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Mathematics Today October: University Liaison Officer’s Report

Keeping in touch

The nature of university life means that the undergraduate students I engage with are only likely to be around for a limited period of time. This engagement is usually though either a student run society or through a student member of a staff/student liaison committee. The end of one academic year and transition to the next is a potentially dangerous time for this engagement with students leaving their role within the department or society or even graduating and leaving the university altogether. I have spent some time at the end of the academic year trying to maintain contact with the students and societies I have had a relationship with, making contact with the next years students where possible. By the end of the last academic year I was in contact with student representatives or societies at 20 universities. If I lose contact with these I will start academic year 2009/10 back at square one in terms of student engagement and this is a large risk in the University Liaison role. On the staff side I hope the situation will be more stable. There are changes in staffing and staff roles though these are found in a much smaller number of cases.

At the time of writing I have made contact with next years students at 14 of the 20 universities I was in contact with last year and I consider this to be a good rate of return. My best information suggests there are 72 universities in the UK offering mathematics. I enter the new academic year with a prior relationship with a staff or student contact (or both) at 50 of them.

My thoughts now turn to planning my activities for the 2009/10 academic year. As in the previous academic year I will travel around the country offering my talk on careers for mathematicians and recreational mathematics lectures on various topics. I will also continue to operate on behalf of the IMA at careers fairs and postgraduate research conferences. In the last academic year I have visited 33 university mathematics departments and given talks and/or operated stalls at 23 of these. I am keen to increase these numbers next academic year! If you want to approach me with such an opportunity I would be very pleased to hear from you. I am also very interested to make contact with the 22 ‘missing’ universities so if you think I haven’t been in contact with your university please get in touch. You can email me on peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk. Another area where your university and the IMA can work together is University Liaison Grants to support student mathematical activities and there is more on this in the Student Section.

Activities July-August 2009

This period is the summer downtime and I used the opportunity to take much of my annual leave. Consequently my activities were lighter than usual in this period.

I attended the 3rd European Postgraduate Fluid Dynamics Conference at the University of Nottingham. This conference organised by and for postgraduate students was supported by an IMA Small Grant and I attended with a stall during the poster session and closing lunch. I believe the organisers are preparing a separate report on this conference. The materials on my stall included the Institute’s new Initial Professional Development (IPD) leaflet which explains to younger members what to do to start on the path to the Chartered designations. I travelled to Brighton for a visit to the School of Computing, Mathematical and Information Sciences at the University of Brighton and to attend a ceremony at that university in which IMA Prizes were awarded to two graduands. Finally I attended an Open University summer school on mathematical modelling and gave a version of my careers talk.

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