Did you know that 6.2% of UK-domiciled students enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)- related subjects at UK universities are Black?
In 2018-19 alone, only 1.8% of STEM academic staff aged 34 and under were Black.
It is even more sobering to consider that as age increases, these numbers decrease hence the phrase: ‘the leaky pipeline’ when describing career progression within the fields of STEM for Black individuals. According to The Royal Society:
“Unless this changes, there will be unbalanced representation of academic staff between ethnic groups working in higher education in comparison to the ethnic breakdown of the general population.”
But statistics like these are not new to us. We’re all very aware of the under-representation of Black individuals within academic institutions and STEM organisations. While there's still a lot of work to be done to address these racial disparities, I’d like to take a less solemn turn by dedicating this post to highlighting how far things have come in tackling the under-representation of Black individuals in STEM subjects/fields.
We have seen a recent increase in the provision of scholarships and internship opportunities specifically for individuals of Black/Mixed Black heritage, that aim to encourage more Black applicants and ‘open the doors’ a bit wider. As great as these initiatives are, it can be quite easy to miss out on them. So we’ve compiled a list of some scholarships and internships targeted towards Black applicants, at different levels, within STEM-related fields. Many of these opportunities open yearly so if you’ve missed the application deadline, keep an eye out for the next cohort. Let’s go!
Destination STEMM - Chemical Sciences
The Windsor Fellowship and the Royal Society of Chemistry have collaborated to provide a mentoring programme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students in Year 12. The students are allocated a mentor from the Royal Society of Chemistry and are provided with skills and development workshops.
STEM Futures - Imperial College London
This is a programme of STEM activities offered to Year 10 or Year 12 students of Black heritage, that are interested in STEM subjects. Masterclasses to support students with the revision of STEM subjects, careers workshops and a range of lectures are provided to students on the programme.
The Amos Bursary
This is an opportunity aimed at students in year 12 providing mentorship, personal & professional development, support with university applications, and internship and scholarship opportunities. It aims to “change the narrative and normalize success” amongst Black students.
Faculty Alumni Scholarship for Black Students in STEM - University of Nottingham
The Faculty Alumni scholarship is aimed at increasing participation rates in STEM subjects in the UK. Students who identify as having a Black heritage and are enrolled on a full-time undergraduate degree within the faculty of engineering or science, at the University of Nottingham, are eligible for this award.
Imperial Presidential Scholarship for Students of Black Heritage
The Imperial Presidential Scholarship provides one undergraduate (or postgraduate) of Black heritage a full tuition fee waiver, with mentoring support, for their entire course duration (up to four years, excluding repeat years).
The Open Futures Scholarship for Black Students
This is a scholarship that aims to provide 50 Black students the opportunity to study for free at The Open University. In addition to the tuition fee waiver, the scholarship consists of a £500 grant to support study preparations.
University of Bristol Black Futures Scholarship
The University of Bristol is offering scholarships for Black applicants, to support their first year of undergraduate study. This also includes mentorship opportunities and support towards the attainment of internships.
University of Exeter and Cowrie Foundation Scholarship
The University of Exeter and The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation are providing scholarships to support students of Black African and Caribbean heritage, from socio-economically under-represented backgrounds, throughout their undergraduate study. The scholarship covers UK home tuition fees and also provides a stipend (up to £8000 per year) to cover living costs.
Black Academic Futures - University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is awarding 30 students of Black/Mixed-Black heritage financial support towards their graduate study. The scholarships cover the full course fees and provide the awardees a grant for living costs, throughout the entire duration of their study.
Black Leaders in Cancer PhD Scholarship Programme
With the aim to train the next generation of Black leaders in cancer research, Cancer Research UK has collaborated with the Windsor Fellowship and Black in Cancer to provide four fully-funded PhD studentships to Black-heritage students. Two of the studentships will be at the City of London Centre and two at the Cambridge Centre.
DeepMind MSc Neuroscience Scholarship
University College London (UCL) and the Windsor Fellowship are working together to provide a scholarship, funded by DeepMind, to prospective students on the MSc Neuroscience course at UCL. The scholarship covers the full tuition fees and includes a stipend for maintenance.
