The college scholarship lottery: £4,000 per student discrepancy revealed

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The Cambridge Student can reveal a large discrepancy in the amount colleges give to students in scholarships and awards. In the 2013/14 academic year, Trinity, perhaps unsurprisingly, awarded the most of any college, giving £4,432,000 in total – an average of £4,203 per student. 

Meanwhile,  in that year, Homerton gave 66 times less than this – the lowest of any Cambridge college, at £64 per student.
 The total amount awarded per student in the University was around £800. However, this varied significantly from college to college, ranging by £4,139.

Scholarships and awards include not only prizes for academic work and music scholars, but also travel grants and financial awards based on need.

However, Rory Landman, the senior bursar of Trinity, commented to TCS that creating an average per student “necessarily oversimplifies a complex picture involving need and differential fees for undergraduate and graduate, home and overseas students.”

This is due to Trinity offering 20 full cost undergraduate studentships for overseas students, which weighs the average in their favour.

Trinity JCR President Cornelius Roemer said to TCS, “About 40 per cent of incoming freshers are international, half of which are non-EU. Without scholarships many non-EU students could not afford the tuition fees of up to £30,000.”

On the differences between colleges, Roemer said: “There is no clear-cut answer to the question of whether it matters which college one goes to, it is a question of degree. It matters in some respects but not in others.”

St John’s College awarded the second largest amount, at £2,512 per student, over £2 million in total. Gonville and Caius College followed St John’s, offering over £1 million pounds in total, £1,304 per student.

 One student who receives financial aid from Peterhouse, which awards the fourth most amount of money per student, at just over £1200, commented: 

“The bursary I recieve is a great help to me. I realise that the money provided is not necessary – as it could be replaced by a financial loan – and that makes me all the more grateful for the help that I recieve... it is just one less thing to worry about now and in the future.”

At the other end of the spectrum, following Homerton, Hughes Hall and Selwyn provided the least per student, with Hughes offering just £88. Alongside being a mature students’ college, over 85% of Hughes Hall students are studying for postgraduate degrees. At many colleges, some postgraduate students receive full funding for their degrees. 

In response, the Senior Tutor of Hughe Hall said that they "were well up" with other graduate colleges.

Ruth Taylor, president of the Homerton Union of Students, commented on the disparity to TCS: “This is something that we have expressed concerns about as a student body but I am pleased to say the College has been receptive to our views … The College actually signed an agreement with Santander in May for them to provide a number of scholarships for academic achievement.”

 Ms Deborah Griffin, bursar of Homerton said: “Since these accounts were published, Homerton has doubled the value of most of its prizes, and is now awarding additional grants and scholarships.”

However, one Homerton student seemed less optimistic about the disparity. “Scholarships, awards and other forms of monetary grant are more than just a cash prize for academic dedication. For a lot more people than you’d think, these serve as essential sources of funds for maintenance, wellbeing and study during term time.”

 

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