Campus round-up

April 14, 2011

University of Sheffield

Mexican wave reaches Yorkshire

A university has signed an agreement with Mexico's national science body to promote joint industrial research. The University of Sheffield's strategic partnership with Mexico's National Council on Science and Technology will facilitate a collaboration between Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, in which aerospace company Boeing is a partner, and the Centre for Engineering and Industrial Development in Mexico. Keith Burnett, Sheffield's vice-chancellor, said: "In addition to joint research, this agreement will lead to a flow of postgraduate students from both the UK and Mexico who will benefit from our close relationship."

University of Wolverhampton

Access goals met and bettered

A Midlands institution has bested its benchmarks for recruiting students from under-represented groups in low-participation neighbourhoods. The University of Wolverhampton says it is 8.5 percentage points above its benchmark, according to 2009-10 data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Vice-chancellor Caroline Gipps said the university was "pleased that our latest figures reflect our efforts to enhance access and success rates for people from a wide range of backgrounds".

University of Chester

Home win in sporting event

The impact of sports science on high-performance sport was among the subjects under discussion as the University of Chester's Faculty of Applied Sciences played host to the 2011 British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences student conference on 12-13 April. The university said that hosting the event, which showcased the research work of rising student stars, was "a huge coup" for the institution.

University of Exeter

A call to Bangalore

A research-led university has established a presence in Bangalore in India to build industry links and help Indian graduates find work when they return home from the UK. The University of Exeter, the first UK institution to establish such an operation in the city, will take part in a scheme run by an Indian company, Sannam S4, that helps universities gain a foothold in the country. Shaun Curtis, director of the university's internationalisation strategy unit, International Exeter, said Bangalore was a "hugely important city" in Exeter's quest to develop research links with institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; the National Institute of Advanced Studies; and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Newman University College

Leading the way to brighter days

New courses offered by a university college aim to equip employees with the skills to bring about improvements in their workplace. Newman University College, Birmingham, secured funding from the West Midlands Business Operations Business Leadership Project to provide a series of 30-hour, part-funded management and leadership courses for private-sector businesses across the region. Peter Lutzeier, the principal of Newman, said that by helping employees develop their management and leadership skills, businesses could accelerate the arrival of the economic upturn.

University of Nottingham

Cancer research hub announced

A new centre of excellence will pioneer research into the body's immune response during the early stages of cancer. The University of Nottingham's Centre of Excellence for Autoimmunity in Cancer will house a multi-disciplinary team spanning basic and clinical science. It will be led by John Robertson, professor of surgery at Nottingham, who has carried out groundbreaking work into the early detection and treatment of cancer. "The formation of this centre by the university is an endorsement of the science we have pursued over the past 15 years," Professor Robertson said.

University of Leicester

Twice the heart

A £12.6 million facility will double a university's capacity for heart research. The University of Leicester has unveiled plans for its new Cardiovascular Research Centre, a four-storey extension to the existing clinical sciences wing of the city's Glenfield Hospital. It will house new laboratories as well as a biobank, an informatics unit and a data unit. Leicester has committed £8 million to the project and has launched an appeal to raise the rest of the money. A groundbreaking ceremony was led last week by Leicester's vice-chancellor, Sir Robert Burgess. The facility is due to be completed by February 2012.

University of Surrey

Team Nigeria welcomed

A university sports park is to become a training venue for Nigerian athletes preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. An agreement with the University of Surrey will see athletes representing the African nation staying at the institution's £36 million sports park, which opened last year. The use of the sports park - which has a 50m pool, two floodlit artificial grass pitches and a state-of-the-art gym - is part of a wider agreement between the Nigerian Olympic Committee and public, private and voluntary sector organisations in Surrey for athletes to use facilities in the county.