Diversity100 PhD Studentship - Birkbeck University of London
These are studentships offered to support BAME PhD students. The studentships cover all tuition fees and also provide a stipend to cover living expenses.
Imperial Presidential Scholarship for Students of Black Heritage
The Imperial Presidential Scholarship also provides one Master’s student (MSc and MRes) of Black heritage a full tuition fee waiver, with mentoring support, for their entire course duration.
James McCune Smith PhD Scholarships
These are fully-funded scholarships that fund Black UK-domiciled students to undertake PhD research at the University of Glasgow, in any research area. The scholarship also includes mentorship, placements, leadership training and networking opportunities.
School of Life Sciences - Black British Scholars Programme Scholarship
As part of the vision to create a more diverse research community, the University of Dundee is providing Black/Mixed Black heritage students, aiming to pursue a Masters by Research (MRes) in Life Sciences, a fully-funded place on their course. A stipend of £17,668 will also be provided during the course.
Syncona PhD Scholarship
Syncona, a Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 250 Healthcare Company, and the Windsor Fellowship are offering one PhD scholarship to a student of Black heritage wishing to complete their PhD within the Life sciences at a UK university. In addition to the tuition fees and living costs being covered, mentoring support and a paid 6-month internship will also be provided to the awardee.
UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship
This is a scholarship provided by University College London (UCL), that runs in partnership with the Windsor Fellowship, to financially support BAME postgraduate research students. The scholarship covers UK Home rate tuition fees and provides a stipend for maintenance. Personal and professional development opportunities are also provided to awardees.
University of Manchester - School of Natural Sciences Diversity PhD Scholarship
The University of Manchester offers fully funded PhD scholarships to Black-heritage students intending to study in their School of Natural Sciences. The awards cover the full tuition fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses.
University of Manchester - Black Future Engineering PhD Scholarship
Funded PhD scholarships are also offered to Black students intending to study within the School of Engineering at The University of Manchester. The full tuition fees will be covered for a period of three and a half years, in addition to an annual stipend for living costs.
University of Southampton Black Futures Postgraduate Research Scholarships
This is a scholarship that aims to fund Black students pursuing postgraduate research degrees within the faculty of environmental and life sciences. The scholarship covers the tuition fees, provides a stipend for living costs and offers pastoral support throughout the course duration.
Elsevier Rising Tide Internship
In partnership with the Windsor Fellowship, Elsevier is offering undergraduates or graduates the opportunity to partake in a three-month paid internship across different areas of work including Publishing, Technology, Journal operations, UX Design etc.
Francis Crick Institute Summer Programme
To help widen access to science careers, The Crick offers a 9-week summer programme to undergraduates who wish to gain experience and insight into the world of scientific research, with one of the eligibility criteria being students of ‘Black ethnicity’. The students are paired with postdoctoral supervisors during the programme and are trained to develop both scientific and transferable skills.
Health Data Science Black Internship Programme
This is a scheme targeted at early-career Black data scientists to tackle the underrepresentation of Black individuals within the field of health data science. Awardees are provided with an 8-week paid internship to obtain the experience needed to kick-start a career within the field.
Syncona is an FTSE 250 healthcare company that aims to develop global leaders in life sciences by working with scientists to build and scale companies that deliver vital treatments to patients. In partnership with the Windsor fellowship, Syncona offers a 6-month paid internship to doctorate degree holders, from Black/Mixed Black heritage, to partake in Syncona’s operations and investment strategies.
I hope this has been a helpful read. Feel free to save this list and refer to it when needed.
I’d like to conclude by saying that while these initiatives are impressive, I believe that opening the doors to more Black individuals is only a piece of the solution. Retaining, supporting and fostering a sense of belonging is another crucial part of sealing up the ‘leaky pipeline’ and I look forward to hopefully seeing more progress in this direction in the future. Happy Black History Month! 🖤
By Success Fabusoro (Blog Writer)