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The University of the Highlands and Islands Student Development Fund is celebrating its tenth birthday.
Launched in October 2009, it has supported mroethan 400 students to take advantage of personal development opportunities in connection with their course that would otherwise be missed due to financial constraints.
To mark the occasion the university has created an online gallery of recipients from across the partnership to share their personal journeys.
Speaking about his experience, Matthew Snape, a Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) UHI graduate from Stockport, Cheshire said: ‘I studied a BSc Marine Science in Oban.
‘As a mature student I did not qualify for student finance from the government or the university. Without the support of the Student Development Fund, I would have been unable to complete my degree.
‘With the support of the student development fund I earned a first-class degree and was able to attend a summer school on Mediterranean Ecology in France and an Erasmus semester on Arctic Environmental Management in Svalbard.’
Alison Wilson, head of development at the university reflects on how donations transform students’ lives: ‘This milestone is an ideal time to reflect on what the fund has accomplished. Grants totalling over £165,000 have now been awarded, made possible by kind donations from businesses and individuals. The impact of those gifts has been huge. They have helped our students to feel supported, encouraged, and motivated to succeed. They have provided unforgettable development experiences, opened minds to new ideas and helped develop connections with new people and places. They have allowed students to work in local communities and on research contributing to global social issues.
‘Looking to the future, we want to continue to help many more students access unique learning experiences and we can only do so by securing new donors to fund future rounds of support for our students. No matter what size of donation, it really makes a difference and if any local business or individual feels they would like to help in some small way I’d be delighted to hear from them.’
Dedicated donor Thomas Prag, who received an award for 10 years of regular giving to the fund said: ‘It came as a bit of a surprise to find out that my regular small donation had been going for so long, but perhaps that’s the point – £5 or £10 a month is relatively painless and builds up, if enough of us do it.
‘I particularly like being involved in helping students do things outside their course work – it’s what being at university is all about.”
To find out more about making a donation please get in touch with the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the website www.uhi.ac.uk/en/development