Aziz Foundation scholars smashing expectations and barriers
The Aziz Foundation has awarded £7.5 million in scholarships since 2019 to empower British Muslims to overcome societal barriers and achieve leadership roles.
The foundation revealed the nature of its work in its first social impact report covering the period between 2019-23.
It has funded 557 Masters scholarships, with two-thirds granted to female students. So far, 340 students have graduated, while the remaining are still studying.
The employment rate of those who have graduated is 94%. Half of the employed graduates hold middle-level positions, while 13% have attained senior roles — exceeding the 10% national average.
“This social impact report represents the culmination of all our philanthropic work over the last five years," Rahima Aziz BEM, trustee of the Aziz Foundation, told Islam Channel.
"It is reflective of all that we have achieved and striven for, in selecting the right scholarship candidates: those who are making great strides in their profession and industry, as shown in the high employment rate amongst our cohorts.
“These are British Muslims who are already reaching senior leadership levels in their field, or who have the potential to do so.
“But behind the figures I have also managed to meet with some of our extraordinary scholars and interns, who are pillars of their local community and have made it their life’s mission to raise others as they raise themselves.”
The Aziz Foundation says British Muslims face systemic barriers, including Islamophobia, financial struggles, and lack of recognition, which prevents them from realising their full potential educationally and professionally.
It strives to tackle this inequality by closing educational and workplace representation gaps for Muslims in underrepresented fields, inspiring career aspirations in areas typically overlooked by Muslims, and enabling overall greater upward mobility for British Muslims across sectors.
Inspired by Islamic values
The Aziz Foundation was established in 2015 by the Aziz family and is inspired by the values and teachings of Islam to support communities in Britain.
It supports Muslims in education and employment through its master's scholarships and an internship program. It also offers a mentoring scheme for its scholars and alumni. This creates a pipeline from academic scholarships to workplace entry and career development.
The report evaluates those programmes and includes case studies exploring its impact on the lives of beneficiaries.
The foundation has also led special projects highlighting Muslim contributions to society — aiming to shift perceptions and promote a more positive representation of British Muslims. It also supports organisations to combat Islamophobia.
Its advocacy efforts have resulted in eleven universities officially adopting the APPG definition of Islamophobia and another seven have become supporters of Islamophobia Awareness Month.
The foundation said it will refine its programs and approaches for the future. Key strategies include proportional scholarship distribution, a strengthened social network for scholars and the establishment of a University Partners network for knowledge exchange.
“Our aspirations in the next five years is to continue to support British Muslims in breaking the glass ceilings that holds them back," said Aziz.
"Through refining our offer, developing internship opportunities across more industries, or bringing our university partners together to better share knowledge on how to improve access for British Muslims, we can push pass social barriers and optimise our social impact.”
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