Growing partnerships

Sir Alex Ferguson

The GCU Foundation has an important role to play in ensuring that finance is not a barrier to our students reaching their full potential. The significance of this work was heightened by the devastating impact COVID-19 had on young people.  

Nearly £10 million has been raised to date. In March over £300,000 was directed to support student hardship, which has been made worse by the pandemic.  

Founding Donor Sir Alex Ferguson CBE backed a scheme to help GCU graduates get a foot on the career ladder in the wake of the pandemic with £200,000 support for match-funded internships. With the Class of 2020 entering one of the toughest job markets on record, the Foundation and Alumni Team launched MINT – Mentoring, Internships, Networking and Talks in a bid to give our newest graduates and upcoming graduates the best possible chance of securing jobs.

In addition to Sir Alex, the scheme was backed by other notable GCU honorary graduates and alumni. Actor Martin Compston, Brian Duffy, CEO of Watches of Switzerland, British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn, and Katie Murray, Group Chief Financial Officer of RBS, were just some of the leaders in their field who supported the scheme.

To date over 1200 alumni and friends have generously volunteered to give back their time and expertise, with over 400 graduates of 2020 being paired with an industry mentor. More than 40 new graduates were placed on a match-funded internship and over 600 graduates and final-year students joined our Captains of Industry Talks series.

The loss of part-time jobs, digital exclusion and a sharp rise in the demand for mental health support meant many students found themselves overwhelmed by COVID’s impact on their futures. In November, the Foundation launched the Common Good Fund Campaign to raise money to help ease the added burden our students now bear.

Heritier Muhire

In addition, we signed a new three-year agreement with Santander Universities taking their total support for GCU to a staggering £1.4m. This important partnership has already benefitted more than 1000 students, staff and graduates at GCU.  

This year saw Santander go above and beyond, committing more than £80,000 in additional funds to provide hardship grants to help beneficiaries through the summer, technology grants for new students and funds to develop mental health training for staff in collaboration with Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).  

A special celebration event was held in October in which guests heard from beneficiaries such as Heritier Muhire, who set up a non-profit enterprise in Rwanda, employing local women to produce sanitary pads and soaps enabling them to access these products and earn an income. Thanks to additional support from Santander, he was able to adapt his business during the pandemic to produce reusable face masks, helping the enterprise to survive while working to curb the spread of COVID-19.

International Fashion brand Oh Polly is also backing new talent at GCU as part of a new three-year agreement to fund two scholarships each year for BAME students whilst the John Mather Charitable Trust is supporting four scholarships for nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds.