Birmingham City University (BCU) has partnered with The Guardian Foundation to offer a fully funded bursary to an aspiring postgraduate journalist from an African and/or Caribbean background, as part of a drive to ensure news organisations are representative of a diverse range of experiences and perspectives. 

The inclusion of a place on BCU’s data journalism course through The Guardian Foundation’s expansion of its prestigious Scott Trust bursary scheme is being funded as part of a response to independent research revealing the Guardian’s historic links to the slave trade.

Aspiring journalists from African and/or Caribbean backgrounds will have the chance to study at BCU – one of just three institutions across the UK that will offer the bursary – with tuition fees and living expenses paid for, and the scheme offering mentoring and work placements at the Guardian newspaper. 

“Our journalism courses place at their heart the value of telling stories which represent the diversity of our university community and the city of Birmingham,” said Sarah Wood, Head of the Birmingham Institute of Media and English at BCU. 

“We are really pleased that the Scott Trust has extended its bursary scheme to students at Birmingham City University - and particularly that the financial support and industry opportunities which it provides will enable the voices of students from African and Caribbean heritage to be heard.” For 35 years, the bursary scheme has assisted students who come from backgrounds underrepresented in the media, offering funding and experience at a level unmatched by any other UK journalism scholarship. 

With its expansion, it will become the only journalism scheme in the UK to offer the combination of a full MA bursary, living allowance and work placements specifically for people of African and/or Caribbean descent, including mixed backgrounds. Many recipients have gone on to successful careers in the industry, working for news outlets such as the Guardian, BBC, Financial Times and the Huffington Post. The scheme's alumni include Gary Younge, Randeep Ramesh, Pippa Crerar, Tania Branigan, Esther Addley, Homa Khalili, Lanre Bakare and more. 

The announcement builds on BCU’s reputation for encouraging a greater emphasis on diversity in media and journalism. The University has a close relationship with the Sir Lenny Centre for Media Diversity, an independent body drawing on the work and experience of media professionals and academics to track the progress of media diversity in the UK. 

Marcus Ryder MBE, Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, said: "Birmingham City University and the Guardian have both been at the forefront of increasing the diversity of the pipeline of people entering the journalism sector. This new partnership is an incredibly positive move that will help address the current lack of diversity in newsrooms across the UK." 

Kelly Walls, Executive Director, The Guardian Foundation, said: "We know that the proportion of Black journalists in UK newsrooms is not reflective of society. When last studied it was just 0.2% compared with 3% of the UK population, and more recent sample sizes have been too small to give specific race and ethnicity data, which tells its own story.  

“Great journalism should include diverse perspectives, from a range of sources, to enable informed decision-making. To do this effectively, the barriers to entry and career progression must be broken and the industry must recognise that more representative news organisations create better journalism and can better serve their audience. 

“Our bursaries have contributed to the success of many brilliant journalists over the years and their reporting has made a genuine impact. That's why being able to double the number of opportunities in the UK, focusing on Black students outside of London, and launching similar schemes in the US and Australia is such a positive and exciting step forward. I look forward to seeing the new talent coming through." 

The Scott Trust Bursary is a key part of The Guardian Foundation’s work to facilitate voice and agency with those who face barriers entering careers in journalism. Its expansion will be funded by the Scott Trust over the next decade as part of its response to independent research into the Guardian's historical connections to transatlantic slavery. 

Three places will remain available at City University, Goldsmiths University and University of Sheffield for students from all backgrounds underrepresented in the media. Applications for the Scott Trust Bursary open today, Wednesday 29th March 2023. More information can be found on The Guardian Foundation’s website.