Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation, which partners with the Bank of England to offer outstanding students from a Black or Mixed African/Caribbean background, a scholarship programme whilst they are at university.
The programme provides:
- Up to £30,000 to support living costs during their undergraduate degree
- Paid summer internships
- Mentoring, coaching and support from a member of the team
- At least 104 UCAS points
- Household income below £50,000
I got involved with Windsor Fellowship by volunteering to interview selected candidates to shortlist for the Bank of England interviews. All candidates are in college or sixth form and this is very often their first official experience of interviewing. They prepare presentations beforehand, which they deliver on the day, followed by an interview and group exercise. The candidates receive feedback at every stage of the assessment, so that they all leave with a valuable experience, whether they make it to the next stage or not.
Despite the value brought to these young people on the assessment day, the most value is experienced by the interviewers. As my colleagues and I sat around the table to wrap up the days events, we spoke of our pride in watching these young , black youths conquer all stereotypes. Their intellect, creativity and achievements showed both on paper (academic grades) and in person (when presenting and interviewing). They were well researched, articulate and determined to achieve exceptional outcomes, despite practical issues such as financial constraints. Their determination was demonstrated in their travels from across the country to make it to London, first thing on a Saturday morning, for the chance to be selected for the scholarship, despite being battered by the Beast from the East. I mention this to highlight that such opportunities are already rare in the UK’s most diverse city, but even moreso when you venture outside of London. It is this reality that makes the experience of interviewing these exceptional youths a bittersweet one.
Pride was followed by gloom, because of the realisation that out of hundreds of black youths that apply for this oppportunity every year, only three are selected for the programme. ‘That is the real world’ one might say, but the fact of the matter is that this programme was developed because black youths from a working class home, simply aren’t getting the same opportunities as their peers, despite achieving above and beyond expectations, both academically and in extra-curricular activities. What’s more, the few opportunities to remedy this fact are very difficult to come by.
Source: WF candidate
At the assessment centre, one student said that she almost didn’t apply for the programme because the advertisement was sent to her mother on WhatsApp, so she initially thought it was a chain message. She used her presentation to make the suggestion that social media influencers be utilised because they have a captive audience among younger age groups. Another student suggested that the programme should be advertised on university websites. Many of them questioned the availability of information regarding the programme. This is not because Windsor Fellowship or the Bank of England are not promoting the programme, but because outreach through external institutions such as media outlets and universities is needed to attract wider audiences. This in turn, can demonstrate the great demand from exceptional youths, who are left to settle for mediocre opportunities because there is not enough support for people like them.