UWE links with US university to encourage STEM take-up

Issue date: 28 June 2011

The University of the West of England is linking with prestigious Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US to strengthen the recruitment of underrepresented students particularly to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). The project will also encourage and share best practice between the institutions in this area.

UWE has been awarded a prestigious British Council Connect UK-US grant to deliver the project with CMU.

Through the link with CMU's Robotics Institute UWE will explore case studies of widening participation strategies and challenges, and look at ways that CMU have been successful. CMU's Robotics Institute have developed partnerships to offer dual programme awards in China, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the UK. The Institute is committed to international diversity and inclusion.

In addition UWE will develop links with the influential Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) a network of over 100 HEIs in the US, as well as seeking other international partners.

Dr Marie-Annick Gournet (Diversity, Disability and Widening Participation Leader at UWE), explains, “We need to increase awareness of what studying STEM subjects can offer for people from under-represented groups. Research has shown that low aspirations within the BME community are one of the main barriers to attainment in HE, and this project will aim to raise aspirations by seeking out and sharing best practice with CMU. To create a change in perceptions we need to find ways to inspire and enthuse young people about studying STEM subjects. The link with HBCU will enable us to learn from their practices and it is also a way of connecting with a large body of students who may want to consider study at UWE. This project is a fantastic way of learning from US partners who have international links. It is crucial for the economy and for the country that we make the most of the talent that we have and we help young people reach their full potential.”

UWE staff will visit CMU in September to explore all the aspects related to widening participation and supporting students. In addition CMU staff will visit UWE in February to explore what is being done here and to find out about key projects such as the Bloodhound project, Aimhigher and UWE's links with local academies. There will be a UWE conference at the end of the project in March 2012 to share best practice.

As part of this overall programme of raising aspirations, the Discovery Space Shuttle Astronauts will visit UWE and make a presentation to hundreds of local young people on 1 July 2011.


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