University of Stirling

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News Archive

July 2005

Changing Scotland: New Research Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey

Consistency the Key to Ramsay's Walker Cup Inclusion

Stirling's Swimming Success

Chocolate Sundays and Scarlet Mondays

New Programme Encourages Adults to Study

Textual Culture

Study Looks into MMR Uptake

Stirling Criminologist Wins Book Award

University Gymnast Shines at Special Olympics

Reels for Rupees

A Taste of the Wild

 

Changing Scotland: New Research Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey

Date released: Friday 1 July 2005

A new book published today, Friday 1 July, reports new evidence on families, incomes, employment and social/political behaviour in Scotland. Changing Scotland edited by Professors Robert Wright (University of Stirling) and John Ermisch (University of Essex) explores a wide range of aspects of Scottish society and notes several differences with England. Among the findings:

  • Independent living is much more common in Scotland than England, particularly among young people. Scottish young people leave their parental home sooner, primarily to live in arrangements other than cohabiting unions or marriages. They also appear to move into cohabiting unions sooner than English young people.
  • Independent living is also more common among Scottish older people. This is not only because of higher mortality rates in Scotland, because even among those without a spouse, relatively more Scottish people aged over 55 live alone. The country differential is even larger for widows.
  • In Scotland, more young people, albeit a minority, do not talk to their parents, argue with them and are likely to be out without them knowing where they are. Young people from single parent households are significantly more likely to be out after nine o’clock in the evening without their parent knowing where they are.
  • As elsewhere in the UK, Scottish people who move location are typically young, highly educated and reside in private rented accommodation. But compared with England, a larger proportion of Scottish movers are in public rented accommodation, fewer are in private rented accommodation, relatively more have degrees, more are in manual occupations, more are female, and they have lower average household income and relatively lower commute times.
  • Lifestyle and life circumstances may have a differential impact on health in Scotland and England. For example, smoking has a greater negative effect on the health of Scottish smokers. Possibly because those who do smoke, smoke more. The general tendency is for positive life circumstances to produce better health in Scotland, while negative circumstances produce worse health.
  • The distribution of income in Scotland is relatively unequal by the standards of most developed countries. Two trends in inequality are particularly notable. First, there is increasing inequality among retired households. Second, the self-employed, who are a relatively small proportion of the Scottish workforce, also tend to be found at the extremes of the income distribution. This, in itself, may be a reason why Scots appear relatively reluctant to enter self-employment.
  • In Scotland, people stay longer in jobs than in England. They are also more likely to be covered by collective bargaining and are more likely to be employed in the public sector. A higher proportion of people than in England hold a degree but also a higher proportion have no qualifications at all.
  • Men and women aged between 51 and 69 living in Scotland are more likely than their counterparts in England to be retired or otherwise economically inactive and less likely to be in work.

The book draws on new data from the Scottish extension of the British Household Panel Survey, which, along with a Welsh extension, was launched in 2000 to facilitate analysis of the two nations compared to England in order to assess the effects of the substantial public policy changes that were expected to follow political devolution.

The comparative studies in the book make it possible to address the question of whether Scots behave differently despite similar policy regimes in Scotland and the rest of Great Britain or the same despite some pre-existing differences in policy.

Lesley Pollock

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(01786) 467058

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Robert Wright

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467481 07759 628138

 
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John Ermisch

University of Essex

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1206 872335


Consistency the Key to Ramsay's Walker Cup Inclusion

Date released: Monday 4 July 2005

University of Stirling student, Richie Ramsay, is one of only two Scots selected to represent Great Britain in the 2005 Walker Cup match against the USA at Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois on 13 – 14 August 2005. Ramsay, the 22-year-old Royal Aberdeen member, joins Edinburgh-based Lloyd Saltman in the team of 10, announced by Peter McEvoy, the Chairman of the Selection Committee, today.

The Sports Studies student was always a strong contender, considering the consistency of his performances over the past 2 years. He marked his card by finishing 2nd at last year’s opening major amateur event, the Craigmillar Park Open, before going on to win the 2004 Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship and the East of Scotland title. In holing the winning putt for Scotland Youths in the 2004 European Team Championships, he earned his place in the Scottish senior side at the Home Internationals. However, a wrist injury limited his competitive play at the event. The winter provided some much needed rest bite and Ramsay returned with a vengeance in the early part of this year with a 2nd place finish at the prestigious Sherry Cup. He then went on to win this year’s Irish Strokeplay Championship, nearly defend his Scottish title and produce a number of other top-10 finishes in major amateur events this year. Last week he was one of Scotland’s top performers at the European Team Championships at Hillside.

Ramsay becomes Stirling’s 3rd Walker Cup representative. Colin Dalgleish played in the 1981 match whilst completing an Accountancy degree. After winning the British Amateur Championship, Gordon Sherry was a member of the 1995 winning GB side that defeated an American team that included Tiger Woods. Sherry graduated from Stirling in the same year with a Chemistry degree.

University of Stirling Head Coach, Gordon Niven, was delighted on hearing the news. He stated:

 

“I’m obviously delighted for him. Richie probably deserves this honour more than anyone. He is totally focused on his golf and has matched his determination with hard work and effort throughout his time at Stirling. I’m sure he will go on to play a significant role in the GB team when the match gets underway.”

 

Stirling’s Sports Performance Manager, Raleigh Gowrie, was equally delighted. He commented:

“Richie has reached a long-term goal that he set himself when he first came to Stirling and joined our golf scholarship programme. I am delighted that he has been able to progress with his golf and his studies. Everyone at the university wishes him every success at this year’s Walker Cup.”

Lesley Pollock

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(01786) 467058

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Raleigh N. Gowrie

Department of Sports Studies

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 466900


Stirling's Swimming Success

Date released: Tuesday 5 July 2005

The University of Stirling will have at least three swimming representatives at next year’s Commonwealth Games after they made the qualifying grades at last week’s Scottish Open Nationals at Tollcross, Glasgow.

Olympian Todd Cooper (Film & Media) stole the honours with a golden clean sweep of the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly events, smashing two national records along the way. The Melbourne event will be Todd’s second Commonwealth Games appearance and goes some way to eradicating the disappointment of missing out narrowly on selection for GB’s World Championship team.

Todd will be joined in Australia by fellow students, Andy Hunter (Accountancy) and Robert Lee (Sports Studies), after they made the qualifying times in finishing first and second in the 200m freestyle and 50m breaststroke events respectively. Stirling swimmers brought home seven gold and six silver medals from the event. Notable results include:

Todd Cooper (Film & Media Studies) 50m butterfly gold
  100m butterfly gold
  200m butterfly gold
   
Andy Hunter (Accountancy) 200m freestyle gold
  400m freestyle silver
   
Nick Neckles (Economics Graduate) 100m backstroke gold
  200m backstroke silver
   
Craig Houston (Marketing) 100m freestyle gold
  50m freestyle silver
   
Scott Houston (Mathematics) 200m backstroke gold
  100m backstroke silver
   
Ben Higson (Sports Studies) 200m individual medley silver
   
Mark Lewis (Marketing Graduate) 200m butterfly silver

 

Three Stirling swimmers will also compete in next month's World University Games to be staged in Turkey in mid-August.

Todd Cooper (Film & Media) and Mark Lewis (Marketing graduate) will compete for Great Britain in the sprint butterfly events whilst Nick Neckles (Economics graduate) will compete for Barbados in the backstroke races. It will be the first time that Lewis has competed at this level, whilst Neckles and Cooper make their second Games appearance.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058

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Raleigh Gowrie

Sports Performance Manager

Department of Sports Studies

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 466901


Chocolate Sundays and Scarlet Mondays

Date released: Monday 11 July 2005

If you were asked to describe the word Monday, what would you say? You might say that Monday is the first day of the working week, or that it is the day after Sunday, and few would argue with either definition. If you were a synaesthete, however, you might also reply that Monday is a particularly striking shade of scarlet, or that it tastes strongly of liquorice, opinions that are far less likely to go unchallenged.

