Campus round-up

February 23, 2012

Queen Mary, University of London

Rising in the East

A £36 million graduate centre is to be built after being given the go-ahead by planners. Set to open in 2015, the centre at Queen Mary, University of London's Mile End campus will include lecture theatres, 123 student rooms and a mock trading floor for finance students. Simon Gaskell, college principal, said that the graduate centre will allow Queen Mary to continue with postgraduate expansion and "maintain the college's distinctive place among London universities".

Staffordshire University

In the nick of time

A unique course developed by a university to develop skills in prison staff has been launched at a second UK prison. The foundation degree in offender management builds on a partnership between Staffordshire University and Serco, an operator of custodial services in the UK, and has been extended to HMP Lowdham Grange after launching at HMP Dovegate. Employees ranging from custody officers to senior managers have enrolled on the course, which is designed to help them run a secure service where prisoners are encouraged to live "useful, law-abiding lives after custody".

St George's, University of London

Medium is the message

Signals from cancer cells could be intercepted to stop tumours growing, new research suggests. Scientists at St George's, University of London examined how pieces of genetic material from cancer cells travel round the body and instruct it to create ideal conditions for tumours to flourish. Hitting these signals with chemotherapy drugs killed off these messages and stopped cancer from taking hold. Lead researcher Wai Liu said that very few cancer drugs "target the signals sent between tumour cells and those that make up the micro-environment".

Bath Spa University

Joystick joy

A university expert in computer games is helping the British Library set up an archive of websites to help preserve a record of the "cultural and societal impact" of video games in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Bath Spa University's James Newman, who is co-director of the National Videogame Archive, is advising a partnership between the library and the National Media Museum on creating the collection. Professor Newman said the move was important to record not just the games themselves but the reviewing and debating that took place online about the genre.

University of Aberdeen

Early bird gets the hump

Scottish people could be "annoyed" into voting for independence from the rest of the UK if Westminster calls an early poll, says a new book. Paul Cairney, head of politics at the University of Aberdeen, argues in The Scottish Political System Since Devolution that the Scottish public wants devolution not independence. But if forced to hold a referendum "as soon as possible", as the prime minister apparently wishes, Scots could vote differently. "We make different decisions when we are annoyed," said Dr Cairney.

Winchester/King's College London

Toffs and tenants

Two universities are leading a project to digitise important records from medieval England that will allow researchers to explore the landed society of the era. The work by the University of Winchester and King's College London - backed by a £500,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council - aims to make available online hundreds of years' worth of records showing land held by feudal tenants at the time of their death. Almost 30 volumes of the "inquisitions post mortem" - the single most important source for the study of landed society in later medieval England - will be digitised as part of the project.

Southampton Solent University

Swotting up on googlies

A university has signed a partnership with the owners of a major international sporting venue to help students gain valuable work experience and share facilities between the two organisations. The deal between Southampton Solent University and the city's Rose Bowl cricket stadium aims to help students to gain experience in areas such as event management, sports journalism and broadcasting. It will also enable sharing of audio-visual equipment and allow the Rose Bowl's cricket department to use facilities in Southampton Solent's sports science department.

University of Hull

Hull's on the money

A university is to offer 80 PhD scholarships. The University of Hull will divide the scholarships, which begin in September, equally between UK/EU and international students. The scholarships will cover tuition fees and conference attendance and will be available in any discipline. Applicants must have at least an upper second-class undergraduate degree. Glenn Burgess, pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching at Hull, said the scheme would "allow those who were thinking of further study, but were unsure of financial support, an opportunity to pursue PhD research under the supervision of leading researchers".

Coventry University

Diploma in diplomacy

Fulham Football Club is to offer its frontline staff a university-backed professional development diploma designed to improve the visitor experience at the club's Craven Cottage ground. It has been devised and is being delivered, initially to a pilot group of 30, by business development organisation Acua. Accreditation is provided by Coventry University, which set up Acua in 2008. An undercover team from Acua assessed customer service during a home game and held a focus group with staff from areas such as catering, ticketing and security to help create the diploma.

University of Nottingham

A straw in the wind

The UK's largest straw bale building has been officially opened. The £7.2 million building will house laboratories for the University of Nottingham's School of Biosciences and School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. The straw in the nearly 2,000 prefabricated bales was harvested from Nottingham's own farmland adjacent to the site at the Sutton Bonington campus. Karen Cox, pro vice-chancellor for infrastructure and the environment, said: "Our aim has been to create an inspiring, harmonious place to study and work that will reflect the university's green credentials."


Back to the future

Academics have designed an electronic cheque so that elderly people can continue to use them but banks can avoid the high cost of processing traditional cheques. The team from the University of York and Newcastle and Northumbria universities spoke to a group of 80-year-olds and found that they continued to value the physical nature of traditional cheques. The team's design uses cheques that must be written with a digital pen. A matrix of dots helps the pen's camera track what is written, allowing money to be transferred instantly.

University of East Anglia

Hippy birthday

If the first words that come to mind when thinking about your university days are "groovy, baby", then one institution wants to hear from you. A project to collect and archive people's memories of the University of East Anglia has been launched ahead of the institution's 50th anniversary next year. The initial part of the project is titled "The First Generation" and focuses on the university's first 10 years, from 1963 to 1973. Anyone interested in being interviewed for the project should contact

Royal Holloway, University of London

Gold standard

A Paralympic champion will give the keynote speech at an information day on rare diseases. Helene Raynsford, who at the 2008 Beijing Games became the first woman to win an Olympic gold in the arms-only single sculls for Great Britain, is the official patron of Rare Disease Day at Royal Holloway, University of London's Surrey campus on 29 February. Ms Raynsford, who is studying for a master's degree in neuroscience at Royal Holloway, said: "Hopefully, (the day) will empower those with rarer conditions to become experts in managing their conditions, increase their health outcomes and enjoy a better quality of life."

University of Glamorgan

Back of the net

A university training centre for young footballers has opened. Cardiff City FC academy players aged 7-18 will use the centre at the University of Glamorgan's sports park in Treforest for training, physio and rehab support. Huw Williams, deputy vice-chancellor at Glamorgan, said that part of the university's role was to "provide the top-level skills and facilities that enable athletes, coaches and clubs such as Cardiff City to unlock their potential".

Devil's in the detail

Scientists are developing a new type of microscope that can create 3D images and produce results in seconds rather than hours. The "mesolens" is expected to be able to focus on both the inside of cells and on entire organisms, which are usually too big to be captured by current microscopes. Brad Amos, a visiting scientist at the University of Strathclyde's Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, said that the detail provided by the mesolens could "open up vast possibilities for discoveries that can contribute to the fight against disease worldwide". Pictured here, glowing with its natural fluorescence under ultraviolet light, is a human flea captured by a mesolens. The image shows the specimen arranged in the same way as in the celebrated engraving of a flea by the polymath natural philosopher Robert Hooke, which was printed in 1665 in the first publication of the Royal Society.

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