RSC offers funding to support key Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme

03 January 2007

A pioneering scheme that takes undergraduates in chemistry and other subjects into school classrooms is to get a major cash boost from the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

The RSC, through its Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Section, will give 40,000 over two years to support the newly-launched Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme. 

The ambassadors scheme gives university STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) departments a framework for a credit-bearing degree course module that provides school classroom-based experience for undergraduates. 

Through this module UAS aims to:

  • Provide STEM undergraduates with key transferable skills which will enhance their employability. 

  • Provide role models to enthuse school pupils about STEM subjects, encouraging them to consider study at a higher level and informing them of career opportunities 

  • Give subject specific support to teachers in the classroom; enhancing the curriculum and providing opportunities for continuing professional development 

  • Provide teaching experience that encourages undergraduates to consider a career in teaching

  • Inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. 

The aim of the funding project is to work in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry to increase the number of chemistry departments offering the UAS module within their degree curriculum.  

The UAS currently has 85 University departments running the scheme, but only five of these are specifically chemistry departments, whereas there are in excess of 50 higher education institutions offering undergraduate chemistry courses in England. 

Professor Ray d'Inverno, the National Director of UAS, said: "The funding support offered by the RSC will help us target chemistry departments and support them in the first few years in getting UAS up and running. 

"The UAS has proved itself to be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved. We are particularly hopeful that this funding may lead to more chemistry undergraduates considering teaching as a career, because there is currently such a desperate shortage of specialist science teachers in schools and colleges."

David Alker, chairman of the RSC Biological and Medicinal Chemistry section, said: "We are delighted to support the important work of UAS.  As part of the Royal Society of Chemistry Industry and Technology Forum, the BMCS particularly recognises the need to train the next generation of chemists and the crucial role of chemistry teachers."  

The work of UAS is complementary to and supportive of the aims and activities being undertaken through the RSC-led Chemistry for our Future initiative which is looking to ensure the future sustainability of chemistry in higher education. 

RSC higher education manager Libby Steele said: "The RSC is delighted to be able to support this scheme, and we hope it will help encourage more chemistry undergraduates to choose teaching as a career." 

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