Features | By Jason Barlow

Alumni donate £120,000 to current students


This spring, after a two-year hiatus, the City and Bayes Future Fund telephone campaign returned. A team of student ambassadors embarked upon it with nervous trepidation.


How would their calls be received in a world that felt so different? Would fundraising for student facing projects still be seen as a priority? We need not have worried because our alumni have done us proud – raising a total of £120,000.


Generous donations from alumni have come to the aid of hundreds of students struggling financially with the rising cost of living. Whether it is help with rent and household bills, or food and travel costs, or essential IT equipment, the donations given allow current students to pursue their studies focused and free from major money concerns. Here are two examples that illustrate the difference alumni are making.


Anushka, a BSc Criminology student, encountered difficulties towards the tail-end of the pandemic lockdown last year. Unable to return to her home country because of Covid-19 restrictions, her finances were stretched to the limit. Despite working the full quota of hours she was legally allowed as an international student, she was on the verge of becoming homeless. An award from Student Support allowed her to maintain her rent for a further two months before she was able to return home and pick up her studies virtually.


Anushka told us: “It is immensely frightening to be away from the safety net of your family, yet the award allowed me to stay afloat. In short, in not only saved my studies, but also prevented me from goodness knows what.”


Leroy, a third year BSc Business Studies student at Bayes had a very different issue. When his laptop gave up the ghost approaching his final exams, he panicked. Despite working two part-time jobs, he was, nevertheless, reliant upon his overdraft. Not able to afford a new laptop, essential for completing essays and attending online lectures, City’s Student Support gave him the necessary grant to remedy that situation.


Many alumni have chosen to donate to the City Cares programme and through their support, it continues to flourish and make a difference to the lives of students. A greater number of care-experienced students, estranged students and young carers now have the necessary financial and pastoral support packages in place when they arrive at City. This gives them a much-needed sense of security and the confidence to embark upon their studies with the realisation that they will not only be able to graduate, but also envisage the boundless opportunities that Higher Education makes possible. Indeed, over the past decade, programmes like ours have started to show a positive impact on the numbers of young people who have grown up in care finding their way into Higher Education. Thanks to our alumni, horizons grow wider, ambitions are forged and difficult starts in life no longer dictate destinations.


It is not just the students who are impacted. Our alumni’s vital support also means City’s Aphasia Clinic can continue to carry out its ground-breaking and life-enhancing work. Aphasia, a condition that affects language and speech, often following a stroke, affects over 350,000 people in the UK. Yet, through the Clinic’s innovative therapies, those suffering from this most debilitating of conditions, gradually begin to reclaim their ability to communicate, be this reading, writing or speaking.


And, of course many of the alumni who took part will no doubt realise that it is about much more than the money raised. Over 1,200 alumni have taken the time out of their busy schedules to speak, mentor and inspire our current students and give them a helping hand towards their first professional positions.

Gesmina Tsourrai in the Pavilion on Northampton Square.

Gesmina Tsourrai, a MA International Politics and Human Rights student and also the new President of the Students’ Union, took part in this campaign. She told us “it was an extraordinary privilege to speak to so many of the University’s alumni. The number of fascinating stories and journeys that I got to learn about was an education in itself.

“In fact, it almost felt like an extra module to my degree and the generosity of our alumni was truly heart-warming. It is so clear that, despite the lingering pandemic and the rising cost of living, that City’s alumni still regard education as a priority.”


Indeed, with the return of our telephone campaigns, it is very clear, that although the world has changed immensely in the past few years, a degree, with the ambitions and opportunities and skills that it enables, is still as important as ever.


To every single one of our alumni who took part in the spring telephone campaign, be this through a donation or through the imparting of an inspirational story or a piece of advice, we at City will be forever grateful.

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