For many students, being welcomed onto a University course is not the end – but just the beginning of their worries. Barriers to academic excellence come in many forms, but financial constraint is something many first-generation migrants, BAME, vulnerable or simply low socio-economic students, face daily. These students are forced to spend more time chasing income than they do studying or experiencing the many enriching activities and experiences university has to offer.  

“The first year was really hard actually, because the student finance wasn’t enough for me,” says Favour Ekengwu, a BSc Business Information student. 

Favour has had to support herself financially since she was 16, when she became estranged from her family – during this time, she also faced a period of homelessness. While most Freshers were out exploring London’s nightlife, Favour was busy clocking up the work hours necessary to fund her studies – regularly missing classes in the process. Obtaining a scholarship through Westminster and Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) PlayStation Career Pathways Program changed everything. 

“It gave me more time to prioritise and focus more on uni,” she says. 

As Favour has been able to study more and work less, her grades have gone up, and it has given her a chance to breath. 

An estimated 41% of UK student who, like Favour, are estranged from their families, say they have considered dropping out of their degrees altogether, due to the pressure they are under.  

Care leavers face similar obstacles, and many other students find themselves financially gridlocked throughout their university careers. As well as losing out academically, these students often cannot complete valuable internships, extra-curricular activities to elevate their employability, network professionally, or simply explore all that London – one of the world’s greatest cities – has to offer.

Here at Westminster, we want to do all we can to help them reach their full potential through alleviating their financial worries.

Examples of Westminster Scholarships 

Shaftsbury PLC 

In September 2021, Shaftesbury PLC, a FTSE 250-listed real estate investment trust awarded £30,000 – to be paid over two years – to support one student from a disadvantaged economic background, studying BSc Real Estate at Westminster. 

“Being selected as the first Shaftesbury scholar is a truly life-changing moment and I am still in complete shock and disbelief that this has happened to me,” commented Nathan Probert, the first ever recipient of the award. 

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) 

SIE’s PlayStation Career Pathways Programme aims to bring more Black and Mixed-Black students into tech, entertainment and gaming. This includes the Level-Playing Field Scholarships – open to all home Westminster students from Black or Mixed Black backgrounds with financial need, studying any Computer Science and Engineering undergraduate and postgraduate course. 

“I was really relieved,” says MSc Cyber Security and Forensics student, Abdul Ibrahim, who was awarded the Post Graduate Level-Playing Field Scholarship. “It removed the financial burden of the master’s degree, allowed me to enjoy university life even more and also work a lot harder at studies than I’ve been able to in the past.”  

Inclusive scholarship alumni: 

Mustapha Bittaye won a scholarship to leave The Gambia and study BSc Biomedical Sciences at Westminster. Now a Senior Scientist at Medicines Discovery Catapult, he was one of the key scientists involved in developing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the Jenner Institute. 

“I always say without the opportunity that Westminster gave me, without the potential that they saw in me, giving me that scholarship to come to the UK to follow my career – you know – things would have been different.” 

Rituja Rao could not have moved over from India to embark on her Journalism BA without a Westminster scholarship. Less than four years after graduating, she is a Senior Enterprise Project Manager at Deliveroo and an award-winning thought leader and advocate for women in tech. 

“I won’t stop talking about scholarships if we start – it’s supported me in such different aspects of my life.” 

How can you help? 

When it comes to supporting our inclusive scholarships, funders have complete flexibility as to what method, how much and for how long, they wish to contribute to a programme. For example, donors have the option to part-fund a scholarship, such as just paying tuition fees, or just paying maintenance costs. Alternatively, they can directly sponsor an individual scholar from their first, second or final year – in this, they can select scholars who have financial need, achieved particular grades, come from a particular country, or studying particular subjects.