The Supplementary Exhibition Fund, fondly known as the ‘SEF’, was established in 1886 by Fellows and former students to provide financial help for undergraduate entrants, some of whom no longer could rely on their personal or family wealth to see them through their course.
Today, the SEF benefits all resident undergraduate students who may be experiencing financial hardship, or those who may wish to undertake an activity with a financial impact which would not be possible without the College’s support. This may take the form of grants or loans to mitigate financial difficulties arising from accidents, illness and trouble at home and to provide educational materials such as books and musical instruments, as well as extra teaching. We have also been able to provide financial assistance for a holiday or period of reading for a student who would otherwise have to spend the whole vacation working to earn money.
How does it help?
The SEF forms the flexible core of King’s own student hardship safety net. The Financial Tutor makes grants to individuals, on request, for occasional and exceptional costs that would otherwise cause hardship. This may range from a few tens of pounds for a train ticket, to several thousand pounds for a term’s maintenance.
The majority of the SEF’s expenditure is for genuine hardship, assisting principally with living costs both in and out of term. It is the College’s hope that students should not feel the need to take paid employment to support themselves, recognising that it is a considerable distraction from study and reduces the opportunities for the academic and social interaction which makes King’s unique.
Examples of costs funded include:
- Assistance with medical expenses
- Travel for research, conferences, auditions and interviews
- Materials and tools for practical coursework
- Travel and accommodation for family crises, such as bereavement
- Bridging loans to help with cashflow issues when exceptional expenses precede expected income
- Individual sports equipment and travel to competitions
- Funding for student-led workshops, seminars, conferences
- Extra-curricular language tuition (e.g. to increase access to non-English resources)
The SEF also provides the College’s contribution to the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, the University’s mechanism for supporting those with the least financial means. As King’s has a significant proportion of resident students who qualify, the College contribution is exceeded by the grants disbursed to our students by the Scheme.
What impact does your support have?
For over 130 years the SEF has embodied the spirit of King’s, and the pledge that the College makes – that no student should have their studies jeopardised by financial need. It remains the foundation stone of our own student support package, confirmed by the several thousand Members who have received help from the fund during their time here.
As part of our central tenet of increasing access to higher education and selecting the most talented students regardless of background, we need to provide reassurance to those students that their financial position will not become unreasonable, and that they can benefit fully from the opportunities that Cambridge offers. For the SEF to continue to provide this safety net, donations received from Members are critical.