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UEA aims to make a £100 million difference

Students in from of UEA's Ziggurats. David Kirkham, Fisheye Images

After raising £53 million in philanthropic funding in just three years, The Difference Campaign, set up by the University of East Anglia (UEA) to support its commitment to “do different”, is doubling its original target with the aim of raising £100 million by 2021.

Since its launch in 2013, this ambitious campaign has widened opportunity and funded ground-breaking research thanks to donations from philanthropists, alumni, businesses, trusts and foundations. Scholarships have been awarded to more than 545 students who otherwise might not have attended university. The Campaign has also funded ground-breaking research into health and environmental sciences, while access to art and literature has been increased through acclaimed exhibitions at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

“Philanthropy makes a tangible difference to people’s lives and the success of The Difference Campaign has far exceeded our hopes and expectations,” said UEA’s Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson. “We’re very grateful to everyone who has supported us, and continues to do so. We look forward to helping more students fulfil their potential and funding future research and arts projects, thanks to our donors’ generosity.”

One UEA alumnus and donor explained his reasons for supporting the campaign: “I am of the generation that didn’t pay a penny for the opportunities that UEA gave me. The next generation will graduate into debt and uncertainty. It is for their sakes that I support The Difference Campaign.”

Students who have benefitted include Jay Aldous, a fourth year Medical student from Thetford. “There really aren’t words to describe how amazing it feels to have someone invest in your future,” he said. Maisie Chadwick, a scholarship student from Leeds studying Geography and International Development, added: “I’ve been given the opportunity to learn, meet new people, face new challenges and, ultimately, become a better person. I hope that one day I can help someone as much as I’ve been helped.”

The next phase of the campaign will provide 500 more scholarships across the university, giving high-potential young people access to higher education whatever their financial means and enabling graduates to continue their work at Master’s and PhD levels.

Encouraging entrepreneurship is another strong focus, and the new funding will help expand the support offered to students and recent graduates with business ideas through the innovative UEA Enterprise Fund, which will enable them to make their ideas a reality through a combination of grants, investment and expert mentoring.

Vital research into human health and well-being will also continue to grow thanks to new funding, with a focus on identifying how cancer cells develop and the way our diets affect our health. And, as UEA is known for its pioneering environmental and scientific teaching and research, The Difference Campaign will fund a new suite of multi-disciplinary labs, creating a new generation of young scientists, and provide new PhD and fellowship posts that give opportunities to talented young researchers.

UEA’s reputation as a creative hub will also be strengthened, with scholarships for each of the 30 places on its world-renowned Master’s in Creative Writing Prose Fiction course, enabling the voices of talented writers to flourish at UEA.

“We’re very proud of our top 15 position in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and our top 100 world ranking for research excellence,” added Prof Richardson. “We believe passionately in making a positive difference to people’s lives, whether it’s by extending the opportunity for gifted young people from low-income backgrounds to study, or by undertaking research that will ultimately improve people’s lives. The Difference Campaign has enabled us to make a long-lasting impact, something we can now continue to do.”

If you would like more information, to make a donation or to watch the campaign video, go to https://www.uea.ac.uk/difference. Alternatively, email giving@uea.ac.uk, or call the Development Office on 01603 593776.