Frequently asked questions

When will the next fellowship programme take place?

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been unable to run a  John Smith Trust fellowship programme for three years.
  • We anticipate that the next programme will start in autumn 2023. The programme has been adapted for the current global context to be delivered in a hybrid, combined regional format.
  • Applications already submitted for the 2020/21 Wider Europe and Central Asia programmes will be considered for the next relevant programmes.
  • If you are interested in applying, please register your interest and we will let you know when applications are open!
  • As soon as programme dates have been confirmed, we will publicise these on our website and social media and inform all applicants of the timeline for the selection process.

Which countries are included in the fellowship programme?

  • Only candidates from the following countries may apply: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, or Uzbekistan. 
  • The Trust cannot accept applications from any other country or territory

When does the fellowship programme run?

  • We anticipate that the next programme will start in 2023. It will be a 6-month hybrid programme including a monthly online programme of workshops, discussions and webinars followed by  a  residential programme in the UK in the spring of 2024.  
  • As soon as dates have been confirmed, we will publicise these and inform all applicants of the timeline for the selection process.

How does recruitment work?

  • The recruitment process consists of an online application form, an online interview for those who are shortlisted, and a final stage face-to-face interview.
  • Please note that if you are successful in the final interview, we will require a letter of support from your current employer before we formally offer you a place on the programme.

When is the deadline to apply?

  • TBC.

Is there a set of criteria that candidates must meet?

  • The Trust selects exceptional and influential future leaders who are already making an impact in one or more of the following areas 1) governance and justice, 2) climate and sustainability and 3) equality, diversity, and inclusion. 
  • Fellows can work in any sector, e.g., public sector (public administration at local, regional or national levels, politics), non-profit sector (civil society, NGOs, think tanks, research/education institutions, media) or private sector (legal professions, business/social business, finance). 
  • Please note that the Trust will accept applications from each of the 12 eligible countries listed above. The Trust does not discriminate against applicants based on their country of origin, nationality, ethnicity, gender, faith, or any other personal characteristic. 
  • Fellows are expected to demonstrate the John Smith Trust’s shared values of tolerance, respect and openness towards one another at all times. Please see our [Fellows’ Charter] for more detail on what we expect from Fellows. The Trust strongly condemns Russia’s unlawful act of aggression on Ukraine and supports the people of Ukraine who are defending their freedom. Fellows who take part in the programme are expected to accept this position. Please see our statement on the war on Ukraine for more detail.
  • Fellows are normally aged 25-35. 
  • We are looking for people ready to make a substantial commitment to participate actively in the UK residential programme, to implement their Action Plan on return home and to become an active member of the Fellows’ network in the long term. 
  • Please note that the candidates selected are those whom the Trust feel will make the most significant long-term positive impact on their society’s development and not the development of their own careers. 
  • Before you apply, please read our website thoroughly and refer to our ‘Applications’ page for more detail on application criteria and what you can expect to gain from becoming a John Smith Fellow. 

What level of English do applicants need to be accepted onto the fellowship programme?

  • A high standard of written and spoken English is essential as the programme is conducted entirely in English. Fellows have preferably already worked or studied in English.

What level of commitment is expected during the fellowship programme?

  • We are looking for people ready to make a substantial commitment to participate actively in the UK residential programme and in the monthly online events that make up the rest of the fellowship. Additionally, there will be the opportunity for those who particularly excel during the fellowship to take part in additional regional and/or UK based network events.  
  • Fellows are expected to implement their action plan on return home, and to become an active member of our fellowship network in the long term. 
  • We facilitate open and honest discussion about the challenges our societies face, the solutions we’ve tried and what we’ve learned. As such, Fellows are expected to demonstrate the John Smith Trust’s shared values of tolerance, respect and openness towards one another at all times, in accordance with our [Fellows’ Charter]. 

What is an action plan?

