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High university fees? Look for sponsorship!

May 13, 2011

Here are some of the reasons why sponsorship is a good thing for both students and businesses.

Let’s get one thing straight. Gaining sponsorship does not mean you have to work for the company after graduation. Sometimes this is the case, and guess what –  sometimes you will want to walk into a job straight from college!

Of course, one advantage for the student is the money. You may have one sole sponsor who agrees to give you several thousand and a holiday job. You might have multiple joint sponsors who each sponsor you hundreds of pounds. You might be lucky enough to persuade a business to pay for everything, in return for signing up for a few years of work with them.

A sponsorship opportunity will also give you access to people who have already studied what you are studying and are doing what you want to do: in other words, a team of mentors. It can be very helpful to have a role model outside of university who can remind you of exactly why you are investing in your own studies.

You are also bringing yourself to the attention of that company’s executive directors. What better way to line up work post-college than to be their shining example of future talent? You may get invited to company events, and this will bring about excellent networking opportunities. Your sponsor will be keen to introduce you to every high-profile client or business associate.

The press and publicity from your sponsorship deal will definitely attract local, and maybe national attention, and that is good for your cause in general. Other donors and patrons are far more likely to donate if you can prove your existence through the press.

Every hard-working business person likes to give something back to the community. And what better way of encouraging future economic success than helping support future talent through their education? Most successful business graduates will remember a time when education was a lot cheaper, or even free! As a business owner, you would not wish anyone to start their career with high debts.

In terms of publicity, sponsoring a student can bring lots of free advertising and press attention. Your business will come to the attention of the university and their high-profile alumni. And let’s not forget that while some industries are being crushed by the economic climate, education is stronger than ever, and universities have amounts of huge spending power. You might just have the product or service that somebody at that university needs. You will certainly get invited to attend college events and network with well-educated professional people like yourself. Photo opportunities will definitely abound for the local and national press, and your company newsletter if you have one.

The student you have sponsored will be keen to announce your sponsorship, to all and sundry, and will definitely describe your company in glowing terms. Let’s not forget that word of mouth is the real reason people give their custom.

If you need more persuasion about why sponsorship is good for business, check out this fantastic page from the UK’s Local Business Enterprise with even more benefits to the sponsor.


So you’ve decided to look for business sponsorship, you’ll be asking how to find it.

Where can I find sponsorship for my studies?

Ways to save money as a student – part five

May 13, 2011

More great ways to save money while you’re at university in the latest instalment of our series:

Make and take your own lunch rather than buying it out.

Save electricity by turning off lights and other appliances on when nobody needs them.

Buy and use energy-saving lightbulbs.

Don’t leave electrical items on standby. If you have no choice, buy a Standby Buster or EcoSaver Socket (available at Amazon and in Argos). These devices turn your goods off and on at the socket, as and when you need them.

Invest in a Young Person’s Railcard or an Oystercard.

Buy a monthly or termly travel pass, rather than an expensive daily ticket.

Share lifts and save yourself a fortune. Use online services like or to meet people who need to make the same journey as you and reduce your travel costs.

Buy long-distance train and bus tickets in advance, through services like The Trainline or Megabus.

Go clothes shopping in places that offer a student discount like Topshop and Miss Selfridge.

Go to your doctor or nurse for free condoms, and very often even your student union will have an unlimited supply in the welfare centre.

Buy a property and rent it out. If someone in your family has savings and is looking to make an investment, why not look into a buy-to-let mortgage in their name? You can then be in charge of renting our the rooms in the property in order to cover the mortgage. Who knows? This might even mean you can stay there rent-free!

Use comparison shopping websites to find the best deals. Kelkoo, Google Shopping and eBay will all help you find the item you want at the very best price.

Always say ‘yes’ to loyalty cards in shops. Shops like Tesco, Café Uno and even McDonalds have their own loyalty cards. Whenever you purchase, you earn points or get stamps. Carry your loyalty cards everywhere, and use them! Those ‘buy five, get one free’ offers soon add up!

Use pubs with great offers for your nights out. Some will offer ‘pound a drink’ nights on certain nights of the week.

Choose restaurants where you can Bring Your Own Booze. The restaurant mark-up on alcohol is shocking! You will save a fortune by buying your alcohol first, and drinking it in a BYOB establishment.

Catch up on Ways to save money as a student – parts one, two, three and four.

And please leave a comment if you have any other great money saving ideas for students!

