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News Archive

November 2009

Fleming in form with second ATP doubles win

Children can learn from their mistakes

Stirling students promote SEPA’S flood awareness campaign

Inverness lecture: Dr James Naughtie’s take on President Obama and the American elections

Marine Sciences at Scottish universities net £74.7 million investment

Whose Scotland? Young people give their views in verse

Researcher finds 'extinct' oysters in Firth of Forth

Stirling coach targets university tennis 'Ryder Cup'

Stirling to appoint Gerry McCormac as its new Principal

University commended for its commitment to Care Leavers

Acclaimed wildlife filmmaker Doug Allan to lecture at Stirling

University sponsors Scottish Health Awards 2009

Dawson dazzles as Stirling swimmers on form in major competitions

Judy Murray backs European University Tennis League

Saving Britain’s birds – public lecture, 25 November

Is your pet part of the family?

Omega 3 expert to speak at Stirling

Graduating Stirling students reap their rewards

Stirling shuttle star Susan targets medal in Delhi

Stirling plays lead role in Higher Education Conference

Stirling tennis scholar makes tournament final

Olympic hopefuls join national sports scholarship scheme

Stirling students celebrate graduation success

Stirling footballers' net gain

Fleming in form with second ATP doubles win

Date released: Monday, 2 November 2009

A second ATP Tour win in as many months has seen Stirling graduate Colin Fleming soar up the rankings.

Fleming, who graduated from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in 2007, and doubles partner Ken Skupski held their nerve to win the St Petersburg Open on Sunday.

The victory, completed courtesy of a thrilling tie break finale against French pairing Jeremy Chardy and Richard Gasquet 2-6, 7-5, 10-4, has seen the Linlithgow star jump 14 places up to 53 in the ATP World Tour doubles rankings.

It also meant a cheque for $38,250 – about £23,500 - and more main draw opportunities in 2010, including probable entry to the Australian Open from January 18, one of the big four Grand Slam events.

Colin Fleming practising at the Gannochy National Tennis CentreIt has been a fantastic Autumn for team ‘Flemski’ as Fleming and his Liverpudlian team-mate are affectionately known. Following the disappointment of being selected for, then unused during the Davis Cup defeat to Poland, Fleming excelled in France.

Team Flemski won their first ever ATP Tour event at the end of September, taking the men’s doubles title in Metz. Then, in October, they saw off the challenge of two-times Queen’s Club finalist Sebastian Grosjean and doubles partner Olivier Patience in the Orleans Challenge Tour final.

But the Russian result is the biggest yet for the 25-year-old, who graduated from the University of Stirling with first class honours in Economics and Finance. He and Skupski’s combined determination shone through as the pair faced deciding tie-breaks in three out of four matches.

In round one, a 10-7 tie-break win was enough to end the challenge of Rohan Bopanna and 2008 St Petersburg doubles winner Travis Parrot. Singles finalist Horacio Zaballos and Pablo Cuevas, both ranked in the top 50 at singles, fell to Flemski 7-6, 2-6, 10-8.

The semi-final proved slightly more straightforward, Flemski winning 7-6, 6-4 against the Israeli pairing Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, who is ranked in the top 10 at doubles.

Fleming touched down at Aberdeen airport today (Monday), but while he may squeeze in a practice session at Stirling’s on-campus Gannochy National Tennis Centre, he won’t be home for long. Next up is the Jersey-2 Challenger Tour event, starting on Monday November 9, where he hopes to compete in both singles and doubles.

University of Stirling High Performance Coach Euan McGinn, who has worked with Colin since the age of 16, said: "I’m delighted for Colin and Ken. They have come up against some really talented players and come out on top. To get back-to-back ATP Tour wins proves they are world-class competitors, capable of playing at that level consistently. And to hold their nerve in the tie-breaks shows they have the energy levels and drive to climb even higher up the rankings."

The Gannochy National Tennis Centre is not only being used for practice purposes, but will play host to the Scottish Grand Prix from November 19-22. Featuring several senior internationalists, the 64 men’s draw and 32 women’s draw event is open to the public, with free entry.


Children can learn from their mistakes

Date released: Monday, 2 November 2009

Scottish children learning to read have found that making mistakes while reading aloud actually helps them in the long run when helped with their reading by older children.

A two year study into the ‘paired reading’ technique came up with the unexpected finding that pupils who make a mistake every two minutes have the best reading development. In addition it was found that younger children who were helped with their reading by older children improved their reading levels.

Dr Allen Thurston of The Stirling Institute of Education was part of a team a team of researchers who monitored over 3,000 pupils in Fife primary schools. He explained: “Making the right number of mistakes when reading aloud can be critical for reading development. It’s just like the three bears – not too hot, not too cold, but just right! It’s the same with errors: too few and the child wasn’t sufficiently challenged and became disinterested and unresponsive. Too many and the child became discouraged and inhibited. Reading development was optimal when the pupils made about one mistake every two minutes.”

Dr Thurston reported these findings at a seminar delivered at the Coalition for Evidence-Based Education event hosted by The Institute of Education, University of London on Monday 9 November 2009. He said: “Paired reading is a technique whereby more able pupils help less able pupils to read. The more able pupils listen to less able pupil’s reading aloud and correct mistakes using a set process.

“The principle is that if you have one teacher working with 30 kids for an hour and the teacher gives each child the same one-to-one time, then each child gets two minutes during that period. When children work together one-to-one, the child can spend the whole hour listening to and working with the peer tutor.”

Reading tests were given to pupils at the beginning and end of the period of research, and improvements in reading test scores were closely correlated to the number of mistakes that pupil helpers identified and corrected when using the paired reading technique. In addition it was found that a two-year age gap between children who were reading together resulted in best gains. Surprisingly these gains were both for children being helped to read, and for those doing the helping.

He continued: “Paired reading worked best with cross-age groups, 10/11 year olds teaching 7/8 year olds, and there were quantifiable reading gains for those pupils making errors at the right levels. When compared with other tests which have been carried out with primary pupils in other Scottish regions, these pupils’ reading levels improved significantly.

“We believe this finding has implications for teaching methods and approaches – not only for professional teachers but also for parents.”

Notes to editors:

  • The Fife Peer Learning Project, which was funded under the Economic & Social Research Council Knowledge Transfer Partnership Scheme, was carried out in 120 primary schools in Fife. It involved researchers from the University of Stirling, Durham University, the University of Dundee and Fife Council
  • Dr Thurston carried out the reading study element of the project in collaboration with Professor Peter Timms and Dr Christine Merrell of Durham University’s Curriculum Evaluation and Monitoring Centre, and Professor Keith Topping of Dundee School of Community Education & Social Work.
  • Dr Thurston will be giving a seminar on this topic at the Coalition for Evidence-Based Taking place in the Nunn Hall, Institute for Education, University of London, the event comprises a series of seminars aimed at bringing researchers, politicians, administrators and policy makers together in a forum, to improve the way that research is used in education.

For further information, please contact Dr Thurston on 01786 467618.

Stirling students promote SEPA’S flood awareness campaignStirling students at the launch of SEPA's flood awareness campaign

Date released: Tuesday 3 November 2009

Flooding is becoming an all too regular occurrence in both urban and rural areas of Britain. So the University of Stirling’s creation of a new MSc degree course in River Basin Management is very timely and relevant.

The University’s Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, working in conjunction with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Dundee University, has created a course which requires students to undertake part-time study, alongside part-time work with SEPA, as part of that organisation’s flood risk trainee programme.

