When we launched York Unlimited, we set out on a mission to make discoveries and improve lives.
Our supporter community came together through the campaign to break barriers and solve global challenges.
The legacy of York Unlimited lives on.
In 2019, we publicly launched the University of York’s first ever major fundraising campaign: York Unlimited. We had the bold ambition of raising £120 million and unlocking 120,000 volunteer hours to create new ways to tackle inequalities, new ways for science and technology to help society, and new ways to help every student to succeed.
Thanks to you, we are now approaching that goal.
In this report, you will read about some of the astonishing achievements made as a result of York Unlimited. You will hear about how our supporters rallied together to help our community through years of disruption and uncertainty, which saw a global pandemic, the most devastating economic crisis since the 1970s, and many people displaced by conflict. And you will see how, amongst these difficult circumstances, your thoughtfulness and generosity in your gifts of time, money and insights, made an incredible impact on our students, our academics and our society, not only in York but across the world.
I am proud to stand with you as a York Unlimited supporter. I am proud of the difference we have made over the last few years. I am proud to be York.
But as I write to you today, I know we cannot lose this momentum. As the University celebrates its 60th year, we are facing some of the most difficult conditions the University has ever seen. We are battling a cost of living crisis, the continuation of humanitarian crises across the globe, and a difficult political context in which the full benefit that universities bring to society is largely unappreciated. In these challenging circumstances, it may feel as though we are on our own, but you, our supporters, have shown us that we are not.
When we launched York Unlimited, we said that there were no limits to what we could achieve together. The last few years have proved that we were right.
And so, as we are set to reach our goal, we know we must continue to look to the future and work together to secure a brighter future for all. We must set bigger, bolder, more transformational ambitions, ambitions which have only been made possible through the achievements of York Unlimited. We must adopt new, innovative ways of thinking to support students at every stage of their educational career, and ask better, more path-breaking questions in our research to find the solutions to tomorrow's challenges.
The founders of our University wanted to ameliorate human life and conditions, and cared about widening access to education more than almost anything else. 60 years later, you, our community, have shown just what remarkable things we can achieve together, to turn these dreams into a reality.
Thank you for being part of our community and helping to transform lives.
Let’s now look forward to seeing what groundbreaking achievements we can make over the next 60 years!
Professor Charlie Jeffery
University of York Vice-Chancellor and President
Over 18,000 supporters from 80 countries have helped us to reach our goal
Thank you to all of our incredible supporters, whose kindness and generosity have made a tremendous difference to our students and research here at York. Here, Alan, Hamsini, Pete and Sally share why they chose to join our York Unlimited community, and give a gift to York.
“By leaving a legacy gift to the University, I want to open the door for students in science, mathematics, and engineering to study in the USA, especially for those who may not have considered looking that far over the horizon. I benefited immensely from my studies at York and hope to pass on some small portion of that good fortune to generations of students yet to come.”
“For me personally it has kept the connection with York. It is very emotional for me to come here and be part of the prize giving. It also makes me feel very close with my brother in spirit because the people here knew him really well and cared for him, so when I am here among them I really feel like my brother still lives here, his spirit is still alive. That is the emotional bond for me, which makes me come back to York.”
“We attended York University between 1978 and 1982. We met at University and have been married for 39 years and have three daughters and two grandsons. When we were students, the cost of being a student was very different to now. There were no fees and we received a grant from our local authority to pay for accommodation and living expenses. When our own children were looking at universities, we realised how very different the finances are now, and how much harder it is for students. We have been very fortunate that we have been able to help our daughters through university and we felt we would like to help out other students if possible. It is gratifying to know that we have been able to provide some financial assistance to the students attending York at the moment, and it’s good to give back. We both feel it’s important that we contribute to those who need a leg-up to get started on their careers.”
