Making a Brighter Future

Hear from two scholarship recipients that are determined to create a cleaner and greener future, thanks to your generosity.


Giving a donation is a little like throwing a stone into a pond. Your support creates ripples that spread out long after the donations have been made. Students impacted by your kindness go on to achieve great things and become the world changers of the future.

One of the greatest challenges facing our future is climate change, but it’s a challenge many of our students and the university are determined to face head on. To hear how your support for scholarships is inspiring the next generation to develop a future of cleaner and renewable energy, we met Kundai Vurayayi (5th year, Chemical and Environmental Engineering) and Abigail McEwen (2nd year, Geography).

“I think as an engineer we’ve got a lot of potential to make a real impact on the world,” Kundai told us and from the moment she started speaking it was clear she is intent on making an impact herself. Now in her fifth year, Kundai is fresh from a work placement where she gained an insight into how the chemical sector can become more sustainable. Alongside her studies she is now applying for jobs within the chemical industry or energy transition, with a focus on companies that are looking at more sustainable production or decarbonising their sectors.

“There are so many opportunities just with things like energy transfer. You’ve got hydrogen, biomass, nuclear, wind and solar,” explained Kundai. “Now we have more knowledge of the impact we have when we’re releasing things into the air and water or contaminating the land.

“We’re more aware of the harm it can do. I think there’s a lot of opportunity and responsibility to ensure that we are making the right choices and that we are impacting people positively rather than negatively. I’m excited to be part of the change to a more sustainable future.”

Although Kundai had an interest in sustainability before coming to university, her time at Nottingham has cemented that passion. Not only have university staff helped her to write CVs and job applications, but their own research has also been inspirational for her.

“It’s good to know the university is so focused on achieving net zero,” said Kundai. “A lot of the academics in our department are involved in this area, like my tutor who is looking into things like decarbonising the steel making industry. It’s interesting to hear their research.”

Although Kundai is only just starting her journey to make the world a more sustainable place, she already realises the importance of inspiring future generations. “I was involved with the inspiring women in engineering programme and part of that was to speak to nine and 10-year-old girls at school. We gave them a presentation on green cities and green buildings, as well as sustainability in day-to-day life. It’s good that even though we’re students we’ve also got a part to play in teaching the younger generation about a green future.”

Kundai’s love for learning also started at a young age and she was inspired by her mother. After being born in Northampton, Kundai lived with her grandparents in Zimbabwe until she was six-years-old. This allowed her mum, who was a single parent, to complete her Mental Health Nursing course back in England. When Kundai moved back to the UK she unfortunately missed her first year of school, but her mum dedicated the time to teach her to read and write at home – something that Kundai is incredibly thankful for.

A scholarship is about empowering people not just to complete their studies but to enrich their lives.
Kundai Vurayayi

“She has always instilled in me the importance of getting an education and really encourages me to follow my passions.”

Kundai’s scholarship has been instrumental in making sure she has the funds necessary to pursue her passion for sustainable causes outside of her studies.“My scholarship has been helpful in allowing me tohave more opportunities to pursue activities outside of my course like the Women’s Engineering Society Student Conference,” explained Kundai. “A scholarship is about empowering people not just to complete their studies but to do more with their time at Nottingham and enrich their lives.”

A scholarship for second-year Geography student Abigail McEwen has given her freedom to pursue non-academic activities related to her interests in sustainability, climate change and conservation.

“I am able to volunteer at Beacon Hill and Bradgate Park during term breaks and the scholarship helps fund my travel expenses,” said Abigail. “I can volunteer more hours, not having the pressures of needing to work a part time job to support myself alongside my studies. So far, I have helped run multiple nature-themed craft workshops for the general public, an apiary open day, and tried dry stone walling to help establish habitats and help with park maintenance.”

Abigail has also been helping to promote conservation in the natural spaces on campus, which have become so important to her during her time at Nottingham.

“The open spaces and wildlife made me excited to study here. I regularly take strolls to immerse myself in the wildlife and enjoy the Millennium Garden as a peaceful area to relax,” Abigail told us.

“I joined the Conversation Society and it’s nice to be giving back already. You can see you’re making a difference in the local area and when you’re walking around campus you can see things you’ve done, which is inspiring. I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved already.”

Without the worry of increasing accommodation cost or travel expenses, thanks to her scholarship, Abigail has become more independent and developed core skills that will become a foundation for her desired future career in environmental consultancy.

I would like to thank the donors for their support and generosity. This scholarship has definitely opened many doors for me and is making a positive difference to my university experience. I am so grateful.
Abigail McEwen

Sustainability at Nottingham

The University of Nottingham’s commitment to sustainability has been recognised by an international league table, which has ranked it among the top 40 of the world’s ‘greenest’ universities.

Nottingham jumped a remarkable 85 places in the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability 2024 up to 33rd out of 1,403 global institutions. The university is placed 17th out of 493 European universities and 12th in the UK.

The rankings highlight the ways in which universities are taking action to tackle the world’s greatest environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Through research, teaching, strong governance and community engagement, universities have the expertise and opportunity to drive sustainable development forward to tackle the planet’s most pressing problems and ensure that generations of students are educated in the importance of the topic.

Professor Robert Mokaya, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the university’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, says: “I am very pleased that our work and efforts at being an environmentally sustainable university are being recognised with these significant achievements. Our environmental sustainability ambitions require a collective approach that cuts through research, teaching and the way we choose to operate across many activities.”