Keir Starmer next to Keir Mather

One of the Blavatnik School’s first Political Leadership Scholars, Keir Mather, today became the youngest member of the UK Parliament after winning a by-election for the seat of Selby and Ainsty, a constituency in North Yorkshire, England.

Keir studied for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the School in 2020, an intensive year-long graduate degree with an applied focus for those committed to improving public policy and becoming public sector leaders and changemakers who act with integrity and compassion. During his time at the School, Keir said that his motivation to pursue a career in public service stemmed largely from his upbringing in Hull, a city in northern England with high levels of poverty and deprivation.

“I benefitted from a system in which political representatives ensured that people like me could receive a good education and go on to study at world-class universities,” said Keir. “I feel a moral obligation to work towards ensuring future generations of children have those same opportunities.”

Keir’s advice is not to perceive the MPP or Oxford as something out of reach, whatever your background.

“It’s easy to think that someone else could do things better, but if you’re thinking that way then you’re already showing the kind of humility and self-awareness that enables you to embrace the many ways the MPP changes you.”

As someone who was able to pursue the MPP thanks to a fully funded scholarship, Keir encouraged applicants not to be put off by financial barriers, citing the wide-ranging financial support available. The Political Leadership Scholarships offers full funding for candidates who commit to running for office in local or national UK or Irish politics within five years of graduating.

“Speaking to people from all over the world about their understanding of being ethically motivated to run for office has opened my mind, and it’s only at the Blavatnik School that you get this unique opportunity. If you’re thinking about applying to the MPP, you will never regret having the courage to put yourself forward.

“The Political Leadership Scholarship is a perfect opportunity for those in the early stages of their political career who want to combine a practical commitment to public service with an academically rigorous grounding in public policy.”

To find out more about applying for the MPP visit our course pages. For further information about the Political Leadership Scholarship and other funding opportunities, visit the MPP fees and funding page.