Gift from fintech entrepreneur provides fully funded scholarships for Black British postgraduates

Thursday 20th Apr 2023, 3.25pm

Two fully funded scholarships for Black British postgraduate students have been made available through the University of Oxford’s Black Academic Futures programme, thanks to the generosity of fintech entrepreneur Valerie Moran.

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

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

Valerie Moran

Originally from Zimbabwe, Valerie moved to London in 2004 to pursue a career in the technology sector, later co-founding fintech company Prepaid Financial Services with her husband Noel Moran.

In 2019 she was named one of the most influential BAME leaders working in tech by the Financial Times, and became the first Black woman to appear in The Sunday Times’ annual Rich List.

Valerie 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.’

Addressing under-representation

Black Academic Futures was launched in 2020 to address the under-representation of Black students at Oxford.

After offering a total of 13 scholarships during its first year, the programme expanded significantly in both scope and scale and now aims to provide up to 30 full scholarships annually to UK Black British and Mixed Black graduate students.

Generous philanthropic support, including from Valerie Moran, is playing a vital role in enabling the University to meet this goal.

In the 2020/21 academic year, UK-domiciled Black students made up around 1.5% of all postgraduate research students at the University, compared with 4.8% across the UK higher education sector.

Black Academic Futures aims to transform this position by rapidly increasing applications from, and funded places for, well-qualified UK Black graduate students. Following its launch in 2020, Oxford saw a 27% increase in applications from UK-domiciled Black applicants for full-time postgraduate research (PGR) degrees in the 2021/22 academic year, and an uplift of 24% for full-time PGR degrees from UK-domiciled Black and Mixed Black applicants overall.

The programme builds on Oxford’s ongoing efforts to increase the number of postgraduate students from under-represented groups more broadly, and reaffirms the University’s commitment to addressing race equality, combatting discrimination and building an inclusive postgraduate community where all members feel welcome, valued and respected.