The best possible educational opportunities regardless of social and economic circumstances - that is the aim of the "NRWTalente - Region OWL" school scholarship programme. On Saturday, 18 November, 43 pupils from East Westphalia-Lippe were accepted into the programme at a ceremony in the Ravensberger Spinnerei in Bielefeld. Performance-orientated, motivated and socially committed young people from year 8 onwards from all types of school are supported in discovering their strengths and potential, developing them to the best of their ability and shaping their own educational and professional path.
The scholarship programme is funded by the State Ministry of Schools and Education until the end of 2025 and is implemented by Paderborn University in cooperation with Bielefeld University, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and OWL University of Applied Sciences. Upon official acceptance, the scholarship holders are supported in their future planning through personal counselling and talent development, benefits in kind to support learning success and a diverse educational programme with insights into business, science, politics and culture. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Schöppner, Vice President Academic Affairs and Quality Management at Paderborn University, made it clear in his welcoming address just how valuable this support for young talent is: "I am delighted that the universities and colleges in the region are able to support many students on their educational path with the scholarship programme. By individually supporting young people, mainly from non-academic families, and accompanying them in their transition to university or vocational training, we are committed to equal opportunities and educational equality." Together with Dr Simone Schlepp, who attended on behalf of the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Schools and Education Dorothee Feller, he presented the certificates to the 43 new and visibly proud scholarship holders.
At the acceptance ceremony, hosted by Julia Ures, those present were given an insight into the scholarship programme during a round of talks with three scholarship holders and a school representative. A former scholarship holder was also integrated into the programme with a live link to India, where she is currently doing a voluntary social year and expressed her thanks for the support she received during her scholarship year and called on the new scholarship holders to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by the scholarship. Lukas Höhrmann, a newly accepted scholarship holder from Lemgo and a guest speaker, said enthusiastically that "you receive individual advice and support according to your wishes and needs and are supported on your way to choosing a career or course of study and meet lots of new people". Paula Waldmann, one of the two programme managers, added: "The scholarship offers scholarship holders the opportunity to develop their own individual future prospects, broaden their own horizons, surpass themselves and build up a large network." Jennifer Gläßer, also a programme manager, emphasised that "after just 1.5 years of the programme, it is already clear that far more performance-oriented young people than the 50 supported by the Ministry of Schools and Education deserve a scholarship. Fortunately, small and large foundations, well-known companies and private individuals from the OWL region are already supporting us, so that we currently have 87 scholarship holders aged 13 to 19 in the programme," she added. Other sponsors from the region who would like to make a financial commitment to dedicated and performance-orientated pupils are welcome and can contact the team at any time.
The improv theatre company "Die Stereotypen" from Bielefeld delighted the audience with a mixture of song and show, in keeping with the motto of the admission ceremony "Aiming high". Another highlight was a surprise for the scholarship holders: in keeping with the motto, they released colourful balloons together with their personal wishes for the future.
Further information can be found on the "NRWTalente - Region OWL" school scholarship programme website.