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Businesses help Ulster University to award 86 Community Scholarships supporting students to access higher education

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Ulster University

8th Dec 2022

Last week, Ulster University welcomed the donors and partners to a celebratory event at the new Belfast campus, where the Community Scholars were formally awarded their scholarships.

The Ulster University Development and Alumni Relation Office is working with partners Ulster Garden Villages Limited, SHS Group, Aflac Northern Ireland, Garfield Weston Foundation, Allen & Overy, Northern Ireland Office and the Irish American Partnership, to support over 160 students over five years.

These scholarships aim to address this inequality by supporting those students, who have faced challenges on their educational journey, with potential and ambition who may be discouraged from going to university simply due to financial barriers. The impact of the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis on our most disadvantaged communities means such scholarships are needed more than ever to ensure progression to higher education and the life-changing opportunities this can bring to peoples’ lives.

Ulster University has awarded 47 Community Scholarships to students starting at the university in September 2022, removing the financial barriers that prevent many from accessing higher education. The scholarships provide between £2,000-£3,000 a year for each year of their degree (placement year excluded).

This builds on the inaugural year (2021), when 39 students were awarded these life-changing community scholarships to enter first year at Ulster University, bringing a total of 86 students to now have availed of these scholarships over the last two years.

Chris Lillie, Group HR Director, SHS Group said:

“The SHS Group is supporting the Community Scholarships as we recognise the importance of diversity in education, workplace and society as a whole. We understand the benefits that different perspectives bring and know that these can help find innovative solutions to challenges.  We believe we have a responsibility to advocate for change, and by acting to reduce social inequality and improve access to education we are making good on our commitment to drive diversity in the future workforce.”

Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice-Chancellor, Ulster University, said:
“At Ulster University, we believe that higher education should be accessible to everyone. A university experience can immeasurably benefit our students and advance the social progress of our most disadvantaged communities, leading to a more inclusive, equitable and confident society.  
“Building on the success of our work with schools to inspire young people to progress to higher education, we want to be instrumental in breaking the cycle of educational underachievement. These scholarships are now more important than ever given the impact of the pandemic on young peoples’ learning experiences and also given the rise in living costs. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners these scholarships will help students from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds to access the qualifications, experience and skills that will enable them to fulfil their potential.” 

Jodie McCord, 2nd year, BA Hons English with Edu (Coleraine) is one of the students to have benefitted and shared her story at the scholarship event:

“I am very proud to be where I am today. In primary school I was never able to do well regardless of how hard I tried. I was in the bottom classes for every subject, and I was told that I had no hope of doing the AQE. Until the middle of secondary school, I was the girl with no confidence. 

“In Year 11, I started to receive tutoring, and with this, I slowly started to make my way up from the bottom of my classes.  I pushed on and made sure I proved everyone wrong.  Now I am studying to become a teacher.  I want to help children in the way I would have liked to have been helped myself.

“Without this life-changing scholarship, I would not have been able to progress to university. It has made the world of difference to me,
supporting my goal to become the best teacher I can be, helping future generations on their often-challenging educational journeys.”

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For further information on how businesses can support Community Scholarships at Ulster University, visit