UP TO £10,000 of tuition fees annually will be paid for 24 students facing financial difficulties thanks to the Sheikh Family Scholarship.

Children of Sheikh Abdul Rashid and Fahmida (COSARAF) Charitable Foundation announced the £300,000 support and mentor programme for underprivileged Muslim students covering both tuition fees and living expenses.

The support programme was launched at St Anne's College on Friday as one of the institutions where graduate and undergraduate students will be eligible.

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The scholarship is open to UK Muslim students who face financial hardship and, ideally, are the first in their family to attend university.

One award will be made each year over the next three years for eligible students enrolled at St Anne’s College in Oxford, any Cambridge college, The University of Warwick, and Cambridge Muslim College.

COSARAF Charitable Foundation chairman Haroon Sheikh said: “One of our core objectives is to enable young people to realise their potential and this ground-breaking programme seeks to remove barriers to Muslim applicants to leading universities, increasing their participation and helping them to make a difference within their communities.

"However, the scholarship goes a lot further than merely boosting personal outcomes.

"The awards will provide long-term support to develop leadership within UK Muslim communities, fostering long-term integration and cohesion."

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The scholarships were launched by MP and St Anne's advisory fellow Rosena Allin-Khan, and Tom Ilube who topped UK's 100 most powerful people with African or Afro-Caribbean heritage.

Haroon Sheikh added: “We are pioneering this comprehensive support programme for Muslim youngsters who, traditionally, must contend with a whole host of barriers to higher education on top of the already stiff competition for all applicants."

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St Anne’s College principal Helen King QPM, said: “From our founding as the Society of Oxford Home-Students, in 1879, St Anne’s has always actively widened access to an Oxford education.

"This heritage became enshrined in our firm purpose to create a diverse and inclusive community and we want to be the destination of choice for the brightest and best students, including those from under-represented groups.

"Being one of the founding colleges for such a dynamic package of practical benefits is another key tool in ensuring their continuing involvement here.”

For details cosaraf.org