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Ideas for Life – Introduction

Universities UK: Ideas for Life

Imagine if your university work was addressing the most pressing issues facing society.

Imagine if you could do a degree in fighting killer diseases such as cancer, know that your research project was turning back the clock on climate change, or be part of major policy decisions being made by world leaders.

Ideas for Life is a major campaign to celebrate the many ways that students, researchers and academics at UK universities are getting to grips with the issues that are most important to the public.

It It is being run by Universities UK, a major organisation for university advocacy in the UK, and brings in national and international partners from education, the arts, business, medicine, industry and a host of other areas.

Read on, be inspired, and find out how universities in the UK are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges in the fields of:

Picture: Belfast Queen's University
Picture: Queen's University Belfast

Ideas for life: The survey

The global population is increasing as never before. By 2040 there are likely to be more than 9 billion people on Earth. How can we keep all those people healthy and happy?

The Ideas for Life survey asked members of the public what they wanted university research to solve in those five areas.

They wanted to find out what people saw as priorities on a personal, national and global scale – and show how UK universities are already one step ahead in addressing those issues.

According to survey results:

  • Improved wellbeing in old age is a priority according to 30 per cent of people – and researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University have designed a fitness test for the over-85s that is already being used across Scotland.
  • Finding a cure for life-threatening diseases such as cancer is a priority for 22 per cent of people – and a team from the University of Leeds has designed a computer advice system, symptom tracker and database that will allow cancer patients to manage their disease and provide a wide pool of information for research into treatments and cures.
  • Nearly half of those asked said that clean, affordable energy should be a priority for the UK – and the University of Bath has created tiny solar panels that can be stitched into our clothes to power personal electronic devices.
  • Relief from disease, hunger and poor sanitation were high on the agenda, with 46 per cent saying the provision of clean drinking water was a priority – and Cranfield University has developed a toilet that extracts disease-free, usable water from human waste.


Ideas for Life: Universities Week

Ideas for Life was set up as part of Universities Week, a nationwide celebration of the UK universities in July 2014 that centred around the Natural History Museum that gave universities around the country the chance to show off their most exciting research projects.

During Universities Week, Education UK caught up with:

These are just a few examples of the research that students and researchers can get involved in when they study in the UK at a university or college.

Picture: Stefan Marjoram

If you want to study in the UK, click here to find out about courses at UK universities.

For shorter, technical, specialist or academic courses at colleges in the UK, click here.

Visit Discover, Create, Innovate for more examples of UK research.

Universities UK logo

Ideas for Life were part of Universities Week run by Universities UK in partnership with Research Councils UK, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement and universities, research centres and public bodies across the UK. Find out more here.