By Philippa Skett, intern at the Society of Biology
This week the Society of Biology held the Degree Accreditation Awards Ceremony to celebrate the four universities that have successfully had undergraduate bioscience degrees accredited. As a recent biology graduate myself, I went along to learn just what these courses were, and why they are becoming increasingly important as degree options to future undergraduates.
Preparing for the presentation, in the Nash Conservatory of Kew Gardens
After a lively presentation ceremony for the four universities, based in the Nash Conservatory of Kew Gardens, academics, students and supporters of the programme attended a drinks reception in the Princess of Wales conservatory, with a backdrop of exotic plants complementing the plethora of biologists present.
Inside the Princess of Wales conservatory
The networking event after was a wonderful excuse to have a wander around the plants on display, and, alongside meeting some of the people who are involved in the programme, was a very enjoyable way to spend the evening!
The four universities that have received degree accreditation for the 2012/13 academic year are the Royal Veterinary College, The University of Manchester, The University of York and The University of Liverpool. They join the University of Sheffield, University of Birmingham and University of Bristol, who had courses accredited as part of the pilot scheme in 2011/12.
From Left to Right: Dr Steven Edwards from the University of Liverpool, Dr James Moir from the University of York, Dr Mark Downs FSB, Professor Lynne Boddy FSB, Proffessor Cathy McCrohar from the University of Manchester and Dr Donald Palmer from the Royal Veterinary College
Between them they now provide over 40 bioscience degree courses, spanning from neuroscience to zoology, that all provide a substantial component of practical experience that accompanies the content of the course.
The evening, hosted by Professor Lynne Boddy FSB, featured introductions from Dr Mark Downs FSB, the chief executive of the Society of Biology, and an overview of the development of the accreditation programme from Professor David Coates FSB of the Accreditation Working Group. Professor Boddy delivered a lively keynote speech on the importance of practical skills in the wider world of taxonomy, along with some brilliant anecdotes, making the talk both enlightening and humorous.
But why is accreditation so valuable? As someone who has had a taste of the job market available for graduates, and has witnessed how invaluable extra skill-sets seem to be in securing a position, I personally think the programme couldn’t have come at a better time. Being able to officially recognise students who have the experience needed to bridge the gap between the usual undergraduate capabilities and those needed in research jobs is becoming increasingly essential.
The programme offers the chance to enhance their time as a student, develop their practical abilities and hopefully arm them with skills valued by graduate employers. With the competition throughout the job market remaining ever challenging, these degrees provide students with the academic credibility to prove that they are indeed research ready.
Thanks go out to Jess Devonport, our Marketing and Communications Officer for organising such a lovely event, alongside the rest of the society staff who helped during the evening.
Special thanks also go to the sponsors of the event, Cogent, UKCES, and AstraZeneca.