Ben HaywardOctober 10th
2019

The number of black students enrolling at the University of Cambridge has risen by nearly 50% in the past year, partly thanks to the ‘Stormzy Effect’.

For the first time ever the proportion of black students at the prestigious institution has risen above 3% with figures showing there will be over 200 black undergraduates studying at Cambridge in 2019-20.

The news comes after the grime artist announced, back in august, that he would pay for two more black undergraduate students to attend Cambridge University.

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Stormzy - who became the first black UK artist to headline Glastonbury this summer -  will pay the tuition fees and maintenance grants of the students from September throughout their entire course.

Part of the Stormzy Scholarship, which funded the studies of two black Cambridge students for the first time last year (2018), the project aims to support people from minority backgrounds who have earned a place at the prestigious university.

Cambridge says the ‘Stormzy Effect’ is partly behind the growth in numbers as more black and minority background students have engaged in outreach activities and enquired about courses since the scholarship hit the headlines.

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Overall, the scheme is one part of the university’s efforts to try and address the relatively low number of minority ethnic students in attendance on its courses. 

So far Stormzy has been funding the cost of the scholarships himself, however it’s hoped other funding methods can be found to continue and broaden the programme with the help of outside investors, reports the Guardian.

The identities of the students supported by the scheme have been kept secret to ensure they have a normal life during their studies, although apparently Stormzy keeps track of their academic progress - so no missing those 9am Friday morning lectures guys! 

Ministers and the Office for Students have recently criticised top universities after it was revealed that some Oxbridge colleges had admitted no British black students, although the latest figures from Cambridge show that the number of UK Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) undergraduate students admitted to the university has reached a new record high of 26.8%.

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Professor Graham Virgo, senior pro-vice-chancellor (education), said: “The university has worked hard to get the message out that it is a welcoming place for students regardless of their ethnicity. 

“This record rise in the number of black students is a credit to their hard work and ability: we have not lowered entry standards.” 

He added: “It is also a credit to the hard work put in by admissions staff across the University and Colleges in running various outreach activities, and the positive campaigns run by our student societies and external partners. We have achieved this without any reduction in offer levels or provision of preferential treatment.”

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Speaking to The Independent, Labour MP David Lammy, who has been campaigning for Oxbridge to improve access, said: “It is a shame it has taken so long, but it’s obviously very good news that the number of black students getting into Cambridge has seen such progress this year. 

“There is still much more work to do to sustain this, especially given the reality that under 21s are considerably more ethnically diverse than the general population. 

“Radical reforms are still required if Britain’s top universities are to get the best talent, regardless of background, school, geographical location and class.”

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