Five years after the launch of the Stormzy Scholarship programme at the University of Cambridge, HSBC UK has announced a £2 million pledge to fund 30 new Stormzy Scholarships over the next three years. These scholarships are part of the ongoing collaboration between HSBC and the #MERKY Foundation, established by the renowned musician. It’s a significant move towards promoting diversity and inclusivity in higher education.
Launched in 2018, the Stormzy Scholarships have already transformed the educational journeys of 32 students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. With this new funding, a total of 81 students are projected to benefit from the scholarship initiative by 2026.
These scholarships have proven instrumental in addressing under-representation, contributing to a notable surge in applications from black students. The admission of 141 black students in 2022 marks a 131% increase from 2018, reflecting the impact of what has been dubbed ‘The Stormzy Effect.’
Eligibility for the scholarships requires applicants to be of black or mixed black heritage, possessing confirmed places for degree courses at Cambridge University. The programme includes provisions for mentorship, internships, and skill development opportunities, fostering a holistic learning experience.
Stormzy himself expressed his enthusiasm for the expansion, saying: “For a further 30 black students to have the opportunity to study at Cambridge University – the same year we celebrate 5 years of the scholarships’ launch – feels like an incredible landmark moment. Thank you to HSBC UK for another incredibly significant donation and of course, Cambridge University for always, always backing our mission.”
Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, emphasised the transformational impact of these scholarships. He commended the collaboration’s extension for three more years, saying: “We’re delighted with the University’s collaboration with Stormzy’s #MERKY Foundation and HSBC UK. We’re also extremely grateful to them, as we are to all our donors, for the help they provide ensuring those who often feel marginalised because of the circumstances they grew up in, receive financial support enabling them to fully engage with the student experience.”
HSBC’s commitment to supporting the Stormzy Scholarships aligns with its broader goal of promoting financial health. Ian Stuart, CEO of HSBC UK, highlighted the importance of investing in under-represented students, equipping them to become future change-makers. He believes their partnership helps create a more inclusive society by removing barriers to higher education.
Notably, HSBC’s involvement extends beyond scholarships, as the bank has also witnessed a threefold increase in applications from black heritage students for its UK internship programmes. The bank has partnered with #MERKY Books to help build financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills among young people aged 14-16, demonstrating a commitment to fostering broader societal change. Together they’ve delivered workshops to 10,000 young people, donated over 2,000 books to schools and are planning to expand efforts into 2024 and beyond.
Meet the first two scholars
Drew Chateau, 24, from south London, was one of the 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 leading London law firm. She says the Scholarship made a huge difference. “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.
“Thanks to the award I didn’t have to worry about my next meal, how to support my family or even getting to university each term. While there are always going to be tough times, this made university so much more practical, and enjoyable for me.”
Joseph Vambe, 23, also from south London, graduated in 2021 with a 2:1 in Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) and stayed in Cambridge an extra year to complete his Master’s. Now a fundraising and engagement officer for the charity, Christian Aid, he’s also been elected as a Labour councillor on Southwark Borough Council and is the youngest councillor on the authority. “The Stormzy Scholarship proved to be an invaluable award as I progressed my studies at Cambridge. Throughout my life, the financial burden has always been a barrier to every great opportunity.
“This time was different – the Stormzy Scholarship alleviated that burden and I was able to pursue my degree without worrying about the financial costs which have proved so detrimental and burdensome, time and time again in my life. It is for this precise reason that I am grateful for the Stormzy Scholarship.”
The ongoing partnership between HSBC, the #Merky Foundation and Cambridge University looks to build on its successes and further its mission of breaking down barriers in higher education, while nurturing the potential of students from all walks of life.
This work is republished from the University of Cambridge, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Read the original article.