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September 2010

In this issue:

Protecting wildlife

Former student’s Ascension Island mission p.2

RDAP success

Worcester now able to award its own research degrees p.3

Farewell ‘Mr China’

We bid zài jiàn to John Nixon p.11

Open for business City Campus opens as renovation of infirmary buildings is completed p.4

Olivia’s trip has allowed her to get close to many endangered animals



protects wildlife

on Ascension Island

A former University of Worcester student has been scaling perilous cliff faces thousands of miles from home in a desperate attempt to save a long-lost plant.


livia Renshaw has been part of a team that has rediscovered and revived a long thought to be extinct fern in the tiny UK overseas territory of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic.

of this species growing on Ascension Island and at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. This is a fantastic achievement – the fern has gone from extinct to now having a future, thanks to the hard work and dedication from all involved.”

It has been a hazardous task, involving twice-weekly expeditions, scrambling down the knife-edge ridge running down the wild southern slopes of Green Mountain, Ascension’s dormant volcano, with a safety rope to water and weed the patch.

Olivia moved to Ascension Island last year after seeing an advert for a horticulturist to help with the propagation and cultivation of the Island’s rare endemic plants. She is now the Assistant Conservation Officer on the Island.

“One of Ascension’s endemic ferns that was officially declared extinct on the IUCN Red List and last seen in 1958, was rediscovered last year by my colleague, Stedson Stroud,” Olivia said. “During the months that followed the rediscovery, Stedson and I climbed down a cliff face to take water to the five remaining plants of this species, the Ascension Island parsley fern. They were all very delicate and needed taking care of every week. Due to our efforts the plants survived long enough to produce spores. These were collected and there are now many more plants 2 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

Olivia joined the University of Worcester’s BSc in Horticulture in 2000, spending time studying at both Pershore College and at Worcester. “I knew from an early age that I did not want a job where I was tied to a desk all day,” said the 28-year-old. During the course at Worcester, Olivia spent one year working at Tatton Park National Trust property in her home county of Cheshire. “I was employed as a gardener, which involved working in all weather conditions,” she said. “The course provided me with a fantastic start to my career.”


welcome W

elcome to the September 2010 issue of News and Views.

If you have been away from campus over the summer you have probably already noticed that more than a little annual sprucing up has taken place over the last few months. The most obvious change is that we are now very much a two-campus university. The conversion and renovation of the former Worcester Royal Infirmary buildings is now complete and many colleagues are now settling into their new city offices.

The St John’s Campus has also enjoyed its fair share of renovation and improvements this summer – turn to page seven for details of the new Astroturf and the many other projects that have been recently completed. Of course, news is made by the University’s people as well as its buildings, and this month we feature the usual crop of success stories from the lecture theatre and beyond. As always, we need your news, so please keep us informed via:

WORCESTER GAINS RESEARCH DEGREE AWARDING POWERS After months of rigorous scrutiny by a panel of assessors from the Government’s official Quality Assurance Agency, the University of Worcester has been granted Research Degree Awarding Powers by Her Majesty’s Privy Council. This means the University can now award the degrees Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in its own right. More than 100 research students have already earned their PhDs through studies at the University of Worcester. It comes as the University celebrates its fifth anniversary since being awarded full university title by the Privy Council. The award of Research Degree Awarding Powers will allow the University, which already has

nationally acclaimed centres of excellence in pollen and aerobiological research, children’s literature, dementia studies, river management and more, to grow its research activities significantly in the years ahead. Professor David Green said: “This wonderful news is a tribute to all the colleagues in the University. It is a particular tribute to the work of all those, past and present, who have contributed to research supervision and research work at the University and to all those who have successfully undertaken their studies for a research degree with us. “These new powers will be a great help to the University in our strategic development in the years ahead.”

contents COVER STORY Welcome to the City Campus


features Former student protects wildlife on Ascension Island Worcester’s Library & History Centre starts to take shape A Greener & Better St John’s Lecturer helps to preserve endangered fish

2 6 7 8

news Worcester gains research degree awarding powers Green achievements rewarded  Top rating for Worcester degree University hosts second national fostering conference Lecturer helps to secure national award Joint study to benefit stroke survivors ‘Mr China’ bids a fond farewell Bursaries benefit lower income students Research reveals honey bee habits Draganflyer to transform research work Rachel and Jean present papers at Cambridge  Ball State celebration

3 9 9 10 10 10 11 11 11 12 12 12 / SEPTEMBER 2010 / 3

Welcome to the

City Campus A

s Worcester Business School and many other colleagues settle into their new offices in Mulberry House and Charles Hastings, the University of Worcester’s City Campus is now very much open for business.

It is hoped that relocating the buoyant Business School to the City will create an easily accessible resource for the region’s businesses. The flow of creative and analytical thought to and from the University could give the area a dynamism that allows it to flourish further in the years ahead. Alongside the Business School, the handsomely renovated former 4 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

infirmary buildings will house a new wellbeing centre, teaching spaces and computer suites. The City Campus has no parking of its own (except for eight disabled parking bays) so colleagues are advised to either use one of the Council pay and display car parks or use the University’s car park at the rear of the Riverside Building and walk across Sabrina Footbridge. Alternatively, it’s only a short walk from the car parks on the St John’s Campus to the City. All post will continue to be delivered to the St John’s Campus before being transported to the City by the porters.




based there

Charles Hastings Sue Barnes CH 1005 Viv Bell CH G016 Julie Bower CH 2011 Howard Cox CH 2005 Carlo Fabricatore CH 1004 Paul Furniss CH 2004 John Gardener CH 1005 Andrew Hale CH 2011 Richard Henson CH G016 Stephen Hicks CH 2004 Joanne Kuzma CH 1009

Tina Langfield CH G003 Ali Mohandessi CH G016 Pete Moody CH G008 Jeff Parry CH 2011 Alan Phelan CH 1009 Colin Price CH 1006 John Price CH 1004 Simon Quigley CH 2004 Fiona Sutton CH G003 Rachel Webb CH G003 Jamie Wells CH 2004

Mulberry House Claire Aitken MH 2010 Holly Andrews MH 1005 Jane Arthur MH 2005 Mike Bagshaw MH G003 Joanne Bailey MH 2008 Ann Bicknell MH 1008 Benedetta Cappellini MH 1005 David Collier MH G006 Ian Edgar MH G007 Geoffrey Elliot MH 2009 Carl Evans MH 1001 Gian Fazey-Koven MH G004 Jan Francis-Smythe MH G002 Gbola Gbadamosi MH G006 Anne Hannaford MH 2007 Joe Hodgson MH 2002 Marilyn Hunt MH 2004 Kat Jones MH G004 Debbie Lambert MH G001 Laura Lewis MH G004 Tim Maxfield MH 2011

Cath McGourty MH G001 Pamella Murray-Hopkin MH G003 Donna Obrey MH 2002 Klaus Oestreicher MH 1002 Gerry Palmer MH G007 Bob Parker MH 1003 Karina Pawley MH 2008 Antonius Raghubansie MH 1007 Mark Regan MH 1007 Mark Richardson MH 2006 Emma Rickards MH 2005 Catharine Ross MH G005 Roger Saunders MH 1006 Christian Schnee MH 1007 Helen Shaw MH G005 Howard Skerry MH G004 Stewart Speake MH 2005 Kim Thomas MH G004 Nigel Walton MH G003 Warren Wright MH 2001 Dorothy Yen MH 1005




he City Campus’s own dedicated catering facilities are currently scheduled to be completed in mid October. Until then an innovative solution has been hit upon to keep the inhabitants of Mulberry House and Charles Hastings fed and watered. A specially converted London bus – apparently diverted on its way to Queen’s Park Station – is on site offering a range of catering facilities. / SEPTEMBER 2010 / 5


Worcester’s Library & History Centre starts to take shape


Construction work on all five levels of Worcester’s new £60 million library and history centre is now nearing completion.

mong the facilities already constructed on the Butts site are seven strongrooms large enough to hold all of the county’s archives. The collection includes manuscripts, books, maps, plans, photographs and audiovisual material. When the Centre is completed it will be the first time that all of these materials have been collected together in one place.

