New funding boost for North East students

A funding package of up to £1,200 over two years has been launched to help any students that may otherwise struggle to attend college and gain the qualifications they need to realise their potential and pursue a successful career.

The package of government grants and bursaries has been further boosted by the launch of the Gateshead College Foundation, an independent charity set up by the college to provide further financial help for students.

In the North East almost 9% of 16 to 18-year-olds are not in education, employment or training (NEET). This is the highest in England and nearly double the number of NEETs in the same age group in London (4.5%).

Gateshead College's principal Richard Thorold said: "Education has the power to transform lives, and there is no greater need than now for people to have the chance to develop the skills they need to get jobs, improve their prospects and get our economy moving.

"We're fully committed to helping students wherever possible to ensure that they can achieve their maximum potential and go on to succeed in further studies or embark on their dream career.

"We are the first college in the region to launch our own charity, the Gateshead College Foundation, to help those who need to closely manage their finances.

"The benefit package already available, together with the support we can provide through the Foundation, is accessible to anyone who may need some additional support to make it possible for them to attend college.

"Students need to apply to us for financial support and those eligible can gain funding to help towards essential costs such as travel, course equipment and books." 

One student who is already benefitting from Gateshead College's support is Hazelle Webster-Costella. The 17-year-old 800 metre and cross country runner from Hebburn is studying a National Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science at the college's Academy for Sport.

The former Hebburn Comprehensive School pupil, who received a grant from the Gateshead College Foundation, said:

"I applied for funding to help with travel costs and having the money to afford my bus pass has been a huge relief and a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don't have to worry about how I'll get to college.

"I'm also a member of the college's Athletics Academy and received £120 to enable me to buy my kit, which is mandatory. I've had funding towards travel to competition events too.

"Studying at college and training and competing with the Athletics Academy would be so much harder without the extra support from the college and I'm extremely grateful."

Hazelle will start her second year at college in September and once she completes her studies she would like to go on to do physiotherapy, occupational therapy and applied science and coaching at Northumbria University.

The Gateshead College Foundation was started with an initial £1 million contribution from Gateshead College's own reserves and each year a percentage of any surplus generated is reinvested in the fund.

Other funding comes from fundraising activity, corporate sponsorship, donations and gift aiding from the surplus of other commercial operations run by Gateshead College.