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Civic Responsibility: Russell Group research work Alex Thompson Senior Policy Advisor The Russell Group of Universities University of Birmingham University of Bristol University of Cambridge Cardiff University University of Edinburgh University of Glasgow Imperial College London

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Civic Responsibility: Russell Group research work Alex Thompson Senior Policy Advisor

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Civic Responsibility: Russell Group research work

Alex Thompson

Senior Policy Advisor


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The Russell Group of Universities

  • University of Birmingham

  • University of Bristol

  • University of Cambridge

  • Cardiff University

  • University of Edinburgh

  • University of Glasgow

  • Imperial College London

  • King’s College London

  • University of Leeds

  • University of Liverpool

  • London School of Economics and Political Science

  • University of Manchester

  • University of Newcastle

  • University of Nottingham

  • Queen’s University Belfast

  • University of Oxford

  • University of Sheffield

  • University of Southampton

  • University College London

  • University of Warwick


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The work of The Russell Group is informed by a programme of research

Research is important to:

  • Ensure that Russell Group positions are evidence-based

  • Enable the Russell Group to be proactive

  • Facilitate communication of key messages

Six themes:

  • Future of research

  • Globalisation

  • Innovation, skills and the economy

  • Teaching and the student experience

  • Funding and management

  • Civic responsibility

Outputs:

  • Published reports

  • Advice to Government

  • Private advice to members

    Staff: 5 research/policy staff

Methodology:

  • Use of existing published data, and reports

  • Additional information collected from RGUs

  • Occasional commissioning of research studies


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Civic Responsibility research: an overview

Civic responsibility research work aims to increase understanding and awareness of:

The contribution of Russell Group universities to communities and civic society

The role of Russell Group universities in widening participation to higher education

Ensuring equal opportunity for students from all social backgrounds to study at a research-intensive university


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Civic responsibility research: Work to date

  • Focus has been on producing working papers on certain priority topics.

  • Primary audience has been Russell Group universities, Government and selected stakeholders.

Issues explored to date include:

  • Civic engagement and volunteering by staff and students of RGUs

  • Access schemes run by RGUs

  • Links between RGUs, schools and colleges

  • Initiatives to increase access to professional education

  • Training of admissions tutors

  • Issues relating to STEM education

  • Attainment at A level and GCSE

  • Special entry routes for non-traditional students in RGUs


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Research to date: Civic engagement through volunteering

Universities encourage students, staff and alumni to build a stronger democratic society by promoting and participating in community service.

One way for universities to widen participation is through providing greater opportunities for staff and students to volunteer

For students, experience in the community enhances education, increases employability skills and builds civic mindedness.

Our universities could better publicise their widespread volunteering work, and its value to students and society

Main barriers to volunteering1

1. 2004 Canada Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating


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Research to date: Participation in STEM higher education

STEM Education

  • Implications of low take-up of STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level

  • Concentration of STEM A-levels in small proportion of schools

  • Outreach work by RGUs to raise attainment and aspirations in STEM

  • Special entry and support initiatives at RGUs to aid progression onto STEM courses.


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Research to date: Special entry routes and access schemes aimed at widening participation

Russell Group institutions operate a variety of targeted access schemes aimed at widening participation by students from certain under-represented groups.

Special entry routes such as foundation years and 2+2 models are also used by Russell Group institutions to widen participation to certain courses.

Such programmes aim to tackle the barriers of relatively poor attainment and lower aspirations amongst non-traditional students.

These initiatives are costly, and there are challenges in extending them to target larger numbers of students.


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Civic responsibility research : Current thinking on future priorities

The root causes of the under-representation of ‘low-income’ students in RGUs

What are the root causes?

What more can Russell Group universities do to address them?

What has been the impact of variable fees to date?

How to ensure that variable fees don’t put off more disadvantaged students in future?

Variable tuition fees and access to highly selective universities

What impact does IAG in schools have on applications to RGUs?

What practical steps can RGUs take to improve IAG available to prospective students?

Advice and guidance available to prospective students


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Civic responsibility research : Current thinking on future priorities (2)

What are current patterns of participation in PG education by different social groups?

Areas of potential concern for RGUs ?

Patterns of participation in postgraduate education

Should HE supply be adapted to support WP?

What should be the priorities for RGUs in this area?

Adapting higher education provision to support widening participation

What has been the impact of WP interventions to date?

What should we be investing in for the future?

Evaluation of widening participation activities


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Civic Responsibility: Dissemination activities

We undertake a number of activities to disseminate our findings and priorities relating to civic responsibility:

  • Work with the press and other media

  • Engagement with Government and politicians

  • Work with other stakeholders in the HE/research community

  • Russell Group information events for school teachers (May 2009)

  • Contributions to national and international conferences

  • Publication of Russell Group reports (in the future)

  • Russell Group website www.russellgroup.ac.uk


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