SA Magazine - Issue 2

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win Play to

Smart degrees for a career in computer games

2 01 3 -14

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The genius of Lichfield Tomorrow’s libraries Fabrice Muamba Forty years on

Doing it for kicks

Meet the cheerleading squad

A POSTGRADUATE & PROFESSIONAL FUTURE WITH US Staying on for a postgraduate or professional qualification won’t just improve your employability. You could earn around £15k* a year more on entering the job market than someone with an undergraduate degree. Study could take as little as 12 months, and if that wasn’t enough, as a 2013 Staffordshire University graduate, you’ll also be entitled to 15% off course fees*. So, three great reasons for going on to further study with us: • Rated 94% postgraduate student satisfaction¥ • 15% saving on postgraduate course fees+ • £15k increased first-year earning potential*





PTES category: Overall Satisfaction, ‘skills and personal development met or exceeded my expectations’.

* First-year earning potential, compared to candidates with an undergraduate degree. Source HESA. +



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Terms and Conditions apply.



CONTENTS Professor Michael Gunn Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive



elcome to the latest issue of SA, the magazine for all alumni, friends and partners of Staffordshire University. As I write this introduction, we are preparing for our centenary – 2014 will mark the 100th year of delivering excellence in higher education at this University and its predecessor institutions. It’s a time to look back and consider what makes the staffordshire university ethos so distinctive and special (on which note, you may enjoy the tales of one alumni group at their recent 40-year reunion – see page 22). But it’s also cause to look forward. Our mission is to deliver accessible, high quality Higher education in the creative, technological and scientific industries. Whatever society’s needs, we will fulfil them by providing motivated graduates who are ready to take up the challenges of the workplace. To see how we are doing this for the uK’s computer-games industry, turn to our feature on page 10. Let me cite another exciting example. under a new strategic partnership with Hewlett-Packard, we are developing unique courses in such areas as cloud computing and the “Internet of Things” – the connection of real objects to online networks. It may sound like science fiction, but it’s not a new idea to us at staffordshire university. see page 18 for an interview with our award-winning librarian, David Parkes, who believes the Internet of Things will be central to the university of the future. elsewhere in the magazine, you’ll find out about how our Applied Research Centres are providing innovative solutions to real-world problems, such as river pollution and crime prevention using CCTV. But amid all the high technology, many of our degrees still include fields of study that were taught here when we embarked on our educational mission in 1914. We continue to furnish engineers with the skills they need to prosper, teach chemistry to tomorrow’s forensic scientists and sustain stoke-on-Trent’s proud pottery tradition with our world-leading ceramic courses. At the age of 100 staffordshire university remains true to its heritage, and we enter our second century with pride and optimism. I hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine.


22 Regulars Letters 04 News 06 Opening shots 16 Profile 18 The reunion 22 Q&A 30 International 32 subject focus 44


Bright eyes 34 Cutting-edge technology from the Serious fun 10 Developing new talent University’s Applied Research Groups for the UK’s vibrant computer games ’Tis the season to industry be woolly 38 Why the Christmas Go Staffs! 26 jumper is back in Meet the Scarlettes, Staffs Uni’s very own fashion this season cheerleading team

Alumni news 46 Final word 50

City of culture 40 A learned history of Lichfield



Editor: William Ham Bevan Publisher: Andrew Riley Art Direction: Dan Black Design: Mark sargent, Damian Bennett Published by: Publishing Ink Ltd, 5th Floor, Whitehouse, 111 New street, Birmingham B2 4eu sA is published regularly in print and online editions. The opinions expressed in sA are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of staffordshire university.

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YOUR LETTERS We are always delighted to receive your emails and letters. If you’d like to share your experiences at the University, comment on the magazine or suggest topics for us to cover in a future issue, please contact us at: SA Magazine, Graduate Relations, Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DE or email Please mark your message “for publication”. Letters may be edited for length.

The business of ethics I enjoyed learning some of the history of Staffordshire University in the first issue of SA. The “Reunion” article was a great way to show that there are still people who keep in touch with the good friends they made while at university. And I liked the “Comic Art” feature – perhaps you could have some of the talented student artists draw a regular comic strip for the magazine? As for what else I’d like to see in future editions, perhaps business graduates would be interested to read something about the growing importance of Corporate social Responsibility, and how doing business ethically leads to a better society and environment. It would also be nice to see more infographics in the magazine to illustrate some of the facts and figures about the university. Natasha Riad (Staffordshire Graduate 2012)


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A life-changing choice When A-level results day came around this year, I found myself thinking back to how being a Staffordshire University student has shaped my life. My own results day felt like one of the worst days of my life, but looking back it was probably one of the best. I met my future husband during freshers’ week in Leek Road students’ union, we became a couple a few months later and we were married in 2005. Our guests included a large number of staffs graduates. My degree was in Microbiology and Biochemistry and after graduation in 2000 I became a scientist. However, in 2009 I undertook a major career change and came to work for my husband’s

family business, My days now consist of gifts and marketing talk, not DNA and lab coats. I love my role and although my degree was in a totally different area, it gave me a lot of transferable skills. It could all have been so different. staffordshire was my second-choice university as I didn’t obtain good enough A-levels for my first choice. I was gutted, but if I hadn’t gone to staffs I’d never have met my husband and wouldn’t now be doing a job that I love. It goes to show that what feels like the end of the world at the time can actually be for the best! Amanda Edwards (Staffordshire Graduate 2000)

Comics and ceramics spin-out ceramics company. It’s fascinating to see how successful the brand is becoming. I also really enjoyed the ‘Comic Heroes’ article: the talent of the university’s Cartoon and Comic Arts Just wanted to say how much I love the new Staffordshire Alumni magazine. It’s great to read about all the exciting things going on at the university at the moment. In the last edition I particularly liked the feature on Flux, the university’s

students is incredible. The magazine is full of interesting articles and snippets of news. Knowing how much goes on during and after student life is a great way to stay connected with staffordshire university. Libby Plant (Staffordshire Graduate 2011)


EVENTS DIARY 2014 All lectures and events are free to attend. For further information or to reserve a place, please contact Corporate events on 01782 295860 or email Wednesday, January 22

Thursday, March 6

STEM Public Lecture: Harnessing Offshore Wind Energy

STEM Public Lecture: A World of STEM Opportunities

In the first of a series of lectures marking

In an interactive presentation, former

the school of engineering’s move to stoke

Tomorrow’s World presenter Kate Bellingham

and the forthcoming centenary celebrations,

demonstrates how science, technology,

Professor sarath Tennakoon outlines

engineering and maths can open doors to a

how wind energy can help to combat

wide range of careers.

climate change.

6pm, Science Centre Lecture Theatres

6pm, Science Centre Lecture Theatres, Stoke Monday, January 27

STEM Public Lecture: Finding Treblinka – Archaeological Investigations at Treblinka Extermination and Labour Camps

Wednesday, March 19

Spitfire Lecture In support of Operation spitfire, an initiative to restore one of the fighter planes based at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Julian Mitchell, great-nephew of spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell, delivers a lecture on the iconic aircraft.

Dr Caroline sturdy Colls looks at how

6pm, Science Centre Lecture Theatres

archaeology is shedding light on one of the

Wednesday, May 21

most tragic episodes of the 20th century.

GradEx Stoke

6pm, Science Centre Lecture Theatres, Stoke

engineering and sciences students

Monday, February 10

showcase their final-year projects to

LGBT Month Lecture: Simon Fanshawe OBE – End of Gay?

industry figures, friends, family and the

An evening with the writer, broadcaster,

Friday, May 23

founder member of stonewall and

GradEx Stafford

“provocateur with a purpose”.

Computing and Technology students

6pm, Film Theatre, Stoke

showcase their final-year projects to

Wednesday, February 12

STEM Public Lecture: Mobile MegaTrends Changing Our World

public. see 9am, Science Centre, Stoke

Don’t be a stranger... As a Staffordshire Graduate you’ll always be part of the University community, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed of what’s happening. We have just launched Staffordshire University Alumni Online, a portal for all our graduates. Keeping in touch has never been easier! Sign up today at You can also check out the latest University news and forthcoming events at And to get in touch with Graduate Relations, email graduate.relations@, call 01782 294942 or write to Graduate Relations, Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-onTrent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE.

Staffs on social media social media is an excellent way to keep up with us and network with other staffordshire Graduates. You can follow us on Twitter, sign up for our official alumni group on LinkedIn or watch the latest videos from the university on our YouTube channel. simply go online at or use the following:

industry figures, friends, family and the

public. see


9am, Ruxton Technology Centre, Stafford Saturday, June 14 – Saturday, June 21

Dr Nike Folayan explains how mobile

Show and Tell

technology has transformed the world, and

students graduating from Art and Design

how new advances may impact on daily life

programmes showcase their projects. see

in the future.

1.30pm, Science Centre Lecture Theatres, Stoke

Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies, Stoke +staffordshireuniversity

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NEWS Take the ultimate challenge

Staffs Uni helps the police with their enquiries Forensics experts at Staffordshire University and Staffordshire Police have joined forces to investigate the potential of digital imaging technology in solving crimes. The Spheron-VR Sceneworks technology consists of a 360-degree camera and software that allows a visual record of a crime scene to be stored on a server, where it can be accessed by personnel working on the case. Detailed physical evidence such as fingerprints and blood residue can be stored on the system, along with witness statements. John Cassella, Professor of Forensic Science Education, says: “This technology has been described as a game changer and I’m inclined to agree. We are one of the first universities to be looking at it, and we’re delighted to be doing so in partnership with Staffordshire Police Forensics Department. It will also be used in our undergraduate teaching as part of our activity in the University’s Crime Scene House, and in the classroom.” 6

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Are you the Ultimate Staffordshire Graduate?

year with a competition to find out who best

Have you used the skills and knowledge you

embodies the key attributes of the Staffordshire

gained at the University to put yourself at the

Graduate – such as expertise, professionalism,

forefront of your chosen field and make a real

global citizenship and communication skills. So

difference to the world around you? If so, you

whether you’ve grown an idea into a successful

could win a fantastic trip for two to Berlin.

business, worked your way up the ranks of your

The University is celebrating its centenary

profession or achieved success as part of a team, we’d like to hear from you. To enter, go online at and follow the “Ultimate Staffordshire Graduate” link. In no more than 300 words, tell us why you deserve the title – and don’t forget to include a recent photograph! You’ll need to have graduated between 1992 and 2013, and entries must be received by March 28, 2014. Filmed interviews will be made of the five shortlisted candidates, and the overall winner will be decided by total number of video views online. Good luck!

