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Faculty of Classics

Mary Beard and Joyce Reynolds ©Institute for Digital Archaeology

The Faculty is pleased to announce the creation of two bursary awards for Classics students from under-represented backgrounds.  The Joyce Reynolds Awards have been funded by Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, as part of our efforts to encourage more diversity among those studying the subject. The £80k gift will pay the £10k a year living costs of two undergraduates from minority ethnic groups and low-income homes for the full duration of their degree courses.

Mary will retire in 2022 and thinks of this as a retirement present to the Faculty. She says, “I am very conscious of what I’ve gained from Classics. No one from my family had a university degree. And I feel so privileged to receive a salary for over 40 years to study and teach the ancient world. This is pay-back time.”

“Classics is a subject that has changed, is changing, but it needs to change more. We’ve done a lot of work in saying that you don’t have to have Latin and Greek before you come, you can learn it here, that this isn’t just for posh people who’ve done Latin for ages. But we still want to encourage much greater diversity – in the interests of justice and fairness, and, let’s face it, in the interests of the long-term the health of the subject.”

“I have no illusion that giving a couple of scholarships is the solution, but it’s a way of showing we’re serious about equality of opportunity. And if it makes the difference in someone choosing to study here that might otherwise not, if it makes inroads into the anxiety they might understandably have about financing their course, then it’s worth it.”

“I particularly hope that this might prompt others to consider supporting Classics at Cambridge, to enable students of all backgrounds to enjoy the intellectual challenges that the Classical world offers. There has never been a better, or more urgent, time to study the subject.”

Mary has named the gift in honour of one of her own pioneering, Classics Tutors, Joyce Reynolds who celebrated her 102nd birthday in December last year.  Joyce is one of the world’s leading ancient historians who taught generations of students at Newnham College and across the University. “As a teacher she was tough, sometimes a little scary, but always right behind you,” says Mary. “Many people who have gone on to shape the field of ancient history owe their academic start in life to her”.

The Faculty is delighted to accept Mary’s gift which, in addition to the practical support offered, is symbolic of its own commitment to attracting diverse applicants. Read more about our schools’ access and outreach programmes, and the four-year route through the Classics Tripos, for students with little or no Latin at entry.

Find out how you can support Classics at Cambridge


Image of Mary Beard and Joyce Reynolds taken at the 100th birthday celebrations for Joyce, by kind permission of the Institute of Digital Archaeology.

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