The Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS) is a competitive scheme to provide each successful applicant with a bursary of up to £1000 and skills development training. The scheme supports undergraduate students as they undertake a summer research project in addition to their degree course. This opportunity provides hands-on experience of research, combined with dedicated wider training opportunities to allow the participants to identify, develop, reflect upon and articulate the skills that they have acquired over the course of their project.
Participants who fully complete the skills training programme, known as the URSS Experience, receive an official Warwick Certificate of Completion and endorsement on their Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).
The URSS Experience has been made available to all undergraduate researchers across Warwick and not just those who are funded by a URSS bursary. In order to manage numbers and to ensure the student has departmental support, this currently occurs by the department becoming a URSS Affiliate. The Affiliate departments for 2016 are Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics and WMG, and we are also working with two Global Research Priorities – the Energy GRP and the Materials GRP.
With 211 undergraduate students completing a research project, this scheme is nurturing and developing the PhD students and Research Fellows of the future.
Impact of Funding
The URSS continues to make a positive impact on its participants in a huge variety of ways – in the remainder of their undergraduate study, in their choice of postgraduate course, in their choice NOT to pursue a research degree and in their choice of career.
All students involved in the URSS (either by receiving a bursary, or through affiliate departments) are required to participate in the URSS Experience (skills development programme). The compulsory aspects requires students to:
• Complete a ‘Getting Started’ briefing.
• Record goals, action plans and reflections on their research experience via the online Portfolio – we are currently planning a Moodle offering for URSS.
• Submit an abstract (which can then be used to submit their research to the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR), International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR), Reinvention and other undergraduate research journals).
• Create an A1 poster for the URSS Research Showcase on 9th November 2016.
Other optional training sessions include:
• Researcher Development Day (based on the PG How to be an Effective Researcher)
• Poster design and creation workshop
• Writing an abstract workshop
Postgraduate mentors are also assigned by URSS to support the students during their research and by giving specific feedback on portfolio posts.
If all submissions are satisfactory, the student will receive a Certificate of Completion at the Awards Ceremony and their achievement is entered onto their Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR). In previous years there has been a high completion rate of around 98% - the 2015-16 year’s figures will not be available until later in the calendar year following completion of the projects and the Poster Showcase.
All of this additional work to complement their projects helps the students to reflect and consider the experience and skills they are gaining from taking part in URSS, and provides them with well-articulated examples of using skills for future employers and applications.