News at Stirling The University of Stirling's Communications and Media team aims to work positively and closely with the media, providing a service that will help media professionals to cover news, personalities and events at the University in an informed manner. News at Stirling Football fans are being ‘misled’ by complex gambling adverts on television, a University of Stirling study has found.

Behavioural scientist Dr Philip Newall analysed live-odds gambling adverts displayed during two months of televised English Premier League matches and found they were biased towards complex and highly specific bets.

The research, published in Addiction Research and Theory, found almost 60% of televised bets involved a specific player scoring, while odds for a team to win with an exact score line were also popular. Gambles like this are particularly difficult for punters to accurately predict due to the many potential goal scorers or score lines.

Complicated gambles

Dr Newall, of Stirling Management School, said: “Live-odds TV gambling adverts that promote betting on specific, complex gambles during sporting events are becoming increasingly prominent in the UK. These types of bets are attractive to gamblers due to the high potential win: however, due to the vast number of potential outcomes, they are very difficult to rationally quantify and forecast and result in significant average losses.”

Complex gambles were advertised most often and had the highest bookmaker profit margins. The study found that as the complexity of the bet increased, football fans’ optimism about their chances also grew, yet the odds became less fair.

During the two-month window, only a minority of adverts were based on simpler events, such as “Manchester City to win”, that participants are more likely to correctly identify.

Dr Newall added: “It seems football fans are rarely able to rationalise the likelihood of a win for the complex events that now dominate gambling advertising in the UK. Everyone, from die-hard football fans to novice gamblers, struggled to estimate the outcome of live-odd bets and may be underestimating the cost of these gambles.”

Big business

The gambling industry has spent £500 million on advertising since 2012 and takes in more than £13.6 billion a year from the public.

Dr Newall said: “Bookmaker profit margins on advertised bets are much higher than the average losses on the likes of fixed-odds betting terminals. At a minimum, an industry committed to promoting responsible gambling should disclose the average profit margin with all advertised football bets. Providing people with this information could help them become more sensitive to the risks of costly complex gambles.”

Adrian Parkinson from Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "The betting industry has, for some time, been developing these bet types with a particular focus on attracting the young, football supporting demographic. They are creating the illusion of an easy big win, based on something the consumer feels knowledgeable about, but the reality that is tied up in these complex bet structures means you're odds of winning are negligible. It's manipulation of consumers and it's time bookmakers came clean on the real value of these bets."

This research was funded by the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics and supported by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Gambling adverts on TV ‘mislead’ football fans Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:31:00 +0000 Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, University of Stirling researchers have found.

An analysis, published in the journal Ecology Letters, suggests that forests are at risk globally from the increased frequency and severity of droughts.

Global problem

The study found a similar response in trees across the world, where death increases consistently with increases in drought severity.

Dr Sarah Greenwood, Postdoctoral Researcher in Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: “We can see that the death of trees caused by drought is consistent across different environments around the world. So, a thirsty tree growing in a tropical forest and one in a temperate forest, such as those we find throughout Europe, will have largely the same response to drought and will inevitably suffer as a result of rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns on Earth.”

The biological and environmental scientists did find specific, varying features in different tree types can alter their resistance to drought. Species with denser wood and smaller, thicker leaves tend to fare better during prolonged, unusually-dry periods.

Climate change

Stirling co-author and Professor of Ecology, Alastair Jump, said: “By pinpointing specific traits in trees that determine how at risk they are from drought, we can better understand global patterns of tree mortality and how the world’s forests are reacting to rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.

“As the temperature of the planet continues to climb, mass tree mortality will hit more forests than ever before. Forests store a substantial amount of the world’s carbon and increased tree death will only propel future global warming.

“This has very significant implications for fully understanding the impact of climate change on our planet.”

The study was supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

Forests worldwide threatened by drought Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:50:00 +0000 The burial site of James I of Scotland – brutally murdered 580 years ago today – is set to be explored in a project led by a University of Stirling archaeologist.

Professor Richard Oram, Dean of Stirling’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and colleagues will attempt to locate the city of Perth’s ‘Charterhouse’, a monastery of Carthusian monks commissioned by James I as a showcase and future mausoleum for his dynasty. 

James I was killed, on 21 February 1437, by Sir Robert Graham, an acolyte of the Earl of Atholl, in a bloody struggle for the Scottish throne. The monarch and his wife Joan were both buried in the ‘Charterhouse’.

Today, 21 February 2017, experts in archaeology, Scottish history and 3d visualisation from the University of Stirling, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), and the School of Simulation and Visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art, announced a joint venture that seeks to locate the Charterhouse site – and the tombs within it – and recreate it as a virtual museum for the 21st century.


Project lead Professor Oram said: “Stirling are global leaders in the area of cultural heritage: committed to sharing our knowledge with the world, we’re proud to play a central role in this partnership.

