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YearinReview Some highlights of the Newcastle University research, events and activities that made headlines in the past 12 months, and achievements and accolades awarded to our students and staff. September 2011 Almost 5,000 new students take part in Freshers’ Week, making new friends and finding their feet as they start their University life. Our engineers are charged with developing a novel motor for electric vehicles that will significantly reduce our future dependency on rare earth metals – minerals such as Neodymium and Dysprosium which have become increasingly important in the delivery of new and sustainable technologies from electric vehicles to solar panels – by replacing them with steel.

October 2011 A daily dose of aspirin is shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by around 60 per cent in people with a family history of the disease. Scientists use satellite technology to track some of the UK’s most vulnerable wild bird and animal populations in an effort to help improve our understanding of their behaviour and find ways to protect them and their habitats for the future. The University launches its Promise Scholarship scheme to provide support for the most able students from low-income households. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) names Newcastle University as the UK provider of the National X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) service, a facility that will help engineers to discover new sources of green power. Former England and Newcastle United striker, Alan Shearer, opens a £6m Tissue Engineering Centre for Arthritis Research UK and Newcastle University.

November 2011

January 2012

In Malaysia, HRH The Duke of York performs the official opening ceremony at NUMed, our international branch campus in Johor. At home, the Students’ Union is officially re-opened after an £8m refurbishment.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ella Ritchie, receives an OBE for services to higher education, while Professor Jimmy Steele is awarded a CBE for services to dentistry and oral health in the New Year’s Honours List.

Realising Opportunities, the Newcastle University-led scheme to widen access to higher education, wins a Times Higher Education Award.

Newcastle University signs a unique agreement with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Malaysian Ministry of Health to provide training at NUMed, Malaysia to improve the teaching skills of doctors.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink, is appointed Chair of the N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the North of England’s eight research-intensive universities. The British Science Association announces that Europe’s largest and most high profile public science event, the British Science Festival, will be held in Newcastle in September 2013. Evidence in the form of a 100-year-old memo, a sword and a bayonet, unearthed during renovation work, reveals that the University’s Armstrong Building was used as a hospital during the First World War. More than 700 people flock to an Insights Public Lecture by Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry.

December 2011 Sir Jonathon Porritt, Sir John Beddington, David Nussbaum and Chris Mullin are awarded honorary degrees in celebration of the launch of the University’s Sustainability societal challenge theme. Scientists from Newcastle, Oxford and Southampton universities discover new life on hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. The findings represent a crucial step towards understanding the role played by these sites in sustaining unique deep-sea life and influencing our oceans’ chemistry.

Geography student, Bryony Balen, skis into the record books as she becomes the youngest Briton to ski the full 705 miles (1,100km) from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole.

February 2012 Following a major investigation by engineers at Newcastle University, the government’s health regulator advises new checks for patients who have undergone metal-on-metal hip replacements. Computer scientists at Newcastle University unveil an electronic cheque as part of a project to find new ways of helping older and vulnerable people retain their independence. Professor Louise Robinson receives £1.5m towards her research into dementia after being awarded a National Institute for Health Research professorship, recognising her as one of the eight most promising leaders in medical health research in the UK. Following Prime Minister David Cameron’s vow to tackle binge drinking, new research from Newcastle University highlights the need for a stronger approach to alcohol pricing. MMus graduate, Rona Wilkie, is named BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year. Continued on page 21.


Foreword Looking back at an extraordinary year for the university sector, I am pleased to report that at Newcastle our hard work, prudent planning and commitment to providing an excellent student experience have prepared us well to deal with the government’s higher education reforms.


In the face of the challenges of the new fees regime we have reinforced our position as a high-quality university, maintaining our student numbers and increasing the percentage of students achieving excellent grades. This is a significant achievement and demonstrates the impact of the many improvements we have made throughout the year.

Sport at Newcastle was brought into sharp focus during this Olympic year. Not only was our Cochrane Park Sports Ground an official training venue for football, but several of our staff and students took part in the Olympic Torch Relay. We also enjoyed our most successful year ever in the BUCS sporting league, coming 10th in the UK.

Investment in our campus continued throughout 2012 with major upgrades to teaching facilities and student accommodation. We also opened the doors of our impressive new INTO Building, which will be home to 800 international students. A year on from its £8m facelift, the Students’ Union Building is a thriving hub for over 120 student societies and is now enhanced by the new Student Forum outside. As the first UK university to sign up to the ‘People and Planet: Green Education Declaration 2012’ we intend to build on our award-winning credentials as a truly sustainable institution.

These efforts are paying off, as evidenced in this year’s National Student Survey, with 89 per cent of our students satisfied with their experience. As a University which draws students from across the globe, it is also pleasing to report that the latest International Student Barometer places Newcastle 12th in the world in terms of the number of students who would recommend us to friends and family.

Improvements to our buildings and campus are matched by our investment in the digital environment. The installation of new computer clusters across campus and in the Robinson Library is providing greater access to technology and resources than ever before. We have also worked hard to ensure that every undergraduate can now benefit from work experience, an internship or an industry placement during their study time here.



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Graduates of the Loyola University Maryland Study Abroad programme, Lauren Matthias (far left) and Gabrielle Paige, both now Master’s students at Newcastle University, with the Vice-Chancellor and Loyola’s President, Father Brian Linnane. Professor Chris Day, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences (back row, centre) and (l-r) students Will Smith, Emma Pringle, Gobinath Murugesapillai and Amy Priestley blazed a trail with the Olympic Torch. The new Student Forum. The official opening of NUMed Malaysia was performed by HRH The Duke of York. Olympic football at Cochrane Park Sports Ground.

