More than 156,000 scholarships for study, work experience and entrepreneurship granted by Santander Universidades in 2020

Last year, the Santander Group allocated EUR 110 million to support higher education, under the Santander Universidades programme. In Poland, 3,283 scholarships were awarded in 2020, with the bank allocating funding of PLN 1,053 million. Santander increased its support for the academic community by 56% year-on-year. The unprecedented increase in the number of beneficiaries of the Santander Universidades programme is motivated by the bank’s strong commitment to bridging the digital divide and addressing the social and health needs arising from the pandemic.

The Santander Group, acting through the Santander Universidades program, funded more than 156,000 scholarships in 2020 for study, work experience and entrepreneurship. This is 56% more than in 2019. The total outlay for this purpose amounted to €110 million.

Out of the total number of scholarships, nearly 49,000 went to university students and graduates to develop their skills in response to today’s labour market challenges. Close to 33,000 went to young entrepreneurs to support their development or project implementation and over 75,000 scholarships were used to finance work experience and other training programs.

The strong impact of the pandemic and its consequences in the educational, social and economic fields led to a rapid rethinking during March 2020 about the bank’s patronage in support of the university community in the countries in which it operates. The Bank has signed 1,000 partnership agreements with universities and institutions in over 22 countries, including 59 in Poland. To address the continuity of studies and the future employability of students, university graduates and young professionals, the Santander Group accelerated the development of its scholarship and aid program in 2020, placing emphasis on digital transformation and the social and healthcare needs arising from the pandemic.

COVID-19 challenged universities’ ability to continue to train and support students safely during the pandemic. In the field of education, more than 100,000 people benefited from the actions promoted by Santander Universities, consisting of scholarships, financial assistance and support for the digital transition, thanks to the more than €30 million earmarked for various initiatives such as the Supera COVID-19 Fund for research projects, social impact and reduction of the digital divide, as well as aid for students in unfavourable economic situations.

Also noteworthy in 2020 was the Santander Group’s support for vulnerable young people, but also teachers for whom the pandemic has hindered their education and upgrading of skills to give them a better chance in the job market. To this end two programs were launched. #IstayAtHome and #InvestInYourself offering support for training in the development of cross-cutting, digital and linguistic skills. In this spirit, the scope was extended for the first

time to new groups affected by COVID-19, such as the unemployed, with the aim of improving their skills to cope with a labour market in the midst of a transformation.

Additionally, the Santander Group supports young entrepreneurs through Santander X. In 2020 it launched various global and local initiatives such as the Santander X Tomorrow Challenge, which sought innovative solutions to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.

Part of this change has come to stay, not only because the pandemic continues to affect the normality of social and university life, but also because the online and hybrid training offering will be consolidated as important responsibilities of higher education. Banco Santander will continue to support universities in dealing with these and other challenges, allowing them to continue playing a major role in the future of society.

Javier Roglá

Global Director of Santander Universities

For 25 years, the Santander Universidades programme has been part of the bank’s commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and of its leadership position as a socially responsible bank. Moreover, it is considered one of the largest initiatives of its kind supported by a private entity, as it has already earmarked almost EUR 2 billion for education since 2002 and has awarded 600,000 scholarships since 2005.

At the moment, the platform is open for new Santander Group scholarship programs, which this time are focused on supporting the development of skills in areas most sought after by employers, including digital and language skills. Until 25 March it is possible to apply there for Santander Tech | Digital Reskilling – Ironhack scholarship, which develops skills in creating websites and programming technology or, for example, benefit from a local scholarship programme called Santander Development Scholarship, conducted remotely by the Cracow University of Economics, during which one can take part in a preparatory course and obtain funding for 100% of the EFCB 3E European Banking Certificate exam.