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Durham student studying computer science receives £20k bursary from Amazon

Samantha Osbiston is one of 30 women in UK to receive the Amazon Future Engineering Bursary


A Durham University student has been granted a £20,000 Amazon Future Engineering Bursary.

Samantha Osbiston has been named as one of 30 student recipients of the bursary this year.

The bursary aims to propel the careers of women in STEM by alleviating financial boundaries and providing gifted students with essential skills that will improve their employability prospects for the future, Palatinate reports.

Since the launch of the national programme in 2021, Amazon has awarded over £1 million worth of bursaries to female students from low-income backgrounds to help fund their university studies in STEM.

In partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, Amazon seeks to “increase diversity in UK STEM talent” and address the underrepresentation of women studying computer science and engineering at university in the UK. Currently, the bursary supports 75 women, including Sam, by awarding them with a financial support pack of £20,000.

As well as offering financial support and providing the women with new skills, the bursary allows them to network with Amazon Experts and with the Royal Academy of Engineering to bolster long-term relationships and collaboration with peers. To students like Sam, the bursary offers invaluable opportunities for her to pursue her passion and career in STEM.

Currently studying computer science, Sam explained to Amazon how she faced many setbacks during her time in high school, including bullying, and how her exclusion in her final year before sitting her GCSE’s meant that she had to teach herself the content.

It was only during the pandemic that Sam discovered her love and talent for computing: “Computer science didn’t exist when I was in school,” she explained. “Back then we studied IT, and I hated it. It wasn’t until I taught myself to code that a whole new world opened up to me – I fell in love with it.”

Recently, a study by The Sutton Trust addressed the “persistent access gaps” for financially disadvantaged students’ over the past 25 years, particularly at Russel Group universities. Furthermore, in 2020, UCAS data highlights how women represented just 16 per cent and 18 per cent of accepted applications for degrees in computing and engineering respectively.

To tackle this underrepresentation, Lauren Kisser, an Ambassador for the Amazon Future Engineer programme, explained the importance of their bursaries: “Through Amazon Future Engineer, we want to break down the barriers to opportunity that so many young people face to help diversify our next generation of tech talent.

“I’m delighted that we support our bursary recipients on their journey to become our innovators of the future, and I hope they will inspire even more young women to apply next year.”

Lydia Mann, the Head of Education Programmes at the Royal Academy of Engineering asserts that there is need to diversify the STEM sector for the future generation of gifted women, no matter what their financial background is.

She said: “The collaboration between the Academy and Amazon shows our mutual commitment to enhancing diversity within the field. We remain dedicated to identifying individuals with remarkable talents to contribute to a more inclusive engineering community that mirrors the society it serves.”

Now supported by the Amazon Future Engineer Bursary, Sam spoke of her gratitude and said: “I no longer have to scrimp and save, and I get to experience university life fully.”

We at The Tab Durham send a huge congratulations to Sam and wish her the best of luck in her degree and future studies.