We have continued to focus on Widening Participation, committing £29m towards a range of bursaries and scholarships to support young people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, incomes and communities. We had an excellent response to our Promise Scholarships, which have been introduced to help up to 20 young people, who show the most academic potential but are least likely to attend a top UK university, to benefit from a full scholarship. In the past year we also received a Times Higher Award for our leadership of the 12 universities in the Realising Opportunities programme, where we work with schools to help raise aspirations.

Our global footprint is also expanding. We celebrated our first year at NUMed, our medical campus in Malaysia, which now has 220 students. Our new intake will be the first to access the full suite of shared amenities on the multi-varsity ‘EduCity’ site, which includes a 5,000-seat stadium, an aquatic centre and an indoor arena. In time we hope to cater for 1,000 students at NUMed, which will provide an invaluable source of highly skilled medics to support the nation’s health service. In Singapore we partner with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to provide six degree programmes with 300 students enrolling every academic year. By 2014 SIT will open five new buildings that will offer much improved facilities for Newcastle students and staff.


Closer to home we continue to play a role in supporting the city of Newcastle and the wider North East region to deal with the economic downturn. During the year, I was privileged to chair the Newcastle Fairness Commission which aims to guide the City Council in its decision-making at a time of budget cuts. Elsewhere, work to extract near-surface coal on the Science Central site has also started and will pave the way for a mixed-use development on which the University will locate its sustainability teaching and research. How cities like Newcastle survive and thrive in such turbulent times is the focus of the University’s Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, which was launched in 2012 to provide leadership on our third societal challenge theme. Alongside the themes of Ageing and Sustainability, Social Renewal aims to tackle the profound challenges that impact on people, not just in our city, but nationally and internationally.



An important part of our civic role is about engaging with the communities around us and encouraging people to feel involved in the life of the University. Our support for cultural attractions like the Great North Museum and Hatton Gallery, and our thriving programmes of Insights Public Lectures and Live in the King’s Hall concerts opens up the campus to many thousands of visitors every year. Preparations are well underway for our submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 which will be crucial to securing future resources. This year, pioneering research was published across a wide range of disciplines from genetics and nutrition, to engineering and economics, placing us in a strong position for the REF. Research excellence is fundamental to what we do and aspire to, for its own sake and also for the value it adds to a good education for students and tangible benefits to civil society. The trajectory of our research performance has seen a rise in research project applications, and an increase in both the number and the value of projects awarded. On the latest publicly available figures, research grants awarded to Newcastle University reported by the Research Councils and analysed by the Times Higher Education, have increased substantially since last year, placing us 13th in the UK by value of grants received.


It takes many people to make a successful university. I would like to thank our students, staff, governing body members, alumni, donors and friends for their continued support.

Professor Chris Brink,Vice-Chancellor



Research witha Purpose 1


As a civic university, we are committed to research that delivers benefits to society as a whole. A significant part of our research is now grouped into three areas where we have particular strengths: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal. These societal challenge themes are our response to the need to demonstrate not just what we are good at, but what we are good for. By channelling our research through societal challenge themes, we are able to focus our efforts on addressing the major challenges facing the world today. For example, we are leading several studies into the health and wellbeing of older people that are helping to ensure that this rapidly growing sector of society has access to the best treatments and services to improve their quality of life.

Elsewhere, the results of a study spanning over a decade provided proof that taking a regular dose of aspirin reduced the long-term risk of cancer in people with a family history of the disease by around 60 per cent. The first results from a randomised, controlled trial assessing the effect of aspirin on cancer attracted international attention, and the research team is now preparing a large-scale follow-up trial.

The Newcastle 85+ study into the health of more than 1,000 people from Newcastle and North Tyneside born in 1921 gave a team of Newcastle University researchers unique access to a group of 87- to 89-year-olds. A routine test in the home revealed that around a quarter of those who took part in the study had undiagnosed heart problems. Lead researcher, Professor Bernard Keavney, was taken aback by the extent of the problems, the majority of which could be treated with established and costeffective treatments. As a result of the study, the British Heart Foundation has called for assurances that this vulnerable group of people is not overlooked.

Helping older people carry on driving safely for longer was the purpose of a unique research car developed by the University’s Intelligent Transport team. Dubbed ‘DriveLAB’, the car is kitted out with technology including eye trackers and biomonitors to help researchers understand the challenges faced by older drivers. Research has shown that giving up driving is one of the main factors responsible for a decline in health and wellbeing among older people, whereas keeping them on the road boosts independence and keeps them socially connected.


One year on from its launch, the Sustainability societal challenge theme continues to focus national and international attention on research being carried out in our Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS). The University has been named one of the 10 founding institutions of a £13m UK Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Research Centre, being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Centre will provide a national focal point for CCS research and development. As the only university in the country to offer a course in pipeline engineering, coupled with our work in shipping and renewable energies, Newcastle is ideally placed to play a key role in taking this technology forward into the future. Helping to contribute to our Social Renewal theme was a study charting the rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), co-authored by Ron Kerr from Newcastle University Business School. The study provided an alternative, social science-based explanation for the bank’s failure, finding that the management style adopted by former senior executives at the RBS − threatening employees with redundancy and forcing them to meet aggressive sales targets − amounted to ‘economic violence’ designed to build their reputation and win City backing for their disastrous expansion. The potential of the work we do to make a real difference to society is being recognised increasingly by funders, with the University being awarded new research grants totalling nearly £98m in the last year. The value of individual awards has also risen by 66 per cent.

