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Bursaries and Scholarships

Bursaries for undergraduate and graduate students

The Cambridge Bursaries Scheme provides grants of up to £3,500 p.a. for undergraduate students from the lowest income households.  Average student debt is forecast at close to £50,000 on graduation, even with maximum grant support from the CBS and the government grant scheme.  The government grant scheme has now ended and so this debt burden will rise for those from the lowest income households, unless we can provide replacement support from other sources.

The Enhanced Bursary

Robinson College is participating in a pilot programme of enhanced bursaries for all final year UK and EU students from families with a household income of up to about £62,000. It is intended to top up the Cambridge Bursary for those eligible for it, and in addition to support those from middle income families who won’t receive the Cambridge Bursary. It is funded mainly by donations from alumni. 

Thanks to donors, the College has a range of additional bursary funds available to offer in cases of greatest need.  These include the Pegasus Bursary Fund and the Bye Fellows’ Fund for students. We are also pleased to announce the New College Capital Bursary for EU and international students.

Graduate students are not eligible for the CBS, so Colleg​e hardship funds are particularly important for them, especially in unforeseen circumstances.

 “Coming from a low income, single parent family deep in rural Lincolnshire I was worried that I would struggle to make ends meet in Cambridge during my studies. However, the bursary has helped me settle into Cambridge life more fully; helping me to buy essentials, textbooks and May Ball tickets. As an active member of the College and a Law student I have lots of responsibilities and commitments to handle, but the bursary has alleviated any financial worries that I had before I came to Cambridge and I am so grateful to the donors. I am very happy at Robinson College - it is a supportive and positive environment and I am lucky to live and study in such an inspiring place.”

Mollie (Law, 2016)

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 Chaffield Shaw Medieval and Modern Languages Support Fund 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.  We are very pleased to announce that thanks to very generous donations we are now able to offer the newly created Professor David Yates Master's Scholarship which will be matched thanks to The Cambridge Trust. There are also 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

To make a single gift towards student support, please donate online or download the donation form. Thank you!


Isi Metzstein and Andrew MacMillan, of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, were the architects who designed Robinson College. After Isi passed away in 2012, College members wished to recognise his important role in making the College what it is today.

The Isi Metzstein Fund for Architects commemorates his many contributions to Robinson, as its architect along with Andrew MacMillan and as an Honorary Fellow. The initial target is to raise an endowment of at least £25,000 for the fund, which would allow grants totalling at least £1,000 per year to be made to Robinson architecture students to help them meet some of the additional costs of training, such as purchasing modelling materials and undertaking training placements.


Lord Lewis of Newnham was the first Warden of Robinson College and oversaw the construction of the main College buildings and the establishment of the academic and social structure of Robinson. To mark his retirement as Warden, Robinson established the Lewis Research Scholarship Fund.

Research students are absolutely essential to the success of an academic community because they are the future of the profession. In order to attract the best research students based upon academic merit alone and irrespective of their financial circumstances, it is important that Robinson is able to offer research scholarships. This is particularly the case in humanities research, as commercial sponsorship, grants and other scholarships are more widely established for scientific and medical research. To help to meet this need, the College established the Lewis Research Scholarship Fund in 2001. In 2014, the endowment of the fund was completed, allowing Robinson to offer full Lewis Research Scholarships in the Humanities. Awards are for up to three years of research and therefore new awards are usually made every three years.

The Warden, Fellows and all members of Robinson are tremendously grateful to the donors who have made this scholarship a reality.  Their gifts, of all sizes, will enable many promising scholars to make Robinson their home and academic base for years to come.

In addition to the Lewis Research Scholarship, we are fortunate to be able to offer a Judy & Nigel Weiss Scholarship in the Arts & Humanities every third year on a similar basis to the Lewis Research Scholarship.  We need to raise another £18,000 to complete the endowment of a second Judy & Nigel Weiss Scholarship in the Arts & Humanities.  This would allow us to award a full PhD scholarship to a new scholar every year in rotation between the Lewis Research Scholarships and the Judy & Nigel Weiss Scholarships and so greatly strengthen our young, but vibrant and ambitious academic community.


The Lord Lewis Research Studentship in Chemistry was established in memory of Jack Lewis FRS, Baron Lewis of Newnham (13 February 1928 - 17 July 2014).  Robinson College and the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry joined together to set up a PhD studentship in Chemistry, based at Robinson, in memory of Lord Lewis.  The fund will allow an outstanding PhD candidate to study Chemistry at Cambridge and is intended as a fitting tribute to the legacy of Lord Lewis. 


