The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has launched a new bursary named after the Bristol civil rights activist Paul Stephenson OBE to support students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Grants of £1000 will be awarded to five BAME students to help fund living costs during the first two years of their studies.

A second bursary, the Dean’s Bursary, aims to help students from areas with traditionally low participation in higher education.

The Paul Stephenson and Dean’s Bursary are part of UWE Bristol’s ongoing strategy to both widen participation within higher education and directly support BAME students. Successful applicants will be asked to produce a piece of project work advancing the university’s equality and diversity strategy.

Paul Stephenson is a community worker, activist and long-time campaigner for civil rights for the British African Caribbean community in Bristol. In 1963 he led a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company in a protest against its refusal to employ Black or Asian drivers or conductors. The 60-day boycott was supported by thousands of Bristolians and resulted in Bristol Omnibus revoking its colour bar. In 2009, UWE Bristol awarded Stephenson an honorary degree of Master of Education.

Paul Stephenson’s daughter, Fumi, said: “Dad attended university in Birmingham in the 1950s, where after one of his first jobs was in teaching. He always promoted the importance of education in and outside the house. He is very happy to know that there is a bursary to support the gap in the system whereby talent can be supported in a meaningful way for the local community.’’

Professor Jane Roscoe, Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean for the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education (ACE), said: “Education is a vehicle for changing lives. We are committed to ensuring that all people get access to Higher Education at UWE Bristol. We recognise that for some people the challenges they have faced in their lives may mean that they may not have seen Higher Education as an option for them. We hope that with these two bursaries we can start to change those perceptions and enable more people to continue their learning and make a difference to their lives.”

Students from BAME backgrounds who are starting their studies at UWE Bristol in 2020 can apply for the Paul Stephenson bursary by contacting Myra.evans@uwe.ac.uk. Applicants must be new undergraduate students to the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education. Applications close on 3 July.

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