Bursaries for undergraduate and graduate students
Robinson aims to admit students on a ‘needs blind’ basis. For this to work, we need to be able to provide students from lower income backgrounds with financial support so that they can afford to take up and keep their places at Cambridge until they complete their undergraduate courses, or their graduate studies.
Cambridge Bursary Scheme
Undergraduates from the UK and EU have access to the Cambridge Bursary Scheme (CBS). The CBS makes grants of up to £3,500 to students whose household income is below £42,620. Government living grants are also available to UK students on a sliding scale for students whose household income is below the same figure.
Robinson, like every Cambridge college, makes a contribution towards the CBS grant of every Robinson student in receipt of an award, this is rising and will soon be 50% of each award. In 2014/15, 71 (18% overall, or 21.5% of UK/EU undergraduates in residence) Robinson undergraduates qualified for CBS support. College contributions to the CBS used to be assessed relative to the endowment held by the college, but the funding model is changing and within 5 years, Robinson will be required to pay 50% of each CBS award to a Robinson member. This will increase our average annual contribution to the CBS awards from £9,000 per annum (2% of awards) in the past to £77,000 in 2015/16, £99,000 in 2016-17, £117,000 in 2017/18 and at least £154,000 (50% of awards) in 2019/20. The 50% contribution will continue thereafter, with the balance met by the University of Cambridge. To meet this additional cost from endowment income, Robinson needs to add a further £3.85 million to the Robinson endowment.
Pegasus Bursary Fund
The Pegasus Bursary Fund (PBF or Pegasus Fund) is a Robinson fund from which grants can be made to undergraduate or graduate students in financial need. The grants are used to help the student meet costs such as food and rent. The number of qualifying applications is rising. In 2012/13, 36 awards were made with a total value of £16,785, in 2013/14 this rose to 42 and a total value of £22,859 and 39 in 2014/15 (with an additional 3 awards made from the Bye-Fellows’ Fund. Income from the Pegasus Fund may also be used towards the College’s contribution to CBS awards for Robinson undergraduates.
Many Pegasus Fund award recipients are students who currently receive partial maintenance grants (though the Government has recently announced the abolition of all maintenance grants so any shortfall in maintenance funds must in the future be made up by taking out an even larger student loan or from College hardship funds). At other universities, students undertake paid work in term time to earn extra money, but this is prohibited at Cambridge because of the additional academic requirements imposed by the supervision system and our shorter terms, which also result in students needing to undertake some academic work independently during the Christmas and Easter vacations. Approximately 25% of awards are currently made to pay the cost of 3 weeks’ accommodation over the Easter vacation for finalists to prepare for their examinations. The abolition of all maintenance grants for those students whose parental incomes are very modest can only place further strain on the Pegasus Fund.
Further applicants to the Pegasus Fund are students who find themselves in financial hardship because of a sudden and unexpected change in family circumstances, notably separation or divorce of their parents, or the death or illness of a parent, which means that an apparently higher household income does not translate into support for the student, or is no longer available. The College takes the view that these students should not be financially penalised at what is already a difficult time personally and aims to provide bursary support to ensure that such students can complete their studies.
Subject specific student support funds
The College is also fundraising for a range of other funds to support costs associated with studying specific subjects. These include the Chaffield Shaw Medical Support Fund, the Isi Metzstein Fund for Architects, the MML Fund (Modern Languages) and the Matsuo Fund (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies). The Nicola Blakeman Memorial Fund provides a new book for each Law Fresher annually and supports bursaries for Robinson Law students in financial need.
Graduate student scholarships
Through fundraising, Robinson is increasing the number of graduate student scholarships that it is able to offer in addition to the bursary funds described above. There are a range of PhD scholarships which aim to make awards to cover both the home status-level fees and living costs for a student over three years of PhD research and writing. These include the Lewis Research Studentship for the Humanities; two Judy and Nigel Weiss Scholarships in the Arts and Humanities; the Laura Ashley Holdings Cambridge Scholarship, the endowment for which is being generously contributed by Laura Ashley Holdings between 2014 and 2018; and the Lewis Research Studentship in Chemistry.