Kelvin Anim: We need to do more to support the next generation of students

Student studying in a library

Kelvin Anim  Kelvin Anim

Kelvin Anim (War Studies & History, 2018) is CEO of Silo, a platform that connects students with funding opportunities to support them at university. We caught up with him about the financial pressures facing students today and what should be done to alleviate them.


It’s important to understand what the situation looks like for working-class students and many middle-class students when they get to university. Rent in a city like London can be significantly higher than a student’s entire maintenance loan. Even with parental help, lots of students have to plug financial gaps through part-time work, and balancing that with study can be really tough.

More support is essential to enable students to make the most of their university experience. I commuted in for my degree at King’s, but when preparing for university I was still looking at my maintenance loan and thinking ‘this isn’t enough to do the things that I want to do’. I was keen to get involved with the debating society and take opportunities to attend competitions around the country. I received a scholarship to attend sixth form and I knew that might be an option for university, so I set about searching for suitable funding opportunities.

The Desmond Tutu scholarship meant that I could make the most of my university experience. I didn’t have to worry about financing my extra-curricular activities. There were other people on the debating team who hadn’t thought about how much things like travelling to competitions would cost. It’s really hard not being able to participate in an activity like that just because you can’t make the finances work.

Kelvin talking to students about Silo at the Freshers' FairKelvin talking to King's students at Fresher's Fair

That kind of support shouldn’t end when you finish your degree either. I was relatively lucky because I had a plan in place after graduation. Many of my peers worried about what the future was going to look like, how they were going to fund a master’s degree or an internship, how to get into the industry they wanted to work in. Many of those concerns still came down to access to support.

The government can certainly do more in the way of offering students support. UK universities are some of the best in the world, but many students are not able to make the most of it because the system isn’t in place to support them during their degree. More funding would also enable institutions to step in where government support ends.

There is also an issue with students being able to access the funding sources that are already available. People are often surprised when I tell them that Universities UK says that there is about £450 million available in scholarships and bursaries. Many students don’t realise there is funding available outside government and their institutions. The problem is it takes hours of Google searches to find them, time in short supply to students already balancing university, part-time work and extra-curricular activities.

That’s why we set up Silo. Silo is a platform that connects students with funding opportunities by matching them to relevant scholarships, grants and bursaries from our database. We are also looking at ways to connect students with alumni and third parties that want to help. Lots of alumni are interested in helping students either financially of pastorally and a lot of corporations are looking for ways to give back, or can offer discounts on essential items like stationary. The intention is to provide a single platform that connects students with the opportunities that are already there, but also with people and corporations that want to help.

University should be one of the best experiences in life, but lots of students are struggling. Many will make it through because they’re clever and driven. They’ve got into King’s and they’ll do well, but we should be looking for ways to make their lives easier.

Lots of alumni really care about helping the next generation of students. If you can donate money or resources that’s fantastic and it will go a long way, but it doesn’t always have to be about money. For me what was great about something like the Desmond Tutu Scholarship wasn’t only the financial support, but the opportunity to meet the other scholars. It was great to have that support network of people who had similar aspirations to me.

Alumni can offer plenty to support current students in terms of career advice, advice on what future industries students should be preparing for, what extra-curricular activities students should be doing. Giving back helps build a stronger alumni community. I think that’s something all great universities have, that sense of community. It’s something that benefits us all.

Find out more ways to give back to King’s or explore our volunteering and mentoring programme.


If you would like to share your story, why not get in touch? Email forever@kcl.ac.uk with a short bio and a summary of the story you would like to tell.


 

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