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27 MAY 2021
1. One of Cambridge’s largest Colleges will start offering ‘free places’ for students from underprivileged backgrounds
St. John’s College, the second-largest of the University of Cambridge’s 29 colleges by enrollment, has announced that in October 2023 it will begin offering over £50,000 worth of aid to poor students over the course of their education, allowing them to graduate “completely debt-free.” Up to 40 undergraduates will receive the aid per year, with those who qualify coming from families whose household income is less than £16,000 per year. Master of St. John’s, Heather Hancock said of the initiative: “If you’re a talented 18-year-old from a low-income family in the UK and you win an undergraduate place at, say, Harvard or Yale ... those institutions will offer you a full, non-repayable bursary so you can take up the place. St John’s wants to offer these UK students that same debt-free opportunity.”
Crimson’s Take: We’re thrilled to learn that Cambridge, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, is making such a substantial effort to increase access to the elite education they offer. All too often, financial barriers stand in the way of qualified students getting the education they deserve; so whenever we hear of universities — especially world-class universities like Cambridge — helping to eliminate those barriers for their students, we’re even more encouraged about the future of higher education at large.
2. Colorado becomes the first US state to legally ban legacy preference in university admissions
Colorado on Tuesday passed a bill that will prohibit public universities from considering Legacy — or familial relationships between alumni and applicants — in the admissions process. Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Legacy admissions decrease the chance of acceptance for first-generation and minority students, noting, “This bill will help move us in a direction where our higher education institutions are moving towards being meritocracies — meaning that you have to earn admission because of who you are and what you can do and what your potential is. Not who your parents or grandparents were.”
Crimson’s Take: While some individual universities in the US have eliminated Legacy considerations from their admissions process, this is the first time an entire state has legally required its universities to do so — and we stand behind the decision! We understand that many universities depend on Legacy admissions as a key driver of alumni donations, but just as we believe in eliminating the boundaries of location, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status in university admissions, we also believe in the meritocracy described by Governor Polis. At Crimson, we think every qualified student in the world should have a fair shot at higher education, so we’re pleased by actions that aim to level the playing field for students in any way.
3. UPenn’s Wharton School receives a $5 million Bitcoin donation from an anonymous donor
Just a few months after the University of Pennsylvania accepted its first alumni gift in cryptocurrency, the institution received a whopping $5 million donation in Bitcoin — the largest sum of cryptocurrency it has ever accepted. The donation was made anonymously and will fittingly be monetized over the coming years to fund FinTech programs at the Wharton School’s Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance. According to UPenn’s SVP of Development and Alumni Relations, John Zeller, the structure of the donation “allows Penn to capture any gains if the price of Bitcoin rises and protects it from losses if the value of the currency drops below that of the initial gift.”
Crimson’s Take: What an intriguing development in the world of university alumni donations! We’ve heard of unique donations in the form of real estate, artwork, and stocks, so it seems only natural that cryptocurrency would fall into the same category. The way we see it, a gift is a gift, and universities depend heavily on such donations — so if alumni wish to invest in their alma mater in a unique way, more power to them! We can also appreciate UPenn’s decision to use this particular donation in such an appropriate way at the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance.