high-flying black and Asian students are finding new ways to bridge the gap between university and the workplace thanks to the Windsor Fellowship
Visualise a nation in which the talents of all the people truly shine. A nation in which there are no barriers to success because of race or creed, and where the brightest and the best can take their rightful place as leaders in their workplace and in their communities."

Sounds like utopia? Well the greatest advances start with small steps, and the Windsor Fellowship has taken greater steps than most to achieve this goal since it was created in 1986.

Over the last decade, the Windsor Fellowship has created a powerful role as a bridge between the university and the workplace for ethnic minority undergraduates. Fitzroy Andrew, Chief Executive of the Fellowship, says: "Major companies say they want to recruit minorities but they don't apply... minorities say they want to work for major companies but the companies don't want them... we're here to bridge the gap between these two perceptions."

Personal development plans

Since 1986, the Windsor Fellowship has provided high-quality personal and professional development programmes for high-performing Black and Asian undergraduates. In 1996 it extended its work through the Junior Fellowship, providing programmes with similar aims to pre-GCSE school pupils from black and Asian communities.

Mr Andrew continues: "Through our work, we aim to make a direct contribution to the ongoing inclusion of black and Asian people in all areas of national life. We achieve this by creating Windsor Fellows - an identifiable leadership cadre within minority communities - and through alliances and partnerships which seek to exert a positive influence on the culture and climate in which black and Asian people live and work."

If this leaves you with the impression that Windsor is an elitist institution, then you are absolutely right, and they make no apologies for it. Their attitude is that by enabling the best to shine, in time the rest will follow, as the highest achievers become role models for their communities.

Work within the community is a key element of the undergraduate programme, as the new role models begin to put something back in to their communities. The type of community work fellows have undertaken includes teaching primary school children with learning difficulties, and working in AIDS hospices.

The undergraduate programme

The programme aims to equip graduates with the core personal skills necessary for success in today's labour marketplace, and to help clarify their short- and long-term career and life goals. Students are involved in a structured framework of activities incorporating:

Work experience placements sponsored by many of Britain's leading employers. The sponsor company will usually provide six to eight weeks on a work placement, giving vital experience to any graduate looking to start work after college. Over the years these companies have included the BBC, Barclays Bank, Pricewaterhouse, Coopers and Shell.

Regular development seminars to enhance personal effectiveness and "work-readiness". This basically means communication and presentation skills, team building, and leadership skills.

Community involvement through locally-based projects and groups.

The culmination of the programme is graduation, and passage into Graduate Fellow status takes place at a celebratory event with sponsors, fellows and their families. Guests of honour at past events have included HRH The Prince of Wales and John Major, the former prime minister.

Many Graduate Fellows secure employment upon graduation with the organisation sponsoring their work experience. The undergraduate programme is seen by sponsors as an effective means making a direct impact on their ability to recruit the most able Black and Asian high-flyers.

As important, however, is the bond created between Graduate Fellows through their shared experience on the programme. Over 500 people have entered the programme since its inception in 1986, and the aim is to have reached the 1,000 mark by the end of the year 2000. A decade from now, there will be over 1,000 Graduate Fellows in the community.

Windsor Fellowship is currently recruiting for the two- and three-year undergraduate programme. So, if you wish to apply and will be a first- year university student or second-year A-level student in September 1999, please contact the undergraduate team at: Windsor Fellowship, 47 Hackney Road, London, E2 7NX, tel 0171- 613 0373, or e-mail info@windsor-fellow. demon.co.uk