Acclaimed British writer, actor and comedian Stephen Fry is launching the Stephen Fry Travel Awards in American Studies with the University of East Anglia (UEA), based in his home county of Norfolk.
Future applicants to the four-year American Studies with a Year Abroad courses at UEA will be able to apply for a £2,500 travel award to help with the cost of their year in America as part of their studies, funded by Mr Fry.
Four awards will be available to undergraduate applicants to UEA’s American Studies courses from the next academic year, with the aim to make the year abroad more accessible to those who might otherwise struggle to fund this element of the course.
UEA is currently ranked the most socially inclusive university in the top 30 in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 UK rankings, and since 2009 has supported over 700 students with donor funded scholarships.
Stephen Fry, who grew up in Norfolk and received an honorary doctorate from UEA in 1999, is renowned not only for his sharp wit but also for his love of America, documenting his adventures travelling in a London taxi across the continent’s 50 states in a BBC television series and accompanying book. A love letter to the world’s most powerful nation, Stephen’s exploration of the “real” America serves to illustrate the importance of travel in broadening our understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures, people and beliefs, and how this can go on to impact everything – from politics to economics and beyond.
Students on the UEA American Studies course explore the rich culture and history of the United States, getting to grips with every aspect of the country – from landmark events to political decisions, its position as a global leader, its literature, history and much more. A key component of the course is the year abroad, where students can gain first-hand experience of life Stateside and further their knowledge of the key issues that shape our world today.
Stephen Fry said: “America as a country is both incredibly familiar and vastly alien to us. Experiencing this wonderful blend of the ordinary and extraordinary - both people and places – and how it has shaped the world we live in today has been a privilege that I can now share with others.
“Travel broadens the mind, opens us up to new and rich experiences and helps to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions. Ultimately, it makes us better-informed and more well-rounded people. My experiences of travelling across America have shown me just how important it is for others to do so.
“Many young people might be put off taking a year abroad as part of their degree because of the financial cost. By partnering with UEA, I hope that I can help and encourage more young people to discover this vast and wonderful country for themselves. I’m investing in the future of our next generation of thinkers who will go on to achieve great things.”
Dr Rachael McLennan, Head of School for Art, Media and American Studies said: “The year abroad is a vital component of American Studies at UEA, allowing students to further learn about American culture, so it adds a crucial dimension to their studies. It is invaluable in enriching and broadening their understanding of the United States’ influence and impact on our world today.
“This will be a life-changing opportunity for the lucky recipients of Stephen’s travel awards and is doubly important in this current cost of living crisis.”
David Ellis, Director of Development at UEA, said: “We’re thrilled and delighted to partner with one of Britain’s best-loved and most brilliant creative minds who has deep roots in Norfolk. We are extremely thankful to Stephen for his generous philanthropic support for our future students over the next five years of entry.
“Here at UEA we are committed to helping the brightest young minds to access a world class university education, no matter their background or circumstance. The Stephen Fry Travel Awards are an incredible opportunity for our future American Studies undergraduates, which we are delighted to make available for entry in 2023 for four new undergraduates.”