A further 30 Black students are to receive a £20,000 per year scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge following a new philanthropic partnership between HSBC UK and the #Merky Foundation, the UK charity founded by British musician, Stormzy.
The scholarships will fund the tuition fees and maintenance costs (equivalent of £20,000 per student each year) for 10 new students each year over the next three years, for a degree course of either three or four years’ duration.
The combined support of HSBC UK, the #Merky Foundation and an anonymous donor means the University is set to welcome a total of 13 Stormzy Scholars in the autumn.
The move represents a significant expansion of The Stormzy Scholarship programme, launched in 2018, which to date, has supported six Black students through their Cambridge education.
In June 2020, Stormzy’s #Merky Foundation announced it would be donating £10 million over ten years to charities and other organisations committed to tackling racial inequality in the UK. HSBC UK’s donation is in addition to #Merky Foundation’s initial commitment, with the Foundation encouraging other companies to follow suit and join them in pledging.
The Stormzy Scholarships are credited with helping Cambridge to attract more applications from a traditionally underrepresented group. In 2017 the University admitted 58 Black British students to undergraduate degree courses. In 2020, this had risen to 137. This represented a 50% increase on the previous year and in turn was coined ‘The Stormzy Effect’.
Stormzy, said: “For 30 more Black students to have the opportunity to study at Cambridge University – the same year our initial 2018 scholars graduate – feels like an incredible milestone. Thank you to HSBC UK for their significant donation and, of course, Cambridge University for always backing our mission. I hope this scholarship continues to serve as a small reminder to young Black students that the opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world is theirs for the taking.”
The first two Stormzy Scholars graduated this summer with a high 2:1 and 2:1.
The University of Cambridge’s Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Virgo, said: “We are enormously grateful to HSBC UK for supporting the #Merky Foundation in funding the degree courses of an additional 30 Black students over the next three years.
“Since the Stormzy Scholarships were announced in 2018 we have seen a significant increase in the number of Black students applying to study here and being admitted and we are very proud to see the first two students supported by the scheme graduate this year. We’re confident that they are starting out on an exciting journey which may not have been possible without the generous support of philanthropists like Stormzy. With the launch of our Foundation Year, for admission next year, we will be in a position to support a lot more students who have experienced educational disadvantage on their path through higher education.”
Ian Stuart, Chief Executive of HSBC UK, said: “Education is a great equalizer and a powerful force for change. We are incredibly proud to support the growth of the Stormzy Scholarships at the University of Cambridge, helping remove barriers to higher education as part of our wider commitment to support racial equality in the UK.”
All Stormzy Scholarship applicants will also have the option to explore work experience, skills development and mentoring opportunities with the bank.
To be eligible for a 2021 award applicants must have a confirmed place to start at Cambridge in October, and be a home student (UK) of Black or mixed race heritage. Applications must be submitted to the University no later than Friday 27 August 2021. The students will be selected from a list of applicants by a panel of University staff and experts from higher education. The President of the University’s student African-Caribbean Society also sits on this selection panel.
Students from low income families can apply for awards of up to £3,500 a year from the Cambridge Bursary Scheme. In the 2019/20 academic year, almost £8.5m was distributed to a total of 2,711 students.