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Each year the UPP Foundation funds a small number of pilot projects which tackle key issues within our strategic themes. Successful applications demonstrate:

  • A new or innovative approach to tackling relevant issues
  • A commitment to collaboration and/or working in partnership
  • How the UPP Foundation can measurably add value to the project
  • A clear plan for long-term sustainability independent of support from the UPP Foundation

We fund universities and registered charities in the UK. We also consider applications from non-registered groups with a clear social purpose, social enterprises, community groups and other charitable bodies. We are currently closed for applications but will reopen our application process in the 2020-21 academic year.

2019-2020 Grants

This year the UPP Foundation invested £100,000 in five pilot projects (these projects are in addition to our existing multi-year commitments and proactive grants, where the Foundation seeks out partners). The projects were selected by Trustees following the submission of almost 50 applications – the highest number the UPP Foundation has received to date. Grants were awarded to:

  • Help homeless students gain access to university (University of Chichester)
  • Provide tuition for young people to retake English and Maths GCSEs (Get Further)
  • Encourage and support students to remain and contribute to their local economy (The Bridge Group)
  • Host work placements for international postgraduate students with SMEs (University of Manchester)
  • Engage the public in developing a civic university agreement (Goldsmiths, University of London)

The five pilot projects were chosen on the basis of their overall quality, synergy with the UPP Foundation’s strategic themes, commitment to partnership, innovative approach and potential for sector-wide impact.

University of Chichester

Homeless students being helped into HE

Last year the University of Chichester developed an innovative 12-week pilot course that provided local homeless students with the skills required to succeed in Higher Education (HE).

‘From Adversity to University’ was completed by five homeless students and the first pilot was a huge success, with all five students going on to study at the University.

That is why the UPP Foundation has provided £18,000 of funding to expand the pilot in 2020 and help the University research the impact and benefits of the project to students, the University and the local community.

On the completion of the pilot, the UPP Foundation and University will engage with the HE sector, presenting details of the work to date to encourage and support additional HE institutions to run similar projects.

As with the first course, the expanded pilot will support homeless students who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society, including ex-offenders, ex-servicemen, care leavers and victims of domestic violence. It promises to help those involved regain their independence and realise their potential.

Saul N was a runaway and has now started his degree in outdoor adventure education. He said: “Coming to uni has helped my recovery and given me ambitions. That’s a confidence booster. It’s made me realise that I can do something with my life.”

“Being intelligent and being educated are not synonymous,” says her pioneering social work lecturer Becky Edwards, responsible for the University project, which helps participants earn basic qualifications to start a full degree. “Some of the most intelligent people in the UK are living in poverty, both economically and aspirationally.”

Dr Mark Mason, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chichester, said: “This just confirmed my belief in the power of education to think the world and ourselves otherwise.”

Ben M, a graduate of the University bridging course, said: “I have been given opportunities I didn’t think would be possible after struggling to find direction for so many years. I’m realising potential that I never thought I’d have a chance to explore. I feel like I have learned enough skills to make the journey into higher education.”

Impact of Covid-19 – Students involved with the project have moved to online learning. Although this presents new challenges, the team at the University of Chichester are determined to support the students through this period and enable them to transition to undergraduate study next year.

Get Further

100 students receive ‘catch-up’ GCSE tuition

Missing out on GCSE English and Maths qualifications can hold young people back for the rest of their lives.

That’s why the UPP Foundation has provided £25,000 of funding for the expansion of a pilot scheme for an innovative, post-16 ‘catch-up’ tuition programme covering English and Maths, run by Charity ‘Get Further’.

Get Further recruits graduate and post-graduate students, provides them with expert training and places them in Further Education (FE) colleges to help young people who have missed out to secure GCSE English or Maths qualifications.

UPP Foundation’s backing for the expanded pilot scheme, which will take place in London, will result in 100 extra students receiving support to gain a GCSE in English or Maths.

When the expanded pilot scheme is complete, the UPP Foundation and Get Further will host a seminar to bring together policymakers, researchers and teachers to discuss how the lessons learnt during the pilot scheme can help improve the literacy and numeracy skills of students who stand to miss out on post-GCSE opportunities.

Sarah Waite, Chief Executive of Get Further, said: “Now, more than ever, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds need extra support to progress to their next steps in education and work. Missing out on crucial English and Maths qualifications leaves them locked out of many university courses, apprenticeships and key professions. Moreover, those young people who plan on retaking these qualifications next year will now likely have had a 6 month gap in their education.