The Centre, a joint project between the University of Worcester and Worcestershire County Council, will also include one of the largest children’s libraries in the UK.

Professor David Green and Dr Lord celebrate the start of building work with pupils from a local primary school

“People will be able to use the rich array of resources and staff expertise in one place for the first time in Europe. This is such an exciting project.

“Visitors can delve into learning, use the building as a meeting place, borrow books and gain a wide range of information. “There is something for everyone and so many different reasons for coming into the centre.”

The Worcestershire Hub customer service centre will also be housed there and all facilities will be available to members of the public. Kathy Kirk, member of the project board and Strategic Library and Learning Manager at Worcestershire County Council, said: “This isn’t just another library or an updated record office and history centre,

or a relocated customer service centre – it’s an entirely new way of integrating the facilities that will really make a difference to Worcestershire residents.

Galliford Try construction worker inserting piles into the ground, to support the building

6 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

The centre, which will create hundreds of jobs, is due to be opened to the public in July 2012. A tour of the site before construction begins shows children where parts of the building will be


A&Greener Better St John’s a greener and better St John’s

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Motif 06 Full-page advertisement for DIN A5 format 148,5 mm mm x 210 mm

Motiv 01 Heftformat DIN 148 mm x 210

Motif 01 Full-page advert 148 mm x 210

With all of the understandable excitement over developments at the City Campus, it’s easy to overlook THE HUGE AMOUNT OF WORK undertaken on the St John’s Campus IN RECENT MONTHS. Probably the most visible development is the new Astroturf, built on the rugby pitch towards the Severn Gate. The new pitch was built with the aid of a £232,000 grant from the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Work on the pitch proceeded far quicker than anticipated. The contractors were so fast in their work that they ended up 12 weeks ahead of programme but then had to wait for delivery of the new 3G artificial all weather sports surface. The surface is now compete and offers an impressive ‘real grass’ look and feel. Other developments on the St John’s Campus over the summer include: •

A full refurbishment of William Morris Hall, including redecoration, new kitchens, new showers, improved emergency lighting and new flooring

New floors fitted in five other Halls

The creation of six new edit suites between Binyon and the Art block

The addition of new internal and external fire doors and improvements to the fire alarms in Bredon. The spurs recently vacated by Worcester Business School have also been refurbished.

New carpet on the first floor of the Peirson Building

The refurbishment of eight toilet blocks

A £150,000 renovation of the Students’ Union


AvAilAble At RockLobster 195 x140.indd 1 / SEPTEMBER 2010 / 7



preserve endangered fish in Slovenia A Worcester lecturer has been conducting vital research to help preserve endangered fish in Slovenia.


r Ian Maddock, Principal Lecturer in Physical Geography, has teamed up with Dr Nataša Smolar-Žvanut, from the Institute for Water for the Republic of Slovenia, to investigate water flow on the Soča River.

They have been reviewing how the hydropower from nearby dams, pipelines and turbines can be altered to improve conditions for endangered species of fish. The Soča, a world renowned kayaking destination, is one of Slovenia’s most beautiful and important rivers, being one of the last few homes for the native Marble Trout, now an endangered species. However, due to the presence of dams and pipelines for hydropower, some stretches experience large reductions in water flow. The joint research, co-funded by the Institute for Water for the Republic of Slovenia and the University of Worcester, involved conducting intensive fieldwork along the impacted stretch of river. Data analysis is now ongoing and Ian and Nataša are preparing an article for publication in an international peer-reviewed journal. They 8 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

intend to provide recommendations to the hydropower company about how to improve conditions for wildlife in the Soča. Dr Maddock said: “Our fieldwork included navigating several kilometres of river in a small boat on the first day to identify suitable sites for more intensive data collection, then completing three days of measurements in short reaches, taking hundreds of measurements of water depth, velocity and river bed material size. Not a simple task wearing waders all day in 36 degree heat.” He added: “The hydropower company provided different water levels for us each day in order to collect data at the same places but under different hydraulic conditions. Data analysis and computer modelling will then enable us to examine the full impacts of river regulation on the hydraulics and ecology of the river. It also provides first hand experience of a very common river management challenge across the world, where rivers are regulated by dams and reservoirs. This is an issue we refer to and explore in more detail in lectures and practicals with our students studying on our Physical Geography and Environmental Management degree courses.”


