Posted Monday 18 November 2019
Kingston University has signed a new three year partnership agreement with Santander Universities, creating more opportunities for students to shine through business internship scholarships, enterprise education schemes and bursaries to support their journey through higher education.
Santander has donated more than £650,000 to the University since the launch of its original partnership in 2012. The relationship focused on enhancing education, employability and entrepreneurship outcomes for students, Director of Santander Universities UK Matt Hutnell said at a celebration event held to mark the signing of the new agreement.
The event was attended by representatives from some of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the initiative, as well as students who have benefited through bursaries, internships and enterprise programmes.
One of those was George Kyrou who won a £1,000 social enterprise award last year in the University's flagship entrepreneurship competition, Bright Ideas, to help his fledgling streetwear brand, Motivw, which specialises in upcycling military waste fabrics in Cyprus. He also received £500 from the Nest - the University's incubation space for student and graduate entrepreneurs who are ready to accelerate their business to the next level.
The graphic design graduate said the financial awards had enabled him and his business partner to build a company website and buy much-needed equipment, such as a sewing machine, dyes and screen printing tools to help launch the brand. "We have been able to have the confidence to follow our dreams and to help revitalise this type of industry in Cyprus," he added.
Donations from the partnership fund the University's Santander HackCentre, which has enabled 1,700 students from across its four faculties to take part in hack events with more than 40 industry partners. Mr Hutnell was able to see the HackCentre in action when students from the Department of Geography, Geology and Environmental studies were challenged by Surrey County Council to brainstorm how to tackle climate change at a local level by coming up with ideas to create green, clean and safe communities.
A total of 85 undergraduate and postgraduate students took part in the day-long hackathon, pitching their ideas to entrepreneurs from the local business community as well as representatives from Surrey County Council.
Shortlisted ideas included SEED (Student, Environmental and Educational Drive), which proposed working with school children to bridge their disconnection with nature, and Our Surrey, a phone app for drivers to report transport problems and road issues. The overall winning idea was the Surrey Miles phone app - a cycling incentive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the county and help meet government targets to cut gas emissions in the United Kingdom to almost zero by 2050.
Santander Universities was delighted with the way the partnership with Kingston University had evolved and the breadth of support available to students as a result, Mr Hutnell said. "I've just been talking to one of the students we've supported and she had a great, big smile on her face. That's what it's about - how we can provide support for students in Kingston," he added.
Kingston University is consistently rated one of the top universities in the United Kingdom for graduate start-ups and Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the Santander Universities partnership supported its important work in enterprise education. "This partnership fits perfectly with our strategy to build ever stronger links with business for the benefit of students, industry and the wider community. Renewing our partnership agreement with Santander Universities enables us to continue to build on this vital activity," he said.