DOES THE FIGURE OF UNIVERSITY COLLABORATING STUDENT REALLY ENCOURAGE RESEARCH VOCATIONS?

The figure of Collaborating Student (recognised in Article 137 of the Statutes of the University of Cadiz) seeks to stimulate the involvement of undergraduate and master students in the own activities of the university Departments with the main objective of facilitating their initiation into research tasks. This collaborative work is directed and tutored by a full-time professor and needs the full engagement from the student, which must comply with a time commitment and certain tracking and assessment protocols so that this activity can be finally evaluated. The abovementioned figure can be financially recognised through the annual national call for collaboration grants that the Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional offers for the last year of undergraduate or Master studies, as well as with own aids or funding from the University of Cadiz (for full or partial tuition fees for master and doctoral studies). In this way, the research spirit of the students is fostered at the same time that they discover the working environment of the university academic teams and learn and work in depth into the thematic lines of the laboratories in which they are incorporated, while receiving a highly personalised training that help them to improve their professional and personal skills.

In this work, the figure of the Collaborating Student is analysed and the possible influence of this collaborative activity on the students‘ professional training and future is evaluated, focusing the study on the area of knowledge of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Cadiz. The selection procedures and criteria are described, as well as the main activities carried out by the student, their degree of satisfaction and effectiveness. For this purpose, the follow-up of several collaborating students from the last decades in the field of Analytical Chemistry is conducted. This study aims to assess the impact that collaborative activity has on the students training and to determine to what extent it had an influence on the professional orientation of the graduate student and on their professional future. Does this figure really encourage research vocations? Does it promote collaborating students to continue their university education by undertaking postgraduate studies?