AJ Bell: Mark Gardner Award for Journalism

We are delighted to share the success of Mia Willemsen, the recipient of the newly instated Mark Gardner Award for Journalism, funded by AJ Bell. Mia, a third-year BA Hons Broadcast Journalism student, was honoured with this award for her outstanding writing skills. The AJ Bell Journalism Award, established in memory of a valued colleague, aims to recognize, and support aspiring journalists. Mia’s achievement not only highlights her talent but also reflects the dedication and hard work she has put into her studies.

Mia’s winning article, which you can read more about here, impressed the judges with its unique voice, insightful perspective, and engaging style. Her writing not only demonstrated a deep understanding of the subject matter but also showcased her ability to connect with audiences on a personal level. Daniel Coatsworth, Editor at AJ Bell, described her writing as, ‘honest and instantly full of personality.’  Daniel also went onto say, ‘The AJ Bell Mark Gardner Journalism Award was designed to recognise emerging talent at university level and to give the winner a step up by publishing their article in Shares magazine and by providing a financial contribution as they head towards graduation and put their studies and experience to work in a professional environment.

We were very impressed with Mia’s article. It was well-written, informative, and interesting. Mia has clearly thought about how money has shaped her life so far and how it will continue to do so. She referenced the importance of saving for the future while also engaging the reader with an honest and personal account on ADHD and the impact this can have on someone’s life. 

It was an honour to award Mia the AJ Bell Mark Gardner Journalism Award, and we wish her the best of luck with the rest of her university course and starting a career in journalism.’

The award ceremony was held on Friday 16 February at the Media City campus and was marked by speeches from university faculty and AJ Bell representatives. Paul Duckworth, one of Mias lecturer, who presented Mia with her award said, ‘This is great opportunity for Mia to not only get her work published in AJ Bell’s Shares magazine but also to be financially rewarded for her insightful and thoughtful words. Partnerships with our colleagues in industry are central to the work we do in Journalism through work placement and through fantastic schemes like this. Mia’s work will stand as a tribute to Mark Gardner and hopefully kick her start her career.’

This event not only celebrated Mia’s achievement but also highlighted the strong partnership between AJ Bell and the university. It underscored AJ Bell’s commitment to supporting education and fostering talent within the journalism field.

As Mia embarks on her journey as a budding journalist, we are confident that she will make significant contributions to the industry. We extend our congratulations to Mia Willemsen on this well-deserved prize, and express our gratitude to AJ Bell for their ongoing support and commitment to empowering the next generation of journalists.

As we continue to nurture and support our students, we look forward to witnessing more success stories like Mia’s in the future.

To find out more about the ways you can support our students at the University of Salford, visit Giving To Salford.

Students and Scholarships

Scholar Spotlight: Chloe

Chloe is a first-year student studying Biochemistry with one year of studies in the USA. Chloe is the newest student to receive the Steve Pearce Biochemistry Scholarship. Steve Pearce is a long-standing supporter of the university, is a Salford alumnus and Co-Founder and CEO of Omega Ingredients Ltd. Founded in 2001, Omega Ingredients Ltd, is an award-winning creator of specialist natural flavours, ingredients, and fragrances for manufacturers of food, beverages, and cosmetics products worldwide.

Chloe is thankful for the scholarship opportunity and it can allow her to, ‘spend more time either researching or participating in specific career related work/ lab experience and this is a crucial step into establishing my career again giving me another advantage.’ Chloe is still open different career paths within the scientific industry but says, ‘specifically, my main career aspiration is to become a clinical scientist in embryology/an embryologist. My interest in this first arose when a close family member went through fertility treatment, and I was able to witness the process firsthand.

Chloe is strong academically and prides herself in achieving the best she can with her studies. Chloe has said, ‘academically, receiving the scholarship allows me to focus more on my academics ensuring that without the need to go to work my studies can be to their highest quality.

We are extremely honoured that our community of donors support a range of life-changing scholarships across the University of Salford. For further insight into the incredible philanthropy in action at Salford, take a look at our donor case studies here. If you want to chat to us about supporting scholarships at the University of Salford, please contact us at

We look forward to sharing more of our amazing scholar stories with you and how receiving a scholarship is making a huge difference to our student’s studies.

To find out more about the ways you can support vital scholarships at the University of Salford, visit Giving To Salford.

Campus and Community

IntoUniversity: 2022-23 Impact

As we reflect on the achievements of the past year, we are thrilled to share the incredible impact of IntoUniversity at the Beacon Centre. Through our collaborative efforts and the generous support of our donors, we have made significant strides in empowering young people and transforming communities.

In the 2022/23 academic year, IntoUniversity Salford Central opened its doors to almost 1,000 students, providing them with structured academic support and invaluable resources. From tailored curriculum workshops for primary students to Future Readiness projects for secondary students, our programs have inspired a love for learning and equipped students with essential skills for success.

66% of Salford Central students have progressed into HE, compared to a local average of 20%, and we are delighted that 22 IU students, will join the University of Salford in 2024.

Parent feedback speaks volumes about the positive impact of our programs, with one parent expressing gratitude for the structured after-school sessions and exposure to a variety of topics. Through workshops, university visits, and hands-on projects, students have gained confidence, and developed a clearer understanding of their future educational pathways.

The dedication of our partner schools and the commitment of our passionate staff have been instrumental in driving positive outcomes for students. As highlighted by a headteacher at one of our partner primary schools, our programs have not only improved academic attainment but have also instilled a sense of aspiration and confidence in students.

However, challenges remain, particularly in light of the pandemic’s long-term effects on disadvantaged students. These challenges empower us to continue supporting young people from all backgrounds, ensuring that they have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

As we celebrate 20 years of IntoUniversity’s impact, we are deeply grateful for the support of our donors and we look forward to empowering even more futures in the years to come.

