The Opportunities Fund
The Opportunities Fund helps students who would otherwise be unable, for financial reasons, to access extracurricular professional development opportunities offered by the University or external organisations.
In appropriate circumstances the fund can provide help towards the cost of:
- travel costs
- attendance fees for courses, conferences or residential training events
- smart clothing
- other expenses- please read the full guidance document
Applications up to £500 are normally considered.
Please note we will not pay for laptops or PCs
Types of activities
Examples of activities that may be funded include (but are not limited to):
- Internships, Work Experience and Volunteering Opportunities
- Attendance at conferences
- Accessing Lifelong Learning Centre / University of Leeds events
- Attendance at an interview or assessment centre
- Attendance at a career insight day
There are lots of different places you can search for activities but as a starting point, you may want to look at the volunteering opportunities on the LeedsforLife website or internships with the Leeds Internship Programme. There are also examples of activites in the guidance document, linked below.
Summer School Opportunities through the Study Abroad Office
In 2021, students who gain a place on an in person Summer School through the Study Abroad Office can apply for additional funding from the Opportunities Fund. Students who are eligible for this will be contacted when they can apply for the fund- please do not apply for it before this point. There is further information in the Opportunities Fund Guidance document.
We encourage you to read the guidelines fully and complete the application form even if you are not sure if your request will be approved. Whilst we are unable to provide funding support for everything, we would like to signpost you to other funding sources at the University such as:
- Leeds Hardship Fund
- Leeds University Union Accessibility Fund (to help disabled students cover the cost of accessing societies)
- Leeds Disabled Students Access Fund
- LUU Emergency Funding
To apply to the fund you must be:
- A student with access to the Plus Programme. Find out if this applies to you here. If you are not sure, please send us an email to email@example.com
- A student on the BA Social Science Programme (foundation year)
How can I apply?
Firstly you must carefully read this Opportunities Fund Guidance to ensure you understand how this fund works.
You must then complete this online application form in full to request funding from the Opportunities Fund. It will then be considered by the team and you will receive a response within 21 days.
If you have further questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Opportunities Fund has helped dozens of Plus Programme access interviews, conferences, internships, exhibitions and much more. Opportunities have taken students all over the country and across the globe. Below, you can find some excerpts of reports written by students about their experiences and how the Opportunities Fund helped them.
Jay Panchal - Human Physiology
I have wanted to become a doctor and pursue a career in medicine for as long as I can remember. Due to personal circumstances I was not able to secure a place at medical school right after my A-level studies, and instead I undertook my current degree programme – BSc Human Physiology. Throughout my time at the University of Leeds, I have gained a wide range of experiences through several different means. This has included volunteering at St James Hospital as a patient support volunteer where I provided companionship to patients; work experience at the LGI; working as a mentor in a local secondary school and being involved in several university societies. As such, I applied for medical school in October 2018 and was lucky enough to receive interview invitations from 3 out of the 4 medical schools I applied to – Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Keele University School of Medicine and Queens Belfast School of Medicine. The cost to travel to my interviews at Brighton and Belfast were quite expensive and as such I applied to and received funding from the Opportunities Fund, since I am a Plus Programme eligible student. The funding allowed me to travel to my interviews without having to worry about how expensive the travel was. I was successful in 2 out of my 3 interviews and will now be undertaking a 5-year medical degree from September, something which I thought I would not be successful in securing. I am very grateful to the Plus Programme for providing funding towards my travel costs, and hope it continues to operate in the future so that no students are at a financial disadvantage, especially when it comes to opportunities.
Yasmin Akram - International Business
I applied for the Opportunities Fund after hearing about it through a Plus Programme Newsletter. At the time, I was applying for numerous Placements for my third year and I was contemplating which Assessment Centres I could afford to attend. I had numerous offers for Placements from FTSE 100 companies and I was thoroughly excited about the opportunities available to me however I was worried about how I was going to fund attending the Assessment Centres. Most of my Assessment Centres were located in London which meant catching a train from Leeds, an Overnight stay in some instances and tube fares to get around London. One single attendance to an Assessment Centre was looking to cost me around £150 and whilst some companies did offer help towards travel expenses it nowhere near covered what I would have spent and many companies did not offer compensation at all. Furthermore, as I still didn’t know which placement I wanted I was relying on the Assessment Centres to give me an insight into the company and help inform my final decision. I got offers for numerous Assessment Centres which I whittled down to my top 10 and eventually top 5. Realistically, I could only afford to attend one Assessment Centre and the Opportunities Fund meant I could attend all 5!
I am so grateful for the Opportunities fund and I recommend students utilise the opportunity in the future. Money has been a worry for me throughout University and to have the opportunity to not consider it as a factor as much when attending my Placement Year Assessment Centres was a great relief. Consequently, through attending all five Assessment Centres I was offered numerous placements and the choice of placement was entirely my own. In addition, the Assessment Centres made me gradually more confident as I became used to different activities, interviews and expectations- again, this experience will prove crucial for my future employability. I now look forward to starting my 12-month Industrial Placement and I am grateful for the support given by the Plus Programme team and the Opportunities Fund for making this possible.
