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News archive for February 2009

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News Archive

February 2009

Students head for Loughborough

Date released: Monday 2 February 2009

Stirling University football team face a challenging trip to Leicestershire, having been drawn away to Loughborough in the British Universities Championship.

Having won the Scottish championship, Stirling know they will have to repeat that winning form against a team which was been British champions four times in recent seasons, most recently in 2006.

Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager, said: "It's the hardest draw that we could get! However, it's a good marker to see how far we have progressed and we can benchmark the standard of our current squad against one of the very best student teams in the country. Hopefully our players can respond to the challenge, perform to the very best of their abilities and act as ambassadors for Stirling University with their commitment and spirit."

Although Loughborough University lost their first two matches of the season, they bounced back strongly and have been unbeaten since then to win the Northern championship by a point. Like Stirling, who entered the East of Scotland League this season, Loughborough also play in a semi-professional league, and are currently top of the Midland Combination Premier Division.

The match is scheduled to be played on Wednesday 11 February and the winners go into the quarter finals.

Stirling, Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence, offered football scholarships for the first time this season and currently have eight football scholars.

Student Environmental Conference

Date released: Wednesday 4 February 2009

For a small country, Scotland has a huge international reputation in the field of science, whether it’s in health, environmental, ecological or technological innovation. The world faces enormous environmental problems, such as climate change, deforestation, desertification and flooding.

University science students across Scotland are helping to find ways to solve these problems, and their research will be showcased at an all-day event held at the University of Stirling during the Easter Holiday, on Monday 6 April, 2009. The event is aimed at students at any stage in their studies, from those studying for Highers to those at University, and aims to inspire them to pursue a career in science.

Students are invited to enter their work via oral or poster presentations, and these presentations will form the centrepiece of the conference, which is to be opened by Michael Russell MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for the Environment.

There will also be talks on employment opportunities with organisations within the Government sector, such as Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and SEPA, as well as organisations in the Non Governmental sector, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology. These organisations’ representatives will be on hand to discuss career options with students during the breaks.

Speaking on behalf of SEPA and SNH Chris Spray, Director of Environmental Science for SEPA, commented: "The Government's environment and conservation agencies are delighted to be joining Stirling University in organising this event. Understanding the causes behind environmental change, and the opportunities for responding to it is of critical importance to Scotland right now.

"Attracting the best young minds to the task will be vital in enabling us to develop ways to adapt to issues such as climate change and loss of species and habitats. As two of Scotland's main employers of environmental scientists, SEPA and SNH are keen to encourage students to consider a career in the environment. Indeed, there has never been a greater need for the best minds to help us tackle environmental problems."

Students who wish to present at the conference should submit a short abstract of their work by 2 March 2009. For more details, click on the website address below.

Everyone who wants to attend must register and registration costs £25 or £10 for a student concession. This cost includes a breakfast roll, lunch, tea/coffee. The deadline for registrations is 20 March 2009. Please download a booking form from: and send it to the address given, together with a cheque.

For further information, please go to: or email:


University looks forward with pride

Date released: Thursday 5 February 2009

The University of Stirling has outlined its hopes for the future in its Annual Review, published today.

Professor Christine Hallett, University Principal, says in her introduction to the Review: “We have much to be proud of in our research and the real-world applications which shape and improve lives. Through our ambitious strategy for research and knowledge transfer, we will continue to contribute to the prosperity, healthcare, social welfare, environmental and cultural life of Scotland and beyond.”

She acknowledges that there may be tough times ahead in higher education in the face of a worldwide recession, and emphasises that Stirling must embrace opportunities, such as the new Stirling Management School and overseas collaborations.

Stirling’s energetic community of researchers conducts high quality research that is directly relevant to economic, social and cultural needs. Last year, its research activity generated £7.6 million of research grants and contracts within an overall research and knowledge exchange income of £25 million.

The Review also covers the University’s highlights in 2008. Among these, Stirling celebrated its 40th anniversary, which prompted a series of memorable events, and was named Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, placing it at the hub of a national network of excellence for Scotland’s athletes.

