Student’s helping hand to secure underprivileged students university spots

A student from Croydon raised £14,900 to fund his studies to become a barrister while donating time to underprivileged students.

Mohamed Hussein, 23, was raised in a single-parent low-income household in South Croydon.

His mother, a Somali Muslim immigrant spoke very little English when Hussein was growing up, but always emphasized the importance of education to her five children.

Hussein attended the Quest Academy, formerly Selsdon High School, a state school in Croydon, and was the first, and to this day the only student from his school to be admitted to Oxbridge.

He said: “Students in my school had very different sets of aspirations to privately educated students.

“There are kids who would be able to go to Oxford if they had been given the same amount of support as a student in a public school, but unfortunately that’s not the society we live in.”

Hussein studied history at Oxford from 2017 to 2020, as a recipient of the Moritz Heyman scholarship.

He started volunteering to improve access to Oxbridge throughout his time at Oxford, accumulating over 300 hours of volunteering time helping underprivileged students apply to university.

In his last year at Somerville College, Hussein decided he wanted to become a barrister and study for the Graduate Diploma of Law (GDL).

He spoke of his desire to work to give all individuals good representation, something which he commented is especially important to him in the context of stop and search policies.

Hussein explained: “Legal rights that many take for granted are not universal.

“The law in theory is one thing, but the law in practice is another.”

At Oxford, he also met celebrity Judge Robert Rinder, who helped him with his applications to law programmes and supported him throughout the process.

Hussein however discovered that studying for the GDL comes with many access problems.

GDL studies to become a barrister at City University in London are not covered by university loans or by the Student Loans Company (SLC), so the only option for low-income students is commercial loans through banks.

Hussein said these are not viable for most low-income students, with high interest rates and too short repayment delays.

GAZING INTO THE FUTURE: Hussein’s headshot for an Oxford society. Credits: The Oxford Union

On Tuesday 11 August he decided to start a Go Fund Me campaign to fund his GDL studies, with a target to raise £14,900 to cover tuition and a portion of his living costs.

He also pledged that for every £15 contributed to his campaign, he would donate one hour of free tutoring to a disadvantaged student.

Last month, an anonymous £7,000 donation meant Hussein met his target of £14,900 and was able to start his course at City University earlier this month.

Hussein said: “I feel elated, really happy and so grateful to everyone who donated.

“The next step is to work hard, keep pushing the boulder up the hill and apply for scholarships for next year.”

Through the campaign’s donations, he accumulated over 1,000 hours of free tutoring to underprivileged students, which he will distribute across the next three years.

Hussein plans to send everyone who has donated a form to forward to anyone who might need help and self-identifies as disadvantaged.

Featured image credit: Sofia Blanchard

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