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LGBTQIA+ scholarship for the Cambridge MBA: why was it launched and what does it entail?


As we celebrate Pride Month in the UK, we find out more about The Cambridge MBA ROMBA Fellowship for the LGBTQIA+ community – as well as the financial aid, these awards come with community membership and hopefully a lifelong involvement in ROMBA as you progress through your career.

Group of MBA students outside in the sunshine.

What is ROMBA?

The Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellowship was created as a joint effort between top business school programmes and ROMBA to demonstrate that business school should be the top destination for those ‘out’ LGBTQIA+ and active allies who want to be the business leaders of tomorrow. 

Committed to support

Ashley Mudd.
Ashley Mudd

Cambridge Judge has given financial aid to support LGBTQIA+ candidates to come to business school for several years, as part of a commitment to creating an inclusive and representative community at the Business School and to give support to our graduates to go on and succeed in all areas of business and society. More recently, the Business School partnered with ROMBA to offer two fellowships every year, and an award of £32,000 each toward programme fees.

Ashley Mudd, Programme Director at ROMBA explains, “For Cambridge Judge the connection to the LGBTQIA+ community and the commitment was already there. For ROMBA connecting to a business school with an existing framework of support is important, as it demonstrates an existing and welcoming community, along with a safe campus, to those LGBTQIA+ candidates seeking to do an MBA.”

The Fellowship

Emily Brierley.
Emily Brierley

“We were very proud to partner with ROMBA in this initiative,” says Emily Brierley, Head of Cambridge MBA Admissions & Recruitment. “As soon as a candidate is awarded the Fellowship they have access to benefits including access to ROMBA’s leadership programme; attendance at the cohort’s annual retreat and connection to the ROMBA network of over 10,000 peers, alumni, and professionals.”

The scholarship is available to those applicants who are passionate about the LGBTQIA+ community, those who have a history of involvement with the community and who will lead and foster initiatives at Cambridge Judge to support and develop this community further.

Not just financial aid

ROMBA encourages fellows to look beyond the financial award and see their fellowship as a longer-term commitment.

Ashley continues, “The best legacy we can ask of our ROMBA fellows is to ensure that there is a new incoming cohort each year who are interested in the ROMBA Fellowship and LGBTQIA+ topics and inclusion in business. For some it may not be just growing the presence of the Fellowship on campus, but also the growing importance for students to own their identity on their application, and to be confident to be able to put themselves forward as a member of the community.

“Where we really depend on students is their willingness to talk about their experiences, to be the face of the Fellowship at their school, and to be willing to share their experiences with future employers. By sharing their experiences, it shows that their sense of belonging in this safe space is real.”

Extending the community

As well as nurturing relationships with business schools and students, ROMBA connect with corporate employers too. MBA fellows are active in extending this network.

“We often source recruiters from our Alumni fellows,” says Ashley. “Sometimes a fellow works for a company who did not previously have a relationship with us and so they work to bring that company on board, either as a sponsor or a recruiter, or to offer internships.”

ROMBA also helps to develop mentors from across their community, encouraging alumni, many of whom are now moving into senior positions in business, to support the younger generation coming through.

“Our fellowship programme has only been around since 2015, but more and more people are moving through the ranks in their workplace. Many of that cohort from 2015 will be entering senior leadership positions, and they will be in a position of influence to encourage others in their organisation to pursue business school.“ 

A home in Cambridge

Cambridge Judge continues to work closely with ROMBA as well as connecting MBA students through the Fellowship. Students with an interest in LGBTQIA+ can also get involved in initiatives at Cambridge Judge itself, such as the Pride @ CJBS Special Interest Group (SIG) and the work of the Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee at the Business School.

Emily concludes, “We are really proud to partner with ROMBA, a fantastic organisation. As well as enjoying all ROMBA has to provide, it is important to us that LGBTQIA+ students know that the University of Cambridge provides a welcoming and supportive community in which they can thrive during their MBA.”