The Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) is one of the main programs offered by QNRF and designed to fulfil its aims in developing research infrastructure in Qatar by establishing the basis of scientific research at the undergraduate level. UREP provides a great opportunity for undergraduate students to experience scientific research and to engage in the various processes to build skills essential for the professional development of the students.
QNRF seeks to stimulate a broad array of undergraduate research opportunities within 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 the 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
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, 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. The 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, 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 additional responsibilities and workloads.
QNRF's involvement can also ensure continuity and institutional memory of projects and student researchers. It can further build awareness among 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 can also serve to promote collaboration.
The primary benefit of this activity is to build human capital, while 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 will help to publicize the research and to provide a body of work that can be applied by future researchers in follow-on studies, while also assisting in assessing the impact that 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 conduct research may have the side-benefit of facilitating faculty and commercial research, thereby leading to the creation of more refined research products and greater interaction with the academic world outside Qatar.