Campus round-up

July 25, 2013

Ill manors

Gang members suffer high levels of psychiatric illness that place a heavy burden on mental health services, a study suggests. Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London found that 86 per cent of the 108 self-declared street gang members they surveyed in Hackney and Glasgow have antisocial personality disorder, with a quarter screening positive for psychosis. About a third have attempted suicide and more than half suffer anxiety disorder, raising the possibility that gang membership may be linked to psychiatric problems. Violent thinking and fear of victimisation are also significantly higher in gang members than in other men aged 18 to 34 studied in the project.

University of Surrey

Space, the profitable frontier

The UK will soon host its first MBA programme catering to the space industry. Surrey Business School is working with the government-backed Satellite Applications Catapult to develop the programme. Students will gain a grounding in business theory and skills in their first year, with the opportunity in their second to study specialist options focused on business issues relevant to the space industry. Craig Underwood, deputy director of the Surrey Space Centre, said the initiative would enable engineers to gain the business skills they need to become space entrepreneurs, while giving business leaders the technical background to “fully exploit this key economic growth area”.

University of Kent

Pro-bono bonus

A fundraising campaign has helped one institution to bag the biggest single gift in its history. The £1 million donation to the University of Kent will help to build a new home for the Kent Law Clinic, which operates as a partnership involving students, academics, solicitors and barristers, providing pro bono services for people who need legal advice and representation but who cannot afford it. The £5 million building, scheduled to open in 2015, will help the clinic to expand and give students more hands-on experience. The gift from entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Wigoder, a Kent alumnus, will complement funds raised through a series of sponsored events.

University of Sheffield

No more ‘loan shark’ tales

Payday loan companies have been banned from advertising on a university campus in support of a private member’s bill put forward by a local MP. The University of Sheffield’s ban will mean payday lenders will not be allowed to promote their services to students at events run by the institution and its students’ union. The move supports the high-cost credit bill raised by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, which aims to boost regulation of payday lenders. Catherine McKeown, head of financial support at Sheffield, said: “We’re committed to ensuring our students don’t fall foul of payday loan companies. This type of borrowing is so easily accessible to young people.”

University of York

Talking about their generation

Undergraduates and postgraduates of all cultural and disciplinary backgrounds have published a book of stories inspired by tales from York’s older residents. The University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning and department of health sciences joined forces with York Housing Association to promote intergenerational understanding through the project. A copy of the book, Making Memories, is to be placed in a time capsule and buried inside the city’s Bar Wall for recovery in 2212. Dame Joan Bakewell says in the foreword: “These stories capture real poignancy and authenticity. They draw on real-life reminiscences to craft work that has its own integrity and spirit.”

Swansea University

Hacker, soldier, criminal, spy?

A report summarising a conference on cyberterrorism concludes that tools are available to tackle the problem but they may be limited in scope. Swansea University hosted experts from the UK, Europe, the US and Australia for the event in April, which has yielded A Multidisciplinary Conference on Cyberterrorism: Final Report. It argues that difficulties in combating the phenomenon include distinguishing between cyberterrorism, crime and warfare, and sensitivities over sharing data between countries.

University of Edinburgh

Free market environmentalism

Europe’s market for carbon emissions is as efficient as the London Stock Exchange and boosts the case for tackling climate change using market forces, researchers have claimed. Scholars from the University of Edinburgh Business School looked at the European Climate Exchange and found that carbon prices reflected available data. The exchange issues carbon permits to firms, which have to buy them from other companies if they exceed their limit. However, since the recession the carbon price has collapsed, ending the incentive for businesses to cut emissions, researchers warn.

University of Chester

Post-revolutionary postings

A new book published by a university press looks at the role of online journalism in post-revolutionary periods. In Shades of Expression: Online Political Journalism in the Post-Colour Revolution Nations, published by the University of Chester Press, Simon Gwyn Roberts looks at the role of digital reporting after the revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in the mid-2000s. Mr Roberts, senior lecturer in journalism at Chester, said that “while the role of evolving media technologies has been extensively analysed and critiqued in the context of the Arab world, their use in the more mature post-revolution environments of the former Soviet Union has been largely overlooked”.

University of Northampton

From inbox to inside turn

University administrators are usually more familiar with the complicated workings of their institution than the intricate footwork required of ballroom dancing. But Stephanie Boak, executive assistant to the chief operating officer at the University of Northampton, will be tripping the light fantastic in local dance extravaganza Strictly Northampton in November. The university-sponsored event will involve 16 Northampton personalities paired with professional dancers to compete for the winner’s trophy. “I’m really keen to get started, find out who my professional partner is and gauge how much patience they’ll have with an amateur like me,” Ms Boak said. The event will raise money for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

Edge Hill University

Play up and play in peace

An expert on child abuse in sport has been chosen to lead a European project to empower young people to act and protect themselves against sexual harassment. Mike Hartill, senior lecturer in sociology and sport at Edge Hill University, is spearheading the UK’s involvement in the two-year initiative. Young people will work with national sports networks to create youth-led campaigns aimed at shaping a safe sporting environment. Dr Hartill hopes that those involved with the project “will be able to reach out to their peers in a way that adults can’t”.

Cranfield University

Stinky work smells of roses

Research into the removal of synthetic chemicals from biogas has been recognised for excellence in engineering that benefits the environment. The Cranfield University PhD research project, which is looking at the most effective methods for removing chemicals from waste materials, received the Worshipful Company of Engineers Hawley Award. Doctoral student Caroline Hepburn was presented with a cheque for £5,000 at the Worshipful Company of Engineers’ annual awards dinner, held at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London earlier this month. She said it was an honour to receive the plaudit.

University for the Creative Arts

Boom time

Actor Brian Blessed visited a university campus to record his part in an animated film being produced in conjunction with the institution. The star came to the University for the Creative Arts to lend his booming voice to the computer-generated adaptation of Giles Paley-Phillips’ award-winning children’s book The Fearsome Beastie. Mr Blessed, who will play the Fearsome Beastie in the film, said: “I’m always on the lookout for original projects and as soon as I read the book and started thinking about Beastie, I knew that I had to be involved.” The Fearsome Beastie, which will be released next summer, is a co-production by the university and Slurpy Studios.

Soas, University of London

Reopen lifeline of credit

Barclays’ decision in May to close its money transfer services to Somalia will have a devastating impact on efforts to rebuild the country, according to a letter signed by more than 100 academics. The missive, written by Laura Hammond, senior lecturer in development studies at Soas, University of London and sent to the UK government, calls on ministers to intervene in the decision to close remittance accounts in Somalia because of concerns over money laundering. It follows a study by Dr Hammond estimating that Somali expatriates send home about £800 million a year via remittance accounts – almost 12 times the amount received by the East African state in direct foreign investment. About 40 per cent of Somalis rely on the payments to survive. Barclays was the last UK bank to offer such services, and in future transfers will be more likely to be made by underground means, said Dr Hammond.

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