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Trinity launches new student funding initiative

Students have welcomed the launch of the Trinity Maintenance Grant, saying it will help alleviate financial stress and improve the representation of working class and other groups under represented at the College.

The Trinity Maintenance Grant (TMG) will provide a flat rate of £4,050 per year to each undergraduate at the College who is eligible for the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, the University-wide initiative for UK undergraduates from households with income below £62,215.

Current undergraduates at Trinity and those joining the College in the academic years 2022, 2023 and 2024 will receive the grant, which is intended to help with living costs. Any student who applies to Trinity for 2022, 2023 and 2024 entry and is later accepted by another Cambridge College from the ‘Winter Pool’ or the ‘August Reconsideration Pool’ will receive the TMG for the duration of their undergraduate career.

Prospective students can find out full details of the Trinity Maintenance Grant.

Two students, Harry Devlin and Tayla Hardy, talked to us about their experience at Trinity, budgeting for student life, and to what extent the Trinity Maintenance Grant will make a difference to them and incoming students.

Photo: Jack Orton

Harry Devlin, a second year English student from County Durham, is Access Officer of Trinity College Students’ Union.

How will the scheme help the diversity of the student body at Trinity?

I think this grant will open the doors of Trinity to disadvantaged students, especially those who do not receive a full maintenance loan (which is not expected to cover all maintenance costs) as well as limited or no financial aid from family members.

How have you found budgeting for student life?

Honestly, difficult. I talk to many students from more privileged backgrounds who can readily seek or already have financial advice from their parents. Many students from a working-class background such as myself are less likely to have these types of conversations at home before arrival at university, as money can be a sensitive subject.

Equally the College doesn’t provide much advice about managing finances which student actively check or must take part in. Thus working class students who may already feel out of their depth, facing issues such as imposter syndrome, culture shock or alienation from family, home friends, etc, are likely to build bad spending habits.

I know personally I kinda went a bit crazy because I was given so much money in first year but imagine having little in life and then being given so much and the comfort of having so much is overwhelming. Then in second year when my home situation had improved, I encountered a large period of adjustment as I suddenly had less than half of what I’d had, I struggled to adapt, and I hadn’t had a first year that really prepared me for financial responsibility. I ping-ponged from one extreme to the other and then a strange middle ground that I’m still learning how to handle. Based on this experience and what I have learnt, I am going to run a managing your finances workshop for incoming students during Freshers’ Week next year.

And how will that change with the TMG?

Whilst the College could do more to provide financial management advice, I am glad students, who may encounter financial difficulty due to a variety of reasons in first year, will have more of a security blanket.

Even when home situations improve, the full-scale of financial issues faced by working-class families is not taken into consideration. I know from many of my friends that even though salaries can increase there is often debt to be paid and thus it can be difficult for families to support their children. This grant takes steps towards acknowledging how loans and bursaries don’t address this full image.

What else could the College do to help improve diversity?

This grant, along with the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, creates a great financial foundation to appeal to students who are worried about applying due to living costs. Now that we have ensured disadvantaged students from an array of backgrounds can experience financial security, we can begin to address other issues such as alienation. As a northern working-class student, I would welcome efforts to help students like myself feel more recognised both for our heritage and our ability to thrive in a setting such as Cambridge University.

Does the launch of this scheme make you feel differently about the College?

It makes me feel hopeful for the future – hopeful that this will make more students from my background apply to Trinity, that the College’s efforts to increase diversity will be genuine and ongoing and contribute to a much-needed culture shift for the University.

What message would you give to prospective students from backgrounds like yours considering applying to Trinity?

The only way we can widen the demographic is by ensuring the College knows that we exist, that we’re just as capable as anyone and that we work hard for our goals.


Photo: Graham CopeKoga

Tayla Hardy, a second year Psychology and Behavioural Sciences student from Kent, is President of Trinity College Students’ Union.

What difference do you think the Trinity Maintenance Grant will make to prospective students?

I think it is a huge factor to consider when applying. Obviously, I would say not to apply anywhere simply based on financial incentive as each College is different and it is important to choose the sort of place that you will be happy at for the duration of your degree – many other Colleges also have financial support.

However, for myself I know that this would sway my decision massively, knowing that I would have the financial safety net and be able to think more long-term rather than simply to the next time the student loan comes in.

How will the scheme help the diversity of the student body at Trinity? 

While it may not instantly change the existing diversity, I hope that over the coming years more students from backgrounds like my own will be able to consider higher education, knowing that this is there for them.

Trinity is wealthy and everyday costs like food and rent are already subsidised, but knowing that students like myself will still be able to afford to fully immerse themselves in the Cambridge lifestyle is wonderful.

How have you found budgeting for student life?

As someone who has grown up very aware of my family’s financial insecurity, budgeting was something I was relatively well-prepared for. I was used to sacrificing one thing for another and missing out on things my friends didn’t think twice about asking their parents for.

My own issue was the guilt I felt in purchasing non-necessities such as an ‘emergency ready meal’ for the evening when I would be too exhausted to prepare a dinner. This is something I’m still working on, allowing myself to buy tickets for events with my friends and getting a treat during my food shop – this can still make me feel bad and worry irrationally about whether I’ll still have enough to get to the next student loan drop.

As we are not permitted to have a job while here (and I doubt anyone would be able to balance one with the intense workload anyway), seeing friends enjoy their own financial freedom and being unable to change my own immediate circumstances except by sacrificing things and missing out on typical Cambridge experiences can be hard to accept.

And how will that change with the TMG?

I cannot express my gratitude that this is being set up and that students like myself may not have to worry so much about joining in with peers. I think for the student community it will help to level things out a little more, although I am aware that some students who may narrowly miss out on the threshold to qualify for this will still face similar struggles and I hope the College will continue to support students and help with any kind of financial concern.

What else could the College do to help improve diversity? 

Trinity has historically not been the most diverse of Colleges and I know there is much still to do. However, the launch of this grant will hopefully encourage students from backgrounds who may not typically be drawn here to apply. I know myself, if I had been more aware of Trinity’s reputation before, I might not have applied here.

However, with one of the most generous financial support systems of any College or higher education institution in the country, I hope that lower income students may be more likely to consider Trinity and this in turn will hopefully improve diversity across multiple dimensions.

As TCSU President, I hope that I will be able to work with both students and staff to come up with strategies to address this. After all, we can’t change the systems here without being here ourselves.

Does the launch of this scheme make you feel differently about the College? 

It gives me great hope. It is easy to say that one will do things, but actually setting up a scheme like this, alongside the existing bursary scheme, evidently takes a huge amount of work and negotiation, for which I am extremely grateful.

What message would you give to prospective students from backgrounds like yours who are considering applying to Trinity? 

I would encourage anyone thinking about applying here not to shy away because of perceptions about Trinity. People like me are here and we are just as intelligent and capable as anyone else. If prospective students have any questions about what it is really like here, they are very welcome to contact me ( or any other member of the TCSU committee.

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