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UK student news – 2010 archive

Bath Spa University experts pioneer new approach to anti-social behaviour

Education policy experts at Bath Spa University are pioneering a new strategy to improve relationships between children and young people and their communities. They have gained funding to introduce a technique known as ‘emotion coaching’ in one of the most deprived parts of Wiltshire.

The scheme, which is funded jointly by Bath Spa University and the local Community Area Board, will be piloted in Melksham from January 2011. It aims to develop a coherent approach to children and young people across all ages and services.

‘Emotion coaching’ originates from the United States. It focuses on understanding the reasons for an individual’s behaviour, working with them to develop alternative responses to their difficulties and enhancing their confidence and self-esteem.

Schools which have already committed themselves to the pilot project include a secondary school (Melksham Oak) and two primaries.

Young volunteers from the Canberra Young People’s Development Centre in Melksham are to be trained as mentors and it is hoped that local children’s centres and parents’ groups will also be involved. Wiltshire Council, the area head teachers’ group, Wiltshire police and a number of other services have offered their support.

The project will be led by Dr Janet Rose, senior lecturer in Education and Childhood Studies at Bath Spa University, and by Richard Parker, Director of the University’s Centre for Education Policy in Practice.

There is increasing evidence for the success of ‘emotion coaching’ in the USA. Little research has been done in the UK, but similar approaches based on restorative justice – taking responsibility for one’s actions and recognising the effect on other people – have been adopted successfully at Melksham Oak School and elsewhere in the country.

In Hull, for example, where restorative approaches were adopted across the city a few years ago, there has been a significant reduction in disruptive behaviour in schools, fewer exclusions and a major fall in youth offending figures.

Richard Parker, from Bath Spa University, said: ’While it is unlikely that such major reductions would be seen in Melksham, improvements in pupil behaviour and achievement at school, coupled with reductions in exclusions, are likely to impact positively on levels of anti-social behaviour and relationships between young people, their parents and the community.

The Bath Spa University researchers have been given £10,000 in funding for their project – £5,000 from the University’s own ‘Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Practice’ partnership fund, matched by a grant from the Melksham Community Area Board.

The six-month initial phase, up to July 2011, will involve teachers, community workers and parents in Melksham being trained in ‘emotion coaching’ by University staff and the impact of that training being evaluated against set criteria.

The University anticipates this will provide a model for other schools and communities and will be seeking funding for an expansion of the scheme in future.

Find out more about Bath Spa University

Genes for myopia discovered

Researchers from the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London have identified genes associated with two common eye problems, myopia and glaucoma.

In their study of over 4,000 twins, the researchers identified a myopia susceptibility gene called RASGRF1, which has been replicated in over 13,000 other people from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia. The same group of twins have also replicated findings related to myopia in a study from Rotterdam. In addition the King’s authors helped to identify two new genes for glaucoma in an Icelandic study.

Dr Christopher Hammond, senior author from the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London said: ‘Myopia, or short sight, is the most common eye problem, affecting over a third of adults in the UK, with not only the associated costs and inconvenience of glasses and contact lenses, but also people who are extremely short-sighted carry significant risks of future vision loss. While we believe that environmental risk factors such as a lot of close work and lack of outdoor activity are implicated, we have not previously understood exactly how people become short-sighted.’

Dr Pirro Hysi, the lead author of the study, added: ‘We have known for many years that the most important risk factor for being short-sighted is having parents who are short-sighted, and for the first time we are identifying genes that may be involved in passing on this susceptibility. By identifying biological pathways causing myopia, we hope to be able to develop treatments in the future that will prevent or stop myopia progressing.’

The TwinsUK cohort of adult twin volunteers have been able to help identify genes involved in many common diseases, including glaucoma, which is the most common cause of untreatable blindness in the world.

Find out more about King’s College London

Manchester student is Britain’s top black graduate

A University of Manchester PhD student and budding entrepreneur has today been named as the most outstanding black student in Britain.

Edwin Broni-Mensah, a 25-year-old who created his first computer game at the age of seven and now runs his own company, was selected from a shortlist of 200 people.

Edwin, studying for an Applied Maths PhD as well as running his innovative refillable water bottle company GiveMeTap, topped the list by Future Leaders magazine, sponsored by Barclays Capital, Deloitte and the University of Cambridge.

The shortlist features 100 graduates in total, all who have balanced good academic grades with impressive achievements outside of their studies.

Edwin is a shining example of this, having set up a company which encourages local businesses to offer free refills of water to anyone carrying a distinctive GiveMeTap bottle.