“Perth’s Charterhouse was unique in Scotland. James built it to be the spiritual focus of his dynasty and poured huge sums of money into it to create a splendid setting for his tomb.

“Medieval descriptions speak of the magnificence of the church, but nothing of it remains above ground to be seen today – the whole monastery was plundered and demolished at the Reformation.

“Working with our archaeology colleagues and the wider community in Perth, we aim to locate the Charterhouse buildings and recover as much of their plan as possible to allow us to ‘build’ a virtual reconstruction of the complex and restore the jewel in the crown of the city’s lost medieval heritage. Unearthing this almost forgotten building will transform understanding of Perth’s place in James I’s ambitions: locating the royal tombs within the church would be the icing on the cake.”

Dr Lucy Dean, the newest member of the Centre for History team at UHI and co-investigator on the project, added:  “In the early fifteenth century, Perth was at the geographical heart of the country, a few miles from the inaugural site of Scottish kings, and the setting for parliaments, exchequers, church courts, royal ceremonial, and a bustling hub for trade in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. The murder of James I was a pivotal moment that saw a rapid end to Perth’s status.

“The Charterhouse Project will allow the local, national and world communities the opportunity to discover and re-discover the fascinating history of this lost capital through innovative research and delivery methods. Moreover, both the research and the products it will produce will offer innovative educational tools and involvement for all levels from primary to high education and beyond.”

Project lead at the Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation, Paul Wilson, said: “The Charterhouse Project offers the opportunity to use state of the art 3D visualisation techniques to bring this exciting period of history to life, and to create a vivid sensory experience of James I’s burial place in 360 / 3D Super High definition which would be accessible across a range of different platforms and devices.”

Public engagement

The public will have a chance to learn more about the project on Saturday 25 February 2017 through a digital presentation at Perth Museum and Gallery (10am – 12 noon). A walking tour of the city (12.30pm -2pm) will offer the opportunity to hear about King James I’s dreams to make Perth the capital of Scotland, how these were violently ended in 1437, and how archaeological and historical research are helping to tell the story.

The team will work closely with Perth and Kinross Council and local groups (including Culture Perth and Kinross, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, Alder Archaeology, and Perth Society of Natural Sciences) as the project is developed.

This partnership announcement comes after Stirling recently launched an ambitious new educational partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Forth Valley College (FVC), which will promote and develop expertise in managing Scotland’s heritage assets, as well as providing new training opportunities from apprenticeships to postgraduate level qualifications.

Forgotten Scots royal burial site to be explored by Stirling academic Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:09:00 +0000 How funds for current EU-based policies should be transferred to the nation’s devolved governments post-Brexit has been considered by leading University of Stirling economist, Professor David Bell, in a parliamentary report.

The report, Brexit, EU Area-based Policies, and the Devolved Governments, highlights that more than 80 per cent of the money received by the UK from the EU in 2015, excluding rebates, was allocated to policy areas controlled by the devolved governments. However, their role in the distribution of these funds post-Brexit, is yet to be determined.

Devolved governments

Professor Bell of Stirling Management School, said: “Since the EU referendum, the post-Brexit future for agricultural, regional and rural policies in the UK has been hotly debated, but the role of the devolved governments in relation to these policies has been largely overlooked.

“Even if the UK government decides to continue with area-based policies, important decisions must be made about the allocation of responsibility for their design, administration and evaluation. Repatriating the policies to the UK will pose many political and economic challenges.”

Crucial negotiations

As the UK government begins negotiations with the EU on a number of areas that could dismantle or redesign exciting policies linked to specific locations within the UK, Professor Bell outlines three possible approaches to the funding distribution.

He suggests government officials consider adopting the Barnett formula to allocate the funding or look to create a new set of objective statistical measures, agreed by the four constituent nations, to determine a base allocation.

Another possibility is to agree a shared level of support for policies based in the devolved nations and then transfer an equivalent amount of tax revenues to those governments.

Disrupted relationships

Professor Bell said: “Using the Barnett formula would be a fairly straight-forward option, however, if agriculture and regional spending is cut back in England by the UK government, the devolved governments would come under pressure to follow suit.

“Coming up with new criteria for base allocations is an objective and transparent technique and might achieve better economic and social outcomes for the UK as a whole, however, it would be inconsistent with other funding allocation arrangements.

“The idea to transfer equivalent tax revenues would give devolved governments a greater deal of autonomy, but budgets would not be ring fenced and could become threatened by governments’ other priorities.”

The report concludes that conflicts around funding decisions post-Brexit have the potential to disrupt the relationship between different levels of government within the UK and should not be underestimated.

