Royal Agricultural University offers new scholarships for applicants from under-represented minority ethnic communities

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Logo: Royal Agricultural Society

By Bryher Grimes, Communications Manager

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has launched two new undergraduate scholarships to attract and reward the brightest applicants from the UK’s under-represented minority ethnic communities.

The awards, which are for both full and part time students, are each worth £9,000 a year for a maximum of three years.

Dr Lorraine Thomas, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) at the RAU, said: “We are delighted to have made this important investment in the new RAU Ethnic Minority Excellence Scholarships to further progress equality, diversity, and inclusion, and so that we can welcome talented people from diverse backgrounds for a more diverse RAU student body.

“Higher education can only reach its full potential when it benefits from the talents of the whole population and when individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.  

“At the RAU we are keen to redress systemic inequalities and disadvantages experienced by potential students from ethnic minority backgrounds and promoting belonging to a diverse community is very important as part of a coordinated plan to increase diversity and inclusion among our student community.

Man stroking a horse in a stable
International students induction week at RAU

“Our final year undergraduate students also voted the RAU 1st for Learning Community of all UK universities in the 2022 National Student Survey, which measures student satisfaction.”

These new scholarships are open to UK students from under-represented minority ethnic communities who have a place on one of the University’s undergraduate programmes to start in September 2023. Applicants must also have proven academic experience (at least 117 UCAS tariff points), be able to demonstrate a passion for their subject area, and have evidence of leadership potential.

RAU Director of Academic Services Dan Todhunter said: “The RAU is determined that ethnic background should not present a barrier for people who wish to study or work in the land-based sector. We hope that offering these two substantial scholarships will help ensure more people from ethnic minority backgrounds are able to benefit from the experiences and education on offer at the RAU.”

Cheltenham-based international event rider Lydia Heywood, who represents Jamaica in her sport, is also working with the University’s Recruitment team as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant.

Lydia said: “We are actively working towards a plan to enhance equine access and participation in an effort to make the University more diverse. I do truly believe that one cannot trust the message until they trust the messenger so it is essential that we do all we can to launch campaigns to target diverse communities.

“I already do a lot of work with inner city riding schools and I now bring children from those schools to visit the RAU to experience University life and find out more about the courses and opportunities the RAU can offer.

“It’s all about connecting our world with their world and showing them that the RAU, and universities in general, are welcoming places. When I was thinking of going to University, some people I spoke to actively deterred me from applying to various places as they didn’t think these places would be somewhere that I would feel like I belonged. This is not how it should be and was a big part of my motivation to want to work with the RAU.”

Two men walking side by side in a public park
L2r Agnelo Miguel and Andre Sinela from Angola

As well as the University’s many other outreach projects, Lydia has been involved in the RAU’s two summer schools – for Yr 10 and Yr 12 students – which are held annually for secondary school pupils. More than 50 students attend these two-day residential events which include various tours and taster sessions and aim to give youngsters from a variety of backgrounds an insight into what university life at the RAU is like.

She added: “As well as these scholarships and the summer schools, the RAU is doing some great work to show students from many different backgrounds what the possibilities are for them and encouraging them to apply.

“It’s vitally important to instil a sense of belonging in people from under-represented backgrounds who may think that university isn’t an option for them. We need to enable them to learn more about what we do so that they can see that it is a possibility for them.

“Many of the people to whom these scholarships are targeted will not have any generational wealth in their families so they assume that university just isn’t an option. With these scholarships, they won’t be left in debt at the end of their course and this really opens further education up for so many people.

“We need diversity in all the industries in the land-based sector. With climate change being the huge threat that it is we really need new ideas to keep the world moving in the right direction so we need these people as much as they need us.”

Applications for the Ethnic Minority Excellence scholarships must be received no later than 14 July 2023. For further information, please email

The RAU has been at the forefront of agricultural education, research and innovation for more than 175 years. Today, the University, which is based in the Cotswolds town of Cirencester, has around 1,100 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying subjects ranging from agriculture, rural land management, and rural policy, to sustainable food systems, real estate, cultural heritage, business and entrepreneurship, and equine science, all based at its Cirencester campus.

The University has a network of education partners across the UK and abroad and prides itself on its links with industry and its ability to meet the demand for land-based expertise worldwide.

To find out more about the scholarships click on

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Posted On: 19/09/2022

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