Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Matthew Hoser (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fintech entrepeneur boosts Black Academic Futures programme

Fintech entrepreneur Valerie Moran has donated funds to create two fully funded scholarships for Black British postgraduate students through the Black Academic Futures program in the University of Oxford.

The initiative, which launched last year, aims to tackle the under-representation of Black students at the University of Oxford.

While the program provided 13 scholarships in its first year, it is now expanding to offer up to 30 full scholarships annually to UK Black British and Mixed Black graduate students, thanks in part to philanthropic support from individuals like Moran.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Moran co-founded fintech firm Prepaid Financial Services with her husband Noel Moran after moving to London in 2004 to pursue a career in technology.

Her philanthropy supports future generations by ensuring that ethnic minority students are given every opportunity to apply and compete for job opportunities.

The Oxford-Moran Scholarships, which will be available to eligible students across all subject areas at all Oxford colleges, will cover course fees,living costs, and provide on-course mentoring and support for recipients. The first scholars are expected to begin their studies in the 2023/24 academic year.

The Black Academic Futures program was developed in response to the under-representation of Black UK graduate research students at Oxford. In the 2020/21 academic year, only 1.5% of UK-domiciled Black students were postgraduate research students at Oxford, compared to 4.8% across the UK higher education sector.

The program’s goal is to increase applications from and funded places for well-qualified UK Black graduate students.

In the 2021/22 academic year, applications from UK-domiciled Black applicants for full-time postgraduate research degrees increased by 27%, with an overall uplift of 24% for full-time postgraduate research degrees from UK-domiciled Black and Mixed Black applicants.

The program is part of the University’s efforts to raise the number of  postgraduate students from under-represented groups,  reinforcing the University’s commitment to addressing race equality, combating discrimination, and building an inclusive postgraduate community.

Moran said: “As a Black female entrepreneur my focus with all my companies was to hire staff on merit. I therefore understand that ethnic minority students need support from people like myself to ensure that future generations are given every opportunity to apply and compete for the same job opportunities.”