Date released: Friday 4 April 2008
Two sports scholars at the University of Stirling will be packing their bags for Beijing, after qualifying for the Olympic Games at the British Swimming Championships.
Todd Cooper (100m butterfly) and Andy Hunter (200m freestyle relay team) booked their tickets with outstanding performances in Sheffield this week.
Cooper broke his own British record with a time of 52.43 seconds in the heat, and then finished second in the final to reach his third Olympic Games after competing in Sydney and Athens.
Hunter, meanwhile, will take part in his first Olympics in the relay team after a fourth place finish in the 200m freestyle final.
Their success ensures there will be a record-breaking ten Scots swimmers in the British Olympic team in August.
Date released: Wednesday 9 April 2008
The University of Stirling has become the first academic institution in the UK to oblige staff to make all their published research available online.
Stirling is leading the way in open access to its research work, after the University’s Academic Council issued an institutional mandate which requires self-archiving of all theses and journal articles.
Professor Ian Simpson, Deputy Principal (Research and Knowledge Transfer) said: “We believe that the outcomes of all publicly funded research should be made available as widely as possible. By ensuring free online access to all our research output, we will maximise the visibility and impact of the University’s work to researchers worldwide.”
The four year project to create STORRE (Stirling Online Research Repository) has been brought to fruition by information technology specialists Clare Allan and Michael White.
Clare Allan said: “The University now requires all published journal articles to be deposited by authors, as soon as possible after they are accepted for publication, and in compliance with the publishers' copyright agreements.
“It is an important landmark in our archival development and marks the conclusion of a process that started in 2004 when Stirling was one of 20 academic institutions which signed up to the OATS (Open Access Team for Scotland) declaration. The repository project initially focused on electronic theses and in session 2006/07 we became one of the first universities to require these to be submitted electronically.
“The next stage was a pilot scheme for self-archiving of journal articles by some researchers, and this has now become mandatory. We are also building up a retrospective archive.”
Many of the major UK research funders now require open access to published results from research awards they fund, but by going a step further and ensuring that this is done in every case, the University of Stirling is setting a high standard of access that is expected to reap rewards.
Michael White added: “We are hopeful of a very positive response from researchers to the requirement to self-archive, as they will benefit from greater visibility of their work – such as increased citations from their published work, which in turn can lead to improved funding. To quantify this, they can track how often each article is viewed.
“Being a secure central and searchable database, STORRE acts as a record of each individual’s research career and can help with research reporting exercises. The repository also conforms to open standards for metadata harvesting, enabling articles to be included in national, international and subject-based cross-repository searches. Even general internet search engines, such as google, rank results from repositories far higher than personal pages, which makes it easier for others to find their work. The figures are impressive.”
STORRE is growing rapidly and can be searched at http://dspace.stir.ac.uk
Date released: Tuesday 15 April 2008
Professor Emeritus Angela Smith will return to the University of Stirling to give an Art Lecture on the subject of J D Fergusson, focusing particularly on the pictures he painted in Paris in the first decade of the 20th Century.
The lecture will be held on Wednesday 30 April 2008 from 1-2 pm in Lecture Theatre A96, Pathfoot Building.
Admission is free and all staff, students and members of the public are welcome to attend.
To reserve a place, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01786 467055.
For details of all events at the University of Stirling, visit www.externalrelations.stir.ac.uk/events/inaug-lecs.php
Date released: Thursday 17 April 2008
For the first time in the UK, a university is to join a professional club in offering football scholarships. A unique initiative between the University of Stirling and Falkirk FC will allow talented young footballers to combine their sport with a university degree.
Scholarship players will benefit from up to £2,500 a year throughout their degree, which will cover the cost of essential requirements including accommodation and equipment. The first four scholars will take up their place in September 2008, and to give added support and raise the standard of play, the University is investing in professional coaching staff, and is applying to join the East of Scotland League.
The scholarships will be called the Craig Gowans Football Scholarships in memory of a talented young Falkirk player who died in 2005 as a result of an accident.
Stephen Morrow, Head of the Department of Sports Studies, said: “This is an exciting and ambitious initiative for Scottish football. These scholarships are designed to help students with exceptional football ability to become better players, acquire coaching skills, and study for a university degree.
“The University of Stirling is widely regarded as a national centre of sporting excellence, and has a long and distinguished record of supporting talented sportsmen and women. We start by recruiting winners and then encourage them to fulfil their potential.”
George Craig, Managing Director of Falkirk FC, said: “The Craig Gowans Football Scholarships represent a fantastic opportunity for players to use their brains as well as their feet in developing a career. A substantial proportion of players are released by professional clubs when they reach the age of 18, and a sports scholarship gives them the chance to continue developing their footballing talents, but also study for a degree. There is always the possibility of players returning to the professional game after completing their degree, a prime case being David Weir, who took a sports scholarship in the USA and turned pro with Falkirk on his return, going on to become a regular Scotland international player.”
Falkirk FC operates an Academy programme with over 200 players training at the University of Stirling. The club has produced 15 youth internationals in the last three seasons, while a third of its first team squad are Academy graduates.
The University of Stirling is acknowledged as Scotland’s university for sport, and has awarded over 300 sports scholarships since 1981 in golf, swimming, tennis and triathlon. Olympic swimmers and Walker Cup golfers are among those who have benefited from Stirling’s commitment to high performance sport.
Scholarships offer a broad range of support, including academic flexibility, the supply of essential equipment, the services of national standard coaches, regular fitness training, testing and monitoring, sports science support including physiological, psychological and nutritional guidance, and a place in a university residence throughout the degree course.
