University Bursary Programme

Since 2007, the Bedford Charity (The Harpur Trust) has given over £225,000 in university bursaries to Bedford school leavers who face financial and other barriers to university attendance. Here one recipient, Alex, explains the difference the award made to him.

The Bedford Charity was an organisation that I was made aware of in 2009, my last year of school by my head of sixth form. I had already adopted Canterbury Christ Church University as my primary option to read History. I had filled out the necessary UCAS forms. I had completed the student finance paperwork and was awaiting their reply. And then, just as an off-hand comment, my head of sixth form suggested that if I was the first in my family to attend a university, and my family’s income was below a certain level I could be eligible for an addition bursary of £1000 per annum. Since I fell neatly within these criteria I naturally jumped at the chance. In September of 2009 I was kindly accepted into the new cohort of the Bedford Charity bursary recipients.

Two and a half years later in February 2012 I find myself indebted to the Bedford Charity. Without the financial support, taking the form of a £3000 bursary, I do not believe that my time at university would have been anywhere near as successful as it has been. The termly £300 instalments may not sound like much, but to the modern student they truly are a god-send.

Personally, I used my bursary in two different ways. Firstly, I set aside some of it into a different account, one that could be used in emergencies and for the numerous hidden costs that confront today’s student. Pitfalls such as administration fees for rented accommodation, the month’s rent in advance plus two months’ half or full rent for the summer is just one extremely expensive department of a student’s life. These costs all factor in to make a deep dent in anyone’s bank account.

Secondly, this extra injection gave me the ability to purchase more resources. I need not describe how heavily History is driven by the book, and the reading lists for six different classes every year comes with a hefty bill. These injections of cash allowed me to delve deeper into the reading lists, perhaps even deeper than some of my more affluent fellow students, which will have an immeasurably positive affect upon my final grade. Also, the money allowed me to journey to Berlin in May 2011 with some of my fellow historians. As we were specialising in Cold War history, Berlin was a constant focal point in our studies. To think that I would not have seen the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, or Checkpoint Charlie, or the Brandenburg Gate, or even the Holocaust Museum is unthinkable to me now.

However, the fact remains that all those things were only permissible through the work of the Bedford Charity. Their work and incredibly generous contribution is helping the lives of young people who possibly would not have even given university education a thought just twenty or thirty years ago. The Bedford Charity has gifted me £3000. However, the contribution that it has had upon me is priceless.

Alex

BA (Hons) History with American Studies

Canterbury Christ Church University

Graduated June 2012.