Olivia Kinsman was able to take up a place at the University of Bristol this year having been awarded the Keil Scholarship, which supports PhD students in the Department of History.
I can remember taking my A-levels and knowing how much I wanted to go to university. Even then I knew that eventually I wanted to do a PhD. I’m from a single parent household with a low income and there are lots of us in the family, so growing up was really challenging at times. I’ve always been determined that I wasn’t going to let my background or finances get in the way of what I wanted to do – even if that meant saving up until I was 50 to do my PhD. For me, applying for scholarships and being proactive about reaching out for financial assistance has been really important.
Robert Chapman, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, explains how this fellowship is advancing important research.
The first year of my fellowship researching Health and Wellbeing for a Neurodiverse Age has been amazing. My PhD explored the philosophy and ethics of autism, challenging the notion that living with autism is inherently at odds with living a good human life. With the fellowship, I’ve been expanding on my previous work to explore neurodiversity more broadly, using my background in Philosophy and Disability Studies to explore the models we’ve developed to understand whether or not someone is psychologically healthy or unhealthy and how they might be ‘disordered’.
Chemistry student and former President of the University’s Student Action for Refugees group, Stephanie Hall, has witnessed how Sanctuary Scholarships can transform lives.
During my first year at Bristol, I went to a poetry reading in a café on Gloucester Road. That was where I first heard Home, an incredibly moving poem about how it feels to be a refugee. The piece was written by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet who was born in Kenya. In this poem, Shire talks about how you’d never want to leave your home, unless it had become ‘the mouth of a shark’ – in other words, when it becomes so unsafe that it stops being your home.
It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard and it inspired me to join the University of Bristol’s Student Action for Refugees group (STAR).
Laura Frude (BA 2009, MPhil 2010, MPhil 2019) describes her role as Futures Scholarship Coordinator at the University of Bristol and the incredible impact it has on students.
The Futures Scholarship programme provides funding for students from a widening participation background and includes £2,000 in the students’ first year to use at their discretion and £2,500 they can access over the course of their degree to support employability. It supports those who may not start university on a level playing field with their peers or have the contacts to support them to build a career, and many of the students are the first in their family to go to university.
After fleeing his country of origin at the age of twenty, Davide* arrived in the UK with no friends or family to turn to and experienced homelessness, multiple evictions and extreme loneliness. His situation began to change after he met with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) who advised him to apply for a Sanctuary Scholarship at the University of Bristol.
He’s since completed a foundation year at the University and has recently begun his Undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Here he tells his story and explains how the Sanctuary Scholarship programme has impacted his life.
The University of Bristol is launching a new £1 million programme of scholarships, which will support around 130 Black and mixed Black heritage students to take up places at the University over the next four years.
The Black Bristol Scholarship Programme seeks to address the underrepresentation of Black students at every level of study in higher education across the UK, from undergraduate students to those completing PhDs. It will annually fund Black and mixed Black heritage students across five areas:
My school’s catchment came predominantly from the council estate where I grew up – there were only 12 of us in my sixth form. I took a year out after A Levels because I needed to work. I’m the oldest of four children and my mum had lost her job so I was helping to pay for rent.
When I said I wanted to go into higher education my mum was sceptical because she always saw it as a huge expense. When I found out I had got the Futures Scholarship it felt like such a relief. The Scholarship funding has helped with my deposit for next year’s rent – I wouldn’t have been able to afford that otherwise. I also enjoy going to public lectures on topics relevant to my course. Some of these are in London so I’ve been able to afford to travel down there so I can attend.
I’m the oldest of three children. My brother, who’s a year younger than me, has cerebral palsy. Because my mum is a single mum, I like to think I’m kind of a second parental figure for my siblings. My other brother is only 12, so if mum needed someone to be in the house while she took my brother to the doctors then I would usually take on that role. As she’s a full-time carer herself, my mum can’t really have a job, so I used to do waitressing work as well, which meant that if my brothers needed anything they could let me know and I could buy it for them.
This summer, we asked alumni, staff, students and friends of the University of Bristol to contribute pictures and messages of welcome for our newest cohort of Sanctuary Scholarship students.
These students, who all come from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds, have been able to take up places at the University of Bristol because of the Sanctuary Scholarship programme. Each scholarship is a lifeline that makes a world of difference to the recipient.
We were so overwhelmed by the volume and heartfelt nature of the messages; we wanted to say a huge thank you and share some of our favourites with you. You can head to our Facebook page to see the full selection of messages.
“I wanted to send a welcome photo to show that Bristol is a safe and welcoming city for all, including people seeking sanctuary from war, violence, persecution and impact of climate change. And also to offer our solidarity to the University of Bristol for launching a programme which offers life-changing practical support to refugees and asylum seekers who are coming to study in our diverse city of hope.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol