IELTS Prize 2021 winner Krystel Mae Peñaflor will take up MS Island and Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Exeter.  
Monday 27 September 2021

Philippines – The British Council, the UK’s international organisation for educational and cultural opportunities, has announced the 26 regional winners of the 2021 IELTS Prize. In its tenth year, the IELTS Prize has supported more than 300 students in East Asia region to date; helping them pursue their dreams of studying abroad.

This year, prize winners in the region include three outstanding IELTS test takers from the Philippines: Krystel Mae Peñaflor, Sophia Ramos and Zyrene Estallo.

‘I consider this as my greatest achievement during this uncertain time,’ first prize winner Peñaflor shared. ‘When I got my admission to the University Exeter, I realised that I will become the first Filipino to take MS Island and Biodiversity Conservation. I didn’t want to lose this once in a lifetime opportunity just because of my financial challenges.’

Millions of students had to readjust their study plans due to the continued disruption of the pandemic. IELTS, the world’s popular high-stakes English proficiency test, has been a crucial part of students’ entry requirements, especially for students in the region wishing to study in the United Kingdom, the US, Canada and Australia.

‘One of the advantages of IELTS Prize is that the scholarship can be awarded to undergraduate and postgraduate students in their university of choice in any country. Application process and requirements are very specific... The British Council looks beyond academic grades which sometimes are crucial in other scholarships, but more importantly, they recognise the aspirations and potential of aspiring international students,’ Peñaflor said.

She also has some advice for IELTS test takers on how they can ace their test. ‘Sign-up and study the Road to IELTS. The course offers online materials, sample videos, teacher tutorials, and timed practice tests which enables them to simulate mock questions and get familiar with the actual test. [Test takers] can also explore the British Council website for other online courses on grammar and vocabulary... And join IELTS webinars where they can ask expert educators from the British Council about tips on improving their English language skills.’

The British Council received over 600 applications and interviewed over 80 high flying individuals who excelled in their IELTS test and explained their intentions to contribute to society locally or abroad after study.

Trish Thomson, Regional Marketing Director for the British Council in East Asia said, ‘The IELTS Prize recognises high performing students that demonstrate academic excellence and commitment to excel during international study. More importantly, they show the determination to take what they learnt during their time abroad and use it to benefit their communities when they return home. It is our privilege to help these talented individuals make their mark in the world that is rapidly changing. International study is one way they can prepare themselves to thrive in the future.’

The British Council in East Asia invites all students planning to study abroad and interested in taking IELTS tests to the 2021 IELTS Prize Virtual Award Ceremony which will be live-streamed on British Council IELTS Facebook pages across East Asia on 30 September. This 45-minute online celebration is open to anyone. It will be great opportunity to learn from the IELTS Prize winners on how to ace IELTS test and how their lives have and will change as they embark on their new study journey.

‘I [hope] my education will inspire and empower young people, especially women to pursue their dreams of studying abroad so that when we return home, we can advance science and technology for our country’s development,’ Peñaflor added. 

For more information about IELTS prize, visit

For more information, please contact British Council Exams Marketing Manager, Danica Tuliao through


Notes to Editor

About IELTS Prize

Since 2011, the British Council IELTS Prize (East Asia) has enabled more than 300 IELTS test takers to pursue their studies around the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and more.

The IELTS Prize is awarded to high-calibre individuals with the motivation to develop their career, to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in any chosen discipline in a higher education institution that accepts IELTS as part of its admission requirements around the world. While the IELTS Prize is not aimed at students in any one particular discipline, the British Council is eager to support test takers who demonstrate the potential to contribute to society with what they have gained from their undergraduate or postgraduate study experience.

More information can be found at

 2020/21 IELTS Prize winner list 
Country IELTS Prize winner Name University Subject/programme
Hong Kong
 1 Rachel Sung University of Cambridge MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies
2 Blaire Ng London School of Economics and Political Science MSc development studies
3 Ellen Wong Kingston University MA Curating Contemporary Design
1 Jin Hee Lim University of Oxford DPhil Geography and the Environment
2 Songha Kim University of Cambridge BA Engineering
3 Hannah Chang London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine MSc Epidemiology
1 Hao-Hsiang Liao University of Toronto Social Justice Education M.Ed. program
2 Chia-Wen Tsai University of Birmingham International Political Economy
3 Hong-Han, Lin King's College London Cultural and Creative Industries
1 Devi Larasati Parmaliningtyas Murwaningrum University of Greenwich, UK MSc Global Public Health
2 Nicholas Pukyong National University Industrial and Data Engineering
1 Tan Pei Jing University of British Columbia Applied Science
2 Hadhinah Binti Ahmad Puaad University College London (UCL) MSc Sports Medicine, Exercise and Health
3 Senthil Kumaran Raja Kumar Aberystwyth University Media and Creative Writing
1 Grace Shani Anthony University of Glasgow Medicine
2 Zi Ling Stephanie Teh  University of Oxford Public Policy
3 Timothy Boey University of Liverpool Medicine
1 Ratima Komkai University College London MA Applied Linguistics
2 Massupa Sukksem Georgetown University M.S. in Linguistics
3 Kotchakorn Khwamcharoen London School of Economics Msc Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship 
1 Krystel Mae Penaflor University of Exeter  MS Island Biodiversity and Conservation
2 Sophie Ramos S P Jain School of Global Management Global MBA
3 Zyrene Estallo University of New Brunswick Master of Education in Instruction and Curriculum
1 Nguyen Hoang Vy Nottingham Trent University  MA, TESOL
2 Pham Le Phuong Mai University College London  MA Applied Linguistics 
3 Nguyen Thi Khanh Ha Goldsmiths, University of London MA Arts Administration and Cultural Policy

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration with millions of tests taken each year. Over 11,000 organisations trust and accept IELTS as a secure, valid and reliable indicator of true to life ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation. IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English.

About the test

Test takers are measured in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All tests are scored on a banded system from 1 (the lowest) through to 9 (the highest band).

IELTS offers a choice of two test versions, to serve both academic and non-academic purposes. IELTS Academic measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher learning environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to all test takers, irrespective of their subject focus. IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. IELTS General Training is suitable for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A sample of government and professional associations who recognise or require applicants to hold an IELTS test result include:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  • UK Visas and Immigration
  • Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools and National Council of State Boards of Nursing, USA
  • International Monetary Fund


About the British Council

The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for education and cultural relations. Dedicated to building trust through the exchange of knowledge between people worldwide, the British Council is represented in over 100 countries. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, and through broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.