To mark the launch of SEPA’s new flood awareness campaign, degree course director, Professor David Gilvear and two of his students, recently met up with Roseanne Cunningham, Scotland's Minister for the Environment, at the River Earn. Speaking about the campaign, Professor Gilvear said: "it is critical that the general public are aware of flood risk and know what to do in the event of flooding. Stirling University is training students in the science of hydrology and river basin management to ensure that flood risk is minimised and sustainable solutions to managing the risk are implemented in the future."

In 2010 SEPA will once again be recruiting 5 staff onto the trainee programme, who will also study for their Masters in River Basin Management at the University.

Notes to editors:

Since 2001 the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been running the Floodline service in Scotland. As part of this, SEPA undertakes an annual flood awareness campaign in areas at risk from flooding, which is supported financially by the Scottish Government.

As part of this year's campaign, SEPA is concentrating its efforts in the Scottish Borders and Perth and Kinross areas, as well as raising awareness in other at-risk communities. For more information, click on SEPA's flood awareness website at:

Picture caption: Photographed from left to right: University of Stirling students Fiona McLean and Lauren McLean with Roseanne Cunningham MSP, and Dundee University students, Stewart Jordan and Pauline Pirie.

For more information, please contact Professor Gilvear on: 01786 467845 or email:

Inverness lecture: Dr James Naughtie’s take on President Obama and the American elections

Date released: Tuesday 3 November 2009

Senior pupils from Millburn Academy will be attending a lecture to be given by the University of Stirling’s Chancellor, Dr James Naughtie, in Inverness on Thursday 5 November at 2pm. The pupils will join staff and students at the Centre for Health Science, to hear the Chancellor’s views on President Obama and the American elections which brought him to power.

The lecture, which describes the run-up to the election and gives a sense of the huge wave of public goodwill which rose up in support of the Obama campaign, promises to be revealing and entertaining about an event which Dr Naughtie has described as ‘The greatest election of our time’.

He says: "Anyone who tries to say that this was a close election – or that it didn’t indicate a sea change in American thinking – is talking absolute garbage. Obama’s election has broken one of the last great taboos and changed the way in which people are talking about politics. That in turn, changes everything.”

Note to Editors:

  • Installed as Chancellor in October 2008, Dr Naughtie is in Inverness to preside over the University of Stirling graduation ceremony at our Highland Campus.
  • One of the BBC’s best-known broadcasters and journalists, he presents Today on BBC Radio 4, has covered various US presidential elections for the BBC and has written and presented two acclaimed series on American politics.
  • Please note: This lecture is by invitation only and is not open to the general public.

University’s seven steps to become a Stirling Superstar

Date released: Tuesday 3 November 2009

Ever fancied running 10k, but lacked the motivation? Or do you reckon your hot heels can’t be matched? Either way, a series of sporting challenges is sure to get the Stirling community active.

The University of Stirling’s Sports Development Service has just launched Stirling Superstars, seven monthly challenges open to everyone.

The Dumyat Hill Race provides a steep challengeFrom running to rowing and swimming to strength, it is all about challenging the local community, students and staff to try a range of healthy activities and earn points towards superstar status.

And with a special team competition, monthly prizes and the chance to be crowned the champion, Stirling Superstars has something for everyone.

Starting in November with an optional 5k or 10k run in conjunction with the RNLI’s Reindeer Run, there is a different on-campus activity each month.

Whether community, 50+, staff, student or a team, entrants select which category they fall into and can then pick and choose which events they compete in, with more participation meaning more points.

Finish first in your category and collect 100 points, but no matter the result, you’ll be sent regular updates on your own standing allowing you to monitor the progress first hand. Many of the events last the whole month, allowing for plenty of time to put in the practice in advance.

Stirling Superstars organiser, Graduate Assistant Kerry MacPhee said: "Whether you want to compete for the individual title, battle it out to be the best team or just keep physically active with a new challenge in the gym, Stirling Superstars has something for every age and sporting level.

"It may seem scary to get yourself get involved in mass participation events, but join with friends, be brave and embrace a new challenge – you can be a superstar!"

The full list of events and dates are:
• November 29 - Reindeer Run
• December – Strength Challenge
• January – Swim Accumulator
• February – Rowing Challenge
• March – Flexibility, Reaction Time and Motor Skills Challenge
• April – Sprint Challenge
• May 5 – Dumyat Hill Race

Stirling Superstars is free to enter for all Sports Centre members and just £10 for non-members. For an entry form or for more information, see

Marine Sciences at Scottish universities net £74.7 million investment

Date released: Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) has today announced a £17.4 million investment in a new marine science research pool that will bring together researchers from several universities and research institutes. The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) will receive the funding over seven years as part of a total investment of £74.7 million.

Ten partners, including eight Scottish universities – Aberdeen, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh Napier, and UHI Millennium Institute through the Scottish Association of Marine Science – are to form the pool which will carry out world-class research, training and knowledge exchange.

Among its key areas of research, MASTS will pool existing strengths to look at areas including biodiversity, marine predators, sustainable marineculture, and fisheries. MASTS also includes Marine Scotland (Science), the Scottish Government’s own science research and advisory service, and the Universities Marine Biological Station at Millport, which is part of the University of London.

The formation of MASTS will create eight new professorships and 13 lectureships/readerships. A graduate academy will be at the core of MASTS offering advanced postgraduate training in marine sciences to attract and retain young scientists of true excellence, making marine science an attractive career option for talented people within and beyond Scotland and further increasing Scotland’s competitive edge in the field.

Scotland has many advantages in the area of marine science on which MASTS can capitalize. Scotland’s seas are the source of much of its wealth, with over 18,000 km of coastline and a sea area five times the size of the land and twice the size of the offshore responsibilities of the rest of the UK. Scotland’s seas are among the most biologically productive in the world containing over 40,000 species. At the same time Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of Europe’s potential tidal power. SFC’s investment continues its commitment to develop and support research pooling in Scotland and will build on Scotland’s already strong marine science community.

Mark Batho, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Scotland’s coastline and seas are of immense importance to the country’s wealth and culture. As a maritime nation, marine science has been a natural part of Scotland’s contribution to modern science. The Council is pleased to support this science community to build on its success with a strong research pool.”

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment added: “Our new Marine Bill provides the perfect platform to build on Scotland’s already outstanding reputation for marine science. Scotland’s prospects of becoming a global leader in future years will be greatly strengthened by the launch of MASTS, supported by over £17 million of new investment from the Scottish Funding Council. These are exciting times for marine policy in Scotland. Last week our Marine Bill passed its first major legislative hurdle. For the first time, we will soon have a new management framework in place to protect our seas, whilst at the same time ensuring economic growth doesn’t come at a cost to our environment.

“As we move towards an era where renewable energy will be even more vital in our fight against climate change our seas will only become more important. It’s clear that our leading research institutions have a vital role to play in placing Scotland at the forefront of international marine research.”

Find out more about studying marine sciences at the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling:

Whose Scotland? Young people give their views in verse

Date released: Friday, 6 November 2009

Young writers in Scotland have made a poetic contribution to the debate about Scottish national identity.

Anju Gopalan with Alan Bissett

A competition for school children entitled 'Whose Scotland?' asked Scotland’s young writers, aged 12-17, to reflect on the nation’s cultural identity and diversity by writing a poem about multicultural Scotland. The winner was 13-year-old Anju Gopalan of Edinburgh (pictured here with Alan Bissett).

Anju not only wins £100, but also £100 for her school, and her effort and all the winning poems will be published on the ‘Whose Scotland?’ website. She was presented with her prize on Friday 6 November by Scottish author Alan Bissett, at St George’s School, Edinburgh. Alan Bissett then read a selection of his own poems to around 80 pupils.

Alan Bissett also visited Craigholme School in Glasgow that morning where he met some competition runners-up and read from his works to a class of S1 pupils.

