Morategi Kale

Philanthropy Report 2020/21

Helping African graduate students to thrive at Oxford


The African Graduate Thrive Fund is focused on providing students with the support they need to make the most of the opportunities available to them at Oxford.

Africa is the most rapidly changing continent on the planet. Its evolving socio-economic landscape and emerging future demographic are set to have a major influence globally: it is predicted that by 2050, the majority of the world’s student-age population will be in Africa.

These young Africans have the potential to play key roles in research, knowledge production and contributions to the sustainable development of the continent and the world. However, to realise this potential, students need to be supported throughout their studies.

The African Graduate Thrive Fund has been set up to ensure that support is available for African students studying at Oxford in the event of their circumstances changing, for example, due to family emergencies, illness, financial difficulties or other unforeseen situations. The fund supports African graduate students with up to £500 to meet unexpected and urgent financial needs and to support any activity that will ensure the pursuit of excellence in their graduate studies.

‘While there are notable challenges when it comes to attracting and admitting prospective African students to the University, getting into Oxford is not the most, or only, difficult part of the Oxford journey’

Morategi Kale

DPhil Human Geography candidate Morategi Kale is an MSc African Studies alumna who has been working at AfOx – the Africa Oxford Initiative, which administers the Thrive fund – as the student engagement liaison for the last year. Morategi says: ‘As well as covering unforeseen financial needs, the Thrive fund provides support so that students can take advantage of the many opportunities available to them here, enabling them to thrive academically and personally during their studies in Oxford. African students contribute so much to the University’s rich academic environment, but funds like these are crucial to help maximise the impact of their skills, knowledge and experiences, both here and in development globally.’

The Thrive fund was set up with the support of Mr Thomas Svanikier, through the African Studies Centre (ASC) International Advisory Board, in response to conversations about the particular challenges some African students face in accessing support during their studies in Oxford. AfOx disseminates information about the fund, including how to apply, as widely as possible. Members of both AfOx and the ASC also sit on the awarding committee, along with other individuals representing different parts of the University that have an interest in African issues.

In its first year, the Thrive Fund has assisted 12 students, most commonly for computer, technology and software needs, but also for daily living expenses.

The interaction with Thrive applicants has enabled a frank dialogue about their needs more generally. ‘The awarding committee has used the applications that have been received as an opportunity to open dialogue with students about their circumstances,’ says Morategi. ‘In some instances, this has revealed that students will need more support than the Thrive Fund is able to provide, so, where the fund can only cover part of the student’s need, the committee has signposted other sources of support and funding. This, of course, only highlights the need for more discretionary and/or hardship funding for these students.’

Morategi’s involvement with the Thrive Fund, and especially her work with AfOx more broadly, has demonstrated to her in a very concrete way that African graduate students have made, continue to make, and have the potential to make such valuable contributions to the academic community in Oxford. She says: ‘The fund is able to address some of the challenges that African students may face as a result of inequalities. Put simply, funding of this kind is crucial for the continued intellectual exchange between Africa and Oxford and to ensure that African students really are enabled to achieve their potential.’


Read the full report

Download a printable PDF below.

Download PDF

Support Oxford

Philanthropy makes a significant difference to what we are able to achieve across Oxford – for students, for academics and for the world at large.

Donate now