Woolley: “If there is a lesson to be learnt from my journey, it is to believe a council house kid can do great things.”David Johnson

Lord Simon Woolley — Homerton College’s new principal — has pledged to provide two full bursaries, each worth £3,500, to students from low-income families at Homerton College, according to a press release. The bursary is intended to help students meet their living costs and participate fully in Cambridge life.

The College commented: “Lord Woolley views his contribution as a reflection of his determination to help students from all backgrounds to benefit from the opportunities offered by Homerton”.

Lord Woolley will become principal of Homerton College this week. He said: “I want this College to be a beacon for many disadvantaged students, black and white and Travellers. I will be working my socks off to increase our level of diversity”.

Woolley grew up on a working-class council estate in Leicester. He left school before A-Levels to become a car mechanic and later moved into sales. Given his background, Lord Woolley says he felt in the past that “Oxbridge was not a place for me. Part of it was reality, these were very posh places. Part of it was my own exclusion mentality.”

“The Cambridge Bursary Scheme is a brilliant way to help level the playing field for disadvantaged students”, Woolley stated, “and I want my donation to Homerton to be a signal to all those – Black kids, white working-class kids, the Traveller community, council house kids like me – who might worry about the cost of university, to say that there is help available.”


Mountain View

Lord Woolley becomes first Black man to head an Oxbridge College

Lord Woolley is the first Black man to head an Oxbridge college and was recently honoured with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the National Diversity Awards.

In 1996, Woolley founded Operation Black Vote (OBV). The NGO works with ethnic minorities in the UK to increase understanding of civic society, participation in Parliament and public life, and to promote equality and human rights. OBV has helped Britain’s political and civic institutions to become more representative of people of colour.

Woolley was appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May to create and lead the UK Government’s Race Disparity Unit. He was knighted in June 2019 and became a member of the House of Lords the same year, where he sits as a crossbench peer.

“If there is a lesson to be learnt from my journey, it is to believe a council house kid can do great things”, Woolley stated.

Lord Woolley said he feels “honoured” and “humbled” about his role at Homerton. He added that “Its mission for academic excellence, along with embracing diversity, is a combination for great success not just for the students but for wider society too.”