Campus round-up

October 27, 2011

University of Reading

Rough guide to rough trades

Those who want to learn more about the work of City traders are being offered a three-day introductory course on the subject by a university business school. The University of Reading's ICMA Centre - part of Henley Business School - is launching an introduction to trading certificate, giving participants the chance to use facilities such as a simulated dealing room to gain insights into the industry. Mike Smith, dealing room director at the centre, said the course - open to professionals, investors or anyone with an interest in how trading operates - would give people a chance to view the inner workings of a field that has dominated the headlines.

University of the West of England

I feel pretty and witty and green

A vice-chancellor donned a pinny and joined members of a theatre company dressed as 1950s housewives to promote litter recycling at his institution. Steve West, who leads the University of the West of England, got involved after the institution's sustainability team enlisted the help of the Natural Theatre Company to highlight its campaign, which encourages students and staff to dispose of rubbish correctly. The event was part of Sustainability Week at the university, which last year won a Green Gown Award for its work to improve its environmental performance.

University of Southampton

Hip, hip hooray

A partnership that has developed novel hip-replacement implants has won an award for its success in the knowledge-transfer field. The project, which involved the Bioengineering Research Group at the University of Southampton and private company Finsbury Orthopaedics, was selected as the Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership for the South East region by the Technology Strategy Board at the Innovate '11 conference in London earlier this month. The design produced by the collaboration consists of a large-bearing ceramic hip-replacement implant intended for young patients to help prevent dislocation and offer greater compatibility with living tissue.

University of Glasgow

In honour of such generous gifts

A university that benefits from one of the largest body donation programmes in the UK has held a formal service of remembrance for those who have contributed to it. The donation of bodies to the University of Glasgow allows it to offer an expanding range of medical courses and clinical training, as well as to carry out basic and applied research. The service of remembrance was held for the 87 people who have left their bodies to the School of Life Sciences over the past year. It is hoped that the service will become an annual event, allowing staff and students to pay public tribute to the generosity of donors, and enabling relatives to learn of the importance of anatomical donations.

University of Glamorgan

Mining for Methuselah

A Welsh university that is due to celebrate its centenary in 2013 is attempting to find its oldest surviving alumni to invite them to join the festivities. Now home to 24,000 students, the University of Glamorgan started on a rather smaller scale in 1913 as the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines. In its first year, around 40 students, mostly funded by local employers, signed up for courses. Twelve of them were later killed in the First World War. "I would urge anyone who has studied here, and thinks that they may have a chance of being our oldest former student, to get in touch," said vice-chancellor Julie Lydon. "We would love to hear from you."

Northumbria University

Fooled gold, silver or bronze

Deceiving the brain can lead to an improvement of up to 5 per cent in sporting performance, according to research from Northumbria University. Trained cyclists raced an avatar on a computer screen, which they believed was moving at their personal best speed but was actually going 1 per cent faster. Remarkably, they proved able to match their virtual opponent and put in better performances than ever before. Kevin Thompson, head of sport and exercise sciences at Northumbria, said the findings "demonstrate a metabolic reserve exists which, if it can be accessed, can release a performance improvement of between 2 and 5 per cent". In elite-level sport, even an increase of 1 per cent in average speed can make the difference between being placed in a race or not, he added.

De Montfort University

HP sources

A university has established a strategic partnership with technology company Hewlett-Packard to design and deliver new courses. De Montfort University will also collaborate with the company on research in areas such as cloud computing and information security. The centrepiece of the collaboration is a four-year BSc in business informatics that will see executives and engineers from Hewlett-Packard delivering lectures and mentoring students, many of whom will also undertake internships with the company. Dominic Shellard, De Montfort's vice-chancellor, described the collaboration as "a distinctive new venture that sets the standard for higher education and industry working together".

University of Hull

World's finest, this way

More than 100 academic posts are up for grabs in a £15 million recruitment drive. The University of Hull aims to improve its national and international reputation and strengthen its research and student experience by recruiting "the world's finest". Over the next 12 months it will fill more than 100 new posts, including 24 professorships, 21 senior lectureships and 45 lectureships. Andrew Snowden, Hull's interim human resources director, said: "At a time when other organisations are cutting costs, we are in the fortunate position of being able to recruit a substantial number of professionals."

University of Nottingham

Transformative sum

A university has launched a £150 million fundraising campaign. The University of Nottingham hopes to raise the sum in the next five years in order to "transform research, enrich the student experience and enable the institution to make an even greater contribution to the global communities it serves". Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, which also aims to fund bursaries at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, will be chaired by Daily Telegraph editor-at-large Jeff Randall and businessman and philanthropist David Ross, both of whom are Nottingham alumni. The university has already raised about £50 million.

Imperial College London

Whatever your inclination

The clock tower housing Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament has developed a distinctive lean, an academic has warned. John Burland, emeritus professor at Imperial College London's department of civil and environmental engineering, said the tilting was caused by natural subsidence and had accelerated since the building of the nearby Jubilee Line extension. Professor Burland, who helped to stabilise the Leaning Tower of Pisa, said: "I have heard tourists there taking photographs saying: 'I don't think it is quite vertical' - and they are quite right." He added: "If it started greater acceleration, we would have to look at doing something, but I don't think we need to do anything for a few years yet."

Royal Holloway, University of London

Space invaders: the soundtrack

Listening to music on headphones reduces an individual's need for personal space, research has found. Psychologists at Royal Holloway, University of London asked volunteers to listen to "feel-good" music while a stranger approached them. When plugged into MP3 players, people allowed strangers to get much closer to them before they felt uncomfortable. Manos Tsakiris, the academic who led the study with Ana Tajadura-Jimenez, said research could help people cope with enclosed spaces. "So next time you are ready to board a packed train, turn on your MP3 player and let others come close to you without fear of feeling invaded," he said.

Keele University

Sustainable reaction

A £4 million facility aims to be a catalyst for environmental responsibility among students and the local community. The Keele Hub for Sustainability opened at Keele University last week, offering meeting facilities, a lecture theatre, exhibition space, study areas and a fair trade coffee lounge. It is already home to four projects at the university, including a group of students who are working towards making their accommodation sustainable, a series of lectures targeted at older people and the development of a "green" children's centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Edge Hill University

Who are you? We're listening

"Learner identities" and what individual lives tell us about improving education are the focus of a series of seminars and symposia. The Centre for Learner Identity Studies at Edge Hill University has put together a programme of events to encourage professionals in the field to share research and practice, and explore the impact of learners' educational experiences, processes and outcomes. Arthur Chapman, reader in education, said: "Our core mission is to understand learners better and to focus upon individual lives because this helps us to listen to what they can tell us about improving education."

Mountainous data

An expedition to Mount Everest could aid the recovery of critically ill patients. Scientists at the University of Warwick and University College London have made use of blood samples and results collected during the 2007 Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition to consider the human body's response to low oxygen levels. In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, they suggest that interventions to alter nitric oxide production - some of which already exist in the form of drugs or gas - may benefit critically ill patients suffering from lack of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Martin Feelisch, joint senior author of the paper and professor of experimental medicine and integrative biology at Warwick Medical School, said: "This research may herald a change in emergency treatment and intensive care."

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