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The Footsteps Fund

Watch the video where recipients of Footsteps Fund support talk about the difference this has made to their studies at Leeds

The Footsteps Fund

The Footsteps Fund was founded on the principle that all outstanding students should have the opportunity to benefit from, and make the most of, their experience at Leeds, regardless of their background.

Supported by alumni and friends of the University, the fund supports initiatives that enhance the student experience and provides scholarships to hundreds of students annually to enable them to take up their hard earned place.

Since 2004, nearly 16,000 people have donated a total of over £7 million through Footsteps Fund appeals and during telephone calls with current students on campus.

Donations to the Footsteps Fund have an invaluable impact on our current students and the wider community:

  • Student Undergraduate Scholarships are funded by alumni and supporter donations to the Footsteps Fund. These scholarships are worth £3,000 each year for undergraduate students, who might not have been able to take up their place without financial support. Such students come from low income backgrounds, and may have been in care, or carers for family members. Some of these students are the first in their family to go to university or may be estranged. Your support help to alleviate the financial barriers which may stop these students from aspiring to go into further education.

  • Leeds Masters Scholarships are worth £5,000 and enable students whose financial circumstances would otherwise prevent them from studying at a postgraduate level. Your donations enable students to equip themselves to excel in an economy that is becoming progressively more competitive, and able to take advantage of potential career opportunities.

Your support also enables students to make the most of their time at Leeds. Some great examples include…

  • Our sector leading Plus Programme, an extra support scheme available to students who have entered the University through specific access routes, including scholarship recipients. The Plus Programme ensures that every student has access to all opportunities at Leeds and helps them achieve everything they want out of their University experience. This includes providing support as they settle into, progress through and graduate from university and onto further education and the graduate market.
  • Our hugely successful Lifestyle & Wellbeing Programme. Created to support students who for varying reasons attend student counselling, this is a collaborative project between the Student Counselling Centre and Sport & Physical Activity takes a holistic approach to wellbeing, focusing on both physical and mental health. In 2018-19, thanks to this support, 183 students accessed the programme.
  • The Leeds for Life programme which equips students with the skills they need for life beyond Leeds. For some students, taking part in extra-curricular and voluntary activities requires money they just don’t have. The Leeds for Life grants level the playing field for those students; even though they may not have the financial support available to them, they can still undertake projects which will be developmental for them and beneficial to the community.
  • The University’s Crowdfunding platform which aims to empower students to fundraise for projects which will help them make the most of their time at Leeds. Your support provides small match-funding grants to eligible projects to enable them to reach their full potential.

Your support also provides additional opportunities for students to make a wider impact on the Leeds community, including:

  • The Writing Back Programme, which connects lonely and elderly people with penpals in order to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.
  • The Gryphons in the Community project, which places sport students into the Leeds community, providing support and guidance in sport and physical activity to groups who might not have the ability to access these activities.

Supporters have also helped to fund campus developments to ensure Leeds students have the best facilities available. This includes the Laidlaw Library, built to facilitate 21st century learning. The library also houses a wall of thanks representing over 2,300 supporters of the project. Footsteps Fund supporters have also helped to fund the Union Upgrade, to improve the facilities which have been at the heart of student life for generations.

The fund has also helped our world-class researchers take the next vital steps towards extraordinary discoveries.

The University continues to research the revolutionary method of targeting of brain cancer by means of viral therapy, advancing treatment for this terrible disease. Your contribution to incredible research also supports the innovative research into Microbubbles, which aims to transform the way cancer drugs are delivered. 

More recently, supporters of the University have helped to progress innovative research into robotic stroke rehabilitation treatment. You can read the latest update about how donations have enabled students to gain essential research experience, whilst allowing the project to keep on developing with fresh new ideas and enthusiasm, creating a more engaging and cost effective system here.


By including a gift to the University in your Will, you could help us to nurture the people, generate the ideas and make the discoveries that will change our world for the better. To find out more about this very special way of supporting the University’s work, click here.

Making a World of Difference



Student support

Lifestyle and wellbeing

2020 Student Support Fund

Ben Kew

Ben Kew (Food Science 2019) tells how a Footsteps Fund scholarship enabled him to change his life.

Leeds to New York

Donations to the Footsteps Fund allowed a diverse group of Leeds students to meet business and civic leaders and University alumni in Leeds and New York as they tackled the question of "What makes a Smart City?".

Rowing Club

Dan Grant, Head of Rowing at the University of Leeds, talks about the support which the rowing club received through the Footsteps Fund - and how the new boathouse on the Aire and Calder Navigation in South Leeds is helping the club to achieve new heights and involve more students in the sport.

Professor Mark Kearney

Mark Kearney, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leeds talks about the support his department received from Footsteps Fund Donors, and how this has allowed him to appoint a new PhD student to research links between cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Bhavisha Kukadia

Bhavisha has received two scholarships - a Centenary Alumni Scholarship funded by Roger Marsh (Metallurgy 1976), and an Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship funded by Irvine Laidlaw (Economics 1963). Here she talks about how her research has allowed her to experience interdisciplinary working - and explains the value which your gifts can make to a student’s time both at Leeds and beyond.

Community film-making

A group of Leeds students made this film before heading out to South Africa on an international development project, supported by the Footsteps Fund. Their project is working to engage with disadvantaged young people in Johannesburg through the medium of video, while the Leeds students gain leadership skills and develop their understanding of their place in a global community.

Samuel Taylor

Sociology student Samuel Taylor received support from the Footsteps Fund to enable him to spend a year's placement working with the mental health charity Mind. Here he talks about the benefits which this brought to his own time at University and why he is now a member of the fund's call team, working to bring the same experiences to others.

Thomas Goodfellow

Tom always dreamed of studying Aerospace Engineering - he loved the idea of sending something into space! But because he thought jobs in that field were scarce, he didn’t apply for it straight away. Funded by Footsteps Fund donors, a Centenary Alumni Scholarship gave Tom the confidence to take a risk, and apply for the course he really wanted.

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