Campus round-up

February 3, 2011

Liverpool Hope University

Miss Canada to Lady Madonna

A Canadian musician has become the first student to complete the long and winding road to graduation on Liverpool Hope University's master's degree in the Beatles. Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy, a former Miss Canada, was one of the first students to sign up for the MA in the Beatles, Popular Music and Society when it launched in March 2009. After becoming the first to graduate, she said: "The course was challenging, enjoyable and it provided a great insight into the impact the Beatles had and still have across all aspects of life."

University of East Anglia

Brokeback hatchback

How gay is your car? A series of free lectures at the University of East Anglia this month aims to find out, as well as addressing other issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. UEA launched the lectures this week as part of LGBT History Month. The series has been organised by UEA Staff Pride in association with the Norwich Pride collective, whose aim is to use music, debate, sport, history, arts and entertainment to raise awareness of LGBT issues and tackle discrimination.

Essex/Brunel/Durham

Wrong side of the track

A team of sociologists is to explore the darker side of the 2012 Olympics. Dick Hobbs, professor of sociology at the University of Essex, Gary Armstrong, reader in sport and education at Brunel University, and Richard Giulianotti, professor of applied social sciences at Durham University, are to study the policing of Olympic-related crime before, during and after the Games, as well as looking at the broader impact that it has on local communities. The team will assess crimes including drug dealing, violence and prostitution.

University of Strathclyde

Dressing for success

A new company has been created to commercialise a Scottish medical breakthrough. Scientists at the University of Strathclyde have developed a new technology to tackle bacteria, including superbugs such as MRSA. The technology enables the antibacterial properties of bacteriophages - naturally occurring viruses that are non-toxic to humans but can destroy bacteria - to be incorporated into new products. Initially the company, Fixed Phage Ltd, will focus on wound dressings but it hopes to develop products for use in medicine, food safety and sanitation.

Swansea University

Classics on campus

Parthian Books, which produces the Library of Wales series of English-language classics, has joined forces with a Welsh university. The publisher has moved its editorial office to Swansea University's main campus. It will provide English students an on-campus resource and the chance to gain an insight into the publishing industry. Lucy Llewellyn, publishing editor at Parthian, said the company would forge links with the university's English department and in particular the creative writing MA course, "allowing partners from both sides to benefit from an exchange of knowledge, resources and inspiration".

Newcastle University

Foreign legions

Three new undergraduate programmes have been launched for foreign students wishing to obtain a UK degree while studying at home in Southeast Asia. Newcastle University is offering courses in food and human nutrition, and mechanical design and manufacturing engineering at Nanyang Polytechnic, and a degree in chemical engineering at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, both based in Singapore. Ten academic posts have been created to teach the courses. Newcastle hopes the number of students taking its degree courses in Singapore will reach 600 within three years.

University of Manchester

Sticking points

Cures for many kinds of skin diseases and heart failure may be closer as a result of progress in understanding how skin cells bind together. David Garrod, a professor of developmental biology at the University of Manchester, found that skin's tough structure is due to the tendency of the "glue molecules" in tiny structures called desmosomes, sometimes likened to rivets, to bind only to similar molecules on other cells. He said that further research could lead to treatments for many skin diseases, as well as for a type of heart failure in young people that is caused by faulty desmosomes between heart muscle cells.

University of York

Win-win situation

Law students are to offer free legal advice to members of the public as part of their studies. The York Law School Clinic at the University of York will offer advice on a range of problems, such as claiming benefits, setting up businesses and difficulties at home, work or school. Student advisers will interview clients, investigate their problems and, after consulting with professional lawyers, deliver advice. Richard Grimes, the university's director of clinical programmes, said: "The clinic provides an opportunity for the students to gain experience and put theory into practice. At the same time it offers a free and professional service focusing on areas where people may find it difficult to find or afford other legal services."

University of Leeds

Not slip slidin' away

Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet as feared. Scientists had previously attributed some of the recent shrinking of the Greenland ice sheet to an acceleration in glaciers' flow towards the sea caused by the lubricating effect of increased meltwater. But researchers from the University of Leeds have discovered that glaciers actually move more slowly in warmer years. The findings could trigger revisions in predictions of future sea level, which could rise by 7m if the entire Greenland ice sheet melted.

University of Reading

Dramatic opening

An £11 million university building dedicated to the study of film, theatre and television is to be named after the late award-winning director Anthony Minghella. The Minghella Building, at the University of Reading, will house state-of-the-art facilities such as a cinema, editing suites, a sound studio and two fully equipped theatre spaces when it opens later this year. The director, whose films include The English Patient and The Talented Mr Ripley, was made an honorary graduate of Reading in 2006 and was patron of the Beckett International Foundation, which is based at the institution. He died in 2008.

College of Law

Practical aspect

A private provider specialising in law is entering the undergraduate degree market for the first time by launching a two-year LLB course. The College of Law, which has taught degree-awarding powers, will focus on teaching the "practical skills that are essential when entering the legal profession" including analysis, problem solving, drafting and research. Courses will start from September 2012 and will be run at the college's centres in Chester, Birmingham and London with plans to expand to its other locations in Bristol, Guildford, Manchester and York.

Bristol/West of England

Compare and contrast

A unique study is being launched to look at how the experiences of students from different backgrounds vary at two types of university in the same city. The Paired Peers project, backed by £280,000 in funding from the Leverhulme Trust, will follow 80 students through three years of undergraduate study at the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. Students at both institutions from working-class and middle-class backgrounds who are studying the same subjects will be asked about their experiences through questionnaires, interviews and diaries over the three-year period.

King's College London

Starting as they seem to go on

Children as young as three who are unruly are more likely to have health problems, financial difficulties and a criminal record in later life regardless of background and IQ. The finding comes from a team of scientists at King's College London, Duke University in the US and the University of Otago in New Zealand. The research, funded by the Medical Research Council, entailed analysis of data from two studies to investigate how self-control influences children's chances in life. The Dunedin Study followed 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32, and an MRC-funded study followed 500 non-identical British twins until the age of 12. Among their findings were that children with low self-control were more likely to have high blood pressure, weight problems and sexually transmitted infections. They were also more likely to be dependent on alcohol and illegal drugs and to have a criminal record.

Keele/Warwick

Lure of the flies

Using sex to lure the carriers of deadly parasites to their death has landed academics with a £2.5 million research grant from the Wellcome Trust. Gordon Hamilton, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology at Keele University, and Orin Courtenay, a reader in biological sciences at the University of Warwick, will undertake field trials of a "synthetic sex pheromone" to help reduce visceral leishmaniasis, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by sandflies that affects half a million people worldwide each year. Their "lure and kill" technique involves synthesising male sandfly pheromone to attract sandflies to insecticide-treated targets.

Timber haul

Illegal logging in Africa is to be tackled by a £1.5 million research project. The four-year study at the University of Wolverhampton, which has won European Commission funding, will focus on how forests are managed in West and Central Africa, including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. The countries are heavily forested and export substantial amounts of timber to Europe. All are negotiating with the European Commission over the banning of illegal timber imports into Europe. The project will develop forest governance at a local level, involving forestry technicians, rural development experts and community representatives. Philip Dearden, head of Wolverhampton's Centre for International Development and Training, said: "This project will strengthen African forest governance by promoting greater transparency and accountability within the forest sector."

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