Student Engagement

Unlocking the door to academic excellence! Santander Brighter Future Grants

In 2023, we and our long-term partner, Santander, celebrated our existing partnership and the signing of a new three-year agreement. A key element of this funding agreement is the Brighter Future Grants programme, which is designed to ensure that financial barriers are less of a challenge and do not hinder our students’ academic ambitions.

The Grants are extremely popular with our students, and we have received over 1,000 applications both this year and last.

To enter, all students needed to do was:

1. Register for Santander Open Academy, a free online learning platform.

2. Log in and choose ‘Get Started’ to complete their entry into the Brighter Futures Grants programme.

Students who are awarded the grant can spend the money on rent, bills study resources or anything else they need to enhance their student experience. This is just the latest in a series of initiatives ran by our partner Santander Universities, aimed at relieving challenges and taking student’s studies to the next level. This isn’t just about a grant, it’s a commitment to creating an environment where students can focus on what truly matters – their studies.

If students missed the deadline, on the Santander Open Academy website, they could browse free on-demand learning content that can help support their studies as well as apply for several free learning programmes. There will be further opportunities for students to apply for a Brighter Futures Grant in subsequent years.

In some other exciting news, we are pleased to announce that through Santander, a Salford student, a Level 6 Diagnostic Radiography student, is the winner of their Tech Prize Draw and won a MacBook. This is another example of where Santander continue to break down the barriers and give students the keys to unlock their academic potential.

The university is extremely grateful for the support that Santander is continuing to give our students and we look forward to continuing our partnership over the coming years.

If you want to get in touch with team and discuss ways you can support our student’s success, email the Development Team at

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 £1,000 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’.

Student Engagement

University of Salford HackCamp 2024: Industry-Driven Projects

The University of Salford HackCamp, led by Professor Julian Bass, enables second-year Computer Science and Software Engineer students to collaborate in teams on an intensive software development project. The program involves engaging with industry partners, including Matillion, Morsons, ABL, Competa, Red Ocelot, BCS Manchester, the Chartered Institute for IT, Chippy Digital and IRIS Software Group. Over 150 students took part in the programme where they approached a range of challenges, including dynamic user experience, customer feedback aggregation and placement search, which is then assessed and judged by the industry experts and academics. 

‘Our HackCamp partners, play a vital role in helping students understand how software projects work in practice’ said Prof Bass. The projects ‘provide a fantastic opportunity to work with industrial partners and experienced practitioners, applying the agile software development methods they learn about in class’ he said.

Kate Whitmore, Talent Programme Manager, and John Ferguson, Head of Architecture and Engineering from IRIS Software Group took part in the programme again this year and their brief was for the students, ‘to create solutions that could help us calculate, analyse and report our cloud carbon footprint.’ They were both extremely impressed with our students, commenting, ‘the student presentations were excellent, and the amount of work each of the teams had managed to achieve in just a few short weeks was impressive. What was particularly interesting was how each of the three teams approached the brief in different (yet complementary) ways: one focusing on automation; one on installation, and the other on data visualisation. It’s been fantastic working with the students; giving them some experienced of real-world problem solving and get their fresh and unique perspectives on issues we’re working on in the business.’

The value of participating in HackCamp is immeasurable for our students, providing them with practical industry exposure and opportunities to network with actual employers. One of the HackCamp participants, Sheikh Atif, a Second Year Software Engineering Student said, ‘Hackcamp is a great opportunity to challenge yourself. Not everything will go to plan when you’re working in the industry, Hackcamp will introduce realistic challenges and difficulties for the team to develop their skills collectively as well as individually. Hackcamp will benefit your technical skills, interpersonal skills, and a variety of other areas. IRIS has been a fantastic partner to work with. Our group had John Ferguson as our contact, who was incredibly useful and supportive with all the information we needed. He provided us with prompt feedback, alongside useful guidance. We definitely recommend getting involved with IRIS for future projects.’

Academic colleagues are now tirelessly working through the awarding process, and we can’t wait to celebrate the winning students.

Student Engagement

IRIS Engagement Day

Since 2022, multi-national business software developers IRIS Software Group have supported University of Salford students through scholarships, engagement days, mentorship and career talks to help inspire and support them throughout their academic journey.  

We were welcomed back this November to IRIS’ Manchester office for another Engagement Day for our second-year students studying Computer Science and Software Engineering. During the Engagement Day our students received a tour of IRIS’ cutting-edge workspace, listened to talks from software engineers, accountancy whizzes and recruiters. This was crucial learning for our students to help them better understand what a career in software engineering can look like as well as top tips to succeeding in interviews, they even took part in a head-to-head paper airplane manufacturing competition! 

Testing out the paper airplanes!

After learning about a new way to develop coding, one of our students said: ‘Hands down, the most practical and coolest thing I’ve seen… It’s something I will absolutely try to put into practice’. They also found a session on agile working particularly useful, saying, ‘Going over agile techniques will help with my studies, we are starting a hack camp this week, the presentation was very insightful as to how we should plan our time effectively’.  

Similarly, another student noted how the agile working session aligned with their own studies and knowledge helping them to understand how agile working functions in a workplace: ‘I had a basic grasp of Agile methodology; however, the engagement day was a real eye opener into how exactly Agile would be applied in a real organization’s structure’. 

The industry insight and advice delivered by IRIS was invaluable and massively appreciated by our students, with one student saying the most important thing they learned on the day ‘would be researching organizations to ask insightful questions about structure and behaviour to prove my interest in more than just the role’. 

We would like to thank IRIS for hosting our students and staff at their Manchester office and delivering an insightful and valuable peek into the lives of software engineers. Our students can now more confidently apply themselves to their work and prepare them for their work in industry. 

The IRIS team with University of Salford Staff and Students