What we have finally shown is that aspirin has a major preventative effect on cancer but this doesn’t become apparent until years later. Sir John Burn, Professor of Clinical Genetics, who led the international research collaboration into the effect of aspirin on cancer

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Aspirin, now known to have a major preventative effect on cancer. Professor Phil Blythe demonstrates the DriveLAB simulator. Newcastle is the only university in the UK to offer a course in pipeline engineering. RBS was the focus of a Newcastle University Business School study.



This trend towards research concentration and collaboration has brought successes in a number of specific areas, including funding valued at £16.6m over five years for the renewal of our National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing and Age-Related Diseases (awarded jointly with the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust).

New Research Grants Research Councils European Commission UK-based charities Other Total

2011–12 (£m)

% of total

28.2 14.5 26.2 28.8 97.7

29 15 27 29 100


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Learning For Life Studying at Newcastle University means much more than just getting a degree. Our students have access to a wide range of opportunities to help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in the future. At Newcastle University, our commitment to learning for life means that we promise to give our students an education that will provide them with knowledge that will last a lifetime. And it means that we will equip them with the skills and experience that will give them a head start in the world of work. Combining his experience as an undergraduate together with some of the skills he developed while studying for a PhD in computing science netted postgraduate student Robert Cain a £10,000 prize. Robert was the winner of the University’s first Appathon competition – an initiative led by the Vice-Chancellor with the aim of encouraging students to develop real-world skills. Appathon challenged students to come up with creative ideas for a new mobile App to improve university life for Newcastle students. Robert’s winning design featured timetables, maps of the campus, careers information and updates on student societies, and it is being used by thousands of our students. Meanwhile, undergraduate law students have been gaining vital practical experience by helping children and young people to understand their legal rights, thanks to a pilot programme run by Newcastle Law School. The Street Law Project involved 11 specially trained students who worked with professionals from the youth and community sectors to develop information sessions on legal issues affecting young people. They went out into local communities to deliver interactive awareness sessions on a range of issues, including police powers, rights at school, access to legal advice and transitions to adulthood, such as leaving custody or care. Supporting students to take part in life-changing expeditions around the world is another way in which we encourage personal development. In January 2012, Bryony Balen become the youngest ever Briton to ski to the South Pole. Bryony, from Melbourne in Derbyshire, skied 705 miles (1,100km) from the Antarctic coast to the Pole, pulling a sled and carrying a bag weighing 60kg on her back containing food, equipment and a tent.The journey took her across the coldest continent on Earth, where she faced temperatures as low as -45°C (-49°F) and a daily struggle against high winds, white-outs, and an uphill trek. On reaching the Pole, she tweeted: ‘Made it to the South Pole! Now a record breaker! I’m very tired and very took 56 days, a day less than expected.’ Closer to home, but still focused on physical achievement, the University remained among the UK’s top sporting institutions with a tremendous performance in the British Universities and Colleges Sport championships this year, finishing in the top 10 in the BUCS league.

Behind every successful student is an inspirational teacher, and at Newcastle University we have no shortage of talented and committed individuals prepared to go the extra mile towards providing the best possible student experience. Among the very best is Dr Undrell Moore, who teaches oral and maxillofacial surgery in the School of Dentistry. This year Undrell was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning from the Higher Education Academy, which brings the total number of teaching fellowships at Newcastle to six. A further seven of our academics were the first recipients of the student-led Learning and Teaching Excellence (LATE) awards, for which students nominate staff, judge the entries, and choose the winners. The LATE Awards enable students to recognise the quality of the contributions made by their teachers in a range of categories, from Research Supervisor of the Year to Innovative Teaching Methods of the Year. Our commitment to widening participation has taken on even greater significance as a result of sweeping changes in the way that UK universities are funded and the increase in tuition fees. In response, we are investing £29m over the next five years to provide a range of financial support, including bursaries and scholarships. Launched this year, our Promise Scholarships offer up to 20 students who come from low income backgrounds, but who have the greatest potential to succeed in higher education, the opportunity to study at Newcastle University. The scholarship is worth up to £9,000 for each year of a student’s undergraduate study. Now in its 12th year, our flagship widening participation programme, PARTNERS, continues to support the aspirations of the brightest and best students from areas of traditionally low participation in higher education. The number of our partner schools and colleges in the scheme now stands at 120 from across the whole of the North East, Cumbria and Yorkshire, with more than 800 young people applying to the programme in 2012. Our efforts to encourage students from all backgrounds includes the Realising Opportunities programme, a partnership of 12 research-intensive institutions led by Newcastle University. The programme received recognition as an example of excellent practice in partnership in a recently published report by former Labour MP, Alan Milburn, University Challenge: How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility.

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Robert Cain, winner of the first Appathon competition. The University’s Promise Scholarships will benefit up to 20 students from low-income backgrounds every year. Sinead Bradshaw, Newcastle University graduate and Street Law participant. Bryony Balen on her way to the South Pole.



