2018 will be the 10th year of two awards, the Sarah and Peter Harkness Prize and Harkness Bursary, for Mansfield students from Yorkshire and the North East. These awards were established with the generous help of Yorkshire-based Sarah and Peter Harkness, and are aimed specifically at encouraging students from Yorkshire and the North East to apply to Oxford.

Mansfield alumna Sarah Harkness (neé Penney) began her studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1980, and she was one of the first women to be admitted to the College. Sarah and her husband Peter are generous donors to the College, and the Harkness prize and bursary for Mansfield is part of their gift to the College.

As Yorkshire and the North East are less well represented amongst the Oxford student body than some other parts of the UK, the College and Sarah and Peter wanted to do something to help put this right. The aim of both the prize and bursary is to encourage students, their parents and teachers, from Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East to see Oxford University as an attainable goal. Sarah and Peter are all too aware of the geographical divide that deters talented sixth-formers in the North of England from applying to Oxbridge.

Senior Tutor, Lucinda Rumsey explained, ‘It was when we were in discussion with Sarah and Peter about their proposed bursary that a plan to work with Yorkshire schools and colleges was first thought of. Sarah and Peter were keen to encourage students from Yorkshire and the North East to apply to Oxford, and the bursary was a way of demonstrating that these students are not only welcome but positively encouraged to apply. In 2011 when Oxford colleges were asked to choose regions of the country in which to focus their outreach work, Mansfield chose to be paired with an area of Yorkshire, building on the impetus of the Harkness Bursary.’

Mansfield College is noted for its inclusivity and is highly active in its outreach work to encourage applications to Oxford, which is linked specifically with parts of Yorkshire, including York, Doncaster, Hull and East Riding. In the past two years, since June 2016, we have done nearly 100 outreach events involving students from our Yorkshire region.

The Harkness Prize

A Prize of £100 for best Distinction-level performance in the first public examinations, based on rankings within the class, by a Mansfield student living and having completed 6th form studies in Yorkshire or the North East.

In 2017 the Harkness Prize was awarded to John Wadsworth (PPE, 2016) who came to Mansfield from Pudsey Grangefield School. About to enter his final year, John said, ‘I was delighted to receive the Harkness Prize, as it recognises the fact that my roots in Yorkshire have been a crucial foundation for my achievements at Oxford. The existence of a regional prize is really important in acknowledging the huge contribution made by northern students to academic life here, especially as part of the Mansfield community. The Harkness Prize is a vital part of the fantastic prize system at Mansfield, which ensures that you always feel rewarded for putting in consistent academic effort.’

The Harkness Bursary

This award is made to one student a year living and having completed 6th form studies in Yorkshire or the North East, who is studying for an undergraduate degree at Mansfield. This award will be paid for as long as the student has fee-liability at the University. With the generosity of Sarah and Peter, the award given will be increasing from this year. The student who receives the bursary will be given £1000 in the first year of their course and £500 in the subsequent years of study.