Anger over Oxford grant “only for Etonians”

Tristram Fane-Saunders - News Reporter 8 March 2012

Balliol College’s “Vaughan Memorial Travel Scholarship” has been the subject of heated debate this week. The award, active since the 1950s, for which only ex-Etonians are eligible to apply, offers up to £4,000 for undergraduates “to study the social conditions of the common people.”

Balliolite Henry Edwards described the grant as “unfair” and “exclusive,” while another Oxford student told reporters, “I’m not sure why this type of discrimination based on schooling would be allowed.”

However, many Oxford students feel that media coverage of the grant has been deliberately misleading. To qualify for the grant, applicants must achieve a 2.1 or higher in their final exams. Crucially, the grant is only available to undergraduates “of limited means.” Approximately 22% of Eton’s 1,300 students receive some form of financial support from the school.

An Oxford University spokesperson has pointed out that money from unclaimed grants is “transferred to the general college funds,” and used to provide “no-strings-attached financial support for the poorest students.”

There are no Cambridge grants which require a public-school background. However, Christ’s College has a travel grant to fund “a visit to the Holy Land,” solely for undergraduates intending to be ordained in the Church of England, which cannot be used over the Christmas vacation. Peterhouse’s Arthur Scott Travelling Scholarship specifically excludes students reading “mathematics or applied sciences,” though all other undergraduates can apply for funding.

Tristram Fane-Saunders – News Reporter