotiation, strategy and leadership, it became known as one of the most difficult takeover battles in South African commercial history and has been documented as a case study for the Harvard Business School.


As Chairman of Standard Bank for nine of some of its most difficult years in its 150 year history, Derek Cooper remains a stalwart symbol of progressive leadership. His commitment was reflected in his constant striving to understand both the risks we face and the drivers of our success.

Qualifying criteria for the Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship

The Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship is available to graduate students who are and will ordinarily remain resident in one of the African countries in which Standard Bank is present (see full list below). Prospective candidates must demonstrate an exceptional academic track record and will need to have successfully qualified on their own merit in their application for a one-year Master's programme at either of the following partner university institutions: Oxford, Cambridge and London School of Economics and Political Science.


A preference will be given to students commencing a course of study in one of the following programmes:


University of Oxford

  • MSC programme provided by the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities divisions at the University.
London School of Economics and Political Science
  • MSc Environmental Economics and Climate Change
  • MSc Public Management and Governance
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Risk and Finance
  • MSc Finance and Private Equity
  • MSc Real Estate Economics and Finance
  • MSc Law and Accounting
  • MSc Economics and Management
  • MSc Management Information Systems and Digital Innovation
  • MSc Management and Strategy
  • MSc Financial Mathematics
  • MSc Economics and Philosophy
  • MSc Environment and Development
University of Cambridge
  • MPhil in Economics
  • Mphil in Education
  • Mphil in Engineering for Sustainable Development
  • Mphil in Finance
  • Mphil in Management

What the Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship covers:
The scholarships will provide the tuition and college fee in full, and a maintenance grant (i.e. living costs incurred in the college such as rental of college accommodation, food taken in college, etc.) commensurate to the national minimum doctoral stipend of the UK Research Councils.


The Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship selection process:
The scholarships will be awarded annually, and the selection process will be managed through the University application process.


How to apply for the Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper Scholarship:
Please be advised that you will be required to apply for your programme of choice as well as funding. Application dates vary for each institution. Please therefore refer to your University of choice for application dates.


Applications should be channeled directly through each University website, as follows:

The application offices of the above universities can be contacted directly for assistance in completing the documentation required. The prerequisite forms and contact details can all be found on their respective websites.


Note: If applying for Cambridge, it is important that you list Magdalene College as your first preference in order to be considered for the Scholarship.  Students will be required to complete The Standard Bank Africa, Derek Cooper application form which can be obtained through the Graduate Tutor’s assistant via [email protected]


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