Santander agreement May 2018. L-R: Rachel Brown, Jerry Roberts, Remy Foucher (Santander), Dafydd Moore, Kevin Jones.

A relationship that benefits students, business and the regional economy has entered a new phase with the signing of an extended partnership between the University and Santander.

The partnership was marked with a celebration event on campus, hosted by University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise Professor Jerry Roberts, and attended by Universities Relationship Manager Remy Foucher from Santander. The agreement will see support from Santander Universities continue for a further three years.

Since beginning in 2011, the partnership has provided a range of opportunities to students, helping prepare them for life after university. Through participation in national contests like the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, students in all subjects and from all backgrounds gain experience in business, and a crucial advantage in the jobs market.

This year, for the second year in a row, the University’s two entrants in the Awards both made it through to the semi-finals.

Santander has funded scholarships and bursaries, grants, prizes and careers initiatives at the University, supporting entrepreneurial skill development for students. The assistance it gives budding entrepreneurs is delivered in collaboration with the University’s Formation Zone business incubator, Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) and commercial arm, Enterprise Solutions.

A funded internship programme has benefited small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) regionally as well as the students involved, while initiatives like The Starting Post, Plymouth’s only start-up business network give a boost to the local business community.

Santander staff frequently present guest lectures and run workshops for students, and participate in competitions as judges or mentors, and the bank has a branch in the University’s main Plymouth city centre campus.

Speaking at the event, Professor Roberts said: “This agreement has been operating for some time, and the reason we’ve been so keen to see it continue is that it has been so successful in the past.

“The agreement particularly supports students from widening participation backgrounds, increasing the opportunities they have in so many different ways.

“It’s also important because part of a university career, in addition to getting all sorts of other skills, is to acquire employability. And what better way of doing that than working with communities such as Santander, who employ not only our students, but also have really close relationships with a whole range of businesses in the local area.

“I look forward to the next few years in the relationship.”

Matt Hutnell, Director for Santander Universities UK could not be present, but said: “Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. I am delighted to partner for a further three years with the University of Plymouth and very much look forward to this relationship developing further in the coming years.”

Paul Bird of Bird Sunglasses, which came second in last year’s national Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, attended the event. He said: “Santander were really helpful, and gave us lots of good advice. The great thing is that if there’s anything you’re not sure about you can just ask and they will help. They want you to do well, in the competition and afterwards.”

Santander, through its Santander Universities division, maintains partnerships with over 1,200 academic institutions in 20 countries. Santander Universities was introduced in the UK in 2007 and the bank is already collaborating with over 80 British Universities and Higher Education Institutions, with agreements focused on promoting international exchange, entrepreneurial activities and the mobility of students and researchers within the network.