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HSBC doubles financial support for Stormzy Scholars at Cambridge University

The bank has pledged a further two million pounds which will support 30 new Stormzy Scholarships over the next three years


HSBC UK has doubled its financial support for Cambridge Stormzy Scholars, pledging a further two million pounds and expanding its mentorship opportunities for Black students.

This money will support 30 new scholarships over the next three years in partnership with #MERKY Foundation, a UK charity founded by Stormzy himself and one which will continue its funding of another two students each year.

By 2026, it is expected that a total of 81 Stormzy Scholarships will have been awarded to Black Heritage Students.

Over the past five years, the scheme has aided Cambridge in attracting a greater number of applications from a traditionally underrepresented group and has helped to alleviate students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds of financial concerns.

Dubbed “The Stormzy Effect”, the programme has seen a 131 per cent rise in the application of Black students to the University compared to 2018.

This comes as the number of Black students admitted as undergrads has increased by more than 50 per cent, bringing the total number admitted in 2022 to 141.

In order to qualify for the 2023 programme, applicants must be of Black, or mixed Black heritage, and hold a confirmed place at the University of Cambridge.

As an award-winning musician and founder of the programme, Stormzy has labelled it “an incredible landmark moment” and has thanked both HSBC UK for “another incredibly significant donation” and Cambridge University for “always, always backing our mission.”

In 2022, the artist was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Exeter for his educational work against racial injustice.

Drew Chateau, 24, from south London was one of the first two students to be awarded the scholarship in 2018 and graduated with a 2:1 in Law from the prestigious University.

Now a trainee solicitor at a reputable London law firm, she says that “the scholarship helped reduce the gap” between herself and “those from a more stable upbringing.” It “made university so much more practical, and enjoyable”, she claims.

Now a trainee solicitor at a reputable London law firm, she says that “the scholarship helped reduce the gap” between herself and “those from a more stable upbringing.” It “made university so much more practical, and enjoyable”, she claims.

“The Stormzy Scholarship proved to be an invaluable award as I progressed my studies at Cambridge,” the 23-year-old from south London stated.

Whilst “the financial burden has always been a barrier to every great opportunity”, he claims it was this time that was different due to the scholarship. Consequently, he was able to pursue his studies without the “detrimental and burdensome” financial costs, for which he is incredibly grateful.

These two students had not been publicly named until today with the aim of shielding them from any extra pressure whilst studying.

As well as the financial aid, applicants also benefit from work experience and mentoring opportunities with HSBC. Since the introduction of the partnership, the bank has witnessed applications from Black students to its internship programmes triple.

Drew and Joseph meet Stormzy for the first time back in 2018 (Imagre credit: #Merky)

Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, stated that the University is “delighted” that this collaboration will “continue for another three years.”

The Chancellor, on behalf of the University,  is “grateful” to both HSBC and the #MERKY Foundation for “the help they provide ensuring those who often feel marginalised … receive financial support” which allows them to “fully engage with the student experience.”

The scholarships are “truly transformative in the opportunities they provide” and they “look forward to welcoming more Stormzy Scholars to Cambridge over the next few years.”

Ian Stuart, CEO of HSBC UK, has labelled it an “exciting step forward” and “a privilege” to work in partnership to “help under-represented students overcome barriers to higher education, build their professional network at HSBC and beyond, and become the change-makers of the future.

“Investing in these students means investing in a fairer and more inclusive society.”

HSBC has also collaborated with #MERKY Books, launched by Stormzy and team in 2018, with the hope of supporting 14 to 16-year-olds in becoming financially literate and in developing entrepreneurial skills. This partnership has seen the participation of over 10,000 young people in workshops and a donation of over 2,000 books to schools.

Stormzy hopes that the scholarships continue 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!