Santander Universities has renewed its support for Aston University’s work helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get in to university, following the signing a three-year partnership worth £150,000.

The funding will be used by Aston to provide further support for students from challenging backgrounds who are interested in university, as well as enabling them to have an international mobility experience such as a placement abroad, helping to enhance their employability and global acumen.

The partnership forms part of Santander Universities’ strategy, which focusses on three core themes: education, entrepreneurship and employability with a strong emphasis on social mobility in each.

The funding will go towards activities aimed at contributing to these themes. Additionally this year the university once again received an extra £25,000 to help small and medium-sized businesses in the West Midlands take on interns from the university. 

Aston was also awarded a grant of £50,000 as part of the Santander Universities Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund. The funding will help support aspiring student entrepreneurs, including a hackathon event dubbed the ‘Birmingham Youth Challenge’. The event, which took place between 12 and 14 October and was ran in partnership with Santander Universities and charity partner Barnardo’s, was designed to help students develop their entrepreneurial mindset by thinking up novel ways to tackle youth unemployment, one of the biggest problems facing the region.

Across the weekend, 50 students collaborated alongside expert mentors to come up with creative solutions to the biggest problems faced by local young people. The students benefited from the entrepreneurial and professional experience of representatives from Barnardo’s and other prominent local youth agencies, including Beatfreeks, Imani Academy, and UpRising. The continuation of this support will be delivered, with partner Edvent, via two business accelerator programmes (dubbed the Apollo programme), which will support Aston students in turning their business ideas into reality.

Professor Helen Higson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said:

“I am thrilled that we have been able to renew our strong partnership with Santander Universities. Their vision focussing on education, entrepreneurship and employability aligns very closely with our own and it is thanks to their generous funding that we have been able to reach so many more disadvantaged young people.”

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, said:

“Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK. We are proud to continue our partnership with Aston University for a further three years and delighted to have attended the launch of their new programme of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise activity which will inspire entrepreneurial thinking and potentially create the new business leaders of the future.”

Santander, through its Santander Universities division, maintains partnerships with over 1,200 academic institutions in 20 countries. Santander Universities was introduced in the UK in 2007 and the bank is already collaborating with over 80 British Universities and Higher Education Institutions, with agreements focused on promoting international exchange, entrepreneurial activities and the mobility of students and researchers within the network.