Government urged to consider allocations of regional funds post-Brexit Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:47:00 +0000 The University of Stirling’s Chancellor Dr James Naughtie – and Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac – have been elected to become Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Also elected to become RSE Fellows were Professor Ronan O’Carroll, of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as alumni Sir Paul Grice, Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament, and Cairn Energy founder Sir Bill Gammell.

International recognition

Professor McCormac said: “I am very pleased to receive this recognition from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, both from a personal perspective and on behalf of my University of Stirling colleagues also honoured today.

“This is a tremendous accolade from an internationally-renowned organisation, validating our commitment to deliver real benefits to the local, national and international communities we serve.”

Extensive achievements

New Fellows are elected each year through a rigorous five-stage nomination process. The five members of the Stirling community were among a total of 59 people named as having been elected to become RSE members.

President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, said: “Each newly elected Fellow has been nominated on their exceptional and extensive achievements; it is a great honour to welcome such a range of outstanding individuals to the Fellowship.

“In joining the RSE Fellowship, they will strengthen the Society’s capacity to advance excellence across all areas of public life in Scotland and further afield.”

The RSE aims to support ‘the advancement of learning and useful knowledge in Scottish public life’.

Five-star Stirling success in top Fellowship Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:18:00 +0000 Developing dementia-friendly communities in Scotland and Japan will be the focus of an international partnership involving the University of Stirling.

Academics from the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) will work with the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital and Institute of Gerontology (TMGHIG) to share expertise in supporting older people, and to promote inclusive and personalised approaches to dementia care.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Professor John Gardner, Senior Deputy Principal of the University, and by Dr Hideki Ito, CEO of TMGHIG at a ceremony in Tokyo.

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, attended the signing ceremony, and delivered a keynote speech at the Japan-Scotland Dementia Seminar, co-ordinated by Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Government.

Ms Hyslop said: “Dementia touches all our lives either directly or through our family and friends, and it is crucial that we look to meet the needs of people living with dementia, or are newly diagnosed with the condition.

“In Scotland, we continue to take a whole-system approach to improving services – it is really important that people are not discriminated against or disempowered because of the progress of their illness or their particular care circumstances.

“And here in Japan, I have been heartened to learn about the pioneering work being undertaken on dementia-friendly communities and discover we share some similar approaches.”

Dr Louise McCabe, Senior Lecturer from the University’s DSDC, also attended the ceremony, alongside Dr Shuichi Awata, Team Leader of TMGHIG, and Tomofumi Tanno, of the Orange Door – a support contact for dementia patients and their families in Japan.

Scotland and Japan are remodelling their approach to care of older people due to ageing populations, with a particular emphasis on dementia.

Stirling’s Dr McCabe said: “By creating dementia-friendly communities and promoting social citizenship for people with dementia and their families, we aim to establish a society where people with dementia are supported to make choices about their own lives and to live well with dementia.

“Our research has helped improve the lives of people with dementia and their families in Scotland and beyond, for many years. Japan has one of the most rapidly-ageing societies in the world and there’s lots to learn from one another.

“We share an important common vision to support people with dementia and their families to achieve a good quality of life and look forward to working together to take strides forward in this area.”

Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, added: “The Faculty is delighted to be working with TMGHIG to take forward research-informed improvements for people with dementia and their families on an international scale.”

Five million people in Japan live with some form of dementia and this is expected to rise to seven million by 2025. Prevalence in Scotland is estimated at up to 90,000, with around 45,000 people having a formal diagnosis.

Partnership in Japan to enhance dementia care Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:29:00 +0000 University of Stirling student Bobby Lambie has won a gold medal at the 2017 World University Winter Games as part of the Team GB’s men’s curling team.

The Sport and Exercise Science undergraduate student kept his cool and helped the British boys defeat Sweden by 8 points to 6, making it 11 wins in a row for the group since the competition, held in Kazakhstan, got underway last week.

Bobby, who is an International Sports Scholarship student at Stirling, is also supported by the national scholarship programme, Winning Students. The backing allows him to balance training and competition at the highest level with study for a University degree.

Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University, said: “Bobby and the rest of the British men’s curling team deserve to be applauded for their outstanding performance at the 2017 World University Winter Games. Their unblemished score sheet indicates the level of talent in the sport at the moment.

“At Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence we support students who want to compete at the highest level in a number of sports. Curling is no different and we are now working with our partners in the sport to support curling athletes for the first time. With plans for a new National Curling Centre in Stirling underway, we believe we are best-placed to support young athletes looking to progress in the sport.”

Team GBR Chef de Mission, Neil Rogers added: “It’s an amazing achievement by Bruce, Derrick, Bobby, Gregor and Alasdair, and follows a rich tradition of GB curling success at the Universiade – we are all immensely proud of our new World Champions!”

Stirling was also represented at the Winter University Games by postgraduate student Rachel Hannen, who competed in the women’s curling team. The team finished fifth after narrowly missing a place in the semi-finals. The students were joined Students’ Union sports development coordinator Christopher Purdie who attended as part of the Team GB official delegation.

