Students can earn £100 through humorous poetry, live in Devon or read in chapel


Students can win £960 for ‘light verse’ poetryRebecca Tyson

The number of different funds available to Cambridge students can be overwhelming. It was of the University experience as we tried to establish which colleges offered scholarships to underprivileged students. Investigating the available esoteric funds turned out to be a much easier task.

The most valuable prize on offer is the King’s College Entrepreneurship Prize, established in 2014, which offers a first prize of £20,000 and a second prize of £10,000. Entry is open to all King members, past and present. Finalists must report to “Lyons Den”, named after benefactor Stuart Lyons.

For music lovers, one of the most lucrative prizes up for grabs is open to Trinity students, who have the chance to win up to £1,680 for performing a libretto at Trinity’s May Week concert.

Organists across the university are also in luck: the organ specialist at Homerton receives £450 a year, plus free Formal Hall and free international tours. Organ Scholars at Jesus also receives £450 a year with free university parties, reduced room rent and an additional £1,250 a year for organ and voice lessons.

Up to £960 is also on offer at Trinity for the Charles Grant Tennant Prize for Light or Humorous Verse. Tennant, who was killed in the First World War, left Trinity “the sum of £350 to be invested and the interest thereon to be spent on an annual prize to be awarded to the author of the best copy of light verse.”

At Queens, students can receive £100 through the Ryle Reading Prize, for the much less arduous task of reading in the college chapel.

Some of the most widely available funds are travel grants, with almost every college having funds available for students hoping to travel. We’ve rounded up a selection of the best for your perusal below:

Jesus College is offering £300 to students wishing to travel to Greece after former college master and classicist Sir Denys Page bequeathed funds in his will.

The Roger Chishold Fund in St John’s is offering up to £750 to St Johns students “wishing to explore wild places by sea, climbing and/or hiking”. Successful applicants must write a report for College Magazine, Journal of the University Yacht Club or Journal of the Cambridge Mountaineering Club.

At Darwin, three DarBar scholarships of £200 are available. “People on DarBar travel grants are welcome to have a drink at the bar before departure and send the bar a postcard of their destination.”

Perhaps the most specialist fund is the £300 offered by the Devon Cambridge Society for undergraduates living in Devon to use for travel.

As in many cases, what is most striking are the differences between the different colleges. Some offer multiple prizes worth several hundred pounds while others give a relatively small amount to a handful of students.

Low-income St John students are eligible for a top-up grant of up to £7,630 on top of the Cambridge Grant of £3,500. A University a survey in 2020 found that less than 40% of students accepted by St John’s were from a non-private or high school background.

Of Cambridge’s thirty-two colleges, only St Catharines, Churchill, Fitzwilliam, Magdalene, Pembroke and St John’s have published readily available information on supplemental scholarships.

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