The best sources for UK scholarships

May 13, 2011

If you are struggling to pay for your degree, you will want to check out scholarships and bursaries.  Butt how do you apply for them, and where do you find out about them?  Here are some of the best sources for scholarships for study in the UK:

Every university has its own individual scholarships, so first, call the bursar’s office of your chosen university and ask for a list.

Hotcourses have a fantastic scholarship search. You input the course you want, at the level you want and indicate the area you live in. It also has a side menu with information on hardship funds, disabled student funding sources and acedemic excellence awards.

Directgov has a comprehensive page of information about scholarships and bursaries. Here you find advice on how to apply, how to calculate your finances, minimum bursary payments and other sources of funding.

If you are a foreign student, try Study Overseas. They have a list of scholarships for study in the UK

Education UK has details of scholarships for international postgraduate students.

Try bursaries and scholarships first when finding funding for university or study. They can often be very easy to obtain, if you fulfill the criteria. The Bursar’s office at your college can help you apply. One bursary or scholarship can be worth over £10,000, leaving you much less to find.

But don’t worry! If you don’t qualify or win a scholarship, you can always apply for business sponsorship, apply to charities or run your own fundraising events. Scroll down this blog for more sponsorship articles, or check out Free Degrees, a complete guide to raising over £26,000 to pay for your studies.

My top ten tips for paying your way through university

May 13, 2011

Lyndi Smith raised £25,000 to fund her studies.  Here are her ten top tips.

1. Don’t settle for second best. Pick the course you love. Enjoying your education will make you more motivated to raise money, study hard and put your course before your leisure time. Huge numbers of young people are settling for third or fourth choice universities, because of the social scene rather than the course content and dropping out halfway through the second year. Dropping out is just about the most expensive thing you can do – you pay out thousands and fail to graduate! It also ruins your chances of getting grants for other courses in the future. Resist pressure from peers or parents to dive straight into university aged 18. If it’s not the right time and you’re not passionate about the course, take a year or two out until you decide what you really want to do.
Affordability should be absolutely the last reason you choose a course or university. Get onto the very best course you can and just trust that everyone will help you take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. People donate more generously to students on the more prestigious courses.

2. Seek help from the government and your university.’s Student Finance pages have full details about grants and benefits for students.
Disabled students and students with children or adult dependants are entitled to extra government funding. Also contact the university for details of their bursaries and scholarships. Every university and college has an Access to Learning Fund to help students who are in real financial hardship.

3. Ask charities and businesses for help. Do not accept that you have to get a huge student loan. Many students, including myself, have successfully fundraised more than £25,000 for their studies and have graduated without any debt at all.
The usual sources of money from fundraising include business sponsorship, awards from grant-making charities or trusts, private donations from individuals and income from fundraising events.
Business sponsorship is a very viable way of raising money for your education and involves a company sponsoring you in return for good publicity that raises their profile.
Many charities and grant-making trusts help students in need. The usual process is to apply to the board of trustees who meet regularly to choose who benefits from the available funds. Applications can be lengthy but this can be a fantastic source of student income: more than £12,000 of the money I raised came from charitable awards.
Running events can be a great source of income and are also great fun! Get your friends and family to help you organise an event – this could be a sponsored event like a fun run or a ticketed event like a dinner-dance. If properly organised and marketed, just one event can bring in thousands of pounds.

4. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Put together an annual budget. Find out exactly how much rent, food, travel costs, utility bills, and equipment for the course will cost you and table it. Dividing this by 52 will show you how much money you need to have per week. Now you know what you funds you need to raise, and what you should be spending.
If you are fundraising, this budget can be a useful thing to show potential sponsors or donors. They can see that you have calculated exactly how much you require, how you will spend it, and reassures them that their money will be used wisely.

5. Don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help sooner rather than later. Every college and university will have a student money advisor. If you are struggling to make ends meet, or want advice on managing your money, go and see your advisor before it’s too late.

6. See what you can achieve with friends. As a group, organise fundraising events to help pay for your studies. In terms of saving money, buying as a group often opens the door to bigger discounts. Can you shop for groceries as a whole household, for instance? Can you share meals together?

7. Use the power of the internet. Subscribe to free, e-mail newsletters on money saving or fundraising from websites like or

8. Make holidays pay. Choose holiday activities that boost your income. I wrote fundraising letters to businesses and individuals, applied to charities and ran charity events in the summer holidays. This raised thousands and also gave me a chance to share my newly-learned skills with members of my community: at the end of my first year, I returned from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to work with seven to 13 year olds on a Shakespeare evening for parents and friends. We sold tickets and ran raffles and all monies raised went straight into my training fund.
My sister worked abroad every summer as a holiday rep and earned thousands of pounds in sales commission.

