University of Winchester scoops Times Higher Education Award for groundbreaking work with young carers
The University of Winchester has won a prestigious Times Higher Education Award 2016 for its pioneering work encouraging and supporting young carers to access and succeed in higher education. The Awards are widely recognised as the Oscars of the higher education sector.
The University received the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year Award at a ceremony in London which was hosted by actor Richard E Grant on Thursday 24 November.
There are around 375,000 young adults in the UK aged 14-25 who act as unpaid carers for family and friends. Half of young carers report they are struggling with their studies because of their caring role, and without the right information and support they are four times more likely to drop out of education altogether.
During 2014-15, the University of Winchester worked with a number of different partners - including Carers Trust, Hampshire Young Carers Alliance, Hampshire Children's Services and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Hampshire - to pave the way for the higher education sector as a whole to increase support for young adult carers in accessing and succeeding in higher education.
The Award recognises work undertaken by the University's Widening Participation team including outreach sessions across Hampshire, on-campus events attended by nearly 200 young carers, and the development of a toolkit of ideas and practical advice written in collaboration between the University of Winchester, Carers Trust and the National Network of Universities Supporting Young Adult Carers.
The University has also supported Carers Trust to persuade the Office for Fair Access to recognise young carers as a disadvantaged group for the first time, and has launched an annual bursary of £500 to help young carers studying at Winchester to cover extra costs such as frequent travel home.
The Award judges said that the University's work "directly addresses" the needs of individuals who "too often find higher education difficult to access and hard to complete".
"The University has led a multi-agency approach to ensure that every opportunity is taken to encourage young carers to succeed," the panel said. "The project has acted as a catalyst not only in making a difference for the individuals concerned but in securing wider recognition of the unique needs of these committed young people."
Professor Joy Carter DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said: "We are hugely proud to have received this award in recognition of our work with young carers. As a University driven by a strong commitment to social justice, this important work is a wonderful example of our values in action. Our aim is that anyone who might benefit from a University of Winchester education has the opportunity to study here - whatever their background, we will help them achieve their full potential.
"Without additional support, young people with caring responsibilities could be at a disadvantage compared to their peers and the important work that our Widening Participation team is undertaking is leading the way for other universities across the UK. We are incredibly proud of the work the team does and congratulate them for this outstanding achievement."
Sarah-Louise Collins, University Widening Participation Manager, said: "As part of our commitment to widening participation, we recognise young carers as a marginalised group and are making it a priority to raise the educational aspirations, awareness, confidence and motivation of all young carers, whether they eventually choose to study at Winchester or not. It's fantastic for our work to be recognised by a Times Higher Education Award."
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Pictured left to right in the photograph above: Mary Curnock Cook, Chief Executive, UCAS; Professor Colette Cherry, Assistant Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester; Richard E Grant, THE Awards host; Dr Terri Sandison MBE, former Director of Lifelong Learning, University of Winchester, and Sarah-Louise Collins, Widening Participation Manager, University of Winchester.