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Young people’s learning gets a boost from the Beacons

27 January 2009

Students digging up the past as part of an archaeological digStudents digging up the past as part of an archaeological dig

Young people will get the chance to participate in important archaeological field work, study space debris, help develop a junior music academy and express views on genetics, ethics and online storytelling thanks to first-round funding awards from the Beacon for Wales.

More than £70,000 has been allocated to projects at the University and the University of Glamorgan by the Beacon, which will draw on the experience of university experts in astronomy, maths, music, archaeology, genetics and social sciences. They will explore innovative approaches to feed back into academic research, as well as help develop closer links in local communities around issues that affect people’s daily lives.

Seven projects, ranging in value from £6,000 to £17,000, will benefit from the first wave funding of £73,000, which is part of a total £1.2M secured by the Beacon for Wales.

The projects are:

  • School of History and Archaeology – The chance for young people to take part in the dig at Cosmeston Medieval Village.
  • University of Glamorgan Faculty of Advanced Technology – Helping young people explore the role mathematics plays in understanding the world around us.
  • University of Glamorgan Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries – A project to create a Junior Music Academy for Wales.
  • Graduate Centre – Developing dialogue between researchers and young people about contemporary research.
  • School of Physics and Astronomy – The chance to investigate the impact of comets and asteroids which collide with our Earth.
  • School of Social Sciences – Exploring cross-disciplinary ways of solving problems by linking researchers and students through storytelling.
  • University of Glamorgan Faculty of Health, Sport and Science – An internet project to explore young people’s views on genetics and ethics.

Bruce Etherington, Beacon for Wales Manager, said: "The great thing about the successful projects is that they are designed from the start to be a partnership between young people and university staff so that they can work and learn together to increase knowledge and understanding.

"The Beacon for Wales is working to help institutions reach out even further into their communities and share their knowledge, helping both the wider community and the academic communities make more informed decisions that are relevant to the 21st century."

Colin Johnson OBE, Chair of the Project Advisory Group, was enthusiastic about the response to the first call for funding. He said: "We've had a fascinating range of project ideas submitted already. The quality and creativity we've seen so far will get the Beacon for Wales off to a flying start."

Applications for the second round of Beacon for Wales funding will open soon to people from all over Wales who are involved in or who have plans for partnerships between universities and their communities. Projects will be considered under any of the four themes below:

o Our Place In The Future - 14-19 year olds

o Climate and Sustainability - Rural Communities

o Health and Wellbeing - Communities First

o The Welsh identity in the 21st Century - Cultural Minorities

The Beacon for Wales will be running sessions across Wales to help strengthen links between the public and their universities. For further details, please contact the Beacon for Wales team at

The Beacon for Wales, officially launched in 2008 and based at Cardiff, is a partnership between the University, University of Glamorgan, BBC Wales, National Museum Wales and Techniquest, which aims to help universities in Wales engage more with the communities of which they are part. Part of the UK-wide Beacons for Public Engagement scheme the Welsh Beacon also encourages people to play a more active role in the work of higher education institutions.