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A University of Opportunity

50% increase in

scholarships applications in 22/23

In 2022

1 in 37 students in the UK left university before completion


of students are doing paid work


of students believed their academic performance has suffered because of financial stress

What is the University of Opportunity?

York Opportunity Scholars

​​The University of Opportunity Fund is a new philanthropic initiative launching in 2024. It encompasses our big ambition to be the university of opportunity in the UK where there are no gaps to access, success, award and progression for any student regardless of their circumstance. A place where every student knows they belong and can thrive by embracing their differences, rather than being disadvantaged because of them. 

Being a University of Opportunity means empowering and supporting students to meet their potential in a learning environment that is accessible and affordable for all.

Providing mentorship, enhancing the wider student experience, targeted support, and relevant and accessible careers support.

Are we there yet? Not just yet, but we will be. We challenge York to be the University of Opportunity and we challenge you to be the reason we can be.

Support the University of Opportunity

Why do we need this?

In 2022, 1 in 37 students in the UK left university before completion. In the same year, we saw a 50% increase in scholarship applications. More than 1,000 students applied for our York Opportunity Scholarship, with funding only available to support 200 of them. 

We know the need for support is greater than our current capacity. The cost-of-living crisis has driven up prices and strained the affordability of study for an increasing number of students. For some, the cost of their maintenance loans are inadequate to cover even basic needs like heating and food. This is just one of many pressures making it harder for all students, even before we begin to acknowledge the complex and often intersectional barriers experienced by many.

According to the Higher Education Policy Institute 55% of UK undergraduates now have part time jobs, which is an increase of 10% in the past year alone. Statistically these students receive lower education outcomes. We do not accept this. Do you?

54% of students believed their academic performance has suffered because of financial stress

We know what an incredible impact our scholarship programmes have on the lives of thousands of students but we are seeing an increasing number of students having to apply for multiple scholarships and bursaries to make attending university a feasible option. 

We want all students to have equal opportunities to succeed and make the most of their time at York but no one person is the same, there is no one size fits all solution for them. The University of Opportunity aims to provide a more comprehensive programme of support that creates opportunities for York students to realise their full academic potential at every stage regardless of their life challenges.


Above all else, we want our diverse student community to truly reflect wider society, we want to remove any gaps in access, progression and success and we want to work together as a community of shared purpose to support opportunity and fulfil ambitions.

Tracey Lightfoot, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Teaching, Learning and Students

If you are interested in helping us become a University of Opportunity by setting up a named scholarship please contact us at