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.