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Tackling under-representation at Churchill College

1st April 2021

There currently exists an historic under-representation of British Black students at the University of Cambridge and Churchill College. Widening participation work in this area is being carried out at both a University and College level, but more needs to be done.

Data on ethnicity is now collected as part of the admissions process and at present at Churchill only 2% of the current student population identify themselves as being Black British (7 out of 344 home undergraduate students and two out of 102 home postgraduate students). This compares with 3.6% of Cambridge UK undergraduate admissions figures as a whole.

Working harder to address this historic under-representation is an urgent priority. Our black students have formed an integral part of our student community, and have been great successes at Cambridge and beyond. In fact, this year the College is planning to celebrate six decades of the Black experience at Churchill College by hosting an exhibition curated by Black students and alumni together with the Archives Centre.

Increasing the diversity of student intake will help ensure the contribution of insights from the widest range of backgrounds, heritages and standpoints. For Churchill College to excel in all fields it needs to attract the most agile minds it can, irrespective of where they come from, and take advantage of the full diversity of the experience and expertise they bring.

The Black Students’ Support Fund

Recognising that Black British students of African and African-Caribbean heritage are underrepresented at Churchill, the College has launched a fundraising campaign to set up an endowed fund of at least £100,000 to support this group of students and drive up applications. If we are successful in raising the funds needed, this endowed fund will support students from this background by providing means-tested undergraduate bursaries, or a one year MPhil Studentship. Undergraduate bursaries will be means-tested according to Student Finance data, as it is for the other bursary funds for undergraduates and the MPhil will be awarded to talented students who would otherwise struggle to fund a Master’s degree. Support may be awarded to both categories ie undergraduate bursaries and an MPhil Studentship, dependent on the level of income generated by the fund.

It is planned that award-holders will be given access to the University wide Get-In Cambridge community to provide them with an additional forum for mentoring, guidance and networking. They will also be invited to meet major supporters of the fund in the College at an annual or bi-annual social event.

Widespread support for the initiative has been received from current students and alumni, including current PhD engineering student Osarenkhoe Ogbeide (G18), who sits on the College’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and alumna Imani Jeffers (U15). You can read their comments below:

Knowledge that a bursary for Black British students exists alone will inspire prospective students and encourage them to apply to Cambridge as it reflects that the university welcomes them, which is especially important as this was not always the case. As one of the newer colleges and in line with the college’s commitment to tackling racism, I believe Churchill College is the perfect place to setup this kind of fund.
Osarenkhoe Ogbeide (G18 – current Engineering PhD student)

For me, the fund speaks to the College's dedication to encouraging black and ethnic minority students to apply to study at a university where they may currently be under-represented but where the diversity of thought their diversity of background brings is so needed, and to spend their Cambridge years at a college where they will be most warmly welcomed.
Imani Jeffers (U15 MML)

Imani is also working with the College to extend her ISLA Gift scheme to eligible students and offer holders at Churchill College, as well as younger students working with our Widening Participation/outreach team in the Croydon area. The ISLA Gift Cambridge at Churchill College will be launched as a crowdfunding project in July 2021 and aims to support and encourage students of Black African or African-Caribbean descent with their educational aspirations by recognising outstanding achievement and encouraging more applications to Churchill College and Cambridge from this underrepresented group.

Help us succeed

We invite you to lend your support and help fight this historic under-representation at Churchill by helping to build a fund that will optimise applications and build diversity.

Make a gift

You can read more about the fund and the outreach work being carried in this area by the College’s Widening Participation team by visiting the dedicated fund page:

Black Students’ Support Fund

The Black Student’s Support Fund also forms part of the College’s Think Forward development Campaign. You can read more about the aims of the Think Forward Campaign and the different projects seeking support by visiting our dedicated campaign website:

Think Forward Campaign

The College is also running a year-long programme of events to engage with the facts surrounding Sir Winston Churchill’s words, views and actions relating to empire and race.

Churchill, Empire and Race

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