Here are just some of the astonishing developments and achievements that were made through York Unlimited, thanks to our remarkable community of philanthropic supporters:
The Leverhulme Trust and York Against Cancer invited to join the College of Benefactors
In 2019, The Leverhulme Trust and York Against Cancer were invited to join the College of Benefactors, the highest honour that the University bestows upon our supporters and partners in recognition of their philanthropy. Through their vision and generosity, these valued supporters opened up new avenues of inquiry and research, enabling us to better understand the problems and opportunities of today’s world. The Leverhulme Trust established the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity, which brings together world-leading researchers to improve our understanding of the relationship between humanity and the world's biodiversity, and York Against Cancer funded pioneering cancer research at the University of York’s Jack Birch Unit. Membership of the College permanently recognises the depth and mutual value of the relationship between the University and these prestigious institutional partners, and the impact that their generous support has on the University and beyond.
“Our interdisciplinary researchers are developing projects examining how the relationship between humanity and the natural world is changing. Drawing on perspectives from our knowledge of past and present biodiversity change, we are looking at how this might translate into a range of ‘possible futures’ which can inform and influence how society responds in order to maintain a sustainable earth.”
The University’s first ever Giving Day
In 2019, we launched the University of York’s first ever Giving Day, a 36 hour campaign in which we aim to raise as much money as possible and gain as much support as possible for our philanthropic causes. Since then, we have run a further 3 Giving Day campaigns, each of which have broken records and exceeded the previous year’s results. Over £643,000 has now been raised through our Giving Days to support students and mental health research and initiatives at York.
“I love seeing our community come together to support these important causes.”
Mentally Fit York launches
In 2019 we launched Mentally Fit York, our fund to transform mental health on a local, national and international scale through supporting on the ground initiatives and the latest groundbreaking research. Since then, hundreds of walkers have come together to take part in the Great York Walk, our annual 25 mile walking challenge, to raise money for the fund. An astonishing £76,088 has been raised through the Great York Walk, helping to transform the future mental health for everyone.
Emergency Student Support Fund launches
In response to the urgent and serious unforeseen financial difficulties brought about by the pandemic, the Emergency Student Support Fund was launched in 2020, offering grants of up to £500 to students who needed it to support living costs, travel expenses and the cost of technology to support online learning. Thanks to the incredible generosity and thoughtfulness of our donor community, who immediately rallied together to support our students, we were able to launch this fund just 3 days after the first Covid lockdown began, being the first university in the UK to do so. This support provided a vital financial safety net for our students, ensuring that money worries did not close the door to their education during such unprecedented times.
“It definitely gave me a morale boost to continue with my studies as I was furloughed from my work which I need to support myself. I can truly say that the fund is a life saver. It is a financial helping hand that enables students to sit back and focus on their studies and not worry about the uncertainty of our times.”
Emergency support offered to students affected by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan
In 2021, our donors came together to provide emergency support to students affected by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Through the Equal Access Fund, which helps to open the door to education for students seeking asylum, students were offered urgent scholarship funding and a fee waiver, in addition to individual welcome packages and accommodation support.
Nazia explains the difference this support made:
The Eleanor and Guy Dodson Building opens
Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Wolfson Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and York graduate Dr. Anthony Wild, The Eleanor and Guy Dodson Building was opened to offer researchers access to the latest facilities for determining protein structures.
“The Eleanor and Guy Dodson building is an incredible resource for structural biophysics, housing our cryogenic electron microscope, protein crystallography suite, and NMR magnet. The building is perfectly designed for each of these demanding techniques and will be our laboratory home for many decades to come. It has already been used to image drug targets from tuberculosis and inform strategies to create plants and other photosynthetic organisms that are better at removing CO2 from the atmosphere to combat climate change.”
Emergency support offered to students affected by the war in Ukraine
Thanks to the incredible support of our donors, we were also able to offer further emergency support to students affected by the war in Ukraine, providing students with full scholarship support and an annual fee waiver, as well as help with travel and accommodation needs. We are so thankful to all of our supporters who have helped us to live our commitment to being a University of Sanctuary and support people caught up in conflict and in need of refuge.
“This scholarship award came at the time where my hope to live my dreams was shattered. It has given me the hope to dream more and inspire other people to push further to their dreams. As I have always wanted to make a difference in wherever I find myself, I have no doubt that this scholarship opportunity is going to shape me for the future and further equip me with the necessary knowhow in helping humanity through some groundbreaking research which I intend to embark on.”
Vital support given to enable research to continue into plastic pollution in the Galapagos
In 2022, Emeritus Professor Deborah Smith, York’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research from 2014-2020, along with other generous donors, offered support to inspiring PhD student Estelle, to enable vital research to continue on plastic pollution in the Galapagos Islands. At least 38 different species in the Galapagos Islands, including turtles, marine iguanas and sea lions, have been recorded as entangled by plastic, having ingested it after mistaking it for food or living in affected habitats. The University of York is exceptionally proud to be part of a global alliance, led by the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT), to drastically reduce marine plastic pollution with the aim, one day, of having a plastic-free Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Here, Estelle and Deborah explain the importance and impact of this philanthropic support:
Institute for Safe Autonomy set to officially open
This year, thanks to the generous support of the Lloyd's Register Foundation, an international network of collaborative industrial partners and private donors, and Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme, the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), the Institute for Safe Autonomy is set to open on the University's Campus East. Robotics, autonomous systems and AI have the potential to transform the way we live, travel and work – from driverless cars and remotely monitored ships to assistive robots at work, in the home and in hospitals. This world class facility will be a ‘living lab' for autonomous systems operating on the ground, in the air and underwater, and will work to ensure that robotics, their software and their communications are safe.
“The research here is of significant importance not just to the whole University but to the UK as a whole. Here at York, here in the region and in particular through the Institute for Safe Autonomy, we make sure that the future actually translates not just into research and its applications but really fundamental changes to the lives and the wellbeing of people around us.”
The University of York partners with IntoUniversity to open three new learning centres in our region
As a University with a strong social purpose, York has this year partnered with IntoUniversity and the University of Hull to help support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds living in our region to realise the futures they may never have thought possible. Through this partnership, and with the support of our donors, a new learning centre has been established in East Hull, providing students with access to the resources, help and encouragement their better-off peers often take for granted. We are now working towards opening two further centres in Bridlington and East Marsh Grimsby, which we hope will make a deep and lasting impact on the lives of children living in our region and enable them to thrive.
“IntoUniversity has a long track record of supporting children and families living in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, enabling children to reach their potential and realise their dreams. Our partnership with IntoUniversity and the University of Hull would not have been possible without the generous support of our supporters, friends and alumni, that has enabled us to open an IntoUniversity centre in Hull. I had the pleasure of attending the launch event last month and spoke with families about the difference this centre is already making, just a few months after opening. I'm excited to see the centre develop further.”
Learning Centre set to open in the heart of Westfield, York
The University of York is working in partnership with the City of York Council, local FE and HE providers, schools and businesses across our City to create a further learning centre in the heart of Westfield, that will deliver learning opportunities with and for our community here in York. Thanks to the support of our donors, the Westfield Centre will help children growing up in the less advantaged (and often overlooked) areas of York to stay on track at school and realise the dreams they may have otherwise felt unattainable.
“When I grew up in Westfield there was an adventure playground and a youth club. Some of the kids become a nuisance because there is nothing to do. The Westfield Centre can be a force for change and a focus for the community.”
World-leading facility announced for Indoor Air Quality Research
With generous support from the Wolfson Foundation, a new, world-leading facility is now set to open on Campus East in 2026 that will enable researchers to explore and improve the quality of air in our homes. The INTERIORS facility (INTERdisciplinary Facility for IndOoR Air Quality ReSearch), will take the form of a semi-detached house, half of which will be modern and energy efficient and half of which will be an average, UK building from the 1950s/60s. The facility will be used to monitor the indoor air quality, and findings will be used to help improve human health and shape how buildings are constructed in the future. The project is being led by Professor Nic Carlsaw, Professor of Indoor Air Chemistry.
At the start of York Unlimited, we set out with a mission to ensure that every student at York could succeed. We are so grateful to the students, staff, alumni and friends who came together through our campaign to support students through scholarships, grants and awards, all of which have helped to open the door to education for students and enabled them to shine.
