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Celebrating scholarships: “the superpower that drives diversity and transforms lives”

4 March 2020

On 27 February, UCL’s Scholarships Reception, hosted by Professor Michael Arthur (UCL President & Provost), presented donors and friends with a unique opportunity to experience the impact of their generosity first-hand.

Third year Economics student Masamba Senghore addresses the audience.

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“Tonight makes it very real.”

Amanda Clift-Matthews (LLB Law, 1994) is a UCL alumna, Legal Director of The Death Penalty Project, and – together with her husband Thomas – a supporter of a number of UCL priorities, including a scholarship in UCL’s Faculty of Laws.

Addressing the audience of 150 people, Amanda spoke on behalf of all those who support scholarships and bursaries at UCL. Each has given a gift to help break down barriers and leave the world’s brightest minds free to think, challenge and participate fully in student life.

“I joined UCL in 1991 as a law undergraduate. Thereafter, I can only describe what happened to me as utterly transformative, academically, socially, personally.” Amanda said. “So it’s a small way to pass on the gift of higher education that I was given at the same age.”

“As an individual, you can’t change the world and help everybody. But we can all change one person’s life at a time,” she added. “As a charitable endeavour, I can’t think of another in which you have such an immediate impact: you see the living result right in front of you.”

Amanda Clift-Matthews delivers her speech.

Many donors had the opportunity to do just that, meeting the students whose academic ambitions, and lives, have been transformed by their generosity. For some, it was the continuation of an already close relationship; others met the students they support for the very first time.

In each case, the conversations taking place had remarkable stories at their heart: those of students from disadvantaged or under-represented backgrounds being able to not only apply and accept an offer of study at UCL but to make the most of their experience once here, and of donors moved to create untold opportunities for people who would never otherwise have had them.

Professor Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett

“Your choices are being limited by what you can afford,” said Christoph. “People who have the talent to secure a place at UCL and who have the drive and motivation to take advantage of what we offer are therefore not even getting as far as applying.”

“For people whose choices about whether and where to study are acutely affected by financial realities, a scholarship turns studying at UCL from an unlikely dream into a realistic option,” he added. “Scholarships are a superpower that drive diversity and transform lives.”

“I am really excited to be part of a community that is willing to invest in building a better future.”

That future was on full display, with a post-speech drinks reception held amongst a wide-ranging exhibition of student and staff research projects, and UCL’s emerging UCL East campus. The themes ranged from UCL East’s focus on future living and community engagement, to sustainable fashion, food waste and customised technology for people living with disabilities.

Ultimately, the evening was a celebration of our talented students and the donors that make a UCL education more accessible to all, one of the founding principles of UCL.

“I’m here today to simply say thank you,” said Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost. “Thank you to the wonderful people who fund scholarships, who care about fairness, who invest in talent, and who change lives.”

To see more images of this event, view our Flickr gallery:

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UCL is committed to enabling the world’s best and brightest brains to study at UCL, whatever their background, gender or class. In addition to The Bartlett Promise, UCL has launched initiatives like the Research Opportunity Scholarships to create over 15 new scholarships for black and minority ethnic (BME) postgraduate research students.

To find out more about our philanthropy and engagement campaign, please visit the It’s All Academic Campaign website, or find out how you can make a difference. To speak to a member of our team about supporting scholarships at UCL please contact: campaign@ucl.ac.uk