The partnership offers 30 more Stormzy Scholars the opportunity to ‘explore work experience, skills development and mentoring opportunities’Henry W. Laurisch / Wikimedia Commons

A new philanthropic partnership between HSBC UK and the #MerkyFoundation (a local charity founded by musician Stormzy), is looking to distribute up to £600,000 worth of scholarships to Black students studying at the University of Cambridge over the next three years.

Each year, 10 Black students will be awarded a £20,000 scholarship, covering tuition fees and maintenance costs for a three or four year degree. This three-year partnership hopes to fund an additional 30 Black students.

Applicants for this year’s award must have a confirmed place at the University of Cambridge, and be a home student of Black or mixed race heritage. Awardees are chosen by a panel of University staff and experts from higher education, with the President of the University’s student African-Caribbean Society also participating in the selection.

This partnership represents a “significant expansion” of The Stormzy Scholarship programme first launched in 2018 and fully funded by Stormzy himself. The initial programme sought to cover the full cost of tuition fees for four Black students over the course of their undergraduate degree from 2018 to 2019. As of today, it has supported six Black students, with the first two Stormy Scholars having graduated this year.

With this new partnership, Stormzy Scholars have the additional opportunity to “explore work experience, skills development and mentoring opportunities” with HSBC UK.

The number of Black British students applying to the University of Cambridge has increased significantly since the inception of the Stormzy Scholarships in 2018, from 58 in 2017 to 137 in 2020. This exceptional increase in applicants has been termed ‘The Stormzy Effect’.

With an additional donation from an anonymous donor, the University is looking to welcome a total of 13 Stormzy Scholars in Michaelmas this year.

Stormzy, in a press release to Varsity, commented that this new partnership represents an “incredible milestone”, hoping that it continues to “serve as a small reminder to young Black students that the opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world is theirs for the taking.”


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In the same release, Ian Stuart, Chief Executive of HSBC UK, said that the bank is “incredibly proud to support the growth of the Stormzy Scholarships at the University of Cambridge” in its commitment to racial equality by removing barriers to Higher Education.

Professor Graham Virgo, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, commented that the University is “enormously grateful to HSBC UK for supporting the #MerkyFoundation”, and that such initiatives would not be possible without the “generous support of philanthropists like Stormzy”.

Virgo continued that the launch of the University’s Foundation Year Programme in 2022 will also help “support a lot more students who have suffered educational disadvantage on their path through Higher Education.”

The Foundation Year is made possible by a £5 million donation from philanthropists Christina and Peter Dawson, seeking to fully fund one-year scholarships to help educationally and socially disadvantaged students secure places at the University of Cambridge.