Alumna makes transformative gift towards supporting Birkbeck students

The College is pleased to announce a transformational multi-year gift from author and historian Dr Lauren Jane Barnett, through her charitable trust Tristarr LLC. The gift will deliver financial and pastoral support for Birkbeck students, focusing on areas such as: hardship funding; disability and mental health support; careers advice; and bursaries and scholarships.

Dr Barnett and Professor Latchman sign the gift agreement.

“Those facing obstacles are supported to succeed in a truly inclusive environment. I think that is so important…”

Dr Barnett completed her PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, graduating in 2017. “During my studies so many fellow students were working exceptionally hard to overcome different barriers,” she said. “It gave me a deep understanding of this special community of students and staff, and how those facing obstacles are supported to succeed in a truly inclusive environment. I think that is so important, particularly in the current climate.” 

The effects of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis present a challenge for many students. With four in ten Birkbeck students coming from low-income families, one in five declaring a disability, and 150 nationalities represented, the College is uniquely positioned to support those who may be disproportionately affected.

The announcement of this gift comes as Birkbeck commemorates its 200th anniversary year and continues to deliver the World Needs More Birkbeck campaign. Over 1,000 alumni and friends are part of the Birkbeck donor community and are playing a role in furthering the College’s founding mission of providing flexible and accessible higher education for all.

“I’m proud to be part of the Birkbeck alumni community and to be able to support current and future students at the College,” said Dr Barnett. “There are so many passionate people who have had such a unique Birkbeck learning experience, and it’s amazing to see that so many are connected by a shared belief in this 200-year-old mission that education should be open to everyone.” 

“Students arrive at Birkbeck from all different backgrounds and with a wide range of ambitions,” added Professor David Latchman CBE, Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck. “Many have had to overcome significant challenges to be able to study. Thanks to Dr Barnett’s philanthropic support, we can work to ensure that no student is held back by their background or circumstance. We will be able to provide the right tools and support to empower all students to realise their ambitions at Birkbeck and beyond.”