The donation – the biggest of its kind in Loughborough’s history – will be used to create the ‘Student Success Academy’. This will provide tailored support for specific student groups at every point in the Higher Education journey - at school, transitioning to university and then throughout their degree.
The Academy will be led by a new team of six front-line specialist outreach and support staff, all dedicated to ensuring students are equipped with the skills they need to overcome any barriers which may be holding them back.
Over the next five years the £2 million gift will benefit thousands of young people. It will help 800 16 to 18-year-olds to build academic and life skills on a targeted pathway to higher education; provide 1-2-1 coaching to 3,600 students to increase their chances of a successful outcome; and give more than 17,000 students the chance to take part in new life-shaping skills development and employability opportunities throughout their degree.
Alumnus Chris Gill graduated with a Degree in Banking and Finance in 1979 and a Master’s in Economics in 1981. He is currently the Deputy Chief Executive at InfraRed Capital Partners Ltd, and prior to that was Head of Investments at HSBC Bank.
Speaking about the donation Professor Rachel Thomson, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, said: “This transformational gift will have a massive impact on the lives of many young people, and we are immensely grateful to Chris for his support. We are very much aware that some students in higher education can face inequalities, which can take hold early in life and result in barriers and challenges which persist throughout the student lifecycle - before, in preparing for and whilst at university.
“The Loughborough student experience is full of opportunities which any student can grasp, whatever their dream, whatever their goal, and use to develop the skills they need for their future life experiences and fulfilling careers. Our challenge is to ensure that all students are in the best possible position to access and make the most of these opportunities such that they can achieve their full potential.
“We will rise to the challenge, and with this generous donation from Chris we can now make a real step change to further inspire and support students from groups under-represented in higher education and we are excited to be able to create the new Student Success Academy.”
Chris Gill said: “It is a privilege to be part of creating the Student Success Academy. I am excited to see the hard work and passion of the Loughborough team come to fruition and make a lasting difference through this initiative.
“Knowing that sadly not everyone experiences a level playing field when it comes to higher education, I have supported scholarships at Loughborough as a donor for many years as part of the University’s Schofield Society. I have enjoyed meeting student beneficiaries and seeing the impact that these donations have made. This gift to establish the Student Success Academy felt like the natural next step – it gave me an opportunity to maximise impact and change the lives of many thousands more students.”
Rachel Third, Head of Philanthropy at the University, said: “It is inspiring to see the difference that alumni can make by giving back to Loughborough through charitable donations, and we are deeply grateful to Chris for this landmark contribution. Gifts of all sizes from former students, staff and friends of Loughborough help us to support students when they need it most. I hope that many other alumni will be inspired to get involved with Loughborough and do what they can to provide opportunities for students too, as donors, advocates, experts and employers.”
If you would like to know more about the difference charitable donations make at Loughborough, please visit our website.