Sir Alex-backed university graduate scheme wins global award

Thu, 10 Jun 2021 11:53:00 BST
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson

A University scheme backed by Sir Alex Ferguson CBE to help graduates get a foot on the career ladder in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has won a global award.

Recognising that the pandemic created the hardest environment for new graduates for more than a generation, Glasgow Caledonian University last year launched MINT (Mentoring, Internships, Networking and Talks) in a bid to give them the best possible chance of securing employment.

In addition to Sir Alex, the scheme has been backed by other notable honorary graduates and alumni of GCU. Actor Martin Compston; Brian Duffy, CEO at Watches of Switzerland; Katie Murray, Group Chief Financial Officer at NatWest; Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO of Stemettes; and Mark Millar, President of Netflix’s Millarworld, are just some of some of the leaders in their field who signed up to participate.

And now the scheme has led to the University’s Foundation and Alumni Team winning a Circle of Excellence Grand Gold Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a global non-profit association dedicated to educational advancement.

Received in the Alumni Pivot category for demonstrating new, creative ways of performing alumni relations activities as a result of COVID-19, judges described the scheme as standing out from the field, choosing to award it a Grand Gold Award, the highest recognition they can offer for “exceptional or game changing” entries.

The MINT programme has now successfully supported more than 1400 graduates from the Class of 2020 and final-year students, pairing them with a relevant captain of industry, providing them with paid internships, or providing networking opportunities.

The programme was established with a £200,000 pot of philanthropic support from Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE. He said: “I have always been a champion of providing opportunities to young people and through the MINT Programme I hoped to give new graduates a helping hand as they enter a particularly challenging job market. It has been great to hear that so many new graduates have secured internships and, through hard work and determination, gone on to secure full-time employment in their chosen fields.”

Following the early success of the MINT Programme, it became a central focus of the University’s Common Good Campaign, which is raising financial and in-kind support for students. As well as bursaries to ease financial pressures, donations are helping to boost the number of internship opportunities established by Sir Alex, while in-kind support is providing guidance, support and mentorship for final-year students, connecting them with business leaders and alumni. To date more than £400,000 of financial support has been raised and over 1500 alumni and friends have given back in kind, donating their time and expertise.

Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, said; “The University is thrilled to receive the highest level of recognition within the Circle of Excellence Awards for our MINT Programme. It recognises the creativity of our Fundraising and Alumni Team, but, more importantly, the difference that can be made when people come together for the Common Good. During challenging times, the wider GCU community has done just that for our students.”

Jill Watt, Director of the University’s Foundation and Alumni Team, said: “The award is testament to the outstanding contribution our alumni, donors, honorary graduates and friends have made by backing, and getting involved in, the campaign to support our students. We are extremely grateful that, in the most challenging of times, they have given back so generously.”