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Tower Hamlets Summer University
Founders Michael Young
Type Charitable organisation
Founded 1995
Headquarters 24-26 Fournier Street, London E1 6QE
Staff Executive Director: Sarah Davies
Chair: Rushanara Ali
Patron: A. Dee (Artful Dodger)
Patron: Baroness Kennedy
Patron: Baroness Uddin
Patron: Benjamin Zephaniah
Patron: Dame Marlene Robottom
Patron: Gerard Lemos
Patron: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Patron: Dizzee Rascal
Area served United Kingdom
Focus Youth work
Volunteers Approx. 100
Employees Approx. 20
Website / /

Tower Hamlets Summer University (THSU) is a British charity in the Tower Hamlets area of London which offers independent learning programs for people from 11 to 25 years of age.




Holiday courses for young people

THSU runs short courses, typically two to five days long on a non-residential basis, are provided free of charge to young people aged 11 to 25 across the borough of Tower Hamlets during school holidays. Courses cover such subjects as Careers in the City, The Trading Floor, Photography, Driving Theory, First Aid, Maths without Calculators, Jewellery Design and Making, Bollywood Dance, Film Making, Kick & Thai Boxing, Cricket, Tourism and Psychology.

Nang! Magazine

Through one of the courses offered by THSU Nang! is produced. Nang! is magazine written and produced by young people. See the Nang! article for more details.

Summer Uni London

Summer Uni London is a project commissioned to THSU by City Challenge to develop other Summer Unis across London through training, support and resources.

Youth Volunteering

THSU promotes youth volunteering including (but not limited to) participating in the Nang! project, as a Summer Uni Peer, or by joining the Youth Advisory Group.

Summer Uni Peers

Up to 100 volunteers (aged 15-23) volunteer to support the holiday programmes as Peer Motivators or Team Leaders.

Youth Advisory Group

The trustee board is informed by a Youth Advisory Group who represent the views of young people to the board. Two young people from this group also sit on the board of trustees.


Tower Hamlets Summer University was piloted in 1995 to help reduce youth crime in the borough during the summer holiday period. Since then, the charity has grown and inspired many other boroughs to pilot Summer Unis in London and across the UK


In 1993, Lord Young of Dartington commissioned a research project to find out why youth crime increased each summer. The research concluded with a number of recommendations regarding summer provision for young people in the borough.


In 1995, the Education Business Partnership and the borough invested time and money in piloting a programme of activities for 14-21 year olds. This blue-print for Summer Uni was thoroughly documented with all results published in the autumn.


In 1996, two senior workers from the youth and arts sector (David Holloway OBE and Elizabeth Lynch)were seconded from the borough to establish the Summer Uni programme. It was registered as a charity and company limited by guarantee ("Tower Hamlets Summer Education Ltd") in February of that year.

This pilot was additionally the blue print for the University of the First Age in 1996.

Late 1990s

By 1997, Hackney, Brent, Newham, Islington and Southwark piloted their own programmes and in the next two years, other boroughs and other areas of the country followed suit. Funding from the Lottery and the New Opportunities Fund helped this momentum.


In 2006, Lord Andrew Adonis and the London Challenge team (part of the Department for Education and Skills) commissioned Tower Hamlets Summer University to roll out the model to every London borough. The young participants of Tower Hamlets Summer University chose to call this project 'Summer Uni London'. Summer Uni London was launched in June 2006.

External links

Coordinates: 51°31′9.1″N 0°4′19″W / 51.519194°N 0.07194°W / 51.519194; -0.07194


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