Our Story

We exist to inspire the generations of graduates who received a free university education to help support those who are following in their footsteps, while facing much greater financial pressures.

The thinking behind the Reading List Foundation is rooted in research among undergraduates from lower income households. Without the ability to rely on the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ for significant financial support, life as a student can involve the constant presence of financial pressures. 79% of students from lower income households in England have had to cut back on essentials because of financial pressures. In this context a student can often be faced with buying the textbooks they can afford rather than the ones they need for the course.

The impact is also emotional as well as financial – our research showed nearly half are affected by worries about financial pressures.

Facing such pressures while accumulating loans of upwards of £44,000 seemed a stark contrast to the financial support enjoyed by the many generations of graduates who had their university education funded by society as a whole (and we count ourselves among these lucky graduates).

This contrast was brought into even clearer focus when the last remaining element of Maintenance Grant for Living Costs was withdrawn in the Budget of 2015. Although replaced with a loan, support still does not stretch to cover basic advised living costs at many top universities.

The thought prompted us to do something about it – and so The Reading List Foundation was born in 2015. We are Exeter-based, but fund Scholarships in State-funded schools and colleges across England.

We have six trustees - Alan Terry, Chris Thain, Carmel Lawless, Tracy Bechem, Julie Sadler-Smith and Emily Macaulay. Alan handles the day-to-day functioning of the charity, and can be contacted here

We are young but ambitious - we aim to have a Reading List Scholarship in every state-funded Year 13 in England. We would love you to help us get there.


Alan Terry, Tracy Bechem, Carmel Lawless, Julie Sadler-Smith, Emily Macaulay