Birkbeck and Goldman Sachs partnership six months on 

In December 2020, Birkbeck announced an exciting partnership with Goldman Sachs to establish the Birkbeck and Goldman Sachs Diversity Fund. Six months on, over 400 Birkbeck students have received support to help them in their studies. These scholarships, bursaries and emergency hardship funds have provided much-needed financial relief for many Birkbeck students, leading to an increased sense of confidence, community and support.

For nearly two centuries, Birkbeck has created pathways to education and supported students to succeed, regardless of where they are in their lives or the challenges that they face. The Birkbeck and Goldman Sachs Diversity Fund enhanced opportunities for students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities to succeed at university, with a focus on assisting those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kuroekigha, a single mother who is studying for an LLM alongside working in an administrative role for the NHS, said, “The bursary could not have come at a better time. It will enable me to carry on with my studies… I am very grateful for the generous financial support, which will go towards my fees and, ultimately, will lead me to achieve my dream of becoming a solicitor.”

Fellow postgraduate student Isaac* says the bursary will enable him to focus more on his studies. “Receiving this bursary reduces the financial burden of studying full-time. The bursary will reduce the number of hours that I’ll have to work in order to support my studies, so I will be able to dedicate more time towards my degree.” Relieving some of this financial pressure is one way the Fund provides support for Birkbeck students from non-traditional backgrounds. He said, “As a Black British male, I have had to overcome barriers in the pursuit of higher education, and support like this really helps me.”

For many students, the Fund represents more than financial relief. Undergraduate Modern Languages student Soraya* said, “The bursary means that I can keep paying my bills and keep supporting myself, but most of all it gives me confidence that the College is connected and close to the students’ needs and I can reach them whenever I need. This bursary gives me the strength to keep pushing forward, one step at a time, and helps me to keep the faith in all the plans that I have for my future.”

Alongside providing vital student support, our partnership with Goldman Sachs builds upon Birkbeck’s longstanding commitment to our communities. The Fund is helping to remove barriers to education, particularly in the London boroughs of Newham and Camden, which have historically low university participation rates. A suite of engagement programmes is available to prospective Birkbeck students, including four-week ‘taster’ courses, comprising university-style lectures and seminars. These courses help to demystify the learning experience and explain the process for applying to university. For those who may have considered a university education unattainable, these courses demonstrate that studying for a degree can be a realistic option. One participant said, “Personally, it encouraged me to consider further study and find the motivation to learn after years of being out of education.”

Director of Development & Alumni, Nic Katona, says “Our partnership with Goldman Sachs demonstrates the power of philanthropy and the impact it can have on hundreds of lives. Goldman Sachs has furthered our mission of removing barriers to education and strengthened the support afforded our students, during the uncertain times of the pandemic. Our partnership further highlights that with the right support, our students will do amazing things. We are proud to welcome Goldman Sachs to the #OurBirkbeck community and celebrate the wonderful success they are helping our students to achieve.”

*Names have been changed due to confidentiality

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