Could scholarships help address challenges in the membership sector?

As businesses struggle to confront the new issues created by a global pandemic, professional associations could be ideally placed to support their members in a way that has not been common practice in the UK.

06 Nov 2020

Corporate student scholarships are big business in the US, but they are less well-known here. However, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated interest from UK organisations and a growing number are looking at creating tailor-made scholarship programmes for the first time.

As we know, one of the main purposes of a professional or membership organisation is often to further the profession it represents, addressing issues which are common to the sector generally and to its members. A scholarship targeting students interested in a career in the membership sector could be used to address a wide range of issues, such as a lack of diversity or difficulty in attracting new talent to support the advancement of the sector. It also allows employers to support students through higher education creating a vehicle for organisations to select, encourage, train and recruit the best talent in to your industry.


Why a scholarship?

Money is a major cause of worry for 80% of students. Students are facing bigger debts than ever before and now, an even more competitive graduate job market place when they finish their studies.

So the appeal of some corporate support both financially and with mentoring and work experience holds a great attraction to the students.

Scholarships can be an extremely flexible business tool, which can be used to achieve a wide range of objectives and benefits.

Here are some examples of industry bodies that have already created a scholarship programme.


UKESF Scholarships - Attracting new talent to the Electronics industry

The UKESF use their scholarships to support the brightest students through their studies, providing them with an annual bursary, mentoring and work placements in member companies. It helps them to promote Electronics as a career in schools, with additional encouragement given to girls to address under representation.


UKNEST Scholarships - Raising awareness of the career opportunities among potential new recruits

The UKNEST Scholarships are used to raise awareness of the opportunities of a career in the Naval Defence Sector. Offered to students who are studying STEM subjects, and are interested in future employment in the Naval Defence Sector. They support scholars with a bursary, mentoring and work placements.


The Law Society - Encouraging Diversity

The Law Society Diversity Access Scheme aims to increase social diversity in the legal profession by supporting promising entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who face exceptional obstacles to qualification.


The idea of setting up and running a scholarship programme may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before, but once in place it is a targeted and flexible HR tool offering significant benefits to both sides.


About the author

Karen Kennard is Director of The Scholarship Hub - a social enterprise which works with organisations to support them in the creation of a tailor made scholarship programme.



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