Arts and Culture

Wallace Seymour: Graduate Painting Scholarship

We are pleased to announce a new Painting Scholarship by Wallace Seymour to the University of Salford Art Collection and School of Arts Media and Creative Technology Graduate Scholarship Programme, run in partnership with Castlefield Gallery. 

Wallace Seymour formed by Rebecca Wallace and Pip Seymour have been offering fine art products since 2011. They began a programme of high-quality painting and drawing materials, through their shared vision to provide artists with the maximum potential for expression through colour. They have created unique ranges of oil, acrylic, watercolour (tube and pan), gouache, hand-made soft pastel, hand-made drawing materials, primers, and painting mediums for artists.

Through the scholarship, Wallace Seymour is generously providing one of the University of Salford’s graduating art students with £1,000 worth of art materials from their extensive catalogue. The scholarship opportunity will also include Wallace Seymour offering their expert advice, on how to use and process the materials.

We look forward to sharing who will be awarded this amazing opportunity and the artwork they produce.

Student Engagement

Plug Into Salford: Empowering First-Generation Students in Their Higher Education Journey

At the University of Salford, we are committed to transforming lives and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to realize their full potential. To that end, we’re pleased to introduce you to the ‘Plug Into Salford’ initiative, designed to support first-generation students as they embark on their higher education journey.

Research shows that first-generation students face unique challenges and are more likely to drop out of university compared to their peers with graduate parents. The Plug Into Salford programme aims to address this disparity by providing tailored support to help these students settle into university life and succeed academically, alongside a £1,100 bursary.

Through a series of workshops, introductions to university services, and peer mentoring opportunities, students receive the guidance and resources they need to navigate the challenges of university life. The programme not only equips students with practical skills but also instills confidence and a sense of belonging within the university community.

However, the current cost-of-living crisis and ongoing challenges faced by first-generation students highlight the urgent need for increased support.

With your support, we can expand the reach of this vital programme, ensuring that more first-generation students have access to the resources and support they need to succeed. By investing in the Plug Into Salford initiative, you’re not only changing individual lives but also contributing to a more equitable and inclusive higher education system.

We invite you to be part of this transformative initiative and make a difference in the lives of first-generation students at the University of Salford. Together, we can empower these students to thrive and realize their potential in higher education.

To find out how you can support first-in-family students at Salford, please contact Hannah Fox, Development Manager -Major Gifts.

Campus and Community

BNY Mellon – Business in Focus Event

BNY Mellon, one of the funding partners of the IntoUniversity centre at the Beacon Centre in Salford, recently collaborated with students for an enriching volunteering opportunity. Hosted at BNY Mellon’s offices, the event welcomed 30 Year 10 students from IntoUniversity Salford Central for a Music Charity Business in FOCUS Day.

The Business in FOCUS Day offered an immersive experience where students formed teams to create, promote, and manage their own charitable initiatives. Guided by 13 BNY Mellon volunteers, the students delved into real-world business scenarios, learning invaluable lessons in teamwork, communication, and leadership.

Volunteers mentored and advised the students, helping them discover their strengths, step out of their comfort zones, and effectively communicate their ideas. The day culminated in the students showcasing their efforts, demonstrating teamwork and professionalism.

Reflecting on the experience, both volunteers and students expressed enthusiasm for the learning opportunities provided. When asked what they had enjoyed most about the session, one volunteer said, ‘Seeing the confidence of the children grow and achieve more than they thought possible’.

Meanwhile, students relished the chance to work as a team, tackle challenges head-on, and interact with professionals in a genuine business setting.

BNY Mellon’s commitment to supporting education is really highlighted through events like the Business in FOCUS Day. By fostering collaboration and skill development, BNY Mellon continues to make a meaningful impact on the lives of students at IntoUniversity Salford Central.

Salford Advantage Fund

Building Futures: Oli Hurst’s Brick by Brick Project and the Salford Advantage Fund’s Support

One of the fund recipients for 2023 / 2024 was awarded to Oli Hurst, who is the company director for Red Brick theatre company. Red Brick is a group of University of Salford graduates from the Theatre and Performance Practice degree. Red Brick were commissioned through the Salford Advantage fund to direct students and recent graduates in a two-night gig at The New Adelphi Theatre.

Since graduating in 2021, Oli has been working with the Young Vic as a member of their Fresh Directions 2023/24 cohort. As part of this programme, he will be part of the team developing and directing a new play Bad Moult (Winner of the Cambridge Creatives Playwrighting Award) by Robin Cantwell.

In addition to this, Oli is currently Assistant Directing David Thacker in a revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. His recent work also includes the first professional UK revival of Simon Stephens’ Pornography and he’s about to start directing The BBC’s First Homosexual as part of BBC100 celebrations, for a national tour.

The project started with some introductory workshops which allowed students to understand the project, learn about the process; from workshops, auditioning and then rehearsing for the shows. Students had to audition for the performances and received some mock audition training to help ease them into the process.

Once the cast was formed, rehearsals began! Students from Technical Theatre were also included and supported the production, from lighting and sound, so simple set management.

One of the Level 5, Theatre and Performance Practice students, Lucy Ryan, has said, ‘I really enjoyed “Brick by Brick” it was a really useful experience to work with Oli and Tilly. They were both brilliant, I really liked their way of working, such as ‘mining the text’,  their dynamic ways of playing with scenes, and their use of fun warmup activities in the workshops. The talks on working in the industry were also really helpful, particularly the tips they offered. This experience was so helpful’.

An unforeseen plus on this project was that we were also working with a 23-24 graduate scholar, and she was able to support the performance as part of her own scholarship project, which is another great way to get our current students thinking about all the opportunities open to them post graduating.

Thank you to alumni, friends, and supporters who made this project possible.