By Emmi Bowles – Deputy Features Editor
With tuition fees at £9,000 here in the UK, and accommodation taking up a big chunk of your student loan, it is surprising we as students have anything left over.
University courses have hidden costs, from printing fees, to text books and trips. Students may to get part-time jobs to help pay their way at university, or even work full-time over the summer months. But now a new way of obtaining the funds for the roof over your head has popped up in the form of crowdfunding scholarships.
Uniplaces, a company that helps students find accommodation, has started the first ever crowdfunded accommodation scholarship. Living the Dream Scholarship is a worldwide project that aims to fund the housing cost for selected students. It will work on a social growth model, and for every booking that Uniplaces gets, they will put £1 into the fund, and the cycle will continue with each new applicant. With a 500% growth from last year, there is no way of knowing how big this project will become.
In celebration of its launch, Uniplaces have announced a trail run of the scholarship, offering five students across the globe the chance to win the funds for their accommodation for the rest of the current semester.
In order for students to be in with a chance of winning, all they have to do is upload videos of themselves committing random acts of kindness that make their university or the lives of fellow students better. Examples suggested so far on the Uniplaces social media include topping up a housemate’s travel card to organising furniture swap shops on campus.
Ben Greth , co-founder of Uniplaces said: “The Living the Dream Scholarship is testament to our commitment to breaking down social and geographical barriers for students. It offers the chance of financial support while at the same time inspiring students to be extra nice to each other from day to day.”
Francisco Peres, who had a big role in creating the scholarship and blog Editor for Uniplaces said: “we wanted to help make this world we live in one where students can help other students.”
With the scholarship being a word wide project, Francisco said that to catch their attention you should think outside the box. “It is not just an act of kindness but a random act of kindness. The more random the more you’ll stand out.”
Kind acts can be submitted at www.scholarship.uniplaces.com until Friday 30th April. Anyone can head to the website to sign up to take part, vote for their favourite kind acts and donate to the Scholarship fund.
Profiles with the most votes will be in with the best chance of obtaining one of the first ever Living the Dream Scholarships. Winners of the pilot Scholarship, will be selected by a Uniplaces judging panel. Any donations received will go straight into the Living the Dream Scholarship fund for next semester.
Crowdfunding has become a new and diverse way of obtaining funds for projects. The worldwide crowdfunding volume is $2,806million according to statista.com.With companies available such as Kickstarter and UCLan’s own Pushfund.me crowdfunding service, students are able to try and raise funds they need to complete projects they have a passion for.
Pushfund.me, UCLans own crowdfunding service was set up a year ago, and is still in the process of being completed. Currently the team at Pushfund.me are able to help students develop videos and pitches for other crowdfunding services, such as Kickstarter.
One current example of the work Pushfund.me has done with helping students can be seen with the third year Fashion and Brand Promotion students. They have created a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in order to raise £1600.
The students have decided to embark on an innovative crowdfunding method to help them cover the costs of producing a creative brochure to showcase all of their skills gained throughout the four year course.
The brochure will be distributed to prospective employers and at Graduate Fashion Week where industry representatives scout the latest talent.
Eve Astle, Course Leader expresses her excitement as this is one of the first university courses to be featured on Kickstarter.
“I am extremely proud of all the students for their dedication and professionalism in producing and directing every aspect on the Kickstarter video. A great promotion idea, a worthy cause and a great way to help them get noticed”
Charlie Craven, social media and marketing assistant at UCLan, spoke to Pluto about crowdfunding.
“The great thing about crowdfunding is that if you were to go to a venture capitalist you would have a 1% chance of succeeding, with crowd funding there is a 44% chance.”
Crowdfunding is all about getting the public to fund your project, and they will do so if they believe in it or find it interesting.
“If it has social value then people are more likely to put in to it.” Charlie said. “I think it is really important because it democratises something, it is not just those who have the money who decide what gets funded but everybody.”
For anybody who wishes to start their own crowdfunding project, they can email Charlie at CPCraven1@uclan.ac.uk to find out more information on the support they can get.