Proactively bringing teaching and research together

In Russell Group universities, there is a significant concentration of research-active academic staff: not only are our academics experts in their field, but they are also ideally placed to teach up-to-date material with enthusiasm and authority.

There are significant benefits for students in grounding their learning in a culture of research and inquiry, which is strengthened by involving expert academic staff in teaching. Not least of these benefits is the focus on students becoming active participants in the production of knowledge, rather than passive recipients or consumers.

At the University of Leeds the structure and content of degree programmes are such that all taught students have the opportunity throughout their studies to learn about, and participate in, the research process and to understand how new knowledge is created. This includes, for example, students' own supervised projects, work with staff on aspects of their research, case studies, solving real-life problems and the use of relevant/industry-based applications.

All first-year undergraduates at the University of Exeter are encouraged to participate in Grand Challenges. This programme provides the opportunity for students to work in interdisciplinary research groups with access to the university’s top academics, along with inspirational world-leading experts, to produce solutions and ideas addressing some of the key dilemmas of the 21st century.

Several Russell Group universities have long-established programmes, often known as Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programmes (UROPs), that enable undergraduates to be involved in research opportunities. The UROP at Imperial College London was established in 1980 and has provided research opportunities to over 4,000 students, many of whom have gone on to develop careers in research.

At the University of Warwick, undergraduate students have the opportunity to publish their work in Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research. As a participant on the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme notes: "It doesn’t matter if you want to be a researcher or not, the skills you gain are always going to be valued in any future career you undertake."

 

Policy area

Related case studies