The project will establish a working group which will investigate good practice, identify studentship opportunities and identify sources of funding for future years. The projectâs core activity will be running and evaluating a set of 15 novel internships across the university during the summer vacation of 2007. These activities are designed to:
â¢ Provide a proof of concept for the benefits of internships for undergraduates;
â¢ Explore models of our understandings of research and learning;
â¢ Identify opportunities for multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary undergraduate research;
â¢ Identify sources of future funding for sustaining and growing the activity.
â¢ Provide a focus to develop expertise and collaborations in research led educational activities across the university
A key objective of the project will be to establish working partnerships across the university which develop and share expertise. The activities and outcomes of the project will be widely disseminated internally and externally though practical activities, events and electronic and paper based publications in appropriate academic communities.
The benefits of undergraduate research internships or vacation research projects have been recognised. Amongst the potential gains, students can increase confidence, build on existing skills and develop new areas of expertise. They have opportunities to mature intellectually, may contribute positively to existing research activities, make significant career decisions and enhance their employability.
Typically, internships and summer projects are found predominantly in science, engineering and technological areas. Given the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of research and the potential benefits to the arts humanities and social sciences of scientific literacy it may be beneficial to extend traditional opportunities across a wider academic area. Furthermore it may be possible to identify appropriate internship opportunities which are relevant to the undergraduate experience in the arts humanities and social sciences.
The School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) already operates its own internal summer internship programme. In addition, research projects in ECS sometimes identify summer vacation work which is offered to undergraduate students. Other schools have undergraduates who engage in summer internships, sometimes with external employers. An opportunity exists to consolidate existing expertise in student internships and to identify new areas of application along with sustainable sources of funding which could significantly contribute to the Universityâs realisation of a research led and student centred education.