14 January 2015
Aston graduate, Dr Tony Hayward, has donated £250,000 to Aston University to support disadvantaged students. The Geology graduate is donating 100 undergraduate scholarships for Aston over a six-year period. Dr Hayward’s £250,000 donation will be matched by other donors, providing a £500,000 fund to help students through their university years.
Tony gained his first-class honours degree in 1978 and says that his Aston degree has changed his life. His gift will enable others to study at Aston in the future.
After Tony Hayward left Aston he went on to become the CEO of one of the world’s largest corporations, British Petroleum. He is currently CEO of Genel Energy, the largest oil producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Tony recently told the Birmingham Post: “I want to create a matching fund for student scholarships. This is targeting students from low income families who may otherwise feel that university is not for them. We do attract kids from difficult economic backgrounds, and we have one of the lowest drop-out rates of all UK universities.
“It is very much close to my heart, I am a passionate believer in education. I had a great time at University, it is great to see the way in which the campus has developed in the past five to ten years. It has become a nice, attractive campus with parks and recreational areas.
“We also have a high employment rate of graduates - 87 per cent of graduates get jobs which is on a par with Imperial College, Oxford and Cambridge. I come from quite an unprivileged background, I am from a family of seven kids, my parents didn’t have many pennies to rub together.
“I was the first person in the family to go to university, it was a golden age of enlightenment. In those days there were 15 per cent of kids going to university, it is more like 50 per cent today."
And on his experience at university he said: “Aston was a life-changing experience. It created clarity in my own mind about what I wanted to do. I was introduced to Geology by a teacher at school and at 16/17 years of age, I decided I didn’t want to work in an office - I am still passionate about Geology today. Being able to do something for Aston, which has been great for my own career, is an honour."
The Aston Alumni Scholarships help current and future students from less well-off backgrounds make the most of their opportunity at Aston. With nearly half of Aston’s undergraduates coming from families with the lowest incomes, these scholarships are a vital source of support and can enable them to reach their potential. Aston’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King, adds “We have always had a strong belief in social mobility and the power of higher education to transform lives”.
Dr Hayward confirms this. “Aston is a great enabler of social mobility," he says. "I think you find a lot of kids who went to Aston were from state schools, not from private schools. It’s got a great track record of people becoming very employable on leaving. Aston gave me the opportunity to pursue firstly an academic, then a business, career that was very different to what I would have done. It was transforming in terms of the doors that it opened for me subsequently."
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