Campus round-up - 19 December 2013

December 19, 2013

We tree kings…

We used our Twitter account (@timeshighered) to ask for your #ChristmasCampus photographs, and you replied in your hundreds. The pictures included (left to right from top left): Times Higher Education’s editor at large @phil_baty’s image of the decorations at the California Institute of Technology; a snap of Christ Church College, Oxford’s impressive tree taken by college chaplain Ralph Williamson; the words “Merry Xmas”, spelled out in condoms, courtesy of Sheffield University Student Advice Centre (@sheffieldSAC); a festive rocket from the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Leicester (@Physics&AstronomyUoL and @KeeleUniversity’s festive take on chemistry. The University of Reading library (@UniRdg_Study) turned the idea of a Christmas tree on its head; sabbatical officers at King’s College London Students Union (@kclsu) were getting into the Christmas spirit; and in Canada, Cape Breton University (@cbuniversity) demonstrated an innovative seasonal use for books.

Keele University
Counsel on demand

A free virtual student advice service that was launched by a university has been made available to the whole higher education sector. The Student Advisory Model, or SAM, launched by Keele University, features an avatar who can provide advice around the clock on topics including finance and money management and living away from home. It was originally developed by Keele’s School of Pharmacy to support teaching and learning, before its features were further enhanced after Keele teamed up with Staffordshire University and Amosshe, the Student Services Organisation. Simone Clarke, director of planning and academic administration at Keele, said the system would allow more traditional student services the chance to focus on “more complex personal enquiries from students”.

University of Salford
Better life in mind

A new research institute will be dedicated to improving the lives of people with dementia. The UK’s ageing population and the growing number of people with dementia have prompted the creation of the Salford Institute for Dementia to channel the University of Salford’s expertise. The institute will bring together academics from across the university to investigate how the disciplines of health and social care, the built environment, product design, virtual reality, robotics, the media and the arts can work together to improve the dignity, independence and quality of life of people with dementia.

University of Birmingham
Raring to go

A collaboration between Rolls-Royce and a university to establish a High Temperature Research Centre has made progress. It has been confirmed that the centre, bringing together the University of Birmingham and the engineering firm, will be built at Ansty Business Park, Coventry. The centre is funded through a £40 million investment by Rolls-Royce and a £20 million government grant through the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. Construction is due to start in the spring. David Eastwood, Birmingham’s vice-chancellor, said the centre would “not only greatly enrich the university’s outstanding research in this sector, but also bring enormous benefits to manufacturers in the region”.

University for the Creative Arts
Nurturing creativity

The Farnham campus of the University for the Creative Arts has officially opened its refurbished library. The Elaine Thomas Library was unveiled last week in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Elaine Thomas, UCA’s founding vice-chancellor and benefactor to the institution. Offering an extension of the studio environment, the library has been designed to meet the specialist requirements of creative students. Instead of the usual rows of book stacks, the library’s upper two floors are arranged as a series of differently sized book-lined rooms. This is intended to maximise the building’s sense of light and openness, to use space more efficiently and to create places for a variety of types of study.

University of Aberdeen
Old interests flourish

Students at a Scottish university have formed what is believed to be Europe’s first undergraduate medical society devoted to geriatric medicine. Launched at the University of Aberdeen last week, the Geriatric Medicine Student Society aims to raise awareness of the need for improved standards of care for older people; to promote research about the efficacy of services and treatments; and to encourage more students to consider geriatric medicine as a career. Founded by third-year medic Rebecca Irwin, who has worked in a care home and would “love to see people’s perception change with regard to care of the elderly”, it has already attracted 120 students to its ranks and is planning a series of educational seminars and a befriending scheme.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Harmonious submissions

Major new international awards for poetry and glasswork will form part of the celebrations for next year’s centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, which has a creative writing course at its Lampeter campus, has invited poets to submit a single, previously unpublished poem in English on “harmony”, from which a panel will select the winner of a £2,000 prize. Since UWTSD’s Swansea School of Glass is equally pre-eminent in its field, the institution is also asking glass artists to submit designs for a decorative or stained glass panel on the same theme. The winner will receive a £1,000 prize and, together with the poetry winner, will be commissioned by the university to produce a combined work in tribute to Dylan Thomas.

Bath/Bristol/Exeter/Oxford/Queen Mary/West of England
You’re virtually there

Researchers from a group of UK universities are to take part in a major project looking at how cutting-edge robotics can enable people to use public spaces as a place to meet and share ideas without being there in person. The £2 million, three-year project, Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces, is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It brings together academics from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Oxford, West of England and Queen Mary University of London to investigate the social and technological aspects of being able to appear in public in proxy forms, via a range of advanced robotics platforms. The research team will create a “living laboratory”, using state-of-the-art technologies to measure how people respond to and interact with other people who are acting through a robot representative.

Anglia Ruskin University
Does anything ever change?

When an academic’s book is reissued by a publisher it is usually a cause for celebration. However, for Victor Anderson, visiting professor at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, the reissue of his Alternative Economic Indicators is “depressing news”. “The continued relevance of the book is an indication of what a short distance the world has come on the topics I wrote about,” Professor Anderson said of his work, which focuses on how the success or failure of economies is measured by economists and governments. It was first published by Routledge 22 years ago.

Cranfield University
Have funds, can study

A university has launched a loan scheme designed to encourage more students to undertake postgraduate study. The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme, from Cranfield University, will fund up to 200 student places over a two-year pilot period and could support more than 1,000 students over the next 10 years. The scheme, funded by the university and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will provide postgraduate loans at the same interest rate as undergraduate loans. Vice-chancellor Sir Peter Gregson said he hoped the scheme would allow postgraduate candidates “with potential, but without funding” to continue their studies.

University College London
Second base

An institution could build a second campus on London’s Olympic Park, it has confirmed. University College London said that it is examining options to create a higher education and cultural district on the East London site after ditching plans for a £1 billion campus elsewhere in Newham earlier this year. The university is consulting staff on the nature of activities that might be moved away from its Bloomsbury base to new buildings adjacent to the Stratford waterfront.

Queen Mary University of London
Speech boost

A PhD student will lead a project to teach refugees and migrants how to speak English. Anne Smith, from Queen Mary University of London’s School of English and Drama, will use an award of £1.1 million from the Department for Communities and Local Government to teach English using drama, improvisation and games. The funds to introduce Ms Smith’s Creative English method in 20 regional hubs are part of support worth £6 million to help integrate people into their local communities.

Middlesex University
The right mix for learning

Civil rights activist the Revd Jesse Jackson has congratulated a university on its multi-ethnic community. Speaking to more than 600 staff and students at Middlesex University’s Hendon campus on 4 December, the former US Democratic presidential hopeful said that a multicultural student populace had “profound” benefits. “Your education is the best that Britain has to offer because you’re learning to coexist,” said the Revd Jackson, who is visiting UK universities to discuss race relations and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

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