Generosity of alumni and friends provides £1.4m for projects across the University

Alumni and friends of the University of Bristol continue to inspire us with their generous donations. Many of our supporters give to specific projects that are close to their hearts, but today we’d like to say a particular thanks to the unsung heroes who donate to our ‘unrestricted funds’, amounting to £1.4m in the latest round of funding.

Donors who choose to give to ‘unrestricted funds’ trust the University to support the projects we consider to be the most deserving and impactful. These gifts therefore support a wide range of Bristol work and for this we’d like to say a huge thank you, and share with you just some of the wonderful projects your money is supporting.

The Science of Happiness

Run by Professor Bruce Hood in the School of Psychological Science, the Science of Happiness course has introduced 400 students to scientifically validated strategies for living a more satisfying, happier life in its first year alone. The donation from unrestricted funds will allow the team to explore potential mobile app technology which would help the University to keep in contact with students during their time here and after graduation. The Science of Happiness course has led to a significant improvement in student wellbeing and the University wants to investigate ways to sustain this once the course is completed, as well as reach out to others who are unable to take the unit.


Special Collections Outreach Project

Donations from alumni and friends have funded a 2-year part time Exhibitions and Engagement Officer post which will enable the University to build on the momentum of previous activity designed to bring our unique archives to a wider local and national audience. This includes projects such as the recent Oliver Messel archive project, Sharing the Messel Magic, which reached 47,000 people and help us share our treasures with the wider world. It will also help us find innovative ways of bringing together material drawn from both Special Collections and our Theatre Collection, which take up over 10km of shelving! As part of this outreach project we hope to curate 6 new exhibitions, which may be exhibited in our new University library in the future.


The Student Living Room

Based in Senate House, funds allocated to expand the Student Living Room will help to support the student experience at Bristol. These Bristol Students’ Union spaces give students somewhere to relax, unwind and connect with others. In 2018, a research project carried out jointly by Bristol SU and other Students Unions found that 35% of students say that they rarely or never feel relaxed and 1 in 4 of are regularly stressed about isolation. The Living Rooms provide students with space on campus to combat isolation and facilitate positive wellbeing. Last year over 63% of Bristol students used the Living Rooms, and they drank over 13,000 cups of tea!


Sanctuary Scholarships

To date the Sanctuary Scholarships programme has assisted 37 students from 14 different countries and has made an incredible difference to the lives of these Bristol students. Jon Lightfoot, the Student Funding Officer who supports the programme, had this to say:

The support from our alumni and friends allows us to open a door to academically gifted students from forced migration backgrounds who are beginning their higher education academic journey with us. It also enables our students to achieve postgraduate taught level study, giving our Scholars the best chance to stand out and shine in the competitive world of graduate employment.


Bristol Illustrious Visiting Professorships

This new scheme aims to establish two visiting professorships each year, bringing eminent global research leaders to the University to give a series of lectures and to engage with our academic community. Lectures will be recorded and shared online, ensuring that academics around the world – and the Bristol alumni community – can access cutting-edge research and education at the University. One of the Professorships is expected to be linked to our Cabot Institute for the Environment.


Sustainability Opportunities Fund

Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to support a new Sustainability Opportunities Fund which will help the University on its mission to become carbon neutral by 2030.  Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability, explains what this new project is all about:

This fund is one of a number of initiatives the University is developing to help pump prime sustainability and carbon reduction activities. The fund is overseen by the University’s new Sustainability Council, who are particularly keen to hear ideas that will have longer term impact at any level within the University. We are on a long journey to carbon neutrality in 2030 and this is one of the first steps in that journey.

Thank you to our alumni and friends whose generosity helps support so many great initiatives across the University.



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