Events
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    Education Select Committee Brexit hearing session at UCL

    By Melissa Bradshaw, on 9 February 2017

    On 25 January, the Education Select Committee held the second Oral Evidence Session of its inquiry on the effect of Brexit on higher education (HE) at UCL.

    The committee heard evidence from UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education) Sorana Vieru and representatives of University and College Union, Erasmus Student Network UK, Universities UK, the British Council and London Economics.

    There was a strong consensus on the potentially damaging effects of Brexit on HE, and an urgent call for the government to do more to address them.

    Professor Michael Arthur

    Professor Michael Arthur

    The hearing took place just over a week after Theresa May’s historic speech on the UK’s strategy for exiting the European Union, and evidence was heard in two panels.

    The Chair of the Education Committee, Neil Carmichael MP, began each session by asking the panellists for their reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech.

    Every one of the panellists welcomed the tone of the speech and its emphasis on a “global Britain”, but called for immediate action and more specific detail – particularly in regard to the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK.

    Referring to the Prime Minister’s expressed wish to guarantee the rights of EU citizens, Professor Arthur said: “I’d like to challenge the Prime Minister to go one step further and take the initiative to make the guarantee and challenge the rest of the EU to follow”, arguing that this would give Britain the moral high-ground and provide the negotiations a foundation of good will.

    The committee heard evidence of the significant contribution of the higher education sector to the British economy, including the contributions EU staff and students make to the wider economy when they are residing here.

    Dr Gavan Conlon (London Economics) also argued that, with education the UK’s fifth largest services export, the HE sector can generate revenue that could contribute to the government’s Industrial Strategy.

    The panellists spoke of the positive contributions that EU staff and students make in terms of diversity and ‘soft power’, contributing to Britain’s prestigious academic profile and giving their British peers invaluable experience in international engagement, leadership and collective problem solving. “For a global Britain we need global graduates”, said Rosie Birchard (Erasmus Student Network UK).

    The committee also heard evidence that currently UK HE “punches well above its weight” globally – thanks, in part, to our membership of the EU. Jo Beall (British Council) pointed to statistics showing that the UK leads the world in research quality (by field-weighted citation impact) and 1 in 10 world leaders were educated here.

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    Launching a citizen science paper at the League of European Research Universities

    By Guest Blogger, on 7 December 2016

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    Written by Alice Sheppard – Community Manager, UCL ExCiteS

    A little over a year ago, many academics and I – not, then, an academic, but a long-time citizen science volunteer – gathered in Zurich for a day of presentations and panels to discuss the idea of creating a set of standards and recommendations for citizen science across and beyond Europe.

    Should citizen science have policies and guidelines, or would this be too prescriptive or restrictive? What would ensure that everyone, and science itself, benefitted?

    The conference organisers spent the next several months writing a paper of guidelines for researchers and policies for universities wishing to engage in citizen science, which they launched this year’s event in Brussels. I have since started working at UCL, and I was asked to introduce citizen science as a concept, from the perspective of both a volunteer and an academic.

    Katrien Maes and Daniel Wyler presented the paper, ‘Citizen science at universities’. Citizen science, an activity where a person not in an academic institution contributes their time to scientific activities, is not new.

    Renaissance science was mostly practised by wealthy “gentlemen scientists” (whose wives and other nearby women were often unacknowledged contributors!), and Charles Darwin corresponded with thousands of citizens who recorded aspects of nature around them.

    mulitple citizen science projects slide

    But in the digital age citizen science is undergoing a revival. There is huge new potential for communication between scientists and the public and for data collection and analysis.

    Therefore, the paper states, it is important to do three things: citizen science practitioners should collaborate and share best practices; we should create platforms that support a wide variety of citizen science projects, so as to create more public awareness and increase opportunities; and we should not treat citizen scientists simply as agents to get the simple but lengthy tasks done, but to involve them at all stages of the research process, from beginnings to publication.

    I was pleased to see advice to use open science and to plan properly for substantial community management. This means not treating citizen scientists as colleagues, taking into account adequate communication with them, tracking not only what they are doing but also their diversity and numbers, and of course properly acknowledging their work.

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    Could this be the way to get your research into the public eye?

    By Guest Blogger, on 15 December 2015

    pencil-icon  Written by Olivia Stevenson & Greg Tinker with Michael Kenny, Catherine Miller & Graeme Reid

    Scientists and researchers from across academia are engaged in research that could make a difference to the world, but until you take it beyond the university doors its impact and reach will remain low.

    Select Committee noticeUCL and the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary, University of London, teamed up to host a public event with parliamentary insiders and evidence experts, exploring how academia could engage the world of government, particularly through select committees.

    The question on everyone’s mind was ‘can this type of academic-government engagement generate real world impacts?’ Here is what our speakers told us:

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    R=T?: Creating a dialogue between research and teaching

    By Irrum Ali, on 23 November 2015

    UCL R=T?Tuesday 17 November saw the UCL Centre for Advancing Learning and Teaching (UCL CALT) launch ‘R=T?’, a forum to explore how teaching and research can best be brought together and valued.

    UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur introduced the event, noting how research and teaching have always been close partners. He commented how they work together to ensure learners feel a valued part of their academic institution; students often express a keen interest in working with their inspirational teachers and researchers.

    Professor Arthur also expressed how fundamentally important taking learners through the research-based approach is: it enables them to realise their full potential by helping them to understand how knowledge is created, as well as core attributes such as team work, problem solving, critical thinking and communication skills. A research-based education, he stressed, equips our students with what they need to be contributory members of society: an idea that is at the heart of the UCL 2034 strategy.

    Following this, Dr Vincent Tong, Principal Teaching Fellow (Connected Curriculum) at UCL CALT and the lead on the R=T initiative, explained how the launch of the dialogue and associated masterclasses are designed to enable staff and students to share ideas, initiatives and solutions to bring research and teaching closer together, and to have further impact at UCL and beyond. He also highlighted his own experience in leading an Earth science research consortium, which reinforced how crucial partnerships can be.

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