  • The action plan is a project addressing a challenge in policy or practice, which is related to each Fellow’s field of expertise, and which would be enhanced by insights and understanding of the equivalent UK experience.  It should contribute to the positive development of your society within one of our thematic areas: climate and sustainability, governance and justice, and equality, diversity and inclusion. The project should be ambitious yet feasible to implement. 
  • Each Fellow writes a first draft of their action plan as part of the application process. The plan is then developed and finalised during the UK residential programme as a result of one-to-one meetings with UK experts, practitioners and counterparts, as well as group discussions and workshop sessions. The John Smith Trust team will work with each Fellow in the months leading up to the residential programme to develop an individually tailored Action Plan programme. On return to their homes, Fellows commit to the implementation of their action plan. They are required to report to the Trust formally on the implementation of their project after the completion of their UK residential fellowship programme. Fellows will also have the opportunity to share their learning through written insights pieces, contributions to workshops and network events. The Trust cannot provide any financial assistance for the implementation of action plans. 
  • Take a look at some of our Fellows’ profiles to see the sorts of action plans that have been implemented in the past.  Our News and Insights page also contains updates from our Fellows on the impact of their projects and their work following the fellowship programme. 

What is an action plan meeting?

  • As part of the fellowship programme, the John Smith Trust sets up four days of individually tailored meetings for each Fellow with organisations and senior experts in the UK whose work is relevant to their plan.
  • Action plan meetings give Fellows the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas directly with practitioners and seek input from experts. The meetings also provide numerous opportunities for high-level networking.
  • On the application form, Fellows are required to identify potential action plan meeting hosts – a wish list of specific UK individuals, institutions and organisations they would ideally like to meet – and explain how these meetings would help them design and implement their action plan. If selected, in the lead-up to the UK fellowship programme, each Fellow is required to work remotely with the Trust to develop this wish list into an individually tailored programme of action plan meetings.
  • The Trust cannot guarantee meetings with specific institutions, organisations or individuals, but will do everything possible to secure appropriate meetings for each Fellow.

Do you accept candidates from countries outside the Trust’s listed fellowship countries?

  • The Trust can only accept applications from: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, or Uzbekistan. 

I am a national of one the countries/territories listed for the fellowship, but I currently live and work in another fellowship country/territory – can I still apply for the fellowship programme?

  • Yes, you are eligible to apply as a candidate of your country/territory of residence.

I am a national of one of the fellowship countries/territories, but I am currently living overseas – can I still apply for the fellowship programme?

  • The Trust selects young leaders who will make a substantial impact on the future development of their countries/territories. Therefore, applicants must be resident in a fellowship country/territory and in employment in that country.

I am under 25 years old or over 35 years old, can I still apply?

  • You can still apply, but the Trust will only consider candidates outside this age range in exceptional circumstances. Please note that the Trust selects influential young leaders who have the experience and potential necessary to make a substantial impact on the future development of their country/territory. Younger applicants may be encouraged to apply again in the future. 
  • Please note that if you were within the age range when you applied for the 2020/1 programmes, you will still be considered for 2023 programme, even if you are over 35 years old when applications reopen. 

Can I apply again if my application has been unsuccessful?

  • Yes.

What costs are covered by JST and how much can I be expected to pay?

  • We provide a travel bursary to cover the cost of return economy flights and a visa, if required. We cover accommodation in the UK, travel within the UK as required by the programme, and daily subsistence for the duration of the UK programme. All costs related to the workshops, visits, meetings and attachments in the UK are covered by the Trust. 
  • Please note: Fellows are responsible for the cost and provision of their own medical and travel insurance during the UK programme.

What happens after the fellowship programme?

  • As well as taking part in the residential programme, we expect Fellows to attend and actively participate in monthly online events during the rest of the six-month programme. 
  • Becoming a John Smith Fellow is a lifelong opportunity and commitment! Fellows become part of a collaborative community of senior leaders and change-makers from across Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. We provide ongoing opportunities for Fellows in our network to connect with and learn from the experiences of counterparts beyond their cohort, working in the public, private and civil society sectors, as well as high-level leaders, in the UK and across Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Fellows are invited to regular online events as well as regional and UK-based in-person events, often as contributors, facilitators as well as participants.  
  • We keep in regular contact with Fellows after the residential fellowship programme and expect Fellows to provide updates on the implementation of their action plans and other work towards positive societal developments in their country or region, which we may share on our  News and Insights page. 
  • Fellows can also connect with each other, join the mentoring scheme and learn about upcoming events via our online networking platform, the Hub. 

If you have any other questions, please email  and we will reply to you as soon as possible.