Pathfinders Programme Awards

  • The William Westerman Pathfinders awards to North America fund up to eight Balliol students to travel to the USA and Canada each summer for a period of 6-8 weeks, staying for 2-3 days at a time with Old Members of the College (including one ‘out-of-the-way’ location).
  • The William Westerman Pathfinders awards to Asia fund two Balliol students to travel in a similar way to Asia.

The purpose of the programme is to encourage better understanding between Balliol students (who are not citizens of the host country) and citizens of the United States, Canada, and Asia respectively, and to allow Old Members to keep in touch with Balliol. 

Type of award: 
Non-academic
Eligibility or selection criteria: 

Any Balliol student who is not a citizen of the host country (or in the case of Asia a country within it) and who is in the final year of undergraduate study or the last two years of graduate work may apply.

  • William Westerman Pathfinders awards to North America: Preference will be given to people who have never previously visited the USA or Canada. Applications will be considered from those who visited for very short periods or when they were young, but anyone who has been there, especially on their own, for more than a week or so in the last few years is unlikely to be successful.
  • William Westerman Pathfinders awards to Asia: Those selected are likely to have one or more of the following characteristics: prior experience of travelling in one or more Asian countries, preferably including China; at least a basic knowledge of Mandarin or another significant Chinese language; some prior knowledge of the culture and customs of Asian countries, preferably of China.
Amount awarded: 
  • William Westerman Pathfinders awards to North America: approximately £2,300 each.
  • William Westerman Pathfinders awards to Asia: approximately £4,000 each.
How and when to apply: 

Details of how to apply to any of the schemes are announced by email and on noticeboards at or after the end of Michaelmas Term and shortlisted applicants are asked to attend an interview in Balliol during Hilary Term. Graduate students must obtain the permission of their supervisors before applying. Applicants will have a project plan for their visit.

There is also an information meeting in late Michaelmas Term, for those interested in applying.

Further information: 

The successful applicants will be required to attend two briefing sessions. They will also have to present a written report, including a journal of their visit and feedback on the programme, to the Master, when the final balance of the award will be paid.

In all cases of travel, whether as part of a course (e.g. field work, year abroad, medical elective) or an extra-curricular activity (e.g. a project for which College has provided financial support, a College reading party, or Pathfinder award), students are responsible for taking out appropriate medical and travel insurance for the whole of their time away, including any independent trips made alongside, and for consulting relevant travel advice, for instance as provided by the Foreign Office. Reading party participants are expected to sign waivers prior to departure. Students are not permitted to travel to countries or regions for which appropriate travel insurance cannot be obtained.

You can read more about the Pathfinders scheme, including details of current and previous Pathfinders, here.

If you have any queries about the Pathfinders Programme awards, please contact the Development Office.

Funding source(s): 

The Pathfinders Programme at Balliol was started in 1955 by Bill Coolidge (Balliol 1924). Bill Coolidge died in 1992, and from then until 2002 his niece, Kitty Lastavica, together with her husband, John, generously provided funding for the programme. In more recent years, the scheme was funded first by three anonymous donors before Matthew Westerman (Balliol 1983) took over the funding of the programme in honour of his father, William A. Westerman (Balliol 1946). You can read more about the Pathfinders Programme here.