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Manchester Law School scholarship to boost number of black males entering legal profession

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Students will receive £3,000 for each year of their undergraduate degrees

The University of Manchester’s School of Law is launching a new scholarship designed to help boost the number of black males entering the legal profession.

The Lemn Sissay Law Bursaries, named after the university’s current chancellor, aim to address the obstacles faced by aspiring male lawyers of African and Caribbean descent from disadvantaged backgrounds. Up to three successful candidates will receive £3,000 for each year of their undergraduate degree to put towards course fees and living costs.

To be eligible, applicants must be, among other things, a male of African or Caribbean heritage, not have attended a fee paying school and applied to study an undergraduate degree at Manchester Law School. A full list of the eligibility criteria can be found at the bottom of this post.

The scholarship is as a result of work done by the law school’s Black Lawyers Matter project when it came out that only 14 out of a total 1,200 undergraduates were UK-based black males of African and Caribbean heritage and were registered on law and criminology courses. But none of them were from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Sissay — an author and broadcaster whose mother arrived in Britain from Ethiopia in 1966 — said that he felt “immensely proud” to have the bursaries named after him, and fully understood how difficult it can be for black men from poor backgrounds to “advance in life”. Continuing, he said:

One of the main goals of the university is social responsibility, which makes it unique in the UK. It does an awful lot to inform communities who may feel university isn’t for them that the opposite is true, through public engagement work and schemes like this one.

Doughty Street barrister and social mobility advocate Tunde Okewale has thrown his support behind the initiative. The Nigerian-born crime specialist who grew up on a council estate in Hackney said:

This is something that would have benefited me had it existed when I was studying law. I believe that it will help to improve and increase the diversity within the legal industry, as well as facilitating a more open and transparent dialogue about racial inequality in higher education.

Lemn Sissay Law Bursaries eligibility criteria:

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