Regional Role At Newcastle University we are proud of our heritage and of our reputation as a civic university strongly rooted in our city and region, and we are committed to ensuring that our activities have a real and positive impact on the economic, social and cultural life of the North East. As a partner – with Newcastle City Council – in Newcastle Science City, the University is leading an exciting multimillionpound regeneration project that is set to transform a longneglected quarter of the city centre over the next 10 to 15 years. Being developed on the site of the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, Science Central will house research, commerce and business support activity alongside a mix of retail, residential and sustainable living spaces, creating a thriving community in the heart of the city centre. The first phase of building work is set to begin in early 2013. It is here also that you will find the new £50m headquarters of Newcastle University Business School. Opened formally in March 2012 by Lord Burns, Chairman of Santander UK, the iconic glass and steel structure overlooks Science Central. Lord Burns said that by opening its new building, the University was sending a clear message that investment is needed most in less buoyant economic times. Support for the business community is an integral part of our regional activity. Through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), a scheme part-funded by the government, companies large and small are drawing on the expertise of the University to help them solve strategic challenges and long-term problems, aimed at boosting their competitiveness and profitability.

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Professor David Manning is leading the development of the Science Central site. Katy Angus, lead scientist at Gateshead-based company, Nano-Porous Solutions Limited. Euan Martin (second from left), with colleagues at Lynx Fishing.

Under the scheme, businesses can recruit graduates, known as associates, for periods of up to three years to work on projects that can lead to technical advances or organisational improvements. Our leading academics supervise the graduate associates, giving them ready access to specialist knowledge, expert advice and guidance. One such company is Gateshead-based Nano-Porous Solutions Limited. Through a KTP with the University, the company has been working on the development of a new type of absorbent material that could have a wide range of industrial and other uses. A prototype of the material has already been produced, which could go into full-scale industrial production within the next two years. The KTP received funding from the Technology Strategy Board for the initial stage of the project, which ended in June 2012, and the team at Nano-Porous is now focused on scaling up the manufacturing process for the new material. Mark Thomas, Professor of Carbon Science in the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, acted as the academic supervisor for the KTP associate involved in the project, PhD graduate, Jon Bell. One of the outcomes of the development work will be a scientific paper that is being prepared for a journal of the American Chemical Society, explaining how the technological breakthrough has been achieved.



We are also helping to support the regional economy by running a placement scheme that is giving small- and mediumsized companies across the North East access to the ideas, creativity and drive of our graduates. With support from the European Regional Development Fund, businesses can take advantage of a free recruitment service and employ a graduate for a 12-week period, with half of a £16,000 pro rata salary paid by the University. Master’s graduate, Euan Martin, secured a role at Northumberland-based Lynx Fishing after impressing the team during his 12-week placement. He is now Lynx Fishing’s first Digital Marketing Manager and is playing a key role formalising the company’s brand and identity, developing the website and establishing and managing the corporate social media strategy. Through our societal challenge themes, we are focusing our efforts on tackling the big issues facing society today. Ageing is one of these themes, and as part of the Newcastle Initiative for Changing Age, we are supporting businesses that address the challenges but also see the advantages of an ageing population.

I am convinced that the Business School will soon become a reference for other universities in the UK and abroad. Lord Burns, Chairman of Santander UK


Age Inclusive Ltd was established with support from the University’s Changing Age for Business initiative. The company is advising on a new national standard to help employers manage the challenges and unlock the potential of their ageing workforce. Age Inclusive Ltd is one of five companies to have moved into our new Biomedical Research Building on the Campus for Ageing and Vitality, which is acting as an incubator for business projects based on ageing.



Newcastle Asks the Big Questions 1


How societies and communities can thrive during periods of rapid and sometimes radical social change is the focus of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (NISR), launched this year. Social Renewal is the third of the University’s societal challenge themes, and follows on from the themes of Ageing and Sustainability, launched in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Led by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the theme provides a focus for research into global challenges such as stimulating enterprise, regenerating places and tackling inequalities in health and education. The Institute is fostering interdisciplinary research between academic schools and research institutes across all three faculties in the University, and has strong links with regional partners including Newcastle City Council and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Heritage is also a key strand of the Social Renewal agenda. This year, the University’s Folk and Traditional Music undergraduate degree programme, the only one of its kind in England, celebrated its 10th birthday. The degree has produced some of the biggest and most well-respected names on the modern folk scene, such as Rachel McShane, vocalist and cellist with Bellowhead, and Emily Portman. Recently one of the architects of the degree programme, renowned Northumbrian piper, Kathryn Tickell, released her latest 2CD set, Northumbrian Voices, celebrating the links between past, present and future in the music and stories of rural Northumberland.

The launch of the Institute was celebrated with a novel exhibition at the University’s Great North Museum: Hancock. The Great North Build brought the challenges of modern town planning to life by inviting visitors to plan and build their ideal city out of 100,000 Lego bricks. Daily changing scenarios challenged visitors to find solutions to planning problems, from where to build a new hospital, to how to cope with a major emergency such as widespread flooding. The exhibition was a huge hit with visitors of all ages, with around 10,000 people flocking to the Museum to take part in the build during its four-week run.

Addressing inequalities in health, wealth, education and opportunity is another of the areas being tackled by the NISR, and here our experts have been working closely with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an organisation that campaigns for a more equal society. Liz Todd, Professor of Educational Inclusion, led a study for the Foundation which challenged the assumption that raising aspiration is the key to success in education for children from low-income backgrounds, while a study by Tim Townshend, Director of Planning and Urban Design, revealed that where you grow up affects your attitude to alcohol. His research also highlighted the lack of youth facilities in the North East in comparison to the South East of England.