Levi Roots adds spice to food court opening Celebrity entrepreneur Levi Roots brought a festival atmosphere to the opening of the new food court at the Leek Road Campus. The star of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, who wowed the programme’s judges with his fiery Reggae Reggae Sauce, was joined by musicians and dancers at an event with a true Caribbean vibe. Roots paid tribute to catering staff and encouraged students to think about their own entrepreneurship. He said: “It doesn’t matter what age or colour you are, you can slay your own dragons and become successful too, provided you have a great team in place – and that’s what I’ve seen here today.” The transformation of the Brindley Food Court forms part of the University’s £10million investment in the Stoke campus.


In brief • A major refurbishment of the University’s building at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is under way. Nursing and midwifery students will be among those to benefit from the project, worth more than a quarter of a million pounds. The plans include improvement works to study and social spaces, as well as the provision of new AV equipment. • Graphic Design undergraduate Craig Palmer, 20, has won first prize

Katrina stitches up the competition

in the “Picturing Time” competition hosted by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. The brief asked students to visualise time in a unique way, and Craig’s winning entry formed part of an exhibition at Sotheby’s in London.

A Staffordshire student is celebrating after

and worked tirelessly over the summer

• A community garden that allows

winning a prize in one of the world’s most

months to have her creation ready for

Staffordshire students and staff to grow

prestigious embroidery competitions.

judging in November. She says: “My tutor

Katrina Lewis, who is following the

their own organic produce has been

Colette Dobson was extremely supportive,

BA(Hons) Textile Surfaces course, was

encouraging me to be experimental and to

commended by the Royal Horticultural

placed third in the Hand and Lock Student

do things differently, breaking traditional

Prize. The contest was open to more than

embroidery rules.”

1,000 universities and colleges from

Katrina won valuable work experience at

around the globe, and hundreds of entries

the workshop of Hand and Lock – which

were submitted.

produces embroidery for clients including

To enter, Katrina had to design and

Chanel and Jimmy Choo as well as Her

produce a hand-embroidered garment,

Majesty the Queen – plus a cash prize.

Society. The allotment was established in 2007 to encourage University members to work together in growing fruit and vegetables. It was awarded the top rating of “outstanding” at an awards ceremony in Birmingham – a feat achieved by no other university.

Savvy gamblers prefer a punt to a pint The majority of gamblers are rational decision-makers rather than compulsive risk-takers, according to a research collaboration between Staffordshire and Loughborough Universities – and one in four people would rather place a bet than go to the pub. Ellis Cashmore, Staffordshire’s Professor of Culture, Media and Sport, co-authored a study that surveyed 2,500 people to find out their motivations for gambling. Eight in 10 described themselves as “people who like a bet”, with just 16% believing themselves to

be “gamblers”. What’s more, six in 10 wagered no more than 2% of their net income. Cashmore also forecasts that gambling will increase as the economy improves. He says: “News of a recovery, however modest, will encourage bettors, who will gamble with more abandon as the nation moves further from a period of austerity. “While pubs are closing on an almost daily basis, betting shops are on the increase, which is tied to the fact almost a quarter of gamblers surveyed prefer placing a bet to a pint at the pub.”


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NEWS Appointments Darren Raven has been appointed Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Illustration. The former freelance illustrator has taught at institutions including Ravensbourne and London College of Communication, and was appointed to a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship in 2013.

A lesson in enterprise Theo Paphitis taking a hands-on role. The initiative is the brainchild of Ben and Michael Dyer, who set up the company Youth Enterprise CIC after studying at Staffordshire University Business School. Last year the

Cedric Belloc has become Academic Group Leader, Electrical, Electronics, and Communication, at the School of Engineering. He joins from Glyndwr University, where he was a Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Angela Lawrence has been appointed Lecturer in Marketing. She has held senior marketing roles in several companies, including the post of global marketing manager at Flowcrete Group. She has previously lectured for BPP University. Mohammed Jakhara has taken up the post of Head of School: Social Work, Allied and Public Health. He was previously Head of Subject for Integrated Professional Studies in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Derby.

Challenge was backed by Lord Sugar, and more than 700 young people from schools throughout the UK attended the London finals in July. Michael Dyer says: “We’re all looking forward to working with Theo Paphitis and his company Ryman this year and making the challenge even bigger and better Schoolchildren across Britain are getting a valuable grounding in business and entrepreneurship, thanks to two innovative Staffordshire Graduates – and with the support of the University. The National Enterprise Challenge is a

for the students taking part. We are also grateful to Staffordshire University for their continued support and confidence in the Challenge.” The University will be promoting the Challenge to its growing network of schools,

nationwide competition to find the UK’s

and current Staffordshire students will be able

most enterprising school, teacher and pupils.

to help out as ambassadors. It is expected that

Stationery giant Ryman has been announced as

around 120 schools and 25,000 pupils will take

the main sponsor, with its high-profile chairman

part in the competition.

Café culture in the community Public engagement is a vital part of the Staffordshire University ethos – and this September, local residents were invited to the Stoke campus for a special “World Café” lunch to find out about initiatives linking the University and the wider community. The event, which was oversubscribed twice over, was organised by third-year Psychology student Stacey Heath with help from the Students’ Union. She says: “We told the participants about some of


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the projects run by the University, such as the Fringe Festival and the Children’s University Scheme, and asked for their views and impressions.” After a free lunch, participants were invited to write their thoughts down on the tablecloths. From this information Stacey was able to compile a report for the University. “It gave us an insight into their thoughts and ideas and how best to utilise our resources to engage with the local community,” she says.


Honorary degrees

Flux shows off its best china University talent took centre-stage at this year’s

but the business has become disciplined and

British Ceramics Biennial, the UK’s leading


showcase for contemporary ceramics. The event featured a wealth of designs by Flux, the award-winning company spun off from the MA Ceramics programme, and demonstrated how it has grown into a mature business since its launch three years ago. Professor David Sanderson, the creative

Best known for its signature cobalt-blue, gold and platinum works in fine bone china, Flux aims to combine Stoke-on-Trent’s tradition with cutting-edge design and modern manufacturing methods. Professor Sanderson adds: “It is great for both the city of Stoke to remain an influential

director of Flux, says: “At the time of our launch

place in ceramics and for the University to

we had no core manufacturer or supply chain,

demonstrate what talented students it possesses.”

Top prospects for postgraduates The University has picked up two accolades at the Prospects Postgraduate Awards, a national

scheme to reward excellence and innovation in higher education. In the Business and Social Sciences Best Teaching Team category, Staffordshire’s Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) team took the top prize, while the MBA team was highly commended. Katy Vigurs, award leader for the EdD team, says: “It’s fantastic to see two teaching teams at Staffordshire University recognised in postgraduate education. Our team has worked extremely hard to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning over the past two years.”

Double Olympic rowing champion Andrew Triggs Hodge headed the list of figures who were honoured at the 2013 University Awards Ceremonies. The Staffordshire Graduate was among 10 recipients of an honorary doctorate – the University’s highest honour. Joining him were Miriam Allen, founder of Ireland’s leading film festival, the Galway Film Fleadh; Peter Dartford, the chief executive of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service; and global education entrepreneur Osman Kassim. For empowering local people through the arts, Hilary Hughes received an honorary doctorate, as did District Judge Peter Rank for his services to the legal profession. The accolade was also bestowed on Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments Group, who was instrumental in the success of Alton Towers; former Lord Mayor of London Sir David Wootton; and Peter Wright, who turned local business Wrights Pies into a multi-million-pound concern. Rounding off the roll of honour was Staffordshire-born Anna Watkins, who matched Andrew Triggs Hodge’s achievement at the London Olympics with a gold medal in the double sculls.


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SERIOUS FUN Britain has one of the world’s strongest computer-games industries. Thanks to Staffordshire University’s specialised degree programmes, it can rely on a steady flow of skilled graduates By Anne Wollenberg 10

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team of games designers watch as the figure in front of them stands, crouches and lies down, before running through a series of fighting motions: kick left, kick right, touch left, touch right. This isn’t taking place in a computergenerated city or battle-ravaged planet, but in the Rare motion-capture studio at staffordshire university, where students on the Games Programming and Games Design and Technology courses come to turn human movements into character animation. Red light bounces off a suit made of small white balls, around half the size of those used for ping-pong. Ground glass on their surface reflects the light back to eight cameras, which


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comprise the state-of-the-art Vicon Motion Capture system, providing data to determine the movements of a game character. Tucked away in a corner of the Ruxton Technology Centre, located at the stafford Campus, the motion-capture lab is a joint venture between the university and games developer Rare – best-known for developing titles for Microsoft’s Kinect platform. “We rent them the room at the same price as they rent us the equipment, so no money changes hands,” explains Dr Bobbie Fletcher, head of the university’s Games Technology Group. Computer game sales overtook video in 2011, and the industry now out-performs film and music in both the physical and digital realms. What’s more, the uK accounts

for over half of the world’s game-development revenue, according to the uK Interactive entertainment Association – more than the usA, Canada and Japan put together. “Most people don’t realise how much time or skill it takes to create a video game,” says Fletcher, who oversees courses in areas such as gameplay design, concept design and technical art. The department has earned huge respect in the industry, which she says is very hard-won. “some courses at uK universities are better than others,” she explains. “Not all produce graduates who are actually prepared to work in the industry, so some companies are cautious. The games industry doesn’t want people it has to train. We use the right


“New graduates often start as junior artists, and quite a few companies, such as Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar North, have a policy of starting people as games testers”

software, such as 3D studio Max; a lot of other courses use Maya, which is more geared towards animation in film.” students create multiple finished games by the time they graduate. One of the latest initiatives involves second and third-years teaming up on Thursdays to mimic a games studio environment, with finalists fulfilling senior roles such as producer and lead artist.

New students from the Bsc in Computer Games Programming will join in during their second semester. The Rare motion-capture lab is just one example of the industry links the university has forged. In October, it was announced that Mike Gamble, european territory manager for epic Games, the company behind the Unreal Tournament and Gears of War franchises,

is to act as a visiting professor. “We invited Mike Gamble to see our students’ work and he said it was fantastic,” remembers Fletcher. As a result, staffordshire university became the academic partner for epic’s game development competition, Make something unreal Live 2013. “The team at staffordshire is both passionate and knowledgeable,” says Gamble. “I think it’s a testament to that combination that graduates are able to enter the industry and be as successful as they are. The list of companies they’ve been placed at reads like a who’s who of the industry.” staffordshire graduates have had a hand in some of the biggest titles of recent years,

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“Not many universities can offer such enthusiastic lecturers and access to a motion-capture suite”

such as Grand Theft Auto V, which broke seven Guinness World Records for video game sales. “New graduates often start as junior artists, and quite a few companies, such as Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar North, have a policy of starting people as games testers,” says Fletcher. Games design students work primarily on the PC computer platform, which takes the


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biggest share of the market. Games designed for PC can then be ported, or transferred, to other devices. students on the programming Bsc also start off on PC, as well as enjoying access to other facilities such as a laboratory of Playstation 3 development units and a development version of the new Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. The staffordshire Bsc is one of just five

games programming degrees to have earned accreditation from industry body Creative skillset. The university also runs a one-year Msc for students who have taken more general degrees, such as computer science, and would like to move into games. “Not many universities can offer such enthusiastic lecturers and access to a motion-capture suite,” says Ben Woodford, a second-year programming student and avid gamer. “I went to a number of other open days and many just weren’t as enthusiastic about games.” Woodford is in charge of promotions for the staffordshire Video Games society


(sVGs), which is currently the university’s largest society. “We’re nearing the record for staffordshire’s largest society in recorded history,” he says. “Our biggest event is a three-day PC ‘LAN party’ for 105 players.” Between bi-weekly gaming sessions run by sVGs and one-off events such as development competition Global Game Jam, there’s plenty to keep gaming enthusiasts busy at staffordshire – such as their coursework, for example. “Our students are passionate about making games, so they put lots of time and effort into their coursework and learn more than if they had taken a general degree,” says

Dr Cathy French, academic group leader and principal lecturer in Computer Games Programming. “sometimes I’ll be marking at home and my son says: ‘I thought you were working?’ because I’m playing a game a student has created.” specialising won’t narrow a student’s employment prospects. “That mentality is completely wrong,” says French. “In the games industry, it’s absolutely the other way around. If you don’t specialise, you’ll be competing against people with fantastic portfolios containing anything from clips to complete games.” Games programming also uses and

develops transferable skills in computer programming, software development and simulation, which are in high demand in the general computing industry, not just in games development. Recent graduate destinations include software engineering jobs in the maritime division at BAe systems and at defence and space company Goodrich IsR. “We have graduates working on oil rig training systems and submarine controls,” says French. “There are loads of well-paid jobs out there for enthusiastic programmers who do well on our degree – and not just in the gaming world.” Issue TWO

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English lit: Postgraduate student Lucas Swann used charred books in this design inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451. The number represents the temperature at which paper will ignite.

Moveable type: Among the most striking exhibits at Show and Tell was Andrew Hall’s A World Without Gravity, an installation featuring a book with its type floating eerily off the pages.

Plate class: Faye Roberts, a student in three-dimensional design, created this set of ceramic dining ware.

IT’S SHOWTIME! Each year, Show and Tell provides art and design students with a public showcase for their talent. Here, we present some of the highlights of this summer’s exhibition


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All a flutter: Graphic Design student Alfie Renton created this Spotter’s Guide to Paper as his entry in the YCN Student Awards. The competition brief was to raise the brand profile of Fedrigoni, an Italian paper company.


Bright future: Stacie Davies added colour to the exhibition with her surface designs and birdhouse installation.

Art utensils: Kia Greengrass, studying Fine Art, made use of workaday items including cutlery, bottles and tins in this untitled composition.

Magic circles: Surface Pattern Design graduate Sarah Taylor produced a collection of homeware and wallpaper designs that were inspired by Japanese geometrics.

Take a bow: Daniel Beckford, a student on the Surface Pattern Design course, designed a selection of colourful bow ties as well as rugs and greetings cards.


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Through his awardwinning leadership of the library service, David Parkes has helped make Staffordshire University one of Britain’s most innovative learning environments






s Associate Director of Learning Technology and Information Services, David Parkes has played a vital part in bringing Staffordshire University and its libraries into the digital age. And in the 15 years since his arrival, he has seen the science of learning utterly transformed by the world wide web, virtual learning environments, e-books and myriad other innovations. Parkes himself has become a leading speaker and opinion-former in the field, and earlier this year was honoured with a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy. But sometimes even he finds himself astonished at the sheer pace of change. “A few years ago, we never dreamed that we would be using tablet devices the size of a piece of paper to access all this incredible content,” he says. “There has been a confluence of technologies, of different approaches to learning, and a huge amount of change in libraries. In particular, there has been this shift from print to digital.” For Parkes, the “eureka moment” of digital technology came in the late 90s, when he spent time on sabbatical in the United States. “I was working at a

university in Philadelphia,” he says. “Part of my role there was to convince a sceptical faculty that the world wide web would be a major player in terms of information. I spent a good deal of time knocking on doors and demonstrating what this emerging web could give them.” At the time, seeking information meant negotiating vast indexes – something that required skill and considerable patience. “Then things like search engines started to appear and digitisation started to happen,” he says. “It meant that for the first time, from your desktop, you could sit there and type in some terms and it would cut through all of this stuff and bring a huge amount of information back. “Now, people can’t imagine a world without the web; but at the time I had to convince them that this wasn’t a fad, that this wasn’t CB radio for the 90s. The students got it very quickly and by the time I came back to the UK, there was

this incredible leap forward in terms of providing access to people.” Alongside the IT revolution, there have been equally radical changes in the function of a university library. The image of an austere repository of books, with echoing floors and silence strictly enforced, is now somewhat out of date. Today, most libraries have places where users can meet and interact as well as areas devoted to quiet study. Parkes says: “It’s a learning space, but it’s also a social space. It’s a hub, if you like – the intellectual heart of a university, but also a place to meet people, to have a coffee, to just socially gather. What we try to do is have everything. So we have noisy, social space, but we also have quieter space and those silent scriptorium type places. “Some people have called it the cathedral and the bazaar; you’ve got the bazaar activity which is all the hustle and bustle, and then you’ve got the quieter cathedral of knowledge, where you may just hear the scratch “Now, people can’t of a pen. As the curriculum imagine a world without changes or behaviour changes, you need to the web; but at the time change the spaces, because I had to convince them it’s so important to keep as flexible as you can.” that this wasn’t a fad, There’s more, too, that this wasn’t CB radio to the library service for the 90s” than looking after the


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knowledge infrastructure – both week four you should be doing that physical and virtual – of the university. – and it will nag you. It will say ‘have staffordshire has been proactive in you done this?’ or ‘now you should be providing students with technological thinking about this’. It’ll provide guides aids to help them succeed with on how to find materials, plus how individual study. Among the most to write a bibliography and put your successful tools is the Assignment referencing in. survival Kit, which “We give it free Parkes helped to staffordshire “A book, for to develop. students and sell it example, will have “We’re just about to other universities to release a mobile for their students to both a physical and version of that as well,” use. It spins out as digital life, just as he says. “It’s essentially a potential for some a calculator. A student income to come into consumers do” enters what kind of the university, as well assignment they’ve as being a fantastic got to do. It could be learning tool.” essay, a presentation or a portfolio. They I ask Parkes about his National then enter the date it’s due, and what Teaching Fellowship. With just 55 then pops up is a whole list of guides and recipients throughout uK universities instructions on what to do. this year, it’s among the most prestigious “It sets out a timetable for you – by awards for excellence in higher week three you should be doing this, education. “I was delighted to receive


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Knowledge marketplace: most libraries now have places where users can meet, interact and work collaboratively as well as areas that are devoted to quiet individual study

that,” he says. “It puts you in touch with a brilliant network of people with fantastic ideas about how learning experiences can be improved. so it gives me a platform to talk about the great stuff we’re doing at staffordshire. “It also comes with a £10,000 award for my own professional and personal development, so I can use that to go to conferences that previously may have been beyond my budget. I’ve always wanted to go to one in America called educause. It will also let me explore some of the more cutting-edge technologies such as Google Glass and

augmented reality, and see how that can impact on the work we do and student success.” And prizes aside, there is a sense that this continuous process of innovation and improvement supplies its own rewards – including the privilege of watching students grow into confident learners. “It’s still an absolute joy every single day to see the impact that you have on them,” he says. “You can see that incredible journey that they make. It reflects the work that I and my team and everyone at the university delivers. It’s a really exciting place to be.”

