Oxford student aiming to crowdfund her master's degree hits back at critics for calling her a 'posh brat'

Emily-Rose Eastop was accepted on an MSc course but had been unable to find the £26,000 needed for her degree

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The Independent Online

A student who was inundated with negative feedback after setting up a crowdfunding site for her master's degree has written a response defending her actions.

Oxford student Emily-Rose Eastop, 26, was branded a "posh brat" when she resorted to crowdfunding through Hubbub, after struggling to find a job with a 2:1 degree in Human Sciences.

She was accepted onto the MSc course in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology (also at Oxford University) but had been unable to find the money to pay the £26,000 cost of tuition and living expenses. Writing in The Telegraph, she said: "We know that there's a willingness to help people. If the online community is prepared to fund a potato salad, or a pizza museum, then why not a masters degree?"

Ms Eastop has since accepted assistance from over 200 financial backers, several of whom are leading scientists, such as Douglas Hofstadter and Stephen Pinker.

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She wrote: "I will be communicating everything I learn during the course of my masters - so they can learn it, too. Those people who don't find my motivation compelling enough? They're not the kind of people I'm expecting to get involved in the first place."

Despite the number of people willing to contribute towards Ms Eastop's degree, she has also been surprised by the negative backlash.

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Despite the number of people willing to contribute towards Ms Eastop's degree, she has also been surprised by the negative backlash

"Comments like 'get a job like the rest of us and save up' display a complete lack of subtlety of thought. For one thing, getting a job is not an easy task," she said.

"How much would I have to be earning per year to put away the £26,000 I need for my masters, even living at home with my parents?"

Speaking to The Independent, Ms Eastop said: It's a bit of an artefact, this new round of animosity. The Daily Mail, and others, latched onto this phrase "posh brat", which they took from a blog post I myself wrote. In other words, they quoted me quoting someone else - someone who had been nasty the first time I plugged my campaign on my page.

"The last few times I've plugged my appeal on IFHP (my science and scepticism page), most of the comments have been extremely encouraging. I do a lot of work for it, and most people appreciate this and approve of what we (me and a boy from Ohio) are doing. The naysayers are a tiny minority, but a disproportionately vocal minority, which skews the picture."

Jonathan May, 30, founded Hubbub in 2011 as a crowdfunding site with a particular focus on education in order to take advantage of an "existing network of support from colleagues, students, parents and teachers".

"It gives people the resources they need," he told The Independent, "so the negative response to Emily-Rose's crowdfunding is quite sad.

"There's a lot of bitterness that's born out of a recessionary cycle, but we all know that debt is not particularly good for the economy. So far Hubbub has supported around 150 young people with their education, which is very inspiring."

Ms Eastop concluded her Telegraph piece by suggesting that the message on her crowdfunding page "sums up" her attitude to the project.

"The above comments ridiculing you inspired me to donate. It's one pound and may give you a kickstart into a truly wonderful time here on earth in your existence. I am a little envious that you are such a free spirit, have the world at your whim and a bright, bright future. I can only speculate the others see that too, and in their jealousy wish to deny you this tiniest bit of assistance. F*** it, I'm jealous too but it's time to crawl beyond the caveman phase of 'I need all the resources!' and start helping each other. Best of luck."

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