‘Stormzy Effect’ Sees More Black Students Get Into Cambridge University

by : Emily Brown on : 11 Oct 2019 12:45
Stormzy Effect Sees More Black Students Get Into Cambridge UniversityCambridge University

Record numbers of black students are now studying at the University of Cambridge following Stormzy’s pledge to offer scholarships and funding. 

Last year, the grime artist launched his scholarship to pay for tuition fees and living costs at Cambridge for two young black students. In August, he announced he would be continuing the scholarship for another year to cover the costs of another two students from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.


After Stormzy made his offer, Cambridge has seen ‘an increase in the number of black students engage in its outreach activities and enquire about its courses’.

Stormzy Biography Age Girlfriend Album Songs Height Awards Net WorthGetty

This year, 91 black students were admitted to the university, approximately a 50% increase from the 61 who started courses in Autumn 2018. According to a press release, black students make up more than 3% of new undergraduates.

Professor Graham Virgo, Cambridge’s senior pro-vice-chancellor for Education, said the rise was partly down to the ‘Stormzy effect’. Other factors, including the involvement of several student societies in promoting the university and proactive campaign work, have also been credited for the rise.


Professor Virgo commented:

A number of factors are thought to be behind the increase in black students applying and being admitted.

One is likely to be the ‘Stormzy effect’. In August 2018, the award-winning British grime artist announced he would fund tuition fees and living costs for two students each year for the duration of their study at Cambridge.

The increase means there are more than 200 black undergraduates studying at Cambridge this year; a record number in the institution’s 800-year history. Cambridge’s figures show 26.8% of its undergraduate students this year were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.


The university said the new figures are reflective of wider UK society. UCAS figures showed that, as of September 12, 33,730 black UK students had been accepted on to degree courses at British universities and colleges, meaning black students made up 7.9% of acceptances across the country, the BBC News report.

Professor Virgo added:

The university has worked hard to get the message out that it is a welcoming place for students regardless of their ethnicity. This record rise in the number of black students is a credit to their hard work and ability. We have not lowered entry standards.

It is also a credit to the hard work put in by admissions staff across the university and colleges in running various outreach activities, and the positive campaigns run by our student societies and external partners.


Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Omari, grew up in Croydon, south London, and attended a state school.

According to a Cambridge press release, the grime artist spoke of his pledge, saying:

There are so many young black kids all over the country who have the level of academic excellence to study at a university such as Cambridge – however we are still under represented at leading universities.

We, as a minority, have so many examples of black students who have excelled at every level of education throughout the years.

I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking – and if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down.


The 26-year-old took to Twitter to respond to the news of the increase in black students, writing:

This is amazing – there’s no way that this is because of me alone, big up @CambridgeACS for the incredible work they do they would of [sic] played a massive part in this. And big up to @Cambridge_Uni for there [sic] continued efforts.

Earlier this week, TIME magazine named the 26-year-old as one of its ‘next generation leaders’ for 2019.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Celebrity, Education, Stormzy, University


BBC and 3 others
  1. BBC

    Cambridge University: 'Stormzy effect' helps rise in black students

  2. Cambridge University

    Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students

  3. TIME

    ‘It’s My Purpose to Shine a Light Where I Can.’ How Rapper Stormzy Is Championing Black British Culture

  4. Cambridge University

    Increase in black student numbers