The ‘Whose Scotland?’ competition was run by a group of academics and creative writers at the University of Stirling and Newcastle University. Competition organiser Dr James Procter, Reader in Modern English and Postcolonial Literature at Newcastle University, said: “We wanted them to think about Scotland and the different people and cultures who have made their home here, with the title ‘In my country’. The poem could be a story about identity, belonging, migration or any aspect of being part of multicultural Scotland.”

Fellow competition organiser Dr Bethan Benwell, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Stirling, added: “Anju’s entry particularly impressed the judges because of the way it combined skill in using language, its dramatic power and its use of metaphor. Anju’s is a wonderfully imaginative response to the idea of a Scotland that is both welcoming and hostile at the same time.”

It attracted over 300 entries and award-winning Scottish poet and children’s writer, Jackie Kay, led a team of judges to find the winning poems. Jackie studied English at the University of Stirling, and now holds an honorary degree from the University; her fellow judges were Emeritus Professor Angela Smith, and Dr Gemma Robinson, both of the Department of English Studies at the University of Stirling.

Jackie Kay said: “The standard of the winning poems was particularly high, and a pleasure to read. They represented the length and breadth of Scotland, looking back to the past and forward to the future. Imaginatively rich, diverse and stimulating, these poems show the range of young talent in Scotland today.”

The competition is part of the Devolving Diasporas project, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which draws together researchers from the Universities of Stirling and Newcastle interested in the relationships between reading and writing and location and migration.


First Prize: Anju Gopalan (St George’s School, Edinburgh) £100 book token, plus £100 donation to the school or nominated community group.

Second Prize: Sean Hannah (Kilchuimen Academy, Fort Augustus) £50 book token, plus £50 donation to the school or nominated community group.

Third Prize: James Johnson (Mackie Academy, Stonehaven) £25 book token, plus £25 donation to the school or nominated community group.

Runners-Up: Matt Little (Beaconhurst, Bridge of Allan), Emily Howat (Hamilton Academy), Amy Lumsden (St George’s School, Edinburgh), John Robert MacDonald (North Uist), Chloe MacGregor (Craigholme, Glasgow), Robert Maclennan (Isle of Lewis), Calum Macleod (Portobello High, Edinburgh), Manal Malik (Craigholme, Glasgow), Eleeza Shellard (Benbecula), Jamie Duncan (Aberdeenshire).

Background information

Devolving Diasporas is a three-year project (2007-2010) investigating the relationship between reading, location, and migration. Working with libraries and book groups in Scotland, England, Canada, Africa and India, the project is interested in how various readers in different places respond to contemporary narratives of movement, migration and diaspora. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Diasporas, Migration and Identities Research programme. See

Each year the Arts and Humanities Research Council provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes about 700 research awards and 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

Alan Bissett, born in 1975, attended Falkirk High School and the University of Stirling, where he gained a First Class Honours degree in English Literature and Education, and a Masters degree in English. During this time he edited a collection of Scottish Gothic stories, Damage Land (2001), and wrote his first novel, Boyracers. His third novel, Death of a Ladies' Man was published in 2009, and he has recently moved into playwriting, working with Scottish theatres The Arches and the Traverse Theatre.

Researcher finds 'extinct' oysters in Firth of Forth

Date released: Friday 6 November 2009

Doctor Liz Ashton

A University of Stirling researcher has discovered live oysters in the Firth of Forth, over fifty years after they were declared extinct in the area.

Dr Liz Ashton (pictured right), a research fellow at the Institute of Aquaculture in Stirling, made the discovery while investigating the possibility of restoring oysters to the river, and gives real hope that there could eventually be commercial farming of the shellfish.

At its peak, the Firth of Forth oyster fishery produced over 30 million oysters a year, but that was in the early 19th century when Charles Darwin went out with the boats from Newhaven while studying in Edinburgh. Over-harvesting caused the fishery to collapse by 1920, and surveys of the Firth of Forth in 1957 reported that oysters were biologically extinct.

This discovery that they are not, after all, extinct has major implications for fisheries in Scotland as Dr Ashton's discovery comes as she was working with Dr Janet Brown, Head of the Shellfish Unit, on an initial strategy for the feasibility, technical aspects and regulatory framework of a project to restore native oysters, with a long term view of making them commercially viable.

Dr Ashton found two oysters about 100 metres apart, visible at a very low tide on the south side of the river, but there is a likelihood there are more of them out there. She recalled: "I was walking along the slippery stones by the water's edge and then spotted what I thought could be an oyster. The tide was still going out so I had to wait a while, and confirm it was a specimen of native oyster." She measured them and took photographs, then left them to let the returning tide wash over them.


David Donnan, Senior Fisheries Advisory Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said: "The native oyster is part of SNH's Species Action Framework, a five year programme of conservation work co-ordinated by SNH. One of the objectives of the framework is to attempt the restoration of oyster populations in areas where they were formerly abundant. The University of Stirling are carrying out this work with funding from the Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum, SNH and the Crown Estate. This news bodes well for future attempts to return the native oyster to its former status on the Forth."

Further information and links:

Institute of Aquaculture:

Dr Janet Brown:

Dr Liz Ashton:

Stirling coach targets university tennis 'Ryder Cup'

Date released: Monday 9 November 2009

The first ever cross-Atlantic University tennis competition – masterminded by Stirling tennis coach Euan McGinn – is gearing up for game on in 2010.

University of Stirling High Performance coach McGinn and Dublin City University Head Coach Jamie Pilkington have combined forces with their American counterparts to create a tennis competition pitting European students against the best America has to offer.

Much like the format of golf’s Ryder Cup, European University tennis scholars will play singles and doubles matches against the top American Collegiate players, whose alumni include John McEnroe and current ATP top 50 singles player James Blake.

This transatlantic clash has been backed by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), Tennis Europe and the Unites States Tennis Association (USTA). And now with the LTA agreeing to host the event on its clay courts at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, the competition is scheduled for next August provided a sponsor can be secured.

In 2007, McGinn and Pilkington formed the European Collegiate Tennis Association (ECTA) to enable elite European University tennis players the opportunity to compete against one another. Now they have set their sights on expansion.

Euan McGinn at the Gannochy National Tennis CentreMcGinn, a former All-American player at the University of Arkansas, said: "We are really looking forward to testing ourselves against the best players in America. It is the next step in the development of European University tennis, having successfully established ECTA.

"It provides European players with the opportunity to stay in Europe, get a first class education and experience new cultures through tennis. Until now relatively little has been done to help European players continue their development past the age of 18, despite the fact the average age of a top 100 male player is 26."

Before the Stirling team can think about any competitive leap across the pond, the team from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence face top quality opposition in the European League finals which start on Friday (13 November).

Having qualified from the French group courtesy of victories against Rouen II and Leuven from Belgium, Stirling’s team of Jordan McCulloch, Nick Hatchett, Joe Gill, Cameron Malik and James Ickringill will come up against world-ranked opponents in the final draw at Gosling Tennis Centre in London.

The other competing Universities are: Loughborough, Manchester and Leeds Met, Rouen, Dublin, Pula and Zagreb. As well as eight men’s teams, the competition also includes eight women’s teams competing in a knockout format and these will double to 32 and 16 respectively for the 2010 event.

McGinn added: "It is a great opportunity for the Stirling guys to take on some of the best University teams in Europe, providing them with an extra competitive opportunity against their peers. University tennis is quite special as it is a team event and everyone is going through the same circumstances, combining tennis and education."


Stirling to appoint Gerry McCormac as its new Principal

Date released: Tuesday 10 November 2009

Professor Gerry McCormacThe University of Stirling has announced that Professor Gerry McCormac, one of Northern Ireland’s leading academics, is to be appointed as its Principal and Vice-Chancellor. He will succeed Professor Christine Hallett in May 2010.

