Daniel Park (2nd year Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Bethan James (2nd year English Literature) and Rosie Sourbut (2nd Year English literature) have been named as scholars of the Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme for this academic year.
The highly competitive award will allow them to gain leadership skills through a course at the Institute of Leadership and Management, a professional membership and training body for leaders and managers across the globe, before undertaking research at top universities, supported by a stipend of £6000.
Their chosen research projects have a scope that extends far beyond their university courses. Daniel Park will investigate a possible link between the success of guaranteed basic income schemes and the ethnicity of the recipients. The scheme will allow him to carry out his work at the University of Manitoba, a global centre for research on the topic.
Rosie Sourbut’s Oxford University-based project involves interviewing food bank workers in Bath, Bristol and Oxford to investigate the controversial topic of Universal Credit’s success or failure.
Bethan James’ research at Cardiff University, meanwhile, will explore how the experiences of students who ‘sound Welsh’ might partially explain why the progression rate of Welsh students to Higher Education lags well behind the national average.
Their findings will have an impact that lasts well beyond the 10-week duration of the scheme. Park intends to donate his work to the charity GiveDirectly, while James will share her research with access initiatives in Oxford and further afield in order to inform policies that improve the experiences of applicants and students from South Wales. Sourbut will take her work to the public, sharing her findings with local politicians and campaign groups and publishing newspaper articles to guide the heated discussions around Universal Credit.
Students at Somerville benefit from assistance with applications to opportunities such as the Laidlaw Programme through the Somerville College Development Programme. The scheme, which is funded by the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust, also offers seminars, workshops and one-to-one mentoring and careers advice from Programme Director Dr Claire Cockcroft.
“The Laidlaw Programme offers an unrivalled opportunity for students to pursue their own research anywhere in the world, gaining insights that will enable them to make more informed career decisions” said Dr Cockcroft.
“I am delighted that Rosie, Daniel and Beth have been awarded these prestigious scholarships, recognising their academic excellence and fine quality of their research proposals. Their achievement underlines the importance of supporting the development of our students throughout their time in Oxford, beyond the tutorial setting.”
“We hope that the stories and research findings they share after this unique and potentially life-changing experience will inspire their fellow Somervillians.”
The Laidlaw Scholars Undergraduate Research and Leadership Programme was launched at Oxford in 2016, building on Lord Laidlaw’s visionary commitment to supporting undergraduate student development and education. The scheme, open to all matriculated undergraduates, equips Scholars with skills in research and leadership to help them pursue academic and professional aspirations beyond the scope of their university course.
Scholars undertake a leadership programme and gain an Institute of Leadership and Management qualification, before conducting an 8-10 week research project at any world leading research institution. In addition to the £6000 stipend, a further £2,500 is available for travel expenses and another £1000 for lab-based expenses.