Meegan Worcester - Sustainability and Environmental Management
Through the Opportunities Fund, I was able to apply for travel expenses for return tickets to attend the Bright Network’s Women in TEC Conference in London. The conference included panel discussions of women in TEC, sharing their experiences in panel discussions about working in a male-dominated industry. I was able to access this unique opportunity and discover my interest in learning about coding. I have since gone onto research into discovery modules about coding and technology for next year, and I aim to apply for these in May. If I did not attend this event, I would have not considered how technology could be implemented into not just my initial dissertation idea, but also how learning to code can be beneficial towards applying for future jobs and adding to my CV/skills.
The event was brilliant, as I was able to be part of panel discussions and have a better insight in how successful women in their field have gone onto achieve senior executive roles within their companies. This has inspired me to look at current leadership positions within my school, the School of Earth and Environment, and see where I can gain teamwork and leadership experience during my time at university. Also, since attending the event, I have become more confident in approaching different employers to ask about their career journey, and any advice they may be able to offer. Although this may not seem like a direct outcome of the event, it has helped to shape my personal confidence when pursuing my future career and talking to different employers and people in general. Also, the funding allowed me to network with different companies across the UK working in these industries, and to be part of a cohort of 150 other female university students across the country. This included seeing what graduate jobs are available in different companies, and what they are all individually looking for.
My funding entitled me to receive return train tickets to London from Leeds, including a day ticket to use on the underground tube system. This travel expense was booked by the Plus Programme after I confirmed which dates and times I needed in order to attend the event on time, which relieved extra pressure during the booking process. The application process was simple enough, and I felt supported by the Plus Programme staff if I had any concerns or questions. Overall, the experience has boosted my confidence, and has made me even more aware of other opportunities I may be able to apply for in the future to benefit my career and my time spent at the University of Leeds.
Leah Richards - Business Management with Marketing
I applied for the opportunity fund for financial support to attend the Drexel-Leeds Global Classroom course in Amsterdam. The course ran from the 22nd to the 29th of March 2018, and I was lucky enough to be successful in the application and interview process and was awarded a place on the course. The course included a study of leadership theory and practice, and team roles and dynamics, viewed from a global perspective, with reflection and goal setting individually using styles, examples and experiences. It also included a hand on experiential consulting-based project collaboratively with social enterprises in The Netherlands hosted by The Knowmads Business School.
My participation in this course has heightened my cultural intelligence, enhanced my global business awareness and allowed me to establish a more extensive international professional network. Through networking and conversing with international business leaders, academics, and students I have been able to gain invaluable insights into the apparent cultural differences and how this influences business. I have explored how others would tackle the current problems businesses face and the differing opinions on the most efficient solution, strengthening my problem-solving skills for future study.
Included in the course was accommodation, lunch and dinner daily, ground transportation, and numerous cultural activities. However, I had to personally expense the flights and transport to Amsterdam, breakfast, and spending money. Although I had saved to expense for my spending, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the flights and transportation without the opportunity fund. The fund allowed me to purchase the flights from Leeds to Amsterdam, my transportation to my Hostel, and a night accommodation in the Hostel before the programme had started. This eased the financial burden of the costs of the trip and saved me from the stress of trying to locate the funding to attend the course, which I am extremely grateful for. I would have had to sign-up for extra shifts with my university Job to try and raise funding for the course, thus affecting my studies and preparations for my exams in May.
Overall, the opportunity fund allowed me to attend this insightful and beneficial course. I’d like to thank the team and those who have allocated funding for students to access these opportunities to that which they may previously have had to turn down.
Gerda Luht - Chemistry and Mathematics
Thanks to the Plus Programme Opportunity Fund, I was able to make the most of my first summer at University by completing a summer school programme in South Korea. Though this was already subsidised the University of Leeds in terms of not needing to pay a tuition fee to the host University, which was Korea University in Seoul, the other costs associated with such a programme would otherwise have been too difficult to cover for a low income family such as mine. Luckily, I was able to receive support from the Opportunities Fund for payment of accommodation at the host University’s dormitories which made the trip affordable. Living in University-owned property meant that I was able to experience the local culture more, helping me to gain a better insight into the country that I was visiting. This is as it was close to where classes took place giving me more time to explore the city and saving me the costs of commuting. Also, it was safe, both in terms of the local area and having a guaranteed place to stay when I arrived in the country.
I found out about this summer school through fairs and emails from the Study Abroad Office at the University of Leeds. The summer school consisted of courses taught by lecturers from around the world along with cultural activities that allowed us to become immersed in local life. I saw immediately how beneficial it would be to participate in this programme, and when I finally received an email from the Plus Programme about the Opportunities fund, I knew I had the chance to make good use of the summer break.
Understanding and experiencing different cultures is important for developing an open mind, and seeing different ways of living enables new ideas to form more easily. Living in a foreign environment requires the skill to adapt, among many others such as orientation, planning and decision making. The summer school provided the chance to develop such skills and have these unforgettable experiences, however, without the support from the Plus Programme's Opportunities Fund, it is unlikely that I would have been able take advantage of this incredible opportunity to study abroad, offered by the University of Leeds.