Cast the net wide and scoop a prize

March 4, 2005

Have you got what it takes to win one of these two Times Higher Awards? Encouraging ethnic-minority women back into education is one of the projects overseen by the access and widening participation team at Bradford University, led by Nadira Mirza.

It offers an example of the sort of scheme that might be entered for The Times Higher' s award for Outstanding Initiative for Widening Participation - to be given to the team behind the most imaginative and innovative project that encourages applications from students from non-traditional backgrounds.

The scheme targets Bradford women who left education early, often in their early teens, to marry and have children.

They struggled to help their children with basic numeracy and literacy, so looked to Ms Mirza and her team for help.

The university launched a module in understanding school, focusing on the national curriculum, theories around education and how to help children achieve.

Once the module has been completed, Ms Mirza's team encourages the women to take further courses, earning credits equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate programme.

Four women started the programme last year; now there are more than 100 enrolled.

Len Daniels, education sales manager for award sponsor Toshiba Information Systems, said:"Higher education should not be considered a luxury to be enjoyed by just a select group of privileged people."

The award will be judged by Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, Liz Thomas, senior adviser in widening participation at the Higher Education Academy, and Sir David Watson, director of Brighton University, who will become professor of higher education management at the Institute of Education this summer.

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