Scholarships for disadvantaged Black students

The University has joined a new foundation to increase Higher Education access for 100 students over the next decade.

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation is aiming to raise £500,000 to provide scholarships for disadvantaged Black British students across the UK.

The University will cover tuition fees for at least three students over ten years. The Foundation will provide the students with additional funding to help with their living costs.

Tackling inequality

Edinburgh is one of the Foundation’s five partner universities, along with Queen Mary University London, Newcastle University, the University of Liverpool and the University of Southampton.

The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation was established in the summer of 2020 by Professor Richard Oreffo, from the University of Southampton. Initial funding has come from the business community and individual donors, with a longer-term aim of developing a system of endowments. 

Access to university should not be limited by race or social class, but unfortunately this is not the case for all in our society. While many issues are at play in why more Black British students do not attend leading universities, the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation seeks to address a significant barrier: the financial cost of university education.

Professor Richard OreffoCowrie Scholarship Foundation

Access for all

Edinburgh’s support for the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation will complement the University’s extensive programme of widening participation for all.

The University has an ongoing commitment to widening participation. Dedicated teams work with would-be students at a local, national and international level to encourage and support the best and brightest to study at Edinburgh, no matter their personal circumstances or background.

Higher Education has the power to transform lives – not just of those who study at Edinburgh, but also for their families and communities. I am proud that we are partnering with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation, which will help our ongoing commitment to ensure that students from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible can not only study here, but feel that they truly belong and have the opportunity to thrive.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal, the University of Edinburgh

Action plan

In May 2020, the Russell Group – which brings together the UK’s leading universities, including Edinburgh – announced ambitious plans to improve higher education access for all.

The Pathways for Potential report set out a detailed action plan to diversify campuses and assist under-represented groups into Higher Education.

The University also contributed to the Runnymede Trust’s recent report ‘Taking Stock – Race Equality in Scotland’ which found that Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) Scots are more likely to live in poverty than their White British counterparts.

Being part of the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation takes forward one aspect of a list of extensive actions of the University's race equality and anti-racist action plan. We are actively exploring better use of positive action measures as well as the setting up of scholarships to boost the recruitment of Black and Minority Ethnic students. This links to our widening participation efforts which seeks to directly to address issues of social class but also its intersections with race, gender, disability and other protected characteristics.

Professor Rowena ArshadChair in Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education, the University of Edinburgh

Related links

Cowie Scholarship Foundation

Widening Participation at Edinburgh

Pathways to Potential report

Taking Stock – Race Equality in Scotland