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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives


CONTENTS 01 FOREWORD By Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor

02 KEY DATES AND EVENTS A brief history of the University

04 INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH Undertaking research with a societal impact

05 CYBERSTALKING The National Centre for Cyberstalking Research is raising


On campus Artist’s impression of the new teaching and learning building at the Bedford campus, due to open January 2015

Cover graphic

World - a sculpture made from recycled computer components World is the work of artist Susan Stockwell. Meticulously hand crafted using discarded computer components - including motherboards, cables, lights and microchips – the inspiration for Susan’s artwork partly came from the University.

awareness of the issue

08 CORAL REEFS Understanding more about what protects and sustains coral reefs

10 CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION Sexual exploitation of young people comes under scrutiny

12 ORGAN DONATION RESEARCH Changing attitudes about organ donation among ethnic minority groups

“Being a global community where students come from many countries to learn, the ‘World’ seemed the perfect work of art for the setting,” said Susan.


“I work with recycled materials – stuff that has been thrown away. The material holds the idea. I draw it out and give it a different meaning. “The computers are dissected, their innards exposed, revealing the underbelly of the machines we take for granted.”


Susan’s idea to use discarded computer components was also in acknowledgement of the “strong technology focus” of the courses taught at the University. The World was transported in three pieces and re-assembled at the Campus Centre, in Luton, where it takes pride of place.

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A significant workplace issue for women that causes major distress The key findings of a global study into the prevalence of diabetes

18 CRELLA The world’s leading research centre for language learning

20 TRANSFORMING LIVES Graduates talk about how university has changed their lives

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FOREWORD “IT’S TOO EARLY TO SAY” – that’s what Zhou Enlai was alleged to have said in 1972 when, as Chinese Premier, he was asked about the impact of the French Revolution of 1789. As Vice Chancellor for just over a year, but seven years on from a merger, two decades on from University status, and with histories stretching back over a century – I’m willing to contradict Zhou and recognise that our essential mission, achievements and staff, students and alumni have already transformed lives and communities at home and across the world.

We are a University that has always looked to the future; to new opportunities, new adventures and new partners. We enter our third decade with a new campus in Milton Keynes, a renewed focus on delivering the best possible student experience, significant investment in new staff and facilities, and a University community dedicated to achieving at the highest level.

We now know that Zhou was probably referring to the Paris protests of 1968. This misunderstanding has long been used to signify a Chinese approach based on the long-view of history.

The story of this University is one of shared aspirations, ambitions and actions. That is the case now, as much as it was in 1993 or 2006. We continue to transform lives through access to an excellent educational experience. It is a clear, straightforward but inspirational mission. For me, there is no bigger or better vocation.

Twenty years of the University of Luton, now Bedfordshire, and I believe that we retain the vigour and dynamism of a modern institution, whilst taking strength from our robust local and regional roots.

I’m hugely proud of this University, our staff and student community and our record of success. Twenty years and counting – we go from strength to strength.

We continue to transform lives through access to an excellent educational experience BILL RAMMELL Vice Chancellor

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THE UNIVERSITY OF BEDFORDSHIRE has its roots in Luton Modern School, which was established in 1904 and, in 1908, occupied the Park Square site in Luton.

polytechnics had possessed before their dissolution. All the requirements for university designation had now been met, and on 14th July 1993 the Privy Council approved the founding of the new University of Luton - just two weeks before a ten year moratorium on establishing any further universities was introduced.

By 1937, it had become Luton Technical Institute, created to address the needs of an industrial town with many new and expanding industrial engineering companies. After several more name changes, it became Luton College of Technology in 1958, by which time it was already offering ‘sandwich’ courses – degree-level qualifications which combined work and study, via day release to college – in areas such as science and engineering. Luton County Borough bought Putteridge Bury, a country house set in 30 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland, in 1965, and it was opened as a teacher training college the following year. It merged with Luton College of Technology to become Luton College of Higher Education in September 1978, with Dr Roy Steed as Director. He was succeeded by Dr Tony Wood in 1985, and under his leadership, Luton College of Higher Education was incorporated as an independent higher education corporation in 1989, despite fierce opposition from Bedfordshire County Council. The goal was set to become a polytechnic within four years.

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03 01 Aerial view of Luton College of Technology, 1959

02 Luton Modern School, 1908 By 1992 the college had become one of the largest higher education institutions in the country, and that same year it won powers to award its own taught degrees from the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA). At this point the government unexpectedly abandoned the poytechnic name, and all the polys were allowed to adopt the title of ‘university’. The following year the college won further powers to award its own research degrees, something not even all the

Dr Dai John took over as Vice Chancellor from Dr Tony Wood in 1998. He led the University through a period of change, including a portfolio review, which focussed resources on vocational courses. In both 2000 and 2001, the University came top of The Times newspaper’s league table for graduate employment. Professor Les Ebdon took over as Vice Chancellor in 2003, at a time when the University’s annual turnover was £30m. Professor Ebdon had also set his sights on a merger with the former Bedford College of Higher Education, which had become a campus of De Montfort University and, in 2006, the University of Luton and the Bedford campus of DMU merged to become of the University of Bedfordshire. The University was shortlisted for ‘University of the Year’ in the Times Higher Awards in 2007 and, in the same year, Bedfordshire was rated third in the

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03 (opposite) Cutting the University of Luton inauguration cake, 1993 – Vice-Chancellor Dr Tony Wood and Professor John Matthews, Chairman of the Board of Governors and Pro-Chancellor

country for Media-related courses and 12th for Sport, according to The Guardian newspaper. The University itself moved up 24 places in The Times Good University Guide, one of the biggest jumps recorded in 2007. The University expanded rapidly and began a huge investment programme, starting with a multi-million pound Theatre, Campus Centre and Halls of Residence in Bedford, opened by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex in 2007. This was followed in 2008 by the opening of the Butterfield Park campus in Luton, for nursing and midwifery students. A further health care campus opened at Oxford House in Aylesbury in 2009 and work started on a multi-million pound Campus Centre and Halls of Residence in Luton, which opened in 2011 by Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes. The University was commended in the Government’s Research Assessment Exercise for its ‘world leading’ research in 2008. Applications to study at Bedfordshire nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011. The University’s international profile and reputation also grew quickly and international student numbers increased rapidly, resulting in a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2011.

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07 In the same year, the University won a Leadership and Management award from the Times Higher and achieved the ‘Gold’ award from Investors in People – the highest accolade awarded by IiP. Annual turnover had grown to £130m by the end of 2011. Former Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell took over as Vice Chancellor in 2012 and welcomed Minister of State for Universities and Science, The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, who opened the £20m Postgraduate and Continuing Professional Development Centre at Luton in 2013. In a unique partnership with Milton Keynes Council, University Campus Milton Keynes opened for business at Saxon Court, Milton Keynes in September 2013. The University of Bedfordshire continues to contribute some £300m annually to the local economy.

04 HM The Queen greeted by

Vice-Chancellor Dr Dai John when arriving at the University of Luton to attend a VIP lunch, November 1999

05 HRH The Earl of Wessex

opening the Bedford Campus, October 2007

06 Dame Kelly Holmes

and Vice-Chancellor Professor Les Ebdon signing the partnership agreement between the University and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, September 2010

07 Universities and Science

Minister David Willetts MP and Vice-Chancellor Bill Rammell at the opening of the University’s Post-graduate and Continuing Professional Development Centre, May 2013

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INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH At the University of Bedfordshire, we are committed to undertaking research that has a societal impact. If you look at some of our areas of research excellence – diabetes and organ donation, cyberstalking, child sexual exploitation and language testing, for example – they have all had an impact on both society and its communities. We’re also passionate about researchinformed teaching. We don’t want our students to think research is something that happens in a darkened room, away from their lectures. And while we recognise the importance of preparing students for business and industry, we also see it is our responsibility to develop the next generation of academics - students who can progress to very highest levels of research. That’s why the majority of our academic staff also teach and, wherever possible, have the opportunity to get involved in practical research, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. In an increasingly competitive market place, in which it is becoming much more difficult for higher education institutions to secure research funding, we are ambitious for the University to develop its standout areas – or ‘spires’ – of excellence, which inspire and create new ‘spires’ to spring up around them. Over the coming years, more universities, including our own, will be taking a much more thematic approach to research. If you look at the theme of healthy ageing, for

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Modern facility The new Postgraduate and Continuing Professional Development Centre at the University of Bedfordshire


Carsten Maple: “Every piece of research outlined here (and many more research projects there wasn’t space to mention) has touched people’s lives in some way”

example, I think we’ll see researchers from a variety of countries and academic disciplines, from health and social care to robotics, coming together to look at how we can better support elderly people in our community. It’s an approach that is likely to require greater collaboration between UK and international universities - an area in which we have an established track record, through partnerships with internationally recognised research groups - which makes it an exciting time for higher education. As you read some of the stories in this section, I’m sure you will be reminded of the transformative power of research. Every piece of research outlined here (and many more research projects there wasn’t space to mention) has touched people’s lives in some way. It’s a real privilege to be part of that. Professor Carsten Maple is Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) and Professor of Applicable Computing at the University of Bedfordshire

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Dr Emma Short’s experience of online stalking led to her researching the issue for the University’s National Centre for Cyberstalking Research



he policeman I spoke to looked at all of the evidence and said, ‘there are no broken bones and no blood on the floor... what’s the problem?’ “I felt as if my life was being overtaken, but no-one understood,” said Dr Emma Short, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at

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the University of Bedfordshire, of her experience of online harassment, which is commonly referred to as cyberstalking. But, like many victims, she felt her concerns were not taken seriously. “Because it often involves a ‘faceless’ attacker, people can assume that cyberstalking is either harmless or

even that it’s about infatuation and is flattering,” Dr Short said. Her experiences led to her researching the issue, including the first major project for the University’s National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR) – of which she is co-director – known as the Electronic Communications Harassment Observation

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives − 6 And while domestic violence is commonly linked to offline harassment (with partners or ex-partners being the perpetrators in around half of the cases), cyberstalking is more likely to be carried out by a stranger. A quarter of participants said they never found out who was responsible for the harassment; a fifth learned it was a stranger.


