29 July 2023

HSBC UK doubles support for Stormzy Scholars at the University of Cambridge

  • 36 new Stormzy Scholarships to be awarded to Black students over next 3 years, bringing total number to 81 over eight years (2018-26)
  • ‘The Stormzy Effect’ continues: Applications from UK Black students on the rise, with 141 Black students admitted in 2022 (131% increase compared to 2018)
  • HSBC UK has pledged a further £2m in funding (total of £4m 2021-26), and is expanding its mentorship and internship opportunities for Black Heritage students

Five years since the launch of the Stormzy Scholarship programme at the University of Cambridge, HSBC UK has pledged a further £2m in support of 30 new Stormzy Scholarships over the next three years (2024-26). The #Merky Foundation, the UK charity founded by the award winning British musician, Stormzy, will continue to fund a further two students per year.1,2

Since launching in 2018, the scholarships have helped alleviate the financial worries and transform the university experience of 32 students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds. It’s anticipated that a total of 81 students will have received a Stormzy Scholarship by 2026.

The Stormzy Scholarships are credited with helping Cambridge to attract more applications from a traditionally under-represented group.3

The number of UK Black students admitted to undergraduate courses has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 61 students in 2018 to 141 students in 2022.

Award-winning artist, Stormzy

To be eligible for a 2023 award applicants must be of Black, or mixed Black heritage, and have a confirmed place to start a degree course at Cambridge.

Stormzy, said: “For a further 30 Black students to have the opportunity to study at Cambridge University - the same year we celebrate 5 years of the scholarships’ launch - feels like an incredible landmark moment. Thank you to HSBC UK for another incredibly significant donation and of course, Cambridge University for always, always backing our mission. I hope these scholarships continue to serve as a small reminder to young Black students that the opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world is theirs for the taking!”

Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, said: “We’re delighted the University’s collaboration with Stormzy’s #MERKY Foundation and HSBC UK will continue for another 3 years. We’re also extremely grateful to them, as we are to all our donors, for the help they provide ensuring those who often feel marginalised because of the circumstances they grew up in, receive financial support enabling them to fully engage with the student experience. We know these scholarships are truly transformative in the opportunities they provide and we look forward to welcoming more Stormzy scholars to Cambridge over the next few years.”

Ian Stuart, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC UK, said: “Our focus is on helping people build their financial health, and increasing our support of the Stormzy Scholarships is an exciting step forward. It's a privilege to work alongside #MERKY and the University of Cambridge to help under-represented students overcome barriers to higher education, build their professional network at HSBC and beyond, and become the change-makers of the future. Investing in these students means investing in a fairer and more inclusive society.”

All Stormzy Scholarship applicants also have the option to explore work experience, skills development and mentoring opportunities with the bank. Since the start of the partnership in 2021, HSBC has seen applications from Black Heritage students to its UK internship programmes increase 3-fold, with 16.5% Black Heritage representation in their latest UK internship class.

HSBC has also partnered with #MERKY Books to help young people aged 14-16 build financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills for the future. Together they’ve delivered workshops to 10,000 young people, donated over 2,000 books to schools and are planning to expand efforts into 2024 and beyond.4

Meet the first two Stormzy Scholars: Drew Chateau and Joseph Vambe:

Drew Chateau, 24, from south London, was one of the two students awarded a Stormzy Scholarship in 2018. She graduated in 2021 with a 2:1 in Law and is now a trainee solicitor at a leading London law firm. She says the Scholarship made a huge difference:

“Financial pressures and burdens had placed restrictions on my life and on those around me, which made it difficult to concentrate on education due to the circumstances we found ourselves in. The scholarship helped reduce the gap between myself and those from a more stable upbringing. Thanks to the award I didn’t have to worry about my next meal, how to support my family or even getting to university each term. While there are always going to be tough times, this made university so much more practical, and enjoyable for me.”

Joseph Vambe, 23, also from south London, graduated in 2021 with a 2:1 in Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) and stayed in Cambridge an extra year to complete his Master’s. Now a fundraising and engagement officer for the charity, Christian Aid, he’s also been elected as a Labour councillor on Southwark Borough Council and is the youngest councillor on the authority:

“The Stormzy Scholarship proved to be an invaluable award as I progressed my studies at Cambridge. Throughout my life, the financial burden has always been a barrier to every great opportunity. This time was different – the Stormzy Scholarship alleviated that burden and I was able to pursue my degree without worrying about the financial costs which have proved so detrimental and burdensome, time and time again in my life. It is for this precise reason that I am grateful for the Stormzy Scholarship.”

Media enquiries to:

Aurora Bonin, Media Relations, HSBC UK
Email: aurora.f.bonin@hsbc.com
Mobile: 07438 850833

Notes to editors:

1. #MERKY Foundation will continue to support two students per year, supporting 18 Stormzy Scholars over eight years (2018-2026). HSBC UK has pledged an additional £2m to support an additional 30 Stormzy scholars over three years (2023-26), bringing the bank’s total commitment to £4m in support of 60 Stormzy Scholars (2021-26). A private donor has supported a further 3 scholarships (2021-23).

2. The scholarships will fund the tuition fees and maintenance costs (equivalent to £20,000 per student each year) for a degree course of either three or four years’ duration. The agreement covers the academic years: 2024/5, 2025/6 and 2026/7. Applications will open on Thurs 17th August and close at midnight on Sunday 3rd September.

3. The combined group of Black students are still underrepresented at Cambridge by both application rate and acceptance rate, against all three of the national datasets (UK Census, DFE L3 and UCAS).

4. HSBC UK and #Merky Books, an award-winning imprint launched in 2018 by Stormzy and Penguin Random House UK, have been working together since early 2022. More information and programme resources here: www.merkybookshsbcfutures.com


HSBC UK serves over 14.75 million customers across the UK, supported by 24,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates. HSBC UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc. HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 62 countries and territories. With assets of $2,990bn at 31 March 2023, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.

About the University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s leading universities, with a rich history of radical thinking dating back to 1209. Its mission is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Cambridge was second in the influential 2023 QS World University Rankings, the highest rated institution in the UK. The University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges and over 100 departments, faculties and institutions. Its 20,000 students include around 9,000 international students from 147 countries. In 2022, almost 73% of its new undergraduate students were from state schools and more than 25% from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Cambridge research spans almost every discipline, from science, technology, engineering and medicine through to the arts, humanities and social sciences, with multi-disciplinary teams working to address major global challenges. In the Times Higher Education’s rankings based on the UK Research Excellence Framework, the University was rated as the highest scoring institution covering all the major disciplines.

The University sits at the heart of the ‘Cambridge cluster’, in which more than 5,200 knowledge-intensive firms employ more than 71,000 people and generate £19 billion in turnover. Cambridge has the highest number of patent applications per 100,000 residents in the UK.

About #Merky Foundation

#Merky Foundation is a registered UK charity founded in 2019 by British musician Stormzy – Charity number 1186891. #Merky Foundation - a subsidiary of Stormzy’s company #Merky - provides funding to organisations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK. For more information on #Merky Foundation please visit www.merkyfoundation.org.uk.