Published on 18 May 2023
Two students studying at the University of Sunderland have been awarded a life-changing £30,000 each by Santander Universities. They will be supported over the next three years up to their graduations in 2025.
Sasha Kilminster (24), and Leanne Pearce (29) are being supported over the next three years by the Santander Universities Scholars Programme with funding, employability training and development sessions and a dedicated mentor to guide them through their studies.
Sasha, from Gateshead, is in the first year of her Business and Marketing Management degree. She says she wanted to study at Sunderland, after the course was highly recommended by friends, but decided to wait while she started her own business. She is already planning what to do after she graduates.
She says: “I hope to do a Masters degree in marketing after I graduate, and then I am aiming to go into social media and digital marketing. I already have a small business on Etsy, so I would be looking to take that further.”
Her business, Desirable Darling, sells stickers and personalised gifts, such as Keyrings, mugs and bookmarks.
“I started off selling art prints in June 2020 and it’s actually what made me want to go to university and do a degree.
“The Santander Universities Scholars Programme is a great opportunity to get some extra support through my course. I’m able to focus on my personal development alongside my degree with someone who is dedicated to helping me.”
Leanne Pearce is originally from Reading, but is now based in Jarrow, and is in the first year of a Cosmetic Science degree.
Leanne says: “I chose to study at Sunderland because it was one of the only places that offered the course I wanted to do, they also offered a foundation year which was helpful as I had been out of education for nine years.
“I applied for the Santander scholarship because I thought that the support and different programs for employability and studying sounded amazing. The financial help will help me massively with the cost of living. So, I will be spending some of it on boring stuff such as rent and bills, but I also now have the opportunity to look into other programs to help with studying or learn something new.
“I am so glad I went for it, and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.”
Sasha added: “I'm going to keep researching opportunities for the following years to see what else I can invest in for myself and my future. The Santander scholarship has really given me something to strive for. Knowing what your goals are and what you want makes it easier to make a plan and not waste your time, money, and this amazing opportunity.”
The Santander Universities Scholars Programme is a UK-wide initiative that will support 100 current full-time undergraduate students who are due to graduate in 2025, and who identify as part of an underrepresented group throughout the duration of their studies. They will receive consistent funding over three academic years, a series of employability training and development sessions, and a dedicated mentor to guide them through their programme.
This flagship multi-million-pound programme forms a central part of Santander UK’s new education and skills strategy, launched by Santander UK Chairman, William Vereker in November 2022.
Speaking of the programme Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, said: “At Santander Universities, we believe that education is today’s solution to a prosperous tomorrow. Through the Santander Universities Scholars Programme, we’re committed to helping students from under-represented backgrounds overcome challenges and reach their full potential.
“Not only will we be providing regular funding over the next two and a half years, we’ll also be supporting them with a programme of training, development and networking opportunities aimed at developing their skills and helping them build brighter futures.”
Santander Universities has developed the new scholars’ programme to break down barriers for students who are most likely to face challenges in higher education. The initiative provides funding to support them through to graduation, alongside training opportunities to develop their potential and help them build brighter futures.