Oxford bursary scheme named after Michael Sheen will support Welsh students

Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

A bursary scheme named after actor Michael Sheen will provide financial support to students from across Wales at the University of Oxford.

Jesus College has developed The Michael Sheen Bursary in collaboration with the Welsh actor to help Welsh students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Applications for the new bursaries, which have been generously supported by Sheen, will open in the autumn term 2021.

Sheen said: “Where you come from and the financial circumstances of your background should not be a barrier to those of talent and excellence receiving much-needed support and development.

“Jesus College, Oxford has had a long and fruitful relationship to Wales since its founding in 1571 and it gives me great pleasure to use what resources I have to help young Welsh students of real potential get the opportunities for learning there that they deserve as much as anyone else.

“I hope that these bursaries not only make it possible for Welsh students to take advantage of the educational possibilities at Jesus but also help to encourage a sense of what is possible for young Welsh people generally.”

Recipients of the bursary will be means-tested, based primarily on household income criteria.

Jesus College, and the University of Oxford on a whole, want to help Welsh school students overcome the barrier of economic inequity that they face.

Oxford Radcliffe
A view of (L-R) Brasenose College, the Radcliffe Camera (a library), the Codrington Library and All Souls’ College in Oxford (PA)

Dr Alexandra Lumbers, academic director of Jesus College, said: “Our access programmes are going a long way in encouraging and enabling academically gifted young people from Wales to come to the university, but disadvantaged students can face financial inequalities that create a barrier to embracing the full benefit that an Oxford education can offer.

“The Michael Sheen Bursary will provide a tremendous opportunity to support Welsh students at Jesus College, making their experience more equitable, and reassuring them that Oxford is for everyone, regardless of background.”

The bursary is not restricted to a specific number of students per year.

Each student who applies will have to meet the eligibility criterion, which is based on an aggregate household income of under £35,000 per annum.

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, principal of Jesus College, said: “We are proud of our strong historical connection with the people of Wales, and the huge progress that has been made both within Jesus College and the wider university to encourage and support Welsh students to apply to Oxford.

“The Michael Sheen Bursary will drive this work forward and demonstrates a continued commitment to providing access and equity for all.

“We are hugely grateful to Michael for this generous support, which will positively impact the lives and futures of some of our more disadvantaged Welsh students.”