Professor McCormac (pictured) is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, where he has an outstanding track record of raising the University’s profile both nationally and internationally. His role in regional economic development has been significant in connecting the University’s research base to the business community.

He said: “Stirling has lived up to its founding motto of innovation and excellence; it has produced first-class graduates for Scotland, it has become one of the most respected universities in the UK, and it has established a global reputation for the quality of its research and teaching.

“I am proud to be joining the University community as its Principal and Vice-Chancellor and I would like to pay tribute to Professor Christine Hallett for her leadership over the past five years. The current economic climate is difficult. But now, more than ever, Scotland needs Stirling and its distinctive contribution to society: enterprising graduates with the skills to drive its economy forward; first class research which can be turned into jobs; and a commitment to the community which ensures that education and the advancement of knowledge is shared for the good of all.”

Following the announcement, Chair of the University’s Court, Alan Simpson said: “I am delighted by the appointment of Professor McCormac to succeed Professor Hallett as the Principal of the University of Stirling. Professor McCormac is an exceptional academic of international renown and a strategic leader who is in tune with the ethos at Stirling. Under his leadership, I am convinced that the University of Stirling will continue to develop as a world class, research based institution with key strengths in areas of real importance to the social and economic fabric of society both in Scotland and in the wider world.”

Current Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett, also welcomed the news: “I am delighted to learn of Professor McCormac’s appointment. He is an excellent choice and will, I am sure, successfully build on the many strengths of the University of Stirling and enhance its reputation as the university of choice for students and staff.”

Professor McCormac said he “already felt at home” because of the warmth of the welcome he has received: “Northern Ireland and Scotland are kindred spirits, I have worked closely with colleagues in Scottish universities and, like many in Northern Ireland, my family tree has Scottish roots.

“I am looking forward to my new role, and the opportunity to play my part in securing Scotland’s future as a self-confident and successful economy which recognises the importance of investing in Higher Education, and which will reap the benefits from that investment.”

Professor McCormac graduated with a BSc in Physics and Geology in 1980 from the Ulster Polytechnic (now the University of Ulster). He obtained a PhD in Space Physics in 1984, having conducted research at both the Ulster Polytechnic and the University of Southampton. He then spent several years as a postdoctoral research fellow and a research scientist in the Space Physics Laboratory at the University of Michigan in the United States.

In 1990, he assumed the position of Director of the Radiocarbon Research Facility at Queen’s University Belfast. He became Head of the School of Archaeology and Palaeoecology in 1998, and in 2000 he led the University team that won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education. He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 2001, assuming responsibility for Communications, External Affairs and Economic Development. He currently has responsibility for Academic Planning and External Affairs. He is also a director of the University’s knowledge commercialisation company, Qubis.

He is married to Louise, a Chartered Physiotherapist, and they have three sons.


University commended for its commitment to Care Leavers

Date released: Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Mark Wilkinson and Eilidh Bateman

The University of Stirling's Student Development & Support Services has received The Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark to acknowledge its support for care leavers entering higher education, and has highlighted its commitment to care leavers during National Care Leavers' week.

Speaking about receiving the Quality Mark award, the Head of Student Development and Support Services, Mark Wilkinson, said: "We not only want to increase the numbers of care leavers coming to our university, we also want to enable them to make the most of their time here and complete their courses successfully."

Pictured right: Holding up the Frank Buttle Trust award are Mark Wilkinson and Eilidh Bateman, Retention & Achievement Project Adviser, who worked on the care leavers action plan.

The Frank Buttle Trust is the largest UK charity providing grant aid solely to individual children and young people, providing grants and support to enable young people to undertake courses at universities and other higher education institutions. They set up the Quality Mark in 2006 in recognition of Higher Education institutions who go that extra mile to support students who have been in public care.

Students coming from care to university often encounter a different set of challenges from many other students, including the need for year round campus accommodation and extra financial support for the nuts and bolts of academic life. They may have had a previously disrupted educational experience, and may not have a settled family background or support network to fall back on during the course of their studies.

"Raising awareness of the needs of this group of students is paramount to the commitment we are making. We will be working with colleagues from across the university and from local authorities to develop our care leavers' action plan," Mark Wilkinson added.

The action plan, which has been approved by the Buttle Trust and endorsed by the University Principal, focuses on developing and enhancing services and procedures across the university from recruitment and admissions, to student administration, support and accommodation. It also aims to develop new initiatives, such as care leaver open days, identifying care leaver and foster carer 'champions' already among the student body, and building relationships with local residential units.

Mr Wilkinson said: "Students can now choose to identify themselves as having spent time in care on their UCAS form, and one of our first tasks will be to make contact with those who joined us this year. But we are also aware of the need of some care leavers to leave that aspect of their past behind them when they come to university, and we want to respect that choice too."

The University of Stirling is one of a growing number of Scottish Universities to receive the Quality Mark, demonstrating a nationwide commitment to widening participation and equality of opportunity in Higher Education.

Further information:

Student Development and Support Services:

Frank Buttle Trust:

Acclaimed wildlife filmmaker Doug Allan to lecture at Stirling

Date released: Thursday, 12 November 2009

Doug Allen filming whale

The man who filmed the stunning underwater Arctic scenes in the BBC’s Life documentaries is to reveal his secrets to an audience in Stirling.

The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling is hosting a public lecture by Doug Allan, the award-winning wildlife filmmaker, on 15 December.

“Life behind the Lens” will offer an insight into Doug's vast experience of filming some of the most memorable sequences for series like The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Life, which is currently being screened on the BBC.

The winner of three BAFTAs, three Emmys and other awards will present an entertaining mix of beautiful pictures, film, anecdotes and experiences, and after the lecture will invite the audience to ask questions.

Doug, from Scotland, is an alumnus of the University of Stirling, graduating with an Honours degree in Marine Biology in 1973, and his work was further recognised in 2007 when he was made an honorary graduate of the University.

A fellow student at the time and now Professor of Parasitology at Stirling University’s Institute of Aquaculture, Professor Christina Sommerville said: “We are delighted to have Doug agree to this public lecture within his busy filming schedule. Doug’s blend of high quality film making and good humour will make this a most entertaining talk, full of stories of far flung places and daring do.”

Doug Allan’s visit to the University will include a meeting with the University’s marine biology students earlier in the day, for a question and answer session.

“Doug has agreed to a no-holds-barred discussion with students on any subject such as employment opportunities, his exploits and his film-making techniques,” said Dr Richard Corner, Marine Biology coordinator.

Doug Allan specialises in working in Polar Regions above and below the ice, and with marine mammals all over the world - although his filming assignments have also taken him up Everest, in submarines, and to the deserts of Africa. Doug is also one of the few photographers who can lay claim to success in the fields of both television series and stills.

“Life behind the Lens” will be at 5.30pm on Tuesday 15 December 2009 in the Logie Lecture Theatre at the University of Stirling. The lecture is open to the general public and admission is free. To reserve a place, please email or phone 01786 467874.

Additional Information

The Institute of Aquaculture, at Stirling University, is a world renowned teaching and research facility in the field of aquaculture and marine science. With a full time staff of 100, approximately 80 PhD researchers at any one time, 30 masters students and 50+ undergraduates it is truly international in its focus and fields of expertise. The Institute of Aquaculture’s new Marine Biology programme at Stirling has recently undergone a radical change including exciting new courses “Our Blue Planet”, “Marine Mammals” and “Marine Invertebrate Taxonomy”.


Institute of Aquaculture

For further details, contact: Dr Richard Corner, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA;; Tel: 01786 467891.



