UAS Conference 2005

UAS Conference 2005

Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme Conference Calls For Expansion of Scheme

The Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme recently held its third annual conference at the Midlands Engineering Centre in the heart of Birmingham City Centre. Over 45 delegates attended the event, including representatives from University Departments who are already running the scheme across the UK plus those who are either about to start or are considering participating in the scheme in the future.

Launched in 2002 by physicist and broadcaster Simon Singh, the Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme (UAS) is proving a highly popular new way of introducing science students to the real world of teaching and providing them with the opportunity to gain transferable skills which will be invaluable in their future careers.

Now funded by the Teacher Training Agency, UAS was developed in conjunction with mathematics and science departments from King’s College London, The University of Southampton and The University of Surrey. Aimed at students in the final or penultimate year of their science degree, the UAS provides the framework for a degree course module awarding academic credit to undergraduates working with teachers in local schools.

The conference programme included a Welcome Address from UAS founder Simon Singh, who emphasised the importance of events such as this to share experiences and encourage dialogue between new and existing participants of the scheme. Simon revealed that all the parties who have participated in the scheme to date are so delighted with the results that they will definitely continue to run it in the future.

UAS National Director Sharon Herkes told the audience that the UAS now has 30 Departments in 15 Universities across the UK now running the scheme, providing 174 undergraduates to 100 schools. Over the next 12 months the aim is to increase this number significantly, and to obtain the support and endorsement of the scheme from Professional Bodies within the science sector.

Dr. Alex Brabbs, UAS Project Manager, announced the redevelopment of the UAS website which as well as featuring general information will also now have a private area for use by staff, students and teachers who are running the scheme. This will incorporate a wide range of resource material and advice sheets which can be downloaded, plus a discussion board and FAQ section.

Dr. Penny Gowland, from the University of Nottingham Physics Department and Dr. Phil Langton, University of Bristol’s Physiology department, both gave accounts of their individual experiences of running the scheme. Describing how they selected the schools and the students involved, as well as detailing the work and internal issues involved in establishing the scheme in the first instance, both presenters gave the audience a useful insight into how to run the scheme successfully.

Following a lively Discussion Forum, the audience then heard about ‘The Impact of UAS from a graduates perspective. Charlie Lacey and Robin Reilly, both physics graduates from Royal Holloway University, took part in the scheme in 2004 teaching Year Seven and Year Nine students in schools in Surrey. Both graduates gave passionate endorsements of the scheme, describing how it had made a huge impact on their overall undergraduate experience and provided them with a whole new set of skills which they are now using in their professional lives. Whilst Charlie did decide to pursuer a career in teaching, and will start her first permanent teaching post in Dorset in September, Robin has chosen to work as a business analyst in the City, but will definitely consider teaching as a career option for the future.

Sharon Herkes, UAS National Director said: “The enthusiasm for the UAS at the Conference was incredible, and we are delighted that it has made such a positive impact on all the universities, undergraduates and schools that have run it to date. We now need to spread the message and encourage more departments to participate in the scheme, and give more science, technology, engineering and mathematics undergraduates the opportunity to benefit from not only experiencing what it is like to be a teacher, but also to gain the transferable skills which sets them in such good stead for whatever career path they choose.”

Copies of the staff powerpoint presentations are available for download below.

Phil Langton – Physiology department – University of Bristol.ppt
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Penny Gowland – Physics department- University of Nottingham.ppt
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