Alumni Impact Fund

We know the best students and staff have brilliant ideas. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, staff, students and friends of the University £120,000 in funding is now available for innovative projects that will have an immediate impact on teaching, learning, students' experience and academic endeavour.

Since 2002, the Development and Alumni Relations Office has distributed almost £2 million to a wide range of initiatives across campus and has made many extraordinary projects possible through this Fund. This year, we invite academics, students and Professional Services staff to bid for up to £20,000 in funding for their innovative project.

All bids must demonstrate an immediate impact on campus or activities that will enhance staff and students' academic experience.

Applications for 2016 are now closed.  If you have any queries please contact Grace Surman on

The deadline for all applications is midday on Friday 3 February.

How does it work?

The Alumni Impact Fund is a pot of £120,000 of funding which will be split six ways – £20,000 for each College and £20,000 for Professional Services.

The fund is open to all academics, Professional Services staff and students (with the support of a staff advocate) to bid for a share of the fund to support innovative projects that have a positive impact on teaching and the student community.

Candidates wishing to apply must fill in the online application form and provide proof of the approval of your Head of School/Department, staff advocate for student applicants or Head of Estates if your project will impact the University's estate.

As a general guide most previous successful applications have been in the range of £500 - £5,000. However, other amounts will be considered.

Applications to support a larger project will be considered provided that it is clear which aspects of the project the Alumni Impact Fund will contribute to and the impact of not receiving funding is clearly explained.

Applications will be considered by a panel comprising representatives from your:

  • College
  • Alumni Relations Team
  • University of Birmingham alumni
  • Student body

The panel will meet in February to deliberate and successful applicants will be notified by mid-February.

All successful applicants will be asked to provide a thank you message to our donors and a full report of their project. Recipients of the funds will also be invited to record a short video on their project which will be uploaded to YouTube, shared across University social media and sent to our alumni donors. 

Personal Skills Award

Undergraduate students who apply for the Alumni Impact Fund are able to claim PSA points. Visit the Personal Skills Award webpages for more information.


To be considered for funding, your project must clearly demonstrate that it:

  • Is new and/or innovative and may provide the basis for future activity
  • Supports the University and College strategic priorities
  • Is not a core Department, School, College or University requirement
  • Has a positive impact of charitable giving from Birmingham alumni and donors, and promotes a positive view of the University as a charity
  • Offers a unique opportunity to enhance teaching, or students' academic activities, on campus and enriches the student experience
  • Cannot be funded in any other way
  • Has the support of the Head of School/Department or staff advocate (for student applications), and Head of Estates for any bids that impact on the University's estate

Terms and conditions

  • This money has been charitably donated to the University by alumni and all projects funded must reflect the spirit of this generosity and the ethos of the University
  • Funding cannot be used to support research trips, cover travel expenses, catering or alcohol
  • Only one application will be funded per individual
  • We reserve the right to consider the likely expectations of charitable donors about the use of their donation, and will not fund projects that could negatively impact on our future fundraising. We would not, for example, usually fund proselytising activities
  • Funding cannot be used with the sole aim of directly supporting another charitable cause

Why are you doing it this way?

By ring-fencing equal shares, we will ensure that each of the Colleges and Professional Services as a whole will enjoy significant opportunities to bid to the fund. All applications will be reviewed, and decisions made, locally, by your colleagues in your college and for Professional Services, a small steering group.  

Key dates

Monday 5 December 2016 - Applications open.

Tuesday 20 December 2016 - The team will be exhibiting at the Birmingham Professional Christmas Forum

January 2017 - Two workshops hosted by College Alumni Relations Managers to provide advice and support for staff and students in the development of their bids:

  • Thursday 12 January 12.30-1.30pm, UG06 Learning Centre 
  • Tuesday 17 January 12.30-1.30pm, G13 Nuffield Building

Friday 3 February 2017, 12pm - Closing deadline for receipt of bids and supporting documents.

Week commencing 6 February 2017 - Panels meet and final decisions made by Friday 10 February 2017.

Monday 20 Feb 2017- All successful and unsuccessful applicants notified.

Wednesday 1 November 2017 - Spending deadline (funds must have been drawn down and spent on the project awarded the grant).

Friday 1 December 2017 - Reports Deadline.

Please note that grants awarded must be spent by 1 November 2017 or risk being withdrawn.

How to apply

Please fill the application form online and submit it by the closing deadline of Friday 3 February 2017, 12pm.

Please note: this form unfortunately cannot be saved and returned to at a later point. We recommend you draft your applications in a Word document then copy and paste into the form when you're ready to submit.

You will need to attach a proof of the approval of your Head of School/Department, or staff advocate for student applications. In the application form there is a section where you can upload emails showing this. 

When filling in your application please be advised to:

  • Fully and realistically cost your project
  • If you wish to apply for support to refurbish or change rooms, please consult with Estates and ensure they are aware of your intentions and provide formal supporting documentation with your application
  • Explain clearly how the money will be used
  • Show how you will measure its success
  • Include the proposed implementation date
  • Explain how you plan to promote the fact that alumni generosity made the project possible
  • Ensure your Head of School/Department or staff advocate authorises the proposal

Information for staff advocates

To ensure that this funding is accessible to all, students projects require a member of staff to act as an advocate. Students who apply either individually or as a group, team or society must provide the name of a staff advocate who can oversee the projects funding and expenditure. Students must also provide proof that a member of staff has authorised the proposal by submitting a cover note from their advocate with their application.

As a staff advocate you will:

  • Be a University budget holder and signatory
  • Hold any successful grants in your budget element 2 code
  • Oversee and authorise expenditure
  • Provide your element 2 code once funding has been allocated. The funds will be made available to you in an FSX distribution account under your local element 2 code - any unspent funds will be removed automatically at the end of the financial year
  • Be responsible for ensuring the project meets University health and safety requirements and risk regulations and University financial regulations
  • If appropriate, you will also ensure the Head of Estates is aware of any applications that impact on the University's estate

For any further queries please email Fiona Newell, Gift Accounting Officer: 

Previously funded projects

Here are just some of the 250+ projects we have supported over the years:

Healthy Ageing Summer School

Inflammation and Ageing, College of Medical and Dental Sciences

Professor Janet Lord received £2,000 from the Alumni Impact Fund to host a two-day Healthy Ageing summer school for 100 trainee health professionals.

The event aimed to challenge perceptions around old age and covered topics such as retirement, spirituality and sexual health. The money also funded eight older adults to take part as small group facilitators and discuss their experiences of old age.

The Institute of Inflammation and Ageing is the only centre in the UK that has brought together, under the same hospital roof, a group of world-leading medical and scientific specialists in all the major conditions caused or exacerbated by inflammation. Their vision is to help more people live healthier lives for longer. Find out more about their latest research here


UoB’s 1st IMechE Railway Challenge

Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) was awarded almost £10,000 from the Alumni Impact Fund to enable them to take part in their first ever Railway Challenge at Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire. 

The UoB team comprised students and young researchers from Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials and Mechanical Engineering. Their task was to design, construct, test and operate a 1:10 scale railway traction unit that that had to be comfortable to ride, have tractive effort and regenerative braking capabilities.

The project allowed students to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice and improve their teamwork and communication skills.

The University of Birmingham is at the forefront of railway traction research, and the locomotive that was constructed received huge media interest. You can read more here.  


Engaging Shakespeare

Shakespeare Institute

Thanks to funding from the Alumni Impact Fund, thousands of students have benefitted from new video and audio recording equipment that was installed within the Shakespeare Institute Lecture Hall. This allows the weekly seminars delivered by internationally recognised Shakespeare scholars to be enjoyed by a wider audience, including part-time and distance-learning students and alumni.

The equipment is also used to record and live stream high profile lectures held at the Shakespeare Institute, as well as important community events, such as the annual graduation party. This has helped to foster new networks of learning and exchange across our ever-growing international Shakespeare Institute community. Find out more about the Shakespeare Institute here.


New performance and rehearsal studio for students

Guild of Students 

The Guild of Students was successfully awarded funds to create a new and bespoke studio for their 200+ student groups to carry out performances, rehearsals, classes and training. This includes the award-winning Bhangra Society and Edinburgh Fringe performing theatre groups such as Article 19, 3BUGS and the Infinity Stage Company.

The new space has allowed the Guild to develop and enhance its offering for the thousands of students involved in our student groups, especially those involved in arts and performance groups.

Llinos Lloyd, of the Ballroom Dancing Society, said: 'The dance studio is amazing to dance in, the mirrors really help with posture and how you look on the floor. It's been a real help to all our society members and our teacher loves it.'


Academic Stand Against Poverty visit to Delhi

College of Social Sciences

The Alumni Impact Fund paid for five students from Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) to travel to India. This offered them the unparalleled opportunity to experience the work that NGOs were doing in Delhi and gain a deeper insight into poverty issues.

ASAP is an international professional association focused on helping poverty researchers and teachers enhance their positive impact on severe poverty. It does so by promoting collaboration among poverty-focused academics, effective outreach to policy makers and broader public audiences, and by helping academics turn their expertise into impact through specific intervention projects. Find out more here.

Co-founder of ASAP, Joshua Lindsey-Turner, said: 'The highlight of the trip was meeting a group of recent graduates who were working for Indian politicians. I had an unforgettable time, made some wonderful friends and learned more about global poverty than I could have done any other way.'


New ICT facilities at Undercroft

School: School of Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

A donation of £5,000 from the Alumni Impact Fund, matched with funds from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, has enabled the School of Biosciences to buy 12 new computers and worktops to create a new study area in the Undercroft section of the Biosciences building. 

Hundreds of students and staff are now benefitting from the Undercroft as it is a more vibrant and active place where students and staff can access study spaces and ICT resources, with dedicated areas for individual study and collaborative learning.

Contact us

For advice and support with your application, please contact your local Alumni Relations Teams who will be happy to help:

College of Arts and Law – Grace Surman –

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences – Grace Surman –

College of Life and Environmental Sciences – Hazel Burton –

College of Medical and Dental Sciences – Grace Surman –

College of Social Sciences – Roaa Ali-Moore – 

Professional Services – Lucy Partridge –

Alumni and friends of the University of Birmingham have once again been extremely generous and we would urge you not to miss this opportunity to help make an immediate difference to our students' lives.