Students from less advantaged backgrounds can find it difficult to imagine a future in which a university education is possible. This has only been exacerbated by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and the cost of living crisis that is putting financial pressure on so many households, many of whom are already struggling. We have seen requests for support continue to increase year on year, with students now also having to consider whether they can afford basic provisions like rent and food.
This choice is a heavy burden to bear. The York Opportunity Scholarship was established to provide vital financial support to our students, to ensure that they could not only access an education, but take part in the university activities that would enable them to thrive. Thanks to our community of supporters, we have been able to award 441 students with a York Opportunity Scholarship since the start of our York Unlimited campaign.
We know these scholarships go far beyond financial support. The support given through the York Opportunity Scholarship provides our students with the recognition and confidence they need to reach for their dreams, dreams which may have otherwise felt completely out of reach.
Stephen was a recipient of the York Opportunity Scholarship. Here, he describes how this support not only significantly helped him whilst a student at York, but opened the door for him to go on and undertake a PhD in Theoretical Physics.
“My second year was somewhat of a jump from the first year. I had to work much harder to keep up. The support from the scholarship really helped me to take additional time to understand the concepts on my course, and treat myself occasionally to some time off to decompress. My third and fourth years were frustrated by the pandemic. Working from home with nuclear physics was difficult to say the least! Financially, this was a very difficult time. The scholarship was truly valued during my last two years.
Looking back over the years I enjoyed at York, the scholarship I feel has been exceptionally helpful. The financial aspect has been very helpful. The support goes further than you might imagine; when faced with seemingly insurmountable physics problems, your gift of support kept me going.
I am now undertaking a PhD in Theoretical Physics. I am overjoyed to take this opportunity, as it builds on the work that I have enjoyed at York, and makes a significant contribution to the science of Photobioreactors, which utilise algae to produce fuels.
I'm also very pleased to be continuing my support of York through the Heslington Circle, where I hope to be an active contributor, supporting students to achieve excellent outcomes. My time at York has been excellent in every way. Looking back to where I was when I started, to where I am now, it has been an amazing journey, and I am honoured to be part of the ongoing work of the University.”
We have also been able to award 901 York Futures Scholarships through York Unlimited, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. These scholarships enable students to take part in personal and professional development opportunities whilst at university, giving them the experience and confidence they need to become leading graduates and secure a bright career.
“This funding has proved to be invaluable to me in helping me secure a bright future in technology.”
As a University, we are committed to supporting exceptional international students with their careers and ambitions. We want to ensure that York is a truly international community, a place that reflects the world around us and that fosters a sense of belonging. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Albukhary Foundation, we have been able to support academically gifted students from around the world in need of financial support through the Sharifah Sofia Albukhary Scholarship programme. This scholarship programme has enabled talented students to pursue a world-renowned university education, ensuring that exceptional students who wish to study at York are not excluded by their financial circumstances.
“This scholarship is the only reason I have been able to afford getting a degree in the UK. It honestly would not have been possible otherwise. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. The lack of options had always felt like my right to choose had been stripped from me, made me feel claustrophobic, but now I really have a chance to choose. Thank you for believing in me, thank you for giving me wings.”
We were also honoured to have partnered with the Ashinaga Association to support students from sub-Saharan Africa who have lost one or both of their parents. These life-changing scholarships are supporting students who have faced almost insurmountable challenges to become the next generation of compassionate leaders, who will go on to identify problems and find solutions in their communities.
“The scholarship made my dream of attending university a reality and that has greatly impacted my life as now l have the chance to work on my academic goals.”
Clubs and societies are an integral part of a university experience, providing an opportunity to make friends and create memories that last a lifetime. Sadly, the financial situation of recent years has meant that many students have struggled to access these opportunities. YuFund offers support to projects that aim to enhance the student experience. Since the start of York Unlimited, we have been able to provide a staggering £550,533 to 283 projects, thanks to our remarkable YuFund supporters. This enabled us to offer £32,000 to the York University Students’ Union, in order to support the Activities Access Grants. These vital grants have enabled hundreds of students to take part in activities that have helped to shape their university experience, without having to worry about the financial burden this may otherwise bring.
