Campus Round-Up

February 7, 2013

Source: Nature Picture Library

Don’t eat that, you don’t know what’s in it

African vultures tend to avoid national parks and prefer to scavenge on private farmland, a study of the birds’ feeding habits has concluded. Unfortunately, this makes it more likely that they will be poisoned by dead cattle administered with veterinary drugs. A team from Durham University and the University of Pretoria used GPS units to track six white-backed vultures and found that they steered clear of the rival carnivores more frequently found in the parks. The researchers suggest that the endangered species could be drawn away from farms by leaving out carrion for them to eat.

University of Warwick
Engine for education

A university manufacturing group will teach up to 600 Jaguar Land Rover employees to degree level. WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) will welcome the first batch of sponsored degree students this year, who will study either product development engineering or manufacturing engineering. From 2014, WMG will also support degree provision for Jaguar Land Rover’s higher apprenticeship programme. This means that there will be up to 600 staff from the company studying at the institution over the next three to four years. Lord Bhattacharyya of Moseley, WMG’s chairman, said the “highly innovative programme will use [our] teaching experience to empower a wide range of Jaguar Land Rover staff”.

Harper Adams University
Joint yield

A £36,000 award will fund a UK university’s collaborative research activities with China’s leading agricultural institution. The link between Harper Adams University and China Agricultural University has received funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chinese Ministry of Education under a new framework for educational cooperation between the two countries. Brian Revell, director of international policy at Harper Adams, said: “Both universities are researching precision-farming technologies and intend to create a joint research programme that will develop ground-based robots and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

University of Bedfordshire
Labour-intensive expectations

The government needs to increase the number of places on student midwifery programmes if the UK is to cope with a predicted baby boom, an expert has warned. Barbara Burden, Nursing and Midwifery Council lead midwife for education at the University of Bedfordshire, has urged ministers to act in light of the news that the UK is expecting its biggest birth-rate increase for four decades in the coming years. Unless measures are in place to train more candidates, expectant mothers will no longer be able to have one-to-one contact with midwives, Dr Burden warned. “There is no shortage of people wanting to become midwives - only lack of places,” she said: last year at Bedfordshire alone, 1,000 people applied for the 70 places available.

University of Hertfordshire
Trust exercise

The main provider of mental health and learning disability services across Hertfordshire has become only the third mental health organisation in the country to gain university trust status. Under the agreement signed by the University of Hertfordshire and the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the organisations will collaborate more closely to support the community through improved training and clinical practice. Quintin McKellar, the university’s vice-chancellor, said: “This important initiative will facilitate joint research as well as providing strategic alignment across the two organisations to ultimately improve the experience of the communities we serve.”

University of Sussex
Cash in the postgrad pocket

One institution is trying to tackle “the lack of a coherent support system” for talented postgraduates by offering fee waivers to the best students. Under the Sussex Graduate Scholarship scheme, University of Sussex undergraduates who receive first-class degrees and are offered full-time places on eligible master’s courses at the institution will receive £3,000 towards fees. Graduates with upper second-class degrees will receive £2,000, with an unlimited number of both awards on offer. The university is also launching the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship, which will waive £3,000 in fees for around 100 UK or European Union students achieving first-class degrees from other UK universities who are offered full-time places on eligible master’s courses at Sussex.

Cranfield University
Virtuous cycle

The first female motorcyclist to stand on the podium at the Manx Grand Prix is to offer students insights into the world of competitive motorsport. Cranfield University has announced that Maria Costello will join its Associate Drivers and Riders scheme, enabling her to benefit from the knowledge of the university’s academic team and postgraduate students on the institution’s motorsport engineering and management master’s programme. She will also visit Cranfield to talk to students about her career. “I feel very honoured to be the first motorcycle racer to become an associate rider for Cranfield,” Ms Costello said. “Having access to their facilities and receiving the backing of the university is immense and I’m looking forward to giving students an insight into motorcycle road racing.”

University of the West of England
In honour of Eleanor

A student team are planning to row 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic at the end of this year to raise public awareness of cervical cancer screening. Hannah Lawton, studying for an MSc at the University of the West of England, and Jessie Van Beck, a graduate from the same institution, are the only all-female team competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December. The duo will raise money for two charities, the Myton Hospice and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust; they were inspired by the courage of their friend, fellow student and rower Eleanor Rose Ellis, who died from cervical cancer last year. UWE is supporting the cause by paying for a specialist boat to be built as well as supporting the team’s fitness training and psychological preparations.

Bucks New University
Sound relationship

Audio manufacturer Sennheiser UK has formalised nine years of collaboration with a UK university in a deal under which it will provide equipment, internships and scholarships for students. Through the partnership with Bucks New University, launched on 29 January, the company will provide a range of equipment for the institution’s main recording studio, which will be renamed the Sennheiser Sound Lab, as well as providing a £3,000 scholarship for a second-year undergraduate on its audio and music production course. The company will also provide two six- month internships and an “industry insider” day, which the institution hopes will boost students’ employability.

University of Edinburgh
Ocean tyrant’s taste for blood

Scientists have identified a species of marine “super-predator”, distantly related to modern-day crocodiles, which existed in the seas around what is now Britain 165 million years ago. A team from the University of Edinburgh have named the animal Tyran-noneustes lythrodectikos, which means “blood- biting tyrant swimmer”. The beast, which had serrated teeth and a gaping jaw, fed on large prey, the scientists said. It was identified from a previously unclassified specimen discovered in the early 1900s in a clay pit near Peterborough by an amateur palaeontologist.

Bangor University
Ah, this may have backfired

Clearing land to grow biofuel could add to the effects of climate change by releasing ancient carbon deposits into the atmosphere, researchers have discovered. A team from Bangor University analysed the deforestation of peat swamps in Malaysia - carried out to make way for oil palm trees - and found that carbon locked away in the soil was being broken down by the deforestation and dissolving in nearby water courses. Chris Freeman, a professor at Bangor’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “We risk adding to the very problem that we are trying to solve.”

Goldsmiths, University of London
Help to judge death from above

Academics are to assist a United Nations investigation into the impact of drone bombers on civilians. Experts in forensic architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London will work with Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, on the inquiry, which will focus on US drone strikes in Pakistan. It aims to find a consensus on the legality of using unmanned aerial vehicles and the standards and safeguards that should apply to the practice. Using spatial analysis of bombing raids, the Goldsmiths team will examine possible human rights violations in remote areas, where access to eyewitness reports, local maps, images and video is severely limited.

Queen Mary, University of London
Ball in Austen’s court

A historian is helping to stage a Regency ball to mark the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice’s publication. Amanda Vickery, professor of early modern history at Queen Mary, University of London, will co-present BBC Two programme Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball, which will recreate the famous Netherfield Ball described in Jane Austen’s 1813 novel - a turning point in the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Filmed at Chawton House in Hampshire, the 90-minute special, to be broadcast this Easter, will show preparations for the ball and interview experts on the era’s music, dance and fashion.

Birkbeck, University of London
Facilitating Far Eastern promise

A scholarship scheme has been launched for postgraduates from three Asian countries. Birkbeck, University of London is offering the awards, worth £2,000 each, to high-achieving students from India, Thailand and Vietnam who are accepted on to one-year taught master’s degrees at the institution starting in September.

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