Top rating


for Worcester degree

achievements rewarded

The University of Worcester’s Youth and Community Services degree has received the highest validation score possible by a professional body.

The University held an awards ceremony on Monday 12 July to celebrate the achievements of the first year of the Green Impacts scheme.


rofessor David Green hosted the event and welcomed Worcestershire County Cricket Club’s Matt Mason, and James Cameron to present the prizes.

Motif 06 Motiv 06 Impact is an environmental accreditation scheme aimed Full-page advertisement for DIN A5 format Heftformat DIN A5Green mit Anschnitt 148,5 mm mm x 210 mm 148,5 mm x 210 at mm changing behaviour amongst university staff. Worcester

was one of 19 universities participating in 2009/10, with 13 cross-departmental teams working together to complete an electronic workbook of Bronze, Silver and Bonus criteria.

The National Youth Agency has awarded the University’s Youth and Community Service BA (Hons) ‘satisfactory with distinction’ in its latest annual monitoring report. The course is also recognised by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers as conferring nationally qualified youth worker status. Course leader Mark Farmer said: “At the University of Worcester we provide a contemporary, well-informed curriculum that ensures all students have the capability to shape and contribute to future services for young people.

“The Youth and Community team demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the National Youth Agency (NYA), that our approach not only addresses changing policy and operational challenges, but also provides necessary structure and discipline to assist students in Motif 01 Full-page advertisement for DIN A5 formatprofessional youth workers. The NYA’s recent becoming effective 148 mm x 210 mm judgment that the programme is operating with ‘distinction’ is very welcome and a great boost to the whole team.” Motiv 01 Heftformat DIN A5 mit Anschnitt 148 mm x 210 mm


The winning teams and individuals were presented with spider plants by Matt and James. Spider plants were chosen for their cleansing properties and ability to remove toxins from the atmosphere. Teams from Registry/Student Services, Bredon Personnel spur, Movers and Shakers (Directorate), Facilities and the Language Unit all received the Working Towards Accreditation award; Communication and Development, Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service, Worcester Business School, Finance and the Institute of Education achieved Bronze; the Silver went to two Institute of Sport and Exercise Science Teams in Woodbury and Binyon and the Gold was won by another ISES team, Sports Centre and MPC.

Spider plant prizes awaiting collection RockLobster 195 x140.indd 1


The Office Innovation Award, sponsored by Office Depot, went to WHEAS for its many and diverse recycling and re-use schemes; best energy-saving idea went to the Institute of Education for its quarterly staff ‘green’ e-flyer and email taglines; the Environmental Hero award went to Julia West, lecturer in WWW.THOMASSABO.COM ISES. Julia cycles 20km per day to work, and grows her family’s food on her organic AvAilAble At allotment.


Garth Raymer, one of 20 Worcester students trained to audit the Green Impact workbooks, was impressed by the dedication of staff at every level. As a mature student undertaking a course of study in his retirement, he was pleased to be able to use his transferrable skills in a beneficial way and congratulated the winners for their efforts and commended them for getting involved and sticking their heads above the parapet.


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fostering conference

Carers, social workers, academics and foster children were among dozens of people to attend a national conference at the University of Worcester, focusing on allegations in foster care.


llegations in Foster Care – Minefield or Well Charted Territory? was the contentious subject of the Foster Care Matters group’s second national conference.

In keeping with the inclusive ethos of the group, presentations were heard from practitioners and academics, alongside those of foster carers and some foster children.

inquiries did not seem to be known by social workers, social work managers and foster carers, in contrast to the widely known findings of inquiries into the deaths of children, such as Victoria Climbie and Peter Connolly.”

