Campus round-up

May 16, 2013

Dan roaming

The British Judo Association has chosen a university to house its Centre of Excellence in England. An independent performance review of the association earlier this year recommended the establishment of the centre, and after a rigorous tender process, the University of Wolverhampton was picked as its location. Scheduled to open in September, the centre will be based at Wolverhampton’s Walsall campus and will focus on delivering a centralised training programme to athletes aged between 17 and 22. It is hoped that the centre will evolve into the sport’s main training facility in the UK.

University of Warwick

Young doctors without frontierst

A UK-Australia university alliance has taken “a further step towards creating seamless global research and teaching opportunities for its staff and students” with the launch of a joint PhD programme. The University of Warwick and Monash University partnership is offering funding of up to £500,000 or A$750,000 over the next three years for 30 students to study in a broad range of disciplines. Jacqueline Labbe, chair of Warwick Graduate School, said: “Students require an international education to compete in today’s challenging employment market…The launch of the Monash-Warwick joint PhD programme is a response to this changing environment and is aimed at the very best students worldwide.”

University of Bedfordshire

Solidarity brother

An academic’s film charting the story of one of the key figures in Poland’s Solidarity movement has premiered in London. The (un)Finished Portrait of Lech Wałęsa was produced by Agnieszka Piotrowska, senior lecturer in media arts at the University of Bedfordshire, and was screened for the first time at Birkbeck Cinema on 3 May. Mr Wałęsa co-founded Solidarity, the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc, in 1980. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as president of Poland between 1990 and 1995. “My new film revisits the heroes of Solidarity who brought about the changes in Poland and the whole of Eastern Europe over the past 30 years. It is a film about history and histories, memory and time,” Dr Piotrowska said.

University of Hertfordshire

Eat up kids, it’s bad for you

Foods being marketed to children in UK supermarkets are less healthy than those aimed at the general population, according to research. A University of Hertfordshire study - published in the journal Public Health Nutrition - says that although such findings might be expected when considering snacks, confectionery and soft drinks, more “healthy” foods marketed to children - such as yoghurts, cereal bars and ready meals - are also higher in fat, sugar and salt than the adult equivalents. Kirsten Rennie, senior research fellow in epidemiology at the university’s Centre for Lifespan and Chronic Illness Research, said the finding would “not help consumers’ confidence in choosing appropriate healthy foods for their children”.

Anglia Ruskin University

Spirit of grey enterprise

People’s desire to become self-employed increases as they get older, a research paper suggests. The study by a team from Anglia Ruskin University and Syracuse University in the US used data on 2,566 individuals from European countries and found that although conventional wisdom suggests that entrepreneurial activity is a “young person’s game”, it actually increases with age. This is because “entrepreneurial resources” such as disposable income and professional experience accumulate over time, the team suggests. The research is published in the Small Business Economics journal.

Queen Mary, University of London

Welcome to the reel world

A collection of historic natural history films will be screened at a university’s documentary festival. Highlights of the Screening Nature Film Festival, organised by Queen Mary, University of London, include the Lumière brothers’ 1895 film Baby’s Dinner, the 1908 “trick film” The Acrobatic Fly, footage of a Kazakhstani woman who lives with 70 abandoned dogs, and Nazi propaganda about pest control. The festival will take place at the Whitechapel Gallery and Queen Mary’s Mile End Road campus on 18 and 19 May.

Edge Hill/Durham

Examination of values

University researchers have won funding to explore the ways in which teachers communicate the value of GCSEs to students and what impact these messages have. Dave Putwain, reader in psychology at Edge Hill University, and Richard Remedios, a social psychologist at Durham University, secured a British Academy/Leverhulme small research grant of £10,000 to support their investigation of student motivation, learning and achievement. Dr Putwain said that teachers are “central to creating and maintaining a positive learning environment through the values they promote and their relationships with students. We want to know whether what they are saying is having a positive or negative impact.”

Kingston/Liverpool

Scientific sisterhood

Unsung heroines of British science are to be examined in a study. Historians and scientists from Kingston University, the University of Liverpool, the Royal Society and the Rothschild Archive London will focus on the hidden women of the scientific world who may not have received credit or recognition for their work. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the study will show how women have been involved in scientific societies since the 1830s, despite their continued low levels of representation today. “The hope is that by looking at women’s relationship with science in the past, we can pinpoint ways to encourage young women to participate more fully in the subject,” said project leader Susan Hawkins, senior lecturer in history at Kingston.

University College London

Failure of empathy

The brains of children with behavioural problems such as physical aggression respond differently to images of people in pain, research suggests. A team led by scientists at University College London used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the reactions of 37 such children and 18 of their peers without conduct problems. The former show reduced responses to others’ pain in regions of the brain known to play a role in empathy. “It is important to view these findings as an indicator of early vulnerability,” said Essi Viding, professor of developmental psychopathology at UCL, “rather than biological destiny. We know that children can be very responsive to interventions, and the challenge is to make those interventions even better.”

Cardiff University

In the name of jobs, go!

A university has launched an initiative to encourage more students to gain experience overseas. Cardiff University wants 17 per cent of its undergraduates to study, work or volunteer abroad by 2017. Colin Riordan, Cardiff’s vice-chancellor and chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit, said: “If you said to a student you can gain valuable life, language and employability skills and earn more when you graduate if you go abroad for as little as a month during your studies, then I am in no doubt that, given the current graduate employment market, few would…ignore this opportunity.”

University of Edinburgh

Flight paths of hawks and doves

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence have strikingly different views of the UK’s place in the world, according to research. The former emphasises the importance of European Union initiatives and the development of global institutions, while the latter is much more focused on the “special relationship” with the US, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh. The conclusions are based on a range of policy documents produced by the departments between 1998 and 2012.

Royal Holloway/Oxford

Defence of the online realm

Two new institutes are to show doctoral students how to repel online attacks. Almost 70 students will undertake PhDs over the next seven years at the Centres for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security at Royal Holloway, University of London and at the University of Oxford thanks to a £7.5 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Oxford centre will focus on emerging technology while the Royal Holloway centre will consider the threat to businesses and to the government.

Glyndwr University

Five-year engagement

A Welsh institution has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Lesotho to share best practice in areas including climate change, sport and equality. Allan Howells, Glyndwr University’s pro vice- chancellor for operations, confirmed the five-year agreement during a visit to the institution’s Wrexham campus on 3 May by Chief Thesele Maseribane, Lesotho’s minister of gender and youth, sports and recreation. The visit came after Glyndwr hosted the Lesotho Olympic team last summer. As part of the agreement, Glyndwr students will be able to use a high- altitude training centre located in the African country.

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