Lord Lewis was the first Warden of Robinson College, overseeing the construction of the main college buildings and the establishment of the academic and social structure of Robinson.  He came to the Chemistry Department as Jack Lewis in 1970, and during his 25 years there he was a wonderful colleague, an exceptional mentor, an insightful scientist, and exerted a great influence on science in the department and beyond.

Chemistry at Cambridge

The University of Cambridge Chemistry Department is ranked in the top three in the world in terms of research, with about 60 research-active staff.  However, the funding it receives for studentships is declining or restricted to specific areas, which means some of the best candidates in the world are denied the opportunity to not only learn here, but also to make their own contributions to Cambridge.

PhD students are a valued part of our academic community:  they are the future of the academic profession, they begin their teaching careers whilst still PhD students and when they enter industry and the professions, they take their experience and apply it in productive ways to their chosen field. 

The decline in PhD funding has a wide-reaching impact, with loss of many talented individuals to scientific discovery and teaching and the wider economic and social impacts that this will have in industry and education.

Fitting Tribute

The Lewis Research Studentship is one small way to redress this problem, and will be a positive reflection of Lord Lewis’s significant contributions to Robinson College, to the University of Cambridge Chemistry Department and to Chemistry.

Funding Information

The cost to fully endow the Lord Lewis Research Studentship is £697,000*.  To date, £230,000 has been raised.  For further information, please contact the Development Office.


1.  This is based on a three-year PhD programme at the home rate.
2.  Cost per year is estimated to be:  University fee £7,362; maintenance fee £14,140; travel and consumables £5,000.
3.  Costs are illustrative, and based on 2015/16 fees.
4.  Endowment of £697,000 estimated to generate interest of £26,502 p.a. (at 3.8%).


In the past, the University of Cambridge offered financial support for those Modern and Medieval Language (MML) students wishing to undertake a vacation language course. This support was important in ensuring that all MML students, regardless of personal circumstances, were able to benefit from language immersion. Funding cuts to the University's central grant mean that this scheme no longer exists. With the help of the Chaffield Shaw Trust, Robinson has therefore established a fund to make alternative grants available so that our MML students can still undertake such courses, which have a significant impact on a student’s ability to achieve his or her potential in Final examinations.  

From time to time this fund may also be used to support incoming freshers from low-achieving schools, who will benefit enormously from an immersion course abroad in the September before they start at Robinson.  This allows us to admit applicants with great potential who have not benefited from consistently good language teaching at school. 

The Chaffield Shaw MML Support Fund currently makes around £5,500 of grants each year to support Robinson language students on immersion courses in their languages of study.  To endow this and so secure this source of funding, we need to raise £140,000.

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The Bye-Fellows’ Fund is one of the student support funds that allow Robinson to help its students at critical times, with recipients selected by the Awarders of the College Bursaries Scheme.  This fund has been built and continues to grow with gifts from current and former visiting academics who have based themselves at Robinson as a ‘home from home’ whilst researching in Cambridge for anything from a few weeks to a year at a time.  In recognition of what they considered to be the College’s warm hospitality and supportive environment during their stay here, many former Bye-Fellows and Visiting Fellows have generously contributed to the Bye-Fellows’ Fund. 

Any Robinson student who encounters serious financial hardship is eligible to apply for an award.  There are various permutations, ranging from a bursary to help meet maintenance costs (such as rent and food) to scholarships designed to meet both maintenance costs and tuition fees in each year of study.


Language immersion courses are an essential experience for Cambridge language students if they are to reach their potential in their studies. Until recently the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES, which older members may remember as Oriental Studies) was able to give financial support to undergraduate students to enable them to undertake both immersion vacation language courses in their first year and a full year abroad in their third year of study.  However, departmental funds are no longer available to students and the College is therefore fundraising for this purpose. Without such support, Asian and Middle Eastern languages are in danger of being subjects that are only accessible to those with funding from family means, or other outside sources.  At Robinson we would like to maintain access to all subjects for all candidates based on academic ability alone and not upon their financial situation. 

