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Sussex students to benefit from MacQuitty Prizes

Jonathan MacQuitty

A generous donation by a University of Sussex alumnus has ensured that final-year students from across the University may be in the running for a generous financial prize - based on their performance in their undergraduate degree. 

The MacQuitty Prize, funded by Jonathan MacQuitty, has been running annually since 2008, offering a £10K prize to the best performing final-year undergraduate across the sciences.

This year Dr MacQuitty has endowed the prize in perpetuity to ensure that many more students over the years will benefit from his generosity. He has also kindly pledged to support a new £10K annual prize for the best performing undergraduate student across the humanities and sciences, with the first MacQuitty Prize being offered this academic year.

The austere historical roots of the prize are a story in its own right. Jonathan's grandfather (also called James) and his brother, William, lost their parents at a young age and were raised as orphans by family members. However, William had the good fortune and intellect to receive free schooling and in 1881 he entered Queen’s University, Belfast on a scholarship.

In 1884 he received a prize of several hundred pounds for being top among the First Class Honours students studying for a BA in Experimental Science. With this money, William was able to carry on his studies in Dublin and London; he then returned to Belfast to work as a physician before his untimely death aged 47 in 1910.

William had no children, so part of his estate came to Jonathan’s grandfather and then via his father to Jonathan himself, helping support him as he studied for a DPhil at Sussex in the 1970s. 

Now, the MacQuitty Prize, having evolved over a century of academia, will continue to support students at Sussex, as Jonathan explains:

“Over a hundred years have passed but the financial challenges for young graduates have not been eliminated. This prize should allow the winning student more financial flexibility in starting his or her post-graduate career - whatever that may be.

“The choice of what to do with the proceeds is left entirely to the prize winner. It could be used to start a business, to donate to charity, to travel abroad, to do something about the environment or to purchase something.”

Dr Marina Pedreira-Vilarino, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said of the donation:

“Jonathan MacQuitty’s generous philanthropic support is a great example of the tremendous impact that alumni giving can have on the lives of students.”

The Students Union’s Undergraduate Officer said of the prize:

“It's amazing that Sussex students are being offered a prize of such magnitude – a wonderful opportunity for all students.”

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By: Tom Walters
Last updated: Friday, 13 October 2017