Students at the University of Plymouth can look forward to a further three years of supported international study, and entrepreneurial and employment opportunities following the renewal of the institution’s partnership with Santander Universities.
The University will receive £147,000 from the philanthropic programme to fund projects, such as travel scholarships, employment career grants and entrepreneurship grants for graduate start-up companies.
At a virtual signing ceremony, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Judith Petts CBE, and Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, inked the agreement to signal the ongoing partnership.
And the announcement also marked ten years of Plymouth first becoming a member of Santander’s global network, during which time, hundreds of students and alumni have accessed more than one million pounds in funding support.
“Membership of the Santander Universities network has enabled our students to expand their horizons, undertake personal and professional development, and launch new businesses.said Professor Petts.
"It has also benefited our graduates, who can take advantage of events and programmes that support their career ambitions and aspirations. So we are delighted to be renewing our partnership with Santander, and look forward to many more successes in the years ahead.”
Among those forthcoming events include a Female Entrepreneur Awards, which will offer workshops, one-to-one support and a £5,000 prize fund. Santander is also supporting an employment scheme that will place students on work experience with local SMEs. And running through all of them will be a continuing commitment to widening participation and supporting students from priority backgrounds, with an aim to improve aspiration and social mobility.
Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, said:
“Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. We’re proud to continue our partnership with the University of Plymouth for a further three years to ensure we can work together in providing even more opportunities which will benefit both students and the local community, particularly during this challenging time.”
The value of the Santander support was demonstrated again in March with an inaugural Dragon’s Den event that showcased six innovative graduate start-up companies in sectors as diverse as food, fitness, environmental health and recycling, and travel.
Run by the University’s student business creation and growth service, The Cube, the event invited the entrepreneurs to pitch to the Dragons and field questions about their strategy and the market. And after an intense competition, joint winners were announced: NurdleCoasts CIC (Joshua Beach), which conducts beach cleans and upcycles the plastic into phone cases, and Cruisy Campers (Justin Wright and Hannah Gaunt), a campervan conversion and rental start-up.
The two companies shared the £10,000 prize fund and also received a year’s free subscription to the Devon & Plymouth Chambers of Commerce and three months free membership to the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. All the finalists received a complementary ticket to the South West Innovation Expo.
Rachel Brown, Head of Development and Alumni Relations, said:
“This is the first time the University has staged a Dragon’s Den like this, and that demonstrates how responsive Santander Universities has been. The pandemic has obviously reduced the amount our students can travel, but we’ve been able to re-allocate funding to other priority areas, such as supporting our entrepreneurial graduates.”