Fairness, and in particular making Newcastle a fairer city in which to live, work and study in the face of major public spending cuts was also the focus of a groundbreaking report published during the year. The report was the work of the Newcastle Fairness Commission, a group of 18 volunteers from the fields of politics, religion, academia, health care and the community and voluntary sectors, chaired by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink. Initiated by Newcastle City Council, it identified four principles to help the Council make fair decisions in financially straitened times: fair share – giving people a fair share of services according to their needs; fair play – confidence that decisions are being made in an even-handed, open and transparent manner; fair go – giving people opportunities to participate and to fulfil their aspirations for the future; and fair say – making people feel they are part of, and have a voice in, decisions about their city and neighbourhood.


Engaging staff, students and members of the public with the social renewal societal challenge theme is an important strand of the Institute’s activities. Stimulating debate is the idea behind ‘Newcastle Asks the Big Questions’, a series of discussions highlighting the University’s expertise. In the first debate of the series, Professor Shucksmith, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Redesdale, and Tony Gates, Chief Executive of the Northumberland National Park discussed the future of the uplands and the challenges facing areas such as Northumberland.

The part that business and enterprise can play in Social Renewal is an area in which Newcastle University Business School has specific expertise. Research by lecturer, Dr Pushkar Jha, showed that employee-owned businesses, such as John Lewis, prove to be more resilient and stable in comparison with other business models. Professor Mark Shucksmith, an internationally-recognised expert in rural affairs, was appointed Director of the new Institute in April 2012. His research into social exclusion in rural areas has identified how villages are turning into ‘rural ghettos’ as poorer people are driven out by higher house prices. More recently, his comparative study of rural communities in the UK and US showed that rural areas in both nations are most likely to thrive if the people who live in them help to shape their own future, but to do this they need support from government.

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Professor Mark Shucksmith at the Great North Build exhibition. Students from the University’s Folk and Traditional Music degree programme. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, sponsor of the York Fairness Commission, with the Vice-Chancellor. Rural Northumberland, the focus of a recent debate organised by the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal.



Excellencein Engagement Public engagement is an integral part of our role as a civic university, and we’re doing it on a global scale. Providing dietary advice to celebrity cooks on a hit TV show brought Newcastle University research into the living rooms of millions of people, while our Insights Public Lectures are reaching a worldwide audience thanks to iTunesU. Promoting Newcastle as a city of science is one of the drivers behind our strategy for public engagement. The British Science Festival is returning to Newcastle for the seventh time in September 2013, and Newcastle University has been chosen to host the event. Our campus will be the hub of the activity during the week-long festival. Organised by the British Science Association in partnership with a different host university each year, the Festival offers something for everyone – from the presentation of cutting-edge research to thought-provoking discussions and debate, a programme for 8–19 year olds, hands-on activities for families and a city-wide programme of music, comedy and theatre. As part of the Festival run-up, we launched a postcard campaign inspired by local schoolchildren who posed the first question: ‘Could the Angel of the North actually fly?’. The campaign, called Ideas Take Flight, is giving people of all ages from around the North East the chance to help shape the content of the Festival.

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Postcards were distributed across the region inviting people to send us the burning questions or issues they would like to discuss with scientists at the Festival. The overwhelming response proved there is no shortage of interest in the University and its research. Hundreds of postcards poured in, with questions as diverse as: ‘Are humans still evolving?’; ‘Is nuclear energy safe?’; and ‘Could we live on another planet?’! They are providing inspiration for a number of exciting events being developed by University staff and students as part of the Festival. Encouraging researchers to find new ways of presenting their research is another feature of our engagement strategy. The Newcastle Bright Club is one of the novel channels currently being explored by some of our researchers, academics and students. Bright Club is a national comedy circuit where researchers are given an eight-minute slot to present their work as an entertaining talk or stand-up routine. At Newcastle, the University provides training and support to equip the budding comics with the know-how and confidence to talk about what makes their research exciting, without sacrificing any of its quality.

The Hairy Dieters – TV cooks Si King and Dave Myers. Claire Tomalin signs copies of her acclaimed biography Charles Dickens:A Life after giving a public lecture. Researchers brave the spotlight at Bright Club comedy nights. Local schoolchildren launch the IdeasTake Flight campaign.



TV cooks Si King and Dave Myers – better known as the Hairy Bikers − turned to Newcastle University experts for help with their BBC2 series Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight. Metabolism expert Professor Roy Taylor and nutritionist Professor Ashley Adamson advised the pair on an extreme low calorie diet, inspired by Professor Taylor’s work on reversing diabetes. Over six months of filming they cajoled and nurtured the bikers, helping each of them to lose over three stones in weight. Elsewhere, the Faculty of Medical Sciences has demonstrated its commitment by creating the post of Associate Dean for Patient and Public Engagement, supported by an Engagement Coordinator. Building on already established good practice, the Faculty has initiated a range of activities to enhance patient engagement, including a new approach to involving healthy volunteers in supporting the education of tomorrow’s doctors; events designed to disseminate good practice and share learning with our local communities and the voluntary sector; and enhanced training and education for staff in engaging patients and the public in their research. Promoting careers in sustainability, Oceans of Opportunity is a careers fair for school pupils of Year 10 and above organised by the School of Marine Science and Technology. The event, which features lots of hands-on activities and attracts a wide range of prospective employers to give advice about careers related to the environment, reaches around 700 young people.



The University’s Insights programme of Public Lectures and the Live in the King’s Hall lunchtime concert series are the mainstay of our cultural offering, annually attracting some 18,000 visitors to campus. Among the big names on the Insights programme in the last 12 months were John Tusa, Richard Wilkinson, Claire Tomalin, Mary Midgley and Shami Chakrabarti, while Bradley Creswick (violin), Rob Murray (tenor) and the Chilingirian Quartet were among the international artists on the Live concert programme. The Insights and Live series also build on our regional and national partnerships, with events presented in collaboration with BALTIC, Northern Stage, The Sage Gateshead, the Literary and Philosophical Society and BBC Radio 3. Our public lectures are also reaching an impressive virtual audience as a result of the ever-increasing archive of recorded lectures featured on the University’s iTunesU page. Launched in summer 2011, the site has already attracted more than a quarter of a million visitors, with over 83,000 downloads in the last 12 months.




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Careering Ahead Newcastle University is among the top 20 universities in the country for our employment rate, according to the latest government statistics. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 2011 showed that despite weaknesses in the global economy, over 93 per cent of our first-degree graduates were either in employment or further study within six months of graduating. More than three quarters of them (78.7 per cent) were in graduate-level jobs. Newcastle is also one of the top 20 universities targeted by graduate employers in the UK. Our graduate fairs are attended by major UK and international organisations like Deloitte, Accenture, Ernst and Young, Siemens, IBM, Jaguar, and Tesco to name but a few. During the last academic year, more than 300 recruiters from companies of all sizes exhibited at recruitment fairs on campus or gave presentations to students, forging links that are essential for that first step on the career ladder. One student to benefit from attending a University careers fair was Rebecca Riddle from Wakefield, a Modern Languages graduate. Just days after meeting a representative from MDS Logistics, she had applied for a job and been through an initial interview. She is now a logistics assistant with the company and has moved to Murcia, in Spain, to begin her career. Studying for a degree gives students the building blocks for success in their chosen career but, increasingly, gaining work experience is an essential part of preparation for the world of work. Many Newcastle University degree programmes now include a vocational element, which can even count as credit towards a student’s final degree result. From this year, Newcastle University has pledged to give every student the chance to take advantage of a work placement, internship or voluntary project to boost their CV. Computer science graduates, Jack Taylor, Jordan Wise, and Sam Collier landed their dream jobs as computer game programmers after completing a three-month work placement with major Newcastle-based computer games maker, Reflections. They impressed the company − which is part of the Ubisoft Entertainment organisation with studios worldwide − so much that all three were given permanent contracts. Already they are working on some of the biggest game titles due out in 2013.

As well as putting people on the path for career success, the Careers Service provides unmatched support for budding entrepreneurs. Through the Rise Up incubator, students with business ideas are given the support and advice they need to get a new business off the ground. In the past year, 28 businesses were created, adding jobs to the local economy, and we have seen a 17 per cent increase in graduates who have gone on to be self-employed. Two student entrepreneurs, Will Clowes and Charlie Warburg, were given a massive boost when the company they set up, Uni Car Ads, was named runner-up in the undergraduate category of the 2012 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. Will and Charlie came second in the undergraduate category of the competition, netting a £3,000 prize. Uni Car Ads pays students every month to host adverts for local businesses on the doors and bonnet of their cars. The venture has already attracted interest from local and national brands, including Pizza Express. Another award-winning graduate-turned-entrepreneur, Rachel Johnson, has been named as one of the most promising young business people in the country. English Language graduate, Rachel, who set up a company providing inspirational talks to school and college pupils, was a winner in a ShellLiveWIRE competition, earning her recognition as one of the UK’s top 40 young entrepreneurs. Rachel set up her company, called Industry Insiders, to bridge the gap between education and employment by delivering workshops in schools and colleges designed to raise aspiration, boost confidence, and inspire young people to follow their dreams.

The advice and support we’ve received from Rise Up has been invaluable in helping take our business forward. Will Clowes, Uni Car Ads co-founder and business management graduate

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Modern Languages graduate, Rebecca Riddle. The Careers Service’s Rise Up incubator. A Deloitte representative meets students at a graduate recruitment fair. Computer Science graduates Jack Taylor, Sam Collier and Jordan Wise.


International Newcastle Newcastle University continues to increase its international profile at home and abroad. This academic year saw the completion of a £53m building where international students can live and learn at the heart of the University campus.


INTO Newcastle University opened its doors in September 2012 and will eventually cater for up to 800 students. The INTO development comprises a purpose-built teaching centre with 18 teaching rooms, a Learning Resource Centre, a lecture theatre, science laboratory and computer labs as well as administrative and academic offices, social areas and a restaurant, and two new halls of residence. Together, Bernicia Halls and Joseph Cowen Halls provide 532 brand new, high-quality study bedrooms.

Our presence in Singapore, and our partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), goes from strength to strength. In May 2012, SIT unveiled plans to develop five purpose-built campuses, two of which will consolidate Newcastle University’s offerings in Singapore. Situated in the grounds of two of Singapore’s major polytechnics, Ngee Ann and Nanyang, these multimillion-pound developments will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for our students.

Newcastle University partnered with INTO – which prepares international students for undergraduate and postgraduate study – in 2007. Since then, more than 4,000 students from 50 different countries have come to Newcastle through INTO and opted to continue their education here. In the 2011–12 external International Student Barometer, INTO Newcastle University recorded an overall student satisfaction rating of 90 per cent.

From three degree programmes and just 67 students and four academic staff in 2009, NUIS has grown exponentially. This year, well over 500 undergraduates are studying with NUIS, which now offers six degree programmes ranging from Marine, Offshore, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering to Naval Architecture and Food and Human Nutrition. With the addition of a seventh programme, in Electrical Power Engineering, in September 2013, undergraduate student numbers are set to increase to more than 600, together with a 32-strong team of academic and support staff.