The Annual Review is published online at Printed copies are available free: please email your request to:

University of Stirling to lead Scotland’s winning sports ambitions

Date released: Friday, 6 February, 2009

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is to invest £1 million in elite athletes studying at universities and colleges across Scotland. The money will establish a national University for Sporting Excellence, based at the University of Stirling, and create a new sports scholarship scheme.

Led by the University of Stirling, the Winning Students scholarship scheme is aimed at new and existing sports students who have the potential to reach the top of their sport and ultimately win medals in national and international events. The funding is initially for two years (academic years 2008-09 and 2009-10) and will be spent on a variety of educational and training materials.

The first sports to benefit from scholarship funding will be Hockey, Swimming, and Women’s Football. The funding will be channelled through the University of Stirling to colleges and universities across Scotland who will eventually form the Winning Students network.

Mark Batho, Chief Executive of SFC said: “In the same vein that Lottery funding has helped cycling become a very successful sport for Britain at the 2008 Olympics, we were keen to make this strategic investment to help make a difference to student athletes who have a very strong chance of excelling in their sport and winning medals, whether it be at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, or World Championship competitions.

“This investment at the early stage of a student’s education will ensure they have access to the dedicated facilities and support required to combine sport and education, as they attempt to fulfil their potential as top athletes in their chosen field.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to investing in sport at Scotland's universities and colleges. Scotland's elite sportspeople deserve the opportunity to further both their sport and academic ambition through a flexible network of support at home in Scotland. Along with our university and college network of sporting excellence and the work underway by the Scottish Institute of Sport and others, the Winning Students scheme will ensure that Scotland's best home grown athletes receive the right support to help them achieve success.”

Professor Christine Hallett, Principal of the University of Stirling, added: “The University of Stirling is delighted to be leading the Winning Students programme, which is a unique opportunity to create something special for Scottish sport. We aim to develop a culture of winning by sharing world class sporting performance, education and research with Scotland’s universities and colleges.”

The second tranche of sports that will benefit from scholarships will be determined by the Winning Students Advisory Board. The full membership of the network is also still to be determined and will be published by the University of Stirling soon. The scholarships will be open to UK nationals studying at a Scottish university or college that is part of the Winning Students network.

Further information:

SFC announced funding for the establishment of Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence at the University of Stirling in May 2008. The funding announced in May is part of the overall £1 million announced today;

as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, the University of Stirling is the hub of a national network of excellence to support elite sportsmen and women studying at universities and colleges across Scotland;

the Winning Students network will be overseen by an Advisory Board which will be made up of representatives from universities and colleges who are part of the network;

funding for Winning Students beyond the 2009-10 academic year will be discussed in early 2010;

the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is responsible for allocating £1.6 billion of public funds each year to colleges and universities in support of Scottish Government priorities. SFC was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2005 and is a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government;

the Council’s funding contributes towards the costs of learning and teaching, skills development, research, innovation and other costs such as staff, buildings and equipment in Scotland’s 20 universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) and 43 further education (FE) colleges. The Council also provides resources to enable colleges to offer bursaries to students on non-advanced courses;

the Council’s strategies are aimed at contributing to its corporate plan vision of a dynamic, entrepreneurial and internationally competitive Scotland, whose people are amongst the most skilled and educated of any of our competitors, and whose colleges and universities are world-class contributors to economic, social and cultural development.

Follow this link to find out about Stirling's International Sports Scholarship Scheme

Footballers' cup dream ends at Loughborough

Date released: Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Stirling University football team crashed out of the British Universities Championship this afternoon with a 2-1 defeat at Loughborough in a match dominated by two controversial offside decisions.

Having travelled down to England yesterday, with a training session at the Nottingham Forest Academy, the squad had the ideal build-up but were hit by a hammer blow within 90 seconds of the start. The defence failed to clear a long through ball and Jamie Stellon put the home team ahead. Undaunted, Stirling played some attractive passing football, and thought they had their reward when Jason Bolam sent a looping header into the net. However, the goal was disallowed for offside in what must have been a borderline decision, and at half time it was still 1-0.

Stirling dominated the second half with some fine football, but were caught out on the hour mark when a corner was headed to Loughborough striker Anthony Church, standing on the goal line, for a tap-in to make it 2-0. It looked offside, but despite Stirling's protests this time the goal was given.

