Eight ways students changed the world in 2014

1. Uclan student raises thousands to thank homeless man for his kindness

Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, a 22-year-old fashion master’s student at the University of Central Lancashire, lost her bank card on a night out and had no money to get home. A homeless man offered her his last £3 to get a taxi. She’s since slept rough for 24 hours to raise money, asking people to donate £3 to help Robbie secure a flat deposit. The total raised so far is over £30,000.

2. UEA students create an app to help people with eating disorders

A team of four UEA students won the first ever Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Tech Challenge in March for their app aimed at helping people with eating disorders. Barry Wright (BSc computer science), Bastian Altrock (MBA), Steven Ram (PPE) and Timea Suli (BA politics) completed their design in just eight weeks and their partner charity, Beat, was awarded £500. “All those gruelling nights of hard work, bad coffee and takeaways with these guys paid off in the end – the app’s success has been incredible,” says Timea Süli. She hopes it will empower people and help them on their path to recovery.

3. Manchester student’s campaign sees staff paid the living wage

As chair of the University of Manchester living wage campaign, economics and politics student Matt Harriott succeeded in getting his student union to pay all of its staff the living wage of £7.85 an hour. After campaigning for four months, he celebrated the good news this December. “This decision shows the kind of ethical leadership that is needed to tackle a growing trend in work poverty,” he says.

southampton students

4. SOAS student leads team to viral victory on University Challenge

SOAS mature student Maeve Weber became the trendiest thing on Twitter as she helped her team score a place in the University Challenge quarter final. Her team’s 150-point margin of victory against the University of Reading became a TV sensation – and the episode was the most-watched programme on BBC2 that day.
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5. Royal Holloway’s feminist society renamed itself the Ugly Girls Club

The feminist society at Royal Holloway University overheard a student refer to the the group as the “ugly girls club”, and decided to reclaim the insult – taking Twitter by storm with their #uglygirlsclub hashtag. Thousands around the world posted their “ugly” selfies – Guardian Students got involved too.

6. Student lobbies LSE to fund two asylum-seekers a year

“It was really amazing to finally get a result after two years and hopefully it will have a real, long-term impact,” says Celia Frankel, a London School of Economics student.

She worked with Just For Kids Law, LSE’s human rights department, and the student union to help asylum-seeking students receive financial help.

From 2015, LSE will now offer two means-tested awards a year to match the combination of government loans, grants and bursaries available to low-income home students. Each award could total as much as £20,000.

General secretary at LSE student union, Nona Buckley-Irvine, says: “This is a fantastic step in the right direction to equal access to education for all and would not have happened without Celia.”

7. Apple snaps up Stirling student’s Wall Street Race game

University of Stirling student Ben Thompson developed the game in just three weeks. Inspired by the Wolf of Wall Street film, Ben’s game has had huge success. And that’s despite his failing computing at school.

8. Southampton students reach finals of competition to grow life on Mars

A team of University of Southampton students’ bid to grow lettuce on the red planet is the only remaining UK entry in the international competition.

The winning experiment will arrive on an unmanned craft in 2018, along with the official Mars One experiments.

Team leader Suzanna Lucarotti says: “My initial reaction was disbelief – the core team are mainly just undergraduates, and we’re competing not just against other students, but professors and academics around the world!”

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