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A gift of £900,000 supports students from less privileged backgrounds

 November 14, 2011 | Simon Jenkins

Students from less privileged backgrounds will receive £9,000 during the first year of their studies at the University of Leeds, thanks to a gift of £900,000 from Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay.

His gift will provide scholarships of up to £6,000 to students from low-income backgrounds, who achieve A-level grades of at least ABB and a place at the University through its pioneering “Access to Leeds” scheme. These scholarships will be in addition to bursaries given directly by the University, meaning these students will receive £9,000 in year one of their studies – the equivalent of their tuition fees from 2012. In subsequent years of study, they will continue to receive a bursary of £3,000.

Access to Leeds works with local schools and communities to encourage young people to aim high. Students from underprivileged backgrounds who successfully complete its educational support programme and a special assignment during their years 12 and 13 of study are given an admissions offer two A-level grades lower than the standard – for example ABB rather than AAA.

The programme has won national acclaim and has been adopted by other leading universities, its success demonstrated by the fact that Access to Leeds students who subsequently came to Leeds went on to achieve average grades at least as high as their classmates. From 2012, students who achieve ABB and win a place through the scheme are now eligible for enhanced financial support, thanks to Lord Laidlaw, himself a Leeds graduate.

Lord Laidlaw has committed to give a further £250,000 to support Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarships for arts students. Under the scheme, undergraduates join major research projects during their summer holidays, mentored by leading academics.

Explaining his latest donation, Lord Laidlaw said: “I know how much I benefited from a university education. My time at Leeds was both enjoyable and the foundation stone of my subsequent career.  Access to Leeds is a wonderful scheme, giving young people an opportunity to fulfil their potential – and I am delighted to be able to offer financial support to those most needing it.”

A gift of £900,000 supports students from less privileged backgrounds