A motion was passed at the Oxford Union last week introducing a new presidential cost support grant scheme. When an incoming President is a current student, the Union will now match all University grants and government grants that would be received by that student were they studying, up to and including the amount of a Crankstart scholarship. The motion was proposed by Molly Mantle, the current Librarian.

Historically, the workload of the Oxford Union President means that they usually rusticate for a year to take up the role if they are currently studying. This rustication results in the loss of student finance and university grants, and those taking up the Presidential role must generally either commute to Oxford or live in the city. This means that historically it has been difficult for Presidents to take up the role if they are not able to finance themselves independently.

Alongside the new presidential cost grant scheme, the Standing Committee will now be able to approve grant applications to other bodies – for example, grants that could be received by international students from their home countries.

Molly Mantle, the Librarian and proposer of the motion, told Cherwell: “I believe this change is a huge step forward in tackling centuries of access issues and perceived elitism at the Oxford Union. It should never be the case that someone feels dissuaded from running for the Presidency because of personal financial hardship.” 

“In going some way to help with this important issue, I hope this change brings a greater diversity of candidates – as this is the only way to allow the Union to reach its full potential.”

Adam Roble, President, told Cherwell: “As a majority state-schooled President, it has always been close to my heart to improve access at all levels of the Union. Personal financial  independence, or lack thereof, should never be a factor in someone’s decision about whether or  not to run to be the President of the Oxford Union.” 

“This motion marks a huge step in the Union’s continuing efforts to improve access across the board, and I am so proud to have lead the team which has made this vital change.”

Image Credit: NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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