‘This scholarship, right now, means everything to me.’

After fleeing his country of origin at the age of twenty, Davide* arrived in the UK with no friends or family to turn to and experienced homelessness, multiple evictions and extreme loneliness. His situation began to change after he met with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) who advised him to apply for a Sanctuary Scholarship at the University of Bristol.

He’s since completed a foundation year at the University and has recently begun his Undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Here he tells his story and explains how the Sanctuary Scholarship programme has impacted his life.

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University launches £1 million Black Bristol Scholarship programme

The University of Bristol is launching a new £1 million programme of scholarships, which will support around 130 Black and mixed Black heritage students to take up places at the University over the next four years.

The Black Bristol Scholarship Programme seeks to address the underrepresentation of Black students at every level of study in higher education across the UK, from undergraduate students to those completing PhDs. It will annually fund Black and mixed Black heritage students across five areas:

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‘Knowing that there are people willing and generous enough to help me is huge’


Rhea Griffiths, studying Politics and International Relations, tells us about the difference having a Futures Scholarship has made during her first year.

My school’s catchment came predominantly from the council estate where I grew up – there were only 12 of us in my sixth form. I took a year out after A Levels because I needed to work. I’m the oldest of four children and my mum had lost her job so I was helping to pay for rent.

When I said I wanted to go into higher education my mum was sceptical because she always saw it as a huge expense. When I found out I had got the Futures Scholarship it felt like such a relief. The Scholarship funding has helped with my deposit for next year’s rent – I wouldn’t have been able to afford that otherwise. I also enjoy going to public lectures on topics relevant to my course. Some of these are in London so I’ve been able to afford to travel down there so I can attend.

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‘It’s opening so many doors for me, thank you’

Praxciana dos Santos is a first year studying Psychology. Her Futures Scholarship helps her balance her studies with her caring responsibilities.

I’m the oldest of three children. My brother, who’s a year younger than me, has cerebral palsy. Because my mum is a single mum, I like to think I’m kind of a second parental figure for my siblings. My other brother is only 12, so if mum needed someone to be in the house while she took my brother to the doctors then I would usually take on that role. As she’s a full-time carer herself, my mum can’t really have a job, so I used to do waitressing work as well, which meant that if my brothers needed anything they could let me know and I could buy it for them.

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Your messages of welcome for our Sanctuary Scholarship students

This summer, we asked alumni, staff, students and friends of the University of Bristol to contribute pictures and messages of welcome for our newest cohort of Sanctuary Scholarship students.

These students, who all come from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds, have been able to take up places at the University of Bristol because of the Sanctuary Scholarship programme. Each scholarship is a lifeline that makes a world of difference to the recipient.

We were so overwhelmed by the volume and heartfelt nature of the messages; we wanted to say a huge thank you and share some of our favourites with you. You can head to our Facebook page to see the full selection of messages.

“I wanted to send a welcome photo to show that Bristol is a safe and welcoming city for all, including people seeking sanctuary from war, violence, persecution and impact of climate change. And also to offer our solidarity to the University of Bristol for launching a programme which offers life-changing practical support to refugees and asylum seekers who are coming to study in our diverse city of hope.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

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Alumni interview: Izzy Obeng (BSc 2014), Managing Director of Foundervine

After graduating from Bristol in 2014 with a politics degree, Izzy Obeng worked at KPMG before starting her own company – Foundervine. This award-winning social enterprise helps diverse founders build start-ups from scratch and specialises in delivering digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs.

Since launching in 2018, Foundervine has helped over 2,000 future leaders from diverse backgrounds to create and build their own ventures. 27-year-old Izzy is now based in Accra in Ghana, and her team of twelve work remotely in locations up and down the UK. As well as sitting on the Alumni Association Committee, Izzy has been involved in alumni events – including a recent Bristol Connects Live event focused on entrepreneurship. We spoke to Izzy to hear more about Foundervine, her time at Bristol and what it was like to meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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Inspirational student speakers at Class of 2020 Virtual Celebrations

Our Class of 2020, who are enjoying their Virtual Celebrations this month, had some inspirational student voices speaking at their digital events. We caught up with some of them to hear about their time at Bristol, their passions, and their plans for the future. And we welcome them into our alumni community!

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Renowned speakers to join Class of 2020 in Virtual Celebrations

Top row L – R: The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond, Vanessa Kisuule, Sir Paul Nurse. Bottom row L -R: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jenny Griffiths MBE, Dame Julia Slingo.

From final-year medics graduating early to work on the NHS frontline, to groups organising foodbank donations, throughout this year Bristol students have been stepping up to assist those impacted by the pandemic. Many of our final-year students have been taking part in such activities, all whilst working hard to complete their degrees.

For these students, their time at the University is almost at an end. So, to mark their incredible achievements and commemorate their final year, the University is hosting a series of virtual celebrations for the class of 2020. The events will be hosted online and will see Bristol students from all over the world signing in from home to watch with their friends and family.

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Help to welcome our Sanctuary Scholars

Every year, just after welcome week, the University hosts a welcome event for our Sanctuary Scholars, an incredible group of students who all come from asylum-seeking or refugee communities.

The welcome event is always a really special day, where the newest cohort of scholars get to meet each other, as well as staff and students from the University.

This year, as you can imagine, we can’t welcome our scholars in quite the same way. But whilst we might not be able to be together in one room, we can still do our very best to let these students know that they are a valued part of the Bristol community. We hope you’ll join us in doing so!

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Bristol medical students lead the way on nutrition for health benefits

Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley founded the Community Interest Company (CIC) Nutritank in 2017 while studying Medicine at Bristol. Jaffee is currently in her fourth year and Broadley is a member of the cohort who have graduated early [April 2020 instead of July 2020] in order to quickly support the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis.

Described as ‘an innovative, informative hub for food, nutrition and lifestyle medicine’ Nutritank is a one-stop shop for students of medicine, current medical practitioners and anyone interested in food for health. In a world where many widespread conditions such as heart disease and diabetes have contributory dietary factors, the founders are passionate about advocating healthy eating for all, promoted by those working in the health sector.

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