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Stormzy says Cambridge University is ‘there for the taking’ as he expands black student scholarship scheme

Stormzy has said the opportunity to study at one of the world’s top universities is “there for the taking” as he expands the number of Cambridge “Stormzy Scholarships” for black students to 36 over the next three years.

The award-winning rapper from south London described the additional scholarships, five years after he started the original scheme, as “an incredible landmark moment”.

“I hope these scholarships continue 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 there for the taking,” he said.

HSBC has pledged £2m to support a further 10 new Stormzy Scholarships at the University of Cambridge over the next three years, in addition to the two currently funded by Stormzy’s charity #Merky Foundation.

“Thank you to HSBC UK for another incredibly significant donation and of course, Cambridge University for always, always backing our mission,” he said.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Stormzy attends #TheMikeGala, Stormzy's 30th Birthday with The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts and Don Julio 1942 on July 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for #Merky)
The rapper, who recently celebrated his 30th birthday, said this was a ‘landmark moment’ for the scholarship scheme (Photo: David M Benett/Getty Images)

Each student will receive a £20,000 annual scholarship covering their tuition fees and maintenance grants.

To be eligible for a 2023 award, applicants must be of black or mixed black heritage and have a confirmed place to start a degree course at Cambridge.

Since launching in 2018, the scholarships have helped 32 students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds and it is anticipated a total of 81 students will have received a Stormzy Scholarship by 2026.

They are also credited with creating a “Stormzy effect” – attracting more applications from a traditionally under-represented group to one of the world’s leading educational establishments.

The number of UK black students admitted to undergraduate courses has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 61 students in 2018 to 141 students in 2022.

A fountain and the hall is pictured in Great Court at Trinity College, part of the University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, east England on October 14, 2020. - Going to Cambridge had always been a dream for Matthew Omoefe Offeh, one of a growing number of black students who are slowly remaking the elite university's racial mix, helped in part by rapper Stormzy. Offeh has benefited from Target Oxbridge, which looks to open up Oxford and Cambridge to more working-class and minority students. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) / To go with AFP story by 'Pauline FROISSART' (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The scholarship scheme will offer 36 funded places over the next three years at the University of Cambridge (Photo by Justin Tallis /AFP via Getty Images)

Professor Bhaskar Vira, pro vice chancellor for education at the University of Cambridge, said he was “delighted” the university’s collaboration with Stormzy’s #Merky Foundation and HSBC UK will continue for another three years.

He said: “We know these scholarships are truly transformative in the opportunities they provide and we look forward to welcoming more Stormzy scholars to Cambridge over the next few years.”

Ian Stuart, HSBC UK CEO, said it was “a privilege to work alongside #Merky and the University of Cambridge to help under-represented students overcome barriers to higher education, build their professional network at HSBC and beyond, and become the change-makers of the future.”

All Stormzy Scholarship applicants have the option to undertake work experience, skills development and mentoring opportunities with HSBC bank.

Drew Chateau, 24, from south London, was one of two students awarded a Stormzy Scholarship in 2018.

She graduated in 2021 with a 2:1 in law and is now a trainee solicitor at a London law firm.

She said: “Financial pressures and burdens had placed restrictions on my life and on those around me, which made it difficult to concentrate on education due to the circumstances we found ourselves in.

“The scholarship helped reduce the gap between myself and those from a more stable upbringing.”

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