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University of Cambridge launches £1million bursary to help adults hardest hit by coronavirus




The University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) is offering adults hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic the chance to rebuild their futures with a new £1 million bursary programme.

Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, at Madingley Hall. (36471453)
Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, at Madingley Hall. (36471453)

The Cambridge Thousand Futures Bursary will give 1,000 people across the UK the opportunity to enhance their employability or renew their knowledge and skills with a wide range of part-time remote qualifications – from business management or coaching to art history or creative writing.

Each bursary will be worth £1,000, bringing the total value of the scheme to £1 million. The tuition fee bursaries will mean 60 credits of undergraduate higher education will be available for as little as £1,150 – in most UK universities, the typical cost ranges from £3,000 to £4,600.

Thousand Futures Bursaries are open to those affected most by the coronavirus, regardless of educational background or previous qualifications. Those eligible include all UK residents furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, or those made redundant from April1 onwards.

Any of the 1.5million people designated most at risk of the virus by the NHS can also apply as well as people aged 70 and over and all key workers, as defined by the government. In total, more than 20million people – around one-third of the UK population – are eligible.

The Institute of Continuing Education provides accessible, affordable part-time qualifications taught by world-class academics for adults of any age. It aims to reach people who may not have had the opportunity to benefit from further education.

To maintain accessibility for all during the coronavirus pandemic, when educational inequalities are likely to become starker during the economic downturn, the ICE’s undergraduate programme will take place by remote delivery in the 2020-21 academic year.

An open day at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, at Madingley Hall. (36471437)
An open day at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, at Madingley Hall. (36471437)

The bursary will be unveiled tomorrow (Friday, June 12) at the first of two virtual open days at ICE, designed as an introduction for anyone considering taking up a course.

ICE director Dr James Gazzard said: “Our new £1million bursary programme will aim to support those adults who have been most affected by Covid-19 by providing more affordable access to higher education.

“The full economic impact of the current pandemic has yet to be fully understood, but there is a risk that the crisis creates a ‘missed generation’ of adults left without jobs and unable to afford the time and cost of full-time retraining. Our hope is that they will use these open-access Cambridge undergraduate qualifications to improve their employability and incorporate lifelong learning into their broader approach to wellbeing.”

Courses on offer include coaching, psychology and strategic business and management, or they could choose qualifications in English literature, archaeology, immunology and more.

Dr James Gazzard, director of the Institute of Continuing Education. Picture: Keith Heppell (36471393)
Dr James Gazzard, director of the Institute of Continuing Education. Picture: Keith Heppell (36471393)

Dr Gazzard added: “By moving our undergraduate courses to flexible online classrooms, we can reach more learners than ever before and bring Cambridge and all the richness of our teaching directly into their home. We hope our bursary will spread the word that Cambridge is accessible to the nation’s wider community of adult learners.

“The Institute of Continuing Education has an unparalleled track record of supporting adult learners, no matter whether they want to improve their job prospects or pursue a personal passion. Now we can offer that experience virtually, creating a unique community of peer learners who will enrich each other’s learning experience facilitated through virtual discussion groups and other educational technologies.”

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell (36471419)
Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell (36471419)

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, said: “The Institute of Continuing Education has long been at the forefront of our university's efforts to widen access to higher education. I am hugely proud of its determination to make sure that the current crisis does not hamper the educational opportunities of those adults who have been most directly affected.

“By offering bursaries to make its undergraduate programmes more affordable, the Institute of Continuing Education is making a very meaningful contribution to the communities we serve.”

The bursary can be put towards the cost of any of more than 30 part-time undergraduate certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. More information can be found at ice.cam.ac.uk/cambridge-thousand-futures-bursary-frequently-asked-questions-faqs.

The closing date is Friday, July 31.

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