Manchester United’s Class of ’92 have launched a coronavirus education grant scheme to help those in Greater Manchester who have suffered financially to get access to higher education.

The Class of ’92, who are co-owners of Salford City FC, are also founders of UA92, a higher education institution that allow students to study for Lancaster University accredited degrees in subjects such as business, sport, media and computing.

And the former Manchester United footballers have announced that they are offering 92 grants of £5,000, called Kickstart Grants, to give those who may have lost their jobs or living on reduced income, the opportunity to study for a degree or short course at UA92.

The aim of Kickstart Grants is to offer people who may not have previously contemplated higher education learning to give themselves new future employment ventures by studying for qualifications.

Grants can be given to study any of the degree and seven-month Certificate of Higher Education courses at UA92, which is based at Old Trafford.

And recent figures show that the people of Greater Manchester have been some of the hardest hit by COVID-19, with think tank the Centre for Cities revealing that the number of citizens in the area claiming unemployment benefits rose by 2.6% to 6.7% between March and April 2020, the fifth highest increase in the country.

Speaking on the launch of Kickstart Grants, UA92 co-founder Gary Neville said: “We already know that the impact of COVID-19 on Greater Manchester will be significant and that people without higher education qualifications will face the biggest hit to their income. That’s why we want to do what we can to help people develop their skills and future employment prospects.

“We’ve set up the Kickstart Grants scheme to increase our support for people to access higher education – perhaps people who have never even considered it before – and open up new possibilities for themselves and their families.”

And according to the Resolution Foundation, it is likely to be young people who will financially suffer the most from the affects of COVID-19, with an increase of 640,000 18-24 year olds facing unemployment this year.

Chair of the UA92 Board, Marnie Millard added: “We hope the Kickstart Grants will encourage those, who have faced challenges since the pandemic began, to feel supported in their next steps and that there are options open to them.

“I am a believer in the power of higher education to transform people’s lives and open up new avenues. We also know that when more people gain qualifications beyond college-level it has wider economic benefits.”

To find out if you are eligible for a Kickstart Grant and information on how to apply visit the UA92’s website.

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