University of Stirling

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News Archive

September 2006

Communicating without Words

Unique Centre Opens its Doors to the Community - Saturday 9 September

Chimp Cross Code

Scottish Bars Healthier Since the Smoking Ban

Should Spouses be Forced to Testify? - Public Lecture Wednesday 20 September 2006

Illusions of Memory - Public Lecture Monday 18 September 2006

Golfer Scoops Bronze in World University Championships

Shanghai Cohort is Scotland's Largest this Year

Sir Trevor McDonald to Present Language Awards - Tuesday 26 September 2006

Racial Equality Head to Give Hetherington Lecture - Wednesday 4 October 2006

New Course Backs Peace Support Operations

Stirling Shortlisted for Best Student Experience

Communicating without Words

Date released: Tuesday 5 September 2006

Child looking away.Research by the University of Stirling into the power of children’s eye gaze will be showcased in a lecture at one of the UK’s biggest science festivals today (Tuesday 5 September) – the BA Festival of Science at Norwich Research Park.

 

Dr Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon of the Department of Psychology will argue that during difficult cognitive activity (e.g. thinking of an answer to a challenging question) we often look away from the person we are in conversation with. She will explain the development of children’s gaze aversion, how it reflects and facilitates thinking and its usefulness in the classroom.

Dr Doherty-Sneddon said: “We have recently shown that looking at someone’s face can sometimes interfere with our abilities to remember and process information. It appears that looking at people while we are trying to concentrate can actually distract us. Try asking someone a difficult mental arithmetic problem, to recall a distant event, or to explain a complicated route. If the person finds the task you set them challenging, and they make an honest attempt to complete it, they will not be able to keep looking at your face. During difficult cognitive activity we often close our eyes, look up at the sky, or look away from the person we are in conversation with. Furthermore we now know that this actually helps both adults and children to remember, problem solve and answer more accurately.”

By studying video recordings of people listening to, thinking about and answering questions researchers at Stirling have identified a predictable pattern of gaze aversion. While listening to the question children from eight-years of age, and adults, typically look at their questioner’s face – in order to extract the multitude of non-verbal signals available that will help them understand the question. However once the question is spoken it falls to the listener to take up the challenge of answering. To do this they have to think about and plan their answer. It is during this stage that gaze aversion peaks with adults often averting gaze 80-90% of their ‘thinking time’. Once they have their answer and begin speaking they engage again with their questioner although their gaze aversion time remains higher than during the listening phase. This pattern of gaze aversion peaking during thinking is one the researchers have found across many studies and convinces them that gaze aversion is an excellent external indicator that someone is indeed thinking about something.

Dr Doherty-Sneddon said: “Gaze aversion therefore promises to be a useful tool in many situations including pedagogical ones. Imagine a child doing his homework. His mum asks him to spell a new word he has to learn. He doesn’t answer and keeps looking at his mother. What should his mother do? Repeat the question; tell him the answer; or wait and see if he comes up with something himself? A lack of response along with staring often means that there isn’t a lot of thinking going on and the chances of a reasonable response are slim. It may be the child requires more help, encouragement to stay on task or simply a rest. In contrast when there is no initial response but the child averts their gaze there is a much better chance that they are trying to work things out for themselves. It is crucially important at times such as these that children are given the opportunity to do so without being interrupted.”

The research team plan to follow up their investigations into gaze with studies using brain imaging technology to determine which parts of the brain are involved in generating gaze aversion movements. In addition, they are beginning the first studies of gaze aversion as mental load management with special needs children, including children with William’s syndrome and attention hyperactivity disorder.

 

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Dr Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Tel: +44 (0)7999846440


Unique Centre Opens its Doors to the Community - Saturday 9 September

Date released: Monday 4 September 2006

Iris Murdoch BuildingThe University of Stirling’s Iris Murdoch Building is one of the unusual buildings taking part in this year’s 'Doors Open Days', where historic and interesting buildings across Scotland open their doors to the public to allow visitors to appreciate their interiors and learn more about what goes on inside the building. 

The Iris Murdoch Building houses the Dementia Services Development Centre and provides an impressive set of facilities including a conference suite, training facilities and accommodation. It is unique in that it has been purpose designed to ensure those working and visiting with dementia will feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. While it is commonplace for public buildings now to consider access for those with impaired mobility or sight, the Centre is one of the first purpose built facilities to provide an environment for those specifically with dementia.

Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre, Professor June Andrews said: “The Iris Murdoch Building and its garden are both beautiful and useful. They show architects and designers what dementia friendly design is like, as well as providing a great place for our students, teachers, and researchers to work."

She added: “The building was designed to be dementia friendly. When you are in it you can always see where you are and where you want to go. It is important that the rooms and their functions look familiar. The bedrooms and sitting room are homely while the kitchen cupboards are glazed so you can see exactly where you put the cornflakes. The floor surfaces are designed so that if your sense of perspective is diminished, you will feel more confident of knowing where the steps and stairs are. Even the light switches are highlighted with colour.

“One of the many special features is known as the Memory Wall. The memory wall is a favourite feature of the building, providing a place for personal objects which trigger memories. Originally designed to stop the building being too hot, the wall contains lots of small and individually sized windows with deep sills. They provide alcoves to hold objects or artwork that are familiar or might trigger memories. Moreover the building is a symbol of the importance of natural light helping to reduce solar gain, making the building 'green' inside as well as out.”

The Centre is opening its doors on Saturday 9 September 2006 from 10am to 4pm.  Visitors will be given tours of the building including its library, conference suites, bedrooms and garden. 


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Professor June Andrews

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0)1786 467740


Chimp Cross Code

Date released: Tuesday 5 September 2006

Chimpanzees crossing the road.In a finding that broadens our understanding of primate cooperation, research by the University of Stirling has found that chimpanzees evaluate road risk and adopt specific spatial patterning when crossing roads.

Researcher Kimberley Hockings said: “Prior research has shown that adult male monkeys reduce the risks of predatory attacks through adaptive spatial patterning, moving toward the front of the group when travelling towards potentially unsafe areas such as waterholes, and bringing up the rear when retreating, but comparable data on great ape progression orders are lacking. Road-crossing, a human-created challenge, presents a new situation that calls for flexibility of responses by chimpanzees to variations in perceived risk, helping to improve our understanding about the evolution of human social organisation.”

Road-crossing order was studied in a small community of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou, Guinea, West Africa as they crossed two roads, one large and busy with traffic, and the other smaller and frequented mostly by pedestrians. Adult males, less fearful and more physically imposing than other group members, take up forward and rearward positions, with adult females and young occupying the more protected middle positions. The positioning of dominant and bolder individuals, in particular the alpha male, changed depending on both the degree of risk and number of adult males present.

Kimberley Hockings said: “Dominant individuals act cooperatively with a high level of flexibility to maximise group protection.”


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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(01786) 467058


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Lesley Wilkinson

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Scottish Bars Healthier Since the Smoking Ban

Date released: Monday 11 September 2006

An overwhelming 92 per cent of Scottish bar staff say their workplaces are healthier since the introduction of the smoking ban six months ago – according to an opinion poll commissioned by Cancer Research UK published today (Monday 11 September). More than three quarters (78 per cent) of those surveyed also believe that the legislation will benefit their health in the long term.

To celebrate the success of the ban, Cancer Research UK is re-launching the iconic poster campaign that welcomed the introduction of the historic law in March. The revamped posters show the stubbed out cigarette crushed into the shape of Scotland but bear the new message ‘smoke-free and saving lives’ underneath. The image will appear on poster sites, in press, in pubs and on buses.

Professor Gerard Hastings, Director of Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Stirling, said: “This is great news. The survey results show that, in just six months, the people of Scotland are already reaping the health benefits of the going smoke-free.”

Even bar workers who smoke are overwhelmingly positive about the health effects of the new law with 89 per cent reporting that their work environment is now healthier because of it, and 69 per cent believing that it will benefit their health in the long term.

Professor Hastings added: “By protecting people from secondhand smoke and helping smokers to quit, Scotland’s smoking ban will save many thousands of lives in the next decade.”

The survey also shows that more young people than older people think the ban is benefiting their health. Eighty-two per cent of 18-29 year olds compared to 67 per cent of those over 50 years believe their workplace is now much healthier. This echoes previous research that found that young people are most proud of Scotland leading the way on smoke-free legislation.

More than 500 bar workers from across Scotland took part in the opinion poll. There were no significant regional differences in terms of whether bar workers felt healthier since the ban.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Professor Alex Markham, said: “Scotland should be proud of having moved so fast to embrace smoke-free legislation. While the rest of the UK plays catch up, Scotland has led the way in showing how to ensure a smoke-free future. Most smokers want to quit. And the ban gives them a golden opportunity to stop smoking for good.”

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Professor Gerard Hastings

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Should Spouses be Forced to Testify? - Public Lecture Wednesday 20 September 2006

Date released: Wednesday 13 September 2006

Professor Fraser Davidson of the University of Stirling will question the law allowing a spouse or civil partner of an accused to refuse to testify against the accused in a timely public lecture this week. In at least one recent case a person accused of a serious offence has married the individual who was going to be the main witness against him, and the Scottish Executive has now issued a Consultation Paper on Proposals to Amend the Law on Compellability of Spousal Witnesses, which asks whether the rule should be reformed or abolished.

The lecture, entitled Forcing Spouses to Testify, marks the recent appointment of Professor Davidson to the School of Law and will be held on Wednesday 20 September at 5.30pm in Logie Lecture Theatre.

Professor Davidson will examine the history of spouses testifying as witnesses, showing how the law has developed in a haphazard fashion from its starting point that no spouse was competent was a witness. He will sketch out the continuing difficulties and uncertainties of the current law, before considering the continuing rationale of the privilege of a person not to testify against his or her spouse, the arguments against the existence of that privilege and the options for reform.

At the same time Professor Davidson will suggest that if reform is on the agenda it might also embrace the privilege of a person not to disclose anything communicated by his or her spouse. The rationale of this privilege will be questioned, and it will be shown how it operates in very different ways in civil and criminal proceedings.

Professor Davidson will also argue that it might be illogical to abolish the privilege to refuse to testify and leave this latter privilege undisturbed.


Members of the public who wish to attend this free lecture should RSVP to the External Relations, University of Stirling: 01786 467055 or e-mail c&d@stir.ac.uk

 

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Professor Fraser Davidson

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Scotland

UK

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 467287


Illusions of Memory - Public Lecture Monday 18 September 2006

Date released: Thursday 14 September 2006


Elizabeth LoftusWorld renowned psychologist Professor Elizabeth Loftus from the University of California – Irvine is to give a public lecture at the University of Stirling on the power of suggestion. Loftus’ work has shown that memory is highly susceptible to distortion and manipulation, and that people can vividly recall events that never happened. Her research on false memory, the reliability of eyewitness reports and memories ‘recovered’ through therapy has affected how law enforcement, courts and psychologists consider such testimony.


Because her work raises doubt about the validity of long-buried memories of repeated trauma in particular (though it in no way disproves them) she has found herself asked to testify in some of the more famous trials of our time. In fact, Loftus has been called as an expert witness in more than 200 trials, including that of the mass murderer Ted Bundy, the Oklahoma City bombing, Michael Jackson and the Menendez brothers.


Recently named one of the top 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century and top-ranked woman, Loftus is rated among the 25 psychologists most frequently cited in introductory psychology textbooks. With more than 350 published journal articles and 20 books to her credit, Loftus is hailed as a remarkable scientist, and an excellent speaker.

Professor Loftus said: “The power of suggestion can make people believe that they have seen and done things that they didn't see or do. People have been led to remember nonexistent events from their childhood, as well as from their recent past. They can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also rather bizarre or implausible ones. False memories have consequences. For example, a suggestion that you got sick eating strawberry ice cream makes you less inclined to want to eat it. The curtain between imagination and memory is flimsier than most people realize.”


The lecture will be held on Monday 18 September at 6pm in the Logie Lecture Theatre and is the first of a new series of annual lectures bringing together world leaders in psychology entitled, the John Damian Lecture Series.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Anna Fenge

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
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UK

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 467640


Golfer Scoops Bronze in World University Championships

Date released: Monday 18 September 2006

Gordon YatesUniversity of Stirling student Gordon Yates helped Great Britain to a bronze medal at the recent World University Golf Championships at Circolo Golf Torino, Italy (September 5-9).


The third year Sports studies student, teamed with Daniel Willet of Jacksonville State and Birmingham University pair Jason Palmer and Ed Parker, finished on 851 behind Japan and the USA respectively.


Yates proved to be Great Britain’s most consistent golfer at the event, shooting rounds of 67, 68, 72, 73 for an individual total of eight under par that helped him to a sixth place finish in the individual event.


Gordon’s fine play was on the back of a winning performance the previous week at the Intercollegiate Event at St Andrews Bay Resort. Playing against seven of the best collegiate sides from the USA, as well as St Andrews and a Royal and Ancient select team, Yates finished on 13 under par for three rounds to win comfortably by five shots. His combined total for his last seven competitive rounds is an astonishing 21 under par.


Stirling alumnus Olivia Briggs (BA Hons Business Studies 2006) also competed in the World University Games in Italy. She helped Great Britain’s women’s side to finish in seventh place overall.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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(01786) 467058

 

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Raleigh Gowrie

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0)1786 466906


Shanghai Cohort is Scotland's Largest this Year

Date released: Tuesday 19 September 2006


Jack McConnell with students from Only College.A deal struck between the University of Stirling and Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Only College has generated what is thought to be the largest cohort of students from a single Chinese institution to a Scottish university this year.

Just over 100 students from Only College, a commercial college run by Shanghai Jiaotong University, have arrived at the University to complete courses ranging from Management and Finance to Sports Studies and English Teaching: under the agreement students study two years in Shanghai in order to access year three of a Bachelor degree at Stirling, and one year in Shanghai in order to access a Master's degree.

The University hopes the new link will bring more than 100 students from Shanghai to Stirling annually.

University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett said: “We want these students to maximise their time at Stirling and have adapted the curriculum of one of China’s finest universities in Shanghai so that students get used to the UK academic style before arriving here. We are committed to enhancing cultural diversity and inclusivity and are proud of the fact that we already have over 80 nationalities on campus with whom these students will integrate. With China playing an ever larger role in world affairs, this also represents a tremendous learning opportunity for all of our UK students.”

The students were welcomed to the University by First Minister Jack McConnell last week and an official reception will be held in the University’s Iris Murdoch Building tonight (Tuesday 19 September).


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

 

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Neil Christie

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
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UK

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 466814


Sir Trevor McDonald to Present Language Awards - Tuesday 26 September 2006

Date released: Thursday 21 September 2006

Trevor McDonaldTwelve innovative projects which encourage language learning are to be celebrated at an awards ceremony at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 26 September to coincide with the European Day of Languages.

The UK winners of this year’s European Award for Languages will be presented with their awards by Sir Trevor McDonald, patron of CILT, the National Centre for Language – which co-ordinates the competition in the UK, this year in conjunction with Scottish CILT, based at the University of Stirling.

The awards recognise excellence, innovation and the ability to serve as an inspiration to others as Acting Director of Scottish CILT and competition judge, Joanna McPake explains: “I have been a judge on the European Award for Languages panel for a number of years and have been privileged to learn about many innovative and inspiring initiatives to promote language learning among all age groups, from pre-school children to adult learners. I am delighted that two Scottish projects have been selected for awards in 2006 and hope that they will inspire many more exciting developments in Scotland and beyond.”

The two Scottish winners are:

Litterhitters! – Shawlands Academy, Glasgow

This initiative links a city clean-up operation and a school litter campaign, educating students about environmental issues in French. The approach is cross-curricular integrating subjects such as Citizenship, Drama and ICT. Students have worked closely with international partners to produce a website looking at the environment in a European context. Highlights of the project include a video diary, workbook and a French play. Not only were pupils involved in staging and production of the play but in regenerating the park where it was performed in an environmental service to the local community.

Multilingual Debate – Heriot-Watt University

Prominent members of the local community are invited to take part in a formal debate with an audience of over 500 upper secondary students from across Scotland. The audience members rely on services from final year interpreting undergraduates when the debate switches to a language they do not understand. University students are thus provided with a rare opportunity for genuine interpreting and younger learners see fluency is achievable.

The awards ceremony will take place in the parliament’s debating chamber and will be hosted by Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon George Reid MSP. The event will incorporate inputs from two of the winning projects: guests will witness a multilingual debate on the importance of language skills with interpretation from undergraduates at Heriot-Watt University; and two students from Aveling Park School, London will give short taster sessions to the audience in their home languages – Turkish and Amharic.

The public gallery will be open to visitors wishing to view the ceremony and a number of headsets will also be provided for the multilingual debate.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Tamzin Caffrey

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Scotland

UK

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7395 0822


Racial Equality Head to Give Hetherington Lecture - Wednesday 4 October 2006


Date released: Thursday 21 September 2006


Trevor Phillips.The University of Stirling is pleased to announce that the 2006 Hetherington Memorial Lecture will be given by Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality since 2003.

Trevor Phillips has recently also been appointed head of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights. He is an award-winning broadcast journalist and was previously head of current affairs at LWT and editor and presenter of The London Programme.

The title of his lecture, to be given on Wednesday 4 October at 6pm in the Logie Lecture Theatre, is ‘The Discourse of Migration: Treading a Fine Line’.

The annual event, organised by the Stirling Media Research Institute, is named after the late Alastair Hetherington. The former editor of the Guardian and Controller of BBC Scotland was the first Research Professor of Media Studies at the University of Stirling.

Previous lectures have been given by Peter Preston, Jon Snow, Alan Rusbridger, Sheena McDonald, Jonathan Freedland, Roy Greenslade and Elinor Goodman.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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(01786) 467058

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Peter Meech

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
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UK

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 467526


New Course Backs Peace Support Operations

Date released: Friday 29 September 2006

The University of Stirling will launch a new postgraduate course in conjunction with the Scottish Police College and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today (Friday 29 September) for UK police officers taking part in international peace support operations.

Around 200 UK police officers are currently stationed abroad on peace keeping missions in countries such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Jordan, Sudan and Sierra Leone.

The Postgraduate Certificate in International Policing: Peace Support Operations is designed to build on the pre-deployment training given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to officers who have volunteered for such overseas missions. Module topics range from international conflict and cooperation to community dynamics and managing people in an unstable environment.

Course Director, Dr Richard Dockrell said: “The course is designed to assist officers faced with policing post-conflict communities overseas. We aim to equip them with the skills necessary for conflict prevention, management and resolution. Officers will examine politics, power, value systems and attitudinal differences towards policing. Through this, we hope to bolster their leadership skills and teach them techniques for managing stressful situations.”

The course is delivered by distance learning, with tutorial support online.

Director Scottish Police College, Mrs Margaret Barr said: “The Scottish Police College has worked closely with the University of Stirling and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in developing this unique qualification. The College has an extensive record of partnership working and we were delighted to participate in this project. UK Police Officers deployed on Peace Support Operations play a vital role in re-establishing law and order and help to bring stability to communities that have often been blighted by conflict. This qualification will go a long way to recognising and rewarding their efforts”.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

 

 
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Dr Richard Dockrell

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Scotland

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 467948

 
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Chief Inspector Bob McFarlane

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Tel: +44 (0)1259 732066


Stirling Shortlisted for Best Student Experience

Date released: Friday 29 September 2006

The University of Stirling has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Supplement Award for the UK's Best Student Experience.


Stirling is one of only two Scottish institutions to make the shortlist (published in the THES on Friday 29 September), the other being St Andrews.


Students were asked to rate their University on the quality of staff/lectures, courses, social life, community atmosphere, campus environment, extracurricular activities, facilities, students’ union, support/welfare, industry connections, cheap shop/bar, tuition, accommodation, workload, security, sports facilities and library.


University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett said: “The University of Stirling is a wonderful place to study – it has an excellent reputation for its teaching and research and is a caring community located on one of the finest campuses in Europe. We focus upon student-centred teaching with flexible learning opportunities, including almost 300 degree combinations. We also offer students an extensive range of support services, to help them get the most out of University. The scenery on the campus is breathtaking and students are presented with a wide range of social, cultural and sporting facilities.”


The eight other universities in the top ten are Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Oxford, Sheffield, Swansea and Warwick. The winner will be announced at an awards dinner on 15 November, at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058