UWE is Xcel Widening Participation University of the Year

Issue date: 01 February 2010

UWE's Outreach Centre team UWE has been named 'Best Institute of Widening Participation' at the 2009 Xcel Awards. In addition, two UWE students have won individual awards. The awards were presented at a ceremony in London on 21 January 2010.

The Xcel Student of the Year Awards scheme is designed to raise aspirations and encourage student achievement. They celebrate the success of outstanding students from all backgrounds all over the UK. The nominations cover 18 categories and aim to identify high achieving, proactive students who are making a contribution to life both inside and outside the university and are potential role models for future students. All nominations are judged by a panel of experts.

Dean of Students Jonathan Bradley says, “This is an outstanding performance for UWE in our Widening Participation efforts. It is wonderful to have our work in this area recognised and we are delighted for our students to receive these awards. This is also a tribute to the hard work of all those involved, and especially to the Outreach Centre, led by Chris Croudace and his team, and to Marie-Annick Gournet, whose many activities have included her role as Co-ordinator of the Schools Link Project.”

Ines Pajovic won the 2009 Xcel Economics and Finance Student of the Year award. Ines Pajovic, originally from Montenegro, graduated from UWE last year with a First Class degree in Economics (Money, Banking and Finance) and is now studying for a Master's Degree in Banking and International Finance in the CASS Business School at City University, London.

During her time at UWE, Ines worked hard not only on her academic studies but also made a significant contribution to the PAL, (Peer Assisted Learning) scheme, in which second year students support the needs of first years. Ines was a PAL leader helping fellow Economics students. Despite the difficulty of not having English as her first language, she persevered and went on to become a PAL mentor, showing devotion, commitment and enthusiasm. She became a role model, inspiring fellow students, especially those from ethnic minorities, and as a result the number of applicants from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities increased noticeably. She volunteered to help the PAL team organise social events, expecting no remuneration for her work, and proved herself to be a very trustworthy individual. Ines worked hard at UWE, overcoming the impact of growing up in a country surrounded by war, and has achieved outstanding academic results. Ines won the award for her determination, integrity and high level of engagement shown throughout her time at UWE.

Louise Halswell won the 2009 Xcel Entrepreneur Student of the Year Award. Louise was nominated as a result of her role in a Business Project, SewThatJazz. SewThatJazz> is an interactive design project set up by Louise and her close friend Laura Boyle. The project aims to show people how to create their own unique and affordable clothing by reusing old garments. Customers are able to select various pieces of clothing which can be sewn together to create new, highly personal items. It also encourages younger generations about recycling as a way of life by using and developing valuable lost skills through interactive workshops.

SewThatJazz was set up after both students came second in the Creative Business category of UWE's BizIdea Business Plan Competition with the idea.

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