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Applications are now open for the 2022/2023 Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary. If you’re an undergraduate student at UoB planning a dissertation based around housing policy, social injustice or young people, you could receive £2,500 to support your research. There are four awards available and recipients also benefit from mentoring through Commonweal Housing.

The Bursary was established by Commonweal Housing in memory of social justice campaigner Jane Slowey. Jane graduated from Birmingham in 1974 with a degree in French Language and Literature and Italian. After Jane sadly passed away in 2017, the bursary was launched in her honour.

Students in receipt of the bursary are working on exciting dissertations

Seerut Ladhar, a BA Sociology student, is currently in receipt of the bursary. “My dissertation explores the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of BAME university students. I believe mental health is an extremely important topic that has been overlooked during the pandemic,” says Seerut.  “There has been limited talk on the way mental health has been severely affected and how this potentially jeopardises students’ futures.”

The Commonweal Housing support has made a big difference to Seerut. “The bursary has eased my financial pressures, and I’m now well placed to travel across different cities to discuss my research with organisations and mental health support networks. Mentoring provided by Commonweal Housing holds great value when accessing networks and specific organisations that would benefit my research. Being a recipient of informal mentoring, advice and a genuine interest is very reassuring and encouraging to my research. Having Commonweal Housing’s support when navigating sensitive topics is also very useful.” Seerut is hoping to pursue postgraduate study.

Michelle Anderson, a BA Criminology student, is using her dissertation to focus on the impact of Covid-19 on homelessness. The bursary has had both a academic and personal impact for Michelle. “I’ve been able to rent accommodation closer to the University, which allows me easy access to campus and important resources such as the library,” she says. “Rather than shared housing, the bursary meant I could have my own place, which gives me the personal space to focus on my work.”

As part of the applications process, Michelle had to give a presentation, which has led to exciting new opportunities. “Next summer, I’m looking forward to Camp St Lucia, helping developing communities in poorer countries. The presentation I gave for the bursary gave me the confidence to apply, as this required a presentation too.” She’s hoping to continue working in the same research area after graduation. “I want to make a difference in the world just as Jane Slowey did: helping those who are at a socio-economic disadvantage.”

Ofure Osebore is currently studying a BA in Policy, Politics and Economics. "The bursary has honestly made my third year of university the best yet...I can give my complete attention to my assignments and research, and I truly believe that this has been reflected in the quality of work that I have produced so far." Ofure's dissertation explores whether access to stable housing has an impact on individuals being able to leave sex work. "After graduation, I'm looking at project management roles, and would love to work within the housing sector. I believe the research that I am doing for my dissertation now will be very valuable in the future, giving a social perspective of the issues that could be relevant."

The bursary has opened doors for previous School graduates, who all used the money in different ways

Jessica Duncan, who studied Political Science and Social Policy, is now working as a Research Officer on an evaluation of government disability benefit reform. “Receiving the bursary allowed me to reduce my hours at my part time jobs, and invest more time into producing an ambitious piece of research,” she says. “I was able to network and conduct meaningful stakeholder engagement, which meant I could develop specialist knowledge of a complex niche of housing policy. Commonweal Housing provided me the opportunity to be far more creative and ambitious with my dissertation project.”

Alex Cirant-Taljaard, also a Political Science and Social Policy graduate and bursary recipient, is now studying an MSc in Urban Planning. “The bursary helped in two key regards,” says Alex. “Firstly, the money was used as a way to thank participants in my dissertation research, which I would otherwise not have been able to do. But more fundamentally, the bursary gave me a huge confidence boost, and motivated me to work as hard as I could on my research project. Knowing that Commonweal supported the work I was doing really helped me to get through some of the moments of self-doubt which naturally occur over the course of writing a dissertation.” Alex has used the bursary for personal development, too. “On a side note, I used the rest of the money to get driving lessons, so Commonweal has helped me outside of my academic career as well.”

Alumna Megan Scanlon appreciates the value of the bursary beyond its financial benefits. “It's an amazing way to encourage research into social justice,” she reflects. “Receiving the bursary changed the way I conducted my research for the better, and motivated me to produce a high-quality piece of work.”

You can find out more about applying for the Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary here.