Egypt Centre shortlisted for national widening participation award
The Egypt Centre at Swansea University has been shortlisted in a national award scheme for its excellence in encouraging people to consider higher education.
Caption: Egypt Centre staff. Left to right: Carolyn Graves-Brown (curator); Wendy Goodridge (assistant curator); Stuart Williams (volunteer manager)
The Times Higher Education Supplement Award for the widening participation initiative of the year is backed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It is awarded to the most imaginative and innovative project that encourages potential students from non-traditional backgrounds to enter higher education.
The Egypt Centre, a museum of largely Egyptian antiquities, was opened in 1998 with the aim of making a largely teaching collection more accessible to the public as well as scholars, and was supported with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. The collection comprises over 4,500 items, mostly from the Wellcome collection and attracts over 23,000 visitors each year.
Caption: School workshop participants dressed as ancient Egyptians.
The Centre has made the Times Higher Awards shortlist of just six initiatives for its volunteer programme and award-winning Saturday workshops for socially and economically disadvantaged children, which allow children who would not normally set foot in a university to develop their confidence, skills and aspirations.
The workshops aim to raise standards of literacy and numeracy and, more importantly, to raise confidence in children who are socially or economically disadvantaged. Schools with a high number of disadvantaged pupils are actively targeted and approached by the Centre.
The Egypt Centre also runs a successful volunteering scheme. Volunteers, whether children or people in their eighties, are not simply from the traditional educated and socio-economic volunteer pool, but include people who would not normally visit a university campus. The Egypt Centre also works with people who have mental health problems or learning difficulties, the long-term unemployed, and the economically disadvantaged.
Carolyn Graves-Brown, Curator of the Egypt Centre, said: “If you visit the Egypt Centre on a Saturday you will be greeted by excited but knowledgeable child volunteers anxious to show you ‘their’ museum. Many of these children are socially or economically disadvantaged or have learning difficulties, yet they are offer a valuable service to both academic and non-academic visitors.
“For many people, volunteering at the Egypt Centre can be a life-changing experience. One of our adult volunteers was so lacking in confidence that when she first came to us she could not make eye contact. She has since taken part in Adult Continuing Education courses at the University, gives presentations to large groups of people and has gained paid employment.
“Likewise, some of our former child volunteers have gone on to attend university. One student, having originally failed through the traditional formal learning experience, has just completed his PhD.”
Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies, said: “Widening participation is at the heart of the higher education agenda. We need to ensure that people from every section of society have the opportunity to go to university. The key challenge is raising aspirations and I am delighted that the Egypt Centre’s success in encouraging people to think about further study has been recognised in the Times Higher Awards.
“We look forward to the winner being announced later in the year.”
The 2007 Times Higher Award winners will be announced on 29th November. For further information, please visit http://www.thes.co.uk/Awards/2007/.
Visit the Egypt Centre's website.
More pictures from the Egypt Centre
Dummy mummy. Kim Ridealgh pulls out the brains as Tanith Monroe and Nikki Lloyd look on.
Nikki Lloyd wears an Anubis mask whilst 3 volunteers look on.
Volunteers Keith Wilkins (l) and Ashraful Shahed (r) look after the Centre's library
‘Guess what this is?’ Graham Carlsen (right) leading an object handling session. Left to right: Peter Jones, Nikki Lloyd, Kim Ridealgh