Campus round-up

July 12, 2012

Imperial College London

Bugs check in but don't check out

A centre for the study of some of the world's most life-threatening bacterial infections has been launched. The Medical Research Council Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection will span Imperial College London's life science and medicine departments and will be jointly funded by the MRC and the university. The centre will study the causes of diseases including meningitis, tuberculosis and hospital-acquired infections with the aim of finding new treatments, combating the rise of antibiotic resistance and developing vaccines. Researchers will benefit from an in vivo imaging facility allowing them to study bacterial colonisation of living hosts in real time.

The Open University

Bridging loans

One university is making back-up plans for any hiccups that may occur when the government gives loans to part-time students for the first time in 2012-13. The Open University has announced that the institution will cover the cost of students' first modules, even if they have not received confirmation of their loans from Student Finance England before they start. Students must pass only the university's own eligibility checks to be covered by the "OU Guarantee". Will Swann, director of students at the institution, said: "We want to reassure students who might be worried that they won't be approved for a student loan in time that this doesn't need to be a barrier to study."

Queen's University Belfast

Invest for success

A university has announced a £200 million investment programme to improve buildings, recruit academics and enhance graduate employability. Queen's University Belfast will spend the money over the next four years in response to more student places being made available by the government and as part of a drive to attract more overseas students. Among the improvements will be the creation of an institute of health sciences and a school of biological sciences, bespoke accommodation for international students and the redevelopment of library buildings.

University of St Andrews

Home truths

A £700,000, three-year study into the UK's housing wealth has been launched. The study, led by Beverley Searle, research fellow at the University of St Andrews' Centre for Housing Research, will look at the social and economic consequences of widening housing inequality. Mind the (Housing) Wealth Gap: Inter-generational Justice and Family Welfare will also look at how families transfer housing wealth across generations and the problems young people face in accessing places to live.

Queen Mary/Warwick

Broader course of treatment

Two universities have joined forces to run a summer school for children. Thirty Year 12 students interested in studying medicine or a related subject will attend a five-day residential summer school split between Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Warwick. The institutions will host young people from Coventry, other parts of Warwickshire and London later this month. Christina Hughes, Warwick's pro vice-chancellor for access, widening participation and development, said the scheme will encourage students "to consider studying somewhere beyond their home city or region".

Kingston University

Baby blues

Having a baby may make you less satisfied with your job. Researchers at Kingston Business School found that people feel significantly less happy at work for as long as five years after the birth of their first child. The study, published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, tracked the annual job-satisfaction levels of nearly 10,000 people in the UK between 1991 and 2008. It also suggests that peak happiness at work comes just prior to marriage and the birth of a first child as people anticipate such life-changing events.

University of Nottingham

Eastern hemispheres

UK scientists are collaborating with colleagues in the Republic of Korea to map the Asian brain. The two-year project, funded initially by the UK government, will involve neuroscientists from the University of Nottingham and Korea University in Seoul. Asian and Western brains are thought to be subtly different and the researchers hope their work will facilitate the development of tests for age-related neurodegenerative diseases specifically tailored to Asian people. Stephen Jackson, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Nottingham, said: "We hope this project will act as a template for further UK-South Korean collaboration and knowledge transfer, which has been highlighted by the government as a strategic priority."

Northumbria University

Breath short? Eschew the shoe

Running barefoot increases the efficiency of athletes by cutting their stride length and the duration of contact time with the ground, research has found. Michael Wilkinson, senior lecturer in the department of sport and exercise sciences at Northumbria University, discovered that runners without shoes used less oxygen and recorded a 6 per cent improvement in economy of movement. The difference in technique is because barefoot runners put their feet down more gently, Dr Wilkinson explained.

University of Manchester

Journal inclusive

Academics have collaborated with people with learning disabilities to review and edit papers for an academic journal. The latest edition of the British Journal of Learning Disabilities was put together by a University of Manchester team that included five people with learning difficulties. Rohhss Chapman, lecturer in learning disability studies, said the project showed it was possible to make research in the field more inclusive. "Learning-disabled researchers find it difficult to gain a rightful place in discussion within academia, even though they have a great deal of insight and knowledge," she said.

Manchester Met/Chester

Moral panic causes coach crash

Coaches' fear of being accused of child abuse could endanger the Olympics' intended legacy of greater participation in sport, academics have warned. Writing in the journal Sport, Education and Society, academics from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Chester say that many coaches feel they are no longer trusted with young people and are afraid of making physical contact with them. Heather Piper, professorial research fellow at Manchester Met, who led the study, said: "A moral panic has led to guidelines which don't always support the needs of children and young people and the primary purposes of sport and coaching."

University of Salford

Leading question

A business school is offering a fully funded place worth more than £16,000 on its MBA programme "to a manager who displays ambition, drive and a determination to develop both themselves and their organisation". To date, the MBA at Salford Business School has been full-time, but students can now study it part-time. To mark the development, the school is offering an MBA Global Leadership Scholarship, with entrants required to submit an essay answering the question: "What does leadership mean to you and how can a Salford MBA help you to contribute to global leadership?"

University for the Creative Arts

Star quality

A Hollywood actor is starring in a low-budget film project being put together by a UK university. Natalia Tena, who plays Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films and wildling Osha in the Game of Thrones television series, will portray an "anarchic schizophrenic comedian" in two films, I am Maddy Burns and The One and Only. The pieces are being created by the University for the Creative Arts to give students a taste of film-making. The experimental films will be edited together as a short for the festival circuit, but will play simultaneously on different projectors at gallery installations. Ms Tena said the process had been "gruelling" as the films are solo performances, but she enjoyed the experience and was impressed by the UCA production team.

University of Wolverhampton

Royal seal of approval

An association for Saudi Arabian students has been opened by royalty from the Middle Eastern country. The University of Wolverhampton's Saudi Students Club is recognised and funded by the Saudi cultural attache in London and was officially opened last month by Prince Bader lbn Saud. Geoff Layer, Wolverhampton's vice-chancellor, said overseas students bring a variety of economic and cultural benefits to the city and the Black Country region.

Bear necessities and special occasions

A display of Russian images and artefacts from the late Tsarist era to the age of perestroika was launched last week. The exhibition at the University of Cambridge comes from the collection of the late Catherine Cooke, an expert on Soviet architecture and design, who was killed in a car crash in 2004. Items on display range from rare books and propaganda posters to ration coupons, journals and perfume bottles - anything that from a design perspective caught Dr Cooke's eye - and cover momentous moments in Russian history as well as everyday life. The exhibition, A Soviet Design for Life, will be on show at the Cambridge University Library Exhibition Centre until April 2013.

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