Like an excitable kid on Christmas morning, A-level results day saw me up before dawn, frantically refreshing the beloved UCAS track page to see whether or not I’d cut the mustard. Unfortunately, I had to be up and at work early that morning, so couldn’t make it in to school to find out my exact results or jump into one of those coveted Guardian photographs (though I’m sure I lack the breasts and extra X chromosome to meet their criteria, anyway).
Whatever the specifics were, I’d gotten in. That was enough to keep me bouncing through work all day until I went to a pre-results party dinner at a friend’s house. Most of the room were thrilled with the outcome of the day, and heavily engrossed in wine and conversation about the mystery that was freshers’ week. Naturally, any questions fired at me were along the lines of “isn’t London really expensive?” Sure, I said, but my naïve eighteen year old self hadn’t quite clocked just how much so.
It was then I got thinking about an old family friend called Paul. Paul was a bit of a computer whizz, to say the least, and back in the eighties he managed to secure himself a place studying Computer Science at Fitzwilliam, Cambridge. This was down to pure academic merit: Paul was the first from a small town to make it out and do something special, but was also unfortunate enough to lack the financial support to properly fund his education. He basically spent his university days working a full time job in tandem, dedicating countless hours that could have been better spent on his course playing piano at an over-priced restaurant, and ended up narrowly missing out on a first.
Thankfully things have come a long way, with all of the elite universities now offering some form of support for brilliant minds that happen to be born into less privileged financial circumstances. I am currently the lucky recipient of awards from the college and a large bank, both of which are subject to satisfactory academic performance, and both of which make studying in London possible.
These awards have helped me to pay for a multitude of things: the over-priced halls of residence where I made most of my friends, the slightly less over-priced private accommodation when I moved out, enough food to keep me healthy and well fed, and the occasional beer or two. Without these scholarships, accepting an offer from Imperial would have been unrealistic.
I still work a part time job, but thanks to the scholarships I am able to dedicate most of the time to my studies, and hopefully because of this I won’t be in the horrible situation of missing out on a grade because I had to spend all of my time making money. Imperial has one of the highest intakes of privately-educated students in the country: in addition to helping with financing, the scholarships have also helped me to blend in socially, providing I avoid the likes of Amikahikibargovida (although they play terrible music anyway).
I’m sure that I’m not alone: several of my friends are in the same position, I’m sure there are plenty of other people that I haven’t met or who haven’t mentioned it. I’m sure we’d all agree that scholarships are an important thing with endless benefits to the recipients, and that we’d want incoming students to have similar, or better, experiences like those we’ve been lucky to have.
For these reasons, I am asking that anyone on a scholarship, or anyone who understands their importance, to donate to The Skeleton Fund. Every penny will go the Rector’s Scholarship Fund, and will directly help undergraduates and postgraduates to afford university. Donating a small amount of money won’t break your bank, but will demonstrate to the college just how important such awards are, and ultimately the accumulated money will create a fantastic opportunity for worthy recipients in the future.
Disclaimer: the writer of this article works for Felix, but is not associated with the Skeleton Fund and wished to remain anonymous.