University sponsors Scottish Health Awards 2009 Dr Kevin Hanretty with Professor William Lauder

Date released: Monday 16 November 2009

The University of Stirling’s Department of Nursing & Midwifery believes in publicly recognising some of NHS Scotland’s most dedicated employees – people who are willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for those in their care. By co-sponsoring the Scottish Health Awards 2009, the Department celebrates those workers in NHS Scotland who genuinely make a difference, both to patients and the Service.

The award winners were announced on Wednesday 11 November at a special gathering in Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange – a celebratory event for these very special employees chosen by the Scottish Health Awards judges. Frequently identified in jobs that don’t enjoy a high profile, entrants were nominated – either by colleagues or patients – as being among the NHS’ most committed and caring workers, showing tremendous loyalty and devotion to their patients.

The University chose to sponsor the ‘Woman’s and Children’s Services Award’ category, which covers a wide range of services providing specialist care – from the midwife to the special children’s doctor and from neo-natal teams to Special Baby Units. Professor William Lauder (right of picture), Head of the University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery said: “The wellbeing of women, babies and young children is of central importance to the health of a nation. Improvement in the health of women and children is an international healthcare target and is embedded in Scottish Government Health Policy.

“I am especially pleased to sponsor this award, given the world class research and education which the University of Stirling provides in maternal and child care, primary school education, child protection and social care. We achieve this in partnership with the Chief Scientist Office's NMAHP Research Unit and clinicians in NHS Forth Valley and NHS Highland, in order to promote the health and wellbeing of women and children in Scotland.”

The Scottish Health Awards created an award category for every area in which an NHS worker might be occupied – whether in a local GP’s clinic or dental practice, as a support worker, as part of a nursing team or ambulance department, or involved with children’s services. When it came to judging entries, the individual’s title or location was irrelevant – what mattered was whether he or she made a difference to people’s experience of public healthcare.

Finalists for ‘Woman’s and Children’s Services Award’ category came from across Scotland – from Lothian to Glasgow and then to Argyll – but it was Dr Kevin Hanretty (left of picture ) from Queen Mother’s Hospital in Glasgow who received the award.

A consultant obstetrician, Dr Hanretty was nominated by Eileen Carruth for the medical and emotional support he gave during her journey to become a mum. After Dr Hanretty identified problems early in the pregnancy,Eileen’s daughter Amy was delivered early, weighed just 1½ lbs and was in hospital for ten weeks,

Eileen praised the care and support given by Dr Hanretty throughout the pregnancy, birth and aftercare. “He was there every step of the way and my husband and I are so grateful for all the care given to us by Dr Hanretty and his team. He was a very special guest at Amy’s christening!”

Picture caption: Dr Kevin Hanretty (left) receives his award from Professor William Lauder, Head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Stirling.

For more information on the courses available at the University of Stirling’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery, click on:

For more information on the Scottish Health Awards 2009, click on:

Dawson dazzles as Stirling swimmers on form in major competitions

Date released: Tuesday 17 November 2009

A busy week of swimming saw students from the University of Stirling excel in Britain and beyond.

No fewer than 22 Stirling swimmers travelled to Ponds Forge arena in Sheffield for the BUCS Swimming Short Course Championships. At the same time, three scholarship swimmers from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence were competing in FINA World Cup events in Sweden and Germany.

Stirling emerged in an impressive second place in the Short Course two-day event, where the 1,150-strong contingent of student athletes comprised Olympians and World Championship medalists.

Clare Dawson with the female swimmer of the Championships awardPsychology student Clare Dawson, pictured in her University of Stirling Swimming Club t-shirt, was in fine form with gold medals in both the 100m Freestyle (55.10) and 200m Freestyle (1:57.58) events, breaking Loughborough University’s Caitlin McClatchey’s record in the latter by two-hundredths of a second. Dawson also earned a silver medal in the 400m Freestyle (4:13.65), her efforts over the weekend recognised with the best female swimmer award.

Second year Sports Studies Student Lewis Smith, who is part of the Scottish sports scholarship scheme Winning Students, took gold in the 200m Individual Medley (IM) (1:59.07) and silver in both the 400m IM (4:13.11) and the 200m Butterfly (1:58.31).

But it was first year BSc Sport and Exercise Science student Ryan Bennett who performed arguably the best turnaround of the weekend, winning gold in the 200m Backstroke (1:56.49) just six minutes after a second-placed swim in the 100m Butterfly (52.57).

In a remarkable solo showing, Bennett also picked up silver in the 100m Backstroke (52.69) and beat World Champion Liam Tancock in his 50m Backstroke leg of the men’s 200m Medley relay.

There were silver medals for the men’s team in both the 200m Freestyle (1:31.16) and 200m Medley (1:40.86) relays as well as individual honours for: Jonathan Greig (Silver – 800m Freestyle (7:53.69); Bronze – 400m Freestyle (3:49.51)); Josh Walsh (Silver – 400m Freestyle (3:48.01); Bronze – 200m (1:48.07) and 800m Freestyle (8:04.61)); Jamie Ross (Bronze – 200m Breaststroke (2:16.48)); Douglas Scott (Silver – 100m Breaststroke (1:01.86)).

Stirling Performance Squad Coach Ian Wright said: “It was a great team performance. They don’t all train together so it was nice to go away together and see everyone gel. We were targeting finishing second in the men’s championship which we did and it was good to finish well clear of Bath in third.

“Clare [Dawson] was the outstanding performer over the weekend and I think she even surprised herself as she wasn’t expected to beat Caitlin McClatchey once let alone twice. Third place overall in the combined team competition was an excellent result and hopefully when the Long Course Championships come round in February, with the World Cup swimmers back in the squad, we can do even better.”

The full Stirling squad comprised: Ryan Bennett, Steven Binnie, Martin Cremin, Clare Dawson, Carly Dollman, Jamie Evans, Laura Gillies, Fiona Gray, Jonathan Greig, Stuart Greig, Calum McGhee, Ailie McGowan, Ross Muir, Rosie Ogg, Ana Pallot, Simone Prentice, Jamie Ross, Douglas Scott, Jennifer Schaeffer, Lewis Smith, Josh Walsh and Joseph Welstead.

Earlier in the week, Stirling students Andy Hunter, Jak Scott and Eloise Barber competed in the latest legs of the FINA World Cup in Stockholm then Berlin. These events tour the world, allowing elite swimmers the chance to compete for a big cash prize. In Berlin, Scott went sub 50 seconds for the first time in the 100m Freestyle, setting a personal best 49.4 seconds.

Olympic swimmer Hunter, whose BUCS record in the 200m Freestyle was broken by fellow Winning Student Robert Renwick while he was on international duty, will console himself with selection for the LEN European Short Course Championships.

Hunter has been named alongside Lewis Smith in the 31-strong GB squad which also includes Winning Students Hannah Miley and Louise Pate. Dawson, fresh from her Sheffield success, will represent Ireland at the Championships in Istanbul from December 10.

Background information:

• Picture courtesy of
• The University of Stirling was designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in May 2008.
• Winning Students is the national sports scholarship scheme led by the University of Stirling which supports athletes studying in colleges and universities across Scotland, through scholarships of up to £5,500. For more information, see:
• Medal winning swimmers: Clare Dawson (Bangor), Lewis Smith (Edinburgh), Ryan Bennett (Chorley), Jonathan Greig (Aberdeen), Josh Walsh (Preston), Jamie Ross (Tullibody), Douglas Scott (Strathaven)

Judy Murray backs European University Tennis League

Date released: Tuesday 17 November 2009

A European tennis tournament pitting the best student players against one another has been backed by Andy Murray’s mum.

