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Julie Douglas: Levelling the balance

How benevolence within the profession is supporting the pipeline of planning talent.

Julie Douglas is the RTPI's Acting Deputy Head of Education

The planning profession is uniquely placed to help solve challenges of the 21st Century. An environmental emergency, longstanding inequalities, and technological and resourcing issues are all being played out against a backdrop of rapid urbanisation and changing regulation. Planning is a critical function that can help preserve and protect the environment and create healthy, strong and equitable communities. To do so we must maintain and develop a strong and robust pipeline of talent entering the profession.

In September 2021, the RTPI Michael Welbank Scholarship was launched, commemorating the life and work in London of Michael Welbank MBE, who died in September 2020, and who served as the RTPI’s President in 1992-93. This new initiative, which we will initially run for three years, targets those who have entered a London Planning School via a widening participation programme. In so doing it opens up opportunities to planning education for students who otherwise might not have been able to pursue a planning qualification. 

In its first year, two well deserved scholarships were awarded and in keeping with Michael Welbank’s passion we plan to showcase blogs on urban design in London from our scholarship recipients over the coming weeks.

Alongside the recently launched RTPI Michael Welbank Scholarship, we continue to promote the RTPI Trust Bursary with its similar focus of ensuring that planning education is open to all. What is apparent from submissions we’ve received is that there is a universal curiosity around strengthening links between people, planning and places. Although shared ownership of space continues to test society, there is a dedication amongst planning students to take on these challenges and be the problem solvers of tomorrow. The RTPI bursaries and scholarships remain vital components in our endeavour to harness a new generation of impassioned planners and, wherever possible remove obstacles to attaining a planning education.

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