Always online: above, augmented reality technology such as Google Glass will increasingly allow physical and virtual reality to merge. Below, today’s library spaces at the University

THE LIBRARY OF THE FUTURE It may have seemed inconceivable to ask just a few years ago, but the first question about the library of the future is this: will it exist at all? Or will we no longer need a specific physical space dedicated to storing information? David Parkes believes the library’s survival is assured. “I think it’s important to have a real space, as a symbol if you like. Now, it may not house books other than as artefacts. But I think a library is important to provide a visual clue to the digital world, because it is like the Roman Forum, a meeting place, a market place or a bazaar. It’s always going to have that function. “Whatever we call it – and we may not call it a library – it will be a place where people come to find things out, to contribute to knowledge, to collect knowledge and share knowledge, and that’s the absolute key thing. so yes, libraries will still exist; though they may look very, very different. What’s more, the library is set to undergo another transformation, thanks to the “Internet of Things” – the notion that real objects will increasingly be linked to the online world, allowing physical and virtual reality to merge. “A book, for example, will have both a physical and digital life, just as consumers do,” says Parkes. “It will mean that we can get the book as an object and know where it is using GPs. But we will also be able to get the full content of it on the web, as well as having the beautiful object itself.” Other technological innovations are already a reality in libraries across the Atlantic, and Parkes believes they will soon appear in the uK. “3D printing is even starting to appear in libraries now, where people can come and create things – they’re calling them ‘maker spaces’,” he says. “There are all these incredible sorts of things that we can start to think about and explore, and technology enhances the experience and provides the scaffolding for us. But it’s actually what we build around that scaffolding that’s important.”

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FORTY YEARS ON Illustrations by Becci Such

Cheap nights in the students’ union, tower-block pranks and a touring piano... welcome to student life at stafford for the class of 1973. We caught up with them after their reunion at the former North staffordshire Polytechnic


our decades on from freshers’ week, it was something of a logistical triumph for Ann Halliday to round up 20 former North Staffordshire Polytechnic students (and one lecturer)


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and bring them back to their old stamping ground – now the Beaconside campus of Staffordshire University. But the recently retired social worker is modest about her achievement. “We have to really blame Howard,” she says. “He was the one who reminded me it was 40 years since we started this year, and I said I’d try and whip people into action to come. so I took on that responsibility, but if Howard hadn’t reminded me, the event would have passed me by.” Like Ann, landscape architect Howard Price came to the Polytechnic in 1973 to start a Geography degree. Their year group, along with a cohort of Modern studies students, were among the only arts students on a campus dedicated to science and engineering. “On both the Geography and Modern studies courses, we were the first intake that they’d had, so

we were all guinea pigs – and I suppose the lecturers were, too,” he says. Peter Jennings, now a musician and tour leader based in Gran Canaria, remembers a lot of academic interaction between the two programmes. “I did Geography, and Norman sharp – who came back for the reunion – was our head of department,” he says.“We were invited to participate in some of the seminars and lectures that the Modern studies people did, such as international relations, politics, sociology and social studies. We sort of buddied up to them.” The best measure of this closeness is the two marriages that took place between members of the two degree programmes. Ann’s husband, Martin, was a Modern studies student, while another geographer, Janette Knight, married John Knight from the same course group. Both couples attended the reunion. But back in the seventies, relations with other students on campus could be more guarded. steve Hind, a Geography alumnus who went on to work in the university of Luton, says: “engineering and computer science were the main things. I don’t think there was much crossover between us and them. “I did share a house briefly with an engineer, a local stoke lad who lived down in stafford. He thought we were aliens – he was part of the workforce, part of real life, and we were these aliens who studied things


that had no real relevance and just made nuisances of themselves. It was quite a little enclave of arts and humanities within a sea of technology-type people.” On arriving at staffordshire university for the reunion, the group were treated to a guided tour by a member of campus staff. “We had this chap, Geoff Goode, who showed us round Beaconside and that was absolutely magical,” says Ann. “He’d been with the university quite a while so he could plot the changes and tell us what had happened to the building.” Working out what remained from the Polytechnic era proved a challenge. Howard says: “We spent the time just trying to reorientate ourselves, discovering which bits had survived and which bits hadn’t. In the end, it got down to whether we recognised a bit of parquet floor – that was the only part of the structure that seemed to have remained.” The day proceeded with a visit to the students’ union building for lunch (“Very different from when we could fit the whole college in the refectory,” muses Peter) and the group later headed into stafford. steve says: “We retraced our steps around town and tried to work out which shops and buildings were still there in the town centre and which have gone. It was like a collective attempt to fight Alzheimer’s – ‘I’m sure we must be able to remember what was here’. That kind of stuff.” Over a curry in the evening, much reminiscing took place

“More than one student returned to find their bedroom stripped bare, with the furniture reassembled in the lift”

about the old students’ union building, then located in a dilapidated house on Tipping street in the centre of stafford. The regular 10p nights, when a pound note could buy a round of 10 pints, were particularly well attended.

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“One pound and you had your whole night’s entertainment,” says steve. “That dates us a bit, doesn’t it? Today students are a big part of the retail economy within

“When latecomers were straggling home from the Polytechnic in the evening, they used to get a fair old dousing from those who had arrived earlier”

cities and I’m sure stafford and stoke are no different in that respect. With us, it would be self-contained within the students’ union

of an upright piano. “A few of us shared a

some time at Brooke Court, a 16-storey

and there probably wasn’t a huge overlap

house out on Tixall Road,” says Howard,

accommodation block in Highfields. “I lived

socialising out in town between students

“and I remember one night we rocked up

there for a while,” says Ann. “It was this

and non students.”

at Tipping street, complete with the piano

enormous tower, one of two, and there were

from the house. We’d actually rolled it

four students per flat. It was a Council-

including a memorable occasion when

downtown – giving it an outing, so to speak.

owned block, but for whatever reason they

the group had brought their own musical

Remarkably, it did eventually make it back.”

gave it over to the Polytechnic. And I can tell

There was also talk of student pranks,

accompaniment to the union in the form


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Most people at the reunion had spent

you that that was incredibly good fun.”


“The student newspaper did an article on Brooke Court. They took a photograph of it at a slight angle so it looked as if it was toppling over, like the Tower of Pisa” High-rise living provided plenty of opportunity for practical jokes. More than one student returned to find their bedroom stripped bare, with the furniture reassembled in the lift; and water fights were almost a daily occurrence. “sometimes the front of the student tower used to look like Niagara Falls,” says Peter. “When latecomers were straggling home from the Polytechnic in the evening, they used to get a fair old dousing from those who had arrived earlier. We had balconies, so whole saucepans full of water used to get thrown.” On occasion the pranks could spiral out of control, as happened during one Rag Week. steve says: “I remember the student newspaper did an article on Brooke Court. They took a photograph of it at a slight angle so it looked as if it was toppling over, like the Tower of Pisa, and they printed a little photograph of a tiny little crack in the wall. “The local paper picked up on this and ran the story. And then the Council tenants in the next block were evacuating their tower because they thought it was going to fall down. It went from being a little prank on a student paper to creating a panic!”

All look back to their time at North staffordshire Polytechnic with fondness, and believe that the knowledge gained on the Geography degree stood them in good stead. Howard says: “It sounds a bit corny, but not many a week goes by when I don’t make reference to some of the knowledge that I gained through that geography course. That love of mapping and the interpretation of mapping is my everyday bread and butter, really. It’s interesting that it has very much shaped my career.” such skills have proved useful in Peter’s role as a walking guide in Gran Canaria. “I used to learn geography, and now I do it,” he says. “I’m interpreting a landscape, which is what I was training myself to do on Norman sharp’s geography courses and then afterwards when I studied for City and Guilds qualifications in agriculture. People want to know about the nuts and bolts of the landscape that we’re passing, and it’s no problem for me to interpret it.” But just as important as the academic qualification is the social aspect of higher education – as the take-up for the 40-year reunion has proved. “You make

friendships for life,” says steve. “It forms you as a person and it’s your first taste of freedom, moving away from home, so I think those things always have an impact. And it’s nice that a reasonably sized bunch of us have kept in touch.” Ann adds: “We had a fantastic time. My kids have all been through university, so I know how things have now changed: they have things like their own en-suite rooms. It was very, very basic when we were there, but it just seemed so much fun. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different.”

“I remember one night we rocked up at Tipping street, complete with the piano from the house. We’d actually rolled it downtown – giving it an outing, so to speak”

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Meet the Scarlettes, Staffordshire University’s very own cheerleading squad, who are hoping to regain their crown as Britain’s top competitors at the fast-growing sport ISSUE TWO

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By Lucy Jolin


“It’s a real sport, but we’re also putting on a show. It’s great to do something so different and exciting”


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or many who live outside the United States, cheerleading will bring up a particular set of images: girls with blonde locks, pleated skirts and expensive dentistry shaking their pom-poms beside an American-football gridiron. But there’s far more to it than a nice smile and the ability to shout “Go team!” Cheerleading demands athletic skill and a high level of fitness, as well as dedication and daring. At its best, it’s an exhilarating, exciting blend of gymnastics, dance and stunts – and it’s increasingly popular on this side of the pond. “Yes, it’s a real sport, but we’re also putting on a great show,” says Abigail Levett. Currently in her third year of an Events Management degree, she’s also president of the Scarlettes,