The scholarships, grants and awards offered through York Unlimited have made an enormous difference to the lives of our students, and we are so grateful to all of our incredible supporters whose kindness and generosity has altered the trajectory of our students’ lives for the better.
Now, as we move into a bold new phase of philanthropy for York, our vision is to build on all that we have achieved through York Unlimited to become a true university of opportunity. We want to be recognised as the university of opportunity for the UK, a university that will not accept any gaps in access, success or progression for our students. We will go further than we ever have before, building on all that we have accomplished so far to ensure that support is in place to enable every student from every background to succeed, at every stage of their university career. Our approach will be comprehensive and university wide, to ensure that our students are given the help and support they really need, in order to be successful and achieve their dreams.
University of Sanctuary
York has a long history of being a place of safety for people caught up in conflict and in need of refuge. In September 2020, York became a University of Sanctuary, in recognition of our sector-leading efforts to expand access for refugees and asylum seekers. Our responsibility as a University of Sanctuary means we are committed to being a ‘University for All.’ Thanks to our remarkable community of supporters, we have been able to demonstrate this commitment by providing 20 Equal Access Scholarships through the York Unlimited campaign.
The Equal Access Scholarships enable students seeking asylum to access a York education and find a safety and sanctuary whilst they are here. This support is vital, as asylum seeking students are denied permission to work, are not allowed to apply for student finance, and are charged international fees to study in the UK. This can make a university education, and the opportunity this brings to secure a brighter future, seem impossible to grasp. Our supporters have enabled us to offer two undergraduate and one postgraduate Equal Access Scholarships per year, helping students to access a York education and fulfil their hopes of contributing to the community.
With the help of our supporters, we have also been able to extend our Equal Access Fund to offer emergency support to students fleeing Afghanistan, and those affected by the war in Ukraine. Fahim explains how life-changing this support has been.
“The Equal Access Fund means a lot to me. It really changed my whole life. I received the Equal Access Fund in a very hard time.
When my government back in Afghanistan was collapsed by the Taliban, there were a thousand young people like me who were so disappointed. And we felt hopeless. Thankfully, the University of York granted me the Equal Access Scholarship to come to this University and pursue my dreams.
Today you see me participating in this graduation ceremony. That's all because of the Equal Access Fund. I'm looking forward to a better life. My future career goals are based around working with those in the education sector back in my country. I would like to contribute to the betterment of my people’s life and my community, because they need me. But unfortunately, right now there aren’t any opportunities for me to be able to go there.
So for some time, I will be focusing on my short term goals here, where I can establish my life more academically and professionally. And in the long term, I'm looking at myself in a career where I can impact more on the community - not just on a national level, but on a global level.”
Thanks to the support of our donors, we have also been able to offer assistance to Human Rights Defenders at Risk, incredible individuals who have risked their lives to fight injustice and strengthen democracy around the world. This support has given Human Rights Defenders a safe place to live, study, research and network at York, making an enormous difference not only to our Human Rights Defenders, but all of those they will go on to help through their immensely important and valuable work. Meggie explains this difference this support has made.
“The University of York’s Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk is an invaluable programme that offers a temporary safe haven and an opportunity for research and reflection for human rights defenders like myself who face threats and persecution in our home countries. The fellowship has provided me with a much-needed break from constantly worrying about my security, enabling me to think more freely and creatively about how to renew my commitment to human rights.
Hosting Human Rights Defenders in danger at the University of York is not just an act of generosity or kindness, but it is also a demonstration of the University’s commitment to human rights and social justice. By providing temporary sanctuary and support to these individuals, the University is contributing to the protection of human rights defenders worldwide, and promoting academic freedom and the exchange of ideas. Furthermore, by welcoming those who are at risk in their homeland, the University is creating a community of diverse and engaged individuals who bring different perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to the table. This enriches the academic environment and creates opportunities for collaboration and innovation. In the long run, hosting Human Rights Defenders at the University of York is a way to demonstrate solidarity and support for those who are fighting for human rights and social justice. To the donors who support this scheme, I would like to express my gratitude. This Fellowship has had a profound impact on my life and work, and I know it has done the same for many others who have had the privilege to participate.