Finally, Stirling scored through a Calum Forbes header to make it 2-1, and this inspired the team to apply some ferocious pressure; but the equaliser didn't come so the bid for the British championship came to an end.

This weekend, Stirling face another tough cup encounter, with a trip to face Premier League side Whitehill Welfare in the King Cup. Weather permitting, it will be played on Saturday at 2.30 pm.

* There was disappointment also for Stirling's women footballers, who lost their BUCS Trophy game against Loughborough 5-2. Having gone three goals down they fought back to 3-2, but couldn't prevent the home team from adding to their lead in the second half.

Award-winning photography expert comes to Stirling

Date released: Thursday 12 February 2009

The University of Stirling is delighted to have been awarded a prestigious Carnegie Centenary Professorship for 2009. The distinguished photographic historian Professor Lee Fontanella will join the University as a visiting Carnegie Centenary Professor during spring 2009, thanks to the generosity of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

On Tuesday 17 March, Professor Fontanella will deliver his plenary lecture at the University of Stirling: Thoughts on Visual Culture and the New Critical Reading of Photographs. The event is in the Logie Lecture Theatre, starting at 6 pm, and admission is free.

On 14 April, he will lecture in Edinburgh at the National Galleries of Scotland on the theme ‘Imperial Superimpositions … the Graphing of Empire’, and will also be giving talks at other Scottish universities, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Professor Lee Fontanella is an American expert on photography and visual culture. He was Head of Humanities and Arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and was previously Professor and Chair at the University of Texas, Austin. He has served as a consultant on photography in Spain in several of the best museums in the world: Victoria & Albert, Getty, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Metropolitan NY, as well as many in Spain.

The author of 14 books on photography and other academic subjects, he has a particular interest in early photography, and the photographic works of British travellers to Spain. His seminal history of Spanish photography was awarded national and international prizes, and the Queen of Spain selected one of his publications as a gift to guests on the occasion of the wedding of the Infanta of Spain in 1995. He is also the screenwriter of the movie, The Gray Man, which premiered at the Montreal Film Festival in 2007.

Photography: 170 Years On

It is particularly appropriate that the University of Stirling should welcome the eminent photography expert as a Carnegie Centenary Professor in 2009, 170 years after the first photograph by Daguerre and Talbot was announced during Andrew Carnegie’s childhood – he was born in the same decade, the 1830s.

It was rapidly taken up by Scottish pioneers, as the Scottish Society for the History of Photography comments: ‘Even before 1839 when photography was announced to the world by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in France and William Henry Fox Talbot in England, Scots had built up the knowledge and the connections to realise photography's potential. The contemporary vigorous scientific and technical explorations and the parallel and overlapping interests of painters and engravers meant that this new art fell on fertile ground.’

The Scottish Professor James David Forbes was one of the first to examine Talbot’s and Daguerre’s new processes in 1839. In the same year, Talbot corresponded with another Scot, David Brewster, who showed the new images to the St Andrews Literary and Philosophical Society. It was not long before Hill and Adamson made some of the most beautiful and significant photographs of the nineteenth century.

Carnegie Centenary Professorship

To mark the centenary of the founding of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland in 1901, the Executive Committee of the Trust established a Centenary Fund and a scheme of visiting professorships. These professorships benefit not only the host universities but also the Scottish university community as a whole: the scheme enables intellectuals of the highest standing to contribute to academic developments in the Scottish universities in their particular fields, whether in teaching or research or in both, in emerging as well as established disciplines or in interdisciplinary fields. For further information, see the Trust website at


Researchers to assess effects of micro wind-turbines

Date released: Monday 16 February 2009

Doctor Kirsty Park

Stirling scientists are to conduct the world’s first study into the effects of micro wind-turbines on birds and bats.

At a time of public and political interest in energy from renewable sources, domestic micro-turbines could make an important contribution to energy production. But there are growing concerns over birds and bats colliding with the rotating blades, or being displaced from foraging areas and nesting/roosting sites.

Dr Kirsty Park (pictured), a lecturer in ecology and conservation biology at the University of Stirling, has been given a research grant from the Leverhulme Trust to investigate whether the environmental gains of renewable wind energy could come at a cost to wildlife.

She said: “There have been anecdotal reports of bird and bat fatalities resulting from collisions with micro-turbines, but we don’t know whether these pose a threat to wildlife populations or if they are just isolated events. To date, there have been no studies anywhere in the world to assess the importance of collisions, or any other risks that micro-turbines may pose, to bird or bat populations.”

Over two years, Kirsty and her research team will assess:

  • mortality of birds and bats associated with micro-turbines;
  • the effect on flight behaviour and activity levels;
  • factors that may lead birds/bats to approach turbines;
  • possible disturbance effects on nesting birds and roosting bats.

Species which may be affected include those that take insects in the air, such as swifts and house martins, and those that nest in buildings, such as house sparrows and starlings. All bat species in the UK are aerial insectivores and many also commonly roost in buildings, in particular common and soprano pipistrelles.

Around a thousand micro-turbines have already been installed on houses and in gardens and fields around Britain, and Tesco has even started to put micro-turbines on its stores. And Kirsty points out the numbers could be about to increase: “Micro-turbines, whether roof-mounted or free-standing, currently need planning permission, but this may change under current government proposals which will designate ‘permitted development’ under certain conditions.”

The researchers will monitor micro-turbines throughout the UK in a mix of situations, and hope to work with turbine manufacturers to identify potential sites.

She said: “I would invite anyone who has installed a micro-turbine to take part in the study by completing a questionnaire on our web site. There is such a dearth of information that this will all be useful in helping us understand better how bats and birds react to micro-turbines”.

An online questionnaire for owners is available at:, or hard copies can be sent out on request.

Stirling artist holds major exhibition at University

Date released: Friday 20 February 2009

The University of Stirling is delighted to be exhibiting Relatively Closer, the work of the internationally famous Scottish artist, Lys Hansen.

Lys Hansen, who is based in Blairlogie, was born in Falkirk and brought up in Alloa during the war. She came to prominence as a dynamic and challenging figurative painter in the early 1980s, before the emergence of the New Glasgow Boys: Howson, Campbell, Currie and Wisniewski.

The Relatively Closer exhibition will range from some of her earliest works through to works that Lys showed last year in Relatively Close, her major exhibition at Bornholms Kunstmuseum in Denmark. Boatmaker's Fishgarden

Lys Hansen has had a long association with the University and its outstanding Art Collection, and in fact the University first acquired one of her works, Boatmaker’s Fishgarden (pictured right), in 1968 when the Collection was just starting.

Jane Cameron, Curator of the University of Stirling Art Collection, said: ”While preparing for this exhibition I have been pleased to get to know Lys, not only as an artist based close to the University in Blairlogie but as someone who regularly shares her passion for art with the community.”

For eighteen years over the 1970s and 1980s while bringing up her two boys, Lys ran the annual Crowsteps in Blairlogie, a month long summer festival of arts and crafts with the work of scores of visiting artists such as William Gillies, Jack Knox, Ian Mackenzie Smith, Will McLean, Willie Rodger, George Wyllie, Barbara Rae and Neil Dallas Brown.

In 1985 a major scholarship from the Scottish Arts Council afforded her the time and opportunity to work in Berlin, and ever since that time she has had a continuing dialogue with that extraordinary city. The themes of war, reconstruction and forgiveness inform much of the paintings and drawings.

She taught in Alloa and at Falkirk College but her salvation has always been her painting. Her “white painted studio” in Braco is full of her colourful and explosive images.

Relatively Closer opens on Saturday 14 March 2009, and all are welcome to the opening, when the artist will be present, from 12 noon to 3pm. It continues until 10 July, open seven days a week in the Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA. Admission is free.

