Redesigning Education

Promise Scholarships: The next steps

The Bartlett’s long-term project to attract students from a range of backgrounds launched in 2019. Now it is doing more to tackle the lack of diversity in built environment professions.

The Bartlett Promise Scholarship was launched in 2019 for undergraduate students, with the aim to provide education that is accessible to all, regardless of circumstances, and to diversify our student population. In 2020, it was widened to include Masters and PhD scholarships, and in 2021, internationally, to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a long-term project launched by The Bartlett to attract students from a broader range of backgrounds to tackle the lack of diversity in the built environment professions. This will in turn impact on how urban areas and urbanisation are imagined and planned for generations to come.

The scholarship offering is substantial - one of the most generous of its kind in the UK - covering students’ fees, living and study costs for the duration of their degree programmes. Recipients also receive mentoring, personal support and careers advice throughout their studies.

Data compiled in 2019 by the Royal Town Planning Institute from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey, shows that 59% of planners, 75% of architects and 87% of chartered surveyors are male. Practitioners from a BAME background make up 3-4% of planning professionals, 9% of architects and 4% of chartered surveyors, even though UK Census data from 2011 shows that 14% of the UK population identifies as coming from a minority ethnic background. The Bartlett Promise Scholarship aims to redress this balance.

Growth of The Bartlett Promise Scholarship
2020/21: 11 undergraduate awards to home students, 9 core funded, including 2 fully-funded philanthropic scholarships from Jestico + Whiles and Derwent London 
2021/22: 21 undergraduate students; 13 master’s students including 2 full-fee scholarships from the Aziz Foundation, 4 PhD students
2022/23: 31 undergraduate students; master’s students, including 10 awards to home students, and 4 awards to students from sub-Saharan Africa, 8 PhD students

In this, the scholarship’s third year, we’ve reflected on its growth and early impact. The following are testimonies from three of our Scholars:

Ackley Da Silva studying BSc Urban Planning, Design and Management at The Bartlett School of Planning 

“I was born in the UK, but I moved to Angola with my mother for 4 years. I left at the beginning of high school and came back at the beginning of college. Studying in Angola made me realise how privileged kids and teens are in the UK, having access to so many opportunities, free school and free college courses, which in Angola, is all paid for. Living there helped me gain a different perspective of life and showed me the value of education in the UK! The difference in the built environment and how the two different countries are structured is what really sparked my interest in the built environment.  

“The support from The Bartlett Scholarship has been helpful to me as I didn’t have to worry about employment during term and I could solely focus on my studies. With this support, I was able to get help during my studies from the personal tutors. When times got hard for me it made it easier, as I decided the MEng Engineering and Architectural Design course wasn’t ideal for me. I thought that this would’ve been a deal-breaker with The Promise Scholarship. However, The Bartlett team were super supportive; they helped me find my path towards the course that I am currently taking at The Bartlett School of Planning.

“2020 wasn’t a great year but The Bartlett team helped me and supported me throughout. They helped me shape my plans better and made me realise that I can take a different path towards my same end goal. The Bartlett helped me understand that the best thing is having a supportive network of people who are willing to assist and support in anything, from academic issues to personal things.  

“I know that it is an advantage being a Scholar from The Bartlett as this will help me in the future. The Bartlett, being so well connected with different organisations, makes it easier to get into, and find out about events and placement opportunities, and therefore easier to get into the future career I wish for. In life, people always say your network is your net-worth, so being connected to The Bartlett already puts you a step ahead!

“When I finish studying my plans are to work within the built environment, promoting sustainability, whether it be as a town planner, planning and development surveyor, or a landscape architect.”

Fatim Kamara, studying BSc Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture 

“I’m proud to have been awarded the Jestico + Whiles Bartlett Promise Scholarship. I come from an underprivileged background, and I knew how stretched I would be at university without financial help. Thanks to my scholarship, I can complete my architecture degree without the monetary barriers that I would otherwise have faced. The financial support especially alleviates the stress off my family; I can afford to move out and sustain myself without causing them trouble. Being supported by an architecture firm also lets me gain work experience and architecture connections, and I feel reassured knowing that an award-winning firm believes in me succeeding. 

“Part of why I chose to study at The Bartlett is because of how students are pushed to think creatively here. As an architect, I want to think outside the box and so this was important to me. Since starting my course, the thing I have enjoyed most about The Bartlett is the communication they encourage - they demand to hear your voice and opinion, which helps bring you out of your shell. 

“I believe that in fields where certain demographics are underrepresented it’s important to decipher why that is and how people like me can get better access to opportunities. In my case, I had a lack of financial stability and access to knowledge of architecture. My scholarship is enabling me to overcome these barriers and has allowed me to focus completely on my education, without having to worry about money. 

“When I finish studying, I plan to get a job and complete my Masters so that I can become a fully-fledged architect. I want to be a driving force in the industry for putting the community first, and I want to think carefully about the ways I can help people who faced similar circumstances to me growing up.”

Scholarship recipient studying BSc Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture (wished to remain anonymous) 

“Without the support of those attached to The Bartlett Promise I can confidently say that I doubt I would have progressed as a student as much as I did this past year. Working with tutors that have a demonstrable care for their students and their futures provided the confidence I believe to be necessary to my academic career. You will be challenged and critiqued but never in a manner that is designed to push you down, but rather to pull you up and get you to think critically. The symbiosis between my course and the Scholarship scheme was effective in developing and reinforcing a distinct academic rigour.  

“On a deeper level, the Promise scheme illustrates a burgeoning understanding that the definition of Britishness is a changing thing. Modern Britain is a culturally diverse society and there are as many ways to be British as there are people living here. The recognition of that diversity and the push for a more inclusive educational framework is reaffirming on many levels and I honestly believe it to be a step in the right direction, not only for The Bartlett but as a model for all architectural schools. 

“There is obviously a lot of work still to be done to create an environment that reflects the cultural vibrancy of the UK, but The Bartlett Promise is laying a framework that should be built upon to support students such as myself that may not necessarily receive the support elsewhere.”

We seek to work with likeminded philanthropic partners who share our belief that a future in the built environment sector should be in reach of every talented student with ideas and energy, no matter who they are or where they come from. It will be by working together that we can accelerate the impact of The Bartlett Promise and support more students more quickly. We are extremely grateful to our scholarship donors Jestico + Whiles, Derwent London and the Aziz Foundation, for their investment in The Bartlett Promise and in the change that it will bring to the built environment community of tomorrow. If you are interested in finding out how you can help play a part, please contact Anjali Singh, Senior Philanthropy Manager (The Bartlett) at

Find out more about The Bartlett Promise Scholarship


Sara Shafiei

The Bartlett’s Vice-Dean Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Associate Professor and MSci Architecture Programme Director, The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Iain Borden

Vice-Dean Education at The Bartlett, Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture, The Bartlett School of Architecture

Sarah Rolph

Faculty Operations Manager at The Bartlett

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