Santander is a major supporter of higher education worldwide, giving out more than 21,000 scholarships and grants in 2011 alone. The McLaren drivers said the scholarships were a “fantastic opportunity”.
“When I was growing up there weren’t many scholarships and opportunities to have a chance to do something like this in higher education… It was a lot harder,” said Hamilton, who is ranked third in the Formula One standings.
Button, ranked eighth, said: “This will help you really concentrate on what you want to achieve in the future. Whatever that is, if you’re able to put your mind to it and you don’t have other distractions anything is possible, as you can see from our careers.”
“When I was growing up there weren’t many scholarships and opportunities”
The Formula Santander scholarships (a spin-off from the bank’s sponsorship of the sport) provides British and foreign students with €5,000 to cover six months’ study overseas. Nine hundred have benefitted over the last two years, although some 50,000 have applied.
“For me this was everything,” said Colombian student Natalia Concha, who will use the award for a masters in Criminology at the University of Sheffield. “As an international student the fees to study at a UK university are really, really expensive, so to have a scholarship made all the difference,”
Diego Corimanya from Peru received a scholarship towards his master’s at the University of Bristol. “It is a big investment to study here, but now with the scholarship it’s the same cost as studying in my country. But the education I get here is so much better in comparison,” he said.
Santander is the only global bank with a dedicated universities arm and has supported higher education for 15 years. It backs 4,455 projects each year worldwide and has agreements with 975 universities.
In a follow-on ceremony attended by 60 UK university chancellors, the CEO of Santander UK, Ana Botín, pledged a further 700 scholarships plus £1.5m in extra funding to UK universities, taking its investment to £7 million in 2012.
Addressing the HE fraternity she said: “Your ideas, your innovations, your students will drive economic growth. We need you to prepare students of all ages for future labour markets, we need you to incubate the enterprises of tomorrow.”
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