Robinson is a strong college for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Professor Peter Kornicki (Deputy Warden), Dr Mike Shin and Dr Imre Galambos are on our Fellowship.  Peter is a scholar of Japan in particular and focuses on the history of the book; Mike is the University of Cambridge’s first lecturer in Korean Studies, focusing on the intellectual history of the colonial period; and Imre specialises in pre-Modern China, particularly the history of the Chinese writing, manuscripts and epigraphy.  As a result the College aims to admit an average of 3 AMES students each year.  To support this number of students so that they can afford to complete the overseas study and work necessary to do well in their undergraduate degrees, we need to make grants averaging £500 to each first year and £1,250 to each year-abroad student in the third year, a total of £5,250 in grants each year.

Robinson is fortunate to have a fund designed to support AMES students in this way, the Matsuo Fund, for studies in Japan.  However, at present it has an endowment of just over £39,000, generating an annual grant making capacity of £1,560.  Robinson would like to increase its endowment for AMES students to £135,000, a fundraising target of £96,000.


Medical students at Robinson, like all those undergoing clinical training within the University of Cambridge, are expected to undertake an elective period of clinical practice and research during their fifth year of studying medicine (the second clinical year).  Students select an elective opportunity depending on a range of factors.  Many try to use this period to work in a completely different environment from the NHS in order to broaden their clinical and research experience and to provide comparisons for the system in which their training is based.  Often they do this by arranging an elective overseas, either in a developing country with limited healthcare resources, or in a developed country with different funding systems for, or approaches to, healthcare or research.  Such electives are invaluable in helping to train and develop the best possible patient-centred clinicians.  Approximately 80% of students chose to undertake their elective abroad in order to experience a different health system from the NHS.  The remaining 20% chose to complete their electives in the UK and used this time to gain greater experience in one or two particular speciality areas, as for many students this elective is their only chance to spend more than a week or two in certain specialities before they had to make decisions about applying for a speciality registrar place later in their career progression.

Students are expected to cover the costs of these electives, including travel, occupational health costs (such as inoculations), elective fees payable to the host hospital, accommodation and subsistence.  These costs can have a significant impact on the choices that students are able to make about their elective period, with those from lower income backgrounds sometimes unable to pursue their preferred elective due to of lack of funds.  Given these electives are compulsory, this can also mean that students have lower personal funds available for subsistence during term time.

The number of students affected in this way at Robinson is increasing, in part because of the increase in student fees for UK/EU students in recent years creating a situation in which medical students are already heavily in debt by this stage of their training and also because the allocation of clinical training places in the UK is changing.  From 2015 all pre-clinical medical students at Cambridge will remain in Cambridge for their clinical training.  Previously, the allocation of clinical places around the UK was decided by a funding formula that resulted in up to half the pre-clinical students from Cambridge having to move to London, Oxford or other centres of medical training because there were insufficient places available at Cambridge.  It will be a great benefit to medical students to be able to complete their training within a single university, but it does mean that Robinson will have up to nine students going on medical elective placements each year, instead of the previous three.

In addition to the compulsory clinical electives, the brightest students are encouraged to undertake a summer placement during their pre-clinical training.  These are approximately 2 months long and usually based in a high-level bioscience lab in the UK or overseas.  The best students are encouraged to undertake these projects in order to further develop their capabilities and realise their full potential as a clinician by providing a more detailed understanding of the scientific research behind clinical practice.  It also encourages students to consider applying for combined MB/PhD programmes, or complete a PhD or MD later in their clinical training.  These programmes are highly competitive, and summer research projects provide valuable research experience for their applications, as well as important insights into academic medical careers. The College would like to offer up to four grants per year averaging £750 each.

This combination of the increase in student fees, the increased numbers of clinical students at Robinson and the restricted grant-making resources already available in College has resulted in the decision to seek to raise funds for a dedicated and permanent medical student support fund.  In the first instance, we aim to be able to offer each medical student an average of £1,500 towards their medical elective expenses and later to also award up to four summer project grants per annum.  With up to nine students per annum applying for elective support, this £13,500 per annum cost for electives, plus £3,000 for summer projects, requires an endowment fund of £413,000 based on the College’s 4% draw down rule. Seed-corn funding of £30,000 has been given to establish the Chaffield Shaw Medical Support Fund.


The Laura Ashley Holdings Cambridge Scholarship is being generously endowed by Laura Ashley Holdings between 2014 and 2018.  Income from the full endowment, once accrued, will fund University of Cambridge PhD Scholars at Robinson to undertake and write up their research in a wide range of subjects.  Awards will usually be made for a maximum of three years.  Whilst the full endowment is accruing partial awards are already being made to support outstanding young scholars in completing their theses.

The Warden and Fellows of Robinson College are tremendously grateful to Laura Ashley Holdings for this generous support.