The former college of Margaret Thatcher, Somerville College, have chosen to establish a Margaret Thatcher scholarship scheme, a scheme in which they will give people the chance to succeed ‘against the odds’ and have a chance to study at Oxford University.
Somerville College publicly refused to honour former pupil Margaret Thatcher, England’s only female prime minister, in 1985, because they saw her cuts on education and spending as contradictory to their principals. Current principal Dr Alice Prochaska spoke of her hopes to ‘readdress the balance’ of relations with Margaret Thatcher.
The scheme will select ten ‘Thatcher’ scholars from across the world per year, with a particular focus on those who face difficulty in their economic backgrounds. Margaret Thatcher was unable to cope with the cost of studies but was rewarded a bursary and a scholarship at Somerville College, and studied chemistry in 1943. She proceeded to become president of Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. It is hoped that this scheme will be able to give those less advantaged equal opportunities to excel in their talents, ‘regardless of background’. Dr Alice Prochaska strongly insisted that ‘the programme will be totally without political justice’.
Somerville College intend to have their first ‘Thatcher’ student studying at Oxford University in 2015. According to the Daily Telegraph, the college are hoping to raise £100 million to fund the scheme from Britain and overseas, and hope that the worldwide statuses of patrons backing the scheme will increase the funding rapidly. Mikhail Gorbachev, George Bush senior, Nancy Reagan and Tony Blair are amongst the list of high profile patrons that are supporting the scheme.
It is believed that Somerville College will be looking to establish a ‘Thatcher House’ within the college campus, in which students will be able to study. Plans for the course are not official as of yet, but it will be based around the establishment of a Margaret Thatcher Leadership Programme.
Certainly eager students across the world who wish to become ‘Thatcher leaders’ can see this as a grand opportunity in which only the best education can be provided, and it can certainly be seen as a moving tribute to Somerville’s former pupil Margaret Thatcher, who changed the political face of a nation forever, and will be remembered for her political tactics. It is vital that the legacy of Margaret Thatcher lives on; this legacy is best served within the institution of education.