Cambridge expands bursary scheme to support students with financial pressures

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0:01am, Tue 22 Jun 2021
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The University of Cambridge will provide more than £100 million in bursaries over the next 10 years to support students experiencing financial pressures.

The bursary scheme will help undergraduates at Cambridge with living costs from October this year so they do not have to rely on their parents as much.

More students will qualify for support as the threshold for eligibility will rise from the current maximum household income of £42,620 to £62,215.

The university expects between 25% and 30% of students to be eligible for the support – currently it is around one in five.

It comes as the most selective universities are under increased pressure to improve access to higher education for different groups of students including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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

Students from households with assessed incomes below £25,000 will receive the full amount of £3,500 a year, but those at the top end will receive £100.

Once the scheme is rolled out, around 700 low-income students who were eligible for free school meals will also qualify for an additional £1,000 a year.

The expansion in bursary provision at Cambridge has been made possible through philanthropic donations from alumni and friends of the institution.

Research by the university suggests many students struggle to meet all their expenses because parents often cannot afford to contribute as much as the means-tested student loans assume that they will.

Professor Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, 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.”

The launch of the enhanced bursary scheme follows a pilot scheme involving 20 colleges established and largely funded by Trinity College.

Students in receipt of these bursaries said they were able to participate more fully in the academic and wider student activities, and they had a positive impact on their wellbeing, reducing the anxieties they had about finances.

Professor Catherine Barnard, senior tutor at Trinity College, said: “The enhanced bursary scheme is about removing barriers, and helping students fully participate in university life.

“Our evidence suggests supporting students in this way not only improves their wellbeing but ensures they can thrive while studying at Cambridge.”

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