Fundraiser gives asylum seeker life-changing scholarship at the University

The 2016 Big Walk has funded a full scholarship for an asylum seeker on a scheme that was the first of its kind in the UK. An annual, university-wide event, the Big Walk takes place in the Peak District and raises money for a different cause each year.

People on the Big Walk 2016Asylum seekers are denied access to student loans and grants in the UK. The only way for asylum seekers to access further education in most cases is to pay international students' fees, which can be as high as £30,000 per year.

The University of Sheffield was the first university to offer asylum seekers full scholarships in the UK. Today, only 15 UK universities offer any sort of scholarship for asylum seekers. Since the scheme was introduced in 2015, seven scholars have had their fees waived and received a £13,500 stipend. The 2016 Big Walk funded one of these.

Head of Financial Support, Catherine McKeown said: “The aim of the scholarship is to give bright individuals an opportunity to gain a higher education which, given their background, would be otherwise unattainable.

"The scholarship is an opportunity to be like any other student and helps recipients to move on with their lives after everything they have been through.

"We want to give the most able, but least likely to come to university, a chance."

Other scholarship opportunities the University offers include the Gaza Palestine Scholarship, the Commonwealth Scholarship and the Sheffield University Southern Africa Student Scholarship Fund (SUSASSF).

The Gaza Palestine Scholarship has enabled four Palestinian students to study at the University since 2013. The Commonwealth Scholarship, in association with other UK universities, waives fees for Masters level students in developing countries. Initially a response to the policies of apartheid South Africa, SUSASSF is an independent fundraising charity that currently allows one post-graduate student from South Africa, Swaziland or Namibia to study at the University free each year.

sheffield scannerThe 2017 Big Walk, which begins on Friday 30 June, is raising money for the Sheffield Scanner – an MRI-PET Scanner which will be the first of its kind in Yorkshire.

MRI-PET scanners allow doctors and researchers to view both the structure and organs of the body as well as the blood flow, oxygen use and sugar metabolism, building up a highly detailed and sophisticated picture.

This is extremely useful in the research of diseases such as ALS, cancer and Parkinson’s. Unusually for MRI-PET scanners, the Sheffield Scanner will be used for both research and medical purposes.

Community Fundraising Lead, Dave Meadows, said: "The enthusiasm of University staff, students and alumni for the Sheffield Scanner Appeal has been amazing.

"Since March 2017 we have raised over £500,000. We’re hoping that this year’s Big Walk will take us closer to our target of £2 million."

Find out more about the 2017 Big Walk and the Sheffield Scanner project:

Big Walk 2017

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


Josh Barnes
Media Team
0114 222 8898