University grants scheme launched by Tower Hamlets to help those in need

Orin Begum, now studying Law at Oxford, speaking at last month's bursary scheme launch

Orin Begum, now studying Law at Oxford, speaking at last month's bursary scheme launch - Credit: TH Council

A scheme helping school-leavers in London’s deprived East End with university costs has formally opened for applications for a second year, where up to 400 students can apply for payments totalling £1,500 each.

The application period for Tower Hamlets bursaries was launched at St Paul’s Way Trust school in Bow Common with students who applied last year and are now at university—thanks to the grants.

Orin Begum, now 20, is in her second year studying Law at Oxford.

“I had to move and that meant paying out on rent and utility bills,” she recalls.

“One law book costs £50 and I don’t have that kind of money.

“A lot of students really worry about money—but having that support is a relief from the worries.”

Erce Kose, also 20, is studying Computer Science at Liverpool and admits he was “in dire need” of updating his ageing computer.

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He revealed: I spent most of the money on components. Without the grant, I would have been struggling with substandard equipment.”

Tower Hamlets was the first local authority in the country to launch a higher education grant programme of this scale last year, in the wake of government cuts to student grants.

It is aimed at helping to make higher education a more realistic prospect for poorer families in one of Britain’s most-deprived boroughs and reducing the numbers who drop out of university before completing their courses.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman insisted: “Poverty should never be a barrier to success. We aim to make sure not one of our young people misses out on higher education because of money.”

Tower Hamlets is now among the top 10 boroughs in the country for the proportion of students who go on to higher education.

Applications for grants close on December 15. Full details on 020-7364 5001, or online.