The firm then sends 70% of its profits to help support water projects in African regions where it’s needed most.

Currently, Give Me Tap is supporting the All4One Namibia Water Project to provide clean water to 1,200 people in the Kalahari area of the southern African country.

The aim is to reduce the number of plastic bottles in landfill sites. Edwin has already managed to build up a network of over 43 restaurants and eateries as outlets in Manchester and, recently, Salford as well.

Edwin now plans to recruit more outlets across Greater Manchester and the rest of the country, and is also hoping to offer GiveMeTap’s services at the 2012 Olympics.

Born in Edmonton, North London, Edwin hopes after completing his PhD to work full time on GiveMeTap. He said he was delighted to receive such impressive recognition for his achievements.

Edwin added: ’I am extremely delighted and feel very honoured at being recognised as one of the Future Leaders. I was overjoyed at being named number one on such a prestigious list; and my parents were excited too.

’What gives me the most pleasure is being in a position where I can meet and inspire young people to pursue their dreams as literally anything is possible, and the people in Future Leaders list prove that.

’Looking forward, I would love the opportunity to speak with leading eateries chains so that I can expand GiveMeTap into every city across the UK, in order to fund our chosen water projects in Africa.’

Edwin was selected by a panel of judges after a rigorous process that included contacting every university in the country and formal interviews with all those on the shortlist.

Edwin’s first-class degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, which led to him being awarded a straight scholarship to study his PhD, impressed judges immensely, as did the fact that he managed to achieve all this while running his own bourgeoning business.

Martin Henery, entrepreneurship lecturer at Manchester Business School, said: ’Edwin’s entrepreneurial spark was clear from the outset – it’s rare to work with someone who combines the ability to make things happen with such original thinking.

’Give MeTap is one of those concepts that nearly everyone can see the value of straight away, but it’s really tough to make happen. It needs true vision and tenacity to stick with it and see it through to the end goal.’

The 100 students will all be honoured on September 6th, at a prestigious reception at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Victor Adebowale.

Find out more about the University of Manchester.

User-generated content to be added to games

Hugely popular online games could soon have an extra dimension with gamers being able to share content and insert it into the game environment.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is taking part in a project to distribute user-generated content and embed it into Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) – games that can support thousands of players simultaneously and can include role playing adventures, such as World of Warcraft, or virtual worlds, such as Second Life.

The Community Network Game (CNG) project intends to promote social interaction within and across games, making gaming a more sociable experience.

User-generated content could include video, 3D computer graphics and pictures. For example, a user may stream live video of the game to other users for the purposes of collaborative play, coaching or simply as a sharing experience.

Enabling thousands of users to share user-generated content represents a significant challenge to networks. DMU will be involved in the development of a peer-to-peer (P2P) system that will allow a large number of MMOG gamers to share a high volume of user-generated content without interrupting game play and without the need to upload the data to a server.

Professor Raouf Hamzaoui of the university’s Faculty of Technology, an expert in multimedia communication, is leading DMU’s part of the project.

He said: ’Massively Multiplayer Online Games allow a large number of users to inhabit the same virtual world and interact with each other in a variety of collaborative and competing scenarios.

’MMOG gamers become members of active communities with mutual interests, shared adventures and common objectives and the ability to share their own content would enhance this, but it has significant implications on networks.

’In developing a peer-to-peer system, we intend to make this load more manageable to ensure the gaming experience remains as smooth as possible.’

The project is part funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme and is led by Exent Technologies Ltd, a digital entertainment media company specialising in the marketing, merchandising, monetisation and broadband-based distribution of PC video games.

Other partners include: Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, Institut Telecom, Kaltura Ltd, RedBedlam Ltd, the European Games Developer Federation and i2 Media Research Ltd, based at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Find out more about De Montfort University.

Jimmy Choo visits De Montfort University

Shoe guru Professor Jimmy Choo OBE gave De Montfort University footwear students a unique master class and provided first-hand advice to those keen to follow in his footsteps.

During his visit to the University, Professor Choo, who is also an Honorary Doctor of Arts at DMU, examined some of the footwear designed by students.

And one student, Cheng (Nikki) Lin, won the chance to spend a full day with the designer himself at the Jimmy Choo Couture House on Connaught Street in London.

BA Footwear Design is the only specialist footwear degree in the country and has already won the support of Professor Choo.

He said: ’Education is very important. It is very important that everyone understands how much education makes a difference.’

Find out more about De Montfort University.

