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American Rhodes Scholars have decided to begin their studies at Oxford in 2023

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A new group of U.S. Rhodes Scholars has been selected for the prestigious academic program in an online selection process for the third year in a row.

The class of 32 scholars for 2023 was “selected entirely virtually, with both candidates and selectors participating remotely, securely and independently,” Rhodes Trust US Secretary Eliot F. Gerson said earlier Sunday. “As successful as this process has been, we certainly hope to return to face-to-face interviews and selection next year in cities across the country, as has been done for more than a century.”

Interviews for the 2021 and 2022 scholarships were conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 fellows, including 16 women and 16 men, are expected to start studying at the University of Oxford in England in October for degrees in the social, humanities and biological and physical sciences, the trust said.

American Scholars, who are among students selected from more than 60 countries, were vetted by 16 independent district committees from more than 2,500 applications. Of those applicants, 840 were supported by 244 American colleges and universities.

After receiving approval from their schools, most district committees selected 14 or more applicants for an online interview. The committees met separately Nov. 10-12 via a virtual platform and selected 235 finalists from 73 colleges and universities, including nine schools where no student had previously received the scholarship, though there were no first-time winners, the trust said.

The financial costs of the scholars during the two to three years of study – about $75,000 per year on average – are covered by the Rhodes Trust, a British charity created to fulfill the will of Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the De Beers diamond mining and production company.

The fellowships were established in 1902, the first class entered Oxford in 1903, and the first Rhodes Scholars from the United States arrived in 1904, according to the website of the American Secretary of the Trust.

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