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A Fairer Future

Too many children grow up without the vital financial support and opportunities to pursue a university education, believing that university isn’t an option for them. The figures from 'State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain' make stark reading and demonstrate the size of the challenge. Just 5% of children eligible for free school meals gain five A grades at GCSE. The most advantaged 18 year olds are two and a half times more likely to attend university, and six times more likely to attend a selective university. Only 6% of doctors, 12% of chief executives and 12% of journalists today are from working-class origins. As stated in that report:

"There remains an entrenched and unbroken correlation between social class and educational success: the income gap is larger than either the ethnicity gap or the gender gap in schools. In short, Britain’s deep social mobility problem, for this generation of young people in particular, is getting worse not better."

At Exeter we are working hard to make sure the University is open to everyone with the academic ability, irrespective of their background or financial circumstances. This includes both support to come to Exeter, and opening up opportunities to fulfil their potential while here.

Make a donation to scholarships

Make a donation to student experience

Here are some of the bigger questions we seek to answer.

How can we ensure fair access to quality higher education?

We believe that all students should have equal and fair access to Higher Education. Better-off pupils are still significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers and the gap between the two groups – 19.1 percentage points – is the widest it has been since 2005.

Depending on their financial, personal or ethnic background, students may face additional challenges not only in applying to university, but in their studies once they are here.

Researchers too often face barriers. It is expensive to undertake research degrees in the UK - government funding sources have diminished, and most students can only undertake research degrees by ‘self-funding’. This is not possible for the vast majority.

Thanks to generous donations from our alumni and supporters, we have been able to offer scholarships across the widest range of University programmes, from undergraduate through to PhDs. We are also supporting asylum seekers to undertake ‘Sanctuary Scholarships’ at Exeter

Awards such as this have immediate impact:

  • They help us to attract students from diverse backgrounds (we work with hundreds of students every year through our ‘Pathways’ programmes – offered to school pupils from year 10 onward)
  • They offer financial support which enables students to focus on their studies, and diminishes the fear of debt
  • Support from alumni and friends gives recipients a feeling of working in partnership, which is vital to a sense of belonging

How can we help future sports stars achieve their potential?

The University of Exeter has a long and distinguished sporting heritage and we have invested over £30million in recent years to create excellent sports facilities. We are proud to offer opportunities for all students and staff to lead active and healthy lives.

At the highest levels of competition, we support the development of some of the country’s most talented sportspeople and our Sports Scholarship Scheme has an excellent track record of enabling students to fulfil their academic and sporting potentials. Exeter students and graduates compete at national and international level in a range of sports and represent their countries at Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

Sports participation at school and university has been shown to enhance future employability prospects and offers students opportunities to enhance skills in teamwork, leadership, and resilience. Sport also offers an invaluable opportunity for us to engage with our local community and we inspire huge numbers of schoolchildren across the south west to take part in regular physical activity, fostering active lifestyles from childhood to adult life.

How can we make the full student experience available for all?

Extra-curricular activities are part of what makes Exeter such a fantastic place to study. Memories are made, not just in classrooms, but on sports field and stages, in choirs and debating teams, and at social events and charity fundraisers.

Across campuses, thousands of students sign up to hundreds of different Guild and Student Union affiliated societies. Societies range from the conventional (such as Film Societies, Politics Societies, Entrepreneurial groups and Orchestras), to the more esoteric (such as the Chocolate, Harry Potter or Hide and Seek Society). Plus there’s the award-winning student media groups, which have provided a springboard for many future careers.

Our Local Community

Disadvantaged pupils in the South West are the furthest behind of any region in the country at the end of both primary and secondary school. This means bleak prospects: the region ranks third lowest of nineteen areas for upward occupational mobility.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Cobalt Trust, Professor Lee Elliot Major (Professor of Social Mobility) is leading a ground-breaking pilot to level up outcomes in the South West.

“Our current work is identifying ways, inside and outside education, that could improve the educational, job and earnings outcomes for poorer young people in the region, identifying the challenges and creating a toolkit of up to ten ‘best bets’ for addressing them.

"We will work with key regional and national actors including school, local authority and third sector leaders. In parallel we will utilise our unrivalled government networks and research knowledge to engage with national policy influencers. By demonstrating how we can address these challenges here in our region, we will be able to provide a compelling test case for a regional approach to levelling up.”

- Professor Lee Elliot Major – Professor of Social Mobility, Exeter Centre for Social Mobility

Did you know?

We house the country’s only Centre for Social Mobility, where our academics work with practitioners, to help governments, policy makers and local authorities identify solutions to the pernicious problems of stagnant social mobility.

Click here to learn more about the Centre

How you can help

You can support our students with a donation to our fund. You can also choose to support a dedicated area or may wish to fund a particular project or scholarship in its entirety. 

If you would like to discuss supporting a specific area or would like to understand more about how your donations could make a difference please get in touch with the team.

For scholarships, bursaries and widening participation activities, as well as sports and sports scholarships, please contact Josh Papanicola, Senior Development Manager, on

Alumni Annual Fund

A donation to our Alumni Annual Fund will support the extra-curricular activities that help to make Exeter such a fantastic place to study.

Grants are given to sports clubs, societies, music groups, theatre productions, student conferences and community outreach projects, to name just a few. 

Learn more, or Donate now

Scholars Fund

A donation to our Scholars Fund will help to make sure everyone can benefit from an Exeter education.

Donations to this fund support students to attend Exeter, who would otherwise struggle, as well as those facing financial hardship during their studies. 

Make a donation now

Sanctuary Scholarships

A donation to our Sanctuary Scholars Fund will support students who are seeking asylum, have limited leave to remain, 'humanitarian protection' or refugee status and International Care Leavers. Sanctuary Scholarships give displaced people who cannot access student finance a chance to study here by covering the fees and living costs of doing so.

Make a donation now

Sports Fund

A donation to our Sports Fund will help with improvements to facilities, allow clubs to upgrade their equipment or ensure we maintain high levels of participation at all levels. 

Make a donation now

Sports Scholarships

A donation to our Sports Scholarship Fund will help some of the UK's most talented young athletes to reach their sporting potential while balancing the demands of studying at a top university.

Make a donation now

Quick links: Exeter Sport | Widening Participation | Student Societies