University of Southampton

‘From Hackney to Oxford’: Soton dropout crowdfunds £30k so he can take up place at Oxford Uni

Roy Celaire has raised over £27k after getting a place at Oxford

Roy Celaire had received an offer from the University of Oxford last year but due to a lack of funds, the university agreed to defer his offer.

In order to make up the money, he decided to launch a GoFundMe page, which has received widespread support from across the country, including from Cambridge University Professor of Classics, Mary Beard. Roy has now reached his target of £30,000. This is his story.

Roy (middle)

Roy grew up in Hackney, East London, and attended the failing Homerton College of Technology, which was eventually "closed down due to incredibly low attainment, gangs and violence". At 17, he became homeless after his mother abandoned him.

He then became the first member of his family to go to university when he accepted a place at the University of Southampton to study Sociology and Social Policy. Unfortunately, he was forced to drop out after his first year due to "the financial pressures of commuting and meeting rent bills".

He was not disheartened, however, and enrolled as a mature student at Brunel University, graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Sociology. He then completed his Masters in Gender Studies at LSE. He continued to work full-time throughout.

Writing about his time at LSE, Roy says: "I was having to work 50-60 hours a week just to keep myself and pay my rent as well as studying. Somehow I managed to graduate with a merit but when I told my tutors that I had worked full time throughout the degree they were stunned."

Eventually, Roy hopes to become an academic anthropologist in order to "work on the issues confronting members of the black community in Britain".

To realise this dream he looked to further his studies at Oxford, after they offered him a place to do an Msc.

Speaking to Cherwell, Roy said: "The journey has been overwhelming, in that I did not expect the immense support I have received to date. I’m truly grateful to all who have donated, regardless of whether it was a £5 donation or a £1,500 donation.

"Many have commented on the fact that there are not many black people at Oxford in general and at postgraduate level in particular, and we are talking about those born in the UK, not international students. People have expressed concern over the lack of black British academics in the UK and also shown their amazement at the deep costs of postgraduate study."

Below is the video Roy published on his GoFundMe page, in which he talks about his difficult situation, including the unexpected extra £10,000 he needs to raise on top of the original £20,000.

This was because his postgraduate loan was rejected and he didn't receive an expected scholarship. Roy explains he was left feeling "scared", unsure of whether he would be able "to get the money and fulfil [his] dreams".

Roy also explains how few black academics there are in the UK and "actually no black anthropologists in the UK", which drives him to want to support and inspire young people.

Roy wrote on his "From Hackney to Oxford University" GoFundMe page: "I am incredibly moved by the generosity of so many people and I hate to be asking for so much money but I can assure you all that I will try to repay your faith in me by giving something back to society as an academic one day.

"To the best of my ability, I have persevered so as to not let circumstances beat me, but now I feel nearly beaten and this is probably my last chance to put myself on the road to my dream."

If you wish to donate to Roy's GoFundMe, you can find his page here.