The University of Stirling put in an ace performance at the Barclays ECTA Championships in London over the weekend. The event, which has caught the eye of Judy Murray, mum to World No 4 ranked star Andy, gives tennis players the chance to study and play in Europe, combining a first-class academic education with high-level competition.

Judy said: “The European league presents the perfect opportunity for tennis playing students to compete internationally in a top level team event.” She described the 10-University tournament, which works much like football’s Champions League, as “a great addition to the student tennis calendar”.

ECTA, which stands for the European Collegiate Tennis Association, was established by University of Stirling High Performance coach Euan McGinn and Dublin City University Head coach Jamie Pilkington to provide the best tennis playing students with an opportunity to test themselves against the cream of Europe.

Stirling’s five man team of Joe Gill, Nick Hatchett, James Ickringill, Cameron Malik and Jordan McCulloch The Stirling team made the European semi-finalshad booked their place in the finals via the French qualification group.

At Gosling IHPC, they picked up where they left off in France, reaching the semi-finals with an impressive win over fourth seeds Dublin City University. The students from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence eventually bowed out to Rouen, who then succumbed to Loughborough University in the final.

Afterwards, McGinn praised the quality on show. He said: “This is the third year ECTA has run the European League and it continues to grow each year. The support was fantastic, and so too was the high level of tennis on display. In reaching the semi-finals, the Stirling team can be very proud of their efforts.”

The League, which is supported by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) is set to double its entrants to 32 men’s and 16 women’s teams in 2010, while a head-to-head with American collegiate players is also at the planning stage.

Before this, the University will be well represented at the Scottish Grand Prix, a four-day tournament which starts this Thursday (19 November) on campus at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre.

Sports scholars Jordan McCulloch, a former top 20 GB Junior player and Katie Gater, who competed at the 2008 World University Games, will be amongst the 64 men’s draw and 32 woman’s draw respectively. World ranked singles player Kyle Brassington is seeded number one, but will face stiff competition in the men’s draw from Hungarian Attila Balogh, former world top 100 junior player Keith Meisner and Scottish internationalist Jordan Gray.

Stirling has hosted the event for the last five years, attracting the best county junior and senior players as well as Scottish and British internationalists. Entry is free and all spectators are welcome.

Background information:

• The attached group photo shows l-r: Nick Hatchett, James Saker, Joe Gill, Sean Smith and James Ickringill.
• The Scottish Grand Prix takes place from Thursday until Sunday on the Indoor Courts at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre. Directions and maps are available from:

Saving Britain’s birds – public lecture, 25 NovemberThe cornbunting - under threat like many native bird species.

Date released: Tuesday 17 November 2009

One of the UK's leading experts on farmland bird conservation at the RSPB has been awarded an honorary professorship at Stirling University. Professor Jeremy Wilson, presently Head of Research at RSPB Scotland, has spent the majority of his academic career researching the alarming decline in many British farmland bird populations. In recent years this has become one of the biggest challenges facing modern conservation, with many species on the verge of disappearing totally from the UK.

Announcing Professor Jeremy Wilson’s appointment, Professor Dave Goulson, Head of the University's School of Biological & Environmental Sciences said: "Jeremy has been one of the key players in farmland bird conservation in the UK over the past 15 years. He has worked closely with University staff on collaborative research projects. Our teaching programme and this appointment recognises these links, as well as his impressive contribution to bird conservation".

Professor Wilson will deliver his inaugural lecture: “Agriculture and bird conservation - a defining moment?” at the University on Wednesday 25 November, at 4pm in Lecture Theatre A3, Cottrell Building. He will provide an overview of his field of research and look at the key scientific and policy challenges that the conservation of birds and other biodiversity on agricultural land is likely to face in the future.

Some of our best loved birds - from linnets and skylarks, corn buntings (pictured) and wagtails, to partridges and turtle doves - have had their numbers halved since the 1960s and continue to disappear at a worrying rate. In fact, some bird species now have such low populations, there is a real threat that they will completely disappear from some parts or all of the UK. Studies show that the expansion and intensification of agriculture have resulted in a decline in mixed farming, the removal of hedgerows to create larger fields and increased use of fertilisers and pesticides. All of these factors have negatively affected those bird species which depend upon on farmland environments.

This virtual collapse in some British farmland bird species has created one of the biggest conservation problems we face today, with many researchers examining likely causes and testing possible solutions. Speaking of the challenge this presents, Professor Wilson said: “The ‘agri-environment era’ of the last 20 years shows that we can have real impact in solving the biodiversity crisis in intensive agricultural systems. Without science, policy and farmers’ support for biodiversity conservation on farmland, charismatic birds such as the Corncrake, Stone Curlew and Cirl Bunting would by now be lost. Instead, we can celebrate their recovery. However, to reverse wider biodiversity losses demands a big step up in the scale of action. Achieving this in the face of food security concerns and climate change presents exciting, if daunting, new challenges for conservation scientists, policy makers and farmers alike.”


Notes to Editors:

Professor Jeremy Wilson – profile:
Oxford University from 1994 – 2001 as Research Fellow, then College Lecturer, finally Senior Research Biologist for the RSPB, working on the impact of agricultural change on bird populations.
Head of Research at RSPB Scotland since 2001. Currently manages a team of 12 conservation scientists conducting research on various issues, including the impact of environmental change on bird communities in upland and marine ecosystems throughout the UK.
Professor Wilson has published almost 100 scientific peer-reviewed papers and recently co-authored a book titled, ‘Bird Conservation and Agriculture’.


Is your pet part of the family?

Date released: Tuesday 17 November 2009

Traditionally, our notions of ‘society’ have centred round people and only recently have we begun to appreciate the importance of non-humans to society. A new study beginning at the University of Stirling will examine how people relate to companion animals and ask if, or how, people are affected by the illness and death of a pet.

Sociology PhD student, Maria Desougi, will begin research at the University’s Department of Applied Social Science, in which the relevance to people of companion animals will be studied. She said: “Animal-human interaction is a new area of Sociology and only a handful of studies are being run in Britain. I think it says so much for the innovatory spirit at Stirling that it would choose to run one of the first PhDs in this emerging field.

She added: “Recent breakthroughs in social theory mean that we now have a basis upon which to ask the really big questions. Do animals have individual desires which they can express through action? Can they manipulate others? Do they have personality and thoughts and feelings of their own? What is their place in the family and what do they mean to people? In short, can pets be family too? These are the kind of questions my study will address, and I’m delighted to be basing this work in Stirling.”

The research will be supervised by Dr Samantha Punch and Dr Ian McIntosh. Dr Punch said: “I am very much looking forward to jointly supervising this innovative PhD study and working with Maria on this interesting project”.

The research will take three years to complete and will explore the experience of pet owners in Central Scotland. If you are interested in supporting, or in being part of this research, you may contact Maria Desougi at or on 01786 467691. Or write to her at: Room 4S35, Colin Bell Building, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA.

Omega 3 expert to speak at Stirling

Date released: Thursday 19 November, 2009

A world-renowned expert on the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids is to speak at the University of Stirling on Tuesday, as a new test which can quickly measure fatty acids in the blood is launched.

Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in human nutrition, and while their health benefits continue to be researched, they are known to be an excellent predictor of the likelihood of heart disease.

All staff, students and the public are invited to come along and hear the explanation from Professor William E. Lands, formerly of the Universities of Michigan and Illinois and latterly Senior Scientific Advisor to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, USA.

He will speak on “Omega 3/Omega 6 - the importance of dietary balance” in lecture theatre A96 in the Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling on Tuesday 24 November, starting at 12 noon.

To introduce Professor Lands’ talk, Dr Tom Gilhooly of Glasgow Health Solutions will present a short lecture entitled “An overview of Omega 3 Clinical Research”.

