A quick article I wrote for Varsity, starting off the print editions to come in the Lent Term.
The University has received a “landmark” donation of over £400,000 which will go towards supporting at least ninety undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
A total of £427,500 from the Reuben Foundation has been pledged for the next five years for the award of new Reuben Bursaries, with the sum being equalled by the Cambridge Bursary Scheme.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, said of the donation: “I’m delighted the Reuben Foundation has enabled us to provide these bursaries, which will make a significant contribution towards the accommodation and subsistence costs of studying at Cambridge.”
“A Cambridge education is a transformational experience, and their generosity will help ensure that basic living costs do not prevent talented students from benefiting from it.”
CUSU’s access and funding officer, Helena Blair, said: “’The prospect of financial difficulties and debt forms one of the largest barriers to people considering higher education as an option. It’s not only about affording living costs – students should have the financial security to thrive equally within their education and access the many opportunities that Cambridge has to offer.”
“Sufficient financial support from a variety of sources including the Cambridge Bursary Scheme is crucial to achieving this, particularly in the case of students from lower-income backgrounds.”
The Reuben Foundation was set up in 2002 by the Reuben Brothers – David and Simon Reuben – two Indian-born businessmen and philanthropists. The two rarely ever give interviews or appear in the media. The brothers were ranked second in Forbes’ List of billionaires in the UK in 2013 and own a substantial portfolio of UK properties. Both have previously donated to the health and education sectors.
In a statement the brothers said: “We are delighted to see the continued expansion of the Reuben Scholarship Programme, and look forward to a long partnership with Cambridge which will benefit many bright students over the coming years.”
The University has recently received donations from several other foundations which aided the construction of new buildings, including the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. Philanthropy has also helped the refurbishment of the synthetic chemistry laboratory, as well as in the field of research.
Becky Nunn, Access officer at King’s, said: “A bursary can have a massive impact on students receiving it, helping them access as many of the opportunities offered to them whilst studying here as possible, and often significantly reducing the extra stresses which can be placed on a student when finances are a particular issue.
“We hope this donation will help to support more students in this way, and make their experiences of Cambridge even better.”
Simon, a student at King’s, who receives a Cambridge Bursary, said: “Receiving a bursary means that I don’t have to worry about accommodation costs, buying food or missing out on the range of social opportunities that there are on offer. I’m incredibly grateful to all of the donors and Cambridge’s commitment to break down financial barriers that may stop students studying at university.”
A university spokesman said: “Gifts are made by people and organisations who share Cambridge’s commitment to excellence through academic freedom and autonomy. Each one of these gifts represents an act of support that is deeply appreciated.”