If the idea of Monday being scarlet annoys you because you think it should really be blue, or yellow, or even a murky brown the same shade as the letter M, then you probably have synaesthesia. If the idea of Monday being scarlet bothers you because you don't think that days of the week have a particular colour at all, then you probably don't have this type of synaesthesia, but don't despair, it comes in many other forms.

Synaesthesia involves a 'joining together' of sensations that are usually experienced separately, with stimulation in one sense (e.g. hearing) evoking sensations in another (e.g. seeing colours). This means that when someone who has synaesthesia says that Sunday tastes of chocolate, or that the sound of F has a golden yellow hue, they are not merely being metaphorical, they genuinely experience the sensation they describe.

The quest to explain synaesthesia has held researchers puzzled for many years. Psychology postgraduate student Ailsa Forrest would like to hear from anyone who thinks they have any form of synaesthesia and might be willing to participate in her research. Email: aaf07@students.stir.ac.uk or Tel: 01786 466861.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058


Group of Students
Pictured above:  back row (L-R) Shona Keenan, Moira Ross and Jim Bradley; middle row Dawn Marshall, Aileen Fraser and Chris Pike; front row Cecilia Cham, Margaret-Sarah Ryan, Rong Rong Li,  Mary Robertson,  Lai Po Daisy Chung and Peter Cope.

New Programme Encourages Adults to Study

Date released: Monday 11 July 2005

A pilot programme to prepare adult learners for college or University study has proved a success. The Community Access to Mainstream Learning (CAML) Project launched in January, has resulted in seven students being accepted onto the University of Stirling’s Access to Degree Studies programme as well as one student joining Clackmannan College’s SWAP Access course.

The CAML programme took eleven community based adult learners through a preparatory programme of study which included “learning for a new learning environment”, “learning and IT skills” and “guidance and information”.

Funded through the South East Scotland Wider Access Regional Forum the aim of the CAML project was to bridge the gap between informal community based adult learning and entry to mainstream college and university based education through the delivery of a  programme which supports and prepares learners for their future learning career. Led by the University of Stirling, the partnership project also involved Clackmannan and Falkirk Colleges, Stirling Council, SWAP East and SWAP West and the Stirling Area Local Learning Partnership (SALLP). For more information contact Shona Keenan, CAML Project Coordinator at the University of Stirling on 01786 467953.

Lesley Pollock

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(01786) 467058

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Shona Keenan

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467953


Textual Culture

Date released: Thursday 14 July 2005

The University of Stirling’s Department of English Studies will host a ground-breaking conference next week (18-20 July) on Textual Culture. This new area of research, in which Stirling hopes to takes the lead internationally, has attracted the interest of academics from across the globe.

Conference speakers include one of the world’s leading writers on cultural studies, Australian Professor John Frow; French expert in early modern readers, authors and libraries, Professor Roger Chartier; Danish expert in the language of advertising and media cultures, Professor Kim Schrøder and US expert on book history, Professor Leah Price. Their papers will give an insight into the surprising ways in which we can think about reading matter.

For example, Professor Price of Harvard University, who will give a paper entitled ‘Reader’s Block’, said: “Until a century and a half ago, most reading matter was made from rags, and much of it went on to be recycled in turn. The newspaper handed down a chain of households as its contents staled, the volume whose endpapers provided a space for manuscript unconnected to its printed content, the letters sold for cutting out patterns or lining pie-plates. In its passage from hand to hand and use to use, old paper corroborates Natalie Davis’s description of the book as not merely a source for ideas but a carrier of relationships. Or of food: well after the triumph of wood-pulp (though before the advent of plastics), the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica continued to define paper as the substance commonly used for writing upon, or for wrapping things in.”           

