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Through the generous and valued donations of University partners, including corporates, alumni and individual donors, Ulster University has the pleasure of supporting hundreds of students with life-changing scholarships, widening access to Higher Education, driving innovation and supporting regional development.

The annual Scholarship Celebration Event took place on the Ulster University Belfast campus last week. This was an evening of celebration, recognition and appreciation offering opportunities for scholars to celebrate with their loved ones as well as meeting and thanking donors who make Ulster University scholarships and awards possible.

Guests enjoyed music while networking with donors and supporters before hearing from University Provost Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan and previous scholarship recipients about the powerful impact this support has on transforming the lives of students.

Alongside a range of scholarships funded by the generosity of individual donors, trusts and foundations, corporate donors who attended the event included Action Renewables, Aflac NI, Allen & Overy, Allstate NI, Belfast Harbour, Choice Housing, FinTru, KPMG, Optum Ireland, the SHS Group, SSE Airtricity, and Subway Ireland.

Johnny Hanna, Partner in Charge, KPMG in Northern Ireland commented:

"We are delighted to be continuing our support for the KPMG Fast Track Scholarship at Ulster University making this a 10-year partnership. By providing financial support to cover the full fees of the course as well as a work-based learning opportunity, we are investing in future talent, rewarding academic excellence, and building the skills of top performing students from non-accounting backgrounds. We know scholarships make a real difference to the student experience and impact strongly on career outcomes, and at KPMG we are committed to enabling the best Ulster University students to accomplish their professional ambitions and create a diverse workforce of the future.”

Meet our scholars

Among those awarded a scholarship is Saorla Boyle, a Paramedic Science student at Ulster University Derry~Londonderry, whose journey to Ulster has been defined by determination and resilience, despite her diagnosis of a long-term condition three years ago.

Since her diagnosis, Saorla has continued to strive for excellence to achieve her place on the competitive Paramedic Science degree programme, balancing her studies alongside volunteering and being the sole carer for her young daughter.

Saorla has remained resolute in her commitment to a career in Paramedicine despite financial hardships and setbacks in education and considers her scholarship as the key to stability and a brighter future, enabling her to fully focus on her education and support her young daughter.

Ulster University Paramedic Science Student Saorla Boyle commented:

“I feel hugely privileged to have been awarded this scholarship. It will allow me to focus solely on my studies and raising my daughter, while alleviating some of the pressure that comes with being a full-time student and single mum. I am grateful to have gained a place on the much sought-after Paramedic Science programme, and now, with this added support, I can give my all to reaching my potential and becoming part of our wonderful healthcare community.  I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the donors, for empowering those committed to education and excellence. I hope that I can bring this opportunity to someone else in years to come." 

Recognised at the celebratory event was Jonathan Weir, an undergraduate student who, after suffering a life-threatening spinal cord injury in his previous career as an electrical engineer, is reskilling at Ulster University for a career in technology, a sector he has a keen interest in.

Now a Year One Computer Systems student, Jonathan is using his bursary to fund his travel costs to the Ulster University Belfast campus and to purchase wheelchair equipment and other adaptive equipment for his computer.

Speaking after receiving his scholarship, Jonathan said:

“I have always had an interest in technology and fixing problems, so the Computer Systems course is allowing me to pursue not only a new career that I can work comfortably in following my accident, but is something I am really enjoying as I get great satisfaction from finding solutions and fixing things myself. Travelling up to 100 miles per day for my studies is costly, however my scholarship is supporting with the purchase of a wheelchair accessible vehicle and other adaptive equipment. I try my best to overcome every obstacle I face however I am so grateful to the donors, and the Ulster University community, for helping ease some of the financial pressures in my life.” 

The scholarships awarded to Ulster University students are aimed at a diverse range of students, helping those facing financial challenges or other personal obstacles, as well as nurturing our most talented and dedicated individuals to help them unlock their full potential.

In 2023, the University saw a 28% increase in applications to the Student Opportunity Fund and a 59% increase in applications for Academic Opportunity Scholarships from full-time students, in comparison to the previous year, with more and more students under financial strain in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

Ulster University continues to prioritise fundraising for scholarships as a result, with donations from corporate donors, individual supporters, trusts and foundations helping the University to continue transforming Northern Ireland through sustainable regional economic and social development by harnessing the power of its people, place, and partnerships.

Highlighting the life-changing impact of Ulster University donors, University Provost, Ulster University, Professor Cathy-Gormley Heenan said:

“The annual Scholarship Celebration Event is a valuable opportunity to thank our incredible donors who are supporting the development of hundreds of Ulster University students at present. Scholarships are a lifeline for some students, allowing them to continue their education at university, often in the face of challenging personal circumstances. I was heartened to meet so many Ulster University scholars who are thriving as part of our community, and I’m inspired to see their dedication to achieving their professional goals. Thank you to our donors, whether industry partners, trusts, foundations or individual supporters, for their continuing generosity and support.”