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Law student uses crowd-funding to help pay tuition fees

10th Sep 2014

Increasingly popular nowadays in gaining financial support for new projects, crowd-funding stepped up even further this week by enabling an aspiring lawyer to fund her college tuition.

Rachel Ohwin was accepted to Oxford University’s Wolfson College to study an MSc in migration studies, but was turned down by the university for a scholarship.

Afraid the £18,110 fees would result in her having to turn down the place, she decided to turn to crowd-funding with two weeks to go before the payment had to be made.

Having saved £6000 herself, with an additional £2000 borrowed from her mother, Ohwin had to come up with £10,000, and refused to let the money stand in the way of her accepting her place at university.

Ohwin, 23, set up a Hubbub page with the slogan ‘£10,000 in 10 days’ and began a campaign on social media to raise awareness of her cause. Using the hashtag #Oxford10000, on the very first day Ohwin gained 700 retweets on one of her tweets.

It took only eight days for the University of Sussex graduate to raise all the funds, with incentives provided for those who donated. A £10 donation meant a ‘shout out’ thanking the donor on twitter, while those who donated £20 will receive a postcard from Oxford with a handwritten thank you note.

For larger amounts of money, rewards include proof-reading an article of up to 3000 words, writing an article, event photography, and even an acknowledgement in her dissertation.

The highest donation received was £1002, with donations of £1000 and more meaning an invitation to dinner at the college.

Ohwin is now delighted that she can afford her studies, and grateful to those who supported her financially, and helped spread the word about her campaign. However, she wishes there was more support from universities for those, like her, who cannot afford the high tuition fees, especially for minority students.

Projects backed by crowd-funding websites are on the rise, often used for supporting independent arts such as films, but increasingly they are being used to raise money for all manner of events. Hubbub allows crowd-funding for educational and social projects, without charging the individual or organisation a fee.