A program run by The University of Western Australia that helps undergraduate students undertake world-class research and even present at international conferences has won a prestigious national award.
It was one of only 12 Australia-wide Awards for University Teaching 2013.
Members of UWA's Undergraduate Learning and Teaching Research Internship Scheme (ULTRIS) were presented with an Award for Programs that Enhance Learning in Canberra this week.
Professor Sally Sandover, Associate Professor Lee Partridge and Dr Wayne McGowan were congratulated by Federal Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, for having made an innovative and outstanding contribution to the quality of student learning and the student experience of higher education.
ULTRIS was established at UWA in 2008 but was adapted last year to create a virtual ‘global classroom' where undergraduates could collaborate with international partners. With their supervisors, students choose a research topic of interest, collect data and analyse the results. More than 70 per cent of ULTRIS students at UWA have gone on to study for higher degrees.
Professor Sandover said ULTRIS was an undergraduate research training program. The students - aged about 19 - get training equivalent to an honours degree while they are still studying. Research is in the area of teaching and learning, which is rare in universities worldwide.
UWA Indigenous graduate Lilly Brown credited her involvement with ULTRIS as setting her on the academic path to being offered scholarships to both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Ms Brown, who accepted Cambridge's offer to undertake a Masters of Philosophy in Politics, Development and Democratic Education, said the ULTRIS experience had heavily influenced her academic and career trajectory.
"It revealed to me the importance of educational research in creating better outcomes for Aboriginal people and the Australian community in general," Ms Brown said. "Essentially it set the early foundation for me to become a dynamic and confident researcher. My involvement with ULTRIS enabled me to realise that I was capable of undertaking graduate study and significantly shaped the kind of researcher I am today."
Professor Sandover said the ULTRIS team was delighted to have won such a prestigious award. "We are particularly pleased that ULTRIS has set a benchmark for similar programs in other institutions," she said.
Professor Sally Sandover (UWA Coordinator, UWA ALTC Office) (+61 8) 6488 5571
UWA Public Affairs Media Team (+61 8) 6488 7977 / (+61 4) 32 637 716