Birkbeck and Santander celebrate pioneering partnership

The College welcomed Santander in an evening that celebrated the success of the entrepreneurial Pioneer Programme and other projects funded by Santander Universities.

On Monday 17 December, Birkbeck staff, students and alumni welcomed members of Santander to Bloomsbury to celebrate the ongoing partnership between the two institutions. Earlier this year, Santander Universities, who have supported the College since 2013, awarded Birkbeck a total of £100,000 to support projects that ensure the next generation of students is equipped for the modern workplace.

Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck, explained how the generous funding has helped the College fulfil its mission of enabling students from diverse social and educational backgrounds to participate in its courses and to maintain and develop excellence in research, through initiatives such as scholarships and funding for research. He said: “We have had a tremendous and productive partnership with Santander Universities over the past five years, developing from scholarships for Latin American students, internships and now to the Pioneer Programme, which we are celebrating today.”

The Pioneer Programme is one of two new projects created in partnership with Santander Universities designed to promote entrepreneurship and help students develop the skills needed in the modern workforce. It is a short course available to any Birkbeck student who wants to develop the knowledge and skills to excel as an entrepreneur. At each monthly workshop, students hear from successful entrepreneurs from a range of industries and focus on developing the practical skills needed to survive in a competitive environment. Topics to be covered in this year’s programme include building resilience, pitching and start-up marketing, among many others.

Robbie Rushton, who took part in the Pioneer Programme last year, spoke about the impact it has had on his career. He said: “This project represents the dedication that Birkbeck students have to better themselves … it allowed us to take the ideas from our course and start applying them in a business sense, and see how those businesses could become our own.” He thanked Santander and Jenna Davies, Employability Consultant and Pioneer Programme Manager at Birkbeck, for their commitment to Birkbeck students and developing entrepreneurial talent.

The second project funded by Santander, led by Birkbeck’s Dr Renos Savva, supports research to understand industry’s expectations of the provision of enterprise skills in education, addressing issues such as how businesses and educators can work together to encourage entrepreneurship, and identifying the challenges of providing opportunities for entrepreneurialism consistently within education.

Matt Hutnell, Director at Santander Universities, commented: “We’re pleased that Santander Universities Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund will support these exciting projects. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the Pioneer Programme will bring to the next generation of entrepreneurial talent and the research project influencing collaboration between industry and the UK higher education sector to support entrepreneurship.”

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