Staffordshire University’s cheerleading squad. “I love it. It’s fantastic to be able to do something at university which is so different and exciting.” Though the cheerleader is an emblem of American culture, the activity has spread to every corner of the globe. The British Cheerleading Association (BCA) was formed 30 years ago, and the UK is just one of an estimated 82 countries where the sport is practised. It is split into two very distinct disciplines – sideline cheerleading, which involves standing on the sports field with those inevitable pom-poms, and competitive cheerleading. “Competitive cheerleading involves squads competing against each other,” explains Derek Kent, development director of the BCA. “There are six skill levels, each with different activities, which the cheerleaders will be judged on while doing their routine. “You start at level one with a ground-bound squad – so literally, you stay on the ground. Once you get to levels two and three, you’re starting to do routines where you’re actually supporting one person on another. Gradually you work up to doing stunts, pyramids and tumbling – moves like back flips and forward rolls. A routine is a chain of moves all put together, with everyone in the squad all doing them at the same time.” It’s those spectacular stunts that make it such a compelling sport to watch. For those with little experience of cheerleading, it’s worth going to an online video site and looking up the International Cheer Union’s World Championships, held every year in Orlando, Florida. It’s impossible not to marvel at the sheer physical skill of the squad members from all around the globe as they perform


an array of dazzling moves: tower pyramids, thigh stands, basket tosses, back flips, cartwheels and arabesques, all as demanding as their names suggest. But you don’t have to be a top-flight gymnast to be a cheerleader. Abigail took both GCSEs and A-levels in dance but had never done gymnastics and had never considered cheerleading before she came to Staffordshire. “I joined up in my first year,” she remembers. “I was just walking around the freshers’ fair and the cheerleading squad caught my eye. I gave it a go and really enjoyed it, and I’ve been there ever since. I wanted to learn different skills, even though I’m not the greatest gymnast!” And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a blonde teen either. “Quite the opposite!” says Derek Kent. ‘It’s an incredibly inclusive sport. You have to be reasonably fit but all shapes and sizes fit into a squad. In fact, most of our growth over the last thirty years has been in schools as an alternative to traditional sports. Many children who haven’t enjoyed traditional sports find that they really like cheerleading.’ Robyn Farn, now in her third year of a Sports Physiotherapy degree, joined the squad last year. Although she had some experience of dancing, cheerleading has taken some getting used to. “Doing the stunts is a bit nerve-racking,” she admits. “I hadn’t done anything like that before – it was quite a leap from dancing! But once you get used to the moves, they’re

fine. It’s teaching me a lot about teamwork.” And cheerleading is very much a team sport, as Abigail points out. “The ‘bases’ on the ground may not be doing the spectacular stuff, but their role and skills are just as important as those of the ‘flyers’,” she says. “The bases have to take all the weight, and have to have balance and concentration. Everyone has an equally difficult part to play. “I find that cheerleading has really helped my teamworking skills, which should stand me in good stead when I leave university. It has also helped my organisational skills and time management, as training is very demanding. We were asked to perform at a competition in March which was a level two stunt group, so we needed to do a routine including a solid minute and a half of stunts. We started training for that in October.” Kent agrees. “If you’re part of a squad and you don’t turn up, your squad can’t perform,” he says. “If you don’t turn up to training, they can’t achieve what they want. So you commit and you stick to it all the way through, because you

With recent figures showing that more than a third of UK schools now offer cheerleading as a sport option, the popularity of groups such as the Scarlettes can only increase. They perform regularly at university events and take part in the national BCA championships each year – an event which Abigail says was one of the highlights of her cheerleading career so far – as was her election as president of the squad. The Scarlettes were crowned university champions at the BCA competition back in 2009, and they’re hoping to repeat their triumph again. “When I tell people I do cheerleading, they think it’s very different from what it actually is – and yes, they do assume we run round with pompoms,” says Robyn. “But it’s so much more than that. I’ve got so much fitter, I’ve had a really good time, and I’ve made friends for life.”

don’t just let yourself down – you let the squad down. “It’s also great for self-confidence. In our competitions we have around 3,000 spectators. We have a panel of six to eight judges, most of whom are usually American. And you’ve got all the other cheerleaders looking at you as well. So there’s nowhere to hide on the cheerleading floor!”


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FABRICE Q&A: MUAMBA After his footballing career was tragically cut short by a heart attack on the pitch at White Hart Lane, Fabrice Muamba turned to sports broadcasting. Now the Bolton Wanderers star is furthering his media ambitions with a degree at Staffordshire University


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SA Magazine: Best wishes on starting your degree. What prompted you to choose the Sports Writing and Broadcasting course at Staffordshire University? Fabrice Muamba: After the incident I did lots of media and I became interested in it, but I want to do it properly and want to learn about being a journalist. The course is about understanding what’s involved and knowing how to be a proper journalist.


TRAINING TOMORROW’S PUNDITS The BA(Hons) in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting is a unique fast-track degree run by staffordshire university in association with the PFA. The two-year programme aims to equip its students with the intellectual foundation and advanced practical skills to reach the top in sports journalism. The course has been successfully running for more than five years and former students include sky sports commentator scott Minto and ITV sport pundit Clarke Carlisle – the ex-chairman of the PFA.

SA: You’ve already been involved with TV coverage for ITV, ESPN and BT Sport – do you plan to do more punditry, or are there other areas of broadcasting that interest you? FM: I enjoy television but want to learn everything I can from the degree that will help me to do it. That will help me decide what I’ll do, and where I’ll end up working in the future.

SA: You did some filming out in Africa, looking into the importance of football in some of the African nations. How did that trip go? FM: It was good – getting to see how much football means to young players out there. I’m now writing it all up for the degree course, and my teachers are showing me different styles of writing and how to improve it.

SA: Your book, I’m Still Standing, was very well received, and you’ve started a blog on your website. Do you plan to do more writing after your degree? FM: Thanks! Yes, I do – and I think it’s important with blogs and social media to know how to write well. SA: Recently you’ve been doing outreach work, speaking to youth footballers about the importance of carrying on with education. How did you get involved in this? FM: Well, I work for the PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association] and it’s important to go out and talk to young players about a life after football, as it’s a short career. As I know, anything can happen at any time. so it’s important that people take education seriously and look at other career options. SA: What’s your main message to these ambitious young players? Is there anything you can share with them that you wish you’d known when you were their age? FM: I wish I’d taken education more seriously. When you’re young, there are many opportunities and young players need to be looking at what else interests them. When you’re older, you really have to chase the opportunities, so it’s worthwhile taking them up when you’re younger. SA: You’ve also been heavily involved with charity, such as your ambassadorial work with the Heart and Goals campaign. How’s that all going? FM: Heart and Goals is doing extremely well and it’s important for me. The campaign is about placing defibrillators in as many public places across the uK as possible, and educating and training people in the basics and how to spot the health symptoms. Defibrillators massively increase the survival rate for people who suffer cardiac arrest and they can be used by anyone in the community to help save a life. SA: Which aspects of your work do you find most rewarding at the moment? FM: All of them! I enjoy everything I’m doing. SA: And what are your main ambitions at the moment? FM: I want to do well in the degree – not necessarily a distinction, but getting good grades. That will help me decide what I do in the future. Issue TWO

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EASTERN PROMISE At British University Vietnam, the first group of Staffordshire Graduates have been awarded their degrees. It’s a significant milestone in a thriving academic partnership


his September, British University Vietnam witnessed a unique graduation ceremony. For the 20 students receiving their International Business Management degrees, it was the culmination of three years’ hard work, and a chance to celebrate their new status as the Hanoi institution’s first Staffordshire Graduates. Their certificates were presented by Professor Michael Gunn, Staffordshire University’s Vice-Chancellor, before a room packed with distinguished figures from both Vietnam and the United Kingdom. They included Lord Puttnam, the respected film director and UK Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Vietnam, and Dr Antony Stokes, the British Ambassador. British University Vietnam was represented by its President, Sir Graeme Davies, and the audience included many other guests from the British and Vietnamese governments. At the event, Professor Gunn hailed the first cohort of students as personifying “the high-quality image of British University Vietnam in tertiary education”. He said: “No


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longer are borders and distance barriers to learning. Staffordshire’s students can study their degrees from across the globe. They can either study in the United Kingdom or Vietnam, and the offered programmes, curriculum and degrees are exactly the same as in the UK.” Staffordshire University currently oversees three business degrees at Hanoi, taught in English. As well as the BA(Hons) International Business Management, programmes are offered in Accounting and Finance and Marketing Management. Staffordshire University retains overall responsibility for the programmes’ content, delivery, assessment and quality-assurance arrangements. As with all Staffordshire degrees, there is an emphasis on real-world skills and employability. A BSc programme in Banking and Finance, accredited by the University of London, is also available. British University Vietnam was established in 2008 and remains the only international university that is fully licensed by the Vietnamese Government. Currently located in the heart of Hanoi’s business

district, it is in the process of building a new campus in Ecopark, a 500-hectare township development on the city’s outskirts. This will have a capacity of 10,000 students, and offer state-of-the-art academic and recreational facilities. The University works closely with the business community in Hanoi, including the BBGV (British Business Group Vietnam) – a group of senior managers and entrepreneurs who promote closer links to industry through site visits and lectures. The University also maintains extensive links with the British Embassy. September’s graduation ceremony came at the end of a busy month, thanks to a royal visit. Students of exceptional promise can compete for one of four HRH The Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Scholarships, and this year Prince Andrew paid a visit to the campus to confer the awards in person. Each scholarship covers the entire tuition fees for an


undergraduate degree, and all Vietnamese high-school graduates are eligible to apply. Initiatives such as this ensure that this year’s cohort of graduates will be the first of many to benefit from a Staffordshire University education. And it is hoped that future cohorts will match their academic success: three-quarters of the first group achieved a first- or upper secondclass result. “The first 20 graduates are leaving the University with great confidence and internationally recognised degrees,” said Professor Gunn at the ceremony. “I also believe that after three years of studying at BUV, all of our graduates have developed significant professional growth and intensive business knowledge. They now possess employable skill sets that will serve as passports to their future success in their careers and further studies.”

A YEAR IN HANOI Scott Oakley from Stoke-on-Trent, a student on the BA (Hons) in International Business Management at Staffordshire University, decided to study the second year of his degree at British University Vietnam. He says: “When I first arrived in Hanoi, it was a bit of a culture shock. Having lived in Stoke-on-Trent all my life, it was like moving to another world. The first thing that I noticed, and I’ve heard it said by many people, was the traffic. The traffic just appears to be chaos and takes a lot of getting used to – but once you are used to it, walking around Hanoi is fantastic. “British University Vietnam is brilliant. From the very first day, I was made to feel welcome and everyone went out of their way to help me to settle in, which I very much appreciated. The standard of education is of a very high quality and the lecturers are outstanding. “I experienced lots of different things in Hanoi. I was lucky enough to be here for the Lunar New Year, which is known as Tet. It was a fantastic experience to go out at midnight to the lake in the centre of Hanoi, and find that thousands of people were gathered there to celebrate with the most fantastic fireworks display I have ever seen!”

