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Aspire Awards

Please note the Aspire Awards will not be open to applications this academic year.

Aspire Awards

Would an award of £1000 help you achieve the difference you aspire to make? 

Do you have an idea that could help your community?

With training would you be able to make a difference to other peoples’ lives?

Then the Aspire Awards can help!

Whether you wish to work with young people, train in Makaton, create a community garden or even tackle digital poverty, this is your opportunity to receive the funding to help you accomplish this. As long as your idea is feasible to undertake and meets one or more of our Aspire Values, you could be in with a chance!

Offered in conjunction with Santander, the Aspire Awards are exclusively for undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in higher education and who might not have otherwise been able to fulfil their ideas.

We believe that these enriching activities are an important aspect of your University experience; they serve to equip you with transferable skills and contribute towards your personal and cultural development, which will benefit you beyond University.

The Aspire Awards will not be running during the 2021/22 academic year.



What are the Aspire Values?

The awards aim to fund well-planned, realistic projects and ideas that meet one or more of our Aspire Values, which are:

  • Have a positive impact on society - something which improves the quality of life for others, particularly within the local community
  • Strives to promote fair access, equality and inclusion - providing support and/or opportunities to people from underrepresented backgrounds
  • Broadens your educational development - increasing your range of learning to areas outside your university course
  • Enhances your cultural development - understanding aspects of your own culture or introducing you to other cultures
  • Complements your course of study - increasing your breadth of learning in areas directly related to your course of study
  • Enriches the lives of those involved in the project - provides life-enhancing experiences for participants

Am I eligible?

You are eligible to apply for an Aspire Award if you are:

  • Studying an undergraduate degree at one of our UK campuses 
  • Enrolled and attending in the academic year you're applying
  • Are a UK Student  

And also identify with one or more of the following Widening Participation characteristics:

  • Are in receipt of the University of Southampton Bursary (i.e. have a household income, as assessed by Student Finance, of £30,000 or less)
  • Are a mature student (i.e. commenced your current undergraduate degree aged 21 or over)
  • Are an estranged student (i.e. in receipt of the University’s Care Leavers & Estranged Students Support Package)
  • Are a care leaver (i.e. in receipt of the University’s Care Leavers & Estranged Students Support Package)
  • Are a student with a disability
  • Participated in the University’s Access to Southampton Scheme
  • Have a home address in a Low Participation Area (i.e. POLAR4 Q1 -you can check whether your home postcode is within a POLAR4 Q1 area here - and/or an IMDQ1 area)
  • Are the first person in your family, other than brothers and/or sisters, to attend university

You’ll be asked to identify on your application which of the above characteristics you identify with.

Eligible students will be contacted by email when the application window opens. 

What kind of ideas are you looking for?

Anything's possible! We’re seeking to help you carry out those activities or projects that you've thought about doing but may not have had the resources to do. This could be anything from volunteering in your local community to learning a new skill which will benefit you for years to come; now is your chance!

There are no limitations to the ideas you can put forward, however we do ask that you can feasibly carry out the project and achieve your objectives within the academic year.

Your ideas will also need to meet one or more of our Aspire Values, as outlined above, so do take these criteria into consideration when developing your ideas.

This year in particular we are looking for ideas and initiatives which serve to help local communities across the UK.

If you’re looking for inspiration, then you can look through examples of previous winners, here.

What are the application criteria?

All proposals must:

  • Have a clear financial plan
  • Include a plan to evaluate the project 
  • Have a lead applicant who'll receive the funding
  • Provide an impact report on completion

All applications should demonstrate at least two of the following:

  • Have a clear link to the University’s Access and Participation Plan objectives around access, success and progression.
  • Centre on marginalised or underrepresented student groups.
  • Support learning and development within the project team, with consideration of how this will be captured and shared.
  • Engage students as partners through the project, particularly those with lived experience of your area of focus.
  • Use external or internal research to justify the project and its aims.
  • Consider the barriers which may exist outside of the project or intervention.

How do I apply?

The Aspire Awards will not be receiving applications during the 2021/22 academic year.

What makes a successful application?

We are looking for projects and ideas that are feasible, well-planned, and fulfil one or more of our Aspire Values, as outlined above.
Generally, a good application will… 

  1. …outline a project or idea that is realistic in its aims – it must be feasible to achieve.
  2. …clearly describe how it realises one or more of our values.
  3. …detail how undertaking the activity will personally benefit you.
  4. …realistically consider the costs and logistics for carrying out the scheme



How are award recipients decided?

All applications will be considered by a panel of judges.

The panel will first consider each application for feasibility – any proposed projects that are not thought by the judges to be feasible will not be considered further.

Those that are considered to be feasible will then be rated by the judges according to our Aspire Values. If the project meets none of these aims, it will not be considered for an award.

Consideration will also be given to quality of planning and benefit of undertaking the project to the recipient, as outlined in the application.

What happens if my application is successful?

You will be notified by email after the application window has closed if your application is successful.

You may also be required to submit further documentation prior to carrying out your project, i.e. a completed risk assessment. 

Once you’ve carried out your project, we’ll ask you to write a short impact report (up to 400 words), including high resolutions photos, and return this to the Team within three months. This should contain information about your project, explaining what it was, and the benefit gained from the award. This report and photo may be used by the University and Santander to publicise future rounds of the Aspire Awards.

If my application is successful, how will my award be paid?

Aspire Awards will normally be paid by bank transfer (BACS). To ensure your payment is processed successfully, it is recommended that you check the bank details on your Student Record are up to date; you can do this online via Self Service on SUSSED. You can access Self Service here, and click on Personal Information and then Update Payment Details. We cannot be held responsible for delayed payments.

You may be required to agree to provide receipts /proof of payment for any part of the award spent.

Got a question?

If you have any questions or would like further information about the Aspire Awards please contact us on


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