The Personal Student Bursary — and how you can become a micro-philanthropist

In the past year, Blackwell’s has helped not one, but two charitable organisations enable fantastic new initiatives to provide small scholarships for students to cover the cost of their textbooks. Still the most important resource in support of undergraduate studies, textbooks can be a difficult purchase to stretch to, and is often the expense first sacrificed. A sacrifice that makes a big impact that isn’t realised until too late, and it’s the least advantaged students who are most likely to lose out.

The two charities, the UK Electronics Skills Foundation and the Reading List Foundation are different in their approach. The former enables corporate organisations, particularly engineering companies, provide a textbook bursary to students that it hopes will one day become an employee, having graduated more strongly — a small investment in the future.

Blackwell’s Sales Development Manager Jenni Lattin, who manages the scheme, explains that as “part of their scholarship funding package, students are given a £200 Blackwell’s card to enable them to buy the key textbooks they require for their degree. The students can use the card in Blackwell’s shops on campus, or online. For the student, this means a large expense is removed for them and they can access the information they require without relying on limited library copies or older editions of books.”

The Reading List Foundation enables individuals to give a personal £250 scholarship to a young person from a lower-income family within their local community, or perhaps their old school, who is going to university and may struggle to afford everything they need. Co-founder of the charity, Alan Terry said: “We’re big on ‘micro-philanthropy’ — the idea that we can all be philanthropists; you don’t have to be a millionaire. We’re really pleased with how our first year has gone. This year’s students going to university are the first ever to face higher tuition fees but without the financial support of student grants — which have now been withdrawn even for students from lower-income households. In comparison many of us got a degree for free, without the burden of an average of £50,000 of debt. We can’t change this contrast, but we can make a real difference to students following in our footsteps.

Alan Terry and Mark Thomas, Co-founders of Reading List Foundation

“We’ve had the stories coming back from across England of the students who have won scholarships — students who are the first in their family to go to university, or who have achieved outstanding results while coping with family bereavement, or other really challenging personal circumstances. It’s truly inspiring. We are helping students studying at Oxford University, Bristol, LSE, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Swansea, Nottingham, Bath Spa, Reading and Kent.”

The Reading List Foundation provides an opportunity for individuals to give back to their own community. Now in their second year, they are giving more than 60 scholarships in 2017. To find out how you can partake, visit

For more information on UKESF’s corporate donation scheme, visit

View the full May 2017 Blackwell’s Insight here: