Currently four MSci Forensic Investigation students are on work placements around the globe after being the first at Staffordshire University to benefit from the Turing Programme.
The government scheme provides funding for UK students to experience work, study, training and volunteering internationally, which can play a vital role in boosting social mobility and long-term employability
Georgia Bowyer is spending three months at the Wildlife Forensic Academy near Cape Town in South Africa, a state-of-the-art forensic training facility to protect and preserve wildlife. Since arriving in January, Georgia has been helping with the rescue of baboons as well as dehorning Rhinos, so they are not poached and killed.
The 23-year-old from Telford said: “This placement has benefited me already by working with individuals within the wildlife sector such as vets and colleagues from NSPCA who face wildlife crime daily. I’ve also been using my skills to help gather information needed to help the development and growth of the Wildlife Forensic Academy, which can then be used in other work life situations.”
Outside of work, Georgia has been exploring Cape Town, including visiting the Aquila nature reserve, the local aquarium and beaches.
She added: “It’s been an amazing opportunity to come to South Africa to do my placement as this is a country I have never visited before, and only ever seen on TV programs. Being out here and experiencing the culture is just fantastic.”
Course mates Roshni Patel and Lucy Watson are spending three months at the Istituto di Scienze Forensi in Italy, which Staffordshire University partners with through the European Forensic Education Network (EFEN).
Based in Treviso, Venice, the pair are getting hands-on experience working on live cases, ranging from reviewing documents to investigating vehicle collisions, handwriting analysis and examining trace evidence.
Lucy said: “This is our first time going abroad without family and I think it will massively help me to gain more confidence and become more independent. Having the chance to impact a case or how it is run is what we want to do when we graduate, so the experience of doing a three-month intensive placement and all the skills that we will gain will really help when applying for jobs.”
Roshni added: “It is an amazing opportunity to do a placement overseas with this funding, especially after the various lockdowns over the past couples of years. I’m excited to get hands-on experience and really push myself while getting to experience another culture.”
Fellow MSci student Hannah Parkin is also currently in Sri Lanka analysing plastic pollution and Gabriel Pequignot is on a Forensic Chemistry placement at Avans University in the Netherlands.
Replacing the Erasmus+ programme, the Turing Programme provides funding for UK students to experience international placements, ranging from four weeks long to a year. After successfully securing nearly £200k funding through the Turing scheme, Staffordshire University will help more than 130 students across a range of courses to visit at least 20 different countries.
Professor Claire Gwinnett, Director for the Centre for Crime, Justice and Security, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be facilitating these really exciting placements; they offer great opportunities for our students to see how investigations are conducted in other countries and to give them hands-on experience with real cases.
“The Centre for Crime, Justice and Security have worked with ISF for many years, originally setting up the European Forensic Education Network as part of an ERASMUS+ grant, this has led to lots of collaborative work including creating opportunities for our students. We have more recently formally partnered with the Wildlife Forensic Academy, where I now sit on their advisory board. This collaboration includes helping to co-develop the curriculum for their wildlife crime courses and providing exciting experiences for our students to learn about wildlife crime investigations in South Africa.”