Making university dreams a reality

Thanks to the belief and backing of our supporters, over 3,228 students have received life-changing scholarships in the last seven years of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign.

Every one of these students has their own story to tell. Here, we share three students’ perspectives on the impact a scholarship has had on their lives.


“My university experience shaped the man I am today.”

Elorm Haligah (Politics, 2011) is a young man brimming with confidence. Not long graduated, he is already working as Project and Programmes Manager at The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Westminster, connecting and developing Parliamentarians to drive good governance and the Commonwealth values.

A passionate advocate for political and social change, Elorm himself is a role model for the young adults he now supports — a success story kickstarted at summer school and enabled by a Sutton Trust scholarship.

“I grew up in Hackney. My parents didn’t have the chance to go to university but they always wanted a different life for me,” said Elorm.

“I saw a notice about the University of Nottingham summer schools, a programme which raises aspirations by giving young people the chance to try university for a week. I was lucky to get a place when someone dropped out. The experience completely changed my life — I discovered politics and knew that was what I wanted to study.”

“My family were very supportive. They had been saving up money for university since I was born but it just wasn’t enough. My scholarship to Nottingham gave me the extra help I needed. My whole university experience has shaped the man I am today and opened the door to a career I couldn’t have dreamt of. I’ve worked with London Mayor Sadiq Khan,

Nottingham’s first black female Lord Mayor Merlita Bryan, and Tottenham MP David Lammy.”

“Looking back today, you can clearly see that this is a path I might never have taken,” said Elorm.

“I’m living proof that a scholarship can have a transformational impact on someone’s life.”


A life less ordinary

With two children of her own at the age of 16, and a spell in foster care, the odds were stacked against Rachel Wiffen. But six years later, and thanks to your support for our scholarships programme, Rachel’s life has taken a different path.

“When you’re a young mum with a baby in a pram you are stigmatised. People think they already know who you are and your path in life, and that made me feel as if I was fighting against the world.

“I’d always wanted to go to university. Even when I fell pregnant that never really changed. I went into care after I’d had Callum and Lilly. I had to get away from the situation I was in at the time so that the three of us could be supported.

“Being such a young mum was a harsh reality but I just got on with it and I never lost sight of the idea of continuing my education. So I finished my GCSEs, got AAB grades at A levels and got accepted to do Biochemistry here at Nottingham in 2015.

“It’s like I have a second chance at life. I thought the idea of becoming a scientist was beyond my reach but now I’ve got the tools to reach it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s a life changing experience. I work hard while my children are at school but dinner, homework, bath and bedtime is their time. Then it’s back to work into the early hours for me.

“I bought a laptop with my scholarship money so I can work at home. I simply wouldn’t have coped without it.

“My life has turned around through education. Now I’m positively moving forward and gaining confidence in my own abilities. I’ve even managed to get onto the University’s ‘students in classrooms’ mentoring project. My experiences might help someone in a similar situation to reach their potential.

“The kindness and selflessness shown by scholarships supporters is having a major impact on my family and our future.

“I want to bring my children up in a home where a university education, if they want it, seems natural and possible. I know I’ve not chosen the easiest path but I’m proud of my children and proud of what I’m doing to make a better life for all of us.

“Thank you so much.”


“My time abroad has given me so much”

For many students, studying abroad is both a life-changing experience and an opportunity to gain a new perspective on their studies. Thanks to our incredible alumni donors and corporate partners like Santander, we’re able to provide scholarships which open doors to learning around the world.

Meet Jacob, a third year Spanish and Portuguese student at the University of Nottingham. Thanks to a study abroad scholarship, Jacob spent last year in Spain and Brazil.

“I was in two minds about whether I wanted to go to Portugal or Brazil — staying in Europe felt the safer option but I was already planning to spend time in Spain for the first half of my year abroad.

“Then thanks to the scholarship, I got the opportunity to go to Brazil. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I took the plunge and it was the best choice I could have made.”

Jacob spent the first half of his year abroad studying in Granada, Spain, before heading to Santa Catarina in Brazil.

“It was very different. I was one of very few international students and the approach to teaching wasn’t what I was used to. But my only requirement was to study in the target language, so I had the freedom to study things I had never done before like economics and linguistics, even cinema studies.”

“I also loved every minute of my time in Brazil. The culture was totally different. To get to University and back I would hitchhike with strangers. I really enjoyed it, every day I would speak to someone new, practice Portuguese, learn a bit about them and immerse myself in conversation.

“It felt really safe but at the same time it was a totally different experience. I had never hitchhiked before let alone in another country and frequently.

“Now I’m back home, things like presenting to groups of people suddenly feel a lot easier. If you can present to a group of people in another language who might not understand you, it makes doing it in English a bit of a doddle.

“My time abroad has given me so much, but I’ve really benefitted from the insight I gained from other people’s perspectives and I’ve learnt to see things differently.

“Receiving the scholarship gave me a push in the right direction and it was the best choice I made, thank you so much.”


This year, we are honoured to report the official closing of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign. A huge thank you to all our 18,500 donors who have helped raise a phenomenal £242 million, and to our 1,678 volunteers who have so generously shared their time, skills and expertise with our University community.

While our Impact Campaign is coming to an end, our work is not done. We will build on these strong foundations, ensuring that our University always remains a place where merit — not background — defines who becomes a Nottingham student, and where world-class research continues to tackle the global challenges faced by generations today and in the future.

At the University of Nottingham, we believe that talent shouldn’t be wasted because of where people come from or how much money they have. A scholarship could be the difference between lost potential and a future doctor, teacher or scientist.

Find out more about scholarships.

Words: Faye Haslam, Simon Harvey, Tom Hills
Photography: Alex Wilkinson, Anthony Pileggi
Special thanks to Elorm Haligah, Rachel Wiffen and Jacob Kennison.