The UK’s largest purpose-built student accommodation provider, Unite Students, has donated a further £5 million to the Unite Foundation. The Foundation works with universities to provide accommodation and scholarships to talented and ambitious students lacking family support. The donation has been made in the form of an investment in the Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF), providing greater financial independence and securing the long term future of the Foundation.
The announcement was made by Joe Lister, Chief Finance Officer at Unite Students and a trustee of the Foundation, at a fundraiser held last night (14/06/16) and hosted by Unite Students as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.
So far, there have been 118 Unite Foundation students with a further 50 scholarship students currently being selected for the 2016/17 academic year. The first four students graduated last summer and a further 19 are expected to graduate later this year.
Philip Bakstad, Student Support Coordinator at Liverpool John Moores University, said: ‘We decided to partner the Unite Foundation because of the invaluable support the scholarships provide to some of the most vulnerable students accessing higher education. We are incredibly proud of our first cohort of students who will be graduating this summer. One of them is progressing on to teacher training and another is becoming a professional dancer. To graduate without family support is a real achievement and our Unite Foundation students therefore deserve special recognition. We are now assessing scholarship applications for the next academic year.’
Foundation scholar Emily Drew is due to graduate this summer after studying War Studies at King’s University, London. She spoke at the fundraising event and said: ‘The impact this scholarship has had on my academic ability and my life in general has been immense. It has provided me with a safe, comfortable and independent environment – a space I can call my own. And, most importantly, a space which isn’t going to sprout legs and run away.’
Joe Lister said: ‘The purpose of the Foundation goes way beyond levelling the playing field. It’s about investing in talent and ambition. The Foundation’s scholars are the teachers, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and artists of the future. They are the people who’ll make our world a better place. It’s important their talent doesn’t go to waste. These are special people who have achieved special things without the basic support that so many others are lucky to take for granted and the Foundation can help them keep going forwards.’
Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, said: ‘To celebrate our 21st anniversary in 2012 we decided to establish The Unite Foundation. And it’s fitting that at on our 25th anniversary we can make a greater commitment to the Foundation and celebrate and anticipate the successes of our graduates.’
All of the scholars are selected by their chosen universities. The Foundation currently works with 10 of the UK’s universities.
Designer Wayne Hemingway MBE is patron of the Foundation and said: ‘I will never forget the help in getting to university which I was lucky enough to get. But it’s not as though the problem has been fixed for today’s youngsters. There is always going to be that need to help some young people who have potential, but struggle with circumstances to make the most of themselves.’
It was while at University College London (UCL) in 1981 that Wayne launched Red or Dead with his girlfriend on a Camden market stall. UCL is one of the Foundation partner universities.