Lesley Pollock

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Professor Ruth Evans

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467505


Study Looks into MMR Uptake

Date released: Sunday 17 July 2005

Parents who don't allow their children to have the MMR vaccine think that measles, mumps and rubella are less serious diseases than parents whose children have been vaccinated. Also, parents of children who go unvaccinated are more likely to believe there is a link between the vaccine and autism and/or bowel disorders. This research explaining why some parents reject the free vaccine was carried out by health psychologists from the University of Stirling. Over 400 parents took part in the study in Dundee last year.

Researcher Binder Kaur said: "Non-immunising parents admitted that they would be worried if their child developed measles or mumps, and accepted their child was at a greater risk of developing the diseases than other children, but they did not perceive these diseases as serious as immunising parents believe them to be. Non-immunising parents were more likely to accept the proposed link between the MMR vaccine and autism and/or bowel disorders. Surprisingly, they also thought that the vaccine and its effects were more dangerous for the child than contracting measles. In contrast, immunising parents held more positive attitudes about the MMR vaccine and perceived it to be more beneficial than hazardous."

Binder added: "Although uptake rates have started to increase they have not reached the 95% target set by the government. Consequently, there have been both measles and mumps outbreaks in the Scotland. The present study helps us understand parental attitudes and the reasons why some choose the vaccination whilst others refuse. Clearly, it is important that parents have access to as much information as possible regarding the seriousness and the consequences of their children developing the diseases measles, mumps and rubella".

The study suggested parents’ decisions whether or not to immunise were influenced by family members. Binder has begun a new study to investigate this finding further and would like to recruit a mixed group of parents, those who have had their child immunised and those who have not, to take part in focus groups. Participants will be encouraged to discuss their feelings towards the vaccine. A nominal fee will be paid to participants.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058

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Binder Kaur

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone Tel: + 44 (0) 1786 466843 or 07813906876
email Email: binder.kaur@stir.ac.uk

Stirling Criminologist Wins Book Award

Date released: Tuesday 19 July 2005

A University of Stirling criminologist has won the British Society of Criminology’s award for best criminology book by a first time author for Surviving Russian Prisons: Punishment, economy and politics in transition.

Criminologist Dr Laura Piacentini, a fluent Russian speaker, spent five months living in Russian prisons studying penal practices as the background to the book. She is the first western academic to conduct empirical and theoretical research on the system and the book is the first text on the contemporary Russian prison system written in English.

Surviving Russian Prisons focuses on how punishment is allocated and administered, in particular the changing nature of prison labour. Once an ideological justification for prison regimes, its main function now is to give prisoners a means to survive through participating in a barter economy. For example, prisoners trade goods with the local community.

Commenting on her research, Dr Piacentini said: “Writing this book was a real labour of love. It covers two long periods spent in Russia in 1999 and 2003 where I explored the changing nature of prisons – times that were extremely demanding. Through interviews with dozens of prisoners, prison officers and officials, the book lifts the lid on how this massive and complex penal system is shaking off its brutal past while answering to international calls for better human rights.”

Lesley Pollock

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Dr Laura Piacentini

Department of Applied Social Science

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone Tel: + 44 (0) 1786 467982

University Gymnast Shines at Special Olympics


Date released: Tuesday 19 July 2005

University of Stirling Sports Studies student Lizzie Jackson from Sauchie scooped four medals at the Special Olympics in Glasgow earlier this month.

Lizzie (32), who is profoundly deaf and partially sighted with learning disabilities, competed in artistic gymnastics winning gold for floor and vault, silver for beam and fourth for a-bars to secure an overall placing of silver.

Lizzie said: “I don’t think I have done too badly considering that I used to skive off physical education as school because I hated it and I wasn’t very good; but since getting in to sports for people with disabilities there is no stopping me. I started doing gymnastics when I was 25. I’d always loved watching it on TV, so when the special needs club I attend in Alloa asked if I’d like to take it up and enter competitions I didn’t hesitate.”

The sporty student has competed in several competitions to date including the Scottish and British Championships as well as the Cardiff Special Olympics in 2001, where she won three golds and two silvers. She also has medals for swimming, football and Taekwon-Do and has recently taken up horse riding with Riding for the Disabled.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058


Reels for Rupees

Date released: Friday 22 July 2005

Students and staff in the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture have teamed up to organise a fundraising ceilidh in aid of a devastated fishing village in Southern India.

Veerampattinam, which has a population of 6,200 and was one of the worst hit by the Asian Tsunami, is home to one of the Institute’s postgraduate students Saro Poobalane.

Saro said: “We lost four members of the community and most of our village properties like nets, boats and houses were destroyed. This has had a devastating affect on the village as most residents are fishermen and depend on the sea for survival. It has even affected young people’s education as parents can’t afford to send their children to school. The funds raised by the ceilidh will assist ongoing rebuilding works and ensure that no child’s education suffers. People can be assured that the money will go directly to the people and projects that need it most.”

The ceilidh will be held in Stirling Indoor Bowling Club on Friday 29 July from 8.30pm until midnight. Tickets priced £6 are available from the Institute, please contact 01786 466597 or 467914.

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager

(01786) 467058

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Saro Poobalane

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone Tel: 07834984364

A Taste of the Wild

Date released: Monday 25 July 2005

The University of Stirling has teamed up with Blair Drummond Safari Park to enrich the lives of captive animals. The unique collaboration will give psychology students the opportunity to apply the most up-to-date theories of animal welfare to real life situations.

Two University projects have recently been undertaken with the Park’s big cats. Dr Hannah Buchanan-Smith, an animal behaviour expert at the University, said: “Allowing animals to behave naturally is critical for good welfare. Hunting and killing prey are natural activities for lions and tigers but it is illegal in the UK to feed them live animals. Student Mark Jones developed a fiendishly clever solution to this problem in building the lionrover, a remote keeper-controlled device to replicate moving prey. Mark drew upon scientific knowledge of how the lions use their sense of smell to hunt. Rather, than being loaded up with food the lionrover carries around a sack of zebra dung to entice them by the smell. The prototype lionrover was tested with a pride of twenty lions. The lionesses stalked and chased the lionrover, pouncing upon it and biting it to “kill” it. The males then moved in to investigate once it became immobile, surrounding the device, settling next to it, chewing and licking the outer shell. This is what would happen with live prey in the wild.”

Getting exercise and combating boredom are also important for animals in captivity. Student Rachel Marno also studied how a novel feeding device affected the behaviour of the lions and the two Siberian tigers. The device consisted of hanging meat at a height that simulated natural prey. The cats showed great interest in this device, attacking it by jumping on it and biting at the “neck” until eventually they “killed” it, dragging it down. The female lions, who are naturally the hunters, spent more time interacting with the device than the males.

Other recent projects include providing foraging opportunities for the Park’s African elephants and chimpanzees – rather than simply handing them their food – and assessing the introduction of grooming in the petting area for animals.

Dr Buchanan-Smith said: “The research conducted not only benefits the animals, but the visitors and the keepers too. Watching animals behave more naturally, such as lions stalking and attacking their food, improves visitor education and enjoyment. All the park keepers have been fantastically cooperative with these studies. The keepers have detailed knowledge of their animals and have provided research ideas for the students to try out and quantitatively assess. The interchange of knowledge and enthusiasm between keepers and the Stirling University students helps Blair Drummond to continue to improve the welfare of their animals. Entertainment used to be the main role of safari parks and zoos but now they play an active role in conservation.”

The new partnership follows a similar successful collaboration between the University and Edinburgh Zoo.

Lesley Pollock

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Dr Hannah Buchanan-Smith

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467674

 

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David Booth

Chief Game Warden

Blair Drummond Safari Park

telephone Tel: +44 (0) 1786 841456