Grime artist Michael “Stormzy” Omari, has raised the stakes in the education game by announcing 2 scholarships for black students with places confirmed at Grenfell. The rapper is no stranger to helping the little man, having previously challenged Theresa May at the Brit awards over Grenfell. Now he seems to be putting his money where his mouth is however.
It must be asked, what two scholarships can do, for students who have already been accepted to Cambridge, to really change anything. Stormzy has said that “if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down,” which works well in principle. The fact remains however that only 74 out of 3328 students who were accepted into Cambridge last year were black students. This shows that the barriers in place are substantial, especially if we consider that if those figures were reflective of the UK, the number of black students entering Cambridge would be roughly four times that number.
But is funding an issue, or is it simply that times have not changed? Well, roughly 30% of people from a black background suffered persistent low income from 2012-16, meaning that 70% of the black population with at least an average income is left over. Surely by combining student loans and a part-time job, it would be manageable?
So, what then, is the problem? Well seeing as David Lammy MP has previously said that around 630 black British students achieve the obligatory 3A’s or better at A level, it can hardly be said that there is a severe deficit of candidates who meet the criteria. The blame lies with the colleges themselves; between 2015 and 2017, a quarter of Cambridge colleges failed to enrol a single black student.
So as much as Stormzy’s attempts to help black British students further themselves are admirable, it must be said there is little it can do overall to assist black students without first tackling the institutionalised biases that are imbedded in the system. In this case it seems Stormzy has indeed been too big for his boots.