Campus round-up

December 6, 2012

Goldsmiths, University of London

Wall of remembrance

A mural inspired by a London house fire that killed 13 young black people has been unveiled. Artists from Northern Ireland with a record of producing political murals were commissioned by Goldsmiths, University of London to help schoolchildren paint the artwork in New Cross, the area in southeast London where a deadly fire took place at a birthday party in January 1981. No one was charged in relation to the blaze, but many suspected that it was a firebomb attack perpetrated by someone with links to the far Right. Perceived indifference by the Metropolitan Police and allegations of a cover-up stoked racial tensions and led to a 20,000-strong march through London later that year. The artwork, titled I Am Here, is set to form part of the curriculum at local schools and to inform dialogue between young people and authority figures.

University College London

Now you see them

Architects have completed the transformation of a historic university gallery that will allow the public to see a collection of objects that have never been displayed before. The Octagon and the Flaxman galleries at University College London, which reopened on November, will include the sculptor John Flaxman's plaster study of St Michael Overcoming Satan. The transformation was undertaken by Burwell Deakins Architects, who had to retain the statue in its original position in the upper Flaxman Gallery while they inserted a glass plinth over the reopened hole around it, which gives visitors views to the Octagon Gallery below. In future, UCL will hold competitions to choose themes for exhibitions, with research students able to submit entries.

University of Southampton

A pair of IT players

Two academics feature in a list of the top movers and shakers in UK information technology. University of Southampton academics Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Dame Wendy Hall, both professors of computer science, came in at 24th and 30th, respectively, in Computer Weekly's third annual UKtech50 list, which surveys the country's top chief information officers, industry executives, public servants and business leaders. The list was decided by an expert judging panel alongside a reader vote. Sir Tim, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Dame Wendy were the only academics named. The list was topped by Warren East, chief executive of microchip firm ARM. David Willetts, the universities and science minister, featured at number 48.

Birmingham City University

Turkish delights

A UK university and a Turkish counterpart have created an international network for education and research. Istanbul Aydin University agreed a formal arrangement with Birmingham City University to encourage collaboration between the two institutions after a visit to the UK earlier this month. The two universities will work closely on a range of initiatives including academic and student exchanges, summer study-abroad schemes, joint seminars, conferences and workshops as well as joint- and dual-degree projects. Parmila Murria, assistant director of the international office at Birmingham City, said: "This new opportunity will both extend Birmingham City University's reach and support globalisation of the curriculum and student experience."

University of East Anglia

Snails suffer acid attacks

The shells of marine snails in the seas around Antarctica are being dissolved by ocean acidification, researchers have found. Work by the University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences and the British Antarctic Survey - in collaboration with US researchers - supports predictions that ocean acidification will significantly affect marine ecosystems and food webs. The snails, known as pteropods, are a food source for fish and birds; they also play a key role in the oceanic carbon cycle, the process by which carbon is absorbed and released by the seas. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated the potential effects of ocean acidification - which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels - on marine organisms. However, there has been little evidence before this research - published in the journal Nature Geoscience - of such changes occurring in live specimens in their natural environment.

University of Bedfordshire

In Marco Polo's footsteps

The largest cultural exchange programme with China offered by any UK university has been launched. Beginning next summer, 150 UK students from the University of Bedfordshire will have the chance to take part in a two- or three-week language and cultural programme in China. The university also plans to launch a "gap year in China" programme for up to 20 students early in 2013. Bill Rammell, the vice-chancellor, announced the project on a visit to Bedfordshire's two Chinese partner institutions: China Agricultural University and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. "We are delighted to work so closely with our Chinese friends and partners to offer this opportunity to students," he said.

University Campus Suffolk

Big dangers in thin sites

The dangers posed by pro-anorexia websites have been highlighted by an academic at University Campus Suffolk. According to research by Emma Bond, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies, there are about 500 eating disorder sites, some of them claiming more than 2,500 members. Most of these sites are developed by people who suffer from eating disorders, and many of them are under 18. They advise site visitors on how to stay thin, diet and maintain eating disorders, and offer a forum for members to exchange ideas on how to hide symptoms of the diseases from family, friends and health professionals. Dr Bond said it was important to expose the dangers of harmful content on the internet. "We need to encourage young people to develop critical media literacy skills, and the media should be more responsible in not publishing pictures of very thin models and celebrities because young people wish to emulate them," she said.

University of Reading

Green to envy

A university campus has been voted as having the third best green space in the UK. The University of Reading's Whiteknights campus excelled in a list of almost 1,500 public spaces in the People's Choice Awards, part of the Green Flag Award scheme, which provides a national standard for UK parks and green spaces. Regarding Reading, judges were impressed by the accessibility of the campus' wooded areas, meadows, lake and sports pitches, which are all linked by a network of paths. Victoria Park in East London took the top prize overall.

University of Sheffield

Springboard for long jumper

An 18-year-old long-jumping prodigy has been awarded the first sporting scholarship established in honour of Jessica Ennis, the UK heptathlete who won an Olympic gold medal in the London Games. Ms Ennis' alma mater, the University of Sheffield, announced that it would present the £1,500 Ennis Scholarship Award to Jazmin Sawyers, a top-ranked junior long jumper, to support her training while she pursues a degree in law and criminology at Sheffield. "I think Jessica has shown that it is possible to go through your studies and get your degree and still be the best in the world," Ms Sawyers said.

University of East London

Football supporters

Academics and students in sports science will apply their skills at Leyton Orient Football Club. The University of East London has signed a memorandum of understanding with the League One club that will provide internships and coaching secondments for sports and exercise science students. Following their successful work with the first-team squad during this season's pre-season training, academics will also provide support to the team's youth academy. Lee Southernwood, Leyton Orient's fitness and conditioning coach, said the partnership will "allow the club to maintain pace with emerging trends in sport and exercise medicine through access to the latest information and research".

University of Warwick

To make the play the thing

A joint teaching project between a university and the Royal Shakespeare Company has been shortlisted for a top digital education award. The RSC and Warwick Business School, which is part of the University of Warwick, have produced Teaching Shakespeare - a one-stop online professional development programme to help teachers transform how pupils learn about the Bard by promoting an active approach to the study of his plays. It has been named a finalist for the 2013 Bett Awards in the ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching category. Teaching Shakespeare includes more than 100 films featuring modelled lessons and interviews with leading RSC directors and practitioners as well as academics from the University of Warwick.

Star turn

The University of Strathclyde triumphed at this year's Times Higher Education Awards, picking up the title of University of the Year at a ceremony in London last week. More than 1,000 people attended the black-tie event at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 29 November, which was hosted by the comedian David Walliams, with an address by the universities and science minister, David Willetts. While Strathclyde took the top prize, 17 other institutions and individuals also went home with awards, including the University of Huddersfield, which won Entrepreneurial University of the Year; Queen Mary, University of London, which won Research Project of the Year; and Mark Brandon, of The Open University, who was named Most Innovative Teacher of the Year. The annual Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award went to John Goddard, former deputy vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, who was commended for the work he has done developing the regional role of universities.

• For a full list of winners and more pictures, visit:

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