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UEL gains two nominations for NEON awards

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Student shortlisted for her work widening access to higher education

The University of East London has been shortlisted for two NEON Awards for 2021. The Funded Internship Scheme and post-graduate student Yasmin Haque have both been recognised in an awards scheme which “celebrates the transformative power that higher education can have and recognises key achievements in widening access”.

Yasmin Haque

Yasmin Haque, pictured, a post-graduate student and champion of learners from under-represented background, is in line for the NEON (National Education Opportunity Network) Student of the Year prize.

Yasmin is currently studying MSc Occupational and Organisational Psychology at UEL and is due to graduate in September. Before that, she gained her BSc Psychology and has spent the four years of her degrees working with the Widening Participation team.  

She said, “During my Psychology studies, I decided I wanted to make the most out of my time here at UEL as a student, so I viewed the Curriculum Ambassador scheme as an opportunity to not only harvest an abundance of skill, but to also give back by contributing to the expansion of diversity, equality, and inclusion which I knew UEL valued so highly.

“It was too good of an opportunity to pass, and it’s probably the best decision I have made here during my time at UEL.”

The submission by her university colleagues that put Yasmin on the shortlist for the award cited her work co-designing and delivering webinars and workshops on topics as varied as time management and critical thinking.

The submission reads, “Yasmin’s resilience and perseverance has made her an inspirational role model to mature learners considering Higher Education from non-traditional backgrounds. Yasmin used her extensive knowledge of the different routes to study at UEL, along with passion to support others who may have faced similar barriers as to herself, through working on the reception for the Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) team.”

Yasmin said, “I was so touched and happy to hear about the nomination, especially given it’s the second time that I had been nominated for the award by the University. I was even more happy - but more shocked - when I found out I had been shortlisted. It feels like a win already seeing how much support I have from my team. My efforts have always felt acknowledged and visible. I’m very lucky to be in such a team.

“The best thing for me about being involved in this scheme, is that I got so much more than I had anticipated. When one door opens, 10 more open too.

“For example, I have had the opportunity to network with so many schools that multiple headteachers have told me that they would be happy for me to join their team if I ever wanted teaching experience.

“I’ve had the luck of witnessing such joy when students learn new things and leave the room laughing and cheerful, and sometimes they even decide that Psychology is something they want to consider in their future.

“And I gained opportunities to work for the Information Advice and Guidance team at USS and the New Beginnings team also, which felt pleasantly cyclical given my entire journey at UEL began with New Beginnings back in 2016. All of this has given me an incredible amount of transferrable skills that I hadn’t had prior to starting university.”

New Beginnings is a scheme that offers learners a route to a degree for mature people and those without formal qualifications. Yasmin faced rejection from numerous universities before securing a place at UEL, giving her valuable insight into the struggles non-traditional applicants may face.

She said, “Overall, the team are so supportive and encouraging, especially when it comes to their ambassadors. They always believed in me more than I believed in myself, which is what pushed me to take up opportunities even if they were outside my comfort zone. I definitely did not expect to get all this out of the scheme - I feel spoiled in the best of ways.”

Looking further ahead, Yasmin said, “I hope to become a business consultant, specialising in positive relationships between employer and employee.” 

Funded Internship Scheme

The University’s Funded Internship Scheme has also been nominated for a NEON Award in recognition of the work carried out to support students in the jobs market.

Cherise Basslian, director of Careers and Student Enterprise, said, “I am delighted the Funded Internship Scheme has been shortlisted for this award. The scheme offers UEL students the opportunity to improve their employability skills and acquire work experience.

“Being nominated for an award is a testament to the ways we support students to ensure they are ready for the world-of-work when they graduate. We work closely with employers to ensure we can offer a range of internships to students to be flexible around their studies.”

As a careers-led institution, the University offers a range of services and initiatives to give its students the skills and opportunities to stand out in the jobs market. The Funded Internship Scheme allows students to take up an internship, internally or externally, and be paid the London Living Wage.

The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday 10 June.