9. Teach others and fund your education. If you have an interest in teaching you might suit working as a private tutor. You can advertise on your university website, or put up postcards on noticeboards or in local shops. Tutoring pays about £15 or £20 an hour.

10. Buyer beware. You are going away to further your education, in the hope of achieving a career within a specific field. It is easy to get dragged into a consumer whirlwind of eating out, drinking every night and dressing like a celebrity but if you want to save money, don’t get sucked in to this kind of lifestyle. It is both a recipe for getting into debt and for failing your course.

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, suggests you ask yourself three questions before you buy anything:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Can I get it cheaper elsewhere?

Simple questions, but they might just save you a fortune.

This article was originally entitled ‘Pay your way through college‘, published in the Sunday Telegraph, October 11th 2009.

Lyndi Smith is the author of Free Degrees, published by The White Lion Press and priced £6.95. She is also the editor of, which has many free resources on student funding.

How to meet and close your business sponsor

May 13, 2011

Meeting your potential sponsor is the last step to ensuring a sponsorship deal. Have you researched your sponsor? Do you know why sponsorship will be good for the business? Have you thought about what you can offer your sponsor?

If not, you might want to review our previous articles on why sponsorship is good for business, where to find a sponsor and how to approach them.

Let’s imagine you’ve reached the meeting stage. What do you do now? What do you talk about?

If this meeting were a relationship, this would be the first date. To get a second date (ie, the sponsorship deal!) you need to seem attractive, likeable and well-presented. You need to offer something that this business wants. What can you offer?

Can you take along any photos, documents, proof of your cause and what you could offer a business? A short Powerpoint presentation might work well for you here, or a link to your website. A letter from your university on headed paper will come across very well. You could also take along some of the leaflets about yourself you made to encourage donations. Click here for a free sample leaflet.

You could also think about this meeting like closing a business deal. You are offering a product (yourself!) to a business and need that product to seem so attractive to the sponsor that they cannot refuse. You need to be good value for money and come across as reliable and trustworthy. This business person is probably well-skilled at negotiation and they will admire your negotiation skills too.

Tailor your presentation to the style of the company. If the company is formal and traditional, bring them a presentation which follows a formal boardroom style.

If this company values innovation, make your presentation innovative! The Royal Ballet once secured a sponsorship deal by presenting a fifteen minute ballet performance about the sponsorship process!

Whatever happens in this meeting, you will want to record the outcome. Call the company in advance and ask if they will provide somebody to record the minutes, or if you should bring someone for that purpose.

You can then focus on presenting yourself while somebody else notes down the responses and actions following.

Don’t be alarmed if the decision after your meeting. He or she may need to consult their accountant, tax advisor or lawyer first. Do however be sure to follow up with a phone call if you haven’t heard anything after a week.

Good luck! With a bit of time and effort, getting a business to sponsor you through your studies may prove one of the best decisions you ever made.

Free Degrees has a whole chapter on business sponsorship for students. You can also find our other free articles on sponsorship here.

Ways to save money as a student – part four

May 13, 2011

Yes – it’s time to save money again! Even more great ways to save money while you’re at university.

Eat in restaurants at times that save you money. The Harvester, for example, runs an Earlybird menu in which their best-selling dishes are £4.99. Coupled with the free salad bar, this can be a real cheap meal out!

Always read the local newspaper and keep the money-saving coupons.

Take a flask of coffee to college rather than buy individual cups.

Buy desktop rather than laptop computers. You will save hundreds of pounds and also reduce your risk of contracting tendonitis and back-related injuries in the future.

Protect your computer with anti-virus software and a firewall. It might seem cheaper to forego these, but this is a fraction of what it would cost to replace your entire PC suite. Always renew the software when asked. There are many excellent free anti-virus suites available online.

Buy printer ink cartridges online or use discount refill stores like Cartridge World.

Visit the theatre for free with the A Night Less Ordinary scheme.

Create your own community DVD rental library by compiling your friends DVDs into one list.

Subscribe to online DVD rental services like Lovefilm rather than use Blockbuster every time.

Start a study group at your college. The more time you spend focused on your studies, the less time you will have for frivolous spending! Who knows? You might even improve your grades.

Choose weekend activities that cost nothing. Host a football game at a local park, or ask everyone round to your place for a big BBQ.

