Campus round-up

June 21, 2012

University of Liverpool

Birth of a collaborative movement

A university is leading a scheme to improve maternal and new-born healthcare in Uganda. The University of Liverpool project, which has received £5 million in funding from the Tropical Health and Education Trust, is being coordinated by Louise Ackers, professor of socio-legal studies. British volunteers - including social scientists, biomedical engineers, midwives, nurses and obstetricians - will work with Ugandan professionals to achieve targets set out in the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. The programme, Professor Ackers said, marks a move "away from the kinds of aid that compound dependency to a new and more collaborative approach. [It] also benefits the volunteers as they return from their placements with increased knowledge, better leadership skills and an improved ability to deal with complex situations under pressure."

University of Chester

The collaborators

A workshop being held this week will explore the important roles that mentors and coaches play in fields such as teacher training and social work. The increasing significance of such "hybrid" professional roles will be considered at the University of Chester event - titled Hybridity, Creativity and "New Professionalism" - on 22 June. It will examine the impact of "new professionalism" on local authority policy and the need to create common languages and shared understanding in order to improve collaborations across disciplines. Speakers will include Marion Jones, professor of teacher education at Liverpool John Moores University's Faculty of Education, Community and Leisure, who will reflect on her experiences as a modern language teacher who was often required to mentor others.

Newcastle University

She's the one

Physical tests to determine which boat to use in a sailing race may no longer be necessary after a simulation designed by a university accurately predicted how a vessel would perform across a course. Ignazio Maria Viola, lecturer in naval architecture at Newcastle University, led a team that modelled how different designs would cope in certain conditions. "Until now, competition-level sailors would have to carry out physical tests to accurately choose the best boat for that particular race," Dr Viola said. The right boat can give sailors a significant edge over competitors in a race, he added.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Treat the chemical burn

A facility has been opened to prepare public health officials for major chemical incidents. The International Training Centre, based at Cardiff Metropolitan University, is a joint project involving the World Health Organisation, the Health Protection Agency and Public Health Wales. It will look at how agencies can plan their responses and recovery operations. Organisers pointed to a fire near Swansea involving 5,000 tonnes of discarded tyre material that burned for three weeks in 2011 as an example of the kind of incident the centre could address.

University of Edinburgh

Suffer the children

A study has identified a 75 per cent increase in the number of Scottish children suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found there were 260 cases of under-16s suffering from the conditions between 1990 and 1995, but 436 cases between 2003 and 2008. Possible causes for the rise include poor diet, low vitamin D levels and a lack of sunlight. Slightly more boys than girls were sufferers, the study says. The research is published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

University of Westminster

Spot marks the X

An exhibition marking 100 years of film censorship in the UK has opened at a London university. Held at the University of Westminster's Regent Street headquarters, it charts film censorship and classification through to the rating and labelling of online content today. The exhibition marks the foundation of the British Board of Film Classification - established in 1912 as the British Board of Film Censors - which was set up to ensure nationwide uniformity in film certification and limit powers held by local authorities that allowed them to shut down cinemas. Westminster itself has links to the censorship debate as one of the UK's first X-rated films, Life Begins Tomorrow (La Vie Commence Demain), was screened at a cinema on the Regent Street site in 1951. "A lot has happened over the 100 years of British cinema and the exhibition reflects the changing nature of UK cultural life and the BBFC," said the film watchdog's director David Cooke.

University Campus Suffolk

Eastern promise

A manifesto promoting sustainable economic growth has been launched in Parliament with help from a higher education institution. Leading the Way - a manifesto by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and backed by University Campus Suffolk - sets out the challenges and opportunities for sustainable growth. Representatives from Suffolk, business leaders and environmental organisations attended the launch in Westminster. They hope the manifesto will help to promote sustainable growth in eastern England.

London Sch Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Quarter for the innocents

The lives of thousands of unborn babies could be saved after research has shown new testing for syphilis to be highly effective. A study of antenatal screening for the venereal disease by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is so conclusive that six countries adopted the recommended programme even before the research was published in PLoS Medicine last week. Policymakers in China, Peru, Brazil, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania will now introduce the tests. The research, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that the lives of up to 1 million children could be saved every year if the tests were rolled out globally. It is estimated that every year, 2 million pregnant women are infected with syphilis and more than half of them pass it on to their unborn children. "These new rapid tests are easy to use, affordable and give a result in just 15 minutes at the cost of less than £1 per woman screened," said David Mabey, one of the study's authors.

University of Portsmouth

Angry? We'll take that as red

Computer scientists have developed a mobile phone application that prepares users for good or bad news via colour-coded messages. The app, developed by Lorraine Chambers, a master's student at the University of Portsmouth, and Mohamed Gaber, her supervisor, looks at message content and sorts it as green (positive), red (negative) or blue (neutral), whether received through Twitter, Facebook or via text. Developers say the app could mean the end of people being surprised by angry or hostile messages and help them manage their stress. The app will be presented at a conference in San Sebastian, Spain, in September. It is being developed for the Android platform but will be made available for iPhones if there is sufficient demand.

University of the West of England

Global projection

An English university is hoping to save an estimated £100,000 a year in travel costs through a high-definition video network that will enable it to connect to partners across the world. The University of the West of England in Bristol has installed the system as part of a £300 million overhaul of its ICT infrastructure. The system will connect the university to partner campuses in the UK, the rest of Europe, the US, Vietnam and Malaysia. As well as allowing UWE to offer a distance-learning programme, it will permit lectures to be watched on demand from any location, which university leaders hope will reduce costs and raise productivity.

University of Oxford

Trading places

Graduates of one English university may not have to stay in the UK for their holidays this year to save money thanks to a new service allowing them to exchange homes with alumni across the world. The University of Oxford has partnered with the company Love Home Swap to create an online service that allows alumni to swap homes with contacts and old college friends. According to the company, users like to exchange houses with people with whom they have connections, such as fellow alumni. The Oxford-only service will allow users to enjoy vacations "in homes as nice as your own" while saving on rental costs. The firm, founded by Debbie Wosskow, an Oxford alumna, has said it plans to announce further partnerships with other universities around the world.

Rings of fire

A UK university has opened an art exhibition investigating the period in the lead-up to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, when a peaceful demonstration by students sparked the massacre of hundreds of protesters. Contested Games: Mexico 68's Olympic design revolution - which is on display at the University of Essex's Art Exchange - features protest posters created by the demonstrators beside the official Olympic designs they looked to subvert. The exhibition considers the way design represents ideas, influences perceptions, feeds off popular culture and hijacks existing imagery.

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