Oxford University launches new scholarship for black graduate students only – two years after snubbing grime star Stormzy’s offer to fund similar scheme
- Black Academic Futures programme will provide up to 10 new scholarships
- Stormzy offered to pay for two young black teenagers to attend Oxford in 2018
- However the rapper claimed that the university ‘did not want to get involved’
- Bosses denied this but later said it took ‘responsibility for missing opportunity’
Oxford University has launched a scholarship scheme exclusively for black students – two years after snubbing grime star Stormzy’s offer to fund a similar programme.
The Black Academic Futures programme will provide up to 10 new scholarships to UK research students starting studies next year.
University bosses admit that black UK graduate students are particularly under-represented at Oxford, making up a proportion of around 1.5 per cent of all postgraduate students, compared with four per cent across all universities.
The scheme comes less than two years after rapper Stormzy offered to pay for two young black teenagers to attend Oxford, but claimed the elite institution ‘did not want to get involved’.
Oxford University has launched a scholarship scheme exclusively for black students – two years after snubbing grime star Stormzy’s offer to fund a similar programme
The scheme comes less than two years after rapper Stormzy offered to pay for two young black teenagers to attend Oxford, but claimed the elite institution ‘did not want to get involved’
The musician then instead said he switched his attention to Oxford’s old rival Cambridge, with whom he did successfully strike a partnership.
The programme saw him pay for the undergraduate fees of two students in 2018/19 and two the following term – as well as offering them maintenance grants, for up to four years.
Oxford initially denied Stormzy’s comments, claiming to have not received or turned down any offer or proposal, but a spokesman subsequently admitted ‘we take responsibility for missing an opportunity’ and insisted they wanted talks to continue.
The university said its Black Academic Futures scholarship aims to rapidly increase applications from, and funded places for, well-qualified black students in the UK, which it says reinforces its commitment to addressing race equality and combating discrimination.
Further graduate funding opportunities for under-represented groups have also been launched by the university and colleges, with targeted scholarships for students in humanities and law.
Other measures are being taken to widen participation in programmes within the mathematical, physical and life sciences division, and medical sciences.
Each scholarship’s value will depend on course costs and duration, with students receiving full payment of their fees – which could be across either three or four years – as well as a maintenance payment.
This will be offered at the UK Research Council rate, which is currently £15,285 per year but rises every 12 months, the Times reports.
The Stormzy scholarships at Cambridge went to four students over two years. Those who were awarded them were funded for four years
Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford University, said: ‘The University has made important steps in recognising and addressing the issue of graduate access and specifically the under-representation of Black students in academia in recent years, with a broad range of divisional, departmental and college initiatives, including scholarships.
‘I am thrilled to announce The Black Academic Futures programme – the next step towards our vision of ensuring over time that finance is not a barrier to educational opportunity or pursuing graduate study at Oxford, and living up to our commitment to embody true inclusion.’
There has been a rise in the number of BAME applicants and those receiving offers in the last five years, with admission up from 14.5 per cent in 2015 in 22.1 per cent last year.
Nikita Ma, President of the Oxford University Student’s Union, said: ‘Access and diversity has always been one of the key themes of the Student Union’s lobbying work.
‘It is very encouraging to see the university taking steps to widen access, and we are pleased to welcome this initiative to increase black representation at the graduate level.’
Oxford University and representatives for Stormzy have been approached for further comment.