Stylish student accommodation opens in East London

Looking at the new Nido Spitalfields you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a luxury hotel rather than student accommodation. This stunning new 33-storey development will be completed on 20 August 2010, and will accommodate 1,204 students.

Located in an über-trendy part of East London, minutes from fashionable Hoxton and Brick Lane, there are plenty of bars, traditional English pubs and places to eat nearby. And if you fancy a bit of retail therapy, the famous Spitalfields Market is close by, as well as plenty of boutique shops. Liverpool Street Station, with its underground and overground connections is just five minutes’ walk away, making it easy to zip around London.

Nido Spitalfields offers a choice of stylish single studios, twin apartments or share apartments, depending on whether you prefer to live on your own or share with others. There are common rooms on each floor, offering a mixture of lounges and study areas, as well as two courtyards outside. You can also keep fit – and enjoy spectacular views over London – from the in-house gym on the 33rd floor.

Rooms have a broadband internet connection, and there is also wireless in many of the common areas of the building. Nido Spitalfields even has an intranet that allows you to search for fellow residents who speak your language, have the same interests or go to your university – a great way to make new friends. Another bonus for international students is the option to set up a VOIP contract on your in-room phone to make and receive cheap international calls for a fee.

Nido Spitalfields is the second Nido student accommodation to open in the capital, joining Nido King’s Cross, which opened in Septemer 2007. Nido will also be opening a third student accommodation block in Notting Hill, best known for its world-famous street carnival, in September 2011.

Find out more from the Nido Student Living website.

Cambridge row to victory

Cambridge University’s rowing team were popping the Champagne corks after winning the Xchanging Boat Race, against rival crew Oxford on 3rd April 2010.

Up to 250,000 spectators lined the banks of the River Thames in London between Putney and Mortlake, to watch the action and cheer on the rowers of the 156th Boat Race.

The historic race between the two universities began in 1829 and was the idea of two school friends – Charles Merivale (a Cambridge student) and Charles Wordsworth (who studied at Oxford). Over 150 years later, the race is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, and is watched all around the world.

Last year’s winners Oxford (the Dark Blues), were the favourites to win and got off to a quick start – leading for some time, before Cambridge (the Light Blues) overtook and finally won by one and one-third lengths, in a time of 17 minutes 35 seconds.

It wasn’t all smiles for everyone on the Cambridge crew however – tradition has it that the winning crew’s cox (the person in charge of the boat and its crew) is thrown into the river by his teammates. This year’s victorious cox, Ted Randolph, was no exception, and he got a thorough soaking before heading off with his team to celebrate their win.

Read more about the history of the Boat Race, and about this year’s race.

BPP Law School wins four international awards in Chicago based competition

BVC students from BPP Law School won an outstanding four out of five awards at the International Academy of Dispute Resolution competition held in the US in March 2010.

The annual event, which took place in snow bound Chicago, attracted 36 teams from around the world, all of whom were tasked with competing against each other in three real life mediation scenarios, which included a life insurance dispute, an out of court settlement following a car accident, and a disagreement between a franchising company and one of its franchisees.

The team from BPP Law School dominated the prestigious event as it took the lion’s share of the awards – and won trophies in all but one of the overall categories for:

  • Outstanding New International Mediation Programme – joint 1st prize
  • Best International Law School – 2nd Prize
  • Attorney/Client Division – 2nd prize
  • Main Award – Overall Best Mediation Team – 3rd Prize

The largest country representation was from the United States, which entered a total of 23 teams. There were six UK law schools present – BPP, Liverpool John Moores, Staffordshire, Queens (Belfast), Strathclyde and the College of Law. Four teams entered from Canada; two from Germany, and one each from India and Australia.

Peter Crisp, Chief Executive, BPP Law School said:

’Our team of three students put in a tremendous effort before and during the competition, and this phenomenal success is down to their hard work and talent; not to mention the support of their coach, BVC lecturer Rahim Shamji whose drive, enthusiasm and determination have in no small way contributed to this great result. Well done to students Ali Nouraei, Camilla Whitehouse and David Collins – this is a fantastic achievement, and puts us firmly on the international platform.’

Find out more about BPP Law School

First Glasgow graduates searchable online 

Details of the earliest graduates of the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world are available online for the first time.

The University of Glasgow Story provides access to the details of the 13,000 people who graduated from the University of Glasgow from its foundation in 1451 until 1896.

Lesley Richmond, Director of Archive Services said: ‘This is a fantastic resource for family historians. University Graduates to 1896 opens up the university’s archives to researchers around the world so that research that would have previously required contact with Archive Services can now be carried out online.’

The very first graduates of the University were Nicholaus Bully, Michael Levinstone and Alexander Levinstone, who all graduated with Bachelors of Arts in 1451.

University Graduates to 1896 provides access to the details of other notable ‘first’ graduates from the university, including Alexander Sinclair, the first international graduate. Alexander, who graduated with a Masters of Arts in 1461, was born in Orkney in the 1440s when it was under Norwegian rule.

Information on other notable graduates is also available. James McCune Smith, the first African-American to practise medicine in the United States of America, studied at the university in the 1830s, graduating with his medical degree (MD) in 1837. Thirteen women graduated from the university from 1894 until 1896, including Marion Gilchrist, the first female graduate, who graduated with her medical degree (MB CM) in 1894.

Alongside the records of the university’s eminent and well-known graduates are the records of the men and women who studied at the university and went on to make a significant contribution to their local communities.

To support the records of their graduation, Archive Services are working on building up biographies of selected graduates. Basic biographical details are available for a number of graduates from the 17th centuries onwards, allowing researchers to build up fuller pictures of their ancestors’ lives.

Archives welcome details from descendants of these graduates to help them provide additional biographies online.

Find out more from the University of Glasgow website. 

Arts scholarships on offer in London

For the 2009/2010 academic year, the University of the Arts London is offering 16 postgraduate scholarships for international students, across their six Colleges. Scholarships will be awarded to international students with the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution to the art, design, communication or performance worlds.

The scholarships are offered at the following institutions:

• Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
• London College of Fashion
• London College of Communication
• Chelsea College of Art and Design
• Camberwell College of Arts
• Wimbledon College of Art

Find out more from the University of the Arts London website

UK’s top sports heroes support Olympic legacy for young people

Some of Britain’s best-known sports personalities are backing London 2012’s programme to benefit children all around the world through sport.

David Beckham, Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson are supporting International Inspiration, London 2012’s unique Olympic and Paralympic movement for children and young people. It is an international legacy programme, which aims to use the power of sport to transform the lives of millions of children and young people of all abilities, in schools and communities across the world, particularly in developing countries.

The International Inspiration programme is already changing the lives of young people in five countries – Azerbaijan, Brazil, India, Palau and Zambia – and work is planned in several other countries such as Bangladesh and Nigeria. As well as working with the children and young people, the initiative also involves their teachers, community volunteers and coaches as well as governments to ensure that the results are sustainable and life-changing for future generations.

The aspiration is to reach 12 million children in 20 countries by the 2012 Games. Children in the UK are also benefitting through a network of school links, providing opportunities to learn from each other’s cultures and experiences.

David Beckham said: ‘My involvement, both when London won the bid in Singapore in 2005 and at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, made me realise the power of the Olympic Games. Sport is a language that everyone speaks, and it can be used to change lives. Through International Inspiration, we have an opportunity to give millions of children the chance to experience the thrill and excitement that being involved in sport brings. We can use sport to teach them about trust and respect and we can boost their confidence. It’s a chance for them to learn how to stay safe, keep healthy and in some cases stay alive.’

Find out more from the UK Sport website.

Cambridge University scholarship agreement signed for Sikh graduate students

The university played host this week to a group of eminent Sikhs from Punjab, who gathered to mark the signing of a scholarship agreement between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust.

The agreement, which will commence in 2010, will enable up to five outstanding Sikh students to pursue a masters degree or PhD at Cambridge, in subjects relevant to the development of higher education in Punjab.

Before the signing ceremony, a number of Sikhs from both Cambridge and further afield participated in a traditional prayer meeting (Sehaj Path, Shabad Kirtan and Bhog) in Trinity Hall.

It is believed that this is the first time in the University’s 800 years that the Sikh Holy Book has visited the University, brought for this occasion by Sikhs visiting from London.

Cambridge Commonwealth Trust (CCT) is a charity with the purpose of enabling outstanding international students from Commonwealth countries to study at Cambridge.

Find out more from the University of Cambridge website

East African students win scholarship at Reading

The winners of the 2009 International Baccalaureate Scholarships for Reading University have been selected and East Africa has come out top.

Three students were selected to win full scholarships that cover fees for the three years of their undergraduate studies and also provide some support towards the cost of living. All three of this year’s winners were from East Africa with two students from Kenya and the third from Uganda. They will take up their studies in October 2009 and will be studying Animal Science (BSc), Applied Statistics (BSc) and Law (LLB).

Find out more from the University of Reading website. 

World Student Games held in Belgrade

The 25th World Student Games were recently held in Serbia, the biggest sporting event ever held in the Balkan state, with more than 8,500 athletes from 140 countries taking part in the event.

