Supporting Robinson’s people:

Coronavirus Emergency Appeal



If you haven’t yet made a gift to Robinson’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal, now is the perfect time to do so. We are delighted to announce that an anonymous Robinsonian has agreed to match every donation, £1 for £1 up to £1,000, so your can gift can help us to support even more of our students and staff during the pandemic and ensure that we can continue to contribute to the fight against Coronavirus.

In this time of crisis, it is to Universities that the Government has turned for help. The breadth of Cambridge's research and expertise, combined with its close links to the NHS and to industry, puts it in a prime position to respond to the immediate tasks of understanding the virus, finding a vaccine, and assessing the long-term impact on society.

As part of collegiate Cambridge, we are now asking our alumni and friends to help us continue to play our part.


Our Fellowship has joined the University of Cambridge in its combined endeavours to fight the Coronavirus.  Amongst them are: Dr Olivier Restif, who has used mathematical modelling to understand how infectious diseases spread within and across species; Dr Stuart Hogarth, who has identified global inequalities in commercial COVID-19 testing; and Professor Carlos Caldas and his colleagues, who have worked to safeguard continuity in cancer care.


Claire, one of our newly qualified medicsOur medical students, qualifying early, have joined colleagues on healthcare’s front line and our alumni continue to carry on leading, teaching, caring and generally carrying on in their respective fields. The Robinson spirit endures and even flourishes at this time of great crisis.

In keeping with that unquenchable spirit, Robinson has led the way in its uncompromising support of its people: offering aid to those students experiencing financial hardship and paying our furloughed staff 100% of their salaries, rather than the 80% guaranteed by the Government.

Our students

The coronavirus pandemic has had an immediate impact on our students, both on their finances and on their wellbeing. Unforeseen financial demands include the costs of travelling home at short notice, the purchase of computers or other hardware to enable online learning, and books that would have been accessible in University and College libraries. Many students lost the income they rely on from casual jobs over the Easter holidays, with little expectation that work will be available over the summer. Some of our students are from families who are able to bridge that gap, but many are not – a significant proportion of our undergraduates are from households where the annual income is below £42,620.

Recent studies have shown that the impact of the pandemic is likely to exacerbate existing disadvantage, and there is a danger that students without financial means may drop out or fail to succeed academically.  We must not allow the circumstances of our students’ home lives to dictate their ability to learn.

The outlook for graduate students is no less certain. They face the closure of labs, libraries and archives, as well as an inability to travel and, as a result, may not be able to complete their studies within the limits of their funding.

Robinson has given £129,426 to our students in bursaries and hardship funding this year.

There are also students whose precarious mental health has further deteriorated as a consequence of the current crisis and who cannot afford the professional support they need locally. The mental health impact on our students more widely is likely to be significant, and when our students return they will be suffering the effects of months under Lockdown, family job losses and, in some cases, bereavement. Our Fellowship has continued to support students both pastorally and academically and has made a swift adjustment to teaching at a distance. The College Nurse, Counsellor and Chaplain have been working tirelessly throughout this time to provide support but it is likely we will need to enhance our provision for mental health support when our students return.

Our staff

Robinson’s staff, some of whom have worked with us for the majority of their adult lives, are the mainstay of the College.  Many have continued to work throughout Lockdown, caring for those students who have been unable to go home. They have always been there for us, now we must be there for them.

The College is paying 100% of the salaries of Furloughed Employees and we have also introduced a casual worker pay policy.  While the Furlough scheme is in place we hope to continue to do so.



With no large endowment to fall back on, Robinson has always been enterprising and commercially aware. We are the only Cambridge college built with the facilities to develop self-generated income from our foundation, but our ability to raise income through conference and catering has been severely limited by Lockdown.

We have waived residence charges for those who remained at home for the Easter Term and so have lost a significant amount of accommodation income and we do not know when, and how many, students will be able to return to College.

We are forecasting a £1.2m hit to the operating surplus, driven by a £1.5m loss of income.  

We anticipate that the situation will continue into next year when our losses will be even greater.

While many organisations and individuals face similar challenges, we will not have opportunities to offset these deficits with surpluses from increased activity in future years; nor can we simply liquidate investments to improve cash flow.



Please contribute to our Coronavirus Emergency Fund if you can. By doing so you will help Robinson:

  1. Support students during the pandemic
  2. Help Robinson retain and support its staff
  3. Ensure that Robinson can continue to contribute to the fight against Coronavirus

In making this request we are all too aware that some of our alumni and friends may themselves be experiencing hardship or loss, and may not be in the position to make a gift. We understand. 

Harding Collegiate Cambridge Challenge Fund  Those who have not given to Robinson before will be able to double the impact of their gift for this appeal. As part of their extraordinary gift to the University, David and Claudia Harding created a £20m challenge to encourage new donors to support students. If you are a new donor and support this appeal, a percentage of your gift will unlock, pound for pound, a contribution to a special fund for undergraduate financial support across the University.

Your gift

  • Ten donors giving £15 per month can fund Robinson’s contribution to a full Cambridge Bursary of £3,500 for a year (£1,750)
  • One gift of £50 could provide a student with noise cancelling headphones to enable them to work better from home
  • A gift of £600 or £50 per month could provide a basic laptop and accessories for a student reliant on University facilities
  • A gift of £5,250 would provide Robinson’s contribution to a full Cambridge Bursary for three years
  • 2 gifts of £8,750 would provide an additional part-time College Nurse, with specialist mental health training, for one year

With your help, we can ensure that no student or member of staff is left behind during the current crisis, and that we can continue to sustain the College’s academic mission, with its distinctive Robinson spirit, long into the future.

We are determined to continue to be there for our people – supporting our students suffering financial hardship, and continuing to pay our staff over and above the minimum required.

Make a Regular Gift

Make a Single Gift

If you are a US taxpayer, please donate here

If you would like to download the Gift Donation Form (PDF), please click here

If you would like to download the Robinson Appeal Leaflet (PDF), please click here

To find about more about the Appeal and how you can help Robinson's People when they need it most, contact the Development Director, Sarah Westwood