Posted on November 18, 2018

Students from UCL Qatar have won top awards for their submissions to the global UCL ‘ChangeMakers’ scheme. The recognition has come for projects that are improving the academic and education landscape in Qatar.

The ChageMakers evaluation team in the UK singled out two winning initiatives in Qatar. The first is a project to maximise the benefits of libraries for Qatar’s schoolchildren and teachers in unaccredited schools, with the final aim of helping the schools obtain full accreditation. The second project is designed to encourage the creation of a wider community of academics and staff in the cultural heritage field, by raising the profile of the research work being produced in the country.

The ChangeMakers initiative was launched by UCL’s main campus in 2014 and the award to the two UCL Qatar projects, initially won in 2017, has recently been renewed for the academic year 2018-19. The initiative invites the tens of thousands of UCL students from all over the world to put forward ideas for how to improve the learning experience at UCL and the local and international communities the university touches through its courses. Master’s students on UCL Qatar’s Library and Information Studies programme were recognised for partnering with a non-accredited Doha-based school to introduce reforms to ensure its library is fully compliant with the Qatar National School Accreditation (QNSA) standards, to help the school move a step forward in the process of obtaining full accreditation.

The educational benefits of the reforms being suggested to the schools will be shared with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar. The team involved, which includes students from Qatar, Ghana, Canada and Zambia, now plans to extend the project to more unaccredited schools in Qatar, ensuring their libraries are up to the required standards needed for accreditation. Students on UCL Qatar’s Museum and Gallery Practice programme won the second award for their “Make our Research Visible” project. The purpose of the project is to develop a strong museums and cultural heritage academic community in Qatar, the wider GCC and beyond by create a learning and research forum for students, staff and alumni.

The team behind the project is kick-starting the forum by personally meeting interested academics in Qatar. Research papers, many of which are coming from UCL Qatar alumni, are currently being reviewed with the aim of publishing a book in Spring 2019. Describing UCL Qatar’s involvement in the ChangeMakers programme, Sam Evans, Director of UCL Qatar, said: “This is an international scheme, open to tens of thousands of students – so winning these awards is a huge achievement! Congratulations to all involved.”

Evans went on to comment about the benefit of ChangeMakers to Qatar: “These prize-winning initiatives demonstrate why UCL Qatar is ideally placed to support the development of Qatar’s knowledge-based economy, as envisioned by the Qatar National Vision 2030. Like many other of those projects involved, they have real potential to create a lasting impact not only for those directly involved, but for the community at large.” The initiative also has benefits beyond the development of research and education infrastructure in Qatar. By working with members of Qatar’s education community, as well as a number of UCL academics and alumni, UCL Qatar students were able to gain hands-on experience to help prepare them for the future work environment in Qatar or internationally.