Campus round-up

December 9, 2010

University of Northampton - Trash to cash

Proceeds from a university's new social enterprise are to be used to fund student scholarships. We Re PC, the company launched by the University of Northampton, will refurbish and sell on redundant PCs from the public sector. It is the second non-profit business to be set up by the university since the appointment of Simon Denny as its social enterprise champion. Professor Denny is also one of the directors of We Re PC, which is based at Northampton's Portfolio Innovation Centre.

University of York - Wading in

A university is to offer its expertise to help a local theme park improve its educational programmes. Staff from the University of York's environment department will help the Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo incorporate scientific theory and elements of the national curriculum into its learning programmes in conservation. The knowledge-transfer partnership will also see the further development of the university's Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning, which is based at Flamingo Land.

Nottingham Trent University - Just what the scientists ordered

A multimillion-pound cancer research centre has been officially opened. The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University has been built using a proportion of a £7.65 million donation made by the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation in 2008. The rest of the donation will fund research at the centre. Robert Rees, director of the centre, was delighted. "Ask any cancer research scientist and they'll struggle to explain just how much they'd give to have purpose-built laboratories like these," he said.

University of Hertfordshire - Cold embrace

Astrophysicists have discovered the first methane dwarf orbiting a dead star. David Pinfield, Research Councils UK academic Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Astrophysics Research, and Avril Day-Jones, research Fellow at the University of Chile, Santiago, have discovered a unique and exotic star system containing a very cool methane-rich dwarf star - also known as a T-dwarf - and a "dead" white dwarf stellar remnant in orbit around each other.

Liverpool Hope University - Keeping the faith

The Christian roots of a university have prompted it to mount a tour to encourage applicants from schools with a similar background. Staff from Liverpool Hope University, the only ecumenical university in Europe, have visited Cardiff and Gloucester to introduce the institution's Faith School Initiative. John McCarthy, director of marketing, recruitment and external relations at Liverpool Hope, said: "At a time of great change in higher education, we are seeking the opportunity to offer schools and families a real alternative to the large, anonymous inner-city universities."

Edge Hill University - Bucking the job trend

While most universities are looking to cut rather than create jobs, one institution is trumpeting its achievements in taking on more staff. Edge Hill University created about 200 extra jobs in 2009-10, including a 4 per cent rise in academic posts. John Cater, its vice-chancellor, said: "We anticipate this contribution increasing still further in the current academic year and into 2011-12, although it is difficult to predict beyond that date at present."

University of Brighton - Safe sex at work

More than 80 businesses throughout Europe have signed up to a safe-sex campaign launched by a university in partnership with the Terrence Higgins Trust. The Everywhere project, which is fighting the rise of HIV cases in European gay tourist destinations, is being co-led in the UK by the University of Brighton's International Health Development Research Centre. It sets out prevention standards and aims to convince"gay" businesses to become more socially responsible in the prevention of HIV. Businesses in the UK, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain have so far signed up.

Cardiff University - Pooling genetic resources

Experts in cancer genetics are working together at a dedicated research centre in Wales. Cardiff University's new Cancer Genetics Building, based at the University Hospital of Wales, will bring together researchers who have already identified genes linked to bowel cancer and Huntington's disease. New projects will include research into tuberous sclerosis complex, a condition that results in tumours in the brain, heart and kidneys and leads to epilepsy and autism.

University of Cambridge - Chipping away at the limits

A technique that could lead to microchips that support electrical-current densities five times greater than those allowed by existing technology has been developed by researchers. Scientists at the University of Cambridge's department of engineering use special arrangements of carbon atoms to carry an electric current through the microchips. Their research could pave the way for smaller chips for all electronic equipment.

Queen's University Belfast - Guess who?

Art lovers will have the chance to see if they can differentiate international artists from emerging local talent at Belfast's Naughton Gallery. The gallery, which belongs to Queen's University Belfast, is displaying artworks donated by more than 100 artists. Each is on sale for just £50, yet the exhibition will include works by Neil Shawcross, Colin Davidson and Jeffrey Morgan, as well as emerging artists and current art students.

University of Bath - Exit strategies

A free seminar will explore developments in the ways we dispose of our dead. Kate Woodthorpe, programme leader of the foundation degree in funeral services at the University of Bath, will address the underlying anatomical pathology in a presentation titled Working in a Hospital Mortuary at the event on 10 December. John Troyer, deputy director of Bath's Centre for Death and Society, will consider the recent popularity of "green burials", the concerns they have raised and the heat-capture technology employed at Bath's Haycombe Crematorium.

Middlesex University - Letters of note

The importance of dyslexia as a factor in the academic underachievement of Turkish-speaking pupils in the UK needs to be taken more seriously, an academic has argued. Ilhan Raman, senior lecturer in psychology at Middlesex University, called for educators to come together to address the issue. Since every letter in Turkish corresponds to a single sound, dyslexia is much rarer and pupils who do not have a problem in their own language may not realise what is holding them back in English. "The seminar was about bringing together theory and practice," said Dr Raman.

Glyndwr University - Come rain or shine

A solar-energy project led by a Welsh university is set to provide more than 50 jobs and provide affordable renewable energy. Researchers at Glyndwr University are to develop new photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that can collect solar energy despite Welsh weather conditions as part of a project co-funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund. It is estimated that PV solar cells will provide 20 per cent of Wales' electricity needs by 2050; the research will look at how to cut the technology's cost.

University of Bristol - Reef fish in hot water

An international team of scientists has shown that unseasonal warm temperatures caused by El Nino have a profound effect on the fish populations of coral reefs in the South Pacific. The research, published in the Global Change Biology journal, was carried out at the atoll of Rangiroa in French Polynesia over four years. Steve Simpson, a researcher at the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences who was involved in the study, said: "Our study shows that warmer waters may leave fish stocks on reefs in serious trouble, which will have far-reaching consequences."

University of Greenwich - Time is ripe for collaboration

A London-based university has forged a partnership with an institution in Pakistan. The University of Greenwich and Bahria University plan to develop joint undergraduate and postgraduate courses, exchange staff for research and curriculum development, and run student exchanges. Senior staff from the Pakistani university, which is based in Islamabad and Karachi, visited Greenwich recently.

Queen Mary, University of London - The horror begins

A Russian-cinema expert has discovered a collection of films documenting Nazi atrocities targeting Soviet Jews that have been hidden for more than 60 years in state archives. Jeremy Hicks, senior lecturer in Russian at Queen Mary, University of London's School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, found more than 100 hours of previously unreleased footage, originally recorded for Soviet newsreels, while researching a book. Dr Hicks argues that the images, dating back to 1941 when the Germans invaded the USSR, should be designated as the first cinematic representations of the Holocaust.

Silence speaks volumes

Students occupying the Fine Art Building at Newcastle University wore gags in protest at their lack of a "voice" in how the university is run. Among their demands was that students should be included in talks about forthcoming cuts and that 10 students be appointed to Newcastle's senate or council. The occupation was one of many across the country ahead of the parliamentary vote on tuition fees, due to take place on 9 December. There were also occupations at University College London and Edinburgh, Nottingham and Plymouth universities.

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