posted on February 19th, 2024

Ulster University celebrates inspirational scholars

Ulster University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office welcomed scholars, donors and University supporters for an evening of celebration to mark the incredible achievements of hundreds of students who have been awarded scholarships.

The annual Scholarship Celebration Event took place on the Ulster University Belfast campus last week. This was an evening of celebration, recognition and appreciation offering opportunities for scholars to celebrate with their loved ones as well as meeting and thanking donors who make Ulster University scholarships and awards possible. Guests enjoyed music while networking with donors and supporters before hearing from University Provost Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan and previous scholarship recipients about the powerful impact this support has on transforming the lives of students.

“The annual Scholarship Celebration Event is a valuable opportunity to thank our incredible donors who are supporting the development of hundreds of Ulster University students at present. Scholarships are a lifeline for some students, allowing them to continue their education at university, often in the face of challenging personal circumstances.” Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan.

Alongside a range of scholarships funded by the generosity of individual donors, trusts and foundations, corporate donors who attended the event included Action Renewables, Aflac NI, Allen & Overy, Allstate NI, Belfast Harbour, Choice Housing, FinTru, KPMG, Optum Ireland, the SHS Group, SSE Airtricity, and Subway Ireland.

We are investing in future talent, rewarding academic excellence, and building the skills of top performing students from non-accounting backgrounds. We know scholarships make a real difference to the student experience and impact strongly on career outcomes”. Jonny Hannah, Partner in Charge, KPMG in Northern Ireland.

Meet the Scholars!

Among those awarded a scholarship is Saorla Boyle, a Paramedic Science student at Ulster University Derry~Londonderry, whose journey to Ulster has been defined by determination and resilience, despite her diagnosis of a long-term condition three years ago. Since her diagnosis, Saorla has continued to strive for excellence to achieve her place on the competitive Paramedic Science degree programme, balancing her studies alongside volunteering and being the sole carer for her young daughter. Saorla has remained resolute in her commitment to a career in Paramedicine despite financial hardships and setbacks in education and considers her scholarship as the key to stability and a brighter future, enabling her to fully focus on her education and support her young daughter.

“I feel hugely privileged to have been awarded this scholarship. It will allow me to focus solely on my studies and raising my daughter, while alleviating some of the pressure that comes with being a full-time student and single mum. I am grateful to have gained a place on the much sought-after Paramedic Science programme, and now, with this added support, I can give my all to reaching my potential and becoming part of our wonderful healthcare community.” Saorla Boyle Ulster University Student.

Ulster University Paramedic Science student Saorla Boyle (left) pictured with her daughter at the Scholarship Celebration Event.


Recognised at the celebratory event was Jonathan Weir, an undergraduate student who, after suffering a life-threatening spinal cord injury in his previous career as an electrical engineer, is re-skilling at Ulster University for a career in technology, a sector he has a keen interest in. Now a Year One Computer Systems student, Jonathan is using his bursary to fund his travel costs to the Ulster University Belfast campus and to purchase wheelchair equipment and other adaptive equipment for his computer.


“I have always had an interest in technology and fixing problems, so the Computer Systems course is allowing me to pursue a new career that I can work comfortably in following my accident. Travelling up to 100 miles per day for my studies is costly, however my scholarship is supporting with the purchase of a wheelchair accessible vehicle and other adaptive equipment.” Jonathan Weir Ulster University Student.


Ulster University Computer Systems student Jonathan Weir pictured at the Scholarship Celebration Event.


In 2023, the University saw a 28% increase in applications to the Student Opportunity Fund and a 59% increase in applications for Academic Opportunity Scholarships from full-time students, in comparison to the previous year, with more and more students under financial strain in light of the cost-of-living crisis. 

Ulster University continues to prioritise fundraising for scholarships as a result, with donations from corporate donors, individual supporters, trusts and foundations helping the University to continue transforming Northern Ireland through sustainable regional economic and social development by harnessing the power of its people, place, and partnerships.  


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