By Kristy Dorsey

Royal Bank of Scotland and Heriot-Watt University have set up a new scholarship to assist black and minority ethnic (BAME) students studying finance.

The scheme is open to undergraduates entering the university’s MA (Hons) Finance course and will be paid for through the bank’s 300 Fund, which supports initiatives in Scotland making a positive difference in areas such as leadership, enterprise and climate change. The partnership will see £3,000 awarded to one student annually in their first year of studies, with the first bursary to be issued in September 2021.

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The announcement comes after Royal Bank owner NatWest revealed earlier this week a new initiative to boost minority ethnic representation across its UK workforce of nearly 63,000 people. It is based on recommendations from a four-month review into the experiences of the group’s black staff set up in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Commenting on the new scholarship, Heriot-Watt vice-chancellor Richard Williams said: “This scholarship is a fantastic way to introduce more diversity into banking by removing financial barriers to that crucial first step into higher education.”

The announcement coincided with an online event in which Sir Geoff Palmer, Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt, spoke to Royal Bank staff from across the country about black history in Scotland.

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“In the midst of black history month, many of us are engaged in conversations that push an openness and honesty about the past, particularly concerning the ways Scotland benefitted from slavery,” he said. “That education is an important step in becoming a fairer and more inclusive society.”

NatWest wants to boost the number of black staff in senior roles from 1 per cent to 3%, in line with the black population in England and Wales, by 2025. The group’s wider BAME target is to increase the number of non-white staff in its 8,800 senior roles from 10% to 14%.