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Queen's Learning Development Tutor awarded Churchill Fellowship to research widening participation

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

Tim Crawford portrait taken in the cloisters at Queen's University Belfast with blurred background

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 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.

Tim commented: "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.

"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."