UCL Alumni


Breaking barriers to higher-level studies in mathematics with Tom Naughton

How the alumni-funded Naughton & Clift-Matthews Mathematics Scholarship is giving postgraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds the freedom to flourish.

Tom Naughton and Amanda Clift-Matthews

14 July 2023

Image: Tom Naughton and Amanda Clift-Matthews

Since 2014 Tom Naughton (Mathematics with Economics 1994) and Amanda Clift-Matthews (LLB Law 1994) have generously provided philanthropic support to UCL. Together, they support early career researchers at the UCL Institute for Global Health, fund the Naughton & Clift-Matthews Laws Bursary in the UCL Faculty of Laws, and support the Centre for Access to Justice.

Most recently, the couple further extended their support by investing in a scholarship in Tom’s former department: the UCL Department of Mathematics, part of the Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. The Naughton & Clift-Matthews Mathematics Scholarship, which began in September 2022, each year funds a postgraduate student in financial need or from underrepresented groups to pursue an MSc in Mathematical Modelling or Financial Mathematics.

Tom and Amanda, who met as students, understand what impact a UCL education can have – and are eager to pass on similar opportunities through their philanthropy. Tom says: “We want to help other people experience what we were lucky enough to experience at UCL.”

The start of a long-lasting relationship

Tom’s own journey in the UCL Department of Mathematics began in 1991 when he arrived there as an undergraduate student. While studying for his degree, he enjoyed how diverse the modules were, allowing him to pursue his areas of interest and “do things that were rooted in maths, yes - but went beyond it. For example, Mathematical Biology, Game Theory and programming.”

Now Chief Investment Officer at Prusik Investment Management LLP, Tom recognises the skills he acquired from his degree that he drew upon throughout his career. “I learnt how to look at situations as a common set of problems and develop models to deal with what will be repeatable problems and puzzles that come up. For my job this is really useful,” says Tom.

Outside of his studies, UCL played a significant role in Tom’s personal story. “I had such a great time at UCL. I met Amanda there and I made lots of good friends who I'm still very close to.”

Breaking down barriers to education

When the couple were in a position to give philanthropically later down the line, their attention turned back to UCL. For them, it made sense to invest in a place that was close to their hearts and where they knew, through their own lived experiences, transformative change can happen: “because both Amanda and I were at UCL and are very fond of it, we were very keen to build that relationship. UCL does so many brilliant things and we wanted to help leverage that in some small way.”

And so, thanks to the couple’s generous philanthropy, a new stage of their relationship with UCL began. Threaded through each of their gifts is a belief in the importance of advancing diversity in higher education and ensuring that all those who have the ability to benefit from a UCL degree can do so.

Their most recent investment, the Naughton & Clift-Matthews Mathematics Scholarship, responds to the acute need to enable people from underrepresented backgrounds to continue higher level STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

Advanced academic study is a vital access route to higher-level STEM careers. However, worries about student debt and the cost-of-living crisis continue to put off many high-achieving students from pursuing postgraduate degrees. The result is a loss of diverse talent in STEM industries.

“University is much more competitive and more of a financial commitment nowadays,” Tom says. “As students, we always knew we were going to get jobs and we were not taking on much debt. And so, in retrospect, it seems a much easier time. This is our way of reacting to that change and ensuring others can also benefit from a UCL education.

“We understand that for any student, but particularly those that come from underrepresented backgrounds that don't have that financial support, it's extremely expensive to study for a Master’s degree. Yes, you can borrow money. Yes, graduates will go on to have great careers. But for a lot of people, lack of financial support is a big bar.”

Investing in the future

The Naughton & Clift-Matthews Mathematics Scholarship has supported a student in 2022/23 and will be doing the same next academic year. For Tom and Amanda, the joy of funding a scholarship is being able to see such an immediate impact. “It’s not just something that's abstract; you see the result right in front of you. We get to have a relationship with the people that we're supporting and we’re really grateful for that,” explains Tom.

The impacts are both immediate and long-term. For a student in need, a scholarship can be the first step in a lifetime of success and achievement. Commenting on this, Tom says: “Because UCL is one of the top universities in the world, you’re investing in talented minds. With the right support, these students can go on to become successful and flourish in their lives.”

From micro to macro

Tom and Amanda recognise that removing barriers to higher education is a systemic issue that they alone cannot solve, but through the Naughton & Clift-Matthews Mathematics Scholarship they are “focusing on what we can do at a very micro level and improving one person’s life at a time.”

Tom says that they hope to shine a light on these issues and encourage others who can help to do so too.  “It’s been a really rewarding experience. I would encourage others who can, to get in contact with UCL and discuss how they might be able to help. Even modest amounts of money can make a huge difference.”


There are opportunities to support scholarships across all 11 of our faculties. Learn more about providing scholarships at UCL, or about the UCL Institute of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences