Major Gift Will Break Down Financial Barriers

Posted on Friday 21st December 2007

A world-renowned chemist and his wife are helping the University of Birmingham to ensure fair access for all the brightest and best students, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Birmingham alumni Dr Simon Campbell CBE FRS – former Head of Worldwide Discovery at Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company – and Mrs Jill Campbell have made a major donation to support the University’s Access to Birmingham (A2B) scheme.

The couple’s gift marks the expansion of the Simon and Jill Campbell Foundation, originally established at the University of Cambridge, and will fund scholarships in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry plus books and materials for current A2B students.

Simon, who was a key member of the research team behind Viagra and is former President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, explains: ‘I could not afford to go to university but was fortunate enough to receive a local authority grant enabling me to attend. I was able to complete my BSc and PhD and then pursue a successful scientific career that culminated in my election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. If there had not been a grant available, or scholarships like ours to turn to, my life would have been completely different.’

A2B targets young people in the West Midlands with the ability, potential and commitment to attend university but who might struggle to achieve the necessary grades due to personal factors. Through the scheme, the University aims to support and encourage the transition to higher education. A2B applicants must meet the minimum entry requirement and complete a student shadowing experience, an online study skills module and an academic piece of work as part of their application process to the University.

Jill, who received her Teaching Certificate from the University and has taught yoga for 20 years, says: ‘We are concerned that student debt will be a barrier to pursuing higher education for many bright and able students. We both benefited from a university education and hope our scholarships will relieve some of that debt for the recipients.’

Kiran Vithal received an A2B scholarship in 2007 and says: ‘The scheme offered me a real chance – motivating me highly to achieve and set myself high standards, expectations and targets, which I strived towards. Without it, I think I would have seen the University of Birmingham as a distant reality.’

Chancellor of the University, Sir Dominic Cadbury, adds: ‘This generous gift, marking the start of the Simon and Jill Campbell Foundation at Birmingham, will enable many highly talented and committed though less financially privileged students to make their aspirations a reality, and help us meet a vital need to continue expanding this important scheme.’

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Notes to Editors:

The University of Birmingham's Access to Birmingham or A2B scheme was launched in 2000, taking promising students and preparing them for A-levels and university life through a rigorous tutoring regime.

A2B aims to ensure financial support is available to the most able students who have shown a commitment to achieve at university but who otherwise may not move into higher education because they are not able to afford it or have no family history of doing so.

Dr and Mrs Campbell made their donation in the form of shares. When shares are donated, the total value is transferred, including any capital gains, without the University incurring any tax liabilities. The benefactor can then deduct the total value of the donation from taxable income simply by completing their tax return in the normal way.

Further information:

Rachel Burrows – Acting Director of Communications

Tel: 0121 414 6681 / mob: 07789 921165 / email: r.burrows@bham.ac.uk