COSARAF Charitable Foundation announces £300,000 education support package

Sheikh Family Scholarship set to support underprivileged Muslim students through top universities

Photographs from our launch event on Friday 26 April can be found here. 

Please watch the launch video here.

The COSARAF Charitable Foundation has launched a major higher education support programme to provide up to 24 graduate and undergraduate scholarships at four major UK universities. Valued at £210,000 in its first three years, it is part of a wider COSARAF package of support for poorer students that is expected to top a third of a million pounds by 2021.

The Sheikh Family Scholarship will award each student up to £10,000 per year towards the cost of their tuition fees and living expenses.
They will also have access to a personal mentor and a tailored leadership support programme, paid Summer internship at a leading charity and ongoing support from COSARAF.

The scholarship is open to UK Muslim students who face financial hardship and, ideally, are the first in their family to attend university. Priority will be given to those for whom the award will make most difference and who demonstrate a clear plan to give back to their communities and wider society.

Beneficiaries will be required to contribute to an alumni programme for all scholars; champion the scholarship externally; and commit to Foundation-approved causes.
One award will be made each year over the next three years for eligible students enrolled at St Anne’s College, Oxford; any Cambridge college (administered by Downing College); The University of Warwick; and Cambridge Muslim College. Qualifying existing courses differ at each and scholarship applicants will be selected by their institutions through an open awards process.

“One of our core objectives is to enable young people to realise their potential and this ground-breaking programme seeks to remove barriers to Muslim applicants to leading universities, increasing their participation and helping them to make a difference within their communities. However, the scholarship goes a lot further than merely boosting personal outcomes. The awards will provide long-term support to develop leadership within UK Muslim communities, fostering long-term integration and cohesion. We are pioneering this comprehensive support programme for Muslim youngsters who, traditionally, must contend with a whole host of barriers to higher education on top of the already stiff competition for all applicants. By doing so, we also intend to highlight the broader issue of uneven access. This problem is stubbornly persistent even as we near the third decade of the 21st century and must be resolved if we are ever to have an equitable society, where people’s progress hinges solely on their abilities.”
Haroon Sheikh, Chairman
COSARAF Charitable Foundation

In addition to the Sheikh Family Scholarship, the COSARAF Foundation will work with all four institutions – and students more generally across UK institutions – to provide additional support to deserving young people of all faiths and none through its existing Hardship Fund.

Offering grants to those facing financial difficulties, this package for struggling students is expected to exceed an additional £90,000 over the next three years.

The Sheikh Family Scholarship will be launched at an event at St Anne’s College, on 26 April 2019 by Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Tooting, and St Anne’s Advisory Fellow, Tom Ilube CBE. The technology entrepreneur and educational philanthropist topped the Powerlist 2017, which ranked the UK’s 100 most powerful people with African or Afro-Caribbean heritage.

“Having founded the African Gifted Foundation, which works across the continent with exceptionally bright young women, I know well the enormous transformational changes that education brings to lives. It is vital that everyone has access to it - up to and including higher levels. I am thrilled to get behind this fantastic scholarship project and delighted that students coming to St Anne's, Oxford, where diversity is core to our mission, will benefit from it."
Tom Ilube CBE
St Anne's Advisory Fellow
“It is vitally important that young people from minority backgrounds have every opportunity available to them. A person’s background, race, gender, religion or class should never factor into the opportunities available. It is for this reason that I am proud to launch the Sheikh Family Scholarship. Every child should have the opportunity to choose their future.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP
Labour MP for Tooting
“From our founding as the Society of Oxford Home-Students, in 1879, St Anne’s has always actively widened access to an Oxford education. We pioneered helping women from around the world attend lectures and tutorials, which meant addressing crucial practical measures, such as providing affordable lodgings and halls. “This heritage became enshrined in our firm purpose to create a diverse and inclusive community and we want to be the destination of choice for the brightest and best students, including those from under-represented groups. Being one of the founding colleges for such a dynamic package of practical benefits is another key tool in ensuring their continuing involvement here.”
Helen King QPM
Principal of St Anne’s College
“Downing’s purpose is to provide a world-class education to those with the most potential, whatever their means or social background. We accommodate all undergraduate and many graduate students together on site, which gives us a particularly strong and diverse community.” “As such we are particularly pleased to be administering this impressive scholarship for the whole university, which will be much richer for the presence of the young people supported by the COSARAF Foundation.”
Alan Bookbinder, Master
Downing College at the University of Cambridge
“The University of Warwick is committed to enhancing access to higher education for all those who aspire to study at university, regardless of background, and to ensuring that the students studying at the University of Warwick are representative of our local and wider national communities. This generous gift will support three Masters students in Islamic Education at Warwick. Our pioneering graduate courses in the field make an important contribution towards strengthening the education and faith leadership within the community and improving the quality of teaching and learning in formal and informal Islamic educational settings. It is fitting, then, that the best candidates are being helped to enrol on this world class learning opportunity, regardless of family background, wealth or social standing.”
Dr Abdullah Sahin, Reader in Islamic Education
University of Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit
“Independent of governments and not affiliated to any Islamic movement, our mission is to develop faith leadership through world-class education, training and research. We support all who care about the continuing health and dynamism of the Muslim community and so this far-reaching scholarship must be commended for its ambition and scope.”
Professor Tim Winter, Dean
Cambridge Muslim College

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