Number of black students at Cambridge soars by 50% after Stormzy fund

Number of black students starting at Cambridge University soars by 50% on last year after grime star Stormzy funded tuition fees and living costs for undergraduates

  • Stormzy funds tuition fees and living costs for two black undergrads every year 
  • Cambridge says there are 300 black British undergrads studying at its colleges
  • Grime artist Stormzy started providing scholarships for black students in 2018  

Cambridge University has seen a 50 per cent rise in the number of black students joining the prestigious school after grime star Stormzy funded tuition fees and living costs for undergraduates. 

Stormzy, who headlined Glastonbury Festival last year, started providing scholarships for black students at Cambridge in 2018.

The UK’s top university, according to the Complete University Guide, has praised the musician for breaking down barriers, as he funds the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year.

Cambridge’s data shows that 137 UK-based black undergraduates have been admitted to a degree course this year, which is a rise of just over 50 per cent on the 2019-20 academic year.

The university said this represents 4.6 per cent of the number of UK undergraduates commencing their studies and follows a similar increase of almost 50 per cent last year.

There are now more than 300 black British undergraduates at Cambridge.

The number of black undergraduates taking their places at Cambridge University has tripled in the space of three years 

Senior pro-vice-chancellor Professor Graham Virgo said: ‘In just three years, the number of UK-based black undergraduates taking up their place at Cambridge has more than tripled.

‘This is testament to their hard work and ambition.

‘The collegiate university, its students, and partners have been working hard to reach out to potential applicants to encourage them to apply.

‘We accept this is not just about ensuring that our intake reflects UK society.

‘The university, and colleges, need to work hard to ensure that once admitted, all students, no matter what their ethnic background, feel Cambridge is a welcoming place and one in which they can realise their potential and thrive.

‘That is why we’re working with black students at Cambridge to ensure that their education is the best it can possibly be.’

Other factors believed to have played a part in the rise are a social media campaign aimed at overturning perceptions about what Cambridge is like and partnerships with initiatives such as Target Oxbridge, which encourages applications.

Current students are also engaged in access work, with members of the African Caribbean Society (ACS) volunteering as mentors for younger students.

The society’s president Sharon Mehari said: ‘As a society devoted to creating a welcoming and empowering space for all black students, it is an honour and a joy to see that Cambridge will be ushering in its largest intake.

‘This speaks to the passion of the many individuals, organisations, and institutions who have worked to ensure that Cambridge is a place where black students have their academic ability, creativity, ingenuity and heritage valued.

Cambridge has praised grime artist Stormzy, pictured during his Glastonbury headline set last year, after he started providing scholarships to support black students to join the prestigious university 

‘There is no doubt that this cohort of students will thrive and leave an impact on Cambridge in ways we have never seen.

‘We at the ACS are so excited to celebrate every individual and welcome them into the family.’

The university is working in collaboration with black students to identify ways in which the awarding gap between black and white students can be closed and says it is committed to eliminating this gap by 2024.

Departments throughout the university are examining ways of diversifying the curriculum, and providing a wider choice of authors to study.

The university is providing race awareness and unconscious bias training to all staff.

Last month, the university announced that for the first time, 70% of its UK undergraduate intake this year come from state schools, and more than a fifth come from what are officially described as the most deprived areas of the country.

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