Impact Report 2020-21

Thanks to your support, ARU is making an impact regionally and globally. Explore the huge difference that philanthropic gifts have made during the 2020-21 academic year.

A message from the Vice Chancellor

Thank you for your invaluable support during this exceptionally challenging year.

Professor Roderick Watkins

During the last year the global pandemic has brought huge change and challenge for all of us and whilst it continues to impact on our daily lives, ARU refuses to stand still.

We’re continuing to transform lives through excellence in education and research. That includes the lives of our students and the lives of those in the communities we serve.

Not only that – we’re equally committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, making excellent education a possibility for students who might not otherwise have had the chance, and undertaking excellent research that genuinely improves the lives of people both locally and further afield.

With your support, ARU has been working hard to make a difference regionally, nationally and globally, and your gifts of all sizes have been at the centre of this transformative change. You’ve given talented young people the gift of education through our scholarships and bursaries, addressing the imbalances that exist in participation in higher education.

These individuals will ultimately contribute to society in ways that otherwise would never have been possible. Here at ARU, we’re training the next generation of health care professionals who we will all continue to rely on, along with the law enforcement officers who will shape the future of policing in challenging times.

And you’ve made excellent research possible. Research that is responding to the economic and social needs of our region. It is world-leading, but as with everything we do, it is also improving the lives of people locally. Whether it’s research to improve the detection of COVID-19, giving our military veterans and their families a brighter future, or improving the quality of life for people living with dementia – your generosity is having a massive impact.

On behalf of all of us at ARU, I would like to thank you for your invaluable support.

Professor Roderick Watkins
Vice Chancellor

Your impact: transformative scholarships and bursaries

Our scholarships and bursaries are helping people from challenging backgrounds realise their potential.

Here at ARU, 85% of our students share at least one characteristic of disadvantage, and over the last year, our scholarships and bursaries have once again supported many talented students from a wide range of backgrounds, facing a wide range of challenges.

Thanks to your support, we’ve closed the gap between students from areas less represented in higher education and those from areas more represented.

Seventeen percent of our students are from the lowest participation areas, a growth of 2% in the last five years, compared with 19% from the highest participation areas. The average equivalent figures across higher education are 12% and 30% respectively.

For the last two years, students from lower participation areas have also outperformed those from higher participation areas when it comes to staying on for the full duration of their courses.

We’ve also closed the gap in degree outcomes between disabled and non-disabled students, with disabled students outperforming their non-disabled peers by 4% in 2017-18, following a continuous improvement since 2013-14.

In terms of diversity, we’ve reduced the sector gap in degree outcomes between white and black students from 23% to 18% over four years of continuous improvement. And over the last five years, black students at ARU have all but closed the gap when it comes to winning a graduate level position or moving into further study.

However, we want to do more to help specific groups facing particularly difficult challenges – whether it’s people coming from very low-income backgrounds, those who are the first in their families to attend university, care leavers who need extra support, or caregivers who have incredibly challenging demands on their time.

These people have so much to offer, but without a helping hand onto the first step of higher education, their potential – and the huge positive impact that can have on society – may never be realised. We want to impact not only their lives, but the lives of those they touch too.

Equally, we are determined to do all we can to support students from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds. With our origins in the Cambridge School of Art, we’re focused on making the arts more representative of British society.

We’re currently developing a pilot Inclusivity Bursary to encourage and support talented students from a British BAME background to join MA Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU’s Cambridge School of Art – and ultimately become the diverse group of role models that future generations need.

Keeping Kieran’s dream alive

Kieran Taylor

Twenty-seven-year-old Kieran Taylor is a second-year medical student at ARU. He originally studied biology at university, but since then has worked in sales and construction. However, his dream is to become a doctor – and your support is helping to keep him on track to achieve this.

Attracted by the facilities and teaching at the School of Medicine at ARU, Kieran applied and was successful in gaining a place to study medicine. However, due to his previous stint in higher education, Kieran is not entitled to a student loan, and so he used his house deposit savings to follow his dream of working in the NHS.

In his first year on the course, Kieran juggled the high demands of a medicine course with part time construction work in order to pay his fees. However, due to the pandemic, he lost his income in 2020, leaving his dream for the future in jeopardy.

Thankfully, Kieran was able to apply for a Hardship Bursary - generously funded by ARU corporate supporter Provide CIC - which provided him with an essential lifeline, allowing him to continue studying into his third year.

Kieran said:

“If it wasn’t for the award I received, I literally wouldn’t be on the course anymore, because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the tuition fees.

“When I heard the news that I’d received the award, I was ecstatic. As bad as it sounds, I did think it might be a bit of a cruel wind-up by my course mates, but thankfully that wasn’t the case! I was just relieved, and it gave me the motivation I needed to continue working hard, knowing that I wasn’t going to be off the course in a few months’ time.”

Read more about read more about the impact of scholarships and bursaries.

Your support in numbers

Not only do your gifts have a profound impact on individual lives, they also help us provide support to students in a huge range of ways.

This has never been more apparent than over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, when many students have experienced unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – such as being unable to travel home and needing reliable equipment and internet connection for online study.

