Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., better known by his stage name ‘Stormzy’ has announced that he is funding two scholarships for black British students, to go to Cambridge University. These will cover both the tuiton fees, as well as a maintainance grant up to four years for an undergraduate course.
Speaking on Thursday at his former school, the Harris City Academy in Croydon, south London, where A-level students were opening their results, Stormzy told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re academically brilliant, don’t think because you come from a certain community that studying at one of the highest education institutions in the world isn’t possible.”
The move comes amid rising concerns about a lack of diversity at the Oxbridge universities. Figures published in June showed some Cambridge colleges either admitted no black students, or accepted as few as one a year between 2012 and 2016.
Stormzy credited his own desires to study at Oxbridge during his school years were what inspired this move. He stated: “I was always reminded by my teachers that I was destined, if I wanted, to go down that road and study at one of the top universities.I diverted and ended up doing music so it didn’t happen for me. I thought I was quite a rare case in that I knew that was possible.” He said.
“That’s not always the case. When students are young, academically brilliant and getting great grades, they should know that’s an option.” He added.
The 25-year-old, who won best album at this year’s Ivor Novello awards, has previously been praised in being active at tackling social injustice, including advocating on behalf of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. He is funding two places this year and two again in the coming year.
In 2016, during a guest lecture at the Oxford University Guild, Stormzy told students: “It was my dream to come to Oxford and study political science. I always thought Oxford is better [than Cambridge] anyway, it’s got a ring to it.”
By offering the scholarships, he is following a number of other rappers, including Jay-Z and Nicky Minaj in the US, where the practice is popular.
The application deadline is 30 August for this year and is open to any black student with an offer to study at Cambridge, according to the BBC.
The students will be selected by a panel of university staff.