Campus round-up

August 23, 2012

University of Surrey

Hearty goodbye and good riddance

Students raised thousands of pounds for the British Heart Foundation by recycling unwanted items from their rooms at the end of the academic year. University of Surrey students donated 11 tonnes of material including CDs, books and clothing to a special collection site set up at its Guildford campus, helping to raise £15,000 for the charity. Richard Wilkins, portering and waste supervisor at Surrey, said the campaign prevented a lot of items going needlessly to landfill.

University of Oxford

Celebrate old times, come on

Researchers have created a free online database that collates the official records of coronations, weddings, christenings, victory celebrations and tournaments throughout Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Early Modern Festival Books Database, led by Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, professor of German literature in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, compiles more than 3,000 official records from five major libraries. Oxford said the database would provide enriched information about major historical and political events, adding detail and colour to controversial incidents such as Christina, Queen of Sweden's journey to Rome in 1655 following her abdication and conversion to Catholicism.

King's College London

Let's just write that down

Although the case for a written British constitution has been gathering momentum, there has been little research into how it could be implemented. Now, however, the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has broken new ground by joining forces with a research body - the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies at King's College London - to produce a series of reports on the subject. These will examine constitution-building and constitution-amending exercises in other democracies, identify appropriate techniques for engaging the public and then produce three different blueprints for what a codified UK constitution might look like.

Royal Holloway, University of London

Feeding minds and bodies

A university's kitchens have featured prominently in an episode of Celebrity MasterChef. Contestants on the show were given a range of ingredients by head chef Carol Vallejo, which they had to transform into 180 lunch portions for students and staff at Royal Holloway, University of London. A performance by the university choir, an interview with principal Paul Layzell and a scene with presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace in the North Quad were also recorded. Filming took place in February, but the location was not publicised until this month.

University of Manchester

Take the green route

Congestion and greenhouse emissions could be reduced thanks to a city-wide travel information network. The system, developed by a Manchester Business School team as part of a European Union project on "optimising dynamic urban mobility", would provide commuters via their mobile phones with live traffic and public transport information from monitors placed in buses, trains and cars. It would also offer the public alternative routes and highlight the carbon dioxide output of each option. Ali Owrak, a researcher at Manchester Business School, said: "For the first time, vehicles would be seen not as the problem, but as part of the solution."

Nottingham Trent University

Preservation plan

A UK-based architecture professor has been awarded funding by the government of Oman to advise it on the preservation of its ancient settlements. Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, a Nottingham Trent University academic, has been awarded £135,000 by Oman's Ministry of Heritage and Culture to research the historical significance and options for the preservation of five vernacular settlements, including the possibility of developing them as tourist attractions. The Gulf sultanate contains settlements dating back 6,000 years, but rapid economic development and migration to its cities means that many are being abandoned.

University of East Anglia

Nursed back to health

Care delivered by nurses to HIV sufferers can be just as safe and effective as that administered by doctors and has a number of health benefits, a study has found. Research published in The Lancet by academics from the universities of East Anglia and Cape Town shows that neither survival rates nor virus suppression are reduced when nurses administer antiretroviral drugs to patients in South Africa. Additional benefits include significantly improved detection of tuberculosis and improved adherence with treatment programmes. Max Bachmann, professor of health services research at UEA and joint lead author of the study, said: "Our findings show that with very little extra training and support, nurses can deliver HIV care that is just as safe and effective as that provided by doctors."

Anglia Ruskin University

Doing too much time

The UK needs to address its ageing prisoner problem or face a crisis, according to an academic's new book. Natalie Mann, lecturer in criminology at Anglia Ruskin University, warns in Doing Harder Time? The Experiences of an Ageing Male Prison Population in England and Wales, that "our society is simply not used to thinking about older people in terms of their involvement in crime". Despite the significant challenges facing the prison system, Dr Mann opposes the introduction of "secure nursing homes", which are commonplace in the US and have been trialled in the UK. "Far from providing the perfect solution, age segregation can actually increase problems as it encourages dependency and increases psychological ageing due to the lack of interaction with younger prisoners," she says.

Durham University

Landslide threat firmed up

A database that maps fatal landslides across the world indicates that up to 10 times more people are killed by such natural disasters than was previously thought. Researchers at Durham University have created the Durham Fatal Landslide Database using government statistics, aid agency reports and research papers. It estimates that 32,300 died in landslides between 2004 and 2010, whereas previous estimates ranged from 3,000 to 7,000. It is hoped the tool will enable governments to better pinpoint landslide hot spots and reduce the risk to humans.

Edinburgh Napier University

Mentor is out of this world

An award-winning science fiction writer has been chosen as the next writer-in-residence at a Scottish university. Ken MacLeod has been appointed to the post at Edinburgh Napier University and will spend an average of two days a week mentoring students on the institution's MA course in creative writing. Mr MacLeod's latest work, released this year, is Intrusion, a dystopian novel set in an England slowly being strangled by safeguards.

University of St Andrews

Erosion warning

Archaeologists are calling on the public to send them pictures of heritage sites around Scotland's coast in order to map those that most need to be excavated or recorded. A team from the University of St Andrews and the Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion group are asking volunteers to upload photographs of sites threatened with erosion, along with their location. Members of the public will then be able to help archaeologists work on the 12 sites deemed most in need of study.

Edge Hill University

Acting school

Students have become the stars in a university's promotional film about life on campus. Edge Hill University put together Walk Through Walls to capture "the energy and enthusiasm of studying at Edge Hill". It was made by Paper Twin Productions and the Edge Hill marketing and creative team, and features the music of singer Kyla La Grange. Samantha Armstrong, head of marketing at the university, said: "One thing that was a certainty when we were planning our new video was that we wouldn't be using actors and instead would use our own students as the stars. The good thing about having 26,000 people studying at Edge Hill is that there was plenty of choice."

University of Salford

State of the art

Four artists can take up residence at a university as part of the Artists Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) scheme, which involves 32 further and higher education institutions across England. The University of Salford is offering year-long opportunities for four artists-in-residence, who can use its School of Art and Design to work on a project or undertake research. Kit Turner, Salford's AA2A administrator, said the scheme "gives up-and-coming artists access to... fantastic resources", including the university's MediaCityUK facilities.

Silicon chip to the back of the net

In the aftermath of the London 2012 Olympics, the next batch of sporting heroes that one UK city has been preparing to welcome will be of a very different ilk. From 20 to 25 August, the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol are hosting the Federation of International Robot-Soccer Association RoboWorld Cup, which is taking place in the UK for the first time. Robots are competing in events such as basketball and weightlifting, as well as marathon running and five-a-side football. Two UK teams, hailing from the University of Plymouth and co-host the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, will square off against 25 teams from across the world. A scientific conference, the 2012 Joint Fira-Taros Congress, will run alongside the tournament.

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