Your generosity has provided priceless support to countless students through this difficult time.

696 students supported
£110,000 in hardship payments
£70,035 support towards laptops and broadband
£14,500 worth of bursaries for care leavers
£7,740 for students self-isolating
£18,025 in support for our disabled students to access Disabled Students' Allowance
£93,900 has helped those in our most vulnerable groups through the Ruskin Support Fund.

Figures accurate as at March 2021.

Find out how you can support our students through scholarships and bursaries.

Read more about more about the financial support we have offered.

Your impact: making research excellence possible

Your support has helped our world-class researchers tackle important global and regional challenges.

Transforming lives through the power of music

A woman teaching another how to play piano

At our globally renowned Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), we’re studying how music therapy can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia as well as their carers.

Dementia affects one in every 14 people over the age of 65, and one in six people over 80, and can also be extremely difficult for the people who care for a loved one with dementia.

Your support has had a huge impact on the lives of people affected by this debilitating disease right here in Cambridgeshire. Thanks to your donations, we have continued to train the next generation of music therapists and support local communities through our 10-week music therapy group project, Together in Sound.

Together in Sound has touched the lives of many people in Cambridgeshire. Two such people are Anne, who was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in 2005, and her husband and carer Bob.

Bob said:

“We went to Together in Sound every Friday, and it gave us real peace. It gave us companionship and fulfilment, and it brought back a lovely smile to Anne’s face.

"There are things that happen through music and song to people living with dementia – a glint of understanding would suddenly come to Anne’s eyes, because memory was bringing her back into a world of fun, joy and participation with others.

"It was quite amazing for me to see Anne come into the world of music and song, and that carried on all the way through the rest of her life.”

Find out how you can support our music therapy research.

Addressing the impacts of military service

Back view of a soldier flying the Union Jack flag from a pole

At our Veterans & Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI), we’ve collaborated with international partners to tackle the serious and long-term effects that serving in the military can have – both physical and psychological.

We’ve worked with organisations such as NATO on areas like sexual violence in the armed forces and the military-to-civilian transition, to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

In 2020, researchers at ARU undertook important work examining the effectiveness of a universal multi-agency record of care to help veterans access health services that are vital for their wellbeing.

The Veterans Universal Passport (VUP) pilot project was developed to make it easier for veterans to navigate and access health and other wellbeing services – and was independently evaluated by our researchers at the VFI.

Generous grants from trusts and foundations are now supporting the development of the VUP into a digital app format too, helping to make it even more accessible and bring it to a wider range of veterans.

Find out how you can support our veterans research.

Read more about how your support has helped researchers.

Your impact: developing fast and reliable COVID-19 testing

Professor Stephen Bustin

Thanks to the support of a generous donation, an ARU professor has been able to develop a test which, at the time of writing, is both faster and more reliable than existing qPCR tests for COVID-19, which are currently in use in the UK.

Stephen Bustin, Professor of Molecular Medicine at ARU and a leading expert in quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), widely used to detect SARS-CoV-2, has developed the assay, called Cov2-ID, in partnership with colleagues at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

The results of this unique test, which targets three viral genes as opposed to one, increasing reliability, and which could cut detection time to just 20 minutes, have been peer reviewed and published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Bustin said:

“Speed and reliability are vital elements of the testing process. Currently, it is not really feasible for someone to wait where they are for the results of their test. They might go to the shops, have some lunch, and only then get a positive result, risking community spread of the virus. We have developed a test that can deliver a result in just 20 minutes.

“Targeting three viral genes is unique, with most real-time qPCR assays currently only targeting two. This has led to some reports of false negative rates, again risking community spread. Our assay returned 100% accurate results from the samples collected.”

Read more about prof stephen bustin explains how a donation supported his research into covid-19 testing.

Your impact: providing state-of-the-art learning facilities

Our campuses across the East of England continue to evolve and develop, allowing us to provide the very best facilities and learning environment to our students.

Thanks in particular to two especially substantial donations, we have been able to revolutionise our campuses since gaining university status in 1992.

The power of such donations enables us to continue to provide the most up-to-date learning experience possible in state-of-the-art facilities. Our students can learn with the kind of equipment that they will need to use, and become experts in using, when they graduate.

Lord Ashcroft buildings

The Lord Ashcroft Building on ARU's Chelmsford campus

An enormously generous gift of £10 million from our former Chancellor, Lord Ashcroft, allowed us to build new centres for our Business School – the two Lord Ashcroft buildings, one on each of our Chelmsford and Cambridge campuses.

The Chelmsford campus building includes a £160,000 state-of-the-art Bloomberg Lab providing a realistic insight into the world of financial trading.

Jerome Booth Music Therapy Centre

Jerome Booth Music Therapy Centre at Anglia Ruskin University

Thanks to a substantial gift from British economist and former ARU Chairman, Jerome Booth, the Jerome Booth Music Therapy Centre is home to our arts therapy courses and research, equipped with high-quality musical instruments and recording equipment for our clinical arts-based therapies.

Read more about how gifts have helped improve our learning facilities.