Liverpool father-of-one Steve Stroud no longer has to worry if pursing his techie dream is a drain on his family’s finances.
The married engineer believes his research to create a new video-audio surveillance drone is a winner, especially under the tutelage of some of the UK’s leading drone experts in the LJMU School of Engineering.
"Financial support from LJMU is a lifesaver," he believes. "I not only get my fees paid but also receive a £1,500 monthly stipend which affords me the freedom to focus full-time on the prototype."
The sound engineer would be providing backstage support for humdrum musicians not pushing the boundaries of technology if it wasn’t for his winning one of 60 Vice-Chancellor’s Postgraduate Research Scholarships.
Similarly, Tahrim Hussain, 23, from Burnley, a School of Education graduate is aiming high – to become an academic possibly – as she completes the first year of her scholarship-supported doctorate.
"I’ve done my background reading and attended lots of conferences which I’d never have been able to afford,” she said. “It’s maybe too early to say where my PhD will take me but the idea of being an academic is one I like."
Steve and Tahrim are among more than 60 researchers supported by almost £1.4million in VC PGR scholarships.
In these times of tight personal finances and a cost-of-living crisis, LJMU is upping its game in ensuring people not only follow their dream – but complete the education they worked so hard to access.
Last academic year 2021/22, LJMU supported its students to the tune of more than £10 million - a significant boost of almost 5% on the previous year.
Clearly, its partly about hardship but it’s also about proactive recruitment.
"We’re proud to be putting more income back into supporting our students," says Yvonne Turnbull, director of student advice and wellbeing. "We now operate a very wide range of support and one that is very flexible, catering for both hardship-type funds, achievement-based funding and support based on personal circumstances."
In terms of retention, more than 7,000 JMU students were in receipt last year of a Progression Bursary - these are paid automatically to all students with a low family resource of less than £25,000pa. Students receive roughly £500 on top of their standard finance and the bursary is non-returnable.
Almost 2,000 students successfully applied for the Student Support Fund, known more colloquially as the hardship fund - with the average pay-out being £585. And Undergraduate Scholarships were paid to more than 500 students, with payments rising from £1,000 to £5,000 depending on the nature of the scholarship.
Ability and potential
Ability to afford higher education is at the heart of our student support mission but we base a growing range of our support via Scholarships which are based on academic ability and outstanding potential.
Faculties and schools offer a range of bursaries and grants to research students and there is also a central fund for students who wish to progress to doctoral level, called the Vice-Chancellor’s Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
This year, twenty-four VC’s PGR Scholarships have been awarded, including, for the first time, to international students. They cover five faculties and are awarded to students of all ages and backgrounds purely on the merits of their PhD proposal. Tahrim, Steve and Jack, above, are great examples.
Other recipients of scholarships have succeeded academically despite significant difficulties in their lives.
Mikaela Forrester, from Somerset, sat her A Levels amid a gruelling course of treatment for cancer. Her grit and determination saw her earn a place on the Forensic Science and Criminal Justice degree course and the 19-year-old is one of a handful of recipients of the VC Scholarship, worth £5,000 per academic year.
Fellow first-year Amelia Davies, from Warrington, who is reading psychology, also applied and came up trumps on the basis of her extra-curricula charity work for Barnardos, securing the Sir Bert Massie Scholarship, awarded in memory of the alum and Liverpool disability right pioneer.
"It’s an amazing help," she said. "I’m so thankful."
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Power describes Amelia and Mikaela, along with Rabha and Riza, two other beneficiaries, as: "Perfect representatives of what this university is about."
Other key awards include £1 million for Alumni Awards, which offer our own graduates a 20% reduction when they progress to an LJMU postgraduate course, and Sports Scholarships which support elite aspiring athletes with their ongoing training and specialist support and are awarded in athletics, hockey, rugby, swimming and more.
For all information on student finances and financial support see our dedicated hub.
For a separate snapshot of how LJMU and JM Student union are helping support students with the cost-of-living, see Cost of living support for students | Liverpool John Moores University (ljmu.ac.uk)
IMAGES: (Frontpage) PhD students Tahrim, Steve and Jack at the Vice-Chancellor’s Welcome Event
(Above) Mikaela and Amelia with VC Mark Power, Maureen Massie, Yvonne Turnbull and James Forshaw from Student Advice & Wellbeing.