A generous £75,000 donation will establish the Oxford Wadham Graduate Scholarship for Disabled Students. The scheme which will enable students with a disability to study any postgraduate course taught at Wadham College, Oxford, is thought to be the first such funding opportunity for disabled students at Oxford.
The scholarship has been hailed as a hugely positive step by Wadham graduate student and disability campaigner, Marie Tidball, who helped to secure the funding.
The scholarship recognises the additional burdens that many disabled Masters' students face when contemplating further education, often unable to do paid holiday work to earn money to fund their education.
“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. ” explained Marie.
Said the donor: “From Darwin on there has been a long, distinguished tradition of disabled scholars. This donation is intended to ensure that in the future the full academic participation of scholars with disabilities is maximized.”
Marie, who spearheaded the Oxford ‘Let's get disability on the list!’ campaign said: “I really want to get outstanding students with disabilities to apply to Oxford and to have a strong voice in this vibrant academic community. This scholarship is part of the celebration of a group of people who bring invaluable new perspectives to academia, the work place and our public life.” Marie commented that the cumulative impact of cuts to services for disabled people since 2010 could further hinder opportunities for bright, disabled students to progress into higher education.
Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC commented: “This donation and scholarship mean that the brightest disabled students will have a greater opportunity to come through and excel not only in the academic environment, but in their chosen profession. Wadham College is delighted to play its part in this.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Personnel and Equality) at the University of Oxford Dr Stephen Goss added: "It is heartening to see a new and generous donation which will provide important and much needed support for disabled students. The University and College are indebted to the donor and also to Ms Tidball for her vision in making this possible".
It is hoped that this anonymous donation of £75,000 over three years will attract further donations to expand and continue this scholarship scheme. Donations will be matched by the University of Oxford Graduate Scholarship Matched Fund, a scheme which matches gifts on a ratio of 60:40. The scholarship will be used for any taught Masters course provided by Wadham, to be available to Home/EU and International students, who meet the award criteria. Applications for the first scholarship will need to be submitted by the relevant January deadlines for each course.