An anonymous donation of £75,000 has been given to fund a new scholarship for disabled students at Wadham College.
The scholarship will enable “academically excellent” students with disabilities to study a taught postgraduate course at the College, and is thought to be the first such funding opportunity for disabled students at Oxford.
With regard to the motivation for the gift, a press release from the College reports that the anonymous donor said: “From Darwin on there has been a long, distinguished tradition of housebound scholars. This donation is intended to ensure that in the future the full academic participation of scholars with disabilities is maximised.”
Disabled Students officer for OUSU, Wadham postgraduate Lindsay Lee commented: “This scholarship is incredibly exciting, and a giant leap forward in the right direction for how Oxford supports disabled students. There are countless reasons why it’s more difficult to attend Oxford as a disabled student, and this scholarship will help alleviate the financial barriers that are unique to those with disabilities.
“I’m a student at Wadham, so personally it makes me very proud to see Wadham continuing its progressive tradition and fighting to be as inclusive as possible to all students. This scholarship wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of fierce disability advocate and Wadham student Marie Tidball, and she deserves all possible recognition.”
Tidball, a graduate student and disability campaigner who also spearheaded Oxford’s ‘Let’s get disability on the list!’ campaign explained the urgent need for funding for disabled Masters students.
She commented: “Many disabled students use holiday time to have surgery, treatments and follow up medical appointments which they do not have time for during term time. They may take longer to complete the necessary studies and have to use more of their vacation in order to do this.”
With the £75,000 donation spread over three years, it is hoped that the scheme will attract further donations in order to expand and continue the scholarship. Donations will also be matched by the University of Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund, a scheme which matches gifts on a ratio of 60:40.
In addition to support from OUSU, the scholarship has also been welcomed by the Wadham student body. Lucy Halton, Wadham SU President, commented: “We are delighted with the news of Wadham’s new scholarship for disabled students on taught Masters courses, and would like to congratulate Marie Tidball on her wonderful work. It is great that Wadham is taking a lead in starting to even out the many challenges and inequalities faced by disabled students and we’re looking forward to seeing the positive results of this initiative!”
The scholarship will be available to Wadham postgraduate students from the next academic year.