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Cyberstalking analysis The NCCR’s ECHO pilot survey


Faceless pursuit Stalking, even if it appears ‘harmless’ from the outside, can lead victims to become paranoid

03 The idea of a ‘faceless pursuer’ can heighten anxiety, and in some cases, lead to post-traumatic stress disorder Dr Emma Short, University of Bedfordshire

(ECHO). Commissioned by the charity Network for Surviving Stalking, the study focused on 450 people aged between 17 and 74, the majority of whom had experienced cyberstalking in multiple online environments, including chat rooms, email, instant messaging and texting. While there were similarities with more typical forms of stalking (an increased

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likelihood of teachers, doctors and others in public-facing roles being affected, for example), there were other, more surprising, findings. Men are far more likely to experience cyberstalking than other kinds of harassment (a quarter of cases involved males, compared to around eight to 15 per cent of offline stalking).

The idea of a “faceless pursuer” can heighten anxiety and, in some cases, lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, said Dr Short. She recalled one example of a woman she spoke to who lived in London and travelled to work by tube every day. “Her stalker had said to her, ‘I know the route you take to work on the tube. You don’t know who I am or what I look like. One day soon, I will be the person standing next to you who pushes you in front of the train.’ There might not be broken bones or blood on the floor but you don’t know who it is. So you become paranoid. ‘Who is it? Who is standing too close to me?’ In the end, she was no longer able to get into work.” Whether the perpetrator is known to the victim or not, cyberstalking usually involves unwelcome intrusions, said Dr Short. “It’s nearly always about trying to elevate the status of the relationship, either from unknown to known, from friend to intimate. But it’s always about coercion, a forced relationship and implies someone is fixated on you.” And, as Dr Short found, one of the biggest challenges can be persuading people (including the police and other official bodies) to take the problem seriously. “The difficult part of it is that harassment might be someone every morning leaving flowers inside your car, having picked the lock. In a way, some people might think that’s nice. But actually, every morning

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Terrifying threats “One day soon, I will be the person standing next to you who pushes you in front of the train...” – a real-life example of one woman’s stalking nightmare


04 you know your car has been breached, someone has been in it, someone knows where you park it, someone knows what your movements are, so they can make these little intrusions.” Both Dr Short and Professor Carsten Maple, co-director of the NCCR, have been interviewed on radio, television and in the print media about their work. They have also given presentations to police, social services and the probation service to help raise awareness of the issue and held national awareness days for cyberstalking and internet safety. By far the most satisfying outcome of the research have been changes to the Protection and Harassment Act, introduced earlier this year, which should make it easier to prosecute people for cyberstalking.

The difficult part of it is that harassment might be someone every morning leaving flowers inside your car, having picked the lock. In a way, some people might think that’s nice Dr Emma Short

Dr Short is now looking more closely at the motivations behind stalking behaviour,

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with the aim of developing a ‘stalking risk profile’ that could help police, public officials and health and social care workers to assess and manage risk more effectively. “So far things like loneliness and isolation are coming up quite high – if you are isolated and rely on online communications as your primary way of keeping in touch, you are more likely to be supportive of harassing behaviour and maybe even get engaged with it,” she explained. And Dr Short is keen to continue to raise awareness among the public about the issue. “The laws around harassment are likely to become even more restrictive in future, so people are engaging in behaviour now that may be criminalised later.

“So it’s really about increasing that awareness and saying ‘this causes harm and there are consequences’.”

The NCCR was set up in 2011 to address the need for research and analysis on the impact of online harassment on individuals and society. The Centre is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on the knowledge of experts in a variety of fields (including technology, psychology, sociology and law) and works closely with organisations, including the Network for Surviving Stalking, the Crown Prosecution Service and the trade union for probation and family court staff (the National Association of Probation Officers). Its first major project was the Electronic Communications Harassment Observation (ECHO), commissioned by the Network for Surviving Stalking. The Centre has two co-directors, Professor Carsten Maple, Pro Vice Chancellor - Research and Enterprise and Professor of Applicable Computing, and Dr Emma Short (pictured), Senior Lecturer in Psychology, both at the University of Bedfordshire.

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ll of a sudden there was an enormous bang. I thought my tank had exploded or something. A bomb had been thrown into the water, over one of the coral reef sites we were monitoring. I look around and everything was dead: fish, corals... it was tragic.”

Professor James Crabbe was recalling a diving trip in the Wakatobi National Park, a marine national park south of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The practice he was describing, known as ‘blast’ or ‘bomb’ fishing, is all too common in that part of the world; after an explosive has been thrown,

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Professor James Crabbe is a veteran of almost 500 dives in his quest to better understand coral-reef preservation

the ‘fishermen’ take the fish and sell them. Others use cyanide to stun the fish before they steal them. “You feel as if you’re part of the reefs, so when something like that happens, it feels like a personal affront,” said Professor Crabbe. Since 2000 Professor Crabbe, Professor of Biochemistry and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts, Technologies and Science, has taken part in nearly 500 dives, off the coasts of Jamaica, Belize and Venezuela, in his quest to understand more about the human and environmental factors that influence the protection and growth of coral reefs.

Found predominantly between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, coral reefs are home to around a third of all known marine fish species and invertebrates – providing food, employment and income for local communities. They also act as natural barriers to wave and storm action, protecting the land and around half a billion people who live within 100km of reefs. But destructive fishing practices, mining (for construction and to make calcium supplements) and harvesting (for jewellery, medical purpose or marine aquarium artefacts) all pose a threat to coral reef sustainability. The Boxing Day

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Into the deep Professor Crabbe investigating the coral reefs of Hainan province in China, in 2013

04 tsunami of 2004, which killed more than 250,000 people across 14 countries, was a stark reminder of this, said Professor Crabbe. “A mass of coral can dissipate enormous wave energy from hurricanes, typhoons or tsunamis. But where the corals had been mined for building material, there was nothing to stop the tsunami wave from going right up the coast and killing all those people.” Environmental factors, such as rising sea temperatures, the destruction of the ozone layer, rising levels of carbon dioxide, and coral bleaching (loss of colour) which can lead to coral death, also have a part to play.

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Reef recovery Corals at Rio Bueno, on the north coast of Jamaica, in 2013, showing how reefs can recover after severe climate or environmental impacts Photo: Professor James Crabbe

The good news is that coral reefs may be more resilient than we think. Having studied them following record sea surface temperatures (and a high degree of bleaching) in 2005, Professor Crabbe found that in reefs where there were a lot of different species, three dimensionality and branching corals (those with lots of branches), recovery was possible. “It’s a bit like a rainforest,” he explained. “Any forest is going to be much more resilient to environmental changes if you have lots of species rather than a monoculture.” But prevention is always better than cure, and Professor Crabbe has advised

Life beneath the waves Flourishing coral reef in Indonesia’s Wakatobi National Park

The dead sea A multitude of factors can lead to coral death – including environmental and man-made reasons – but reefs are proving to be resilient non-governmental organisations and environmental protection agencies around the world on how they can develop the scientific methods – and public engagement – to protect their coral reefs. “A lot of it is about giving ownership to the people who actually live there – it’s a community development process that involves people working together and feeling a sense of ownership of the reefs. “You can say to people ‘the reefs are dead’ and no-one is interested. But if you give them a message that if they can look after the reefs they will recover, that gives people hope.”

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ecent research shows that many young people may not be able to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy sexual relationships. In particular, this can make vulnerable children open to abuse and exploitation. During the recent high-profile trial of an Oxford child sex exploitation ring, in which seven men groomed young women before subjecting them to years of rape, torture and extreme sexual violence, one victim told the court: “It was like [having] a boyfriend, it made you feel special...” This is not uncommon, said Professor Jenny Pearce, Director of the International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. “There can be a ‘normalisation’ of sexual violence which leads to the idea that violence is part of any relationship. This can leave young people feeling confused about the issue of consent.” Professor Pearce has spent the last two years working as a panel member of a nationwide inquiry led by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (OCC) into Child Sex Exploitation (CSE) in gangs and groups in England. In particular, she and colleagues from the International Centre are undertaking research into gang-associated sexual exploitation and sexual violence, as part of the inquiry.

Professor Jenny Pearce is undertaking research as part of a national inquiry, focussing on gang-associated sexual exploitation of young people CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

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While the overall findings of the OCC inquiry are yet to be published, an interim report published last November showed that, over a one-year period, at least 16,500 children were identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation. Around 2,400 children were confirmed as victims.

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives − 11 But inconsistencies in the way data on child sexual exploitation is gathered and reported by police and local authorities, and the pressures faced by victims stopping them talking about their experiences, could mean the real figures are much higher, said Professor Pearce.

There can be a ‘normalisation’ of sexual violence which leads to the idea that violence is part of any relationship Professor Jenny Pearce, International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking

Some victims fear retribution. “Some who exploit children are adults purposefully grooming for sexual exploitation. Others might be peers of a similar age, known well by the young person. If the people who are raping or abusing the victim are living in a gang-affected neighbourhood, and if the victim tries to report it, then they are going to face repercussions such as further violence or abuse. This research, as well as that developed in a project titled ‘MsUnderstood’ is specifically looking at the impact of peer on peer violence between young people,” Professor Pearce said. Other victims are put off by the idea of giving evidence in court. If abused by six different people, a young victim may be cross-examined by six barristers. “One of the main things the young women we speak to want to get across is how poorly supported they are through the court process, how abusive the whole experience can feel and how many who have gone through the process wouldn’t do it again or wouldn’t tell their friends to,” she said. The final report, due to be published in November, will make recommendations to schools, the National Health Service, police and other young people’s agencies from examples of good practice in combating sexual exploitation and sexual violence in gang-affected neighbourhoods. It will also make recommendations on how agencies might work together to try to prevent young people becoming victims of this kind of abuse.

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It is a big challenge, Professor Pearce believes. The impact of decreasing resources, alongside limited understanding of how child protection can address the needs of vulnerable teenagers, means that many local authorities focus on responding to the abuse of young toddlers and babies, rather than addressing the complex issues involved in the abuse of older children. “We have come across some very progressive schools where a ‘whole school’ approach means that all staff, from the lollipop staff to caretakers and dinner staff as well as all the teaching staff, are trained in what safeguarding means, and there are clear pathways to follow if they have concerns. However, these are few and far between,” she said.


Open to exploitation Decreasing resources mean many local authorities focus on abuse of toddlers and babies at the expense of vulnerable adolescents


Action in schools The final report, due in November, will make recommendations to schools about combating sexual exploitation and violence

“One of the most challenging things about dealing with sexual exploitation is that the line between victim and perpetrator can be blurred,” said Professor Pearce. “For example, some young men are actually very scared by what is expected of them, knowing that if they are not violent they may be attacked and ostracised. If they perpetrate sexual violence against another young person under pressure and threat by elders, are they the victims or perpetrators? These sorts of issues, which don’t arise for five or six-year-olds, are exactly why we need to focus more attention on adolescent safeguarding,” she added.

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Dr Gurch Randhawa has devoted a decade to changing attitudes about organ donation among ethnic minority groups


f you want the public to engage with an issue that is related to life and death, you need to find as many means into grassroots engagement as you can,” said Dr Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire. “That might be a faith group, a golf club, a school – anywhere you can make it a visible conversation topic.”

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With the help of funding from the Department of Health and NHS Blood and Transplant, Dr Randhawa has spent the last 10 years looking at how more people from ethnic minority backgrounds can be encouraged to consider organ donation. Because they are matched based on tissue type and blood group, an organ from someone from a similar ethnic group is more likely to be suitable. But

while around a quarter of those on the waiting list for kidney transplants are from ethnic minority backgrounds, less than one per cent of this group are donors. And around 70 per cent refuse organ donation on behalf of a family member (compared to around 37 per cent of white families). Reasons can include never having thought about organ donation and the (often

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misplaced) belief that organ donation is not acceptable for religious reasons.

technique of having leaflets produced in different languages and expecting people to read them,” he said.

Growing donors Around 70 per cent of people from ethnic minority backgrounds refuse organ donation on behalf of a family member

The key to challenging such ideas is “developing the right messages and the right messengers,” said Dr Randhawa, who has been running regular community events in schools, places of worship (for a variety of faith groups) and other community venues for the last five years. “We need to move away from the old

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Campaign trail Dr Randhawa’s community and media engagement includes appearances on BBC Newsnight and education programmes

Hearing the experiences of families who have consented to organ donation on behalf of a loved one or patients seeking donors – something that features regularly at the community events he organises – is one of the most effective ways to persuade people to consider organ donation.

Role models can be powerful and Dr Randhawa has enlisted the help of the 102-year-old marathon runner Fauja Singh (Fig. 2) to talk about good health and organ donation on a Sikh television programme. He has also worked with a Hindu group that has produced its own DVD on the issue to be shown in temples. He recalled one event where he spoke to a Muslim community, at which the Imam pointed out that if people were against becoming donors, for religious reasons, they should also be against receiving an organ donation themselves. “If people from ethnic minority backgrounds are choosing, disproportionately, to join the waiting list, they are clearly embracing transplantation and I think that’s a message that’s been missing from the initiatives so far,” he said. What continues to drive him is the willingness of organ donor patients and families to help. “If you’re going to ask donor families to relive their experience of the loss of a loved one, or ask a patient to describe what it’s like waiting for a life-saving transplant, then the least I can do is pitch up on a Sunday morning or whenever it might be and speak. What I do in comparison is minuscule,” Dr Randhawa said.

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Crying at work is a significant issue for women – but until Professor Gail Kinman’s research, there was little insight into how it affected health and wellbeing in the workplace



hen Gail Kinman, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology, was asked to contribute to an article in a women’s magazine on crying at work, she was surprised to discover there was very little research on the topic and decided to find out more.

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One woman had cried in a board meeting, several years previously. From then on, whatever her many achievements, she was always known as ‘the one who had blubbed’ Professor Gail Kinman, University of Bedfordshire

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives − 15 With the help of student Yasmine Yaghmour, Professor Kinman interviewed 45 women from different professions – including social workers, teachers, cabin crew and senior managers across a range of sectors – to find out if and why they cried at work, the impact on themselves and others, and how it might have affected their careers. Her findings, which she presented to more than 3,000 healthcare professionals at the Health and Wellbeing @ Work Conference at the Birmingham NEC last March, confirmed her belief that crying at work was a significant workplace issue for women and could be the cause of significant distress and embarrassment.

Professor Kinman has carried out research on a variety of issues around wellbeing in the workplace, including the impact of being one of a ‘career couple’ (having a partner working in the same profession) in academia and ‘emotional labour’ – the practice of having to show certain emotions and hide others.


“Many of those I spoke to said things like ‘I don’t want to be seen as a weak little woman’ or ‘I feel like a gender traitor’,” Professor Kinman said.

Consequences of crying Women’s perceptions of the consequences of crying at work were often closely linked to who was watching, she discovered. “If it had happened in front of a small group of female friends, where they’d had the chance to run to the loo, that wasn’t quite as bad. But if women broke down in public, the impact was thought to be much more serious.” While those in mainly female workplaces found crying could be a way of communicating distress and getting support, there could be serious career consequences in more maledominated professions. Professor Kinman recalled one woman she spoke to who had cried in a board meeting, several years previously. “From then on, whatever her many achievements, she was always known as ‘the one who had blubbed’.”

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03 01

Sobbing on the job Women’s perceptions of crying at work are often linked to who is watching


Occupational Health Psychology Professor Gail Kinman


Emotional labour Cabin crew are just one job sector at risk due to being unable to hide their emotions in public

Teachers, social workers, cabin crew and call centre workers have to do this a lot, she said, but faking it can take its toll and lead to psychological and physical exhaustion. “If you are angry and can’t show it, it can have an impact on your job satisfaction and psychological health. If it goes on for long enough it can lead to something called ‘burnout’, which is quite a serious medical problem where you may have to leave the job altogether.” Kinman’s next piece of work will focus on how managers deal with their employees’ displays of extreme emotion such as crying, primarily in social work and nursing, who she said often find it difficult to respond to tears. “They don’t like to touch, especially if it’s a woman crying and a male boss. Giving a hug or a pat or whatever may not be appropriate,” Professor Kinman said. “But of course, as a manager, you have to be supportive and they need techniques to help them deal with such incidents more effectively.” While her research on crying at work was completed in 2008, the issue resurfaces regularly said Professor Kinman, who made numerous radio and television appearances to talk about the issue, most recently after Hillary Clinton became tearful when she testified after the September 2012 attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya. “Of all the academic papers and book chapters I’ve published, this is what interests people the most.”

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DIAGNOSINGDIABETES The University’s Professor Alan Sinclair and the Institute of Diabetes for Older People led a key global study into the prevalence of diabetes among older people – and discovered something new about its diagnosis 01


Study leader Professor Alan Sinclair, Professor of Medicine, Dean of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Postgraduate Medical School and Director of IDOP

The Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP) is a non-profit making research and academic institution, based at the University of Bedfordshire, dedicated to enhancing the health and wellbeing of older people with diabetes and related metabolic illness. IDOP’s status, profile and programme of work have grown significantly since its formation in 2008. The Institute is now the leading voice in the field of diabetes and older people and is at the heart of the vast majority, if not all, of the national work being progressed in this area of speciality. Strategic partnerships have been established with a host of highprofile organisations, including the Department of Health, NHS Diabetes and Diabetes UK. The Institute is now actively forming links and partnerships with other key individuals and organisations worldwide. IDOP is a natural development in diabetes care following nearly two decades of dedicated diabetes research and policy-making, led by Professor Sinclair.

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Focussed care A nurse helps an elderly resident check her blood sugar levels



ne in four care-home residents is suffering from diabetes – but, in many cases, the condition is left undiagnosed.

This was one of the key findings of a major study conducted by a team of specialists at the University of Bedfordshire in 2010, led by Alan Sinclair, Professor of Medicine, Dean of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Postgraduate Medical School and Director of the Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP). Professor Sinclair said: “Ours was one of the key studies in the world. We used established methods to diagnose diabetes and uncovered not only the prevalence of

the condition itself but also the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes.” Professor Sinclair’s team went on to lead a multi-discipline project to produce national guidelines on managing diabetes in care homes. The resulting ‘Diabetes Toolkit’, developed in 2012, provides a template for improving care among older people. Professor Sinclair added: “Diabetes care for many older people is often suboptimal, partly because of the complexity of the illness and partly because of the association of diabetes with other problems such as dementia and the emergence of frailty. This means that older people with diabetes require more specialist care, not less.”

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Diabetes care for many older people is often sub-optimal... This means that older people with diabetes require more specialist care, not less’


Professor Alan Sinclair

Professor Sinclair continued: “Our most recent studies have shown that one important intervention that would bring about substantial savings in National Health Service expenditure, as well as significant improvements in the quality of life of many older people with diabetes, is a focussed strategy to reduce hospital admissions due to hypoglycaemia.” (Hypoglycaemia is an abnormally low level of sugar – glucose – in the blood.) “A recent Italian study showed that nearly one in five admissions into hospital of people aged 80 years or over with diabetes was due to moderate to severe hypoglycaemia,” he concluded.

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Committed to enhancing the student experience, CRELLA is the University’s world-leading research centre for language learning and assessment


through 15 or 20 for each essay. For those having difficulties with reading, particularly those students with English as a second language, this can be extremely challenging.

While there is no requirement at A level or equivalent qualifications for students to read more than a handful of texts in preparation for an exam or assignment, undergraduates may have to plough

Having an understanding of the cognitive processes involved in reading (how someone decodes a text and gains meaning from it) can help identify difficulties, and potential solutions, said Professor Weir. “So if someone is having problems with word recognition, it’s about pinpointing the problem. Are they

tudents with poor language abilities can have a miserable time at university,” said Professor Cyril Weir, Director of the world-leading Centre for Research in Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA) at the University of Bedfordshire.

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having problems with lexical access or recalling vocabulary? Is it a problem with grammar, with the syntax of a sentence? Is it because they lack inferencing skills? If you can develop an accurate system for assessing students and diagnosing their problems, you can offer really targeted support where it is needed.” And it’s not just about helping existing students; some of the work carried out by CRELLA, focuses on helping universities gauge whether prospective students have the necessary language skills for a

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The CRELLA team Back: Professors Stephen Bax, Cyril Weir and Tony Green, and Dr John Field. Front: Rebecca van der Westhuizen, Dr Lynda Taylor and Dr Fumiyo Nakatsuhara

01 resources for university admissions, curriculum development and, more recently, employer recruitment. For example, CRELLA has recently helped the British Council develop a new test called Aptis, which will be used by governments, large corporations and other employers to benchmark the English language levels of current and prospective employees, students and teachers.

particular course. Other projects, such as CRELLA’s work with the Singapore government, are about applying research on language learning and testing to develop educational content (in this case, a national curriculum).

It has also carried out research into the internationally recognised Cambridge English Advanced test (used by 12,500 organisations), the Japanese EIKEN (Jitsuyo Eigo Gino Kentei) tests (taken by more than two million people each year), the British Council International English Language Testing System (IELTS; taken by around two million people each year), and the Password English language test UK (taken by around 25,000 a year).

Supported by an endowment from the Steel Charitable Trust, centre researchers have worked with a number of high-profile organisations, including the British Council, Cambridge English Language Assessment and the Japanese government, to develop language testing

CRELLA is also active in research and publication. Last year, the team published three books (this year a further eight so far), 33 chapters, 10 journal articles and 16 research reports. Two – by Yi-Fen Wu and Professor Weir – were shortlisted for awards and five members of staff

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were given a predicted rating of 4* (‘quality that is world-leading’) by external review, with a sixth member deemed 3* (‘internationally excellent’) in the Research Excellence Framework, the system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities. CRELLA’s research environment and impact were rated as 3* minimum. More stringent immigration rules and increased competition in higher education mean international language testing is becoming increasingly critical in society, Professor Weir said. He predicted that more institutions will be looking to introduce an academic literacy test over the next decade – and not just for overseas students. “If you’re committed to enhancing the student experience, you must have a clear idea of where students have weaknesses in their academic literacy. It’s not just about equipping them with knowledge. It’s about analysing their strengths and weaknesses, then teaching them in a targeted way the academic skills they need to succeed and derive the greatest benefit from their courses. I think it’s unethical not to,” he added.

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“I love my job and without my time at university it would have been almost impossible to make it to where I am now.” From the age of six Tom White, now a presenter on Sky Sports, always knew what he wanted to achieve and set about working for it. He studied Media Performance at the University and further crafted his skills presenting on the student radio station, Luton FM (now RadioLaB 97.1FM). By the time he graduated in 2005, with a BA (Hons), Tom had both a “thorough grounding” in media performance theory and practical experience of broadcasting, including how to handle the pressure of live broadcasts. He landed a full-time position at Sky Sports, working as a runner and “doing anything from making tea to photocopying”.

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Seven years of hard work and long hours followed as Tom moved up the ranks, before he went live on air as a presenter in 2011.


“I can honestly say it was the best moment of my career to have finally made it to the position I had dreamt of for so long,” said Tom, who admitted being “overwhelmed” to receive hundreds of congratulatory messages from his friends and fellow former students. And he credits the University for helping him to learn that working as part of a team – something he now does every day – is vital.


Sky’s the limit Tom White’s hard work paid off when he became a Sky Sports presenter in 2011

He advises anyone studying to “work hard, go the extra mile and take your chances when you get them. There is no substitute for hard work – it pays dividends in the end.”

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives − 21 01. TOBY FRIEDNER





Since graduating in 1997 Toby Friedner has become a stalwart at BBC Three Counties Radio. He left the University armed with a “great grounding” and array of skills from the BA (Hons) Media Performance course. However, it was on the radio unit that Toby excelled and, along with his peers, he helped to launch a student community radio station, Luton FM (now Radio Lab FM). He had an amazing experience running the station and realised his dream at that point. BBC Three Counties, being only a stone’s throw away, came knocking on his door, and some 16 years later Toby now holds the position of senior broadcast journalist.

02. EMILEE McNEILLY The future looked grim for Emilee McNeilly. Leaving home at 16, she was then in a violent relationship. At rock bottom, and with her daughter, Amarni, “the only positive thing” in her life, Emilee reported her partner to police and found refuge. A charity helped her back into education. Once at university, Emilee achieved a 2:1 Bsc in Psychology in 2012. “Confident” Emilee realises she can now “achieve anything”, has left the past behind, and is focusing on making Amarni proud. She is “repaying” some of the help she received by volunteering at Headway Luton (which assists adults with an Acquired Brain Injury) in preparation for studying for a Master’s in social work.

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03. JUDIT JAKAB PR and Psychology alumnae Judit Jakab still has very warm memories of her studies at the University and has even been able to turn her enthusiasm for university life into something of a profession! The 2007 graduate went on to work for PR agencies across the UK, before moving to Budapest where she runs Alumni Campaigns and Networks at the Central European University. “I have Alumni clubs all over the world and I am working with student volunteers on campus who support my projects,” she said. “I love my job and have very fond memories from my time at the University.”

04. SUSAN LAWTON A degree in HR management set Susan Lawton up for life and today she is the Chief Executive Officer of a company linking women business owners to FTSE 100 companies. Susan, who graduated in 1998, now heads not-for-profit WEConnect Europe, which works globally to create business opportunities for women. Her degree honed her training delivery skills, while increasing her management skills. Recently she’s also added to her skillset with a Master’s in Social Enterprise Development. “I am passionate about the work I do. We are levelling the playing field by bringing business opportunity to many who have excellent businesses but no route through to high growth.”

