Covid-19 Appeal Shelby

Supporting our Students and Graduates

Update: October 2020

In July, we launched our Chancellor’s Appeal with the goal of establishing a Covid Recovery Fund to support our University community during this difficult time. We were overwhelmed by your generosity, which, supplemented by existing philanthropic funds donated for student support, enabled us to set up a fund amounting to almost £300,000. Every penny of this fund will be used to support those struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

The first round of funding for those experiencing financial hardship, including key workers and their dependants, was launched in September and supported an incredible 82 students. The second round is currently open for applications and will offer specific support to care leavers and estranged students as well as key workers and others experiencing financial hardship. We have also been able to award £25,000 to 2020 graduates struggling with the transition into an uncertain job market, and £100,000 to researchers working in key Covid-19 recovery fields.

Thank you to those who gave to support our community at this difficult time.


The last few months have been a difficult and uncertain time for all of us. As we emerge from the lockdown it becomes increasingly clear that there are still many challenges ahead for our University community. Challenges we hope we can tackle together.

Some of our current scholars, who are already supported by the generosity of our alumni and friends, have shared the challenges they have faced due to the pandemic. The help they have received from our community has undoubtedly helped them to continue their studies and reach their full potential despite these difficult times.

It seems inevitable that more and more of our students will be negatively affected by the economic consequences of Covid-19 and the class of 2020 will enter an incredibly tumultuous job market. We ask you to join us to lessen the hardship for those most affected.

Students Far from Home

As an international student, Shelby Navone (Santander Scholar, Museum and Artefact Studies) pictured above, decided to stay in Durham to complete her studies despite the uncertainty: “I was faced with the decision of either going back to the US and possibly not ever returning to the UK while my student visa was still active, or to stay here alone in my studio apartment, and hope that things would get better in time for me to still enjoy my time in this country. I had given up so much to come here”.

Shelby continues her studies with enthusiasm and drive but also has real concerns about the job market she will enter once they are completed: “I continue to hear news from the museum world that permanent closures are not far away, with an estimate of 1 in 8 museums closing due to COVID impact. A career in museums was already something that was incredibly competitive and notoriously underpaid, but with this forecast, my anxieties have risen.”

A Disrupted Job Market

Other scholars also face challenges in light of the current job market. Ben Miller (pictured right) has secured a place on a competitive graduate scheme but is still facing uncertainty due to the pandemic with the possibility that his start date will be pushed back. For Ben, “having extra financial support during this time means that I will be more prepared for any circumstance as I navigate my first steps into my graduate career”.

The uncertain job market is also problematic for current students who rely on out of term-time and part-time jobs, often in those sectors most disrupted by the pandemic, to support themselves. As this scholar explains, “I had a plan to work for the first two weeks over the Easter half term to help prepare financially for next term. Unfortunately, these plans had to be cancelled due to the lockdown. This left a big hole in my finances and meant I would be relying solely on my maintenance loan and scholarship for the next three months.”

A recent graduate and past St Nicholas Scholar Will Chan (2015-19, Grey College, Mathematics) pictured right, sympathises with the class of 2020. Will secured a position on a competitive graduate scheme, he believes his scholarship was key to this: “the St Nicholas Award I received meant that I was able to pursue a career in Technology, working for one of the largest Consulting firms in the world.” However, he is concerned about this year’s graduates. He explains: “in light of Covid-19, an unprecedented global pandemic, even the livelihoods of those who sit atop strong family and financial foundations are fraught with uncertainty.” He is concerned that without help students “are probably not going to be able to continue pursuing their goals.”

Uncertain Circumstances

The pandemic has not only affected students seeking employment but has also destabilised the circumstances of other sources of support such as their family. Mary-Anne Grego’s (pictured right) family own an independent village pub “with this as their sole income and the current situation regarding the food industry in the pandemic, our whole business stability is uncertain. She explains: "Mary-Anne’s scholarship has eased the financial anxiety of her student finance in these circumstances. The award has "lifted a weight off my shoulder.”

The ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19 has also resulted in additional and unexpected living cost for some scholars, and we do not yet know if this will continue. For some, renting accommodation in Durham during lockdown resulted in additional financial strain, Natasha Eddy (Vice Chancellor's North East Scholar, Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity) is grateful for her scholarship which “helped me afford paying lodge at my out of term home as well as my private accommodation rent.”

The remote learning required by the pandemic also throws up additional costs, one scholar whose laptop broke was able to use her scholarship to replace the laptop quickly so her learning was not disrupted: “with the current Covid-19 situation, having a functioning and responsive laptop is vital and I am so grateful I have a working laptop.”

Challenges for Research

Lockdown has also affected our student’s ability to undertake research vital to their courses. Dasha Anderson’s (pictured right) Master dissertation was no longer viable due to the pandemic. As she explains, without the financial help of her scholarship she would have needed to work part-time: “I would have, in all likelihood, lost this job during the lockdown which would have placed undue pressure on me. Without such stress, I have been able to creatively tackle the issue of changing dissertation projects."

The challenges our scholars have faced are varied but what they all share is their gratitude at receiving support from our alumni community, which has helped them to overcome difficult circumstances. As the challenges we all face seem likely to continue we hope our alumni community will join together to support the students who suffer the pandemic’s worst effects.


Chancellor's Appeal: Covid-19 Recovery Fund Impact - Donate Now

Covid-19 Appeal Ben

"The start date of my graduate job may have to be pushed back."

Ben Miller (Josephine Butler College, Business and Management) St Nicholas Trust Scholar

Will Chan

"Students are probably not going to be able to continue pursuing their goals."

Will Chan, (2015-19, Grey College, Mathematics) past St Nicholas Trust Scholar 

Covid-19 Appeal Mary-Anne
"My parents own the local pub, due to the pandemic our whole business stability is uncertain."

Mary-Anne Grego (St Cuthbert's Society, Liberal Arts) Weldon-le Huray Scholar for Music

Dasha 360 250
"The Covid-19 pandemic affected my learning."

Dasha Anderson (College of St Hild and St Bede, Psychology) Santander Scholar

Chancellor's Appeal

The Impact of your Support

We are incredibly grateful for the gifts we receive from our alumni and supporters. See how your donation has helped support the University and our projects.

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Scholarships and Bursaries

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Go to Scholarships and Bursaries 


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