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Increase in black students at Cambridge is amazing, says Stormzy

Joe Giddens/PA Wire

By Alison Kershaw, PA Education Correspondent

Stormzy has branded a rise in the number of black students at Cambridge University "amazing" as he played down his role in the hike.

The prestigious institution has announced a 50% increase in the number of black undergraduates admitted on to its degree courses this year - saying it is partly down to the "Stormzy effect".

The UK grime artist is funding the tuition fees and living costs for two students at the university each year.

In a tweet, he said: "This is amazing - there's no way that this is because of me alone."

Stormzy went on to thank the Cambridge University African Caribbean Society and the university itself for their efforts to recruit more black students.

He said: "Big up @CambridgeACS for the incredible work they do they would of played a massive part in this. And big up @Cambridge_Uni for there continued efforts."

The award-winning artist announced in August last year that he will fund the tuition fees and living costs for two students each year for the duration of their time at Cambridge.

Since then, there has been an increase in the number of black students taking part in outreach activities and inquiring about courses, the university said.

Cambridge's data shows that 91 black students have been admitted to the university this year, up around 50% from 61 who started courses last autumn (2018/19).

It means that black UK students make up 3.4% of the 2,663 UK students overall who were admitted to the institution this year.

Cambridge said that, for the first time, the proportion of black students at the university is reflective of wider UK society.

Ucas figures show that, as of September 12, 33,730 black UK students had been accepted on to degree courses at British universities and colleges - meaning black students make up 7.9% of UK acceptances in total.

According to the last national census, around 4% of all 18 to 24-year-olds in England and Wales are black.

The figures come at a time when the UK's most selective universities are under intense pressure to recruit more students from a broader range of backgrounds.

A breakdown of the numbers admitted by Cambridge's 29 undergraduate colleges is not currently available.

Professor Graham Virgo, Cambridge's senior pro-vice-chancellor for education, said the university had been working hard to show that it is a welcoming place for all students.

"This record rise in the number of black students is a credit to their hard work and ability; we have not lowered entry standards.

"It is also a credit to the hard work put in by admissions staff across the university and colleges in running various outreach activities, and the positive campaigns run by our student societies and external partners.

"We have achieved this without any reduction in offer levels or provision of preferential treatment."

Other factors to have played a part in the rise include the involvement of several student societies in promoting the university, of different groups of potential students, and proactive campaign work, Cambridge said.

Wanipa Ndhlovu, president of the university's African-Caribbean Society (ACS), said: "This is really good news and is a testament to the hard work that ACS, as well as the university, has been putting in to break down perceptions.

"It should send out a signal to other black students that they can find their place at Cambridge and succeed."

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