Taster research placements to enrich & inspire local pupils

Year 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been given the chance to get involved in research projects during the summer holidays at the University of Bedfordshire, in order to help inspire and support their development in a chosen field.

Having worked in partnership with the University’s Collaborative Projects and Access & Outreach teams for over a decade, the Nuffield Research programme provides hands-on opportunities, giving Year 12 students the chance to make a supervised contribution towards a host organisation’s research-based work in the areas of science, social science, computing, technology, engineering or maths.

Over the years, these enriching placements proved to offer valuable learning opportunities for young people from low-income backgrounds and for those pupils who are planning to be the first in their family to enter higher education.

Dr Paul Sant, Head of the School of Computer Science and Technology, worked with three students for three weeks between July and August 2022 on a variety of his department’s research projects – including the creation of a robotic hand!

Speaking about the importance of these placements, Dr Sant said: “It gives aspiring university students a chance to explore new fields beyond their A-Levels and enables them to experience what academic research and higher education is all about, set in a safe environment.

“This summer, we got our visiting students involved in a whole range of engineering and computer science projects, such as web development and cybersecurity, as well as getting them enthused about hands-on work with microcontrollers, robotics and building things like drones.”

The University’s involvement in the programme was organised by Paula Page, Collaborative Project Manager, and focused this year on the course and research opportunities offered by the Faculty of Creative Arts, Technologies & Science, with participating students getting involved in projects on topics including Psychology and Computing.

Paula said: “We have been working with the Nuffield Research Placements for over ten years now and it’s a great opportunity for local students to participate in hands-on research projects with the University of Bedfordshire. This provides practical experience of what university study is like and how it can open up career options and pathways for the future.”

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