LONDON (Reuters) - Rapper Stormzy said on Thursday he will fund two black British students to go to Cambridge university through a scholarship, after criticism of some top UK universities that their admissions processes do not do enough to ensure diversity.
His move came as a record proportion of 18-year-olds in England and Wales learned they will be heading to university after receiving their A-level exam results.
“We are still under-represented at leading universities,” Stormzy said in a statement. “I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking.”
The University of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, welcomed the scholarship but said the university needed to do more.
“The studentships are a beacon for black students who might otherwise have felt they could not come to Cambridge,” he said on the university website.
Thursday’s exam results saw the percentage of students receiving the top grades hit a six-year high.
In England, a record 27.9 percent of 18-year-olds had been accepted to start at university, with the 26.3 percent in Wales also a record, Britain’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said.
The total of 411,860 students set to start an undergraduate course was 1 percent lower than last year, due to there being fewer 18-year-olds in the population this year.
While Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects continued to grow in popularity, the falling trend in modern languages such as French and Spanish continued, with Chinese bucking the trend and rising 8.6 percent.
UCAS said there was a 1 percent rise in European Union students accepted to study at UK universities, 7 months before Britain leaves the bloc, and a record number of international students from outside the EU.
“The encouraging growth in international students choosing to study in the UK is testament to the welcome of our world class universities,” Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive, said in a statement.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said that the proportion of students achieving grade A* or A was 26.4 percent, the highest since 2012, though the 97.6 percent who achieved one A*-E grade was down 0.3 percentage points.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison