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News archive for January 2004

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Gallery on Gambling

Date released Wednesday 7 January

Professor of Sports History at the University of Stirling, Wray Vamplew has teamed up with the National Horseracing Museum at Newmarket to develop a new gallery dealing with the history of gambling. It will trace the relationship between horseracing and gambling from the beginnings of on-course bookmaking in the 1790s through to modern times when betting takes place via the Internet.

Among the objects on display will be one of the multi-coloured jackets worn by ‘Prince’ Monolula, a tipster made famous by his catchphrase ‘I Gotta Horse’. There are also letters revealing a major scandal when the 1844 Derby, a Classic race for three-year-old horses, was won by a heavily disguised four-year-old. Another scam is shown by the newspaper racecard and results of the Trodmore Hunt races of August Bank Holiday Monday 1898. The meeting actually never took place but was a phantom fixture organised by a betting syndicate. “The perpetrators were certainly imaginative; not only did they invent a meeting but also the names of 41 runners.” Said Professor Vamplew.

For much of the period under review, till the legalisation of betting shops in 1961, cash betting away from the racecourse by working-class men and women was illegal. Both bookmakers and punters disregarded the law and an illegal betting industry thrived.

Professor Vamplew said: “Most illegal bookmakers employed ‘runners’ who received commission on the bets that they collected from pubs, factories and small shops, especially tobacconists. These were picked up in clock bags, leather purses which, when shut, set the time on the clock to confirm that the bets had taken place before racing started. A clock bag used by bookies’ runners will be on display.”

The Tote was introduced to British racing in 1929 so that gambling would help finance the sport. A major exhibit will be a mock Tote office, complete with the uniforms of ‘the ladies in red’ who have helped create an image for the Tote different to that of the bookmakers.

Professor Vamplew said: “At the course the Tote appeals particularly to those preferring the orderly queue to the push and shove of the betting ring, those wishing to bet in small amounts, and those seeking to bet each-way or even place only.“

Betting shops will also feature, as that is where most betting takes place. When they were allowed to open in 1961, the government did not wish to be seen as encouraging betting and hence insisted that the shops be unattractive and not be allowed television, comfortable seating, the provision of refreshments, or even a toilet! A radical change came in 1986, following legislation of 1985 that allowed shops to have televised coverage of racing and other sports, and to sell soft drinks in more comfortable, well-furnished surroundings.

The exhibition will also seek to be socially responsible. Professor Vamplew said: “For most betters racing and the associated gambling is fun, but, for some, addiction to gambling has resulted in dire consequences for them and their families. Attention will be drawn to those organisations which can assist people with a gambling problem.”

The new gallery has been sponsored by The National Sporting League Benevolent Fund in memory of one-time president Charles Layfield. It is scheduled to open in April 2004.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

International Honour for Harris

Date released: Thursday 8 January

University of Stirling economist Dr Simon Harris has been awarded the prestigious Gunnar Hedlund Award for his PhD thesis ‘National Values and Strategy Formation by Business Leaders’.

This international accolade and a prize sum of €10,000 is bestowed each year by the Stockholm School of Economics and the European International Business Academy on work that has the greatest potential to impact on the field of International Business.

The jury stated: “Simon Harris has written a novel piece in the heart of the field of International Business. The main strength of the thesis is the originality of the topic and the multi-method approach to studying it. The use of culture and strategy process research, and the meticulous data gathering were also commended.”

Dr Harris’ work examines the effect of cultural predispositions on strategy processes in electronic manufacturing firms in three countries: the UK, France and Holland. He shows that the greatest differences in strategy formation are associated with national values, and these are in the ‘mental models’ of business.

Dr Harris said: “Business leaders in France and Holland think in a different way from those in Britain. They don’t concern themselves with the market and with competition as much as we do, but focus more on their skills and their relationships. They also tend to discuss their business problems more openly, whereas we British are quite secretive.“

The greatest similarities between the countries are in the goals they pursue, such as long or short term, and in the procedures that they follow, such as whether they use business plans or not.

Dr Harris said: “The differences between different types of UK businesses are at least as big as the differences with the French and Dutch. Business leaders in Britain can expect to encounter at least as much diversity in approaches to business at home as abroad. Business negotiation may well be easier with like counterparts abroad than with unlike counterparts at home.”

The thesis has already received considerable interest from UK businesses. Dr Harris said: “Firms doing business in other countries, especially those entering new foreign markets, have already begun to use this research. Knowing how potential partners in other countries may differ from British partners helps to lower some of the real cultural barriers faced when doing business abroad.”

Lesley Pollock

Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

Children's Experiences of Disability: A Positive Outlook

Date released: Thursday 14 January

Disabled children maintain a positive outlook on life despite encountering barriers in the form of people’s attitudes towards them and the excluding practices of institutions.

The findings are the result of a two year study by the University of Stirling’s Social Work Research Centre into disabled children’s understandings of disability, and brothers’ and sisters’ views about having a disabled sibling.

The research, funded by the Scottish Executive, and conducted by researchers Kirsten Stalker of the University of Stirling and Clare Connors of the University of Durham, broke new ground by speaking directly to young people to elicit their opinions. 26 disabled children and 24 of these children’s brothers and sisters were interviewed. Two disabled children also acted as advisors to the study.

Almost half the children interviewed reported being bullied at school as well as near or within their home. Most children dealt effectively with a single incident of bullying themselves but, for a few, being bullied was a daily occurrence.

