Napier Academics Take Student Support Model To States

Monday, 20 October 2008

A female engineering trio are set to take their pioneering research to an international academic audience in America this week. 

The group based within Napier University's Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Creative Industries will be presenting a paper at the Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference in New York. Sandra Cairncross Dean, Caroline Turnbull, Associate Dean and post-graduate student Karen Gordon have completed a two year study entitled  "Valuing Diversity: Development of a Student Support Forum for Females".

Sandra Cairncross said: "We found that female students are generally in the minority in undergraduate and post graduate science, engineering, built environment and technology programmes. For example, women make up only 12 per cent of engineering and technology students in Scottish universities, and in colleges the gender segregation is even greater.

"Research carried out at Napier University showed the kinds of support that women students who are in male dominated areas of study want is social contact and support particularly at key points in their university experience; the first term and on placement, contact with recent graduates and women working in the field, careers advice and links with industry.

"The initiative started two years ago following a request from students. Caroline and I developed it in partnership with the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology which is managed by Jenny Tizard, another co-author. The final co-author is Debbie Ratcliffe an administrator who supported the project.

"We were successful in securing funding which enables us to employ a group of students to further develop the scheme - we felt that student groups should be run by students for students with support as needed from staff. The group has evolved and has now renamed itself 'Connect'."

The Scottish Resource Centre has also been successful in securing funding for a national project in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland and other groups

Sandra added: "We are looking forward to sharing our experience with colleagues in America and from further afield and also in getting ideas on how we can build on our success so far."

The FIE conference runs from October 22 to 25.   


Notes to editor

Napier is a friendly, lively, modern University, with campuses conveniently located around south central Edinburgh - one of the UK's most student-friendly cities.  Its courses are engaging and relevant. Whichever you choose, Napier will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prepare you for the career you want. You'll also benefit from excellent resources, a very high standard of teaching and outstanding student support. Napier was rated No1 in Scotland for graduate employability in The Sunday Times University Guide 2007 and ranked as the third best modern university in Scotland by the Guardian's University Guide 2007.  See for more information.