Lemn Sissay on a mission to improve diversity of legal sector

Poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, the Chancellor of The University of Manchester, is launching a new university bursary designed to increase the number of black males embarking on careers in law and the criminal justice sector.


A first of its kind, the Lemn Sissay Law Bursaries take into account applicants’ race, gender and socio-economic background.The School of Law’s Black Lawyers Matter project was set up in 2016 by a group of academics, community leaders and legal practitioners on discovery that out of some 1200 undergraduates, only 14 UK-based Black males of African and Caribbean heritage were registered on law and criminology courses, and of these none were from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Working with community organisations, schools, regulators and legal & criminal justice professionals, the project aims to address black and minority ethnic under-representation in higher education and the professions – as well as to promote the relationship between the University and Manchester's African & Caribbean communities.

The Lemn Sissay Bursaries specifically aim to address the obstacles faced by male students of African & Caribbean heritage who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It will offer eligible applicants an annual grant of £3,000, funded by the School of Law.

“I am immensely proud to have these bursaries named after me, as I fully understand how difficult it can be for people from my background to advance in life. One of the main goals of the university is social responsibility, which makes it unique in the UK.  It does an awful lot to inform communities who may feel university isn’t for them that the opposite is true, through public engagement work and schemes like this one.” - Lemn Sissay MBE