“The standard of education is of a very high quality and the lecturers are outstanding”


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Visionary research: Mohamed sedky’s PhD formed the basis of the spectral 360 project


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Until recently a CCTV system was only as good as its operator, but now a computer can analyse video in real time to prevent crime. It’s just one of the innovations to spring from the University’s Applied Research Centres

research or for projects with external funding,” says CIIss director Dr Claude Chibelushi. “We find a problem and solve it.” The Centre’s multi-disciplinary team works across the areas of security, digital forensics, healthcare, education, business intelligence and environmental protection. Current projects include developing hard-


to-crack log-on systems – with uses such as

an a security camera think like a human? What kind of internet logon system is easy to use, but hard to

security systems (CIIss). As an Applied

infiltrate? And how can a computer predict

problems. In doing so, it has brought in a

the levels of pollution in our rivers?

raft of patents, partnerships with external

to date are the CCTV-monitoring tool

organisations and awards.

spectral 360 and a collaboration with the

Questions like these are all in a day’s work for researchers at staffordshire university’s Centre for Information, Intelligence and

Research Centre, its mission is to research, design and develop solutions to real-life

“We look for problems with a potential real-world application, whether for PhD

securing wireless internet networks – and a proposal for a system to analyse foetal blood on maternity wards. Among the Centre’s greatest successes

environment Agency to monitor water quality.

SPECTRAL 360 Computer networks and security lecturer Dr Mohamed Sedky is part of the team that developed Spectral 360, a surveillance algorithm that’s better at analysing video footage than even the most diligent human. “It can watch continuously without getting bored or distracted,” says Dr sedky. “studies show that a human watching a split-screen with two video feeds will miss 45% of what’s going on after 10 minutes. After 22 minutes, they lose 95%.” The project started life as sedky’s PhD, and CIIss has now launched the spin-out company Adaptive Video Analytics (AVA). “We’re currently working on our first research and development contract with the uK’s Defence science and Technology Laboratory,” says sedky.

spectral 360 doesn’t just detect changes on screen. It can differentiate between moving and static objects, count people going in and out of a building or moving in a specific direction, and learn to recognise different objects. “We use an approach based on spectral physics, using three elements that form an image in the camera: the illuminant or light source, how much the material reflects light, and the sensitivity of the camera,” says Dr sedky. “By imitating the features of the human eye, the camera can also detect colours in different light.” As well as monitoring real-time video, it can also analyse recorded footage. “One police force sent us 3,400 hours of video,” recalls Dr sedky. “using three computers

running spectral 360, we analysed all the footage in three and a half days. We also separated moving events from parts where nothing was happening and gave them back 30 hours of footage” spectral 360 was rated first in the world by industry-respected benchmarking website, after rigorous testing against 25 other algorithms. It has been used in a suite of security applications and could also potentially be used to create “smart” tools in other areas, such as medical imaging. And according to sedky, the project had a commercial focus right from the start. “I’m very practical,” he says. “Real-world impact is always my ambition.”

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RIVER MONITORING When the Environment Agency can potentially identify the problem needed a way to assess the quality with your river,” Trigg says. of the UK’s river water, they turned The Bayesian Belief Network to Staffordshire University. “We essentially works like a sophisticated developed two systems: the River flowchart. When it is fed information, Pollution Diagnostic System (RPDS) it can predict potential outcomes and and the River Pollution Bayesian tell you how likely they are, using Belief Network (RPBBN),” says probability rather than hard-and-fast researcher and CIISS member rules. Dr David Trigg. “Everything is linked by various What followed was a collaborative relationships, and information can research project between travel in any direction the university and the – cause to effect or “Our rivers Environment Agency, effect to cause,” Trigg aren’t good with Trigg joining as a explains. “When we add enough, so how PhD researcher. Water information, it travels companies and other throughout the network do we fix them? universities have also and updates the whole That’s where made use of the data, and model. It can also be used the systems are regularly for scenario testing – we our systems updated with new can move bridges or come in” information. change chemicals and see Data about different how that affects things.” species in the water are Trigg and his used to predict pollution levels. “You colleagues developed the scoring sample what’s in the river and each system Britain is using to comply with creature you find gets a particular the EU Water Framework Detective, score,” says Trigg. which says that water bodies in all EU Humans analyse data using countries must meet quality standards pattern recognition – realising you’ve by 2015. “The score we devised has been seen something before – and expert reasoning, which is exactly what these systems do. “Our pattern recognition system has lots of information about what’s wrong with other rivers, so we

submitted to Europe and is going into legislation as the value to be followed,” he says. “Our rivers aren’t good enough, so how do we fix them? That’s where our systems come in.”

APPLIED RESEARCH CENTRES Applied Research Centres (ARCs) are highly specialised groups that have a track record of success in finding real-world applications for Staffordshire University research. They have provided expertise for a range of public-sector bodies and private companies, enabling the development of breakthrough processes and technologies. There are ARCs connected with all the University’s faculties and fields of research, ranging from the Centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research and the Centre for Energy Efficient Systems.


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Sharp focus: David Trigg’s research is to be incorporated in new EU legislation

“Our pattern recognition system has lots of information about what’s wrong with other rivers, so we can potentially identify the problem with your river,”


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‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE WOOLLY It’s the tacky tradition we all love to hate, but the Christmas jumper has been firmly back in fashion over recent years. Sport Psychology lecturer Matthew Slater explains why


increase team members’ understanding of

team kit helped

one another and create collective values

with individuals grudgingly allowing

with which the team can move forward.

to create the idea

themselves to see the funny side of

Establishing strong ties within groups

novelty knitwear displaying reindeer,

can result in individuals thinking and

Santas or Christmas puddings. It

behaving in ways that put the group first –

evidence base we were

appears we can all get into the festive

working for “us” rather than for “me”.

looking to replicate here at Staffs

he traditional Christmas jumper has had something of a resurgence in recent years,

spirit by putting on a cheerful pullover

something we actively encourage in our

face, traditional or contemporary.

department. Staff and students alike come under the same umbrella of Staffordshire

invited staff and students..And for a good

University. We are keen for students to

cause (see panel).

consider themselves a strong part of what

Our research in the School has demonstrated the importance of creating a shared social identity. Social identity refers to individuals’ sense of belonging

we do as a department, including our research, commercial activities and teaching. Our research on social identities was

common values, the

of one indivisible team. It is this

by inviting all of our group members to wear their Christmas jumpers. “My lecture “Christmas jumpers and social identity”, explored the research we’ve been doing as a team and how our findings link to festive knitwear. So if you, like me and countless others, have been getting into the Christmas spirit and sporting your Christmas jumper

and their emotional attachment to groups

presented in two symposia at the Division

with pride then the evidence points to an

– such as identifying with their university.

of Sport and Exercise Psychology (DSEP)

Developing a shared social identity has

conference organised by the British

increased sense of belonging, emotional

numerous individual and group-level

Psychological Society. In some additional

benefits, both socially and psychologically.

research in the area (also to be presented

attachment and effective teamworking. To coin the phrase adopted by Save the

Ultimately, social identity provides

at the DSEP conference) we collected

Children for their Christmas Jumper Day,

the foundation for effective team work.

media representations from TeamGB

it’s about how we can make the world

One of our aims in the work we do in

leaders before, during and after the

better with a sweater.

professional sport and business contexts is

London 2012 Olympic Games.

to increase team members’ social identity

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Such a sense of shared social identity is

– whether it’s conservative or in-yourIndeed, at Staffordshire University we


The purpose of these interventions is to

Our analysis suggests that TeamGB’s kit

• BSc (Hons) and MSc programmes

with their group. Some evidence that

played an important role in strengthening

we have collected indicates that team-

team identities. In particular, the

focused interventions can be effective in

commonality displayed by wearing the

strengthening individuals’ connections

same clothing, and the values the kit

and Exercise. Both are accredited by the

with groups and encourage group-

represented, played an influential role in

British Psychological Society. See

orientated behaviour.

binding TeamGB together. By promoting


in Sport and Exercise Psychology are offered at the School of Psychology, Sport


What’s it all about? Christmas Jumper Day is organised by the charity Save the Children to raise money for children who need it most. It invites you to tune in to your festive spirit and make the world a better place by wearing your Christmas jumper for one day - in 2013, on Friday, December 13. For more information, see christmas-jumper-day


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CULTURE Lichfield makes an appropriate site for a Staffordshire University campus. The historic city has long been renowned as a centre of learning – thanks in particular to two of the 18th century’s most eminent thinkers

by Chris Alden

This page: a bust of Samuel Johnson. Facing page, from top: Johnson’s first English Dictionary (1755) at his house in Lichfield; a view of the city.


