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Manchester Uni opens its doors to Ethiopia

ADVICE: Eyob Balcha Gebremariam, left, with fellow Ethiopian students

STUDENTS FROM Ethiopia who have a desire to learn skills that will transform their home
countries are being given a life-changing opportunity to study in Manchester.

The University of Manchester’s Chancellor, Lemn Sissay, MBE, recently attended a special event in Addis Ababa to officially extend the student scholarship to Ethiopia. Talented candidates from the country will now be able to apply for places through the University’s Equity and Merit Scholarships, which currently fund students from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania to take a postgraduate course that isn’t available in their home country. Sissay is a poet with Ethiopian heritage who regularly visits the country.

In his role as chancellor, he is the ceremonial head of The University of Manchester and has been supportive of a number of new initiatives such as a scholarship for black male law students. “I am very happy that during my time as the university’s chancellor the Equity and Merit Scholarships have been extended to Ethiopia, a country that I know well and love. I have seen first-hand what a difference these scholarships make to people.”

Sissay, who was brought up by foster parents in Greater Manchester until the age of 12 before he was sent to a care home, later discovered his Ethiopian heritage, finding his mother at the age of 21.


Unfortunately, by the time he traced his father at the age of 29 he had been tragically killed in a plane crash. But Ethiopia is now also somewhere he considers home and is in fact quite well-known there. He said: “The University of Manchester is a major international university.

“It has the largest on-campus population in Britain and I said in my installation that I wanted to facilitate the connection between Ethiopia and Manchester. Primarily that is because I’m from Manchester and Ethiopia but also because the Pankhurst family live in Ethiopia.”

PICTURED: Lemm Sissay is interviewed at the launch

Dr Alula Pankhurst, grandson of Manchester-born suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, is an alumnus of the University of Manchester, where he obtained his PhD in Social Anthropology. Born in 1882, Sylvia Pankhurst, was also a staunch champion of Ethiopia during World War II. Sissay launched the scholarships at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa in December alongside senior representatives from the Ministry of Education, local universities and Dr Alula Pankhurst from the University of Addis Ababa.

Sissay, said: “Alula Pankhurst and his daughter have become really close friends and still live in Ethiopia. Outside of Bob Marley, they are among the most famous names in Ethiopia, which is quite incredible. A lot of people don’t know that fact – that the Pankhurst family love Ethiopia and Ethiopia loves them.”

The Equity and Merit scheme is now in its 11th year and has helped more than 200 students to build their careers and implement projects which have benefitted thousands of local people in their home countries.

“The scheme is a dream come true for me. That’s one of the things that I wanted when I became chancellor. The University of Manchester has social responsibility as one of its three core goals, so it fits perfectly,” added Mr Sissay.

Applications are now in- vited from exceptional individuals who can demonstrate both academic excellence and a commitment to the economic or social development of their home communities. The scholarships, which are jointly funded by the university and its donors, cover the tuition fee in full, students’ living costs, flights to the UK and visas.

In the past, students have used their newly gained knowledge to fight diseases such as malaria, build low-cost housing for slum dwellers and bring electricity to remote communities. In many cases the scholarships have not just transformed the students’ lives but those of their people living in their home towns or cities.

One of the university’s current Ethiopian students, Eyob Balcha Gebremariam, is a PhD student in Development Policy and Management. He said: “Manchester is a great place of academic excellence, diversity and also socio- economic and political history.

“I would say to my fellow Ethiopians, try your best to join The University of Manchester and have an amazing opportunity of reigniting your academic and non-academic career.”

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