The Value of University Service Units

This research project began on 1st December 2012 and concludes in May 2015. The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and undertaken at the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University.  The Principal Investigator is Dr. Alison Williams and the Co-Investigators are Dr. K. Neil Jenkings and Prof. Rachel Woodward.

The aim of this project was to undertake an in-depth investigation into the value to individuals and civil society of the University Service Units (USUs). These are the University Officer Training Corps (OTC), the University Air Squadrons (UAS) and the University Royal Naval Units (URNU).  We were particularly interested in the non-economic and non-quantifiable value of USUs to five different constituencies. 

  • Current USU students
  • USU graduates who do not proceed to military careers (excluding service with the Reserves)
  • Employers of graduates with USU experience
  • UK universities hosting USUs
  • The UK Armed Forces/MOD

The project used a mixed methods approach drawing on quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods to collect data from the above constituencies.  This was then used to establish the value of the USU experience.  The project also has a second objective, to conceptualise what value might mean as a personal or social benefit to an individual or group, in the context of thinking about USUs. We have used a grounded theory approach, and drawn on contemporary theoretical debates in political science, human geography and sociology, to develop our ideas on this.

The data collected through this project has been used to write a number of outputs.