The Foster Care Matters interest group is now considering lobbying the government about the unacceptable delays that continue to characterise many investigations in foster care. The group believe The point was made that there are perhaps no such things as false that a special case should be made for all agencies to prioritise such allegations, in that any foster child making an allegation of abuse has investigations in line with best practice guidance, as there is so much a serious issue deep inside themselves that needs to be addressed. more at stake for children when a foster family is subject to allegations. Peter Unwin, Senior Lecturer and Designated Safeguarding Officer at the University, said: “I am surprised at how the findings of many

Lecturer helps to secure national award An innovative piece of technology, developed by a University of Worcester lecturer, was part of a major project which has won a national award.

The ‘tracking’ system, capable of measuring a person’s real-time emotions, was created by Senior Design Lecturer Andy Stevenson as part of a collaborative project with Worcester City Council.

The Diglis project saw the development of a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, connecting both banks of the river Severn in the south of Worcester, along with a range of walking and cycling routes.

Using a combination of technology including a satellite tracking bracelet, a radio-linked heart rate monitor and recorded commentaries, Mr Stevenson created a prototype multimedia ‘Emoti-map’ of the area for the Council’s The Worcester Diglis Riverside Renaissance website. The map also used a range of project has now won the MJ Achievement photographs, verbal comments and colours to Award 2010 in the category of ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Achievement of the Year Award’. represent emotions. The website highlighted a person’s feelings and comments along each The awards recognise innovation and stage of their journey and linked into the achievement in local government across the UK. Council’s online consultancy system.

The consultancy tool helped the City Council to capture the feelings of volunteers who regularly walk, run or cycle along Worcester’s riverfront, as part of plans to redevelop the City’s riverside.

Joint study to benefit stroke survivors


new study has been launched to find out how the use of a metronome could aid stroke patients.

The project is a joint collaboration between the University of Worcester and the University of Birmingham.

“Through this research we hope to look at how the use of a metronome can help to regulate a stroke patient’s walk and help them to achieve symmetry.”

About 80% of people who have had a stroke suffer a degree of muscle weakness associated with one side, which could lead to an uneven walking pattern. Dr Rachel Wright, Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: “An uneven walk can lead to a greater risk of a fall, and once someone has suffered a fall they can be fearful of falling again. This can prevent people from participating in activities that they once enjoyed Motion capture allows Dr Wright because they are so worried about falling over. to analyse how people walk 10 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

Dr Wright is carrying out the research using the University of Worcester’s state-of-the-art Motion Performance Centre. Participants are analysed using the latest motion capture equipment to analyse how they walk before and after the introduction of a regular beat. Dr Wright is currently looking for stroke survivors to assist in the research and would like to hear from anyone who is willing to take part.


‘Mr China’

bids a fond farewell

John Nixon, dubbed ‘Mr China’, has retired from the University of Worcester, 38 years after first joining.


ohn has headed up the University’s China office for the past 12 years, dealing with everything from recruitment to the welfare issues of Chinese students. John joined the University in 1972 as a member of teaching staff. From 1977 until 1995 he was the Director of Studies for the one year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), increasing numbers from 65 to 250.

John went on to hold two British Council Teaching scholarships, in Bucharest and lasi Universities, in Romania, in the late 1970s and early 80s together with work in Brussels and the USA for Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines. He later returned to the University of Worcester, heading up the University’s recruitment drive in China. Since then he has built invaluable links with the nation, earning himself the title of ‘Mr China’ within the University. He has also had extensive links with Finnish universities and colleagues within the Finnish Government Department of Education. John, from Wyre Piddle, said: “Thirty-eight years is a long time, but it is a tremendous privilege to have worked here. I have made so many friends, not only at the University but across the globe. “I’m honoured to have served such a wonderful university, one that I am sure will continue to grow and become one of the country’s top universities.” John, aged 65, is now planning to enjoy spending more time with his family, but will still occasionally represent the University and will travel to China and South America.

Bursaries benefit

lower income students


he University of Worcester spent more than £1.5 million on bursaries, scholarships and outreach work last year, new figures have revealed.

A report released by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) reveals that the University helped 2,145 students from lower income and other under-represented groups with a bursary or scholarship in 2008/09, 892 of whom were from the poorest backgrounds.

