Development & Alumni Relations Office 


14 September 2020

Tim Crawford, a Learning Development Tutor at Queen's, has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship for 2020 to visit Canada and New Zealand to research widening participation in higher education.

Run by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, the Churchill Fellowships are a unique programme of overseas research grants supporting UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today's most pressing problems. They cover eight universal themes in society:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Community and Citizenship
  • Economy and Enterprise
  • Education and Skills
  • Environment and Resources
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Governance and Public Provision
  • Science and Technology

The purpose of Tim's Churchill Fellowship project is to inform policy and practice by learning from international comparators who have pioneered targeted, aspiration-raising programmes for disadvantaged young people, increasing their progression to, and attainment in, higher education.

The Fellowship will enable him to visit innovative widening participation (WP) programmes across nine cities in Canada and New Zealand, and has the potential to improve the aspirations of disadvantaged young people in Northern Ireland – particularly working class, Protestant boys – and their representation and attainment in higher education.

As a Learning Development Tutor Tim’s interests are in teaching and learning, online education and learning technology. Working with five University Schools – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Mathematics and Physics, Psychology, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – he provides academic skills support through one-to-one consultations with undergraduate students, workshop delivery, and the development of online resources and administrative tools.

He is also responsible for the Virtual Learning Environment for the Pathway widening participation initiative.

Speaking about his job in WP Tim said:

"As a Learning Development Tutor at Queen's, my role involves contributing to the development of a widening participation programme for school-aged children. In working with these students, I've seen first-hand the benefits that outreach activity can have in equipping young people with the confidence and self-belief to attend university and flourish.

“I also have a personal connection to this work: from early childhood, I was made aware of the importance of education and the opportunities it can afford thanks to the influence of my father, a man from a working class, Protestant background who was able, through education, to overcame significant barriers to become professionally qualified and start a business.

Reflecting on where the Fellowship will take him and what it will enable him to do, Tim added:  

"I am particularly looking forward to visiting outreach programmes in Vancouver, Canada, where they are carrying out sterling work with disadvantaged young people – including efforts made to increase the aspirations of aboriginal groups, and the work of school districts to improve the attainment of boys.

“I look forward to observing the impact of these programmes and exploring opportunities for their potential application for the benefit of young people in Northern Ireland."

Established in 2013, the Widening Participation Unit (WPU) at Queen’s comprises the Junior Academy, the Senior Academy and, more recently, the Pathway Opportunity Programme.

Widening Participation students include young people who are in secondary education and colleges, students who have disabilities, care leavers or adult learners.

Programmes such as the Senior Academy and the Pathway Opportunity Programme target young people who have the ability to attend university but who are least likely to progress to higher education, and provides additional support to enable them to fulfil their potential.

Queen’s WPU works with a wide range of young people, teachers, schools, colleges and parents to raise the profile of opportunities open to those who want to achieve academic success.

To find out more about supporting the Widening Participation / Pathway Opportunity Programme contact Viv Harris, Development Manager in Queen’s Development and Alumni Relations Office, or donate here.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office. 

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