A new enhanced bursary scheme is being launched by the University of Cambridge to support undergraduate students facing financial pressures. Over the next ten years, more than £100 million will be awarded to students, across all the Colleges. The additional funding, to help with living costs, will enable students to enjoy the benefits a Cambridge education offers, regardless of personal financial circumstances.
Dr Philip Johnston, Senior Tutor at Hughes Hall welcomed the announcement: ‘For many years the Cambridge Bursary Scheme has been particularly helpful for mature UK first-degree undergraduates, especially those without family financial support or a parental home for the vacations. We warmly welcome this enhanced scheme and the further support it will give to future mature students.’
The Cambridge Bursary Scheme is jointly funded by the University and its colleges, including Hughes Hall. This enhanced scheme offers generous bursaries on a sliding scale depending on household income, with a higher rate for mature students resident all year in Cambridge.
It is made possible through the generosity of philanthropic donations from alumni and friends of the collegiate University. The Harding Challenge, established by David and Claudia Harding as part of their £100 million gift to Cambridge and St Catharine’s College in February 2019, was designed to underpin this expansion in bursary provision. Far more students will qualify for support since the threshold for eligibility will rise from the current maximum household income of £42,620 to £62,215.
Research conducted by the University suggests many students struggle to meet all their expenses because parents often cannot afford to contribute to the extent that means-tested student loans assume they can. It’s these financial gaps that the new bursary scheme will help to alleviate.
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor said: “This new enhanced bursary scheme, which wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of donors, will help to ease some of our students’ financial worries. The scheme’s launch means far more students will be eligible for support. This is particularly relevant now, at a time when many families’ incomes have been affected adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Under the new scheme, bursaries of up to £3,500 per year will be given to students from households with an assessed income of up to £62,215, without any application needed. Previously students were given support if the assessed income rose to £42,620. The bursary will be tapered so those at the lower end will receive more. For example, all undergraduates from households with assessed incomes below £25,000 will receive the full amount. Those at the top end will receive £100. The amount they receive is a grant and so is non-repayable. Awards will be further enhanced for students who join the University from local authority care or who are estranged from their families. In addition, the scheme will include a supplementary award of £1,000 per year to all low-income students who qualified for free school meals, contributing to a bursary of £4,500 in each year of their undergraduate studies.