Campus round-up

July 14, 2011

University of Brighton

Building for biosciences

A new £23 million biosciences building that will house teaching and research laboratories has been opened by the science broadcaster Lord Robert Winston. The Huxley Building has a 300-seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms and laboratories for the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Brighton. Opening the facility, Lord Winston, emeritus professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, praised Brighton's work in engaging with the local community and said scientists had a duty to explain their work to the taxpayers who funded research.

University of Plymouth

Maritime migration

A memorandum of understanding has been signed that will see a university specialising in marine and maritime courses export its expertise to the United Arab Emirates. The University of Plymouth will work with the Higher Colleges of Technology in the Gulf state to build and offer new programmes in the fields of maritime sciences and engineering. The two institutions will specifically collaborate on launching a degree in applied maritime studies, and they also plan to work on developing research in the field.

Southampton Solent University

Graduate employment pledge

A campaign to create £10 million worth of graduate jobs in a region has seen the equivalent of more than 1,000 individual posts being pledged by local businesses. The six-week campaign by Southampton Solent University, which challenged business in the area to offer both permanent positions and internships, resulted in pledges of paid employment totalling £11.6 million. A symposium was held at the university to thank local businesses for their support, and to hear industry leaders' views on the future development of the city's economy.

Sheffield/Cambridge

Solar, so good

Cheap, light and easily transportable solar panels could be on the horizon after scientists demonstrated that expensive manufacturing techniques using silicon are not necessary to create efficient solar cells. Researchers from the universities of Sheffield and Cambridge used the Isis neutron source and Diamond Light Source facilities to show that even when using simple manufacturing methods, efficient solar cell structures can be made. Andrew Parnell, a researcher at Sheffield, said: "High-volume printing could be used to produce films of solar cells that are over a thousand times thinner than the width of a human hair."

De Montfort University

Good neighbours

Staff and students will be involved in a year-long initiative to deliver community projects in a university's local neighbourhood. De Montfort University's Square Mile project will see the university teaming up with Leicester City Council to survey and address the needs of around 7,000 people living in its immediate vicinity. The project's instigator, De Montfort vice-chancellor Dominic Shellard, hopes it will help to demonstrate the value of universities to local communities.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Campus blueprint approved

A university's blueprint for a £110 million new campus has received planning permission. Manchester City Council has approved Manchester Metropolitan University's plans for the new campus in the Hulme area of the city, which will accommodate 6,000 healthcare and teaching students. The plans include both academic and residential buildings, with the latter being built in phases in response to student demand. The campus will also incorporate a sports hall, drama studios and other facilities that will be open to locals.

East Anglia/Iceland

Waiting for godwits

A study of Icelandic black-tailed godwits, a species of large wading birds, has shown that the largest males are most likely to disperse to previously unoccupied sites. The research by the University of East Anglia and University of Iceland also suggests that female godwits are more likely to breed with the smaller males, which tend to live in long-inhabited areas. The research was carried out to investigate the impact on animal species of global warming and environmental change.

St George's/Glasgow

Health risk from high-dose statin

A study has shown that a statin recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence does not protect against coronary problems as effectively as an alternative statin when patients are taking a high dosage. Looking at five statin trials published between 2004 and 2010, the researchers at St George's, University of London and the University of Glasgow also concluded that people taking higher doses of statins were 12 per cent more likely to develop diabetes than those taking moderate doses. Despite this, they urged users of the medication not to change their dosage, as the benefits of these statins outweigh the risk.

Anglia Ruskin University

New degree means business

A new foundation degree in professional practice in international trade has been launched in collaboration with the Institute of Export. The qualification, offered by Anglia Ruskin University, will bring together current industry knowledge, academic theory and skills, with the ultimate aim of improving the competence of British businesses on the international stage. It will be delivered through online tutorials and work-related assignments.

University of Bedfordshire

The Kelly gang

Almost 100 young people aged 13 to 18 were given an opportunity to train with elite athletes, including double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes. The event, held by the University of Bedfordshire, saw Dame Kelly Holmes' charity, the DKH Legacy Trust, delivering a day of workshops, which included circuit training, dealing with the media and mental skills training. The aim was to inspire young people to fulfil their potential. Dame Kelly said the charity was grateful for Bedfordshire's support.

Stirling/Edinburgh

Offering a lifeline

A book that aims to help reduce the one million suicides that occur every year across the world has been compiled by Scottish academics. The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice, co-edited by Rory O'Connor, from the University of Stirling, and Stephen Platt, from the University of Edinburgh, draws on cutting-edge research and input from 80 experts in the field on why people kill themselves and how they can be stopped. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide and Scotland has the highest suicide rate of the countries in the UK.

Swansea Metropolitan/Wales Trinity Saint David

Teachers' union

Two Welsh institutions have joined forces to launch the new South West Wales Centre of Teacher Education. Swansea Metropolitan University and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will jointly run the centre. Students will take the BA Ed primary programme from Trinity Saint David, and PGCE primary and secondary programmes from Swansea Metropolitan. In late 2010, the two universities agreed in principle to merge with the University of Wales.

Coventry University

Chinese research partnership

The West Midlands' relationship with China has been boosted by a deal between a university and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. Coventry University is now the primary academic partner of the corporation in the UK, and the two organisations have agreed to work together on advanced engineering research and development projects. In particular, projects will focus on technology development and professional training, taking advantage of the university's engineering and managerial expertise.

Aston University

Waste not, want not

The building of a power station fuelled by waste products in a remote northern Indian village is being overseen by engineers from a UK university. Business and engineering academics from Aston University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, are working on the plant, which will allow regional farmers and their families to access a cheap, renewable and reliable energy source that, in turn, can help remote villages to generate an income and escape from a cycle of "fuel poverty". The research team wants to use this pioneering project to create a blueprint for renewably powered boilers, capable of being replicated throughout India.

Birmingham City University

Energy efficiency begins at home

A building performance expert has said that almost any home could have its carbon footprint reduced to zero - and progress should start immediately if the country is to meet tough government targets. Lubo Jankovic, senior lecturer in Birmingham City University's School of Architecture and Centre for Low Carbon Research, revealed findings from his research on a model zero-carbon home at a research conference held at the university. Dr Jankovic said the challenge would be to make 95 per cent of existing housing stock eco-compliant for 2025 targets. His team has been working on the Birmingham Zero Carbon House, a carbon-neutral building constructed around a Victorian house.

A sporting chance

Is cheerleading a sport? That is the question posed by an international survey being conducted by academics at Staffordshire University. The institution's Centre for International Sports Law will also explore the issue of what exactly constitutes a sport. Its online survey, launched this month, has been backed by cheerleading associations in the US and UK. Kris Lines, the centre's co-director, said: "It is important to get international opinion on the subject of cheerleading becoming a sport. This has been a particular issue in the US, where there are more than 1.5 million cheerleaders." He added that official recognition as a sport could lead to improved funding, tax exemptions and better safety standards.

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