Dr Elizabeth Adelodun, a neuroscientist from Brixton

On 9 March, three prestigious Churchill Fellowships were announced for UK citizens to explore issues affecting universities. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for UK citizens to discover new ideas and best practice overseas.

The issues they will cover range across Black access, mental health and career mentoring.

The award winners and their projects are:

  • Strengthening the Black student pipeline to universities: Olivia Hylton-Pennant, a black student at Cambridge and access officer at Cambridge University Students' Union, who will be travelling to the USA.

Olivia said: “Studies have shown that black students are over 50% more likely to drop out of university than their white and Asian counterparts. In order to combat this, universities must develop robust frameworks to 'student success' after admission, and I hope my Fellowship will offer clear ways in which such frameworks can be created. More must be done to tackle institutionalised inequality that so often disrupts the educational pipeline for black students.”

  • Mental health and wellbeing programmes for university students: Laura Beswick, a Mental Health First Aid trainer from Queen Mary University of London, who will be travelling to Canada and the USA. This Fellowship is supported by the Mental Health Foundation Mental Health Foundation.

Laura said: “Student suicide rates have rocketed 79% in the past 10 years and the number of students experiencing poor mental health is growing at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, University counselling services are at saturation point and, furthermore, stigma prevents thousands of students from seeking support. It is clear to me that we need to be more proactive in our approach and develop a University culture that has well-being at its core. I am immeasurably excited to visit and learn from several US and Canadian Universities that have pioneered innovative ways of bringing Mental Health and well-being to the curriculum, with demonstrated success.”

  • Mentoring programmes for university students: Dr Elizabeth Adelodun (pictured), a neuroscientist from Brixton, who will be travelling to the USA.

Elizabeth said: “In the UK, young people are encouraged to pursue higher education especially subjects in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) but left with little information or real-world experience about how to translate knowledge into a career. However, the USA has mentoring organisations with over 100 years’ experience and scientific evidence on the importance of mentoring. I am a living testament that a Mentor, just one person can make an impact on a person's life and cause a ripple effect. My experience as a Mentee/Mentor led me to set up MindTorch, whose goal is to help young people bridge the gap between education and employment.”

“Churchill Fellows search the world for ways to improve their communities and professions,” said Julia Weston, Chief Executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT). “This life-changing opportunity is open to everyone, with our next round of grants opening on 27 April.”

About Churchill Fellowships: They were set up by public subscription as a living memorial to Sir Winston Churchill on his death in 1965 and have been awarded to over 5,500 people since then.

The aim is to explore global best practice in the issues facing Britain today, and bring back global insights to improve communities and professions across the UK. The Fellowships address contemporary issues, develop knowledge leaders and offer transformative opportunities to outstanding individuals. With an average length of 6 weeks, 150 Churchill Fellowships are awarded each year by UK charity, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT).

Applications are open to all UK citizens aged over 18 from any background. No qualifications are required.

The next chance to apply for a Fellowship opens on 27 April 2018.

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