Campus round-up

October 20, 2011

University of Southampton

Foreign body training

Medical students will be able to complete a major part of their training in continental Europe as the result of a partnership between a UK university and a healthcare provider in Germany. The exchange scheme between the University of Southampton and Gesundheit Nordhessen Holding, based in Kassel, will allow trainee doctors in the final years of their medical degree to gain practical experience in a German hospital. Students beginning their medical degrees in October 2013 will be the first to benefit from the new exchange programme. The launch comes as the university celebrates the 40th anniversary of its medical school.

University for the Creative Arts

Well swum, swan!

The little-known inland waterways of south-east England have been the location for a documentary film made by a university professor. Swandown charts the month-long voyage in a swan-shaped boat of Andrew Kotting, professor of time-based media at the University for the Creative Arts at Maidstone. He has pedalled from Hastings, along canals and rivers, to the River Thames and the site of the London Olympics in the east of the capital. Professor Kötting, who is also directing the film, has been pedalling for up to 15 hours a day since 17 September. He completed the 200-mile journey on 14 October.

Arts University College at Bournemouth

Canvassing interest

An urban artist was commissioned by a university to create a "live" billboard advert designed to encourage prospective students to attend the institution's open days. Soap, whose real name is Adam Klodzinski, used a 20 x 8 foot poster site to create the advertisement for the Arts University College at Bournemouth, which he spray-painted over four days at the beginning of October. The artist, who has created work for pop stars such as Rihanna and Dizzee Rascal, began painting 15 years ago in Poland before moving to the UK where he has gained recognition in the legitimate urban art world.

University of Leeds

The greening of petrol heads

A £13 million project has been launched that aims to cut fuel consumption by as much as 20 per cent. The four-year European-funded project, led by the University of Leeds, will involve researchers and vehicle manufacturers from across the continent working to develop technologies to encourage people to drive in more fuel-efficient ways. Oliver Carsten, from Leeds' Institute for Transport Studies, said: "We want to ensure that drivers understand what they need to do to save fuel."

University of Nottingham

Initiating talkies

A university is spearheading a drive to turn its city into an "ideas incubator" for the film industry. The University of Nottingham initiative hopes to build on its existing research and production capacity to turn the city into a centre for "innovation generation" in areas ranging from working practices to new technology in film. Gianluca Sergi, director of Nottingham's Institute for Screen Industries Research, said: "Currently, there is little dialogue between the screen industries and academia to develop innovation. This initiative will offer film-makers and studios the chance to collaborate within a neutral space to fill that void."

Newcastle University

Small is beautiful

A new X-ray facility that will help in the development of nanotechnology is to be housed at Newcastle University. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has designated it as the UK provider of the National X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) service. XPS can uncover the physical, chemical and electrical properties of surfaces at an atomic level. It can be used to develop micro-components for thin-film solar cells, fuel cells, mobile phones and other technology.

University of York

Sharp practice

The use of acupuncture and the Alexander technique to alleviate chronic neck pain is the subject of a study. The £700,000, three-year trial at the University of York, funded by the charity Arthritis Research UK, will compare the clinical merits and cost-effectiveness of the alternative techniques with conventional treatments. Lead researcher Hugh MacPherson, a senior research Fellow in York's department of health sciences, said: "If the evidence from the new trial justifies it, then both interventions should be offered routinely as referral options to patients within the NHS."

Bangor University

Marine particle physics

The way in which mud and sand banks are moved around Britain's coastline by tides, and how they might respond to climate change, are to be investigated. Jaco H. Baas, a lecturer at Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences and principal investigator on the project, said that these formations "protect the coastline from the erosive forces of the sea". He added: "Because of the importance of these systems, their natural behaviour and stability is of increasing concern as sea levels rise with climate change."

University of Strathclyde

Breathing space

Delivering lung cancer drugs in a vaporised form could be more effective and produce fewer side effects than the intravenous method, researchers have found. Senior lecturer Chris Carter, one of the research partners at the University of Strathclyde, said: "By delivering cisplatin, one of the most widely used drugs for lung cancer, in a vaporised form, we would be able to get it to the cancerous cells and avoid the damage to healthy cells that can be hugely debilitating to patients. It would make the treatment far less onerous and we hope it would help them to live longer."

Aston University

Inside knowledge

A brain scanner specifically for children - one of only three in the world - forms part of pioneering research facilities in Birmingham. The newly opened Aston Brain Centre (ABC) brings together a suite of equipment and facilities for related areas of brain research, from child development to healthy ageing. The ABC will also provide a referral service for the NHS. Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University, said: "For research to be at its most productive, it must be rooted in patient-based experience and knowledge."

University of Worcester

Jumping in early

One of only eight national contracts to train early years professionals in England has been given to a university. The contract for the West Midlands and South West regions, awarded by the Children's Workforce Development Council to the University of Worcester, will focus on training hundreds of early years practitioners to help young children and their families in areas of social, economic or educational disadvantage. David Green, vice-chancellor of the University of Worcester, said: "High-quality education and care for young children is the essential foundation for successful future human development."

University of East Anglia

It don't mean a thing...

A new jazz orchestra will pay tribute to an American composer, pianist and big band leader. The Duke Ellington Orchestra, at the University of East Anglia, will be dedicated to recreating his pieces from recordings and transcriptions. While other such orchestras exist in the US, it is hoped that the new ensemble will develop Ellington's original works by building on his methods of collective improvisation.

Anglia Ruskin University


Forensic scientists have discovered a novel tool that could be used to help catch arsonists - cat litter. The research, carried out by academics at Anglia Ruskin University, has shown that cat litter is the best material to detect traces of petrol on hard surfaces such as concrete, which could prove invaluable to crime scene investigators across the country. Most brands of cat litter contain the mineral sodium bentonite, which is a clay formed from volcanic ash. The clay is full of microscopic tunnels with a network of capillaries that retain the petrol on the surface without reacting.

Edge Hill University

Don't be afraid

An Egyptian director whose film foreshadowed the Arab Spring urged students "not to be afraid to say what they felt" if they wanted to change opinions. Khaled El Hagar visited Edge Hill University to deliver a masterclass in film-making to media students and discussed his most recent film El Shoq (Lust). Roger Shannon, of the university's department of media, said that "many critics now feel that his angry film predicted the events ... we now know as the Arab Spring". He added that Mr El Hagar had given an informed insight into the relationship between cinema and contemporary politics.

Sound vision

Somerset House in central London was the setting for students from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance to perform at the launch of The Culture Capital Exchange. The exchange is a new membership network to connect universities with the creative industries. Students from University of the Arts London created a textile installation around the performance. Trinity Laban and University of the Arts London are two of the 11 founding member higher education institutions in TCCE. The organisation's website states: "New demands are being made all the time on higher education, which means that right now such collaborations have never been more vital for the success of both universities and their academics. Similarly, for the cultural and creative industries at a time when partnership working is increasingly making up for squeezes in other forms of income, such a network brings enormous benefits."

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