The Grundy Educational Trust
Fifteen years of student support and it is time for a further update on their and our achievements to date, and how the Trust plans to progress into the future.
Between academic years 1992/93 and 2007/8 the Trust has made awards totalling just over £360,000. It has supported nearly eighty students through to completion of their studies, and at the moment there are approximately ten more who should conclude at the end of the 2007/08 year.
Our objective has been, and is, to support students of British nationality otherwise unable to complete second or advanced degrees in scientific studies. Achievements to date are:
Masters qualifications – 39
Doctoral qualifications – 26
Medical degrees – 14
Students in the first category have generally received assistance for one-year degree courses. The other categories usually require a three to five year support period and therefore these people need a measurably greater quantum of support from Trust funding.
Additionally, the Trustees continue to be fully aware of changes in student finances consequent on the demands now placed on undergraduates and their families by recent increases in educational costs. Student debt, often substantial, is now almost inevitable at completion of first degrees, making it ever more difficult for people to self-fund further years of additional studies. In light of this situation, the Trust has re-defined its priorities, while giving full consideration to the principal objectives of its founders.
Following consideration over recent years, we can confirm that in the future the Trust will:
(a) Make less frequent awards for Masters qualifications. The
criteria for such awards will include whether or not the course provides a
significant qualification in its own right in a mainstream scientific discipline.
(b) Be less likely to support five year medical degree courses. Such awards absorb high proportions of available funds, particularly as the final clinical year(s) effectively preclude most students from earning opportunities for much of that time.
(c) Make excellence, rather than mere worthiness, an important criterion for doctoral (e.g. PhD, D.Phil) awards. We will strive to support outstanding candidates.
(d) Seek to provide larger awards for successful candidates, even at the cost of having to reduce the number of awards per annum that are made.
Applying simple averages (one year’s study per Masters, three years per doctorate and five years per medical qualification) the Trust has to date been able to award an average of approximately £1,800 per year of study to its alumni. This figures must be increased if we are to continue to provide meaningful support for the future, hence the approach outlined above.
Of course, we are restricted largely by the distributable income
generated by the Trust’s endowment fund. If any of our alumni (or anyone
else) has any bright ideas to help the Trust to supplement that income please
let us know.
Bulletin No. 2
Achievements to date and future plans
Since it was established in 1992, the Trust has supported over 100 students through a wide range of degrees, including MScs, PhDs and medical degrees and the trustees are pleased with the positive feedback we receive from students and tutors and the consistently successful final results.
The Trust has a new chairman on the board and two new members and, following discussions at our recent trustees’ meeting, the trustees have decided the proper focus of the Trust should be on providing support for students pursuing scientific and technological research, as opposed to vocational postgraduate qualifications such as postgraduate degrees in Medicine. This is perceived to be more in line with the Trust’s policy statement.
The trustees have also decided to set the annual maximum award to £4,500, save in exceptional circumstances, and have agreed the need to re-emphasise our intention to support high academic achievers in their relevant field who can demonstrate a real financial need.
In light of these discussions, and the ever-increasing costs of postgraduate education (which is likely to result in a smaller number of the larger awards), the Trustees have decided that it is appropriate to reduce the number of supported Universities to five. The five Universities being invited to submit recommended candidates for awards the next academnic year will be Imperial College, Loughborough, University of Surrey and UMIST. Existing beneficiaries at other Universities will, of course, continue to be appropriately supported to the end of their degrees.
Once again, for those alumni out there, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know where you are and what you are up to!
Welcome to the first of what will be a series of bulletins on the activities of the Trust and the progress of its beneficiaries. The intention is to throw some general light on its work, to illustrate the achievements of its alumni and to indicate the broad parameters within which it works. Current bulletins will be posted on the website, and we also intend to distribute them via e-mail to all alumni.
The Trust was established in 1991 by the late Philip and June Grundy, who had by then retired to England after many years residence in Singapore and Malaysia. They were conscious of the considerable financing problems facing many very able graduates who wished to further their education by pursuing advanced post-graduate qualifications, and they funded and set up the Trust with a view to alleviating these difficulties where possible. The national interest was also in their minds.
Given the inevitably limited resources of the Trust it was necessary fairly precisely to define its objectives and the parameters within which the Trust would operate. These are set out below:
a) The post-graduate degree courses to be supported would have a significant technical (i.e. science-based) as opposed to arts content. The range has typically embraced the one-year M.Sc., the three year Ph.D. and the five-year medical qualification; but it should be noted that the latter can only be supported when it is being undertaken following an initial degree.
b) Beneficiaries must be British nationals. Although conscious of the needs of the non-British post-graduate it was decided that the Trust’s inevitably limited resource would preferably be deployed for British citizens.
c) Potential beneficiaries must be not more than thirty years old at the commencement of their course. This both minimises the risk of funds being allocated to “perpetual students” and gives a reasonable post-qualification working life expectation.
d) Initially four universities (Birmingham, Loughborough, Southampton, Surrey) would be invited to submit recommended candidates for awards- there were Grundy family connections with these. Subsequently Imperial College, UMIST and Nottingham have been added to the submitting list. By this restriction the Trust receives a manageable number of good-quality applications from institutions of high repute.
e) The Trust was determined to be a major financial supporter of a limited number of deserving candidates annually, rather than to make less significant contributions to the funding of a much higher number of individuals. At the same time a maximum individual grant of £3,000 per year per head was set. However this limit is under regular review (see Bulletin No.2).
iii) Achievements to date
Since its start-up the Trust has supported or is supporting now over 95 students. To date no candidate has failed to obtain his/her qualification, and only one has dropped out of her course of studies (due to medical reasons). We put this down to the quality of the students, and to the selection process which we apply.
We have recently established an alumni register. This enables us to keep in touch with career progressions, to provide future contacts for aspiring beneficiaries, and possibly – if we have helped to nurture a future Bill Gates – to obtain additional voluntary funding for the benefit of future generations. But it should be stressed that there will never be any question of people being asked to repay their awards, other than as in the circumstances set out in the Trust regulations.
iv) Future progress
The Trust is formally established as a charity, and is thus regulated under the aegis of the Charity Commissioners. It is independently audited annually, with operating expenses of less than 1-5% of its annual income: a massive 98.5% of the latter is thus available for student grants.
Looking forward, both we and our potential beneficiaries face the ever-increasing problem of rising costs (and consequent rising debt) for first degree completion. This impacts on future candidates in several ways: anxiety about debt levels carried forward plus debt incurred in obtaining advanced qualifications, pressure on family funding contributions for further study periods, career development loan repayment and the like.
The Trustees have seriously to consider whether or not to maintain the £3,000 per year current annual cap on awards. Quite simply, if this is to be increased then the number of awards made must diminish, thus reducing opportunity for some very able students.
The problem is highlighted by the EPSRC award levels for Ph.D. high-flying students. These awards are now at c£9,500 per year, but this is usually insufficient to provide maintenance for a mature student in a metropolitan environment: the Trust is often asked to top up such cases. They are invariably highly deserving candidates, but such top-ups diminish our ability to support worthy applications for less demanding courses.
Clearly much work has to be done to resolve these conflicting priorities – stand by for our next bulletin to find out what progress we have made.