BFWG, founded in 1907, is a leading Graduate Women’s Organisation in England and Wales. It is part of a large International Graduate Community. In a spirit of friendship it brings women of all generations together – locally, nationally and internationally; our vision is to build a better life for women in and through education.

BFWG is a Company Limited by Guarantee with two Charitable Arms

BFWG Academic Awards

  • Academic Awards
  • Local Bursaries
  • Research Presentation Day


  • Foundation Grants
  • Emergency Grants
  • Theodora Bosanquet Bursaries

The History of BFWG and FfWG

The Early Years 1907-1957

On March 20th,1907, seventeen women met at Manchester High School to hear a proposal by Miss Ida Smedley to form a Federation of University Women BFUW “with the purpose of helping women to promotion on university or similar staffs” and raising money for research. The first Prize Fellowship was awarded to Caroline Spurgeon in 1912. Money was raised in local associations in the following years and Scholarships were endowed, often in memory of women who had made a significant difference to education.

The Foundation of IFUW 1919/20

In the aftermath of the First World War, the Federation and its branches were helped by support from a British Educational Mission to America led by Rose Sidgewick and Caroline Spurgeon. A resolution was passed to create IFUW, The International Association of University Women by fostering friendship throughout the world as an enabler of peace.

This new Federation stood for the representation of women at a senior consultative and legislative level in the sectors of society that were determining the lives, well being and futures of fellow women – but without their participation! New federation branches were opening around this time all over the country. In addition to fighting for representation the federation and its Local Associations initiated practical support in a variety of ways. Most importantly, Miss Ida Smedley argued for a fund to be established to raise money to enable women to carry out research. The first Prize Fellowship was awarded to Caroline Spurgeon in 1912. Money was raised in local associations in the following years and Scholarships were awarded.

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International Affiliations enabled money to be raised to purchase Crosby Hall to enable IFUW members to study in London.


IFUW was in the first group of women's organisations to be admitted to consultative status within the United Nations (UN bodies)

The lease of Crosby Hall had to be sold owing to escalating costs. The result was that BFWG and the newly formed Charitable Foundations, FfWG and the BFWG Scholarship Fund were set up to operate on their own, the Foundations each with a Board of Trustees. The Scholarship Fund for Academic Excellence made awards for academic achievement for doctoral students and The Charitable Foundation assumed responsibility for giving awards for Living Expenses and Emergency Grants, also for doctoral students. The Sybil Campbell Library from Crosby Hall moved to Great James Street in London and, more recently to The University of Winchester.

International affiliations enabled money to be raised also to purchase Crosby Hall in 1926 to enable IFUW members to study in London. Therefore, three further grants were established to fund 6-8 months residence in Britain. The foundation of IFUW had a profoundly rejuvenating effect on BFUW, the British Federation. A fundraising campaign was initiated to celebrate the Federation's 75th Birthday. The Founding of a General Scholarship Fund took place in 1982 to contain all legacies and donations. The new Charitable Foundation remained a wholly owned subsidiary of the Federation.

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BFWG is one of around 80 Affiliates of IFUW-now GWI (Graduate Women International) - GWI holds triennial world conferences.

BFWG Scholarship Fund has awarded Prizes annually of approximately £36,000K and FfWG, Grants annually of approximately £237,000.

List of 2020 Prize-winners available if required.

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  • History of the British Federation of University Women 1907-1957 J H Sondheimer, published by BFUW
  • British Federation of Women Graduates: The Story of the Second 50 YearsEdited by Nancy Catchpole and Cynthia Short 1957-2007
  • The Founders of Crosby Hall by Margrite Bowie-Menzler published in 1981 by the author, BFUW, London
  • British Federation of Women Graduates: Academic Awards A Century of Giving by Susan Miles
  • BFWG News 1996-2020
A black and white photograph of Ida Smedley Maclean looking to the side of the camera. Miss Ida Smedley
A colour photograph showing a building, blue sky and trees. The image shows Crosby Hall. Photographer: Morley Archive Date: approx 1989 Title: Crosby Hall showing the Lantern Floreat BFWG
A scanned image of a collage showing a collection of historic images. Includes photographs and drawings of buildings and notable people.
An image of the BFWG coat of arms. A blue, red, yellow and white coat of arms illustration.
A photograph of a group of women of varying ages looking towards the camera. Current prominent members of BFWG

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