Posted: 08 February 2024


Following a new injection of funding from sportscotland and the Scottish Funding Council, Scotland’s national sports scholarship programme for talented student athletes has relaunched as Winning Students 100.

Helping student athletes balance their studies with high performance training and competition, the newly-branded Winning Students 100 provides athletes with grants of up to £3000 and works with respective colleges and universities to offer additional support such as academic flexibility.

With funding secured until 2028, it is expected 500 scholarships will be awarded over the period with the programme also introducing a hardship fund to offer additional support to eligible student athletes.  106 scholarships have been awarded for 2023/24 across 28 different sports and 21 universities and colleges – this includes 11 rowers from 3 universities who met the Winning Students 100 programme criteria.

Following an open application process in the autumn led by Scottish Rowing, rowing is one of two sports awarded ‘Winning Students 100 Priority Sport’ status based on the ‘significant investment and emphasis placed by the sport on the HE/FE sector over the last 5 years which has subsequently positioned the opportunity to pursue a dual-career at the heart of the performance pathway’.  The priority sport status increases the maximum number of Winning Students scholarships available to rowing each year from six to twenty.

Established in 2008, the original Winning Students programme saw over 1,700 scholarships awarded during its first phase of funding with noteworthy alumni including Olympic medallists Laura Muir (athletics), Duncan Scott (swimming) and Polly Swann (rowing).

One of latest rowers to benefit from the programme is the University of Glasgow’s Laura McKenzie.  In 2023, Laura won a silver medal at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Italy and has ambitions to compete for Great Britain when the coastal rowing discipline makes its debut at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

Commenting on the support she is now receiving through the Winning Students 100, Laura said:

“Winning Students has been amazing in supporting my rowing career.  The scholarship allows me to focus on the day-to-day training and studying without worrying about how I’m going to fund my competitions.  Important things like fuelling myself becomes more of a priority and less of a necessity.  I am very grateful for their commitment to me and will be able to aim for more success this year.”

Josh Matthews is one of nine rowers from the University of Edinburgh rowing programme supported through Winning Students 100.  Josh, a Great Britain under 19 and under 23 international, added:

"The costs of being a performance rower can add up, and the Winning Students 100 scholarship will be extremely helpful in offsetting these costs including equipment, travel and race fees.  The programme will be massively beneficial to all of us as we are operating on student budgets and previously we may have had to work part-time in order to raise funds for training and competition."

As the newest funding partner, sportscotland’s involvement brings true cross-sector collaboration to the programme with Scotland’s sport and higher education bodies both committed to supporting a duel-career pathway for the country’s leading student athletes.

Forbes Dunlop, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “We are committed to helping young athletes achieve their goals. Being able to find the right balance between training, their studies and other commitments is critical to the wellbeing of student athletes. We're delighted that this programme will help these athletes to do that."

 Winning Students 100 Launch 2

Photo Credit: Winning Students 100


Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Having funded the Winning Students programme from the start, we’re incredibly proud it has helped so many people to be successful college or university students alongside developing a career in sport. The achievements of previous Winning Students in life and in sport speak volumes for the benefits of the programme, and I wish the new scholars every success.”

Executive Director of Sport at the University of Stirling and Chair of the Winning Students 100 Advisory Board, Cathy Gallagher, commented: “The importance of this dual career programme for talented student athletes, cannot be understated.  The coming together of the Scottish Funding Council, sportscotland and the HE/FE sector forms a significant collaboration within which to create even more impact for the current and future cohort of students”.

Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing’s Head of Performance and Pathways, said: “Winning Students has been an integral support mechanism for talented student rowers since the first rowing scholarship was awarded back in 2012.  We are delighted to see the programme being relaunched as the Winning Students 100 and are extremely proud that rowing has been selected as one of two priority sports.These scholarships will ensure that our leading rowers in Scotland can continue to balance their academic and sporting aspirations as part of their dual-careers.”

Winning Students 100 is managed by University of Stirling, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, and supported by an advisory board and management group made up of professionals from across the tertiary education and sport sectors.