Lemn Sissay launches scheme to boost black law students in Manchester

Lemn Sissay Credit: University of Manchester

Poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, the Chancellor of The University of Manchester, is launching a new university bursary designed to increase the number of black men embarking on careers in law and the criminal justice sector.

A first of its kind, the Lemn Sissay Law Bursaries take into account applicants’ race, gender and socio-economic background.

The School of Law’s Black Lawyers Matter project was set up in 2016 by a group of academics, community leaders and legal practitioners on discovery that out of some 1200 undergraduates, only 14 UK-based Black males of African and Caribbean heritage were registered on law and criminology courses, and of these none were from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The project aims to address black and minority ethnic under-representation in higher education and other professions.

The Lemn Sissay Bursaries specifically aim to address the obstacles faced by male students of African & Caribbean heritage who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It will offer eligible applicants an annual grant of £3,000, funded by the School of Law.

“I am immensely proud to have these bursaries named after me, as I fully understand how difficult it can be for people from my background to advance in life,” said Lemn, who grew up in care.

“One of the main goals of the university is social responsibility, which makes it unique in the UK. It does an awful lot to inform communities who may feel university isn’t for them that the opposite is true, through public engagement work and schemes like this one.”

The bursary will be launched at an event which will feature debates with Greater Manchester Black & Asian Police Association, youth workers and musicians about combating the recent rise in violence, cuts to local services, the role of the police and making our communities safer. Attendees will also be able to get expert advice on making an application to the University, working there and accessing its cultural institutions.

The event will take place from 6-8pm on Wednesday 13 September at the West Indian Sports and Social Club, Westwood St, Manchester M14 4SW.