Your support has not only provided me with an opportunity to learn and grow, but it has also enabled me to make a greater contribution to the human rights cause in my home country and beyond. By providing a safe haven for these individuals, you are empowering them to continue their work, which can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond their immediate circle. I believe that this programme has the power to create a brighter future for all of us, and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Upon completion of the Fellowship, I plan to return to the Philippines and take the lead in a new human rights and climate justice organisation. I am excited to implement the ideas and knowledge I have gained during my time in York, particularly in the areas of indigenous education, collective care for human rights defenders, and the important role that universities can play in protecting human rights.”
Our character as a University has always been to welcome those who have been excluded. We know access to higher education has the power to transform people's lives. It can enable learners to develop the skills and capabilities that are needed to thrive in a global community. For many, University is this platform for opportunity and creativity, an invitation to a community without borders. Today, millions of people around the world are denied this chance, not due to lack of ability or passion but circumstances beyond their control; many find themselves displaced without the security, comfort and opportunities that many of us are privileged enough to expect as a right.
Now, in our new phase of philanthropy for York, we want to build on all that we achieved so far to launch the York Sanctuary Fund. This fund will respond to the huge challenges faced by students, academics and Human Rights Defenders from around the world, allowing us to offer sanctuary and support when and where it is needed most, without the pressure or limits that come with developing responsive, emergency packages of support. Instead, the York Sanctuary Fund will offer a new model, providing a sustainable and consistent package of support for people seeking sanctuary that will provide vital, immediate assistance to individuals who are fleeing conflict, war, or persecution around the world.
Developing a Mentally Fit York
At the start of York Unlimited we launched Mentally Fit York, our fund to transform mental health on a local, national and international scale through supporting on the ground initiatives and the latest groundbreaking research. We could never have foreseen just how vital this work would be as feelings of loneliness, fear and anxiety swept the world, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to our donors, and all of the incredible individuals who took on the Great York Walk to raise funds for Mentally Fit York, we have been able to offer funding to 8 projects throughout our campaign, all of which have helped to improve lives through better mental health. Here are just two of the remarkable projects that were able to take place, thanks to the support of Mentally Fit York.
£57,000 was pledged to support Togetherall over three years, an online platform that provided 24/7 mental health and wellbeing support to every student at York.
“Thanks to the funding from Mentally Fit York, we were able to respond very quickly to the first Covid lockdown, which dispersed our students across the UK and overseas, making the need for an additional online student support package an urgent priority. In the first three months of service, 1081 students registered, gaining not just support from their peers, but a mechanism through which they could express and share their experiences of lockdown. It provided a vital means of connection and support at a time when students were dealing with the isolation of Covid restrictions, and the corresponding impact on their university life.
As the pandemic continued, and we then moved into a post-pandemic environment, Togetherall was there for students to safely express their struggles during this time of change, and to gain support from their peers. Togetherall supplied a wealth of resources for the University to use as part of its ongoing student wellbeing programme, such as this social media graphic for exam stress.”
£2,000 was awarded to Colleges at York, who partnered with local grassroots men's mental health initiative, 'Menfulness,' on a project to remove barriers preventing the young men of the student body from reaching out for mental health support and to facilitate peer support networks within men’s sports teams.
As part of this project, an infographic was created containing best practice statements for student leaders and colleagues who undertake student wellbeing work at York, which described how best to engage male students at York in mental health and wellbeing campaigns, activities and support mechanisms. Training sessions were also delivered to sports teams and leaders by York Menfulness, who shared their expertise in peer support.
“This project represents the best of working at York. Although the project was carried out by College staff, the stakeholders were wide and varied. During the research phase we consulted both academics and student support professionals. The infographic was developed by a student intern in conjunction with a local charity for the benefit of our student body as a whole.”
