Feature

The Class of 1974: Supporting the next generation

Published on 17 December 2021

The Robertson Scholars programme, in partnership with the Robertson Trust, supports Scottish students from challenging backgrounds to access a university education

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The Robertson Scholars programme, in partnership with the Robertson Trust, supports Scottish students from challenging backgrounds to access university education. The Class of 1974 Medics have come together as a group to support the next generation of medical students by donating to the fund.

Classmates Peter White, Godfrey Bedford and Chris Lewis share their inspiration for supporting the programme.

"I was 70 last February and I decided on my 70th birthday I was going to do several things, one of which was to walk 70 miles of coastal footpath, another which was to plant a lot of trees and another was to do something for other people. Then the pandemic came along, and so instead of being able to physically do anything, I started thinking about the NHS”, shared Peter.

"I read about what a St Andrews graduate was doing for his year and it struck a chord. Then I looked at the Robertson Scholar scheme – a good idea and well supported, especially with the mentoring programme. The response has been amazing, our classmates came in droves and really supported the idea. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do for my 70th but I did this instead!"

"I think we're all very aware that when we went to university, not only were there no fees, there were means-tested grants rather than loans so even those from more modest backgrounds were not rendered into poverty. We started owing nothing and were able to go straight off into our careers and buy houses. Anything we can do to help students reduce their debt when they qualify is a big thing”, added Geoffrey.

“Anything we can do to help students reduce their debt when they qualify is a big thing”

Geoffrey Bedford, Class of 1974

Another inspiration for supporting the programme was to commemorate classmates who have sadly passed away in recent years.

"Unfortunately a number of our year have passed away and it was a way of commemorating them as well. It's a way of remembering them by giving back to the University”, explained Chris.

The classmates were also extremely impressed by the Robertson Scholar scheme and the opportunities it affords students.

"The Robertson scheme is so good and so well organized. And it's not just about the money - it's about the support, the mentoring and also the mental health aspect. I joined a University organised webinar and was very impressed. The students were able to talk about their experiences and what it had done for them and I thought that it was really exceptional. Medicine is not just about facts and figures, it's an art form, as much as it is a science. And from that point of view, the development of the individual is so important”, said Chris.

"I think it's also important to help people from diverse backgrounds trying to get into medicine because I think people from all different backgrounds bring different things to medicine and I think it's an important thing to enable those who thought they might not be able to do it”, added Peter.

A Robertson Scholar will have financial support throughout their degree, and they will also be part of the ‘Journey to Success’ programme. To date the Class of 1974 have raised £29,153 which is match-funded by the Robertson Trust and will support three medical students, making a real difference in the life of those who might otherwise not be able to attend university.

To find out more about the Robertson Scholars programme please visit our Robertson Trust Scholars page

Story category Alumni