Artist News

Oxford denies snubbing Stormzy’s offer of scholarship for black students

By | Published on Friday 9 November 2018


The University Of Oxford has denied that it rejected an offer by Stormzy to fund scholarships for black British students there.

The rapper recently committed to pay tuition fees for four students at the University Of Cambridge over the next two years, as well as providing them with maintenance grants for up for four years of study. However, speaking at an event to launch his new book ‘Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far’ at the Barbican in London this week, he said he first took the idea to Oxford.

According to The Guardian, Stormzy told the audience that his aim was to find “genius and incredible minds” among the “badly behaved kids”, adding: “That is something I take personal pride in … Now I am in this position I want to do something for them”.

He said that he wanted young black children to know that “if you’re academically brilliant don’t think because you come from a certain community that studying at one of the highest education institutions in the world isn’t possible”.

However, he explained, the idea of the scholarships wasn’t as easy to get off the ground as he expected, saying: “We tried Oxford but they didn’t want to get involved”.

Responding to this, a spokesperson for the University Of Oxford said: “We have not received or turned down any offer or proposal to fund undergraduate scholarships at Oxford. We have contacted Stormzy’s representatives today to clarify [that] we would welcome the opportunity to work together on inspiring students from African-Caribbean heritage to study at Oxford”.

Both universities have been criticised for their poor diversity among new students. However, last year, Labour MP David Lammy accused Oxford in particular of conducting “social apartheid”, after it emerged that ten of the university’s 32 colleges had failed to enrol a single black student in 2015. He criticised the institution again this year, when figures showed that this rate of enrolment had worsened between 2015 and 2017.

Launching the Stormzy-backed scholarship in August, the University Of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope described the rapper as “an inspiration” whose “scholarships are a beacon for black students who might otherwise have felt they could not come to Cambridge”.

He added: “In 2017, 58 new black students arrived to take up their courses at Cambridge, the largest number ever but not nearly as many as we would like. We know we need to work harder to ensure that black students not only apply to study at the university, but that they feel at home here and achieve their full potential”.

Stormzy himself added at the time: “There are so many young black kids all over the country who have the level of academic excellence to study at a university such as Cambridge. However, we are still under represented at leading universities”.

“We, as a minority, have so many examples of black students who have excelled at every level of education throughout the years” he went on. “I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking – and if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down”.