Floella Benjamin

Floella Benjamin

Floella Benjamin and Black Lives Matters protests inspires musician 220 Kid to set up new scholarship for BAME students

Legendary broadcaster, actress and writer Floella Benjamin and the recent Black Lives Matters protests have inspired a new University of Exeter scholarship.

William Graydon, better known as musician and producer 220 Kid, is funding the award, which will support a high achieving black, Asian or minority ethnic student for the next three years.

The former University of Exeter Biosciences and Sustainable Development student, who graduated in 2013 was inspired to offer the scholarship in part by hearing Baroness Benjamin when she served as the university’s Chancellor as well as the recent worldwide action following the death of George Floyd.

The scholarship is one of four which will be awarded to BAME students attending the University of Exeter this year, thanks to the support of alumni.

William said: “Exeter gave me a lot of opportunities, it gave me self-confidence, and it gave me skills to succeed. I always wanted to give something back in return, and this is the way I think I can have most impact.

“When I graduated, Floella Benjamin told us to ‘go out and change the world’ and that stuck with me. I think it’s really important for those of us with privilege to recognise it, and to do something with it. I have a platform and the ability to make a difference, so I need to use it.”

The scholarship, worth £9,250 per year for three years, is for a black student who is the first in their family to attend university and from a disadvantaged background.

Barrister Stuart Cakebread, who graduated with a theology degree in 1976) is supporting a scholar who comes to Exeter via one of the University’s outreach programmes.

He said: “I am incredibly grateful to have received a free university education that stood me in good stead for the future. I realise that the same experience is not available to many young people today and I wanted to do something about it.

“People should be able to succeed on merit and not be limited by their background, but unfortunately that is not always the case. I’ve been impressed by Exeter’s efforts to improve access to higher education and my additional scholarship will play a part in increasing opportunities.”

Solicitor Peter Baldwin, who graduated with a degree in history in 1991, decided to fund a scholarship because of his concerns about decreasing social mobility.

Peter said: “The Government talks about ‘levelling up’ and there is no doubt that, in many respects, we have a structurally unjust society that favours some groups over others. I am therefore delighted to support Exeter’s efforts to ensure it attracts students from all communities.

“The legal profession is not as representative of wider society as it needs to be and we need to encourage more talented young people from diverse backgrounds to join.”

The University of Exeter is committed to continuing to diversify its student community through programmes like Exeter Scholars and by extending the geographical reach of its work in schools.

Recruitment from under-represented and disadvantaged groups - particularly students from low participation neighbourhoods, BAME students and student with disabilities – has increased in recent years and work is ongoing to continue build on this progress. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors, in excess of £440,000 has been raised for widening participation scholarships since 2018, including those for BAME students. The four new BAME scholarships add to the two that were founded thanks to alumni in 2019/20.

Date: 27 August 2020

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