The Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary

About the Memorial Bursary

The Jane Slowey Memorial bursary was launched in 2018 in honour of a late trustee of the housing charity Commonweal Housing. Commonweal Housing are keen to work with us at the University of Birmingham to identify, nurture and inspire young people to be the next generation of social justice thinkers, housing campaigners and change makers!  Housing is a key area of research and teaching at the University of Birmingham, with the Housing and Communities Research Group building on the 40-year tradition of housing research in the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.

The Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary supports talented, motivated and creative students to critically engage with the themes of housing, social injustice and young people.

The Bursary will award £2,500 each to three undergraduate students in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology who have a focus on housing, social injustice and young people in their final year dissertation.

The award will also provide the successful students the opportunity for informal mentoring with senior leadership of Commonweal Housing and offer them the valuable opportunity to present their dissertation to the Commonweal Board in the summer after they have submitted their dissertation. 

About Jane Slowey

Jane Slowey had a long-standing connection with the city and University of Birmingham, having graduated from Birmingham in 1974 with a degree in French Language and Literature and Italian. Over the course of her career she combined parenting responsibilities with community activism, local politics, voluntary work and Third Sector leadership. She spent eight years as a Birmingham City Councillor, chairing the Community Affairs Committee, serving on the Housing and Economic Development Committees and leading the development of the City Council’s devolution policy in the 1990s. In 1998, she became CEO of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council and from 2004-17 Jane was the Foyer Federation Chief Executive. In 2007 she joined Commonweal as a Trustee bringing to her role her extensive experience in the Third Sector and local, regional and national government, as well as her passion for social justice. Jane was also a member of the first University of Birmingham Policy Commission, which produced a report on the future of local public services.

Jane was a passionate campaigner against social injustice and consistently sought out opportunities to represent and advocate for change. At the Foyer Federation, she helped reposition the organisation as a champion for ‘Advantaged Thinking,’ an approach that focused on assets rather than deficits and viewed young people as possibilities for investment rather than problems to be solved. Jane received a CBE for services to disadvantaged young people in 2009, she was named Birmingham University’s Alumna of the Year in 2010 and held Honorary Degrees from Newman University and the University of Birmingham.

Bursary Themes

Broadly your dissertation should focus on the themes of housing, social injustice and/or young people such as: 

  • Housing and social inequality
  • Housing options for young people
  • Youth homelessness and supported housing
  • Generation rent and the private rented sector
  • The socialisation of the private rented sector
  • Financial and Social Exclusion/ Inclusion
  • Welfare reform and impacts on young people
  • Transitions to Adulthood
  • Migration
  • Housing for EU migrants
  • Housing options for domestic abuse victims and ex-offenders

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list – you can also consider other topics related to these broad themes. What you will need to demonstrate is that your topic and project is original, innovative or tries to fills a gap in knowledge in these areas. Try to think creatively about solutions but ground these in evidence and with a robust methodology!

Eligibility and Application


You are eligible to apply for this bursary if you are currently a second year student in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology or on a joint honours degree programmes in this department. These are the programmes that are listed in your undergraduate dissertation handbook: 

  • BA Social Policy (with/without Year Abroad)
  • BA Sociology (with/without Year Abroad)
  • BA Social Policy (Pathways)
  • BA Policy, Politics and Economics (with/without Year Abroad)
  • BA Social Policy and Criminology
  • BA Social Policy and Sociology

Your Dissertation Project and Application

You will need to demonstrate: 

  • The relevance of your dissertation topic to Commonweal’s broad themes/ areas of focus (see section 3 above)
  • Clear dissertation aims and how your research project will be innovative or address a research gap
  • Why you are a strong candidate and how you think you would benefit from the Bursary funds and mentoring from Commonweal Housing. 

Please complete the tick box and information section on your dissertation proposal in pebblepad by 23 March 2020.