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Staffordshire Student Elliott Lancaster Named in the Top 50 Shortlist for $100K Global Student Prize

Elliott Lancaster

Organisers double value of award from $50k to $100k due to the extraordinary quality of applications

Elliott Lancaster, a 24-year-old student at Keele University (@KeeleUniversity), Staffordshire, UK has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Global Student Prize 2021, a new $100,000 award to be given to one exceptional student that has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.

Elliott, shortlisted for the Global Student Prize 2021, was selected from over 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries around the world.

The Varkey Foundation launched the Global Student Prize earlier this year, a sister award to its $1 million Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who, together, are reshaping our world for the better. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills programme. Part time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize.

Together, the Global Student Prize and the Global Teacher Prize will tell inspirational stories from both sides of education. The prizes will shine a spotlight on the great work teachers do in preparing young people for the future and the amazing promise some of the brightest students are showing in their learning and far beyond. has partnered with the Varkey Foundation to create the new Global Student Prize. Lila Thomas, Head of, said:

“In this age of COVID, students like Elliott have shown great courage to keep studying and keep fighting for a better future despite huge obstacles. The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices. After all, it is their dreams, their insights and their creativity that will help solve some of the greatest questions humanity has ever faced.

“Our finalists this year have a made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty.

“We were so inspired by the achievements of these extraordinary students throughout the world that applied for the inaugural Global Student Prize that Chegg chose to double the value of the prize to $100,000.”

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:

“Congratulations to Elliott for reaching the final 50. His story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics. It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”

Elliott Lancaster has overcome immense odds to succeed in education and help others in his community. At the age of 15, he had to liaise with financial institutions to ensure that his family did not become homeless. Fast forward nine years, and Elliott is now studying for a postgraduate degree at Keele University while tirelessly coordinating and campaigning for mental health, social enterprise, sustainability, and a solution to homelessness. In 2016, through partnerships with local governmental bodies and residents, Elliott established Utter Rubbish – a social enterprise and mobile app connecting citizens to local councils, helping to reduce waste and updating residents on recycling policies in real time. The app was initially piloted by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and Elliott has signed agreements with other councils to roll it out. In academia, he has also written a number of publications on interdisciplinary learning and blended learning practices, and has been recognised as a Microsoft Innovative Educator and a Finalist in the British Education Awards. If Elliott wins the Global Student Prize, he will develop a Sustainable Student Network to provide practical support, incubation, analysis and funding for those wanting to start a social enterprise focused on sustainability. Examples of projects will likely include overcoming student digital poverty and social isolation. 

Applications and nominations for this year’s student and teacher prizes opened on Tuesday 2 February and closed on Sunday 16 May. Students who applied for the Global Student Prize are being assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.

Following today’s announcement, the top 10 finalists of both the Global Student Prize and the Global Teacher Prize will be announced in October this year. The winners of both prizes will be chosen from the respective top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy and the Global Teacher Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals. The winners are due to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November. 

If students or teachers were nominated, the person nominating them was asked to write a brief description online explaining why. The student or teacher being nominated was then sent an email letting them know they had been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize.   Applicants were able to apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. To join the conversation online follow @TeacherPrize and @cheggdotorg

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