Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP)

Objective

QNRF will seek to stimulate a broad array of undergraduate research opportunities in Education City and Qatar University through faculty- and other researcher-led projects involving one or more students. This Program will supplement existing opportunities and contribute to workforce training and wider participation of women in the economy, by funding activities above and beyond those available through ordinary coursework during the academic year. For example, students may undertake projects during semester and summer breaks

Description

The Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) will promote “Learning by Doing” and "Hands-On" mentorship activities as effective methods for undergraduate education. In addition to a research-based education, students will gain experience with team-based research collaboration with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and other undergraduates or research staff in Qatar.

The program will support students engaged in team- or site-based projects under the auspices of faculty members or professional researchers. Under this program, the QNRF would solicit proposals from Qatar’s academic institutions. Proposals would cover a specific academic department or group of departments, specify possible research projects and list participating faculty and other researchers that would manage individual undergraduate research projects. Selection of undergraduate participants, research topics and detailed management would be the responsibility of the lead faculty member receiving the award, consistent with QNRF policies established in the request for proposals.

UREP funds would, in general, be limited to purchasing and maintaining supplies and equipment needed for the student's conducted research project and for publishing. Other appropriate expenses include travel and housing, depending on the location of the UREP site. For projects that extend beyond the academic year, a student stipend is appropriate. All UREP projects must have a substantive educational content. Most individual projects would likely be undertaken within the academic department receiving the UREP award. However, the UREP should be designed to allow collaborative projects where faculty-mentored undergraduate research could involve commercial firms and government offices

Responsiveness to Challenges

While the core premise of Education City is that undergraduates will receive a research-based education, the QNRF’s role is to ensure that adequate resources are available to cover student expenses in addition to faculty or researcher expenses not already covered by Qatar Foundation. In particular, faculty may require compensation for the additional responsibilities and workloads.

QNRF's involvement also can ensure continuity and institutional memory of projects and student researchers. It can further build awareness among the students and faculty, particularly of Qatar University, of research opportunities in Qatar. To the extent that researchers from the public and private sectors of Qatar engage with academe to provide opportunities for undergraduate research projects, this activity also can serve to promote collaboration.

Potential Benefits

The primary benefit of this activity is to build human capital; the secondary one is to bolster Qatar’s reputation for research. To the extent that the Education City universities and Qatar University take up the offer to conduct undergraduate research, their students are more likely to receive a higher-quality education and receive a firmer foundation in knowledge creation.

QNRF will archive and publish the results of undergraduate research opportunities, at least in electronic form. (Most such projects would be documented with a student report.) As above, this public record of research will help to publicize the research and to provide a body of work that can be applied by future researchers in follow-on studies and to study the impact such funding activities have had on Qatar.

The program, itself, is likely to enhance productive collaboration between faculty and students, and will help to facilitate the introduction of graduate-school education. Enhancing the opportunity for undergraduates to do research may have the side-benefit of facilitating faculty and commercial research, thereby leading to the creation of better research products and more interaction with the academic world outside Qatar.