Relieving financial pressures for students

Isla is a first year Computer Science student and a recipient of the Sandman Undergraduate Scholarship. The Scholarship provides support to students within the School of Computing or Engineering who as a result of financial need face restricted access to higher education, or who may not otherwise complete their degree course due to financial difficulties arising. This is Isla’s story.

I knew from about the age of 14 that I wanted to study at university. Prior to completing my GCSEs, I was assigned a video game project which required building and creating a video game in Gamemaker. I found myself spending so much extra time on it, just out of my own free will. I loved it, and that’s when I realised that I wanted to do video games for the rest of my life. And from there, I made the plan to study Computer Science.

I decided to take a gap year before coming to university. I had two jobs, one of which was with a creative agency working for a video game company. It was great and gave me work experience in my field.

The course itself was a big factor in my reasons for choosing to study at Newcastle University. I was very keen on Computer Science, specifically video game engineering. I had a couple of criteria when I chose my preferred options – a Russell Group University, and one that offered a mainstream subject e.g. Computer Science, rather than specific Game Design degrees. I wanted to have a broader subject, in case I ever changed my mind or needed it. I chatted to a family friend, who graduated from Newcastle, and she sold me on it.


I screamed with joy when I found out about my scholarship. I was over the moon! I had lost track of the number of tears I had shed over money worries since I had arrived at university.

Isla, Sandman Undergraduate Scholarship recipient
First year, Computer Science student

I’m enjoying my time at Newcastle, and I’m currently the President of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. I would like to be involved in more societies and will look at others next year.

The city is so lively, compared to my hometown Oxford, and I love it! I have been to all the museums, walked a couple of miles down the Quayside to Hadrian’s Wall, and I’m going the beach next weekend. But the coolest thing here is still the Angel of the North – I genuinely got teary-eyed the first time I saw it! That is what I love about being Social Secretary, because I have to find things in the city for people to do. I recently organised a trip to a board game café and that was really fun. We’ve got plans for karaoke and other things too.

When I came to university, I was really financially struggling. I have been working 2 jobs since I was 16 years old, and I have had no financial support from my parents since I was 18 years old. I had already been awarded the Undergraduate Opportunity Scholarship, but, despite that, I was still struggling. My peer mentor, who was in second year, recommended that I apply to one of the other scholarships available, like the Sandman one. I completed the application, and I got it, and I was absolutely thrilled.

The Scholarship has helped me to overcome barriers to living, which affect barriers to study. I was struggling to put food on the table, I didn’t have enough money to have an actual university experience. I only get one university experience, I’ve worked really hard to get here, and I want to make it count. To be able to have the money so that I can have a full student experience, and a financially worry-free experience is just amazing.

The generosity of a stranger to blindly give someone the money to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, is a generosity like no other. I have the freedom to create memories. The little things I can now do, make such a huge difference.

My goal in life is to make enough money and have financial prosperity, so that I can also give back and give people the chances like I have been given.

When I graduate, I plan to create my own video game company. One of my biggest goals, is to create a pathway for women into the tech industry. A lot of girls struggle with misogyny and discrimination in the industry and get dissuaded by that. I have the ‘don’t care’ attitude. You need one person to get in there and open the door for everyone else. That is going to be me. I’m currently in concept design for a new gaming app and need funding to start building it now. My aim is to have a beta version of the game out by 2025 - my graduation year.


Find out more about how you can support our current and future students.
Find out more Icon Chevron Right

Find out more

Learn more about our campaigns and partnerships or simply contact us if you have a question about the Campaign for Newcastle University.