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34 York Opportunity

Scholarships awarded in 2018

Over 300 applications

were received

Only 1 in 10

students could be funded

We need your help to open the doors to a brighter future for those students who have overcome the most significant barriers to their education.

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“You are immediately helping someone who's in the University now and you're making a difference to them now. You're helping people have opportunities. You're helping make University more accessible.”

Beth Turner, 1st year BSc Environmental Geography

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What is the York Opportunity Scholarship?

Beth and Stephen, York Opportunity Scholars

Peter Whelpton studied Economics at York between 1966 and 1969. He believed that students from all backgrounds should have the chance to access higher education. He established the York Opportunity Scholarship in his lifetime, and wanted the work to continue after he died.

The York Opportunity Scholarship provides financial support of £1,100 for three years of undergraduate study to students like Stephen and Beth, alleviating the pressure that so many students from under-represented groups face both before and during university.

How can I support students at York?

We are hoping to raise a further £65,000 this year to fund an additional 20 York Opportunity Scholarships. If we reach this target we will be able to build on Peter’s legacy by supporting more students who are facing significant challenges than ever before. We know that students who are supported at university are twice as likely to complete their studies as those students who are not.

Every penny of your donation goes directly towards students facing barriers to education. By donating today, you can help unlock opportunities and open doors for York’s most deserving students.

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York Opportunity Scholar Joanna volunteering at the International Students’ Café

Why should I support the York Opportunity Scholarship?

Students from under-represented backgrounds attending our latest summer school

For many students from under-represented backgrounds, applying to university can be an incredibly difficult decision. Right now, hundreds of students each year at York aren’t getting the financial support they need to overcome the barriers that they face.

Peter Whelpton sadly passed away in 2017 but left a legacy donation that would ensure his work to provide equal access to education would continue at York. For the first time in 2018/19, we invited the alumni community to come together to support students like Stephen Donegan, whose story you can read about below. The incredible generosity shown means that we were able to support 34 students – double the support that we were able to offer in 2017/18. 

Stephen's Story

After growing up as a carer for his mum, Stephen always dreamed of becoming a scientist. York’s Foundation Year course meant that Stephen could attend university without traditional A-level qualifications.

In 2018 Stephen began a Physics degree at York and thanks to the generosity of the university’s alumni he was awarded a York Opportunity Scholarship. The Scholarship meant that Stephen didn’t have to choose between paying the bills and full-time study.

"The York Opportunity Scholarship provides the financial and emotional support that so many of us have never had. Before I received the Scholarship, there was one Christmas that was particularly lean; I had to use the foodbank more than once. 

One thing more than any else that is prevalent in my mind is that someone has given money to the University of York directly to support me and that's a very special feeling." 

Please will you donate today to help create an additional 20 life-changing York Opportunity Scholarships for students starting at York in September?

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Stephen and Isaac in Scarborough, 2018

Who can apply for this scholarship?

  • Those living in, or those who have lived in, local authority care.
  • Those from a minority ethnic group.
  • Those with a disability.
  • Those from a low-income household.

The York Opportunity Scholarship

The scholarship has been established to provide support to talented students who have the academic potential to study at York and who have faced significant barriers to their educational goals.

The scholarships are open to applications from students starting an undergraduate degree in September 2019.

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“The difference the York Opportunity Scholarship will make is simply the ability to devote myself fully to my studies. No need to worry about money, no food banks, no need to work long hours at part-time jobs during term time.”

Stephen Donegan, 1st year BSc Physics 

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Last year, there were over 300 applicants yet sufficient funds for only 34 scholarships.

That means that, right now, nine out of every ten applicants are unsuccessful.

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If you are in a position to consider funding a full scholarship, please contact Tom Piercy, Head of Fundraising Programmes.