Spurs
Elaine and Liam at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium

Securing a ticket for Saturday’s Champions League Final in Madrid may have been a near impossible task for most but two Heriot-Watt students received the next best thing thanks to Santander Universities UK.

Psychology students, Elaine O’Keefe and Liam Spence were selected by the university to take part in an exclusive leadership training event followed by a live screening of the Champions League final at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

The day kicked-off with a thought leadership masterclass led by renowned sports psychologist and ex-England cricketer, Jeremy Snape MSc. This was followed with a guided tour of the impressive £1bn stadium.

We’re thrilled to have offered students from all our partner Universities this fantastic opportunity to attend a series of leadership activities whilst highlighting the positive and lasting impact that sports such as football have on people and communities around the world.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK

It was then time to sit-down and enjoy the big game alongside thousands of Spurs fans. The night, however, would end badly for the north London club with Liverpool eventually crowned European champions.

Despite this, Elaine O’Keefe (52) from Dunfermline, who is in her fourth year, remained upbeat about the event, saying: “Visiting the new state of the art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was a fantastic experience. The Tottenham fans are very lucky to have such an amazing place to cheer on their team.

“The whole day was a fabulous adventure. Thanks to Santander for delivering such a wonderful event."

Santander Universities originated in Spain more than 20 years ago when the bank decided to invest in universities and now maintains partnerships with close to 1,200 academic institutions in 20 countries.

One of its key objectives is to provide life changing opportunities and experiences to students at its various partner universities across the country.

Liam Spence (27) from Glasgow, is in the third year of his course and said: “When I chose Heriot-Watt, I never thought I would end up watching the Champions League Final in London.

“To say it was a surprise is an understatement. To learn new skills and discuss ideas, particularly around leadership, has not only widened my education but will help me after graduation.”

Santander Universities was introduced in the UK in 2007. It has provided more than £10m of funding in 2018 to support university staff and students in this country.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK, added: “We’re thrilled to have offered students from all our partner Universities this fantastic opportunity to attend a series of leadership activities whilst highlighting the positive and lasting impact that sports such as football have on people and communities around the world. We are committed to supporting higher education and hope the sessions provided an invaluable insight and the skills needed for students to build upon as they develop their careers.”

Both Elaine and Liam gained Access Bursaries to study at Heriot-Watt. All students who came to the University through this bursary were automatically nominated for the experience.

Access Bursaries provide students at Heriot-Watt from low-income or challenging backgrounds with £1,000 at the beginning of each year of their degree to help towards flat deposits, books and other costs associated with studying in one the most expensive cities in the UK, giving them much needed breathing space.