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Students Win £20,000 to Launch Unique Roadshow to Inject Community Learning into the Curriculum

University of Warwick students have won a grant of £20,000 from the Department of Education and Skills to take forward Furthering Knowledge of Undergraduates in the Community (FKUC), a project that draws on the students' experience of raising the aspirations of young offenders and running a non-profit cooperative, to boost student involvement in the community.

FKUC is a unique new student run co-operative that is set to enhance the experience of university education for undergraduates by widening student involvement in the community, as an integral part of their course.

The project builds on the experience of the students, who took part in Warwick Sociology Department's Sort'd scheme last year, which is run in partnership with the West Midlands Probation Service to raise young offenders' aspirations. The Sort'd project gives offenders the chance to develop positive ambitions and helps to break the cycle of crime through education.

The Sort'd project is an integral part of the sociology of crime students' course. It enables teenagers on Probation Orders, while supported by students, to develop educational initiatives that they identify themselves. The offenders plan initiatives that expand their expectations to develop an activity that can use a grant of up to £500, and the support of university educational resources.

The projects give the youth offenders involved, aged 18 to 24, a rare self-directed opportunity within Higher Education. Unlike other student entrepreneurial ventures Sort'd does not just focus on making money, but also raises awareness of the relationship between money and social justice, and has charitable status.

Sort'd has proven so successful in injecting entrepreneurship into community education that 12 students involved in last years' scheme have set up FKUC, which uses the Sort'd way of working as a model to be cloned by other HE courses.

FKUC advocates the introduction of community learning as an integral part of the curriculum. The scheme encourages undergraduates to utilise the community as a learning resource by undertaking projects with community members to promote social justice.

The £20,000 of funding will enable the students to expand on the project so that their knowledge, skills and experience are transferred to other courses throughout the UK in 2004/ 2005. The students are set to run 7 regional road shows covering 20 universities. The road shows will show how the skills developed through Sort'd can be transferred to other community focused initiatives, such as refugee projects, or schemes to develop adult literacy.

3rd year student Karen Lucas, from Coventry, said, "We've expanded on the initial ideas of Sort'd to help the birth of our student run, not for profit co-operative, with the aim of spreading learning opportunities to educational programmes throughout the UK. The project will promote the benefits of similar community projects across other universities. The unique learning opportunities from such projects will benefit both communities and undergraduates.

For more information contact: Dr Mike Neary, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 523 964, Email: