While looking up universities, you may have noticed that some institutions position themselves as “research-intensive”. But what exactly does their research prowess mean for you as a student?
The International Alliance of Research Universities notes: “Research-intensive universities are among the best assets that a society can invest in because they are the key to ensure the future of a nation, especially in the increasingly vulnerable and unpredictable global environment when ‘bodies of knowledge’ become rapidly outdated and irrelevant and the ability to adapt to rapid change and formulate new approaches is vital.”
They add: “It is clear to us that research-intensive universities bring substantial economic benefit to society in multiple ways, direct and indirect…Through their research, academics make new discoveries and create new understanding. These are essential for advancement and progress in almost any field of human endeavour.”
Research helps uncover new discoveries and information which lays the foundation for human development – be it to help communities and societies prosper, or to help businesses and nations grow. On a similar note, Grffith University’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ned Pankhurst notes that before solutions can be implemented, there needs to be robust research.
He adds: “Building a base of intellectual capital through pure research and basic knowledge is crucial to finding solutions. It is that intellectual capital that is actually the wellspring that you use for the development of outcomes.”
From the above, it’s clear that research can have a monumental impact on society. But its impact on students can also be far-reaching, especially if they pursue a career in research, be it in academia or R&D for business.
In speaking about the benefits of attending a research-intensive learning environment at Russell Group universities, the Group notes that such institutions “enable students to become active participants in the production of knowledge rather than passive recipients”.
Naturally, students who are exposed to research can develop a mindset that helps them contribute to society, driving a country’s innovation and productivity. These include critical thinking and creativity, hallmarks of researchers, which are transferable skills that prove useful across a range of careers.
The Group adds that when students are taught to set and test their own hypotheses and make decisions based on the evidence, they are able to partake in the creation of knowledge; conversely, opportunities to be directly involved in research helps students gain employability skills, giving them a competitive edge over their peers upon graduation, as well as access to world-class infrastructure and equipment can support further learning.
Meanwhile, students who are exposed to professors who engage in research or who have leading roles in industry research can benefit from their industry know-how, which contributes to their learning and work-readiness.
Without a doubt, research-intensive universities can prepare future professionals to tackle and create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from social issues to global challenges. These can include the creation of new technologies and knowledge that lead to the betterment of society, while the skills they gain can also be applicable across a range of industries.