These lectures coincide with the launch of a new rapid blood test for fatty acids, the Ideal Omega Test, which has been developed jointly by the Nutrition Group of the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and Glasgow Health Solutions Ltd.

The lectures are likely to be of particular interest to staff and students in health-related subjects, particularly Nursing & Midwifery and Sports Science.

Why knowing your Omega Balance score is so important.

The Omega 3 Index has been shown to be a better predictor of heart disease, especially sudden cardiac death, than traditional coronary heart disease risk factors including LDL and HDL cholesterol. Individuals with a high index have a decrease in the relative risk for sudden cardiac death by as much as 90%.

The science behind the Omega 3 Index has been validated by data from large-scale human clinical studies including the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS), which involved 14,916 healthy male physicians. In these studies the Omega 3 Index was clearly related to risk of having a heart attack.

Your Omega 3 Index cannot be predicted with certainty without analysing your blood. From a small prick in your finger, the Ideal Omega test measures the level of Omega 3 in your blood, and determines the individual requirement of this super nutrient you need to improve your health. It's that simple.

Further information:

Professor Gordon Bell, Nutrition Group, Institute of Aquaculture: Tel 01786 467997


Institute of Aquaculture, Nutrition Group:

Graduating Stirling students reap their rewards

Date released: Monday 23 November, 2009

Years of commitment, effort and study will reap rewards for over 500 hardworking students on Friday 27 November – the date of the University of Stirling’s autumn graduation ceremonies, to be held at the Albert Hall in Dumbarton Road, Stirling.

On what promises to be a day of huge celebration and high excitement, the students will be capped by the University’s Chancellor, Dr Jim Naughtie, before an invited audience of proud parents, family and friends.

There will be three ceremonies in total, beginning at 10am, 12.30pm and 3pm, duration approximately one hour. During the ceremonies, three honorary graduates will each receive the award of Doctor of the University. They are Douglas Hall OBE; Rory Stewart OBE and Professor Ian Thomson.

Douglas Hall OBE will receive the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Art in Scotland. Douglas Hall was the first Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and created a renowned collection of works for the nation by Scottish and international artists. He also oversaw the Gallery’s transfer to its magnificent current location on Belford Road.

Of particular note to this University, Douglas Hall was also a member of the Stirling University Art Committee and encouraged the University to develop an Art policy and to purchase and exhibit notable works. His links to the campus were cemented when he married Matilda Mitchell, first curator of the University of Stirling’s art collection.

Rory Stewart OBE will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the western understanding of Asian culture and his service to humanity.

Rory Stewart began his career as an infantry officer in the Black Watch and served in the British foreign office as a diplomat in several countries, including Southern Iraq as Deputy Governor of Maysan and Dhi Qar provinces.

In 2000-02 he walked across much of Asia including Afghanistan. His experiences during his time in Iraq and whilst walking across Afghanistan are described in his two critically acclaimed books: ‘The Prince of the Marshes: and other occupational hazards of a year in Iraq’ and ‘The Places in Between’. Rory is Founder and Executive Chairman of Turquoise Mountain, a British charity which has restored the historic commercial centre of Kabul, bringing clinics, schools, clean drinking water and training to Afghan men and women. In 2008 Rory was appointed Director and Ryan Family Professor for the Practice of Human Rights of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

Professor Ian Thomson will receive the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the University of Stirling as Scotland’s premier University for sport. From his appointment as Director of Physical Recreation in 1969, Ian Thomson oversaw a range of sporting initiatives which have benefited individuals from international level down to the grass roots.

He established the first Master’s degree in PE/Sport which later evolved into the undergraduate Sports Studies degree programmes and was instrumental in the establishment of the Scottish Institute of Sport and National Swimming Academy at the University of Stirling. Ultimately, his work laid the foundations for the University’s designation in 2008 as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.

Graduation details:

10am Ceremony
Subjects: Business & Organisation; Economics; Education; English; History; Politics; Philosophy; Computing Science & Mathematics

Hon Grad: Mr Douglas Hall OBE

12.30pm Ceremony
Subjects: Marketing; Film, Media & Journalism; Psychology; Law; Languages, Cultures & Religions; Accounting & Finance

Hon Grad: Mr Rory Stewart OBE

3pm Ceremony
Subjects: Nursing & Midwifery; Applied Social Science; Biological & Environmental Sciences; Aquaculture; Sports Studies

Hon Grad: Professor Ian Thomson

If you require further information, images of the honorary graduates or if you would like to send a photographer along on the day, please contact the Communications and Development Department at: or phone: 01786 466687.

Stirling shuttle star Susan targets medal in Delhi

Date released: Monday 23 November, 2009

Badminton ace Susan Egelstaff is counting down the days to Delhi after the best performance of her career on home soil yesterday (Sunday 22 November).

Susan, a Psychology and Sports Studies graduate from the University of Stirling, already has a singles bronze medal from the 2006 Commonwealth Games and a team bronze from the 2002 Games in Manchester.

Now, after a stunning showing on home soil, winning the women’s singles title at the Bank of Scotland International Championships, the 27-year-old is hungry for more medal success.

Susan Egelstaff“Delhi is fast approaching and it would be great to equal my past success at the Commonwealth Games,” said Susan, who is part of the University’s sporting Hall of Fame alongside names such as 2009 British Open champion golfer Catriona Matthew. “The competition will be fierce, but to win another medal would be fantastic.”

Second seed Susan held her nerve in Glasgow to defeat highly regarded Russian Ella Diehl 21-18, 21-10. The 2010 hopeful had already knocked out Diehl’s Russian compatriot Tatiana Bibik in a hard-fought quarter-final (21-15, 12-21, 21-13) before cruising past Switzerland’s Jeanine Cicognini in the semis (21-17, 21-12).

Susan said: “I played really well in all my matches and was pushed all the way with two three-set matches. Strangely, the final was actually one of the easier matches even though Ella Diehl is a world-class player.

“We’ve played each other plenty of times before and she has won the bulk of the matches, but I knew I had a chance because of my performances in the previous rounds. The first set was hard going, but I felt in control in the second.

“To win the tournament is arguably the best performance of my career, it’s definitely up there as it’s uncommon to play as consistently well in all the matches.”

Susan’s victory was the first for a Scot since national assistant coach Rita Yuan Gao in 2002. Rita also works as a high performance coach at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and while Susan has been busy competing all over the world since graduating in 2006, she has not forgotten her Stirling days.

“It was a brilliant time at Stirling and studying there was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” added Susan. “The University was so supportive and the staff bent over backwards to make sure I could fit in my training with my studies.

“The facilities were brilliant and I know they are even better now. Some people leave school and go straight into full-time badminton, but for me that’s too young. Stirling gave me the chance to complete a degree without sacrificing my training – I could put 100 per cent into both.”

* Picture courtesy of Jim Innes

Stirling plays lead role in Higher Education Conference Deputy Principal Professor Jarvie

Date released: Tuesday 24 November, 2009

Scotland’s universities are to hold a top level debate that will shape the way the Higher Education sector enters the new decade. Professor Grant Jarvie (pictured right), Deputy Principal of the University of Stirling, will chair the conference ‘Higher Education in Scotland 2009’ at the Edinburgh Conference Centre on 25 November.

He will introduce a prestigious panel of keynote speakers including Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. The conference, organised by Holyrood Magazine and supported by University Scotland, is expected to attract senior academics from all of Scotland’s universities, as well as politicians and policy makers.

Another high profile speaker from the University of Stirling is one of Scotland’s leading economists, Professor David Bell (pictured below) , Budget Advisor to the Finance Committee of the Scottish Parliament. He will speak on ‘The place of universities in a post-recessionary world’, giving delegates an informed view of the role of universities in society.