The total amount spent on bursaries and scholarships last year was £1.4 million. An additional £190,000 was spent on outreach and widening participation work in local schools and communities. Professor David Green said: “We believe that everyone who has the potential to benefit from Higher Education should do so, no matter what their financial situation and we are deeply committed to making this happen. Places at universities across the Country are going to be very hard to come by this year, and we must ensure that we do all we can to make Higher Education as accessible as possible.” The University of Worcester has a universal bursary scheme for eligible students with a minimum of £500 a year available. These bursaries do not have to be paid back. Students from the lowest income households get bursaries of £770 a year.

John first joined the University in 1972


BEE HABITS The first set of results from pollen collected from beehives around the UK this summer indicate that bees foraging in urban locations are typically visiting a much wider range of flowers than those in rural areas. Researchers at the University of Worcester have been analysing samples of pollen from 10 of the 45 hives involved in the Bee Part Of It! project, a joint initiative between the National Trust, BBC Local Radio and the University, to try to establish if there is any link between pollen and the health of the bees. This research, conducted by the University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, was carried out between June and early August. Professor John Newbury, Head of the Institute of Science and the Environment, said: “So far we have been analysing the pollen pellets carried back to the hives by foraging bees. These provide a snap shot of what flowers the bees are feeding on at what time and where. “This is important because different flowers can provide different levels of nutrition. We can also see if bees are feeding entirely on commercial crops which may make them more susceptible if there are any negative effects of agriculture sprays.” / SEPTEMBER 2010 / 11


Draganflyer to transform research work

Environmental and ecological research at Worcester is about to be transformed through the acquisition of a new high-tech piece of equipment.

The lightweight flying machine will allow them to capture vertical and oblique aerial photographs, leading to more accurate and advanced research. The University of Worcester is one of only a handful of universities in the UK to invest in the equipment, which is often used by the military and emergency services, and is the only one known to be using it for environmental and ecological research. It requires specialist training and a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority for use in public places.

“The Draganflyer X6 is the ultimate environmental research tool,” said James. “It is able to survey almost any area, including icebergs, marshes and deserts, mountains and flat plains. “It could also be used for surveying buildings both internally and externally without the costs and time of putting up scaffolding. “We have two attachments to use with it – a digital still camera and a video camera. There is also a GPS function so that it will remain in one place when you’re trying to photograph or film.” Ian is planning to use the equipment for a piece of river research in California next year along with other projects being planned in the UK.

Dr Ian Maddock, Principal Lecturer in Physical Geography and Physical Geography Technician James Atkins completed their training recently with suppliers Air2Air.

RACHEL AND JEAN PRESENT PAPERS AT CAMBRIDGE Dr Rachel Johnson and Professor Jean Webb both gave papers at the ‘Emergent Adult International Conference: Adolescent Literature and Culture’ at the Cambridge/Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children’s Literature, the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, September 3rd-6th, 2010. Rachel’s paper was ‘Chemical Warfare: An investigation into the emotional involvement of young people with local political issues through an examination of John Branfield’s novel Nancekuke (1972)’. Jean’s paper was entitled ‘System to question to challenge: the fictional construction of adolescence in Kipling’s Kim, Chambers’ Dance on My Grave and Hartnett’s Sleeping Dogs’. Jean also chaired a panel and was invited to take part in the final round table discussion which summarised the conference findings and addressed the audience. This was an important conference in the field which brought together eminent scholars from across the world. 12 / SEPTEMBER 2010 /

Ball State

Representatives from both Universities enjoyed the garden party


esearchers will be able to use the Draganflyer X6 to carry out vital studies of rivers, archaeological sites, and landscapes, among many other things.


A garden party was held in August to mark the completion of the first Ball State University Summer School. The trip gave Ball State students the opportunity to experience the British education system first hand, learn about British culture with weekly field trips and have the freedom to explore the UK and Europe as independent travellers at the weekends. Marilyn Buck, Associate Provost and Dean of the University College, and Professor of Higher Education at Ball State University, said: “I highly recommend the summer school trip to the University of Worcester. It has the ability to change student’s outlook on their own country, and indeed, the rest of the world.”

News and Views September 2010  

The University of Worcester magazine