Established at Warwick in 2005 with seed funding from a US-based venture philanthropist, the MSP supports UK-based students from the least represented ethnic minority backgrounds entering higher education. Students from low-income Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are supported with a scholarship of £2,000 per year for the duration of their degree and provided with dedicated pastoral and career support throughout.
The Programme’s founding vision was to help these scholars achieve their academic potential. It would also enable them to shape society as role models in their own communities and in positions of influence in the corporate board room, the corridors of Whitehall and the front line of the third sector.
Zeenat Islam was one of first MSP scholars to complete the Programme, graduating in 2010 with a 1st class degree in Law. As well as her role as an Executive Committee Member at the Warwick Law Society, Zeenat was the highest achieving Law student in her 2nd and 3rd years.
A passionate voice in the fight for human rights and international justice, Zeenat founded Youth Inspire which aims to motivate underprivileged students from around the country and to encourage them to fulfil their potential. Youth Inspire and Zeenat have been nominated for a number of awards, including the Attorney General Award for Best New Pro-Bono Project. She has recently completed her Masters and received a scholarship to the Bar, where she plans to become an international human rights barrister.
Of the 60 scholars who have received a scholarship, 34 are currently studying at Warwick. The Programme’s success has been built on building cultural and social capital and giving opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.
Anum Cheema decided to work with university colleagues on the Pathways to Law schools project which encourages other young people into the profession. “My duties involved working with sixth form and college students to give them an insight into being a first year Law student as they consider pursuing a career in Law. This enabled me to develop my social skills, as well as giving back to others who wish to embark on a similar journey to my own.”
MSP has been funded solely by philanthropic gifts, with a combination of individuals and corporate firms working together to provide new opportunities for young people. The model has proved so successful that it is being copied as a template for other scholarships programmes at the University.
The words of Ruhell Amin who graduated in the summer of 2013 perhaps provide the most clear endorsement of MSP’s far reaching impact. “It has enabled me to participate in numerous endeavours, including helping me to fund my ERASMUS year abroad in my third year. These experiences, which have enabled me to build a rich CV capable of competing with the best, would not have been possible had it not been for my scholarship. In essence, it gave me the licence to make the most out of University life.”