Need furniture or household goods? Ask your friends and family. Often people keep duplicates of items ‘just in case’ their other one breaks.

Renting an apartment in the centre of a block keeps your bills lower. Corner and top floor apartments tend to have higher heating costs as they have more external walls.

If you are travelling, use Priceline to save money on flights, car hire and is worth checking out and even let’s you name your own price when travelling to the US! Skyscanner is another great website for flight price comparison.

Communicate via free services like email or Skype rather than calling. Or buy international phonecards and call from landlines. Lycamobile offers a cheap international calling service from your mobile.

Instead of paying salon prices, have a Ladies Night. You can stay in with all of your girlfriends and do each other’s hair and nails for free!

Join a sports club rather than pay for the gym. Your college will have hundreds of societies and clubs; your local town will too!

Hair conditioner can be used when shaving your legs. This is a substitute for expensive shaving gels and will also moisturise and soften your skin!

Catch up with Ways to save money as a student parts one, two, and three.

And please leave a comment if you have any other great money saving ideas for students!

Students – how to approach a business sponsor

May 13, 2011

Approaching a sponsor can feel scary. Here are some tips to take the edge off of that fear!

The chief executive of a business has the power to make a sponsorship decision worth thousands within seconds. That can feel like huge pressure on you to get it right. If you mess up, you might not get another shot.

If you know a potential sponsor, you can cut out the letter-writing and go straight to a meeting with them. If you don’t know the CEO personally, you might need to write a letter.

One of the things you want to spell out in the letter is the benefits of sponsorship to the business itself. Our previous article has a paragraph entitled Why Sponsorship Is Good For Business. You should definitely use some of the suggestions here in your letter.

You will also need to offer the sponsor something in return. This could be a certificate, a termly letter or report, photos for publicity purposes… its really up to you. The sponsor won’t expect much, but they will expect something. Call your college bursar and see what they too can offer the sponsor. They might offer invitations to university events, for instance, and that’s gonna make your sponsor feel really important.

A free sample sponsorship letter from the book Free Degrees is available to download as a .pdf file here.

Once you have sent the letter, you will need to follow up with phonecalls. Business people are very busy and just because they don’t get back to you doesn’t mean they’re not interested. It just means that they have other higher priorities. And let’s face it, when was the last time you leapt out of bed and said, “I really must sponsor someone today!”

The whole point of the phonecall is to arrange a sponsorship meeting. Definitely give yourself some notes to work from before you make the call. You might get put straight through to the CEO and asked the question, “So tell me all about yourself,” so be ready!

If you manage to schedule a meeting – well done! You’re one small step away from persuading this company to sponsor you.

Now you’ll want to know how to meet and close your business sponsor.

Where can I find sponsorship for my studies?

May 13, 2011

Here are some of the best ways to find sponsorship as a student.

E-how recommends beginning with companies you have a connection with, looking for local companies and investigating companies with a link to your subject. Check out their advice here.

The engineering industry has a very strong support for undergraduate sponsorship. Carillion for example, offers a £1,500 bursary plus 8-week placements over the summer holidays and 12 months industrial placements upon graduation. This kind of sponsorship could mean you not only gain money to study but then graduate and walk into a job!

Future Morph, a website devoted to young people and the future of science, has a fantastic .pdf of sponsorship information for undergraduates in the UK. Scroll right down to the bottom to download a list of potential sponsors. The .pdf is entitled “Financial Assistance”.

Free Degrees has a whole chapter on finding sponsorship, attracting joint sponsors, writing sponsorship letters and keeping your sponsor happy.

Once you have made a list of potential sponsors, the next thing you need to do is approach them.

How to approach a business sponsor.

Urgently need to find the money for uni?

May 13, 2011

So, what do you do if you are due to go to college imminently and you still need to find £9,000?

Recently I received a letter from a talented young student called Lorna, who had been offered a place on the MA course at the Royal Northern College of Music.  Although Lorna has been offered a £2,000 scholarship and had written letters to charities, she had less than six weeks to go until the course started and still had £9,000 to raise.  Lorna wrote to me asking for advice.

Well, for Lorna and all of you in a similar position, hope is not lost!

I suggest you put your energies into one massive fundraising event. You can definitely organise that in a month.

Some experiences in raising thousands of pounds quickly:

-We ran a Sponsored Jailbreak as got as many people as possible to take part. Friends, university colleagues, club members – even the local Rotary club helped. Ten people each raised an average of £150 on their sponsorship forms, helping me out to the tune of £1,500. We also wrote to local businesses and asked them for sponsorship, which raised a few more hundred pounds.