Professor David Bell, leading Scottish economistDelegates will hear how organisational change can best be achieved, in a challenging financial environment, and will discuss what the future holds for the Higher Education sector.

Professor Jarvie said: “In a month when one university alone has revealed that it contributes over half a billion pounds annually to the Scottish economy, this conference provides a timely reminder to both Scottish and UK governments as to why universities matter socially, culturally and economically.”

For further information, please contact Lesley Wilkinson, Joint Head of Communications, on: 01786 467058; email:


Stirling tennis scholar makes tournament final

Date released: Tuesday 24 November, 2009

Tennis scholar Joe Gill excelled in front of his University of Stirling support to reach the final of the Scottish Grand Prix.

The fourth year Sport and Politics student at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence was unseeded yet made the last two of the 64 men’s draw competition held on campus at the Gannochy National Tennis Centre.

Gill, pictured, notched up four wins, including victories over Oxford graduate Tim Weir and a hard-fought encounter against his Stirling team-mate Jordan McCulloch to take to the final.

Tiredness finally told for Gill, who was toppled in the grade three event by first seed Kyle Brassington, a world ranked singles player and student at Leeds Metropolitan University. Still, hot favourite Brassington was made to work hard before clinching the title 6-2, 6-4.

Tennis scholar Joe GillGill, 21, said: “I’ve reached the final a couple of times before in other grade three events and won one in England, but I’ve never done as well in such a big draw tournament as this.

“It was very pleasing to reach the final, but I think I was a bit exhausted after the morning win over Jordan [McCulloch]. It’s not easy to play against a team-mate, but I just had to put that out of my mind and treat it as a normal match.

“I was disappointed to lose to Kyle [Brassington] as I’d beaten him just the previous week in the European University Tennis league, but he managed to raise his level on the day. But just being in the final lets me know I’m going in the right direction and hopefully by this time next year I can pick up some world ranking points.”

Stirling has hosted the Grand Prix for the past five years, providing a platform for the best county junior and senior players to compete alongside Scottish and British international tennis players.

In the 32-player women’s draw, 2008 World University Games player and Stirling scholar Katie Gater reached the semi-finals. She lost out to Emma Devine who in turn was beaten by women’s champion Mhairi Brown.

No fewer than 20 students from the University took part in the competition, much to the delight of High Performance Tennis Coach Euan McGinn.

He said: “The event was a great success with the standard exceptionally high from top juniors to world ranked seniors. It was a great opportunity for all the players to compete at a high level.”

Olympic hopefuls join national sports scholarship scheme Winning Students

Date released: Tuesday 24 November, 2009

A sports scholarship scheme supporting Scotland’s Commonwealth and Olympic medal hopefuls has almost doubled its numbers in its second year.

Winning Students provides athletes studying in colleges and universities across Scotland with scholarships of up to £5,500 each year.

In 2009/10, the number of Winning Students scholars has grown to almost 100 across nine sports and includes a former World Junior Triathlon champion, several Olympic swimmers and Scotland’s best student golfer.

Students are nominated by their governing bodies of sport provided they make the grade both academically and in high level performance in their sport.

Successful scholars receive funding which can be spent on a whole range of support services, from physiotherapy and coaching to academic-related expenses such as accommodation and study fees.

At the same time, Winning Students creates a network of Scottish colleges and universities, who support their own student athletes, working closely with the University of Stirling as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, the sportscotland Institute of Sport and the various governing bodies of sport.

Winning Students core sports are: badminton, golf, hockey, judo, orienteering, squash, swimming and disability swimming, triathlon and women’s football while individual scholarships are also available in sports not listed.

The current crop of talented student athletes being supported includes 2008 World Junior Triathlon champion Kirsty McWilliam, a second year BSc Animal Biology student at Stirling and Hannah Miley, an Olympic swimmer studying for a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science at The Robert Gordon University.

Another sports scholar living up to his winning tag is golfer James White. Crowned the 2009 British Universities stroke play champion, Business Studies student James has made the best possible start to the defence of his title, recording an -8 under par total to finish first at the opening regional qualifying event.

Winning Student James WhiteHe said: "It’s nice to be considered an elite athlete by my country and hopefully the support provided by Winning Students can help me improve my game and go on to win many more competitions in the future.

"I always wanted to become a professional golfer and get a degree at the same time, but competing in high performance sport is a costly business, especially for equipment and travel. So to be selected for Winning Students has really helped ease the financial burden."

Winning Students co-ordinator Jason Atkins said: "The scholarship scheme is all about supporting talented student-athletes and creating a network of support for them in colleges and universities across Scotland. The fact we are on course to almost double the number of scholarships this year will ensure some of Scotland’s brightest prospects are fully supported in their bid to fulfil their academic and sporting goals."


For more information, see

Background information:

• The University of Stirling was designated as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence in May 2008 and leads Winning Students, which is funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

• Further students will be confirmed in the coming weeks on the Winning Students website

Stirling students celebrate graduation success

Date released: Friday 27 November, 2009

Over 500 students received their rewards for years of hard work today at the University of Stirling’s autumn graduation ceremonies, held at the Albert Halls in Stirling. 

Over the course of three colourful and - at times - emotional ceremonies, the students were capped by the University’s Chancellor, Dr Jim Naughtie, before an invited audience. Honorary degrees were awarded to Douglas Hall OBE, in recognition of his contribution to Art in Scotland; Rory Stewart OBE for his contribution to the western understanding of Asian culture and service to humanity; and Professor Ian Thomson, who oversaw the development of the University of Stirling as Scotland’s premier University for sport.

It was the last degree ceremony presided over by Professor Christine Hallett, the University Principal, before she retires in the spring, and special tributes were made to her for her leadership of the University in recent years.

Dr Rory Stewart after receiving his degree
Dr Rory Stewart after receiving his honorary doctorate with Professor Neil Keeble, Dr Jim Naughtie, and Professor Christine Hallett

Professor Ian Thomson is capped

Professor Ian Thomson is capped by Dr Jim Naughtie

Students celebrate their degree awards

Students celebrate with flowers outside the Albert Halls

Stirling footballers' net gain

Date released: Monday 30 November, 2009

Footballers from the University of Stirling FC have shown they can find the back of the net this season – and now they’ve hit the internet.

With the first team, pictured, sitting pretty at the top of the East of Scotland First Division and the Third team romping to University of Stirling First XI with the Queen's Park Shield a 6-0 win at the weekend, there is plenty for supporters of the students to cheer about.

And a new dedicated website will keep Stirling student supporters up-to-date with the latest results, fixtures, goalscorers and a whole lot more. The University club boasts four men’s teams – some 100 players - who compete in senior and amateur leagues as well as British Universities competitions.

Each week, the latest match reports will be posted at alongside team photos and the latest news from the club. With the club now more than 40 years old, Stirling graduates who once pulled on their boots for the University may also catch a glimpse of some familiar faces.

Home matches for the students take place on campus at the Gannochy Sports Centre, with fixtures on both a Wednesday and Saturday.

The credit crunch may have taken its toll, but with free entry and a match programme available at East of Scotland home matches, Stirling’s first team provides a tempting package.

There is plenty of talented young players pulling on the University colours too, including a former Scotland U19 captain and an ex Middlesbrough FC goalkeeper.

Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University of Stirling and 1st XI Match Secretary, said: “The football club continues to grow in stature and this website will ensure staff, students, graduates and the local community can keep up-to-date with every kick of the ball. There is plenty of good football on show too and the club always appreciates support, whether it be cheering from the sidelines or sponsoring the strips.”

For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Raleigh Gowrie by email to:

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