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Studentships Impact

Our pioneering Studentships scheme ensures that no gifted undergraduate offered a place at St John’s will question their future because of financial barriers.

Hear from some of our best and brightest students as they describe the influence their Studentship had on their time at College.

Inclusion in College life

I am indescribably grateful for the bursary and financial assistance made possible by the generosity of donors. I grew up the child of a young single mother on a council estate, and we lived on welfare until I was 13. The multiple bursaries I have received from St John’s have meant that I don’t feel left out or lesser than anybody else here, and they have allowed me to partake fully in College life.

The Studentship scheme was what persuaded me to apply to St John’s, and I will forever be proud and honoured to be a recipient. Cambridge remains a realm of privilege, but the social good faith at the heart of these bursaries ensures a more diverse, more exciting intake with each new year.

Jasper (2019), HSPS

A home from home

My peers used to worry about balancing schoolwork, working in the evening and finding time to sleep. Now, with the Studentships, we have a sanctuary. St John’s became my home.

My Studentship allowed me to stay in College during the holidays, which was essential as I didn’t have a family home to return to (after my mum passed away, my brother had to take a lodger into my room to help pay the bills). Coming to St John’s is the best decision I ever made.

Leia (2016), HSPS

Freeing up time

I had heard from friends about the Studentship Scheme before it was extended on a sliding scale basis, and was both surprised and elated at the generosity it offered. It has opened a wide range of opportunities that I didn’t think were possible for me during university. My Studentship has been a huge relief for me, and I honestly don’t believe I would be able to work at the level I am currently if I had to worry about money as much as I had expected to when I first arrived.

The real benefit of this bursary has been mental peace. I’ve worked in some form throughout most of my education. With that loss of income and less parental support, I was concerned about having to strictly budget my maintenance loan and not being able to socialise with my friends when they went on activities. I was also worried about the extra time costs of being frugal, such as biking it to my medical placement instead of going on the bus, and travelling much further to go to cheaper supermarkets.

Max (2018), Medicine

Extracurricular experiences

Throughout my time at Cambridge I volunteered for a Homeless Outreach project, where we’d give homeless people something to eat and drink in the evenings. In my final two years I’d then spend a couple of hours on weekends tutoring Syrian refugee children. If I had also had the stress of finding paid work alongside my busy degree and extracurriculars, Cambridge wouldn’t have been for me.

The Studentship was the only reason I applied to Cambridge. It would have been too expensive to live away from home during university otherwise. The funding meant I was able to spend my time on academia and societies rather than working outside of term to earn cash on the side. University isn’t supposed to be pure stress, and I wanted to shape my character by gaining experiences I never thought I could.

Tasneem (2017), HSPS

Research opportunities

I will forever be grateful for the support I received through my Studentship. I had an older brother at university and my younger brother is autistic, so supporting me through academia would have been an extreme financial burden for my family.

Thanks to the generosity of my donor, I was able to complete my final year without having to stress over the cost of living in Cambridge. I also pursued a course in Arabic at the Cambridge University Language Centre, which helped me write my Part II thesis on the reception of Greek drama in Arabic literature.

My Studentship even allowed me to travel to Egypt in December to conduct research on the theatrical environment there and on the figure of Tawfiq al-Hakim specifically, which I discussed extensively in my aforementioned thesis. The numerous opportunities (too many to list here) that I have enjoyed at Cambridge have been in large part thanks to the funding I received from my Studentship.

Camilla (2016), Classics

Fitting in

Coming to Cambridge, and to St John’s in particular, was exciting. Initially I feared that I would struggle to find my place in the prestigious surroundings, but thankfully the environment I encountered was warm and friendly. My first year was still a challenge, though, and there were times that I might have lost hope without this financial aid.

I am so grateful to my Studentship for alleviating part of my economic burden. It helped me academically (essential medical textbooks are surprisingly expensive!) and in my extra-curricular pursuits, such as football. Being able to purchase kit or pay for travel to matches without a moment’s worry is especially valuable during such an intense period of life.

Words on a page will never be enough to fully describe how grateful I am to have been a recipient of a Studentship. I am so appreciative of those who have helped me throughout my life. Their generosity drives me ever further in wanting to repay such kindness through a career in Medicine. I will always be thankful for the chance I’ve had of studying here.

Michael (2016), Medicine

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To date, the Studentships scheme has been funded hand-to-mouth by annual, immediate-use donations, as opposed to by an endowed fund (monies that are invested by College, with only the returns spent).

This was necessary to launch the scheme in a timely manner in 2016, but it is not sustainable. We must begin to build an endowed fund from which to sustain the St John’s Studentships in perpetuity. The long-term ambition is to increase both the generosity and the reach of the scheme, and to be the first UK higher education institution to offer completely free places to the poorest UK students. This will only be possible with your support.


Why does St John’s need to fundraise for this project? Read more about College finances.