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UCL and Santander Universities: Celebrating ten years

25 September 2017

UCL President & Provost Prof Michael Arthur with Santander UK CEO Nathan Bostock

UCL marked the tenth anniversary of its partnership with Santander Universities with a celebratory event at BaseKX, UCL Innovation and Enterprise’s incubator and enterprise start-up space in King’s Cross, London.

Santander UK CEO Nathan Bostock joined UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur and Vice-Provost (Enterprise & London) Dr Celia Caulcott at the event, where they met beneficiaries of Master’s scholarships, internships, Research Catalyst Awards and student mobility opportunities.

Through the UCL-Santander Universities partnership more than 90 UCL students have been supported with inbound and outbound mobility opportunities from 2010-2015, and more than 50 members of UCL staff have undertaken collaborative research with colleagues in Latin America.

The partnership also enables UCL to actively support student entrepreneurship.

Championing entrepreneurship

Ria Mehta, UCL alumna and founder of SkillRail

UCL Business Acceleration Triage Officer Bao Tieu said over the past nine months he had seen more than 120 enquiries from budding UCL entrepreneurs, across all subject areas.

He said: “We've got an amazing talent pool at UCL. Having a dedicated advisor providing one-on-one support is a little bit different. With start-ups it's not about the idea, but the individual. We want students to develop themselves personally. We equip them to be able to adapt and embrace all the challenges that come. Because of the Santander funding, UCL has access to this dedicated service, advising students on different aspects of running a business.”

UCL alumna (MSc Technology and Entrepreneurship) Ria Mehta, from Singapore, received support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise to set up online student and recruitment platform SkillRail.

SkillRail previously won a UCL Bright Ideas Award, which provided valuable start-up funding, and now works with 8,000 young people around the UK.

Ria said: "UCL promotes entrepreneurship to a large extent, and they’ve been very supportive to get the project off the ground. A big part of what we're doing is empowering students to make better career choices. We want to provide students and graduates with options in terms of what they want to achieve.”

Internship recipient Gameli Ladzekpo, who studied Engineering at UCL, said: "The Santander Universities Summer Internship Scheme is important because when you're starting out, having a big institution behind you gives a lot of credibility and confidence. I’m now on the business graduate scheme at Thomson Reuters – if I hadn't had the internship my network wouldn't be as good as it is and I wouldn't be as competitive in my current job.”

Encouraging student mobility

Harriet Dawson and Ryan French (centre) took part in a summer school at UANDES, Chile

The partnership also encourages inbound and outbound student mobility opportunities – an important aspect of UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy.

UCL undergraduates Ryan French (BSc Natural Sciences) and Harriet Dawson (BSc Earth Sciences), received funding to attend a summer school at UANDES in Chile in 2016.

Ryan said: “I now have a hunger to visit and interact with as many new places and countries as possible. For me, the best part of the trip was the interaction with the local students at UANDES. Everybody was extremely welcoming and I have made friendships that I hope to last a lifetime.”

Harriet added: “I have met a lot of interesting people from around the world, making contacts and relationships that I am continuing to build on. My time in Chile and interacting with the locals has given me a better understanding of different cultures.”

Long-term commitment

UCL President and Provost Prof Michael Arthur thanked Santander for their long-term commitment to supporting universities across the UK, and spoke of the many ways the partnership had benefitted the lives and careers of UCL staff and students. He said: “Internationalisation is a big part of UCL's 2034 strategy. That's where Santander has been brilliant.”

Santander UK CEO Nathan Bostock said: “One of the greatest things is each time we interact with a university it's about fitting something together that works for the university. We've seen a real evolution in the way these opportunities have been used over time. One of the most rewarding things is to be able to meet people who have received awards. It's a real pleasure to be involved with UCL and Santander Universities.”