Stephen Morrow added: “We expect students to work hard and make sacrifices to help them reach their sporting and academic goals. Stirling has a comprehensive collection of sports facilities on a beautiful parkland campus, and the quality of the environment is second to none.”
To be considered for a scholarship award, applicants must meet the normal entry requirements to study at the University of Stirling and hold, or be in the process of applying for, a place on a degree programme. They will have to demonstrate footballing ability and a commitment to improve, and have the appropriate work ethic.
Sports scholarship application forms are available from the Department of Sports Studies.
Date released: Friday 18 April 2008
Children in Aberdeen who have gone through their entire primary school education with lessons in French are now reaping considerable benefits. According to a research report published this week by the University of Stirling, Early Primary Partial Immersion (EPPI) in French is an outstanding success.
Pupils at Walker Road Primary School, Aberdeen, all receive part of their daily curriculum in French from the age of 5, in a research project which is first of its kind in the UK. Native-speaker French teachers work with the general school staff to teach drama, songs, art and physical education in French, and as the children proceed through their primary school education, other subjects including environmental studies and ICT are blended in.
Professor Richard Johnstone and Robert McKinstry, of the Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (Scottish CILT) of the Stirling Institute of Education were commissioned to undertake the evaluation of the project once the first group of children moved on to secondary school.
Prof Johnstone said: “The initiative has prepared pupils very well for true international citizenship, not only through their outstanding proficiency in another major language but also in their confidence and international outlook.”
A key feature of the project is that the school is situated in an area of recognised socio-economic deprivation, and the aims of the project are concerned not only with the development of proficiency in French but also with raising self-esteem and aspiration.
Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, said: “The Scottish Government is focused on encouraging our young people to be self confident, outward looking Scots. These are qualities reflected in the children of Walker Road Primary who have developed their French language skills through this pilot, from which I am sure there will be valuable lessons that we can learn for language learning in Scottish education as a whole.”
Joanna McPake, Director
Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research
Stirling Institute of Education
University of Stirling
Tel: 01786 466295
Date released: Thursday 24 April 2008
A one-day conference on Keeping Children Safe will be hosted by the University of Stirling on Monday 28 April.
Child care professionals from around the country will be attending the conference, which is an opportunity for all those involved in keeping children safe to discuss how policy and practices can improve in Scotland.
Brigid Daniel, Professor of Social Work at the University of Stirling, will give the lead speech for the conference, entitled 'Where now for child protection?' and she said: "Unprecedented political attention has been focused in Scotland on how best to respond to children who need extra support and protection. We are in the midst of highly significant policy developments that are impacting not only on social workers, but also on nurses and teachers, who are now expected to take a greater role in ensuring children's welfare and protection."
Other key speakers include Maggie Tierney, Team Leader of the Child Protection Policy Team, Scottish Government, and Lindsay Ferguson, Nurse Consultant for Child and Family Protection, NHS Tayside.
Prof Daniel, a founding member of the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network, said: "This conference will offer professionals working in this challenging and complex field the opportunity to reflect how they can best work together to provide a protective network for children."
The conference is at Stirling Management Centre and is organised by MacKay Hannah Public Policy in association with the University of Stirling and Barnardo's Scotland.
Click here for the full conference programme
Date released: Wednesday 23 April 2008
It has been in the news this week that honeybees are struggling – diseases are wiping out colony after colony – but Britain’s most important pollinators, the bumblebees, are also experiencing catastrophic declines. The simultaneous loss of these critically important insects is leading to a pollination crisis.
Dinner plates and wildflower meadows may never be the same again, according to Dr Ben Darvill, Director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), which is based at the University of Stirling. He explained: “The UK has 18 species of 'true' bumblebee and just one type of honeybee. Between them, these insects pollinate the vast majority of our flowering crops and wild flowers. Diseases have already hit honeybees hard, and new diseases spreading from Europe and America look set to send populations to new lows.
“Wild native bee populations should be our insurance strategy, but sadly habitat loss seems to be simultaneously driving our bumblebees to the brink. Three bumblebee species are nationally extinct and six more are seriously threatened (on the UK's Biodiversity Acton Plan), so 50% are already either extinct or in immediate danger.”
Dr Darvill stressed the importance of pollination to our everyday lives, and said: “When a bee visits a flower, it picks up pollen on its fur, and transports it to another flower, pollinating it in the process. Without pollination, flowering crops like beans, peas, strawberries and raspberries won’t produce anything to harvest, and wildflowers won’t produce any seeds. The loss of the nation’s pollinators is likely to affect your dinner plate, and will change the wider countryside beyond recognition.”
Bob Dawson, conservation officer with BBCT, is also keen to encourage farmers to help their native bee populations. He said: "The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recognises the importance of bees, and estimates the value of their pollination services at around £200m a year. The good news is that agri-environment schemes offer payments to farmers to help them maintain flower-rich areas for bees and other wildlife. Farmers or farming advisors should contact the Trust for advice on how to get the best out of these schemes.”
The good news is that you can do your bit to help, by joining the Trust and learning how to help the bees in your own garden. Collectively, gardens cover more than a million hectares across the UK, and if the right flowers are grown, urban areas could become a haven for our dwindling bee populations.
Dr Darvill concluded: “The warning is clear – our bee populations are in crisis. We need to act now and help bees in our gardens and in the countryside if we are to avoid the sting in the tail.”
For more information/photographs, please contact:
Ben Darvill, Director, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA
Tel: 01786 467818.
Gardeners can make a significant difference by growing the right kinds of flowers throughout the year – many fancy varieties are of little use to wildlife. A list of recommended species can be found on the BBCT website www.bumblebeeconservationtrust.co.uk