The University of Cambridge is planning to launch a new scheme in order to support its poorest students. The project, set to be launched in the upcoming academic year by vice chancellor, Stephen Toope, will provide fully funded “debt-free” studentships to students suffering from immense economic disparity. The initiative was taken after concerns arose over the University’s lack of diversity and its inability to provide relief to its underprivileged students. According to documents obtained by the student newspaper Varsity, the University is planning to increase its financial support schemes such as maintenance grants on both centralised and collegiate levels. Some students “with greatest financial need” may be eligible for the new scheme which would cover both tuition fees and living expenses. The Undergraduate Bursaries Task Force (UBTF) suggested that monetary support provided by the university may be aimed at students who received free school meals as a measure of financial instability. The University of Cambridge commented that it “will seek to inspire and support young children at various stages of, and facing various challenges in their educational journey, including their time at the university”.
Any moves from the university to help eradicate the financial burdens of an education are very much welcomed
– Shadab Ahmed
According to the Labour MP, David Lammy, “bursaries and scholarships available are spread too thin right across the student body” and so encourages this project, adding that it was “long overdue”. He further told The Independent that,“there are significant parts of the north of England where people aren’t making their way to Cambridge” and went on to address the issue of underrepresentation of ethnic communities. Recently, top universities have been under attack by ministers and the Office for Students for not reaching out to minorities after reports showed that some Oxbridge colleges had not admitted any British black students in a number of years. Shadab Ahmed, Access and Funding officer at Cambridge University’s Students’ Union welcomed the new scheme but also called out for more action. “Education is not a commodity”, he stated, “and to put a price on it dissuades those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. This is one of the many barriers to higher education, and so any moves from the university to help eradicate the financial burdens of an education are very much welcomed.”