More than £100 million to be awarded to students in new University of Cambridge bursary scheme

Bursaries of up to £3,500 per year will be given to students with a household income of up to £62,215

A new enhanced bursary scheme is being launched by the University of Cambridge to support undergraduate students facing financial pressures, including living costs.

Students will be able to claim up to £3,500 per year if their household income is below and up to the maximum threshold of £62,215. An additional £1,000 will be awarded to those who have previously been eligible for free school meals.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope hopes that the scheme, due to start in October 2021 and funded by contributions from donors, will help to “ease some of our students’ financial worries,” especially at a time when so many families’ incomes have been “affected adversely” by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the next ten years, more than £100 million will be awarded to students across all colleges, and this scheme will begin in October 2021.

This enhanced bursary is underpinned by a £100 million gift from David and Claudia Harding, along with contributions from many other donors.

Under this scheme, significantly more students will qualify for support. The current maximum household income a student can have to be eligible for a bursary is £42,620, but under the new scheme, this will be increased to £62,215.

Bursaries of up to £3,500 per year will be given to students who qualify, and the bursary will be tapered so those at the lower end will receive more, with undergraduates from households with assessed incomes below £25,000 receiving the full amount. The amount they receive is a grant and so is non-repayable.

Awards will be further enhanced for students who join the University from local authority care, or who are estranged from their families. Students will also qualify for an additional £1,000 if they were previously eligible for free school meals.

Research conducted by the University suggests many students struggle to meet all their expenses because parents often can’t afford to contribute to the extent that the means-tested loans for UK students assume they will. The new scheme hopes to alleviate this.

Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Stephen Toope, said this new scheme “wouldn’t be possible” without the “generosity” of the donors involved.

This new enhanced bursary scheme follows a pilot scheme involving 20 colleges established and supported by Trinity College. Students in receipt of these bursaries said they were able to participate more fully in the academic and wider student activities Cambridge has to offer and that they also helped in reducing the anxieties they had about finances.

Feature image credit: Hannah Huang