UAS Newsletter – March 2010

UAS Newsletter – March 2010

Dear Colleague

We would like to take this opportunity to circulate this newsletter to update you on our current situation. We are pleased to report that despite our very severe financial difficulties UAS is very much alive and kicking and even though we are running in a reduced and mainly reactive mode of operation we are still growing and continuing to recruit and welcome new departments to UAS. We are very pleased to announce that we have recently received our 137th sign-up letter from the department of Physics at Swansea University, the 48th university to get involved in UAS. For a full list of the 137 departments involved please click here

UAS Funding Crisis Update

In our last newsletter we outlined our plight before turning to colleagues in participating UAS departments for assistance. In October we contacted around 120 established UAS departments and explained that we had cut our operating costs to the absolute minimum and following suggestions from partner departments we concluded that if each department participating in UAS were to contribute a voluntary contribution of £30 per student, based on the department’s previous year’s numbers then we could continue running. (i.e. 5 students = a contribution of £150). We hoped that colleagues would agree that £30 is a very modest sum and they would wish to support us at this very difficult time. Of course, if a department wished to offer us more than the basic amount requested then we would be able to expand our activities accordingly. In the same way, if the level of support suggested was beyond the capabilities of a department then we would be happy to accept a smaller gesture of support. We have been responsible for offering start-up grants for new departments which amount to around £90,000 and, given this level of funding support, we felt that our request for help in return is of modest proportions.
Of the 120 or so departments contacted, 12 responded positively, 32 said ‘no’ and the majority of the remainder didn’t respond. We would like to thank our colleagues from departments that have helped us. Without their help we probably would not be here now.
This year we expect that more than 1,000 undergraduates will be going out into partner schools to inspire youngsters and get a taste of teaching whilst gaining key transferable skills which will be invaluable in their future careers. Many of these undergraduates will subsequently wish to enter the teaching profession. UAL (undergraduate Ambassadors Ltd), the company running UAS has much to be proud of and it seems to us nothing short of a tragedy that our organisation will cease operating unless we are able to raise and maintain a very modest level of funding. If we contacted you in October and you have not yet responded but feel that your institution might wish to help fund and / or support the continuing existence of the UAS then please contact Brian Lockwood, National Manager, UAS. Perhaps your institution can help. Please let us know.
We will also continue to look for new opportunities for funding.

Update on joint funding initiatives

In a recent newsletter we outlined the very successful joint initiative with the RSC-BMCS to increase the number of Chemistry departments involved in UAS. (Please see UAS Newsletter – March 2009 for further details). We are now coming towards the end of a similar initiative with the Ogden Trust to increase the number of Physics Departments offering UAS modules. This work is not quite completed but we are very optimistic that the outcome of this grant will be equally successful. At the start of the initiative 13 physics departments were involved on UAS modules out of a total of about 50 departments in the UK. We have now recruited a further 8 new departments from a target of 10 and a number of other have indicated that they are planning to run new modules in 2010/11. The funding is mostly directed at providing pump priming support of £1,000 a year for the first 2 years (£2,000 in total) of a new UAS physics module.
We would welcome interest from learned societies or appropriate funding bodies interested in discussing the possibility of setting up initiatives to improve the numbers of participating departments in subjects or regions which are presently underrepresented in UAS. Please contact Brian Lockwood via e-mail at
Brian.Lockwood@uas.ac.uk or phone 01757 210865 to discuss matters further.

Help with the UAS Mission

You may be able to help us with out recruitment mission, since we find that the hardest thing is trying to find out who is the right person to contact in a given department and you may have this local knowledge. So if you run a UAS module in an institution which has STEM departments or any other suitable departments not currently running UAS, then perhaps you would be prepared to contact someone appropriate in that department and tell them something of the advantages in running the scheme. Anyone interested should please contact Brian Lockwood on Brian.Lockwood@uas.ac.uk or phone 01757 210865 for further information.

We hope you have found the information provided in this newsletter of interest. For further information about UAS, or if you have any information to contribute for the next newsletter please contact Brian Lockwood or Ray d’Inverno or please visit our website at www.uas.ac.uk.

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