Cecil Rhodes named nine beneficiary countries in his Will, and since 1904 other countries have been added to the list. In 1976, the scope of the Rhodes Scholarships was further extended when legal changes in the United Kingdom permitted the Rhodes Trustees to open the competition to women.
Rhodes described the qualities he sought in his scholars in the following terms:
My desire being that the students who shall be elected to the scholarships shall not merely bookworms I direct that in the election of a student to a Scholarship regard shall be had to
His literary and scholastic attainments
- His fondness of and success in manly outdoor sports such as cricket football and the like
- His qualities of manhood truth courage devotion to duty sympathy for the protection of the weak kindliness unselfishness and fellowship and
- His exhibition during school days of moral force of character and of instincts to lead and to take an interest in his schoolmates for those latter attributes will be likely in afterlife to guide him to esteem the performance of public duties as his highest aim.