Dr Stalker said: “Although all schools should have anti-bullying policies, it may be helpful to review their effectiveness. The findings indicate the need for pupils to be taught to accept and respect difference from an early age. Most children spoke well of educational staff. Parental views, however, were not so positive. Many parents reported long-running difficulties securing inclusive education, and/or keeping their child in a mainstream setting.”

Siblings generally gave positive accounts of their relationships with their disabled brothers or sisters. Most siblings talked about their disabled brother or sister in very ‘ordinary’ ways and where difference was perceived, it was seldom negative. There was a strong sense of disabled children being different but equal:

“She’s really like any other normal ten-year-old. I don’t see her as being deaf. I just see her as a normal child” – a sibling.

Unlike the findings of much previous research, most siblings in this study did not report that having a disabled brother or sister had a negative impact on their own lives. However, for some, the presence of a disabled sister/brother resulted in them being bullied or taunted at school.

Dr Stalker said: “The research confirms the need for a public education programme to foster more enlightened, positive attitudes in the general population about disabled people. The findings also indicate a need to encourage more open communication within families about impairment and disability, to ensure that children have accurate information and reduce any anxieties. Many siblings lacked opportunities to talk to other young people who also had a disabled brother or sister. More provision for informal peer support for children, whether on a one to one or group basis is important.”

The research findings are reported in full in “The Views and Experiences of Disabled Children and their Siblings: A Positive Outlook”, written by Clare Connors and Kirsten Stalker and published by Jessica Kingsley.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

Relationship Between Race and Face Recognition

Date released: Monday 19 January

People find it easier to recognise and remember own race-faces even when the expression changes, according to new research being carried out by the University of Stirling’s Department of Psychology.

The finding is the result of a study set up by second year PhD student Yoriko Hirose to investigate the effect of changing expression on recognition memory cross-racially. Yoriko has run several experiments at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan and as well at Stirling University with European and Japanese participants.

Participants were shown several European and Japanese faces with happy and neutral expressions. They were later asked to identify the faces they had seen from a set containing several new faces as well as the original faces with half their expressions changed. Recognition accuracy was measured and compared across different race faces.

Yoriko said: “The results from the European participants showed that they could recognise European faces quite well, even when the expression changed. However with Japanese faces, their recognition performance suffered when expression changed. Overall European faces were more accurately recognised, indicating the own-race bias.”

The results from Japanese participants were more complex, as Yoriko explains: “They did not show any signs of own-race bias, but this could be because Japanese people are more used to European faces through the Japanese media. Expression change affected their performance for both race faces, except for Japanese faces which were learned in a neutral expression.”

The discovery that people find it difficult to recognise other race faces under expression change may be of use in practical settings such as eyewitness identification involving other races and in the construction of more accurate automated face recognition systems.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

Search is on for Innovative Idea of the Year

Monday 26 January

Staff and students at the University of Stirling have the chance to win funding for their innovative ideas.

Prizes of up to £10,000 for staff and £1,500 for students are up for grabs in the third annual round of Innovation Awards, run by Stirling University Research and Enterprise (SURE).

Marketing Manager Daniela Bolle said: “We are looking for projects with commercial potential. These can either be product or service development ideas or training and development programmes. Students are invited to come forward with a business idea which they would like to take forward by starting up a company or with a product idea for which they wish to develop a prototype.”

Last year’s winners in the student section were Bandit Productions: a group of five students with the dream of setting up their own audio-visual production company. A year on, that dream has become a reality.

Matthew Harrison of Bandit Productions said: “Our idea was to create the first ever Stirling University Yearbook video. This was made to be sold to fellow students as a memento of their time here. Our £3,000 award from SURE allowed us to purchase our own digital equipment and begin working as a fully-fledged media company. Since then we have pursued other projects including a Freshers’ CD-ROM and a music video for a Glasgow band.”

Entries close on Thursday 29 January and the winners will be announced in March.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

For further information contact Daniela Bolle on +44 (0) 1786 458139.

Gaelic Learners in the Primary School

Date released: Tuesday 27 January

Peter Peacock, Minister for Education and Young People, will address a Gaelic Learners in the Primary School (GLPS) seminar at the University of Stirling on Thursday, 29 January.

The purpose of the seminar is to launch an evaluation of a GLPS initiative. The evaluation was carried out by Professor Richard Johnstone, Director of Scottish Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (Scottish CILT), University of Stirling and highlights the success of the GLPS programme in schools across a consortium of local authorities consisting of Argyll & Bute, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Stirling and Perth & Kinross.

Comparisons have been made between the GLPS programme and the Modern Language in the Primary School (MLPS) initiative that has been running in Scottish schools for almost twelve years. MLPS trainees are required to have prior knowledge of their chosen language, whereas the GLPS programme is unique in that it targets teachers with no prior knowledge of Gaelic language.

The programme provides 24 days training for teachers in Gaelic language and cultural awareness. Participants in the programme are provided with a range of pupil resources to support their delivery of Gaelic within their primary classrooms.

To date over 30 teachers have undertaken this training and more than 1,000 pupils across the consortium authorities are receiving Gaelic tuition.

It is hoped that the seminar will generate a Scotland-wide interest in GLPS and will inform delegates of the principles and practices behind the initiative.

Lesley Pollock
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

For further information contact Professor Richard Johnstone on +44 (0)1786 466294

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