Jesus College announces new bursary for disadvantaged Welsh students

Students will be able to apply for the Michael Sheen bursary next term

The University of Oxford has just announced the creation of the Michael Sheen Bursary Scheme, which will be funded by the actor. It aims to support financially disadvantaged students from Wales.

Students will be able to apply for the programme in Michaelmas Term 2021. The scheme will be means-tested and primarily based on household income: students must come from a household with an aggregate income of less than £35k per year to be eligible.

There will be no set limit on how many students may receive the bursary each year.

Sheen, who has been notably passionate about supporting Welsh interests, has said, “Where you come from and the financial circumstances of your background should not be a barrier to those of talent and excellence receiving much-needed support and development.

“Jesus College, Oxford has had a long and fruitful relationship to Wales since its founding in 1571, and it gives me great pleasure to use what resources I have to help young Welsh students of real potential get the opportunities for learning there that they deserve as much as anyone else.

“I hope that these bursaries not only make it possible for Welsh students to take advantage of the educational possibilities at Jesus but also help to encourage a sense of what is possible for young Welsh people generally.”

The bursary aims to build on other access work done by both Jesus and the wider community, such as the Access and Outreach programmes that Jesus College (along with New and Catz) undertook for the whole of Wales on behalf of the University of Oxford, resulting in a consortium called Oxford Cymru, which works with the Welsh Government as part of its Seren Network.

The College’s history with Wales makes the scheme a natural partnership between the College and Wales. The College’s support of Welsh students, particularly their Celtic studies programme, prompted a visit from the Prince of Wales in March 2020.

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, principal of Jesus College, said, “We are proud of our strong historical connection with the people of Wales, and the huge progress that has been made both within Jesus College and the wider university to encourage and support Welsh students to apply to Oxford.

“The Michael Sheen Bursary will drive this work forward and demonstrates a continued commitment to providing access and equity for all.

“We are hugely grateful to Michael for this generous support, which will positively impact the lives and futures of some of our more disadvantaged Welsh students.”

The bursary aims to close the financial gap between Welsh and English students, since according to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics*, Welsh GDP per capita averages around 40% of that of England, and has done so for the past 20 years.

Dr Alexandra Lumbers, academic director of Jesus College, commented, “Our access programmes are going a long way in encouraging and enabling academically gifted young people from Wales to come to the university, but disadvantaged students can face financial inequalities that create a barrier to embracing the full benefit that an Oxford education can offer.

“The Michael Sheen Bursary will provide a tremendous opportunity to support Welsh students at Jesus College, making their experience more equitable, and reassuring them that Oxford is for everyone, regardless of background.”

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