Bangor University

Welsh-medium windfall

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, the new national institution for the development of Welsh-medium education, has awarded funding for nine new academic posts and five PhD scholarships next year. The awards, made to Bangor University, are worth £500,000, and will permit students to study subjects including chemistry, social policy, nursing and environmental studies in Welsh. New academic faculty will be recruited in time to begin lecturing in September, and the doctoral candidates will also carry out some Welsh-medium teaching.

Kingston University

Cryptic clues in church search

Students on courses in museum and gallery studies and forensic science have joined forces with volunteers to explore a local churchyard. The site of All Saints Church in Kingston, which is believed to have been used for the coronations of at least two Anglo-Saxon kings, is the subject of study by Kingston University students. A survey revealed the existence of three brick vault structures, which, according to Helen Wickstead, lecturer in archaeology at the university, usually indicate the presence of family crypts. "We are hoping to use the documentary evidence available - historical maps, church records and aerial photographs - to find out who was laid to rest there and when they date from," she said.

University College London

Enlightening discovery

A rare copy of a book written by renowned chemist Humphry Davy as a teenager has been discovered at a London university. Essays on Heat, Light and the Combinations of Light was published in 1799 when Sir Humphry was just 19. He would go on to invent the Davy lamp, credited with saving the lives of thousands of miners, and discovered the elements potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, boron and barium. The rare copy of the work was discovered in University College London's library collections.

University of East Anglia

Yare-round enjoyment

A public nature trail is to be created around a university campus thanks to a £9,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The trail will follow existing paths on the edge of the campus at the University of East Anglia and along the banks of the River Yare. Information boards will highlight the area's biodiversity, identify wildlife and show how the conservation of the site is managed. The funding comes from the Big Lottery Fund's Community Wildlife programme, and the initiative has been organised by UEA Volunteers, a group run by the university careers centre that encourages staff and students to donate their time.

Queen's University Belfast

Don't feed the Big C

Scientists have developed a new treatment for cancer that, rather than attacking tumours directly, prevents their growth by starving them of oxygen and nutrients. Researchers at the School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast have worked with the company Almac Discovery to develop a drug that disrupts the blood supply to cancerous tumours. They believe it could benefit patients who have not responded to other therapies. Clinical trials of the drug, which could prove particularly effective in treating breast and prostate cancers, are expected to start within the next year.

University of Gloucestershire

Carving out an educational niche

A plan to develop a professional foundation degree course for stonemasons working in English cathedrals is being backed by a company that specialises in church insurance. The University of Gloucestershire has teamed up with Ecclesiastical Insurance to support the development of the course, which grew out of a programme initiated by a partnership of eight Anglican cathedrals that still have on-site workshops. The aim is to standardise training for post-apprenticeship stonemasons in English cathedrals and to offer higher education accreditation for the standards achieved.

University of the Highlands and Islands

Regional mastery

Students in the remote north of Scotland will shortly have access to a range of new postgraduate degrees. The University of the Highlands and Islands is to launch six new courses for 2011-12, including an MLitt in the history of the region. An MSc in sustainable energy solutions and an MSc in developing low-carbon communities will both be taught online. The university's management school has also developed an online postgraduate certificate in enterprise and e-marketing tailored to the needs of small businesses.

Imperial College/King's College

Genetic tip-off on tippling

An international team of researchers has found that a gene previously linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may play a role in regulating how much people drink. Analysis of more than 47,000 volunteers indicates that people with a less-common version of the AUTS2 gene consume 5 per cent less alcohol, on average, than others. Tests with mice and fruit flies have found similar effects in those species. The findings may shed light on the use and abuse of alcohol in the wider population. The study was led by scientists at Imperial College London and King's College London.

Bravery begins at home

Cold War-era civilian volunteers charged with helping to protect the UK in the event of a third world war are being sought to take part in a new research project. Matthew Grant, senior lecturer in history at Teesside University, has been awarded funding by the British Academy to record first-person accounts of former members of the Civil Defence Service Volunteer Group, which included the Auxiliary Fire Service. The force was established in 1949 and disbanded in 1968.

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