Oxford University has announced that it will open two new scholarships for undergraduates from under-represented backgrounds wishing to study engineering, as part of Formula 1’s #WeRaceAsOne initiative.
The scholarship will cover the full cost of a student’s tuition and some of the student’s living expenses, as well as offer a student work experience opportunities with any of the ten Formula 1 teams, with a primary focus being on mechanical engineering. It will be available for eligible students from as soon as October 2021, which will mark the start of the new academic year.
Formula One’s #WeRaceAsOne initiative focuses on tackling inequality and racism in the industry by creating new education and employment opportunities for people of ethnic minority backgrounds, all genders and lower socio-economic backgrounds, with Non-Executive Chairman Chase Carey contributing $1 million to finance engineering-based apprenticeships, internships and university scholarships. Scholarships for studying engineering-focused subjects will also be available to students at other universities. The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow will also be offering 2 scholarships for undergraduate students, whereas Cambridge, Coventry, and Manchester Metropolitan will only be offering one scholarship to new undergraduates. Meanwhile, there will be three postgraduate scholarships available at the Motorvehicle University of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.
The action to increase levels of diversity in Formula One comes a week after Lewis Hamilton, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, published The Hamilton Commission. After noticing there to be a lack of ethnic minorities in team photos at the end of the 2019 Formula One season, Lewis Hamilton set up the commission investigating the reasons for the lack of diversity and the under-representation of black people working in the motorsport industry. The report found that only 1% of the employees working in F1 were black and outlined several issues that prevented students from under-represented backgrounds from working in F1. One of the 10 recommendations the report made includes “the creation of scholarship programmes to enable Black graduates from degrees in engineering and allied subjects to progress into specialist motorsport roles”.
Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education at Oxford University, said: “‘The University is thrilled to be working with Formula 1 on such an important initiative. Inclusion and diversity are part of the life-blood of any thriving society, industry or university. This collaboration will enable significant strides in opportunity and representation in both STEM subjects and the motorsports industry and will hopefully contribute to lasting positive change.” F1 chairman Stefano Domenicali, on the other hand, stated: “We want to be as diverse as our fan base and that is why we are taking action to ensure talented people from underrepresented groups have the best opportunities to get into, and build, a fantastic career in this amazing sport.”