University College London
An experiment has provided evidence that people living in richer areas are more likely to behave altruistically. A team of researchers from the anthropology department at University College London drew on a method developed by US social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s and dropped 300 stamped letters on the pavement in different districts. Each was addressed by hand to someone with a gender-neutral name and left face up on a rain-free weekday. The results, published in online journal PLoS One, show that 87 per cent of those dropped in wealthier neighbourhoods were sent back, compared with only 37 per cent in poorer areas. Neither ethnic breakdown nor population density proved good predictors of whether the letters would be returned.
London School of Economics
Vanguard of inequality
Recent decades have witnessed notable growth in wage inequality among British men. But a study by Mark Williams, fellow in the Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group at the London School of Economics, demonstrates that more than two-thirds of the increase can be attributed to just 20 professions. His analysis, published in the European Sociological Review, splits the British workforce into 366 occupations and examines their pay levels between 1975 and 2008. Chief executives of large organisations have benefited the most with a fourfold pay rise, although salaries in other highly remunerated areas such as finance and medicine have also risen dramatically. Such shifts between professions are far more significant in terms of overall inequality than widening pay gaps within professions or changing numbers of people working in different fields, the study says.
Winners and losers
Research should provide fresh insights into whether huge events such as the Olympics benefit small businesses - and how other cities could learn from London 2012. Based on a study of more than 200 local businesses, the research from the University of Greenwich indicates that only one in five report a positive outcome from the Games. Problems included disruption to normal patterns of trading and footfall, while those too close to the venues often found themselves ignored by spectators focused on arrival and departure. Far more upbeat were the results of a survey of more than 350 visitors carried out in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with over three-quarters saying they are likely or very likely to return to London as a result of attending the Olympics.
A science education film that explains how ocean plankton have helped shape life on Earth has been distributed to every UK secondary school as part of a university outreach project. The film - which is narrated by Sir David Attenborough - was written, produced and directed by Richard Kirby, research fellow in the Marine Institute at Plymouth University. It covers topics such as the marine food web, the carbon cycle and climate change, and tells "a remarkable and important story that is often overlooked in school education", Dr Kirby said. Production of the film, Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath the Waves (also the title of Dr Kirby's 2010 book on the subject), was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and microscopy firm Carl Zeiss, while its free distribution was made possible by the Fishmongers' Company.
Scotland's first dedicated hospitality and tourism academy for secondary school pupils has been launched through a partnership involving a university. The East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy has been set up by Queen Margaret University, Jewel and Esk College, East Lothian Council and a number of hotel groups. It will involve students from three East Lothian secondary schools and aims to raise the profile of the hospitality and tourism industries. Pupils will have the opportunity to attend a two-year programme with the option of going into employment or on to college or university if they successfully complete the course.
Leeds Metropolitan University
A doctoral student is to take advantage of the Paralympic Games to investigate volunteers' perceptions of disability and disabled athletes. Ellie May, based at Leeds Metropolitan University's International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality, is one of just six applicants worldwide to be given the go-ahead by the International Paralympic Committee to carry out her research during the event. Ms May aims to interview at least 20 volunteers before, during and immediately after the Games, as well as six months later. "The Paralympics is the perfect avenue to address social attitudes and perceptions of disability," she said.
University of Sheffield
Management under new premises
An £11.5 million refurbishment programme will create new premises for a university's management school. The University of Sheffield's redeveloped Crookesmoor Building, which formerly housed its law school, will include an "executive suite" to host meetings, as well as three lecture theatres, eight seminar rooms plus conference and ICT facilities. Keith Glaister, dean of the Management School, said: "We have experienced dramatic growth in student numbers, increased our academic reputation in research and accreditations, and begun to climb the international rankings. Our new location will provide excellent facilities to help achieve our further ambitions."
University of Southampton
Made in another dimension
A rapid prototyping facility is set to transform a university's engineering design and teaching activities. The University of Southampton will benefit from the £300,000 facility, which will make use of rapid prototyping or 3D printing - described in some quarters as the third industrial revolution in manufacturing. The facility, which offers access to expert design staff and state-of-the-art equipment housed in a newly refurbished laboratory, is being co-funded through Southampton's Student Centredness Fund. Prototyping, which converts computer-aided design schematics into solid objects using laser melting, offers greater design freedom, the more efficient use of materials and tool-less manufacturing.
Win when you're singing
Elderly people who participate in community singing have a consistently higher measure of health than those who do not, research has found. The study, carried out by academics from Canterbury Christ Church University's Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, investigates the cost-effectiveness and impact of singing as a method of health promotion in older people. It says that a group that took part in weekly singing sessions over three months had less anxiety and depression and better mental health than a group that did not.
University of Wolverhampton
Welcome, here's some cash
More than 600 scholarships have been offered to a university's student entrants. The University of Wolverhampton said that 420 national scholarships have been awarded to home/European Union students due to start in September whose household income is under £25,000 a year. In addition, around 200 distinction scholarships have gone to entrants who have achieved AAB at A level or the equivalent. Both awards are worth up to £3,500 to recipients in their first years and are made up of £1,000 in cash, £1,000 off fees and a further £1,000 fee waiver or £1,500 deducted from accommodation fees.
Birmingham City University
It's not Narnia, but still
An "Olympic hoard" featuring memorabilia from the 1912 Stockholm Games is on display at a university after being discovered by a member of staff. Claire Edwards, part of Birmingham City University's Clearing Hotline Centre, discovered a medal, an official scroll, sepia photographs and a British team uniform hidden in the back of a family wardrobe. They belonged to Edwards' great-grandfather Robert Murray, who competed in the Games and won gold and silver medals in small-bore rifle shooting. The collection is on temporary display at Birmingham City's School of Jewellery in Vittoria Street.
University of York
Specialised group yoga classes could provide the NHS with a cost-effective way of treating patients with chronic lower back pain, academics have concluded. The study, led by researchers from the University of York and published in the journal Spine, compares the results of a specially developed 12-week group yoga intervention programme with those of conventional GP care alone. It says that those taking part in the programme had far fewer days off work than those in the control group. Back pain is estimated to cost the NHS nearly £1.4 billion a year.
Coventry University College
Software giant Hewlett-Packard has announced a partnership with a university's offshoot to launch a series of courses. The firm said the link with Coventry University College would provide students "with the business-ready IT skills that are in deficit within the industry". John Dishman, CEO and director of the college, said the link "means that we will be able to attract more students, improve their employability and help them to become the IT professionals of the future". The HP Institute will deliver courses to a range of UK institutions.
Wade in the shine of the ever
A world-renowned graphic designer famous for his work with seminal 1980s bands Pixies and the Cocteau Twins will give a public lecture at a university next month. Vaughan Oliver will talk about his 30-year career and groundbreaking album cover designs for record label 4AD during an appearance at the University for the Creative Arts' Epsom campus on September. Mr Oliver, who was awarded an honorary degree by the university last year, worked with students at the institution in 2010 on a limited edition box set for Pixies, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. His work has been shown at galleries across the world and is on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.