At the same time as increasing our thriving international community here in Newcastle, we are furthering our strategic global links by developing our presence in South East Asia, through Newcastle University International Singapore (NUIS) and Newcastle University Medicine (NUMed) Malaysia.


As a research-intensive University, we are also strengthening our academic presence and capacity building in Singapore. Through the recent launch of 20 PhD scholarships we are actively seeking collaborations and partnerships with Singaporean academic and research institutions, industry and government agencies.

I consider this Confucius Institute to be an important landmark for the two universities and, with the effort and support of Newcastle University, we would like to make this Confucius Institute the best in the world. Professor Zhu Chongshi, President of Xiamen University, PRC

Meanwhile NUMed, in Johor, Malaysia, now has 70 staff and 220 students studying on its modern 13-acre campus. With two 200-seat presentation lecture theatres, a 100-seat Harvard-style demonstration theatre, 20 classrooms, two 50-place ICT classrooms, three well-equipped teaching laboratories and a library/information centre, NUMed has been specifically designed to meet the education and training needs of the doctors of tomorrow.



NUMed students study for a Newcastle University MB BS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery) degree equivalent to the programme taught in Newcastle, following the same successful curriculum developed by the Faculty of Medical Sciences. They also have the chance to undertake short-term periods of study in the UK. Towards the end of 2011, we signed an agreement with Xiamen University, in the People’s Republic of China, to host the region’s first Confucius Institute. Based in the Old Library Building in the centre of the campus, the new Institute is set to build closer academic, cultural, economic and social ties between the North East and China.


We are also strengthening our US links. During the year, the University hosted a delegation of 32 American academics tasked with bringing gifted and talented students to the UK. The visit was aimed at promoting the University and the city to potential US Fulbright scholars. This year also saw the launch of the Loyola University Maryland Study Abroad Centre at Newcastle University. The Centre, which will initially accommodate more than 50 students, will enable us to focus on developing strong Study Abroad provision, particularly in science. Keeping in touch with our graduates and celebrating their successes and achievements is another way in which our work extends beyond Newcastle. Almost 100,000 of our graduates stay in contact with the University through our Alumni Association. They provide invaluable support for our activities and for our current students, both of which benefit from the generous donations made by our graduates and members of the public. Last year alone, the University was gifted just under £4m. The contribution made by members of the Alumni Association is not purely financial, however. Many of them provide support in kind, through their willingness to share their knowledge and expertise, and by providing career and development opportunities.

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The INTO Building. Mary Denyer, Michael Scott-Kline and Dr Laura Demuth from the UK/US Fulbright delegation. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ella Ritchie at an event for Singapore-based alumni. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink, and Xiamen University’s President Zhu Chongshi. Studying human nutrition in Singapore.



Shaping theFuture


From changing public attitudes to genetic medicine, to advising government on hot topics like alcohol consumption and climate change, Newcastle University research is helping to influence policy and legislation that will improve people’s lives throughout the world. In the past year, our research has led to the launch of a national consultation into a technique to prevent mitochondrial disease, a rare but devastating medical condition. Mitochondria are the ‘batteries’ that power the cells in our bodies. When these batteries fail, patients can develop devastating diseases with symptoms often affecting those tissues most heavily dependent on energy, such as the heart, muscles and brain. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is gathering people’s views about the social and ethical impact of the new technique, which involves transferring the nuclear DNA that contains our genetic make-up between two human eggs to replace defective mitochondria. It is being developed by Professors Doug Turnbull, Mary Herbert and Alison Murdoch at the Institute for Ageing and Health, together with colleagues from the University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research.

Public health is another area where academics at Newcastle University are helping to inform government thinking. Following the announcement of the government’s proposal to ban sales of cheap alcohol in an effort to combat binge drinking, a study led by Dr Jean Adams at the Institute of Health and Society found that such a move was unlikely to have a noticeable effect on the cost of buying alcohol. The study recommended instead that a minimum price of 50 pence per unit would have a greater impact on alcohol pricing, a proposal the government is now said to be considering. In the wake of problems with metal-on-metal hip implants, which were investigated by Tom Joyce, Professor of Orthopaedic Engineering and Dr Pauline McCormack, a research associate in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, the government launched an investigation into how implants are regulated.


All-metal hips have a higher than anticipated failure rate and rubbing between the ball and cup can cause metal to break off, seeping into tissue and causing complications. Professor Joyce and Dr McCormack, who have been studying problems with metal hip joints since 2008, were asked to give evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee. Their recommendations were accepted in the Committee’s report and could result in new, tougher laws on the regulation of medical implants. Many of our academics also hold eminent positions on a range of government bodies to provide expert advice. Simin Davoudi, Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, was selected as a member of a new Social Science Expert Panel for Defra and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. She is one of just 12 academics chosen to provide social science advice to the government departments on research issues relating to food and farming, green economy, environment, energy and climate change policy. We also aim to raise awareness of some of our key priorities through the award of honorary degrees to eminent figures whose expertise and achievement embodies the spirit and values of the University.

Mitochondrial diseases can seriously affect the quality of life of both patients and their families and it often affects several generations. If we can stop that happening it will be a tremendous help for many hundreds of sufferers. Mary Herbert, Professor of Reproductive Biology

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Professor Tom Joyce identified problems with metal hip joints. Introducing a higher minimum price per unit could be a better solution to binge-drinking than banning sales of cut-price alcohol. Sir Jonathon Porritt, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree.


