Pilot Top-Up Bursary Scheme launched

In a pilot initiative to enhance the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, students from low and middle-income households starting undergraduate courses in October 2018 are receiving additional support.

Thirteen Colleges are participating in the one-year pilot, which is designed to test if modest extra support makes a difference. The Pilot Top-Up Bursary Scheme is part of a wider package of measures announced this autumn by the University of Cambridge, which include new scholarships, student support initiatives, and the Transitional Year Programme for bright students from less advantaged backgrounds.

Under the Pilot Top-Up Bursary Scheme students from households with incomes up to £62,000 will receive additional support during term time, in addition to the Cambridge Bursary. The scheme applies to UK and EU students.

Currently, all Cambridge students from households with an income under £25,000 receive the full Cambridge Bursary of £3,500 a year, tapering to £0 for those in households with an income of up to £42,000 and above.

Trinity’s Senior Tutor, Professor Catherine Barnard

Trinity’s Senior Tutor, Professor Catherine Barnard, said: ‘The pilot scheme is an opportunity to assess what difference a modest uplift makes to students’ experience at Cambridge, to help them make the most of their time here, whether that is buying a laptop or books.’

‘The scheme helps not just the poorest students but also those from families with parents on average incomes. The Colleges recognise that these families can experience financial pressures, especially if they are supporting other school age or university students,’ she said.

Dr Tim Flack, Senior Tutor at King’s College said: ‘At King’s almost all of the calls on our hardship funds are from students who come from low-middle income households, and who either get very small Cambridge Bursary Scheme bursaries or fall just outside of that scheme.’

‘This new scheme pre-empts the issue of such students living with months of financial anxiety, scrimping and saving and thereby failing to make the most of the incredible opportunities available here, because they are too proud to ask for help, or they feel guilty about potentially financially disadvantaging other students.’

The Pilot Top-Up Bursary scheme will be evaluated by the Faculty of Education at Cambridge with a post-doctoral researcher funded by several participating colleges for this purpose.

Christ’s, Churchill, Fitzwilliam, Homerton, King’s, Magdalene, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Pembroke, Peterhouse, Selwyn, Trinity and Wolfson are participating in the pilot scheme.

If successful, participating Colleges will seek to fundraise from alumni to continue and expand the pilot scheme.

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