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University wins bid to develop community engagement

The University of Gloucestershire has secured £218,000 in funding to develop opportunities for students to gain experience of working within communities.

The project will evaluate models of community engagement currently undertaken by the University and develop ways to maximise the benefits for students and communities.

Many students currently take part in community-based projects, either as volunteers or on work placements.  Recent projects include sports students working countywide to set up youth teams and running sports events, multi-media students working with members of the Jewish community in Cheltenham to record their memories, and geography students working with an overseas community in Uganda to support an AIDS orphanage and school.

Dr Kenny Lynch, a lecturer in Geography and deputy head of the University’s Pedagogic Research and Scholarship Institute said:
“This project is about the placements of students in community settings so that they can benefit from transferable skills, but also so that they can develop a stronger sense of citizenship and that their skills and efforts will in turn benefit the community."

“It will provide a fantastic opportunity for students to learn practical skills to complement the theory they learn in the classroom.  It gives the students the chance to try the theory in real-world situations and in turn, bring the authenticity of this back into the classroom.”

£198,000 of the funding is being provided by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and £10,000 from the Bristol-based National Co-ordinating Centre on Community Engagement.

The University will produce reports for the funders, which will be shared with other higher education providers in the country.  The results will be published in academic journals and presented at international conferences where the University can compare its findings with those undertaking similar projects across the world.

The successful project is one of 11 funded by the HEA, out of 58 applications.  More information can be found at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ourwork/professional/ntfs/projects

Source: University of Gloucestershire

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