18 June 2013

Donations made by alumni and friends of Lancaster University have funded over £1m worth of projects across campus.  Established in 2001, the University’s Friends Programme has provided a way for supporters to donate on a regular basis. 

Donations tend to be regular gifts like £5 or £10 per month, or single gifts or around £50.  Each year, the funds raised enable grants to be made to a wide variety of projects.  Everyone’s gift, no matter what size, really makes a difference to students’ lives.

A committee, made up of representatives of the University community (including donors), meets at the end of each calendar year to make grants.  The latest grant-making saw over £140,000 distributed and seventeen projects funded. 

The Student Hardship Fund benefits from a grant each year, providing support to students who, through no fault of their own encounter financial difficulties during their studies.  You can read more about a student from Syria who received this funding – Rahaf tells her story of what this meant to her

Innovative research and learning is also funded via The Friends Programme.  Ever wondered how the scientists at CERN found the Higgs boson?  Friends funding allowed visitors at this year’s Big Bang Science Fair to investigate.  The fair for UK young scientists and engineers, saw a team from Lancaster University showcase a new interactive particle pin ball machine that attempts to replicate some of the great work taking place at Lancaster University. 

“Our particle pinball machine uses state of the art motion sensing technology to create a virtual pinball game that challenged visitors to collide subatomic particles in the hunt for the Higgs boson,” said Dr Alan Darragh from the Faculty of Science and Technology. 
Lancaster academics from across departments (Engineering, School of Computing and Communications and Physics) designed and built the virtual particle pinball machine, funded by the Friends Programme.

You can watch the build of the particle accelerator simulator and see a montage of activity from the event itself

Student societies also receive funding.  This year the following grants were made:

  • Bailrigg FM – outside broadcast equipment
  • Baking Society – kitchen facilities
  • Theatre Group – lighting infrastructure
  • Pendle College JCR – PA kit for live entertainment
  • Ballroom Dancing Society – hosting the annual northern universities dance competition (this took place at Blackpool Tower Ballroom)

Professor Amanda Chetwynd (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and the Student Experience and Chair of the Friends Programme Disbursement Committee) commented:  “It is very rewarding to see such worthwhile and diverse projects receive funding.  The projects would struggle to find financial support elsewhere so the Friends Programme money makes a big difference and adds enormously to the Lancaster experience.  It’s also a very interesting process in which to be involved – there aren’t many meetings where you get the opportunity to support students’ career development, promote research and have a bit of ballroom dancing thrown in as well!”

So, that £5 you give each month or the £50 on a credit card you gave over the phone in a University telethon really did make a difference.  Thank you so much.

If you are a donor to the University and interested in sitting on the Friends Programme disbursement committee please contact Rachel Binley

If you wish to make a donation you can do so online.