Recently I joined the REACT team, coming in as the researcher based at the University of Exeter. Having just finished my Masters at Exeter's Cornwall campus, I am finding it an interesting flip to be on the other side of University. During my brief year down in Falmouth I made the most of the opportunities to get involved in and around the Uni. I helped to set up a student-led podcast interviewing lecturers on their recently published papers, played a few sports and got immersed in the wildlife documentary scene. All of these activities boosted my CV and provided fun insights into future careers. It is no wonder then, that Exeter is one of REACT's three core institutions. Now based at Streatham campus, I can see the amount of effort that goes into providing students with ways to grow, not just academically, but in terms of life and employability skills.
The first few days with REACT was spent gently getting to know the project and the team. As Stuart Sims, the lead researcher later said of my first week, "Oh what a lovely, naive time that must have been." He was right but also played a part in this; within 5 minutes of knowing him, we were tucking into burgers at the student bar, albeit washed down with white hot chocolates rather than anything stronger. I was also introduced to Tom Lowe, the Project Manager and Rebecca Manley, the Content Marketing Coordinator, by REACT's Director, Liz Dunne.
As I have joined this project a few months in, my second week coincided with the third steering group. I traveled to Winchester on the Monday morning train, had a whistle-stop tour of the Universities small, but welcoming campus and then met the Steering Group. The meeting was informative but fun, with group activities to encourage ideas out of everyone present. After a couple of presentations, the meeting concluded with much positivity. Most of the group carried on to a pub and then a restaurant in Winchester, before those of us that had traveled from Exeter retired to a hotel. The next day saw the core team gather to knock our heads together, garner the most insightful ideas from the steering group and start planning our next actions. It seems that numerous HEI's are engaged with us, eager to work with and share ideas with each other.
I enjoyed the trip to Winchester and being introduced to the way things run there. Fortunately for me, over the next few weeks I will be visiting more places, including Buckinghamshire New University, Greenwich University and the University of West England. With a project such as this, collaboration and sharing of knowledge is key. We can't expect students to be proactive and engaged if their Universities do not show the same willingness. Every Institution involved with REACT is proving that endeavour, I personally would visit every University in the country if I could, I just hope that our travel budget is as hardy as our team.ext here ...