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’.
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.
A big welcome to the 91 black students who joined #Cambridge this year! This record number is up by almost 50% on last year.
Shout outs to @Stormzy @TargetOxbridge @CambridgeACS and all the Cambridge #outreach teams for their tremendous efforts. https://t.co/jWTBbLoXHU
— Cambridge University (@Cambridge_Uni) October 11, 2019
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.
View this post on Instagram
The Stormzy Scholarship in partnership with Cambridge University has entered its second year and is now open for application. We will again be covering the full cost of tuition fees and providing a maintenance grant for 2 students. To be eligible for a 2019 entry applicants must be of black heritage and be holding an unconditional offer. Applications must be submitted no later than Sunday 1 September 2019. The students will be selected from a list of applicants by a panel of University staff. 🙏🏿❤️
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.
We’re so pleased by this amazing news and hope to see a continual increase in the number of black students coming to Cambridge. It’s moving to see that our access work, along with the work of @TargetOxbridge @stormzy and @Cambridge_Uni, is making a real impact! https://t.co/uSvGkla7T8
— Cambridge ACS (@CambridgeACS) October 11, 2019
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.
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 played a massive part in this. And big up to @Cambridge_Uni for there continued efforts ❤️🙏🏿 https://t.co/fUxUynq0mF
— SOUNDS OF THE SKENG & WILEY FLOW OUT NOW ⚔️ (@stormzy) October 11, 2019
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.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
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.