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UMaine plans tuition-free research learning experience for 600 students

The program, which is normally for juniors and seniors, allows students to learn by doing and express their artistic side by contributing to teams or services.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine and UMaine Machias will be inviting 600 freshman and sophomore students to a new tuition-free exploratory learning project.

The program, which is normally for juniors and seniors, offers a hands-on research learning experience to students. UMaine officials said students will be engaged in projects where they can learn by doing, express themselves artistically, and contribute to a team or service initiatives. 

“Innovative research learning experiences are a great example of how we will be helping students transition successfully to college and past the disruptions of the pandemic. We are eager to introduce a new cohort of learners to research and creative endeavors as they begin their college experience at the state’s land, sea, and space-grant university and our regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias,” University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said.

John Volin, UMaine executive vice president of academic affairs and provost said Research Learning Experiences or R.L.E.'s as they call them, happen at campuses around the country but for juniors and seniors. 

"This will provide students at the start of their college experience with a small supportive group of peers," Volin said. "Really an environment that promotes creativity, collegiality as well, and a new way of thinking outside the box. So, students will be able to engage in discovery and knowledge creation and really authentic professional practices starting in that students first year."

Volin said the program is designed to let students become engaged on campus in research and creativity to become producers of knowledge and not just consumers.

A press release sent by the University of Maine System said the tuition-free student success and retention pilot is part of the Harold Alfond Foundation-backed UMS TRANSFORMS Initiative.