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Rebecca Heath

Rebecca Heath (G19) is currently studying for a one-year MPhil in Economic Research and is funded by a Cambridge UK & Churchill Møller Studentship. She has a particular interest in behavioural economics, game theory and empirical economics.

Originally from Spaldwick, a small village in rural Cambridgeshire, Rebecca attended her local state school until the age of 16 before securing an academic scholarship at her local independent school, that enabled her to study A level Economics. Fascinated by the application of the subject to a wide range of real-world issues, including gender, wealth and education inequalities, Rebecca hugely enjoyed studying for her BA in Economics at King’s College, Cambridge and aspired to continue her studies in the field, but she knew this would be impossible to achieve without securing major financial support.

Funding an economics masters degree can be highly problematic. Non-subject specific external funding bodies are highly competitive, and many external funding bodies have very specific eligibility requirements. Without the Studentship, I would have been unable to study at the University of Cambridge. The MPhil in Economic Research currently has tuition fees in excess of £21,000. Once the cost of accommodation, electricity and food is taken into account, the estimated financial commitment is just under £35,000 for the year. Unfortunately, there are very limited funding opportunities from the Government and external funding bodies. The maximum government loan for masters is £10,000 per annum, leaving a large funding shortfall.

As a result of these significant challenges it was a huge relief to Rebecca when she received notification that she had been awarded the Cambridge UK Masters & Churchill Møller Studentship. The Studentship covers Rebecca’s tuition fees and provides a maintenance allowance, which meets the cost of her accommodation and food during the term. She is very clear about the dramatic impact that receiving the Studentship has had on her life and academic ambitions.

The day I heard that I had received the Studentship was one of the happiest of my life. I spent over a week in utter disbelief. The funding offer took a massive weight off my shoulders. Beforehand, I was under immense pressure as I had to search for funding alongside studying for my finals. I will forever be grateful to Churchill College for the excellent funding that I have received. I identify as a disabled student. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with oral dyspraxia. I went through intensive speech therapy in primary school. In addition, I was recently diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Due to this, I can sometimes find Cambridge overwhelming. There are a wide variety of welfare staff at Churchill, including the college nurse Jo, college tutors and the college counsellor. The welfare staff at Churchill are extremely attentive and caring. They are more than happy to listen to your problems. The staff will email you to check up on your progress and to make sure that you are doing okay!

Outside of studying, Rebecca particularly enjoys photography – her photos were recently exhibited in a King’s College Photography Exhibition and she has also photographed several formals at Cambridge. She has also written for student newspapers, including Varsity and The Cambridge Student and had a column in The Cambridge Student on inequality, poverty and social mobility.

Looking ahead she hopes to be accepted to study for a PhD at Churchill. She aspires to a career in academia as it would combine the ability to research economic issues in depth with being able to interact with and support students; ‘With so few women taking academic positions in economics, I would love to be a role model to encourage other women into the profession.’

In the meantime, she is hugely grateful for the chance she has been given to follow her dreams and take up the MPhil course as a result of the Studentship and is enjoying being part of the Churchill postgraduate community!

Churchill is an amazing, friendly and extremely supportive College; I wish I had applied to Churchill for my undergraduate degree!

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