We were also able to offer 21 Mental Health Nursing Scholarships through the Mentally Fit York Fund. These scholarships support Mental Health Nursing students with living costs, helping to ease financial worries and enabling them to focus on their training. This support is vital to ensuring that we can nurture and support the leading Mental Health Nurses of the future, who will go on to care for those facing mental ill health in hospitals and in the community.
“The scholarship has been a blessing to me. It has made my financial burdens a little bit less. I am very thankful to the donors who assisted me with the scholarship, this changed my life and my children’s in a very big way. I have more time for my studies and to spend more time with my children.”
We know that there are widespread concerns that mental health problems are increasing among students. And yet, there is little high-quality evidence available that can help us to truly understand these patterns, and build effective strategies to detect, prevent and intervene. During our campaign for York, former Chancellor of the University, Dr. Greg Dyke, generously supported the Student Psychological Wellbeing project, an important research project that is aiming to address this issue by establishing a university-wide student mental health and psychological wellbeing cohort, from which data on mental health among students can be collected on an ongoing basis. This data will be vital to ensuring we can support students with their mental health and wellbeing in effective ways in the future.
Now, in our bold new phase of philanthropy at York, we want to build on all we have learnt over the past few years in the area of mental health, and go even further to enhance the lives of all people who are affected by mental health problems. Mentally Fit York has now pledged to support the Institute of Mental Health Research, the University of York’s brand new home for the diverse and essential research we have been carrying out in this area for many years. The Institute will bring together ambitious, enquiring academics and students, with partners working at the forefront of mental health, and will allow us to do more by expanding our insights, our reach and facilitating even more collaboration between researchers, frontline professionals and members of the public. Mentally Fit York is proud to support the Institute, to ensure that people can live better lives, every day.
As a University, we firmly believe in the power of enterprise and entrepreneurship as a driver for change to deliver better economic and social outcomes for everyone. Through York Unlimited, we wanted to inspire innovation and entrepreneurship by developing the spaces, skills and support needed for the next generation of talented entrepreneurs to thrive and create the businesses of the future. We saw just how important this innovation is to the resilience of our economics and communities, through the Covid-19 pandemic. We are so grateful to all of our remarkable donors who have helped to support the business leaders of tomorrow by giving them the opportunity and space they need to test their ideas and build their experience in business.
Thanks to the generous support of Santander, we have been able to offer students the opportunity to take part in the Summer Accelerator, an exciting 8 week programme that allows students to test out their business ideas, work with a professional coach and access a dedicated workspace. This vital support has given our students the unique opportunity to focus entirely on their business for the summer period, without having to worry about the financial pressure this may otherwise bring, giving them the best chance to turn their business into a long term success.
“Getting onto the Summer Accelerator gave me the confidence to believe I could make and sell art and have a successful small business.”
The Enterprise Fellowship in Chemistry was established by our wonderful supporters Bryan and Lydia Gray, to give academics and post-doctoral research assistants the opportunity to take a year working full-time on an enterprise idea, based on their research. The Fellowships provide a programme of business start-up training, one to one expert mentoring, and the space to develop ideas and build partnerships with organisations interested in the practical applications of the research, making a huge difference not only to our Enterprise Fellows, but all of those their work will go on to help in the future.
York’s position as an entrepreneurial hub and champion of innovation has been firmly established thanks to the tremendous support of Phil Doye and his digital transformational specialist company, boxxe. Phil’s support has enabled the University of York to partner with Barclays Eagle Labs to fund an accelerator programme, providing business support and advice to entrepreneurs and businesses in the City of York, to help them to succeed. Through this partnership, inspiring entrepreneurs will have access to coworking and office space, curated events and networks, and coaching and mentorship programmes with industry experts, helping businesses to thrive within the city.