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“city of philosophers”, where “we work with our heads and make the boobies of Birmingham work for us with their hands”. This is how the writer and critic Samuel Johnson immodestly described Lichfield, the city of his birth. And it’s true that the modern visitor still won’t find any dark satanic mills or brick bottle ovens in the shadow of Lichfield Cathedral – but you will find, amid the gift shops, cafes and market stalls, traces of some pretty wild ideas. Two giants of 18th-century thought dominate Lichfield’s history, and there’s a museum decidated to each. The first was Johnson, who published his Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. The second was Erasmus Darwin, the physician, poet, inventor and natural scientist who also just happened to be an early evolutionist and the grandfather of Charles. Samuel Johnson’s birthplace can be found in Lichfield market. His father, Michael, was a bookseller, and the house he built overlooks the square where Samuel’s statue now stands. Once through the modern-day bookshop at street level, you can head up to the first-floor room where the baby Samuel was delivered in September 1709, or wander down to the gloomy basement kitchen where, as a nine-year-old, he first read Hamlet – and spooked by the ghost scene, suddenly felt the urge to run out into the street. On the top floor, you’ll also find a first edition of Johnson’s Dictionary. Sadly, it’s not open at the page where Johnson indulgently squeezes in a mention of Lichfield, as a subentry of the definition for Lich, a “carcase”. The mention is doubly notable: first for its entertaining but false etymology of Lichfield’s name (attributing it to a Roman massacre of Christian martyrs that probably never happened), and second because Johnson even finds space to cite Lichfield’s Latin motto, salve magna parens: “Hail, great parent”. Was there a double meaning in his use of the motto? James Boswell, Johnson’s biographer, hints that there might be, saying Johnson felt renewed affection for his parents when he returned to the city after their death. And in 1779 Johnson, of course, famously stood hatless in the rain in Uttoxeter market, as “penance” for refusing to man his father’s bookstall there nearly 50 years before. But it was another Latin motto that came to define Lichfield’s other famous son: the polymath Erasmus Darwin, who lived there for 25 years. He was a member of the Lunar Society, a dining club for some of the great intellectuals and industrialists of the age. He and other members – including steam pioneer James Watt and pottery magnate Josiah Wedgwood – travelled by moonlight to meetings in Birmingham and beyond, to discuss industrial progress and scientific ideas. The society’s members dubbed themselves “lunarticks”; but as history has proved, they were anything but mad.

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This page, clockwise from left: Johnson’s dictionary; portrait of Erasmus Darwin; Samuel Johnson’s house; Darwin’s house; a prospect of the cathedral; sculpture of Darwin in Beacon Park. Facing page, clockwise from left: one of Darwin’s inventions, a “speaking machine”; Zoonomia (1794) which outlined his ideas on evolution; gold from the Staffordshire Hoard.

Darwin’s house, where some meetings were held, is approached through a herb garden in Lichfield’s Cathedral Close. Inside, you can learn about his countless inventions, including an anti-tip carriage axle (conceived after he was tipped out of his carriage and broke his knee), an indoor display for a weather vane which still protrudes from the ceiling of his consulting room, and, wonder of wonders, a speaking machine that said “Mama”.


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Later, living in Derby, Darwin even built himself a flushing water closet with its own stink-trap – an invention that might have been of assistance to Samuel Johnson’s father Michael, who was more than once fined for leaving “an unauthorised muckheap in the street”. But it was Darwin’s ideas on evolution that kicked up the greatest stink. It was in 1770, while still in Lichfield, that he had the Latin motto e conchis omnia (“everything from shells”) inscribed on his carriage,

only to remove it again after opposition from his neighbour, Canon Seward. This was the Cathedral Close, after all. It wasn’t until 1794 that Darwin was to outline his ideas on evolution, in Zoonomia, but it would be left to his grandson Charles to refine the theory and bring it to a more receptive audience. A visit to Lichfield wouldn’t be complete without setting foot inside Lichfield Cathedral, whose three spires are visible from Darwin’s house. The central spire, sadly, isn’t the original: that collapsed under


the Parliamentary forces’ bombardment of Cathedral Close in 1646. But the vaulted grandeur inside is breathtaking, even if you’ve visited countless other Gothic cathedrals before. In the cathedral’s Chapter House, meanwhile, are finds that are getting modern scholars excited: pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard. This cache of gold and silver military trappings, mostly from the 7th century, was discovered near Lichfield in 2009. The work to unravel their significance continues. Erasmus Darwin would have been proud, but they don’t let physicians do amateur science these days. More’s the pity.


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HARD LESSONS The University’s new School of Education brings all its acclaimed teacher-training courses under the same roof. We speak to its Head about maintaining excellence in turbulent times


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eachers have been trained at Staffordshire University and its predecessor institutions for a long time – since 1949, if the history is traced back to the County of Stafford Training College, a distant ancestor. But it is only within the past 18 months that Education has become a School in its own right, taking its place among the dozen that now make up the University. Heading up the new school is Dr Michelle Lowe, who recently gained recognition as an Associate Professor. she has made education her career, gaining 20 years’ experience in many different parts of the sector since completing her first degree at staffordshire in 1990. It has fallen to her to steer the school through what is arguably the greatest upheaval in england’s education system since the rise of the comprehensive, more than 50 years ago. For a start, current government policy is marked by hostility to university-based teacher training, in favour of on-the-job schemes within schools. Lowe says: “The problem with the policy at the moment is that it’s coming

she says: “It destabilises the university teacher training system in favour of just allowing a headteacher to say ‘Well, I fancy training 15 teachers’, without any regard to whether there is a demand for them in that school’s geographical location, or whether there’s a demand for certain subjects. “school headteachers – and I was one – tend to plan for their school. They’re not thinking of the needs of the bigger school system. so we have concerns now as an education sector about teacher supply in some subjects. Are we going to be able to recruit enough design technology teachers? Will there will be enough english teachers in parts of the country? And that’s a direct result of the state not controlling teacher supply as it has done in the past.” The future may be uncertain, but Lowe’s vision for how the university should train teachers is crystal-clear. It begins with recruiting the best applicants, “who care passionately about the education of children and want to go and make a difference”. equipping them to be the star teachers of tomorrow then requires developing three linked areas of competence. “Imagine a little Venn diagram,” she says. “In one of the circles you’ve got practice; we want teachers who are the best practitioners, so our programme places trainees in school for the majority of their time with us. They learn with and from teachers and build up real practical teaching skills. “The second circle, overlapping that, is the ability to draw upon the evidence base, the theory. And I’m using evidence base as a particular phrase here, because people sometimes think ‘Oh, theory’s just woolly ideas’. It’s really not. We have plenty of evidence about what works in classrooms, and often they’re not the things that politicians might choose. “The last circle is the ability to continuously reflect on your practice and to see yourself as a teacher, as a lifelong learner. We’re not a teacher-training sausage factory. We don’t just turn out fully formed teachers – there, off they go. Being in education involves a continuous commitment to upskilling, engaging with

evidence, changing your practice, and developing the new and the innovative.” The staffordshire ethos has been highly successful: Lowe and her colleagues have achieved the highest “Outstanding” rating in every Ofsted inspection since 2000. And however great the frustrations caused by the tinkering of successive governments, Lowe believes that it’s essential to engage with prevailing policy rather than retreat from it. “We are innovators and we do embrace change – we’re not frightened of it,” she says. “We’ve been involved in some key national initiatives such as the Troops to Teachers programme. We roll our sleeves up and contribute. We’re not sitting here as victims, just

“We are innovators and we do embrace change – we’re not frightened of it. We roll our sleeves up and contribute” from a stance that says ‘actually, universities don’t understand schools; universities don’t do school-based training; universities only do theory’. That’s the sort of rhetoric that goes around. “The government says that the best teacher training is school-led teacher training. Well, I wouldn’t say that the best teacher training is school-led, but it is school-based. And that’s a subtle difference in understanding. The outcomes of the current policy are initiatives like school Direct, and then the push towards Academies and Free schools.” The school Direct scheme aims to train around a quarter of new teachers exclusively within schools, leading to fears that university education departments will be forced to close. Whatever the arguments for and against it, Lowe believes that it has been implemented with little regard for the bigger picture, and that the lack of joined-up policy is storing up problems for the future.

waiting for the next wave of policy-related change to wash over us. And we’re not being angry about it and refusing to engage. because that’s counterproductive. “We engage where we can, but we stand up for what we think is the right model of teacher training and the way we should support professionals in education. And I think that as long as you hold on to that, and you understand your own theoretical position in relation to teacher training, you’re probably OK. You can deal with the rest of it – and you just have to teach your trainees to deal with it as well.”

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ALUMNI NEWS Editorial assistant: Ashira Siraj

A page-turner or two... Looking for some winter reading? Two Staffordshire Graduates have received enthusiastic reviews for their debut novels in print, and are already plotting out their

centred on the story of psychoanalyst Elliot Taverley in 1920s London. The plot revolves around the then-fashionable science of psycho-graphology, based on the idea that a

next works of fiction. Former research scientist Juliet Conlin recently hung up her lab coat to become a full-time author after the success of her novel The Fractured Man. She graduated with a First in Psychology from Staffordshire University in 2001, staying on to do an MSc and then moving to Durham for her PhD. It was during her time at Staffordshire that she began writing the novel,

subject’s handwriting could reveal deep psychological insights. She says: “During my Masters, I studied a module entitled ‘The History of Research Methods’. Within that module, I was really interested in the area of psycho-graphology. I suddenly just thought – I could really write a novel on this!” Sharon Sant’s Runners is a science-fiction novel aimed at young adults. It is her

Headteacher is top of his class Staffordshire alumnus Billy Downie

The judges were impressed by

has been named Headteacher of the

Downie’s combination of a “back

Year in a Midlands Secondary School

to basics” approach with a student

in the 2013 Pearson Teaching Awards.

enrichment and empowerment

Downie, who heads up the Streetly

programme. They agreed with the Ofsted

Academy in Sutton Coldfield, was shortlisted from more than 24,000 nominations made by pupils, parents and colleagues. Having completed his degree in French and Sociology at Staffordshire University, Downie went on to do a PGCE at Leicester

report, which said: “The headteacher provides outstanding leadership, and his vision and energy are shared with the wider team. His leadership has been a significant factor in the outstanding progress of students since the last inspection.” The Pearson Teaching Awards are an

University. Just three years after taking

annual celebration of exceptional teachers

on the headship of the Streetly Academy,

and teaching. Founded in 1999 by Lord

he steered the school to an “Outstanding”

Puttnam, they recognise the life-changing

rating in all areas in the most recent

impact of an inspirational teacher on the

Ofsted inspection.

lives of young people.


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first release for the Stafford-based Immanion Press, following three self-published novels. The gritty dystopian fantasy follows the adventures of Elijah, a scrawny child existing on the fringes of a hostile England of the future. Sant graduated in 2009 with a first-class degree in English and Creative Writing, and is currently studying for an MPhil in Literary Studies at the University. She says: “It’s fair to say that if I hadn’t gone to Staffs I wouldn’t be writing novels now. Apart from the technical aspects I picked up from the course, I gained a great deal of confidence and self-belief. I have also kept in touch with tutors and ex-students from my course and some of my very best friends now are people I met at uni.”


