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Jamaica & the Commonwealth Caribbean

Guidance for Referees

Thank you for your willingness to act as referee for an applicant for the Rhodes Scholarship. The Selection Committee will be grateful if you will provide a frank statement regarding this applicant’s qualifications.
Proven intellectual and academic attainment of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they will also be required to show integrity of character, sympathy for and protection of the weak, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talents to the full. Preferably your letter will be no less than 300 words in length.

Mr. Rhodes believed that the least of these qualities was best tested through participation and success in sports. Sporting prowess, however, is not an essential if applicants demonstrate in other ways the physical vigour which will enable Rhodes Scholars to make an effective contribution to the world around them. Mr. Rhodes clearly expected this in expressing the hope that a Rhodes Scholar would come to 'esteem the performance of public duties as his highest aim'.

It is not expected that you will be able to speak from first hand knowledge of the candidate's qualifications under all those heads. If you are primarily acquainted with the candidate through an academic relationship you are requested to concentrate in detail on intellectual quality and potential (bearing in mind that your reference will be used for admission procedures at Oxford University) although your assessment of the other qualities will be very welcome to the Committee. If, on the other hand, you are better acquainted with the candidate through non-academic interests, you are requested to concentrate on assessment of character in the knowledge that the Committee is looking for persons who show promise of outstanding achievement in later life.

Please do not hesitate to speak of the candidate's limitations as well as qualities. A critical appraisement will add to, rather than detract from, the force of your letter, since Committees naturally tend to be dubious of recommendations which imply that a candidate has no limitations whatever.

The Selection Committee will begin evaluation of the credentials of the applicants on or about October 3. Your assistance will be especially valuable if you are able to submit your comments before that date. No assurance can be given that the Committee will be in a position to make use of letters received subsequent to that date. The Committee deeply appreciates your help in this matter.

Further information can be obtained on the Jamaican and Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship at: