Why I’m raising money for my university
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By the time you read this blogpost, I will have already set off on an arduous 900 mile journey down the length of the British Isles. I’ll be on an extremely heavy tandem bicycle, dragging behind me an extremely heavy artificial skeleton named King Arthur who’s in no danger of pulling his own weight.
There’s an obvious question here, of course: namely, why? Why am I putting myself – not to mention Arthur – through this ordeal and, more importantly, what am I doing it for?
I must confess that this is a personal matter for me. I am not doing this to raise awareness of a disease or to signal my recovery from an illness – I have been very lucky in that respect. But even so, this cause is deeply important to me.
I was lucky enough to not have to worry about funding myself through university; and I am eternally thankful to my parents for supporting me. But not everyone has this luxury. Not everyone has parents who can afford to help pay their bills and their rent. The sad truth is that attending Imperial is not just about getting the grades: you also have to be able to afford to live and study in London.
The depressing consequence is that there are intelligent, thoughtful and curious students who will be unable to study at Imperial. And this is a monumental shame. Despite its flaws, Imperial is an incredible place to study: you are taught by some of the foremost scientists of today, you rub shoulders with the foremost scientists of tomorrow, and you’re given the opportunity to pursue virtually any extracurricular interest you might have. (At last count, Imperial’s Union had over 300 clubs and societies).
The idea that an institution like this should only be accessible to those with deep pockets doesn’t sit well with me. Of course, we can have arguments about who should pay for these bursaries and about the impact of raising tuition fees to £9,000, but while we’re busy having these arguments there are young people making decisions about whether or not to attend university and which universities are worth applying to. For me, this cycle is about making a difference, even if it only convinces one more student that they can afford to study at Imperial.
Let me end on this point: many of my friends at Imperial are on bursaries and scholarships. They live on that money – they use it to pay their rent, their weekly shopping, and their transport (though I’d suggest they should all be cycling…) The money you donate gives people from disadvantaged backgrounds the confidence to say, “Hey, I can afford university. And even though it’s in London, I can afford to go study at one of the best universities in the world”.
This is about making sure that merit is the only thing that determines whether someone attends university or not. The guys and girls who benefit from your donations are going to go on to push the boundaries of human knowledge, to make discoveries that will one day change the world. That’s why Arthur and I are supporting them, I hope you will too.