We know that having a tutor to provide tailored support and build confidence can get students back on track – but too often this is out of reach for many young people in further education. At Get Further, we want all students in further education in need of extra help in English or Maths to be able to access it – and are delighted to have the backing of the UPP Foundation to expand our catch-up tuition programmes, so that more students can realise their potential in education and work.”

Impact of Covid-19 – Tutoring has been temporarily halted following the Government’s cancellation of public examinations, and will start again in the autumn to prepare students who decide to take the rescheduled GCSEs.

The Bridge Group

Graduate retention study to drive social equality

Moving away from home is often considered necessary to be socially mobile. What does this mean for students who don’t want to move away, and for graduates who decide to stay local after they’ve finished their studies?

To find out, the UPP Foundation has provided £23,000 of funding to the Bridge Group, a leading charity that delivers consultancy and research to promote social equality.

The project will investigate the experiences of graduates who choose to remain in the region following study. It will give particular attention to commuter students and their outcomes, considering that they are more likely to be from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The Bridge Group will collaborate with four HEIs representing different aspects of the sector and geographical contexts, analysing national and institutional data and new data through interviews with students and graduates. It will build a new evidence base to underpin recommendations for the sector, re-framing how it thinks about and measures success in the context of social equality.

Nik Miller, Chief Executive of the Bridge Group, said: “The UPP Foundation is enabling us to explore robustly the value of locality, and of graduates who want to stay close to home. For social equality, it’s vital that we listen carefully to the voices of students and graduates who want to remain local, not least to ensure that the university sector can contribute meaningfully to the economic and cultural prosperity of our regions.”

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Sunderland, said: “I am delighted to support a project that will cover a neglected part of the social mobility story. Too often, that is about people leaving home for university and never returning. But a graduate who chooses to stay in the place they were born and brought up can improve their life-chances as significantly as someone who doesn’t, at the same as making a vital contribution in their own locality.”

Impact of Covid-19 – Publication of the final report will be delayed to either side of the new year, and this will include research which asks graduates how coronavirus is impacting their efforts to find employment.

University of Manchester

Twenty international students to benefit from SME placements

There is little evidence of the benefit or value of curriculum content when it comes to the employability of international post graduate students.

That’s why the UPP Foundation has awarded £24,000 of funding to the University of Manchester to pilot a placement project to enhance the employability of international students.

Twenty international postgraduate students will complete a three to six month paid placement with a Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) in the Greater Manchester area, with placements contributing to their final degree classification.

On completion, the UPP Foundation and University will publish a report to provide an evaluation of the project’s impact, with a view to encouraging and supporting more universities to pursue the approach and to enhance the employability of international post graduates.

Professor Neil Humphrey, Head of the Manchester Institute of Education, said: “The Manchester Institute of Education (MIE) is delighted that our colleague, Dr. Sylvie Lomer, has secured this award from the UPP Foundation.  Supporting international postgraduate students to complete paid placements in businesses in the city-region, with the placements contributing to their degree classification, is an exciting, innovative development that aligns well with the University of Manchester’s core values and MIE’s increasing focus on experiences and outcomes of international students in higher education.”

Professor Martin Evans, Vice Dean and Head of School at the University of Manchester’s School of Environment, Education and Development, said: “This is a really exciting project which will greatly enhance the experience of international students coming to the University of Manchester and will allow them to share the benefit of their expertise and their international perspective with SME’s across the region.”

Impact of Covid-19 – The project has been temporarily postponed, to ensure that participants on the scheme can benefit fully from their placements.

Goldsmiths, University of London

Helping universities enhance their ‘civic role’

To support Goldsmiths, University of London, to develop a model that enables universities to measure how their activities and reputation match with their ambitions to be a ‘civic university’, the UPP Foundation has awarded £7,500 of funding for the University to undertake research.

Goldsmiths wants to be more responsive to its local communities’ needs and develop ‘co-production models of activity’. The grant will help the Institution to develop a  model for evaluating and planning future civic engagement work, which will be published as an ‘open access tool’ that is transferable for other Higher Education institutions.

The model will be developed  through primary research with Goldsmiths’ local communities and its stakeholder groups, as well as through three ‘Community Conversation’ events.

Professor Frances Corner OBE, Warden of Goldsmiths, said: “I’m delighted that Goldsmiths is a recipient of funding from the UPP Foundation this year. This support from the Foundation will allow the College to conduct vital research into the priorities of our local residents and stakeholders, ensuring Goldsmiths can continue its long-standing commitment to civic engagement in the most impactful way. We look forward to sharing our findings with a range of other institutions.”

Impact of Covid-19 – The project will be able to continue as planned, as all qualitative aspects of the research were completed prior to the Government’s announcement of social distancing measures.