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01 “If you really, really want something, and you put everything into it, you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it,” said Nichola Little, who attained a first class honours degree in Criminology this year and won a prize as the best performing student in her faculty.

before boarding a bus to Bedford and then taking a train into Luton.

Nichola achieved these results while bringing up four children including daughter Lene, 10, who is “always smiling” even though she has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “Looking back now I really don’t know how I did it,” Nichola said. “However, when I was really stressed and tired, when I felt like packing it in, and when I had my bad moments, I had to remember why I was doing it – making a better future for me and my children.” Nichola’s challenge was made harder because she doesn’t drive, which meant leaving children with childminders at 7am,

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Pay-off Nichola’s hard work is rewarded as she receives a First Class Honours degree in Criminology – all achieved while caring for her four children

“It was a balancing act. I didn’t have much of a social life for three years. It was also quite difficult for my children, but now they’re a bit older, they understand more and they appreciate that university really is important. I absolutely loved university and made lots of new friends,” Nichola added. “The learning spaces at the University are second-to-none. I really enjoyed my lectures and learned so much. The University has a great atmosphere. Coming to university as a mature student was a bit daunting at first but, throughout, the tutors have been very supportive to me and all the other students on the course.” Currently enjoying a well-earned break, Nichola admits to already missing university and plans to study for a Master’s. “My studies have really broadened my career horizons,” she concluded.

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University of Bedfordshire Transforming Lives − 23 01. NICOLE COUL Despite a daily two-hour round trip from Corby to Bedford and other personal challenges, Nicole Coul graduated with a first class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science, in July this year.





At school, although juggling part-time work with caring for a parent and a younger brother, Nicole acquired a high number of UCAS points. The University awarded Nicole a £1,000 bursary for the achievement, which helped her focus on studying. “The course more than lived up to expectations, with each year bringing more challenges. The lecturers were always helpful if I had any problems – personal or academic,” said Nicole, who is now completing a Master’s in Environmental Physiology. Her dream is to be a PE teacher and she said being at the University has been a “great start”. “Coming here definitely changed my life for the better.”



From a disappointing set of A Level results Alun Williams has gone on to drive forward a 46km, £472m by-pass road project in Aberdeen. The BA (Hons) Public Policy and Management alumna credits his time at university for “laying the foundations” of a diverse and highly successful career.

Former bricklayer of 20 years, Adrian Hoole achieved a BSc in Construction Management at the University.

Upon graduating in 1995 he embarked after a public sector career that has included community development work in Glasgow’s most deprived communities.

While studying part-time the 54-year-old’s career progressed from maintenance officer at Dacorum Borough Council, to lead officer of the project and procurement team, with a £17million annual budget.

He now holds a senior management position at the City of Aberdeen. “The skills, knowledge and experience I gained from study at university, which allowed me a second chance at higher education after I failed my A Levels at 18, gave me a head start in my career.”

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He joined Bedfordshire eight years ago to progress his career and move away from day-to-day physicality.

“I couldn’t have done it without the excellent training I received at the University”, Adrian said. “I had to put the work in to succeed, but I was encouraged by both the other students and the lecturers. I would certainly recommend it to everyone.”

04. GEMMA HUNT CBBC TV presenter Gemma Hunt began her road to success after graduating with a first class honours degree from the University in 2003. Today she recalls taking the “wonderful” Media Performance course as a great stepping stone into the media industry. “The lecturers were experienced and had a great knowledge of working in the media and shared that with us, giving us a true insight.” At CBBC she has interviewed celebrity guests including Sir David Attenborough and has travelled around the world. Gemma, who often returns to the University to hold workshops, said: “I’d like to say thank you for all the support and guidance I received to help me achieve my dream!”

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Having failed all her A Levels aged 18, Bharti Tailor was a 34-year-old, married mum-of-two when she qualified to study at the then University of Luton.


Bharti’s meteoric rise actually started while studying, when she was headhunted to help launch the charity Home Start in Luton. From there she progressed through various jobs, while continuing to volunteer in various community projects.

Some 16 years after graduating she now runs her own consultancy firm, is President of the Hindu Forum of Europe, represents Hindus as a Member of the European Council of Religious Leaders, and, among numerous other achievements, was a London 2012 Chaplain. Bharti went from being a primary carer at a school, to creating a successful career in NHS Health Trusts. And she accredits a large part of her success to the University’s Community Management course. “Without this University on my doorstep I would never have been able to study and progress, due to my responsibilities as a

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primary carer – and as a breadwinner and my family ties.”


Integrity, resilience, collaboration Bharti Tailor now runs her own consultancy firm, crediting much of her success to the University’s Community Management course; and (top) as a London Olympics 2012 Chaplain

And it was volunteering (including chaplaincy roles at the University, a prison, a further education college and the Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Luton), which led her to represent the Hindu Forum of Britain and then the European Forum. A surprise invite to lunch at Buckingham Palace is just one memorable tale Bharti recalled. Her advice to students is to “work with integrity, be resilient, use networks, volunteer, keep records, and be open and collaborative”.

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Park life Students discuss their work outside the University’s Park Square building


Modern living State-of-the-art Luton student accomodation block, Wenlock Court, which was opened in September 2012



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Lit up Campus Centre at the University of Bedfordshire, Luton

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Anniversary publication designed by Last Word Group