New University of Aberdeen students who are facing severe financial hardship due to the ongoing global pandemic have been thrown a lifeline thanks to the huge generosity of alumni from around the world.
One hundred and seventy five successful applicants from Scotland and the rest of the UK will each receive a one-off payment of £525 to help with the initial cost of attending the University when they join in September.
Alumni were quick to respond to an appeal, launched by the University’s Development Trust at the end of April, donating much needed funds to help students in need.
The Covid-19 525 Bursary Fund had an initial target of £150,000 but, thanks to the alumni response and a generous legacy donation, the fund currently stands at just over £180,000. The target has recently been increased to £200,000 to allow even more students to benefit.
Sally Middleton, Access & Articulation Manager, said there were concerns some students from disadvantaged backgrounds would not be able to start University this year due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
Many of those who applied for the fund cited examples of having themselves lost their much-needed part-time jobs, loss of family income and, in some cases, suffering bereavement. The bursary money will go towards the cost of starting at University, which might include the purchase of essential IT equipment, or the paying of rent, bills or travel.
Sally described the success of the 525 Covid-19 Widening Access Bursaries as ‘bitter-sweet’.
“On the one hand I am delighted at the response of our alumni to the fundraising call and the speed and number of applications we have received but, on the other hand, this reflects a massive need from the new members of our Aberdeen Family,” she said.
“Reading the applications was personally haunting, the stories being told of the effect of Covid-19 on both personal and family finances were difficult enough, but the emotional effects and devastating tragedies made harrowing reading.
“I am so very grateful to all who donated to this appeal which has allowed us to have been able to help so many offer holders already and to have the ability to continue to do so over the summer and beyond.”
Rob Donelson, Executive Director of Advancement, said his team had been overwhelmed by the support shown by the Aberdeen family in such a short space of time.
“This has been a huge year for the University in lots of ways, not least because we are celebrating our 525th anniversary,” he said.
“Our alumni have always shown great generosity and benevolence, and we have been delighted, but not surprised, by their support and kindness, which will have a major impact on the lives and studies of many who would have struggled to even get here in the first instance. We are very grateful to them.”
Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, described 2020 as one of the most challenging in the University’s history.
“In 1495, our foundational purpose was to be ‘open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others’. We are committed to upholding this principle throughout these challenging times,” he said.
“The extraordinary circumstances brought about by Covid-19 have impacted us all and our students, in particular, have been especially impacted financially. In the weeks ahead, we will be working hard to ensure that they all have the support they need and that no one is disadvantaged.”
The University will continue to award bursaries throughout the summer. Alumni who would like to donate to the University of Aberdeen Covid-19 525 Bursary Fund, can do so by clicking here.