A Goldsmiths, University of London project offering routes into education for socially excluded people has been shortlisted for the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year prize at the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2016.
Launched at Goldsmiths in 2003 by 1998 BA History graduate Joe Baden, Open Book has helped hundreds of people - including those with an offending or addiction background - complete undergraduate and postgraduate degrees or to simply engage in education for education’s sake.
Now expanded to other universities, including Queen Mary University of London and the London College of Communication, Open Book offers one-on-one support and advice for anyone interested in education, along with a wide variety of academic, arts and media based drop-in classes and courses; many of which are taught by former students on the project.
At the heart of the Open Book project is the belief that education is an end in itself and should not just be for an economic imperative. It is for this reason that underpinning all classes on offer is a constant addressing of issues - for example, aspects of social exclusion are examined from an academic or artistic perspective.
From Art to Philosophy, participants are encouraged to combine their own life experience with what they learn in the classroom, thereby transforming negative past experience into valuable insight and inspiration for positive change.
Open Book has never advertised for students, instead relying heavily on a word-of-mouth approach, which sees new students arriving on campus every single week of the year. Students range from 18 to 80 and are encouraged not to change their dress, voice or behaviour in order to engage with education.
The Times Higher Education is the leading magazine for the university sector. Its annual awards ceremony attracts hundreds of entries across a range of categories, showcasing the talent, dedication and innovation of individuals and teams across all aspects of university life.
The winners of the THE Awards 2016 will be announced at a ceremony on 24 November.