Oxford University reveals Michael Sheen fund for Welsh students

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media captionSheen says young people in Wales must have the same opportunities as those in other parts of the UK

A bursary named after Hollywood star Michael Sheen to help Welsh students go to Oxford University has been announced.

The scheme is intended to provide "much-needed" financial support for undergraduates from Wales.

It has been developed by Jesus College in collaboration with the Newport-born actor, who was brought up in Port Talbot.

Sheen told BBC's Wales Live he had pledged £50,000 over five years.

Applications for the bursaries will open in 2021's autumn term.

Bursary recipients will be means-tested, based primarily on household income criteria.

Sheen said: "Where you come from and the financial circumstances of your background should not be a barrier to those of talent and excellence receiving much needed support and development.

"Jesus College, Oxford, has had a long and fruitful relationship to Wales since its founding in 1571 and it gives me great pleasure to use what resources I have to help young Welsh students of real potential get the opportunities for learning there that they deserve as much as anyone else.

"I hope that these bursaries not only make it possible for Welsh students to take advantage of the educational possibilities at Jesus, but also help to encourage a sense of what is possible for young Welsh people generally."

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image captionApplications for the bursaries will open in the autumn

Other famous people who have had bursaries and scholarships named after them include actor Laurence Olivier, Beatle John Lennon, martial arts star Bruce Lee, Monty Python legend Michael Palin, chat show host David Letterman and musician Will.i.am.

Prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Jesus College principal, said the college was proud of its "strong historical connection" with Wales' people.

"We are hugely grateful to Michael for this generous support, which will positively impact the lives and futures of some of our more disadvantaged Welsh students," he said.

Students applying will have to meet the criteria, based on an aggregate household income of less than £35,000 per year.

Academic director, Dr Alexandra Lumbers, said: "Disadvantaged students can face financial inequalities that create a barrier to embracing the full benefit that an Oxford education can offer.

"The Michael Sheen Bursary will provide a tremendous opportunity to support Welsh students."

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