-An evening’s entertainment with tickets priced at £15+. Michelle, a friend of mine held a dinner-and-dance night. Local dance organisations all rehearsed a routine specially for the night, and audience members paid for dinner and watching the dances. The venue helped by keeping the catering costs as low as possible, and Michelle took home £10 for every ticket sold. She made over £2,000 on that night!

You could also organise a similar event with your fellow students while at college, and work towards an event in Reading Week or Christmas.

This might not raise £9,000 but if you can find the time to organise three of these events over the next year, you could easily raise £5,000 or £6,000.

Regarding charities, if you’ve done your homework and written to every charity you are eligible for from The Directory of Grant-Making Trusts then check in with  If it is your first degree, also check out Lawrence Atwell’s Charity.

There’s also time to network and meet busines owners regarding possible sponsorship. Approach local rather than international companies, and ask for a meeting.  Meet them with the following options:

1 – to sponsor you £2,000+ as major sponsor.
2 – to sponsor you for a smaller amount like £250 as a joint sponsor.

Promise potential sponsors something in return. If you have a performance talent like music you can definitely offer to play at a company dinner or event of some kind! You can offer a termly report on your progress, and their company logo on your CV and fundraising letters. You can probably also get them some publicity and a photo through a press release to the local newspaper. Your college should be able to support you here by inviting your sponsors to official occasions and performances.  Check this out with the Bursar.

And finally, if you still need to raise thousands and you’re already at college, think about tutoring on weekday evenings or Saturdays. The going rate for tuition is at least £20 an hour, so you could easily make £100 a week -that’s over £3,500 a year (term time). As an undergraduate you are probably very qualified to teach English and Maths up to age 13 as well as any other specialist subjects. Adverts in local shops and on university noticeboards are often enough to get you some tutoring clients, and there are tutoring agencies who will take you on and find clients for you.

Tutoring for five hours a week should not interfere with your studies too much, and could pay your rent for the entire year.  It’s certainly better paid than bar work, and requires a lot less of your private time!

If you have to find money urgently, it can make you feel stressed.  Write a plan of action for the next month, with deadlines and start organising events, writing letters and meeting people.  Your hard work will definitely pay off.

Good luck!

The best offers and discounts for students

May 13, 2011

Want to make the most of your student cash? Here are some of the very best offers and discounts for students on the net:

Wealthy Student is an excellent, easy-to-navigate site that specifically helps students make money and save money. Editor Steve Burford graduated with over £5,000 left, and has written a book as a companion to the site. has an amazing number of vouchers available for anyone, not just students!  You really should check this site out for a bargain, even if you check no other…

Student Free Stuff is a no-frills site, updated three times a week with thousands of great offers.

Student Beans is a well-presented site, which is easy on the eye and easy to navigate.

The Student Finance Blog is a well-resourced site with hundreds of articles on a variety of subjects ranging from accommodation to budgeting to making money and getting discounts.

Money Saving Student is my personal favourite and is written by a student, for students. The site is very regularly updated, and reads like a blog.

Moneywise is all about your money and your life, and although it is aimed at a wider audience, has thousands of excellent articles on spending wisely.

Money Saving Expert is probably the UK’s best money saving website, and regularly gets over 200,000 hits per day. It has loads of money-saving categories, and an excellent forum where readers can pose or answer questions and exchange money-saving ideas. The e-mail newsletter comes out weekly with all of the latest discount offers and links to vouchers.

Freecycle is a site dedicated to advertising unwanted goods for FREE! You can find all sorts of furniture and electrical goods on this site, as well as thousand of other products in excellent condition that need a new home. In the West Midlands and Warwickshire, there is a similar site called Community Freebay.

Couch Surfing is the ultimate site for getting a free night’s stay anywhere in the world. Millions of users with a free couch or spare bed post their details, and will happily give you somewhere to stay in exchange for your company and conversation. Users receive ratings and reviews in a similar way to Ebay, so you can be reassured of your personal safety before staying with a stranger.

Young Money is a website dedicated entirely to young people and their finances, and contains information for US as well as UK audiences. There are sections on student entrepreneurship, money management and financial aid for students. One excellent article for students by Elizabeth Hart can be found here.

If you have any suggestions for great discount or voucher sites, let me know by leaving a comment. In the meantime, happy shopping!