Andrew’s fight for the forest Now aged 29, Taylor graduated with a BA

forest and the people that rely on it are under

completed an MA in International Relations

threat from palm oil, logging and coal mining.

the following year. While working on his

It’s a long way from Stoke to the Indonesian rainforest. But for Staffordshire Graduate

ever met. It is also a place where huge areas of

in Journalism and Sociology in 2006 and

“I saw first-hand the incredible damage

Masters, he found himself drawn to the idea

that mining can do, both to communities and

of a career in the voluntary sector. “I found

the landscape. It’s a strange and unnerving

myself selecting the political options within

experience to walk through the beautiful

my degree,” he says. “I knew I wanted to do

forests of Borneo listening to nothing but

something that had real social value, rather

the sounds of nature, only to then have it

than perhaps the highest-paying job.”

drowned out by the relentless drone of trucks

This year’s journey to Indonesia with

as you approach a nearby mine.”

Andrew Taylor, such research trips are

the London-based NGO was to research

very much part of his role as fundraising

the impact of coal extraction on local

switching to a more conventional career.

officer with the World Development

communities – an experience that was often

“I am very lucky that I get to work for an

Movement – a non-governmental

traumatic. He says: “Indonesia is a country of

organisation whose work I strongly believe

organisation (NGO) that fights for economic

incredible diversity, fascinating cultures and

in,” he says. “And I love that there’s a fair bit

justice and an end to global poverty.

some of the most welcoming people I have

of variety in my day-to-day work.”

Nevertheless, Taylor could not imagine


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Kirsty’s glittering future Entrepreneur Kirsty Shaw has built up a thriving business in interior lighting since graduating from her 3D Design: Crafts degree in 2007. Now her products have been chosen to feature on the popular retail website, which specialises in unique, high-quality items from small businesses.

From her studio in Staffordshire, she produces a range of unusual table lamps, wall lights, LED candles and night lights. All make use of bright colours, bold shapes (such as the best-selling lotus lamp) and technical innovation. Her LED candle lights, for instance, have sensors that allow them to be “blown out” like a real candle. To help fulfil all the website orders, Shaw has plans to expand the business. She says: “At the moment I design and make everything myself using a laser cutter and heating equipment – it’s hard work. Now the online orders have really taken off, and I may soon be looking to take on some staff.”

Rewards of a life behind bars As a Psychology and Criminology student, Laura Maddocks studied some of the most challenging aspects of human behaviour – and since graduating in 2007 she has had the chance to put theory into practice during her successful career in the Prison Service. After beginning in an administrative role at HMP Bullingdon, where she provided support to the Offender Management Unit, Maddocks moved into a front-line role as a substance misuse officer. “I facilitated a harm minimisation drug programme,” she says. “This course aimed


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to help the offenders better understand the risks associated with substance use, in the hope that they would change their minds about their own drug use and work towards full abstinence.” Most recently, she became a psychological assistant on the Offending Behaviour Programmes at the prison. She says: “Within this role I deliver a number of different programmes aimed at rehabilitating offenders, including the ‘Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it’ (CALM) anger-management course and also sex-offender treatment programmes.”


Staffs filmmakers get top billing Staffordshire University has reaffirmed its reputation for developing new film-making talent with two wins at the


Royal Television Society’s Midlands

There’s no shortage of inspiring stories

the University to attract and retain the

Centre Awards.

about Staffordshire Graduates making

most able students, who pursue world-

a difference in all walks of life. By

class research.

Media (Film) Production graduate Chris Yarwood won the Student Fiction category

donating to the University’s Annual

with his short film Times Up. Meanwhile, Film

Fund, you will be helping more talented

include Danny Smith,

Production Technology graduates Jon Gale

students realise their educational

who graduated with an

potential and become the successful

LLB(Hons) in Law from

Staffordshire Graduates of tomorrow.

the University in 2004

and Chris Latham were winners in the Student Factual category for their documentary MERIT

Supporters of the Annual Fund

Staffordshire University’s mission is

and completed the Legal

to transform people and communities by

Practice Course in 2005.

delivering accessible, high-quality higher

He now practises as a

nominations across three student categories,

education. In doing so, we aim to raise

Solicitor Advocate

and it is the third year running that

aspirations, further increase learning

in Shropshire.

Staffordshire Graduates or students have

opportunities and promote social

brought awards back from the ceremony.

inclusion and mobility.

Team: Trauma Response. In all, the University received four

Dan Hopkins, Award Leader in the School

In giving to the University, you are

Fund supporter: Danny Smith

He says: “I think it’s important to help students reach their academic and personal potential. I do

investing in this ambitious plan –

this by giving monthly to the Annual

supporting our students so that when

Fund and by volunteering my time to talk

they leave, they are work-ready and able

students through their careers options

to make a positive impact upon the world.

and encouraging prospective students

shortlisted in the Screen Stockport film


to think about the benefits of a

festival this month, which was more than

The Annual Fund supports Staffordshire

of Film, Sound and Vision, says: “We tend to do very well in the RTS awards and are also outperforming our competitors in film festivals. We had three films

any other institution, and Sophie Piggott was the deserved winner in the Student Documentary category.”

university education.”

students with bursaries, scholarships


and opportunity awards. These forms

No matter how large or small, every gift

of financial assistance are of vital

makes a difference. You can pledge your

importance to many members of

support in a number of ways – a one-off

the University.

donation, a regular monthly payment or a

A bursary, for example, may be the

gift in your will. Taxpayers may be able to

deciding factor between an applicant

claim tax back on donations through the

from a disadvantaged background taking

Gift Aid scheme.

up a place or not; or it may allow an

For more information, see

undergraduate in financial difficulties to, email

continue studying rather than withdraw

from higher education. Scholarships help

or call 01782 295702.


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Don’t be a stranger...


As a Staffordshire graduate, raduating from Staffordshire University you’ll always be part of the on the same day this summer was a special University community, and moment for Annie Crooks and Ali Reed – but we’ll do our best to keep you it wasn’t the first time they’d shared such an important informed of what’s happening. experience. The 21-year-olds have also been through As well as receiving this magacollege, high school, primary school and infant school zine, you can check out our latest news and forthcoming events at together, having grown up on the same street... We’re always keen to hear what former students are up to in the wider world. You can get in touch with Graduate Relations by emailing, calling 01782 294942 or writing to us at Graduate Relations, Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE.

Fine Art graduate Ali says: “Annie and I get on really well and have never really fallen out, which is pretty amazing considering we’ve known each other our whole lives. At uni we were on different courses but still made sure we went out for tea and things. She used to give me a lift to uni The University be hosting a range of quite often too, which was a nice waywill to start public events over the coming months: the day.


“My most December 12 memorable moment of uni would probably haveThe to beAdvent an event I and six Public lecture: ofthat Christmas, other up in our final year called given bystudents Johnnyset Ball ‘Occupied’. were able(01782 to organise and set 2pm. Contact:We Julie Smith 294116, this up over three different venues without the help of the December 12 uni, and that felt really good! Wine“Iand Crime Night with Forensicand Science am continuing with mythe art practice Department. Includes talk by local crime exhibiting in New Art West Midlands in writer and mock crime scenes Birmingham next year. I also co-manage 7pm. Tickets £5 – over 18sstudio only. Contact: Majestic Studios, a new space Sarah Buckley (01782 294489, and gallery in Stoke, just around the corner from Staffs Uni, where January 28setting up exhibitions, we’ll be Holocaust Memorial Day public lecture: Landscapes of residencies and opportunities Memory, given by Caroline Sturdy Colls. Contact: Julie Smith for students and recent (01782 294116, graduates.” February 5 – March 13 Women in Science events


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Staffs on social media There’s a dedicated alumni section of the Stafordshire University website at If you need to tell us about a change of address, or update any other details, you can do

graduated a First inresources Graphicon Facebook, thisAnnie, online –who and you can clickwith through to our Design and has completed a four-week Twitter, YouTube andjust Flickr.

internship London brandingUniversity agency, says: What’s more,at theaofficial Staffordshire Alumni LinkedIn

group“Ali offers chance stay inright touch and network andthe I were besttofriends through school,with so it’syour no fellow shockworldwide, that we were always there to date support other at developments. uni. alumni and to keep up to witheach University in different classes so we didn’t spend much studio JoinWe upwere at time together, though we did meet up for lunch, go out together in the evening and spend nights in the library when deadlines were looming. It was great to know Ali was just across the road during stressful times. “I guess apart from going out ‘up Hanley’, the most memorable times were the early mornings when I would drive Ali into uni. This would mean leaving early to sit in the Dwight Building March 7 while we waited to be able to use the laser cutter. We would just sit for hours, chatting and having a laugh –Yarrow just like Public lecture: The Green Earth, given by Joanna we used to do in school! Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116, March 20 LIBRARY Varsity at Staffordshire University’s Stoke campus - Leek Road site. Staffordshire University go head to head with Keele DWIGH£3. Contact: University in a contest involving 15 sports. Tickets BUILD T ING Jonathan Pace, Students Activities Manager (01782 294629) April 17 Public lecture: Bad Science, given by Ben Goldacre Contact: Julie Smith (01782 294116,


May 16-17 GradEx 2013: final-year show for students from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences. May 16 (Stoke) and May 17 (Stafford) June 7-15 Show and Tell - annual art and design degree show. Stoke campus




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PB 51




(GREAT-NEPHEW OF REGINALD MITCHELL) This lecture will chart the development of the Spitfire with the best science and engineering skills of its time, review its remarkable achievements throughout WWII and reflect on what makes it a paradigm of design excellence. The lecture will also be supported by Spitfire project work generated by local schools and colleges.

DATE/TIME: Wednesday 19 March 6.00pm VENUE: The Science Centre Leek Road, ST4 2DF