Campus round-up

March 31, 2011

Staffordshire University

Maths cash bonus adds up

A university is introducing a teacher training course in secondary mathematics with a £9,000 bursary, reflecting the national shortage of teachers in the subject. The course, at Staffordshire University, is due to start in September and will initially have 10 places. It will add to existing PGCE courses in business and economics, communication technology and design technology. Last month the schools inspectorate Ofsted classified Staffordshire's teacher training courses as "outstanding", the university has reported.

University of East Anglia

Winning over hearts and minds

People with severe mental illness also often suffer from physical problems, a two-year study suggests. A team at the University of East Anglia screened almost 800 patients with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, finding that a disproportionate number also suffered from cardiovascular diseases. The study suggests that this is partly because of the failure of mental health nurses to manage the physical health of their patients, many of whom smoke and do little exercise. As part of the project, the research team also trained more than 200 mental health nurses to encourage patients' physical well-being.

London School of Economics

Condition is fair to middling

Doubling spending on the NHS has had a variable impact on health system performance, according to new research. Health Systems in Transition, a report by Sean Boyle of the London School of Economics, offers an overview of the health and social care system in England. Public expenditure on healthcare in the country more than doubled in 1997-2010, but Mr Boyle said that much of the increase was taken up by increased staff numbers, pay rises and increased costs. However, despite evidence that the NHS failed to achieve improvements in productivity, "there was substantial progress in some areas, particularly in improving access to elective care", he said.

University of York

Time to spread the species

The UK could become home to the Iberian lynx and the Spanish imperial eagle under radical proposals to save those species endangered by climate change. Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at the University of York, says in a paper in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution that spreading endangered species across wider geographical areas - known as "assisted colonisation" - could be the best way to minimise extinction rates as global warming progresses. This would contravene existing guidelines that only condone the re-introduction of species into areas where they have historically occurred.

University of Nottingham

Lady Chatterley's lump sum

Uncertainty over the future of a D.H. Lawrence visitor centre in Nottinghamshire could be resolved, thanks to a partnership with its local university. The D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, run by Broxtowe Borough Council in the writer's home town of Eastwood, has been in financial difficulties for several years. The University of Nottingham has offered more than £100,000 towards its running costs over the next two years in exchange for being allowed to use a dedicated room for outreach activities, summer schools, lectures, events and exhibitions. Council leaders welcomed the proposal, which will be voted on shortly.

University of Warwick

But is it regally legal?

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton could be the last royal nuptials without major legal complications, an academic has claimed. According to research published by the University of Warwick, the law on royal marriage could contravene the Human Rights Act on the basis of non-discrimination. Royal marriage law requires members of the Royal Family to have the Queen's permission to marry, and any future heir to the throne loses that status if they marry a Roman Catholic. Rebecca Probert, the professor of law who published the research, said: "The laws that regulate royal marriage are not fit for purpose in the 21st century."

University of Birmingham

The plasmids are on the run

Scientists have developed a test to track the global spread of a carrier of antibiotic resistance. Researchers in the School of Immunity and Infection at the University of Birmingham have found a way to identify the carrier, known as a plasmid, in various strains of E. coli bacteria. The team described antibiotic resistance as one of the great global medical challenges of the 21st century and said that the research allowed a better understanding of the spread of plasmids between bacteria from people and animals.

University of Salford

How to massage the message

A new course is to look at the impact of the modern media on the public. Students on the University of Salford's MSc in media psychology will study how people's behaviour is influenced by the new ways in which information is consumed. The course is aimed at media professionals, who will learn how to use psychological techniques to connect with the public through social media channels. A university spokesperson said: "Over recent years we have seen the rapid rise of the internet and social media networks. This leads us to ask what the impact of all this been on viewers and consumers of media, and also how marketers can ensure they are getting their message out to the right audience in an effective way."

The Open University

Reading between the lines

An open-access database that provides an insight into the habits and practices of British readers from 1450 to 1945 - including some famous authors - has been re-launched. The UK Reading Experience Database, run by The Open University, holds more than 30,000 entries, with information on well-known readers including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Robert Louis Stevenson. Although the project started in 1996, extra funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council has led to further collaboration with similar databases in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

University of Brighton

Max's hidden wonders

Artwork by the younger brother of sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill that was hidden in a cottage for 60 years is to go on public display for the first time. The University of Brighton is mounting a retrospective exhibition this summer of work by MacDonald Gill, known as Max, who was famous for his pictorial maps such as the "Wonderground" map of the London Underground system. A Brighton spokesman said that although Max Gill was overshadowed by his brother, admirers and relatives are hoping the exhibition will reignite interest in his legacy.

University of Cambridge

Expert cabbage-gelder required

Eccentric listings recorded in a baptism register by a 19th-century vicar have been rediscovered, including the description of the mother of an illegitimate child as a "whore and mantrap". The Reverend Peter Scrimshire Wood also used fanciful job descriptions such as "cut-throat of pigs", "publican and beggar-maker" and "cabbage-gelder" when recording information for the register in the Norfolk parish of Middleton. The colourful phrases were found by Peter Kitson, a historian at the University of Cambridge, who was part of a team undertaking the largest-ever survey of occupations in England and Wales from 1379 to 1911.

Newcastle University

Olympic teams to play away

The thrills of the London Olympics 2012 will be coming to the North East now that Newcastle University has been named as an official training venue. Newcastle's sports facilities will play host to an array of international football teams as they make the final preparations for their competitive matches at Newcastle United's home ground, St James's Park. It was announced in October that six football matches would be staged at the stadium during the Games.

University of Nottingham

1,000 miles in the saddle

A vice-chancellor is to mark the build-up to a £150 million fundraising campaign by attempting to cycle the length of Britain in under a fortnight. David Greenaway, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, will start the ride at John O'Groats on August and, accompanied by a team of colleagues, will aim to reach Land's End 13 days later. The sponsored bike ride will raise money for the university's Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care. Nottingham is launching its largest-ever fundraising campaign this autumn, which will have health and well-being as a theme.

London Metropolitan University

It's green up North London

A London university has been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard after cutting its carbon emissions by almost 12 per cent. London Metropolitan University achieved the reduction through measures such as insulating pipes, "voltage optimisation technology" and energy-efficient lighting. The university aims to cut emissions by a further 30 per cent by 2015.

Global vision

A university observatory has been put on a shortlist for designation as a Unesco world heritage site. The University of Manchester's world-famous Jodrell Bank observatory in Cheshire, home to the iconic Lovell radio telescope, is one of 11 UK sites submitted by the government to the UN organisation for possible designation in 2012. The observatory, set up after the Second World War to study meteor showers, is undergoing a £3 million facelift, including the construction of a new visitor centre.

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