Art Lecture

Lys Hansen will also deliver a lunchtime art lecture on her work:

The Passion and the Paint
An Artist's Journey: Blair Logie, Berlin, Bornholm

Date and time: 1 pm on Wednesday 18 March 2009

Venue: Lecture Theatre A96, Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling

To reserve a place, contact the University on 01786 467055 or

Further information

University of Stirling Art Collection:

Blanchflower calls for lower tax for young

Leading economists argue for reduction in income tax and national insurance for young to tackle rising unemployment

Date released: Wednesday 25 February 2009 Professor David Blanchflower

Government should tackle rising unemployment in the UK by upgrading and enhancing the skills and capabilities of young people, according to leading economists David Bell and David 'Danny' Blanchflower of the University of Stirling.

In their major paper entitled What should be done about rising unemployment in the UK?, delivered on Wednesday 25 February, they recommend reducing income tax and national insurance for 16-24 year olds, as well as bringing forward the increase in the school leaving age in England.

Professor David Blanchflower (pictured), a member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee, said: “The costs of rising UK unemployment will fall unevenly across the population. Among these, the young are of particular concern. Historically, the costs of unemployment have fallen disproportionately on 16-24 year olds and this recession is unlikely to be different. This group currently accounts for less than 12 per cent of the population but more than 30 per cent of unemployment. Evidence from previous economic downturns shows that the young are particularly “scarred” by unemployment and it is clear that the costs of paying for the present financial difficulties will fall disproportionately on this group, through higher levels of taxation well into the future.”

The paper begins by dating the recession to the second quarter of 2008. It notes that there were many indications that the output was falling well before the turmoil in the financial markets, many indicators of a downturn were present well before the turmoil of October 2008. The National Bureau of Economic Research dates the beginning of the recession in the USA to December 2007. Bell and Blanchflower argue that the UK recession began less than six months later – during the second quarter of 2008.

Unemployment is bad for well-being. The authors present a raft of evidence highlighting the negative consequences that unemployment has, both for individuals and for society more broadly. Professor David Bell explained: “For individuals, the adverse effects include reduced future wages and poorer employment histories, lower self-esteem, depression and poorer health outcomes. Costs to society include lost output and higher crime rates.”

Going on to examine the rise in unemployment since April 2008, the authors point out that the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds is more than double the overall rates. They also show that those made unemployed recently are typically better qualified than the unemployed in previous recessions and more likely to belong to “white-collar” occupations.

Professor David Bell

Professor David Bell (pictured right) said: “Within the youth labour market, unemployment is particularly high among ethnic minorities and those without qualifications. And while youth unemployment rates have been falling around the world, UK rates have been rising. This has not been the result of the young pricing themselves out of jobs or having too high a minimum wage, but may partly reflect significant changes in the kinds of jobs and possibilities for advancement that are available in the modern labour market, where technology has made obsolete many of the skilled and semi-skilled jobs that young people could previously have taken up.”

The concern about youth unemployment that began in the 1980s led to the introduction of “Active Labour Market Policies” designed to improve outcomes for young people in the labour market. In the UK, similar concerns led to the “New Deal” programme. Bell and Blanchflower review the international evidence on the effectiveness of these policies. They argue that historically these policies were ineffective but some more recent schemes show some limited success, particularly for women. Also, those that were most expensive tended to be most effective, but this implies that scaling up such programmes during this recession would be very costly.

The authors conclude by suggesting that in order to maintain demand and reduce the adverse consequences of unemployment on the young, there is a case for immediate intervention in the UK youth labour market. Existing policies are not of a sufficient scale to combat the effects of rapidly rising unemployment: they do not come close to the scale of the intervention that President Obama has instigated in the USA. Some interventions would be temporary, limited to this recession; others would be more long-term because they will play a vital role in maintaining UK competitiveness in the post-recession world.

They include:

  1. A substantial, but temporary, fiscal stimulus focussed on creating jobs in infrastructure, education, health and energy;
  2. Reducing income tax and national insurance for the young and the low paid;
  3. Bringing forward the increase in the school leaving age in England;
  4. Temporarily increasing the number of places available in further and higher education;
  5. Providing cash-strapped public sector organisations with resources to maintain staffing levels for the next two years;
  6. Encouraging the use of short-term working and job sharing as alternatives to unemployment.

These measures will be costly, but so too will the costs of unemployment, particularly for the young. The authors believe that a package along these lines will benefit the British economy, both in the short term and the long term.

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