Queen Mary’s tops Guardian University Award for helping East End charities

A work experience scheme that supports students and cash-strapped charities in London’s deprived East End has won the national ‘Employability Initiative of the Year’ title.

The QProjects scheme run by London University’s Queen Mary College at Mile End was one of three programmes competing for the title at last night’s Guardian University annual awards for “excellence and innovation in higher education”.

The scheme places students in charities to run projects that would otherwise be delayed or shelved through lack of resources.

The students get a chance to put their university studies into practice as consultants, while gaining workplace experience in tackling everyday problems.

“The award will help us make sure the scheme gets long-term funding to treble the number of students benefitting to 600 a year,” said Emily Huns, Queen Mary’s Head of Careers & Enterprise.

“Students tell us how the experience makes a difference to their employability by building their skills, confidence and networking—the scheme really works.”

Some 228 students were placed in 34 charities last year. These included Biomedical students at the NHS East London Foundation Trust, maths and economics students at the Phoenix Education Trust, computer science students at Bromley-by-Bow Health Partnership and law students at Tower Hamlets Law Centre.

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QProjects creates an accessible and almost endless stream of work experience opportunities for students, while helping the East End’s cash-strapped charities to get projects done.

Queen Mary’s careers team creates job profiles for students, shortlists and co-interviews candidates and pays their travel expenses, in partnership with the college’s students’ union, aimed at raising graduate employment rates and the number of students volunteering in the community.

The awards recognise university projects showing innovation, collaboration and meaningful impact on campus and beyond, with the potential to inspire others.