Today the 2015–16 Ross-CASE Survey published landmark figures for the first time in the survey’s 15-year history. The figures show a significant milestone as donations to UK universities surpassed the £1 billion-a-year level for the first time. Sam Davies, Director of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at the University of Brighton, shared her perspective on donor support and the tangible impact philanthropy has on students.
“Back in February, I attended the university’s awards ceremony at the Brighton Centre. Attending these ceremonies is a very enjoyable part of my role as you get to see first-hand the joy of our newest graduates in achieving their academic ambitions – and indeed their family and friends celebrating these achievements.
“This time round, there was an extra-special element for me as the ceremony saw Virginia Mzunzu graduate as the first ever Forward Bound scholar with a Masters in Health Promotion. The Forward Bound Scholarship represents a significant milestone for the University of Brighton as it is the first fully funded scholarship made possible via private philanthropy. In the case of single awards, the scholar receives a fee waiver, catered accommodation, a weekly subsistence allowance, a return airfare and the costs associated with their visa and health surcharge. Although the financial elements are great, the impact of the award upon the recipients is so much bigger than the financial support they receive – put simply, the award recognises the scholar’s potential and inspires them to succeed.
“For Virginia, the impact was clear: ‘The scholarship gave me an opportunity to grow and develop myself academically and has also exposed me to a different culture – I have cherished every bit of it … My gratitude to the donors who made this possible cannot be overemphasised – they made my dream come true.’
“We look forward to hearing from Virginia in the weeks and months after her return to Malawi about her progress and her future career.
“In this way, the philanthropic support of a private individual (who has chosen to remain anonymous) has helped change someone’s life – and this change will be sustained as Virginia engages professionally in her home country and uses her experiences and knowledge to support her own community.
“But why might a private individual want to do this and why might they want to combine forces with the University of Brighton? To answer these questions and to promote the idea of supporting universities in this way, a short video was made – watch it here.
“The donor who made the Forward Bound scholarship a reality is delighted with how the scheme has developed. Our second Forward Bound scholar has been at the university for over six months now and we are now taking applications for year 3 of the programme.
“The important thing to emphasise here is that often it isn’t the value of awards or scholarships that makes the difference to the recipient. What is more important is that someone believes in them and wants to encourage them to bigger and better things. That sense of personal achievement is priceless and can be created through awards of all sizes.
“The university is always looking to work with alumni, friends, organisations and charitable bodies to establish new opportunities to create that sense of achievement amongst our student community.
“Ranging from our Breakthrough Awards (worth £1,000 per annum that reward our top performing undergraduate students in their course/area of interest), programmes like Forward Bound (providing £25,000 in scholarship funds for masters students from low and lower middle income countries), right through to PhD studentships that can be established by providing matched funding of up to £40,000 over three years – philanthropy can truly pack a punch and change the lives of our talented students!
“If you would like to find out more about how to inspire and encourage our students through an award or have some suggestions for potential donors, please call me on 01273 878382 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”