Removing all barriers

Some of our young people face difficult barriers when entering higher education

The late Peter Whelpton (Economics, 1969) had a vision to transform the lives of young people living with some of the most extreme hardships. He recognised that young carers, those with a disability, care leavers and those with other difficult personal situations, face substantial barriers to reaching university. They often lack the financial support,  networks and encouragement that their peers may enjoy. Peter also recognised the transformational impact that a university education can have on young people’s futures.

With Peter’s generous gift the the York Opportunity Scholarships were set up at the University of York in 2010. This scholarship provides financial support of £1,100 for three years of undergraduate study, alleviating the pressure that so many students from under-represented groups face both before and during university.

Every penny of your donation goes directly to the students. Last year, there were over 300 applicants yet sufficient funds for only 18 Awards. That means that, right now, fifteen out of every sixteen applicants are turned down.

With your help, 25, 35 or even 50 of York’s most deserving students from under-represented backgrounds will be given the support that they need to succeed here at York.

Recognising promise

In the last seven years undergraduate students have benefitted from the generosity of Peter and other donors like you who have since been inspired to contribute to this incredible fund. The impact of these gifts is enormous. For the students it is a recognition of achievement and promise, and a boost in confidence that is often been missing from their lives. The Award also reduces the pressure to work in part-time jobs, and provides vital funds for books, computers, work experience, and offers the possibility of overseas study and travel.

Peter’s legacy

Peter sadly died in December 2016 but his extraordinary legacy means that 13 York Opportunity Scholarship will be offered each year for the foreseeable future This means that 1 in every 15 applicants, rather than 1 in 40, will be supported during their studies at York. The need is still great and we continue to seek out others who may be inspired by Peter’s vision.

York Opportunity Scholars would like to say thank you in their own words


“As a student with a chronic illness, before coming to university I was extremely concerned about the potentially huge impact on my studies of having to work part-time as well as studying. The York Opportunity Award has allowed me the financial freedom to not need to do so, which has undoubtedly been responsible in large part for the high grades I have managed to achieve so far during my degree. The award has allowed me to focus my too often limited energy on my university work as much as I have needed to and to achieve great results, and has even allowed me the chance to engage with extracurricular and social activities, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

Alice, third year


“Receiving this scholarship has given me the confidence, motivation and peace that I have needed to complete my studies at the University of York. ”

Joanna, third year

Maja Jasicka volunteering 

None of this would have been possible without your generosity. Many of my university-going friends from London are astounded to hear of the tremendous, big and small, acts of kindness York does for its students. You are a huge part of that and I would really like to say a massive thank you for this. As I look forward to graduating this year and joining the alumni community, I hope I can do the same for others at York in due time.”

Maja, third year