In December 2011, we celebrated the culmination of a year-long programme of events marking the launch of the Sustainability societal challenge theme by honouring four leading lights in fields related to sustainability: renowned environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt; Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington; Chief Executive of the WWF-UK, David Nussbaum; and former government minister and Sunderland MP, Chris Mullin. During the summer graduation ceremonies, honorary degrees were awarded to Lord Krebs, whose work has been a major influence on research currently being conducted within Newcastle University’s Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, and Thomas Zehetmair, musical director of the Northern Sinfonia.


YearinReview March 2012 Ten thousand visitors take part in the Great North Build, rising to the challenge to plan and build their ideal town using Lego bricks, in an exhibition created to launch the Social Renewal societal challenge theme.


Newcastle University is awarded a Gold Star by the National Recycling Stars Scheme, and is named ‘star of the month’ in recognition of our commitment to sustainability. Lord Burns, Chairman of Santander UK, performs the official opening of Newcastle University Business School. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, visits the University to meet Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Brink, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ella Ritchie, to discuss the role of the civic university and the work of the Newcastle Fairness Commission.

April 2012 The Intelligent Transport team at Newcastle University convert an electric car into a mobile laboratory which monitors our concentration, stress levels and driving habits behind the wheel. Dubbed ‘DriveLAB’, the car will help the team to develop new technologies to support older drivers. Newcastle University is named by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as one of 10 partners in a £13m national Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Research Centre. Results from the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey place Newcastle in 12th place in the world in terms of the number of students who are so happy with their time here they would recommend it to friends and family.

May 2012 Newcastle University announces a UKwide pilot study of a pioneering technique that transforms previously unusable donor lungs into lungs which can be used safely for transplant, potentially saving the lives of many more patients on the lung transplant waiting list.

The Aphasia Centre at Newcastle University, which helps people find their voice after suffering a stroke or other brain injury, is renamed The Tavistock Aphasia Centre (North East) by The Duchess of Bedford, who is a Trustee of the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. Visitors from the Marshall Aid Commission and the US Fulbright Commission heap praise on the University and the North East during a whistle-stop tour to see what cities around the UK have to offer. Experts at the University’s Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security estimate that around £200m of electricity is being stolen every year to run illegal cannabis farms across the UK – enough electricity to provide free energy for every household in Newcastle for a whole year.

June 2012 Over 18,600 prospective students, parents and teachers attend two consecutive University visit days. Seventy per cent of respondents to our post-visit survey said they were more likely to apply to Newcastle as a result of their visit. More than 400 graduates return to the campus for the University’s biggest-ever Convocation Weekend. Scientists at the University’s Cockle Park Farm use motion capture technology to diagnose lameness in pigs, as part of a new research project to improve the health and welfare of pigs on farms across the UK. University staff and students blaze a trail with the Olympic Torch as it makes its way through the North East.

July 2012 It’s time to celebrate as some 4,632 students graduate at one of 35 Congregation ceremonies in the University’s King’s Hall. Among them is Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York, who graduated with a Combined Honours degree. Influential biologist, Lord Krebs and acclaimed musician Thomas Zehetmair receive honorary degrees.

Newcastle University experts working with the North East Ambulance service (NEAS) and the North East Alcohol Office (BALANCE) find that in one year an estimated 31,000 emergency calls – one in 10 – are for drink-related incidents, representing a cost to local ambulance services of £9m in the North East alone. Football fever grips the region as Olympic teams from around the world, including eventual gold medallists Mexico, silver medallists Brazil and bronze medallists South Korea, train at the University’s Cochrane Park Sports Ground. A fantastic year for University sport sees Newcastle finishing in the top 10 of the British University and Colleges Sports (BUCS) league for the first time.

August 2012 A team led by Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes and Current Archaeology Archaeologist of the Year, Tony Wilmott, excavating a Roman fort at Maryport in Cumbria, uncover an altar dedicated to the god Jupiter by the fort commander T Attius Tutor. A four-part series Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight airs on BBC2, documenting a six-month period during which Newcastle University’s metabolism expert Professor Roy Taylor and nutritionist Professor Ashley Adamson advised, cajoled and nurtured popular TV cooks Si King and Dave Myers – better known as the Hairy Bikers – in their quest to lose weight and get healthier. Newcastle University and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation purchase a Biomarker Generator to aid the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. The machine is the first in Europe and only the second of its type in the world. As part of the nationwide London 2012 festival, visiting Professor Zachary Lieberman and his digital arts collective, New York-based YesYesNo, light up Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site with Connecting Light, an art installation featuring 600 tethered weather balloons lit by internal LED lights developed at the University’s Culture Lab.

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Purpose witha

Newcastle University, King’s Gate Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU United Kingdom Front cover: Part of the artwork ‘Generation’, by Fine Art graduate Joseph Hillier, in the Student Forum. We would like to thank the following for the use of their illustrative material: Amaranthine Photos, Singapore; BBC Optomen (Andrew Hayes-Watkins); Bryony Balen; John Donoghue; Gavin Duthrie; James Fish; J R Experience, Malaysia; Richard Kenworthy; Euan Martin; Jim McAdam; Nano-Porous Solutions Ltd; ncjmedia; North News and Pictures; Rebecca Riddle; Stark Hartley Atkinson; Mike Urwin; Newcastle University Careers Service; Simon Veit-Wilson; Zander Wilson. Designed by The Roundhouse Design Consultants, Newcastle upon Tyne. Printed by Potts Print (UK). © Newcastle University, 2012. The University of Newcastle upon Tyne trading as Newcastle University.

Profile and Annual Review 2013  

Newcastle University Profile and Annual Review 2013

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