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Queen Mary partners with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation to improve access to higher education for disadvantaged Black British students

Queen Mary University of London has announced that it is partnering with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation (CSF), a new charitable foundation, to provide scholarships for disadvantaged Black British students from 2021.

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The logo of the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation
The logo of the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation

Queen Mary will cover the tuition fees for at least three students over a decade from 2021, with the Foundation covering maintenance and living costs through links with business and individual donors.

In a joint statement, Professor Colin Grant, Vice-Principal (International) and Sheila Gupta Vice-Principal (People, Culture and Inclusion) said: “Inclusion is a value at the centre of all we do at Queen Mary, and we believe that a diversity of ideas can help us achieve what was previously unthinkable. But in recent times we have all been asking what more we can do to help promote inclusion and what steps we can take towards positive change.

“We know that there is so much more to do, but we are excited to be taking a tangible step forward by partnering with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships for Black British students who might otherwise be unable to benefit from a Queen Mary education. We look forward to welcoming them to our diverse community.”

The CSF’s mission is to fund 100 disadvantaged Black British students through leading UK universities. The initial target is to raise £500,000 to start funding the first tranche of students and then continue to raise funds, eventually forming an ecosystem, and then to finance scholarships through endowments.

The issues around the participation of disadvantaged Black British students in higher education are complex. Progress in widening access and supporting student success must continue from early school years and, as indicated by the recent Russell Group Report Pathways for Potential, the rate of change concerning participation of Black students needs to improve. Issues around progression, application, attainment gap, well-being of disadvantaged students and expectations are also all factors.

Professor Richard Oreffo, Professor of Musculoskeletal Science at the University of Southampton and Founder of the Foundation said: “Access to university should not be limited by race or social class, but unfortunately this is not the case for all in our society. While many issues are at play in why more Black British students do not attend leading universities, the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation seeks to address a significant barrier: the financial cost of university education.”

About the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation, a registered charity, exists to help eligible students attend a range of leading British universities, regardless of what subject they decide to study. 

The Foundation will administer the awards with an established board and strict compliance with standard scholarship guidelines. Applications will be made on-line with set selection criteria. Final selection will be made by an advisory board.

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation also aims to provide more than just money, and will offer mentorship, role models, and resilience programmes for the students who benefit from scholarships to make the most of the opportunity.

Although the initial goal is to raise £500,000 and, ultimately to support 100 students, that is just the first part of what is proposed to be a long term initiative and will address some of the issues identified in the Russell Group Report Pathways for Potential.

For more information and to find out how to donate and support the Foundation visit the links below:

Cowrie Scholarship Foundation - GoFundMe

For media information, contact:

Pete Biggs
International Communications Manager
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