The Museums Association, in conjunction with the University of Leicester, has set up a bursary scheme in order to encourage UK ethnic minority students to pursue careers in the museum profession.
This reflects growing national concern within the profession about the under-representation of ethnic minorities working within UK museums.
The initiative is likely to be seen as a model for other universities and museums, and reflects the close working relationship universities like Leicester enjoy with business, industry and the professions.
The bursary scheme, the brainchild of Richard Sandell, Lecturer in Museum Studies at the University, was established with support from the University's Professional Development Unit and is open to postgraduate students who wish to study for an MA degree in Museum Studies.
The scheme, now renamed the Paul Hamlyn/Museums Association Bursary Scheme (after receiving funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation), has vacancies for two students per year for the next two years. They will be able to embark on work experience placements, obtain allowances for books and travel to conferences, receive careers guidance and membership to the Museum Association.
At present, the University of Leicester is running two pilot schemes for one student on a full-time course and another for a student on the two-year part-time course. The scheme will be advertised in the press during March and will also be used to set an example for other universities and museums across the country to follow.
The Paul Hamlyn bursary scheme is one of the first of its kind to actively make a positive step towards ensuring that the portrayal of contemporary British society is achieved through perspectives from diverse and minority communities. In a city which has one of the largest concentrations of ethnic minorities in Britain, the University of Leicester has opened the door to endless possibilities for those who have previously had limited access to work in the cultural sector. The future looks bright, but as Richard says, "it is just a starting point. It is now up to museums to recognise the value of diverse workforces".
For further details, contact Richard Sandell on 0116 252 3965.
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