Student support in action

8th May 2018

Churchill has one of the highest proportions of undergraduate entrants from the state sector amongst Oxbridge colleges. The College also has an unusually high number of undergraduates from very financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

We have historically excelled around the provision of student bursaries, thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of the College. Over 100 Churchill undergraduates currently receive a Cambridge bursary, the majority receiving a full bursary of £3,500 per year. 77% of this group receive the maximum bursary of £3,500 per year, awarded to those with annual family incomes lower than £25,000. Students in the greatest need receive a top-up bursary of £2,000 mostly funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT).

Contrary to other institutions, students from this group excel at Churchill — a College that has been placed 4th/29 across the last decade in the Tompkins Table — bucking the national trend for students from disadvantaged groups to achieve lower results at university than equally qualified students from more advantaged backgrounds. We attribute our success to the very close individual support we offer to students and to the top-up funding they are receiving.

We recently interviewed a range of undergraduate students who have received bursary funding to let them tell their stories. You can read their full stories and those of others on the student support page or by clicking on the individual links below.

sam smith

Sam Smith (U17) first set his sights on Cambridge after attending a talk at his school led by Churchill’s Outreach Officer. Sam attended Monmouth Comprehensive, a non-selective state school in South Wales without a history of Oxbridge admissions. Sam recently returned to his school to talk about his experience in the hope that he can inspire other talented students to consider applying. Sam receives a full Cambridge Bursary in addition to a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Bursary. He is no doubt about the direct impact this support has had on his ability to both take up his place and achieve his full potential.
Read Sam’s full story.

Alice Edney

Alice Edney (U16) attended state comprehensive Philip Morant School before moving to Colchester Royal Grammar School to complete her A-levels. She is a second-year Biological Natural Sciences student with a special interest in wildlife conservation. Alice has benefited from receiving the John and Eileen Kelly Cambridge Bursary and a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Bursary in both her first and second year – financial support that has enabled her to make the most of the opportunities on offer, opening the door to a career in wildlife conservation research.
Read Alice’s full story.

Kel Thandi

Kel Thandi (U17) is from Oadby, Leceister and is in his first year of a NatSci degree at Churchill. Kel attended a series of non-selective state schools and had never considered applying to Cambridge before halfway through his Lower Sixth form year – feeling it was something that was ‘out of reach’. A major consideration for Kel was the issue of how to support himself whilst at Churchill given his parents were not in a position to provide any financial support. Thankfully, he was provided with invaluable financial support in the form of a £3,500 Cambridge Bursary and a £2,000 Winston Memorial Trust Bursary which enabled him to take up his place at Cambridge.
Read Kel’s full story.

Katie Kirk

Katie Kirk (U15) is a third-year Veterinary student at Churchill. Katie’s family circumstances changed suddenly during her first term at Cambridge, which had a dramatic impact on her finances. However, the timely provision of a full Cambridge Bursary ensured she was not prevented from participating in the opportunities available to her, most notably on the river. Katie got into coxing in her first year of Cambridge and since then she has coxed for the Churchill College Boat Club and a couple of the town rowing clubs. She went on to trial for Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) this year but was beaten to a seat by more experienced coxes from whom she learned a lot from during training. She is hugely grateful for the financial support she has received.
Read Katie’s full story.


At Churchill, we believe that continuing to offer a full range of bursaries is critical to the ongoing success of the College and its capacity to support its student community. Funding Cambridge Bursaries currently costs the College over £300,000 per year. We would also like to continue to fund top-up bursaries, but we need around £75,000 per year to maintain the level of support provided as the funding previously received from the WCMT for this initiative is now ending.

This is why student support sits at the heart of this year’s Annual Fund Campaign. The Campaign seeks funding for initiatives that would not come to fruition without the generosity of our alumni. The Annual Campaign also provides a valuable opportunity to build relationships with our alumni community across the globe, through our annual Telephone Campaign which will be running from the 24 June – 8 July 2018.

2018 Annual Fund Campaign

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