During the 12-day long event, student athletes competed in fifteen sports in arenas and stadiums in the capital Belgrade and other Serbian towns.

The largest delegations, with around 500 members each, were from China, Russia and the United States.

Sports events included archery, artistic gymnastics, athletics, basketball, diving, fencing, football, gymnastics, judo, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and water polo.

UK student Beth Tweddle came back from the disappointment of just missing out on an Olympic medal in Beijing last year by bringing home two gold medals in Gymnastics, for the Uneven Bars and Floor events.

The medals table was topped by the Russian Federation, followed by China, Korea, Japan and then the USA.

The World Student Games are staged every two years, and will next be hosted by China in 2011.

Find out more from the
Universiade Belgrade 2009 website. 

Snakes, scuba suits and skeletons – list of most bizarre items found in student homes

A list of ‘lost and found’ property left behind at student housing in 2009 has been released by UNITE, student accommodation provider – revealing some very unexpected things about students’ lives!

UNITE provides student accommodation for around 36,000 students throughout the UK, and collected the lost and found items from their buildings at the end of the 2009 academic year. They found ‘the most weird and wonderful array of left behind items’.

The most common items left behind are the sorts of things that you’d expect: mobile phone chargers, text books, toothbrushes, iPods and shoes. However, students have left behind some things that definitely raise a few eyebrows.

The ten most bizarre items:

1. 6ft snake
2. A pole dancing pole (fully fitted)
3. Life-size skeleton
4. A pair of budgies
5. Giant white pet rabbit
6. 10ft inflatable outdoor pool filled with water
7. Frozen chicken feet
8. A whip and a copy of the Karma Sutra
9. Scuba diving suit with air tank and flippers
10. Full-size air hockey table

Nathan Goddard, UNITE sales and Marketing Director, said: ‘After a year of working hard and playing hard, it is no surprise that students forget to pack everything at the end of term – and what they leave behind never fails to surprise us. From the risqué to the ridiculous, we often wonder how these items make it into their rooms in the first place.’

UNITE does all it can to try and trace the owners of all left-behind belongings. Those that can’t be found or remain unclaimed are donated to charity shops and recycling agencies. Unclaimed pets always go to a good home.

Find out more about UNITE.

Britain is a popular study destination for international students – new report

According to new figures from the British Council, over half a million international students studied in UK universities last year, over 100,000 more than there were thought to be.

The British Council has been analysing the figures for 2007-08 using different criteria, and has revealed that there were 513,570 international students in the UK, not 389,330 as they had previously thought. These findings, claim the British Council, show that the UK is now rivaling the United States (which estimates 623,805 international students) as the favourite study destinations for overseas students.

The study follows the decision to include nationality for the first time in 2007-08 as a compulsory field. Previously, the figure of 389,330 was based on overseas students living at foreign addresses. Now, however, the data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has been counted on the basis of those holding a foreign passport, so could for example cover international students who give a UK address when they apply to university. This would include those who are already in the country studying an English language or foundation course or attending a boarding school. This would add a considerable number to the previously held figure, and the Independent Schools Council recently released a report showing that the number of overseas students attending their member schools was growing, and now made up 4% (over 21,000) of the total schools population.

Another obvious category, which would have previously been omitted from the figures, is international students who go on to apply for a postgraduate programme after completing their degree in the UK. Some postgraduate courses are dominated by overseas students – they make up more than 80% of graduates on business and administration courses and more than 70% in social studies and biological sciences departments – so including them in the data would increase numbers significantly.

Pat Killingley, the British Council’s director of higher education, said: ‘It is only now that we can see the full picture showing the extent of the UK’s success in global recruitment to higher education, particularly from some of the world’s most important emerging economies.

‘We have believed for some time that we have many more international students in our universities and colleges than were being counted.

‘Now we can see that the UK is challenging the US, the global leader in the market for international students.’

Top 5 non-EU countries with students in the UK in 2007–08:

• China (55,185)
• India (35,245)
• US (24,020)
• Nigeria (21,010)
• Pakistan (13,515).

Find out more from the BBC website. 

Students go bananas

Students and staff from Kingston University London munched their way through 2,000 Fairtrade bananas in an attempt to set a new world record.

The university teamed up with the Fairtrade Foundation to take part in the challenge, which aimed to raise awareness about the importance of ethical shopping.

Kingston University became the third university in London to achieve Fairtrade Status and Fairtrade products including coffee, tea, chocolate and fruit are available throughout the university.

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