Action on Natural Disasters

Thank You

Student Opportunities Fund

If you are, or have been, a donor to the Students Opportunities Fund, thank you for your contribution. You have helped make this Appeal one of our most successful - ever! To find out how, read on.

The first donations to support student opportunities were received in 1994 as part of the 1993-94 telephone campaign. In 1998 the Vice-Chancellor proposed that a Student Opportunities Fund should be formally established as a permanent endowment, and that only the dividend and interest earned by the Fund should be disbursed to suitable applicants. The Fund would focus on three areas: entrance bursaries, grants to alleviate in-course hardship and personal development awards.

The first of the various appeals to develop the endowment for the Student Opportunities Fund took place in 1999/2000. Find out what happened next.

The Student Opportunities Fund has been the single most successful Fund attracting over 5,600 donors and raising (with Gift Aid) almost £2.5m since 1994.  The Fund has been supplemented with University staff donations and students' late payment fees amounting to £1.364m.  An additional £0.784m has been earned in interest and dividends on the endowment.

Awards valued at over £2.027m have been disbursed from the fund to over 2,000 individual students and almost twenty student groups.  A truly phenomenal achievement and one which has helped our students study, and experience the cornucopia of opportunities that go to make a Durham graduate outstanding.

Appeal Figures

What happened next?

During 2001/02 University Council recommended that further appeals be made to increase the value of the Student Opportunities Fund from the then £400k to £1.75m by 2007.  Plans were made to spend around £150k per year on disbursements with any residual balance being invested to increase the fund value over time until the endowment provided sufficient dividend to cover disbursements of £150k per annum.

In March 2003 the University announced that the Student Opportunities Fund had reached a total of £1.2m and that the generous support of alumni and friends had enabled the University to make bursaries to university applicants from the North East region of between £500 and £2,000.  Named 'Target Bursaries', the awards were part of the University's widening participation programme and went to local students with low family income.

In June 2004 a news release from the University stated that nearly 65% of alumni who donated to the University did so to the Student Opportunities Fund.

In 2006, part of the Student Opportunities Fund was used to establish the Durham Grant Scheme, providing up to £12k to full-time home undergraduates. The criterion for eligibility for the scheme was household income.  At that time one quarter of all full-time home undergraduates received an award.

At the end of the 2007/08 financial year the Student Opportunities Fund stood at £2.020m generating an annual income of almost £62K.  Another appeal to the Fund followed in 2008-09.

The Student Opportunities Fund remains the most supported fund of the University, and continues to make awards to students for entrance bursaries, hardship and personal development.  As at the end of 2014/15 the fund stood at £1.997m and income is in the region of £63k per annum.

How has my gift made a difference?
As well as the Durham Grant Scheme and the Target Bursaries mentioned above, the Student Opportunities Fund also supports the Durham University Exhibitions Group and the Durham University Fund for Students Travelling Abroad.  Of interest is that the majority of donors were male (58%), the largest group of donors were the class of 1961 and the most generous group the class of 1985.

Your donations have helped support over 2,000 students and we have disbursed over £2m from the fund in the form of entrance bursaries, hardship grants and development awards since its establishment. Thank you!

Donate now

What a difference you have made for these students

Read Holly Jackman's report about how your support made a difference to her here.

"My long-term career goal is Marine Biology and conservation of endangered species is something which is close to my heart.
  Without the travel abroad scholarship, I would have been unable to fund a trip,volunteering as part of a project that allowed me to have a positive impact on the sea turtle population.  I would not have been able to learn valuable techniques and experience conservation in action. This project gave me a great sense of achievement to be part of something bigger, and gave me a chance to leave a lasting positive impact on our planet." 
Rebecca Daniel, Biological Sciences – recipient of a Travel Abroad Scholarship 2015-16

I have learnt so much about myself and about the way I cope with things under pressure; something that I know will serve me well when I leave university and endeavour to succeed within the professional theatre industry. In growing so much as a person, and becoming increasingly comfortable and confident in my own skin, I have also grown and improved as a performer - something which I am, looking back, extremely proud of this year!" 
Lydia Feerick, College of St Hild and St Bede – recipient of Arts Scholarship 2014-15

"I am a final year law student, Durham University First Team Golf Captain and I represent Team Durham in the British Universities and College Sport Leagues. Last year the Golf First Team won the Northern 1A League, and the resulting play-off event to secure promotion to the Northern Premier League. This Scholarship allows me to access advanced golf coaching and to continue my memberships at various golf clubs and has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce my travel and event entry expenses." 
Tom Bloxsome, Law Department – recipient of Sports Scholarship 2013-14

"I founded Durham Student TV, a society which aims to produce TV programmes made by students, for students. The programmes we produce cover student-friendly recipes (Durham’s Delia), deals you can find in shops around Durham (Durham’s Deals), a Durham-specific news show (DH1) and videos about events and activities happening around Durham’s many and varied societies and colleges (Inside Durham)……..Our funding from the Arts Management Fund allowed us to buy a camera to make these videos, without which this enterprise would not have been able to come to its successful fruition."
Zenia Selby, Classics Department – recipient of Arts Management Award 2013-14

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