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Brilliance without barriers: How bursaries support our students


The following article was first published in June 2020 as part of this year's edition of The Wheel, the College's annual newsletter.

Many St Catharine’s students are able to access vital bursary funding thanks to support from our donors, whose gifts enable our students to have an unfettered experience of all that the College, and the University more broadly, has to offer.

2019–20 bursary support

  • 261 students received financial support in the year to date.
  • The total value of these awards was £515,912.
  • 72 students received travel grants this year to date.
  • 28 students received MPhil/PhD bursaries or scholarships.
  • 124 undergraduate entrance bursaries were awarded (28% of all undergraduates).

Bratton Bursary for MPhil: Naomi Lefroy (2016, Geography)

"The Bratton Bursary has supported me this year as I broadened my knowledge through research of the polar regions. Without this fund, my year of study would not have been financially viable. So far, I have written a literature review discussing the utility of satellite remote sensing in transforming our understanding of ice stream dynamics. My dissertation will draw these themes together to consider how the surface hydrology of ice shelves fringing the Antarctic Ice Sheet can affect their stability in a warming climate. My MPhil is based at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. I feel so privileged to be able to work in an Institute that has such a rich heritage of polar research and exploration, alongside other people who are passionate about understanding Earth’s cryosphere and communicating its importance. I volunteer at the Institute’s open day and the Polar Museum’s night-time experience to engage the public with the museum’s research. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks for the support that the College and Bratton Bursary has provided."

Benefiting from the undergraduate bursary: Caius Lee (2018, Music)

"Going to university from a low income background can be daunting financially, especially in expensive cities such as Cambridge. As a young person pursuing a music career, Cambridge is one of the finest universities I could attend: the perfect combination of an academic Music degree with the resources and opportunities available to develop practical musicianship at conservatoire level. This award has enabled me to attend concerts and masterclasses by professional and student-led ensembles. I have never attended more concerts in my life, and this award has proved invaluable in purchasing tickets to experience the vibrant, musical city of Cambridge. My College bursary helped fund my participation in College sports, allowing me to make friends and develop my sports skills. The cost previously put me off joining the College’s football club, but this bursary enabled me to join and I am now captain of the second team. I have lived the ups and downs of a football season, and have loved the chance to share the team camaraderie again."

Travel bursary recipient: Clover Godsal (2016, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)

"I was the lucky recipient of a Richard Edis Travel Fund grant, which I used to attend the College of Fine Art in Cairo for a year abroad as part of my Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies degree. This opportunity combined my two passions: Arabic and art. The art school is unique; it is the oldest modern, figurative art school in the Middle East and the birthplace of Modern Egyptian art. Every Egyptian artist you can think of either taught or studied there. In addition, the most famous and influential visual Egyptian artists teach part-time here. I believe I am the first European to have ever studied there, and culturally and artistically it could not be more different to Cambridge, or the world that I have grown up in, or art education as I know it. My year group consisted of 250 Egyptians and me. All the teaching is done in Arabic. My weekly timetable included drawing, drawing with colour, sculpture, graphic drawing, the principles of design, history of culture, anatomy, Spanish and human rights. The college is located on an island called Zamalek in the middle of the Nile. Over 3,000 students charge in and out of the former Ottoman palace where the college is now located. I was affectionately called the ‘agnabia’, which is Egyptian Arabic for foreign female, and I enjoyed a degree of celebrity and attention, which is exciting and flattering and a far cry from my anonymity at school. It was an extraordinary and life-changing experience, a dream come true. Since returning to St Catharine’s, I have set up the Life Drawing Society, generously funded by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC (1961)."

Sports bursary: Fin Allen (2012, Natural Sciences)

"I feel very lucky to have received significant support for my sporting endeavours during my time at St Catharine’s. I have represented the University in mountain biking since my second year of undergraduate studies (2013), including contributing to three Varsity wins and earning my Half Blue at the National Cross-Country Championships last year. Now a postgraduate chemist, I was fortunate to attend the Thetford Winter Series mountain biking competition earlier this year: in a competitive field I was very happy to place third in the series overall. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the College, which has helped cover race entries, travel to events, and race costs. I’m extremely grateful for these opportunities, and would encourage other students to take advantage of them!"

Sports bursary: Bethan Matthew (2017, Land Economy)

"I am so grateful to receive a sports bursary. It has allowed me to compete in the University’s first team for sailing for the past two years. This is a mixed team of six people, including three of us from Catz. We were ranked as the top university team going into the BUCS finals this year. The finals were set to happen at the end of the Easter vacation at Grafham Water, with Cambridge hosting the 170-competitor event. I was disappointed the races were cancelled as a result of COVID-19, as we placed second last year. Sailing is an incredibly expensive sport: we travel to venues across the country each weekend to compete against the top university and alumni teams in the country. I would not be able to continue to compete at this high level without the College’s support."

Applications for College bursaries should be discussed by students with their Tutors in the first instance.

Read more articles from the 2020 edition of The Wheel.