University Announces New Award Aimed at Black and Mixed Heritage Students

Image Description: Dr Ateh Jewel Education Foundation

The University has announced that it has set up a new award, known as the Dr Ateh Jewel Education Foundation Award, intended to “support excellence and ambition among talented UK undergraduates of Black African, Black Caribbean and mixed heritage by giving students the opportunity to focus on their studies without financial concerns and achieve their full potential.”

In its press release, the University said the Award will “offer targeted support to gifted students from low-income families” and allow the best students to thrive academically without financial worries. Award winners will be able to “use funds at their own discretion” and “have the chance to enjoy activities or experiences that are not covered through alternative college or University financial support programmes”. This covers extra-curricular activities, including buying equipment and sports kit, and supporting costs associated with undertaking internships during breaks.

All first-degree UK-resident undergraduate offer holders on any course of study are eligible for the award, with one-off payments made to three students at the beginning of Michaelmas term of their first year, starting in the 2022-2023 academic year for a three-year period. The aim is to offer these students the “flexibility to create the perfect environment to thrive during their first year at Oxford”, according to the University administration. It also fits with Oxford’s broader push to increase representation of Black students from the UK on campus and encourage more applications from the community. This complements the existing Oxford-Arlan Hamilton and Earline Butler Sims Scholarship, which is also targeted at supporting undergraduates of Black African and Caribbean heritage coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The award is named after Dr Ateh Jewel, an award-winning journalist, diversity advocate, public speaker and social media influencer who has been specialising in beauty, social commentary and diversity campaigns for 20 years, and has been featured in Vogue, Financial Times, The Guardian, as well as BBC and CNN. She launched the Dr Ateh Jewel Education Foundation in 2021, focusing on helping Black and mixed-Black heritage students enter and thrive in higher education.

“I created the Dr Ateh Jewel Education Foundation because I believe the way to create true racial equality is to flood industry and culture with diversity and redefine what the default setting of power looks like” said Dr. Jewel, “I want to give rocket fuel to Black and mixed heritage students while they are in higher education as an investment in them and everything they will achieve for us all in the future”.

In a reference to history and literature, Dr Jewel added that “the days of Dickensian alms giving is over, this is about shouting and underlining that Oxford and seats of power are spaces for Black and mixed heritage students who in the past may have felt this was an institution not for them. Diversity is the win-win for society.’

Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford, also noted that he is “delighted” that Dr Jewel has chosen Oxford to set up the new Award, emphasising that the University “is committed to accelerating the pace at which we diversify our student body and are united in our efforts to remove the barriers that students face.”

The Dr Ateh Jewel Education Foundation eventually hopes to expand the Award to other universities but is focusing on working with Oxford at the moment.