Kent helping to make a difference through Santander partnership

Gary Hughes
Vice-Chancellor Prof Karen Cox with Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities

In response to the global pandemic the University and Santander Universities UK have been working in partnership to provide financial support to students, and for projects that support local business and healthcare workers. 

Reflecting the focus of the long-term partnership between Kent and Santander Universities, the majority of current funding has been redirected towards student support. This includes the establishment of 100 scholarships of £500 each to support students who find themselves unable to find work during the summer months because of the pandemic.

Additionally, Santander, through Santander Universities, have provided an extra £25,000 of funding to support students suffering financial hardship. This will be added to the University’s own hardship fund.

Santander Universities also directed a package of support to Kent businesses that have been hit by the Covid-19 lockdown and who have been pivoting into new products or services which benefit those most affected by the pandemic. Managed by Kent Business School (KBS), these grants help businesses to implement their plans more quickly, thereby enabling them to support vulnerable communities. Already grants have been issued to a Kent-grown fresh produce home delivery service, a Thanet-based social enterprise working with the elderly, and a meal service for homeless people in Thanet and Canterbury. Santander Universities have also funded ‘Back to Business’ grants to help companies prepare to reopen safely by supporting them with the expense of modifying premises, purchasing protective screens or making other necessary adaptations.

The important work University teams have been doing in support of NHS and frontline care workers has also been given a financial boost by Santander Universities. This includes funding for 3D printers and materials to produce face shields and protective equipment for the NHS, hospice and charitable care organisations.

Professor Karen Cox, Kent’s Vice-Chancellor and President, said: ‘We are hugely grateful for Santander Universities’ support of our students and our community activities at this time. Between us we will continue to help make a difference where it is needed most.’

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities, said: ‘Santander is committed to supporting higher education as well as local communities across the UK, so we’re pleased that our funding is able to be redirected to where it is most needed at this critical time. Universities, such as the University of Kent, are doing some fantastic work to contribute to the UK’s effort to combat the outbreak of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to collaborate with our university partners in a way which increases their response effort and look forward to continuing  to work with them on supporting both students and the broader higher education community with further initiatives over the coming months.’

Kent Union President Sasha Langeveldt added: ‘I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Matt Hutnell this academic year and would like to thank him and Santander Universities for taking the time to listen to the students’ union, and for supporting students through various opportunities over the years. I would especially like to thank them for the donations they have given to students facing financial hardship this academic year, all of which will support them through these unprecedented times.’

Kent and Santander Universities have been partners since 2012 and are currently in our third three-year term working together. This partnership provides additional financial and practical support for students through education and mobility bursaries, and funding to support student start-up businesses. It also supports student employability and smaller businesses by funding student internships within start-ups and SMEs.