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Twenty years of Nuffield Research Placements

By Nuffield Foundation

This summer, around 1,200 sixth formers and college students have undertaken Nuffield Research Placements in science (including social science), technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at workplaces across the UK.  

Nuffield Research Placements change lives. They give students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those without a family history of higher education, the opportunity to gain experience in a professional research environment. 

Twenty years of Nuffield Research Placements

This year we celebrate 20 Years of Nuffield Research Placements. The aim of the programme has always been to enable students to experience authentic research in a scientific environment and each year we aim to support more students to do this. Over 16,000 students have taken part in the last two decades.

As part of our celebrations we contacted every student who had taken part in a placement over the last 20 years and asked them to tell us their story. Nuffield Research Placements have been transformational for students, and the experience has stayed with them long after the summer has finished.

Nina’s Nuffield Research Placement experience

Nina completed her Nuffield placement 16 years ago at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary studies. She told us: “After a few weeks at the Dick Vet I knew that I wanted to be both a research scientist and a clinician; I wanted to make a lasting contribution that would have an impact on human and animal patients. Needless to say, there was something very special about the place, which is why I came back.”

Nina while studying to be a vet (left) and Nina today (right)

Nina moved away to study in Cambridge but has now returned to where she did her Nuffield Research Placement at the Royal Dick to complete a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship. She is still in touch with her supervisor from her Nuffield Research Placement.

Scott (now Professor) Pirie and many of the other people I worked with at R(D)SVS are still here 16 years on – I think that says something about the Dick Vet… I still bug Scott and his colleagues across the road when we have interesting cases to discuss or collaborations to forge.” Nina, Nuffield Research Placement alumni

Luke’s story

Dr Luke Davies completed his Nuffield Research 15 years ago in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. He told us: “The NRP was definitely an early push in the right direction and encouraged me to start studying astronomy from a young age.”

Luke currently a John Stocker Research Fellow in Astrophysics at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia. When we asked him about his job now, Luke said: “I think my job is one of the best in the world. I get to study the mysteries of the Universe, travel to exotic places (where we always build the biggest telescopes!), meet interesting people, learn new things every day and generally just like going into work in the morning (which may not sound like a big thing, but it is!).” He has recently published a joint paper with his supervisor from his Nuffield Research Placement, and they continue to work very closely.

Become a Nuffield Research Placement host

None of these stories would be possible without the people and workplaces who provide the placements. People like Dr Bahijja Raimi-Abraham, postdoctoral research associate in pharmaceutics at UCL School of Pharmacy, who explains why she got involved with Nuffield Research Placements in this short video.

We are always looking for more people who can provide STEM placements for our students. If you’re interested in finding out more contact 

Student applicants

The Nuffield Research Placements section of our website has information for student applicants, project providers, teachers and parents. 

Longitudinal study

To find out more about the longer term impact of Nuffield Research Placements, we have commissioned Frontier Economics and CFE Research, two independent research organisations, to carry out a longitudinal study which will evaluate the impact of Nuffield Research Placements. The study will be complete in 2022 with interim reports available as the research progresses.

It’s been a fantastic summer. Here are some pictures of our students on placement and some of the experiences shared on Twitter.

By Nuffield Foundation

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.