UCL celebrates the gift of education at annual Scholarships Reception
14 February 2019
Over 200 guests joined UCL staff and students for the annual Scholarships Reception on February 13.
The power of philanthropy was celebrated at this year’s annual Scholarship Reception. The event, which brings together scholarship supporters and their recipients, highlights the transformative impact scholarships can have on students, their families and UCL.
A key theme of the event, highlighted by Professor Anthony Smith Vice-Provost (Education), was the importance of enabling access to education. He said: “Scholarships are a lifeline. Without them many students would simply never be able to take up their place at UCL. They say to students with no family history of higher education, who may come from social backgrounds where attending a world-class university feels remote: UCL is for you.”
Scholarships also play an important role in keeping the UK at the forefront of world-changing technology and research. “We know that many students who come to UCL don’t reach their full potential because they need to juggle their studies with work to make ends meet,” commented Professor Smith, “Neither UCL, UK nor the world can afford to let this talent go to waste. Fully-funded scholarships can relieve this financial burden.”
Lila Ibrahim, Chief Operating Officer of DeepMind mirrored Anthony’s sentiment during her keynote address. Lila said: “Investing in people, with diverse backgrounds and interests, can set them on new paths. My scholarship opened my mind to possibilities that I never imagined. At DeepMind, we focus on giving talented students from underrepresented backgrounds a chance to study at a leading university because we recognize that the AI sector will not become more diverse without a direct and concerted effort. It’s not just about getting a foot in the door, but having support and a sense of community that can empower you to thrive once you’re through. I think that’s what makes the DeepMind Scholarship Programme with UCL so special. It’s great to be collaborating on these efforts with an institution so deeply intertwined with DeepMind.”
DeepMind is one of UCL’s key philanthropic partners, having funded a number of scholarships within computational science. Last year, the organisation announced funding towards a new professorship in artificial intelligence at UCL and three research positions.
Finally, guests also heard from scholarship recipient Oskar Zeiba, who is a shining example of how scholarships can transform a student’s life. In his final year of Mechanical Engineering degree, Oskar has launched a successful fashion company Blackwood, which focuses on producing ethically and environmentally sustainable products. Oskar attributes part of this success to UCL’s focus on global impact and on support from the university’s Innovation and Enterprise team.
Oskar said: “My scholarship didn't help me to come to UCL. It made it possible.
The impact of a scholarship moves beyond money. They show a promising student that there is someone who believes in you, maybe before you even believe in yourself.”