Birkbeck University, London

Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London, is incredibly grateful to the Ian Karten Charitable Trust for the support of our students. We are proud that our longstanding partnership with the Trust has had tremendous impact on our students with disabilities.

Birkbeck was founded in 1823 with a radical vision: to provide excellent education to people of all backgrounds. The College was established by a visionary community who believed in the transformative power of opportunity. For nearly 200 years, Birkbeck has enabled access to the highest quality education and research to anyone who has the ability and drive to succeed, regardless of background or circumstance.

Birkbeck’s Ability Programme

Birkbeck supports almost 2,000 students, or 16% of our student body, who live with a disability. Careers support for disabled students is one of the College’s highest priorities, and that is why we established the Birkbeck Ability Programme. Run by Birkbeck Futures, our expert careers and employability service, the Birkbeck Ability Programme is a dedicated course for students and recent graduates with a disability, neurodiverse or long-term health condition, who are looking to get advice on finding a job they will love, supercharge job applications and get the opportunity to connect with disability confident employers.

We are so grateful that the Ian Karten Charitable Trust has added great value to our Ability Programme by supporting 24 of our students to do work placements with external employees. These paid four-week work placements, which students can apply for, offer transformational, positive experiences for our students, participating employers and Birkbeck itself. Our students have worked with diverse employers, from multinational law firms and tech companies to grassroots arts organisations. Thanks to the Ian Karten Charitable Trust’s support, our students have had the opportunity to join these employers, gain greater self-confidence, work experience and skills they need to gain meaningful employment after they graduate.

We are delighted that our Ability Programme and our work placements have been widely recognised for their innovative support for students with disabilities. Most recently, being nominated for the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.

Case study

Richard Morley sitting in a lecture theatre

To give you a clearer idea of the impact that these work placements have on our students, Richard (BSc Computing) has shared his story with us.  Richard says:

“I had some work experience before I applied for the work placement and was lucky to work in a place where everyone was respectful and understanding of my disability. They let me do one-on-one client meetings despite my hearing disability. I applied for a placement through the Ability Programme because I wanted to experience working with a much larger company to see whether I could make an impact there despite my hearing problems.

I worked with Azur as a user interface designer and front-end developer. I found it really fun and exciting. My main task was to come up with a user interface design that would impress everyone and then develop it into a fully-fledged webpage. What I liked most about my time at Azur was that no one judged my disability and they treated me like a normal person. It definitely made me more confident in my abilities and it made me realise that people don’t really judge your disability as long as you do your best to contribute to the company. I am very grateful to the Ian Karten Charitable Trust for making this possible. I wouldn’t have the confidence I do now if I hadn’t had the chance to work at Azur.”

For more information visit the Birkbeck website.