What opportunities are available for students to engage with the national/international community?
The department provides information on several different ways for students to become involved with the national and international community, mostly through extra-curricular schemes but also through intercalcated years in industry or studying overseas.
With respect to community engagement that is directly linked to the department, the best example is RISCU (Risk Initiative and Statistical Consultancy Unit), a research organisation that provides consultancy services to industry. However it is not open to involvement from undergraduate or even postgraduate students.
"RISCU provides resources for developing applied research collaborations with industry, commerce, government and other outside bodies, and with other academic disciplines."
It is stated as an objective in the course aims of the Statistics undergraduate degrees:
“(to) produce high quality graduates who are well prepared for the next step of their professional lives... ...research training or moving directly into a career.”
Hence the department has a stated aim of preparing students well for future integration into the community.
In the handbook, it states that students are allowed to take an intercalcated year as the penultimate year in their degree course, subject to approval from their personal tutor and the head of department. This can involve community engagement in the form of applying their skills to work experience with a business or engagement with the international academic community by spending a year studying at a University overseas. The faculty is partnered with other EU universities in the Socrates scheme, however there is no help given in finding a work placement.
“...(there is) no help available from the department in finding a job, and students who are interested in this are recommended to seek help from the Careers Office.”
4.2 Intercalcated Year http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/courses/handbooks/morse_08-09.pdf
Students are also encouraged in the handbook to make the most of extra-curricular activities, some of which could be seen as community engagement.
“Some students work toward the Warwick Skills Certificate or take part in Business Challenges.”
“Securing work experience and/or internships will also help to develop your employability skills. The Careers Centre has a team dedicated to sourcing work experience opportunities for all students.”
6.5 Make the Most of Your Time at Universityhttp://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/courses/handbooks/morse_08-09.pdf
Another example of a scheme listed in the handbook is the Student Associate Scheme (SAS). This is a scheme which is meant to encourage students into teaching as a possible profession, but it is worth mentioning for how it currently sends students to teach maths in townships in South Africa. This is a prime example of a claimed opportunity for students to spread their enthusiasm for their subject to a part of the global community.
“Offering undergraduates the opportunity to try a “taster” of teaching.”
“Students receive bursary funded training which will prepare you for the expectations of a professional environment.”
“Warwick has provided the funding to send SAS students to teach maths in Johannesburg and surrounding townships during the Summer.”
6.8 STUDENT ASSOCIATES SCHEMEhttp://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/courses/handbooks/morse_08-09.pdf
There seems to be no explicit mention of community engagement in any of the departmental literature I examined. This by itself is important, as it seems the Statistics department is perhaps not engaging with this concept fully.
As with the statement in the course aims and in the language used describing the intercalcated year, the department seems to mainly consider community engagement in terms of developing skills for employment. Perhaps this particular emphasis on career progression only should be questioned, as the experiences gained through engaging with the local community are surely not only valuable in terms of CV filler. However this may be the department taking the view that their students are often very career motivated and hence telling them "what they want to hear".
Looking at the context of the Students Associate Scheme and the Making the Most of Your Time at University sections, both fall under section 6 in the handbook, Careers. Again it seems that the department frames community engagement mainly in the context of career development.
There are a fair amount of community engagement opportunities claimed for students by the department. The department seems to value community engagement and is keen to promote extra curricular opportunities for students but there is very little to nothing claimed in the way of curricular opportunities, although the permission of inercalcated years in industry/abroad is good.