Six BAME scholarships are now funded by Exeter alumni.

Alumni fund series of BAME scholarships

Four additional scholarships will be awarded to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students attending the University of Exeter this year, thanks to the support of Exeter alumni.

Each of the new scholarships will support a high achieving student to come to Exeter to study at any of the Colleges across all campuses. Last year the first two BAME scholarships supported by alumni were launched so there are now a total of six opportunities funded thanks to Exeter’s alumni community.

William Graydon (Biosciences & Sustainable Development, 2013), better known as musician and producer 220 Kid, is funding one of the scholarships for the next three years. He was inspired in part by former Chancellor, Baroness Floella Benjamin, as well as the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

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.”

Stuart Cakebread (Theology, 1976) is supporting a scholar who comes to Exeter via one of the University’s outreach programmes. Stuart is a barrister at City law firm Cerulean.

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.”

Peter Baldwin (History, 1991), who is a Partner at Macfarlanes law firm decided to fund a scholarship due to 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 but it is important that we continue to 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.

Ben Parker (Modern Languages, 2000) is the Managing Director of StockCrowd UK, a digital software company. He set up one of these scholarships last year to support a high achieving BAME student.

Ben said: “In recent years, through interactions with family, friends and colleagues, I have become increasingly aware of a number of challenges in society and the severity of difference in opportunities. It doesn't need saying that there is not a level playing field in society be it racial, financial or even just the postcode you grew up in. However, as the sheer magnitude of how opportunities were structurally and culturally stacked in my favour from a very early age has become more apparent to me, it has provided the catalyst for me wanting to help somebody have at least some of those same chances. 

“At the start of the year I received a note from the student who received the scholarship saying that it was life-changing for them to have this opportunity to go to Medical School. It’s great to feel like I am really making a difference and through this process they in turn will be in a position to help many others.”

Jo Carver (Law (Euro), 1987) is General Counsel of Commercial Banking for Lloyds Banking Group. She began funding two scholarships in 2019, one of which is specifically for BAME students and is awarded to the highest achiever on the Exeter Scholars programme.

Jo said: “I was lucky to be subsidised through university with a local authority grant without which I doubt I would have been able to go to university.  Maintenance grants are far less readily available these days and I would like someone else to have the same opportunity that I did, as I know from experience that a good education can make all the difference.”

“In my job I head up inclusion and diversity for the legal and secretarial division. The legal profession is not representative of the population and we are focusing on ways of increasing diversity in the profession - not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. Supporting the scholarships is another way I can support future change.”

Many of the young people that come through Exeter’s outreach programmes face considerable barriers to progressing into higher education, often complex, and often linked to the ability to fund their studies. Scholarships not only allow them to attend university, but to buy materials they need to study, or to take up work experience and study abroad opportunities.

To learn more about the Exeter Scholars programme visit the website, and if you’d like to know more about supporting further students from diverse backgrounds to attend Exeter, please email us. 

For further information about the work the University is doing through partnerships with organisations such as The Elephant Group and other national organisations visit the website.

Date: 18 August 2020

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