National Wallace Monument

Stirling Minds e-edition May 2020

Dear alumni, friends and supporters,

Welcome to the 2020 ‘lockdown’ edition of e-Stirling Minds

I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe during these unprecedented times.

In the six weeks, since my last message, staff and students have shown incredible strength and resilience in adapting to major challenges of COVID-19. The cycle of University life continues through remote working, online teaching and assessments, to delivering mass-scale virtual events, to supporting the students on campus unable to go home.

During this time the University has been in the news for very humbling reasons – donations of beds and equipment to the emergency facility in Glasgow, the NHS Louisa Jordan, and it was particularly moving when over 400 nursing students and staff answered the call and volunteered to support the NHS.

Going forward the country’s finances are stretched and just like all businesses and employers, the University will face a large funding gap. We will need to adapt further to survive but the University of Stirling has an important role to play in providing the evidence, skills and solutions to make a successful and sustainable recovery:

  • Our academics have crucial contributions to make in confronting health, social and education issues and the related economic and social pressures, and I’m pleased to report that Stirling’s academic experts will lead 10 government-commissioned research projects on COVID-19 and its impacts.
  • Digital Skills have never been more important and if you or your business would like information on Graduate Apprenticeships in Data Science contact Fiona McMillan.

The advancement team continue to work from home and welcomed the findings of a new study by Dr Niels Vollaard, a lecturer in Health and Exercise Science in Sport – the study found that regular four-second blasts of exertion, throughout the day, could be the perfect antidote to the long periods of sitting which could potentially damage our metabolic health. We have been further inspired by many Stirling Stories – our academic experts supporting pregnant women and vulnerable members in society; students who have set up online educational classes to help parents with home-schooling; alumni who have organised fundraisers, donated masks, or are volunteering for the NHS. If you know of a graduate or student of Stirling you may wish to nominate them for a 2020 Graduate or Student of the Year Award.

This is a time of uncertainty and we value all your support regardless of your intention or ability to make a donation. I hope you might consider supporting, as I have, our Student Hardship Fund to help those students facing immediate difficulties. We are also grateful to Santander, and other individual supporters of the University, who redirected their gifts to support students including those in hardship and our student nurses on the frontline.

Until we see you again, stay safe, stay well, and stay in touch.

With best wishes,

Kerry Bryson

Kerry Bryson
Director for Global Advancement

Stay connected through our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram channels, or send in a photo to alumni@stir.ac.uk for the ever popular #tbt (throwback Thursday)

Student nurses and staff join healthcare workers on the frontline

As part of the emergency response, the UK and Scottish Governments called upon student nurses to support the national effort. Almost 400 student nurses from the University of Stirling have volunteered to join healthcare workers on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19. The students will continue to work towards their degrees as planned, gain valuable experience on the frontline and provide vital support to the NHS. The University’s Students’ Union, Student Support Services, and Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport (FHSS) will support the students during their time on the front line, ensuring they have access to a wide range of services, including: counselling and wellbeing support, mental health advisers, money advice and hardship funds. A special note of thanks goes to Santander Universities for enabling the creation of a new online easy access package to support the nurses resilience, wellbeing, sense of community and career development as they undertake their placements.

Nine members of staff are also in discussion with the NHS. Fiona Smith (pictured right), Senior Lecturer in Acute Nursing and Faculty Lead for Clinical Skills and Simulation, teaches acute care nursing at Stirling.

Fiona Smith

She said: “My passion for nursing has never left me – it simply refocused to allow me to educate and support the next generation of nurses. At this time of need, there was no doubt in my mind that returning to help frontline care, in any way that I can, was the natural thing to do.”

Click here for more information.

The University joins Larbert High School’s PPE production line

Larbert High Printers and Team

In 2017-2018 alumni donations to the Stirling Fund supported the purchase of some exciting new kit – an Ultimaker 3 and a Glowforge laser cutter – for the Library’s Makerspace. The space was open to all with the aims to improve our digital creativity skills while giving also something back to the wider community.

However, the community benefits went to another level recently when staff at Larbert High School began using their 3D printers to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers. In support of their efforts, the University responded to their request for help by gifting two 3D printers, and loaning another two, along with 20 rolls of plastic filament. More than 2,500 visors have been produced by staff and the local community and distributed to hospitals, pharmacies and care homes.

Pharmacist Jonathan Burton, who runs the Right Medicine Pharmacy branch on the University campus, is one of the health workers to benefit from the school production line. He said: “Pharmacies are on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s vital that our staff – like those working in our hospitals – have PPE to protect themselves from risk …the masks are good quality and they will provide our staff with important protection in their interactions with patients.”

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Student Hardship Fund: COVID-19 Appeal

Help support students at Stirling experiencing hardship during the COVID crisis and beyond

students walking on campus

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted all of us, and the University of Stirling team is working tirelessly to ensure that students remain fully supported with online teaching, and delivery of alternative mechanisms for examinations and other vital student services. In addition, a new programme of online activities and resources to support positive health and wellbeing, Be Connected, has been developed.

Nonetheless, with the rising cost of living and less funding per student in higher education, student life can be a struggle at the best of times. The current crisis is exacerbating underlying disadvantage. Students whose families cannot afford to help out are struggling. Some need better resources to study effectively at home, and some do not have homes at all. A number of students have had to remain in Stirling and, with part-time jobs lost and student loans coming to an end, they do not have the income and support which would normally have sustained them.

In these unprecedented times our priority is our students. Their studies may have been disrupted but this will not derail their future. The Student Hardship Fund is issuing grants to cover rent, food, phone bills and IT support but the Fund is under severe pressure.

How you can help

The pandemic has affected everyone. Students are facing deep uncertainty, heightened anxiety and associated mental health concerns. We know many of our supporters are unable to give at present. But if you are in a position to do so, you can support our students by making an online donation. A gift to the Student Hardship Fund will allow us to direct funds to where they are most needed, helping students who are facing hardship right now, and those who will come under financial pressure in the months ahead.

Hardship grants can be the difference between a student continuing, or abandoning, their studies. A donation of any size can help. Join us and make a donation.

Together let’s make a difference.

Alumni Events

During COVID our University and alumni events/reunions have been postponed. There are, however, virtual events taking place over the coming months. A number of course directors are running webinars on what it’s like to study at Stirling, the application process and the funding which may be available. You might be interested in attending the Open Days on 4 June, 19 September or 24 October – and feel free to share the dates with anyone you know who may be considering applying to a university next year. You can also check out:

We wouldn’t be Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence if we couldn’t offer you some online fitness classes, designed by our colleagues in Sport and tailored to keep you active and feeling good during your time at home. The Zumba classes are particularly popular with colleagues in Advancement! 

We’d love to hear your ideas on what kind of events you’d like to attend – career networking, masterclass on a theme, perhaps a cultural event or maybe an old fashioned quiz. If you’ve got a suggestion please contact us via alumni@stir.ac.uk. Don’t forget you can also connect to alumni and friends through our free online networking and mentoring platform, The Stirling Network – email tsn@stir.ac.uk for more information.

Finally, the bi-annual alumni questionnaire will be dropping into your email inboxes soon. Please take a few minutes to respond and help us shape the future of alumni engagement at Stirling.