Now, as we move into our ambitious new phase of philanthropy at York, we want to build on this success to make enterprise everybody’s business. Our ambition for York is to be recognised not only as a centre for research and teaching excellence, but to be known for our diverse, connected and thriving entrepreneurial community, one that is motivated by public good and which uses enterprise and entrepreneurship to change and challenge the world as it is. We want to remove the barriers that prevent many from pursuing their entrepreneurial potential, such as a financial stability that affords the freedom to fail, and build a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem that will reach further into the community than ever before. That is why we have launched Enterprise Works, our bold new initiative that will help every entrepreneur who sees the world as it could be, to pursue their ambitions.
As a university, we know the power that research can have to transform lives. Our mission through York Unlimited was to drive research that would tackle global challenges and help to discover opportunities for global equality. We are so grateful to our supporters whose generosity has enabled this groundbreaking research to take place at York - research which has made an enormous difference to so many lives across the world.
Here at York, we strongly believe that the arts and humanities enrich our society, helping us understand ourselves, our world, and enabling us to develop paths to a brighter future. The Wolfson Foundation has generously supported emerging academics in the fields of History, Literature and Languages, who have the potential to make a real, lasting difference in these areas, through the Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarships. These scholarships have provided vital financial support to our students, enabling the brightest minds to flourish and ensuring the future of arts and humanities research in the UK.
We are so thankful to The Wolfson Foundation, who have continued to support pioneering research through the establishment of the INTERIORS facility (INTERdisciplinary Facility for IndOoR Air Quality ReSearch), a new, state of the art facility that will deliver world-leading research in indoor air quality. Findings from this research, which is being led by Professor Nic Carlsaw, Professor of Indoor Air Chemistry, will be used to improve the health of everyone, and shape how the homes of the future are built. The high-tech facility will be located on Campus East at the University of York, and is expected to be fully operational by 2026.
Robotics and autonomous systems are becoming part of our everyday life. But keeping these safe and assured will be integral to our future. Thanks to support from the Lloyd's Register Foundation, as well as an international network of collaborative industrial partners and private donors, and Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme, the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), the Institute for Safe Autonomy is set to open on Campus East later this year. This brand new building will host world-class research facilities and specialist labs that will enable researchers to safely and ethically realise the full potential of robotics and connected autonomous systems, and find the solutions to solve the global challenges in assuring their safety.
This inspiring research is providing a world-leading ecosystem for research and innovation, education, public engagement, and commercial realisation. The next chapter for York is to build on our global reputation in assuring autonomy and focus on nurturing the next generation of leaders. This vision is being made possible with the help of generous donors who have established a scholarship programme to support students and early career fellowships in Engineering, enabling them to become the leaders of the future in engineering safe AI.
Thanks to the support of our donors, we have been able to support the next generation of scientists through the GenerationResearch programme. This programme, which offers paid research and technical experiences to students from diverse backgrounds, is opening up access to science for our students, giving them the opportunity to undertake experiences that will support their personal and professional development, and enable them to reach their academic potential.
Now, as we move into a bigger and bolder phase of philanthropy at York, we want to build on all that we have achieved so far to advance areas of research that will seek to answer humanity’s most urgent questions. We want to support big ideas, ideas that will lead to the most transformational advances in our society and benefit so many generations to come. Through our research, we want to tackle the most pressing challenges facing our society, to build a better world for all.
Our history tells us that our expertise can tackle the challenges and crises faced by society. But how we bring innovation to our economy and how we balance that with opening up opportunity for the most disadvantaged, at a time when inequalities are widening, is something we can only do in partnership.
We look forward to seeing what we can achieve, together, over the next 60 years and to supporting the next generation of students and academic leaders. Together we will discover, educate and inspire new thinking. We will cross borders and push the boundaries of knowledge. We will advance medical research, work together to combat climate change and overcome inequalities.
To everyone who has supported York Unlimited through gifts of time, money and insights, thank you. The ground you have broken, and the impact you have made with your support, is truly astounding. I know that the difficulties of today can weigh heavily, and breed pessimism about the future. But as we move into our bold new phase of philanthropy at York, I also know that, together, we can and will make that future better. I am honoured to be on this journey with you.
Professor Charlie Jeffery
University of York Vice-Chancellor and President