Edinburgh Uni advertises scholarship with “preference” for men


A TOP university has been branded “appalling” after advertising a scholarship with a preference for male students.

Edinburgh University’s J. Warren Macalpine Scholarship is open to applications from philosophy students wishing to complete a PhD.

But the university caused widespread outrage by stating that they have a “preference” for male students. The advert was withdrawn from the institution’s website within hours of the sexist blunder becoming public.

Attention was drawn to the scholarship after three female postgraduate students wrote an open letter to Edinburgh University’s student newspaper, The Student.

They said the scholarship shows that women wishing to pursue PhD student “are not valued” by the Philosophy department at Edinburgh.

Edinburgh University’s graduation ceremony famously includes a hat said to be made from the breeches of theologian John Knox, notorious for a 450-year-old tome on the “Monstrous Regiment of Women”.

Edinburgh University's Old College Image: Kim Traynor
Edinburgh University’s Old College Image: Kim Traynor

The full text describing the scholarship reads: “A scholarship is awarded to assist students registered for the degree of PhD in subjects of Philosophy.

“Preference will be given to male students with an interest in Aesthetics.”

In their letter to The Student, Laura Fox, Amanda McCann and Tess Davis said: “Not only were we shocked that this would be publicised on an official university page, we were appalled that gender would be the deciding factor between candidates.”

Davis added: “This suggests to women who hope to continue their education to this higher academic level that they are not valued by the school, and their right to an education is not as important as their male counterparts’.

“It is not a matter of this scholarship opening doors to students, but rather than limiting routes to certain minorities, in this case women, that are already discriminated against in education.

“This is especially crucial in a field where women are undoubtedly underrepresented at a postgraduate level.”

Laura Fox said: “The fact that the University doesn’t have a problem with offering a scholarship that excludes women makes me question whether they’re really committed to tackling sexism.”

According to Citizens Advice Scotland, it is illegal under the Equality Act if an education provider treats you unfairly because of your sex.

A university spokesman said: “The conditions that stipulate that a preference should be given to male students would have been at the request of the donor.”

Of the 61 students currently studying towards Philosophy degrees at the University of Edinburgh, only 16 are women.

Only six of the 29 lecturers in Philosophy at the university are female.

At Edinburgh University’s graduation ceremonies, students are tapped with a hat which, according to legend, is made using material from the breeches of philosopher and theologian John Knox.

in 1558, Knox famously wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous [sic] Regiment of Women, which argued that rule by females is contrary to the Bible.

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