1. What is the BIG Programme?
BIG stands for ‘Backing Invisible Geniuses’. The BIG Programme offers prodigious young talents the opportunity to study at world-class institutions like Cambridge and Imperial. Scholarships are open to students from around the world who have medalled in international Olympiads.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Global Talent Lab, supported with a founding donation from XTX Markets and working in collaboration with the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
2. Why was the BIG Programme launched?
The BIG Programme seeks to bridge the gap between talent and access, ensuring that prodigious students, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, can access top-tier educational opportunities in the UK. By offering scholarships, financial support, and enrichment activities, the programme will encourage academic brilliance and peer engagement.
3. What does the BIG Programme provide?
The BIG programme offers holistic support for students, encompassing tuition costs, assistance with living costs, a stipend for academic pursuits outside the classroom, and other benefits such as social events, networking, internships, and research placements.
4. Who is eligible for the BIG Programme?
Scholarships are open to students from any country who have earned a medal in a major international science Olympiad. Beyond academic prowess, the BIG Programme also prizes students who demonstrate a collaborative spirit and leadership qualities, and who aspire to make a societal contribution in their careers.
5. At which universities will the BIG scholars study?
The Global Talent Lab is delighted to have confirmed partnerships with Imperial College London and Trinity College, Cambridge. The full list of partner universities will be announced soon. Any UK university that BIG scholars apply for, can join the programme.
6. What subjects are eligible for study?
Eligible subjects span the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. The specific courses available will vary depending on the participating universities.
7. How can those interested get involved?
Please visit the BIG Programme page at the Global Talent Lab at www.global-talent.org.
EVIDENCE & IMPACT
8. Why does the BIG Programme prioritise Olympiad medallists?
Securing a medal in an international Olympiad is a testament to a student's academic prowess and a predictor of their future contributions to science and technology. Such accolades have been shown to indicate not just aptitude, but also at the potential for future innovation and leadership in science and mathematics.
9. What evidence underscores the importance of early talent?
Global Talent Lab’s research offers several insights:
Talent as a Success Predictor: International Mathematical Olympiad gold medallists are 50 times more likely to win the Fields Medal in mathematics than an average Cambridge Ph.D. Indeed, 50% of Fields Medal laureates were IMO participants in their youth.
Talent in Tech: Many tech luminaries, like those at OpenAI, showcased their prowess early through participation in science and mathematics Olympiads. A notable 50% of OpenAI's founders showcased their brilliance in science Olympiads during their teens.
Addressing the Talent Gap: A stark discrepancy exists between aspiration and realisation. For instance, Global Talent Lab’s research shows that one in five IMO students would pick the UK over any other destination to study. However, less than one in ten actually come, as many are simply unable to afford tuition fees.
10. How will the UK's tech and AI sectors benefit from the BIG Programme?
The BIG Programme will attract and cultivate the brightest young minds in science and mathematics. By offering these talents a conducive environment in the UK, it will build a pool of future innovators who can significantly contribute to the tech and AI sectors.
Having studied at world-class UK universities, these scholars will be more likely to collaborate with UK start-ups, businesses, and research institutions. Over time, this will support ground-breaking technological advancements, increased entrepreneurialism, and a rich ecosystem of innovation.
11. Is the BIG Programme only for international talent?
The BIG programme is open to Olympiad medallists from both the UK and abroad. The cohort will include domestic and international perspectives, creating a global academic environment and fostering cross-cultural dialogues.
12. How will UK universities benefit from the BIG Programme?
The BIG programme will provide direct support to UK students and enhance the academic landscape. The BIG programme will curate a globally-connected academic milieu in the UK, enriching the academic experience and offering invaluable networking opportunities. Over time, it promises an influx of top-tier talent to research labs and initiatives across UK universities.
13. How is the BIG Programme mitigating brain drain and talent wars?
The BIG Programme is not about encouraging 'brain drain' or initiating ‘talent wars’. Rather, the goal is to respect and support the aspirations of these remarkable students, many of whom already have a strong inclination to study in the UK. The BIG Programme provides them with the means to realise their ambitions.
Moreover, the BIG Programme is an investment in the global talent pipeline. The knowledge and innovations that these scholars will potentially create are not bound by geographical borders. Their future contributions to science, mathematics, and AI will have global implications, benefiting humanity at large.
14. What is the Global Talent Lab's role?
The Global Talent Lab (GTL) functions both as a charity and an academic institute, exploring how exceptional talent can serve as a catalyst for innovations and frontier science. Through the BIG Programme, GTL aims to support these talents, offering the resources, , and connections that they require to thrive.
The BIG Programme is based on original research by GTL, which highlights the existing gaps and opportunities in developing global talent. GTL’s involvement ensures that the scholarships are both evidence-based and aligned with the broader goal of maximising global talent potential.
15. How is XTX Markets supporting?
XTX Markets, a leader in algorithmic trading, is deeply committed to championing excellence in maths and science through its philanthropy. XTX Markets is making a founding donation to establish the BIG Programme, as well as providing strategic advice and support. XTX Markets is also sponsoring the 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad, which will be held in the UK.
16. What about the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s role?
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) aims to champion innovation that enhances public services, creates employment, and boosts economic growth.
DSIT's support for the BIG Programme reinforces the UK government's commitment to fostering an ecosystem of innovation. By supporting the initiative, DSIT emphasises the importance of attracting and nurturing top talent in the UK, which is a cornerstone for future scientific and technological advancements.
17. What is the long-term vision for the BIG Programme?
Beyond this pilot cohort, the BIG Programme is envisioned as an on-going programme and an enduring commitment to talent, ensuring that each year, promising students are furnished with the resources and opportunities they need to excel, ultimately propelling global advancements in science and mathematics.