2,000 student-athletes from 55 countries competed across 12 sporting disciplines at this year’s World University Winter Games.

Stirling student freezes out competition at World University Games Tue, 07 Feb 2017 16:14:00 +0000 Women experiencing mental health difficulties directly before and after giving birth could benefit from a charity’s befriending service, a University of Stirling report has revealed.

The finding emerged from health and social science researchers’ independent evaluation of Aberlour Child Care Trust’s Perinatal Befriending Support Service, which launched in 2015. The Service helps new mothers with mental health issues who are at risk of becoming socially isolated immediately before and after giving birth.

The report, Aberlour Perinatal Befriending Support Service: An Evaluation of the Pilot Delivery, shows the Service enhances mothers’ wellbeing and confidence, has a positive effect on alleviating anxiety and depression, and boosts their self-belief, confidence and attachment to their children.

Helen Cheyne, Professor of Midwifery in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “It’s estimated that 30% of women are affected by mental health issues directly before and after birth, which can have long-term impacts for new mothers and their children.

“Previously, gaps had been identified in the provision of perinatal mental health services and support during this crucial period. Third sector organisations have a vital role in developing innovative services that often fill these gaps as well as breaking down stigma and social isolation.  Our assessment of Aberlour’s scheme confirms the difference a buddying-style service can make to women’s wellbeing.”

Aberlour volunteers are trained to provide befriending support and matched with a woman who has been referred to the charity or chosen to take part in the scheme. Volunteers spend up to three hours a week with the family, from just before pregnancy until the child reaches its first birthday.

Describing her experiences with a Service befriender, one woman said: “I think she’s made me more resolved to not just be mum, you know.

“I think so many women fall into that trap that they just become mum. They forget who they are as an individual and what their previous life was before – because you do mourn your previous life, I think, to a great extent.

“I don’t think a lot of women talk about that and they need to talk about it.”

The experts found women who engaged with the charity were less likely to require access more intensive support services.

The researchers also emphasised that finding a good fit between volunteers and families was crucial to the Service’s success.

Co-author Professor Brigid Daniel from the University’s Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, added: “In our experience, personal contacts and building relationships are central to the success of initiatives that support mothers, infants and families.  The Aberlour befriending service is a perfect example of how this has worked in practice.”

SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive of Aberlour Child Care Trust, said about the service: “Pregnancy and the birth of a baby is exciting but exhausting and no new parent can feel completely in control in a whirlwind of sleepless nights and new worries. For many parents, however, that exhilarating joy of bringing a new life into the world can be submerged in a terrible flood of anxiety, stress and depression.

“At Aberlour, we work to find and help Scotland's hidden children, and their parents. For those parents supported by this service, sometimes they just need a friend. A friend who can listen without judging, who can help without interfering; who can be there when you need them. Our volunteers on the Perinatal Befriending Support scheme are those kind of friends. Vulnerable parents trying to cope with pregnancy and a new baby up and down the country need friends like that.”

Aberlour Child Care Trust now hope the scheme, which launched in the Falkirk Council area, can be rolled out to help mothers across Scotland.

Befrienders could boost new mothers’ mental health Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:15:00 +0000 Athletes from the University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme (ISSP) were recognised this week at a special reception to acknowledge their achievements and role at the heart of the university’s sport community. 

As part of the event, former world duathlon champion, and Stirling alumna, Catriona Morrison, addressed the athletes, commending them on securing scholarships for the current academic year and sharing stories from her own experiences as a sport scholar at the University.

The ISSP, which provided its first scholarship in 1981, focuses on supporting talented sportspeople in their pursuit of academic attainment alongside high performance sport. There are currently 89 scholar athletes in the programme competing in triathlon, golf, swimming, tennis, curling and football,  producing regular international and domestic success, including medals at last summer’s Rio Olympics

Speaking at the event, Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling said: “The International Sports Scholarship Programme is one of our flagship initiatives and, as the first of its kind in Scotland, something we are immensely proud of. For over 30 years we have been developing the programme, ensuring its philosophy delivers maximum impact and the results today are as strong as ever.

“As well as acknowledging their important role at the University, today is an opportunity to celebrate the students’ ongoing achievements and I have no doubt that listening to Catriona’s experiences will inspire them to even greater heights.”

Catriona Morrison added: “Student athletes have a unique challenge in trying to combine studies with training and competing at the highest level of their respective sports.

“Having benefited from the University’s scholarship programme, I know that it ranks highly in the UK Higher Education sector, providing important academic flexibility alongside professional, high quality support for sport.

“Seeing the athletes today reminds me of the positive experience I had whilst at Stirling and I hope they continue to make the most of their time here.”

The University of Stirling was the first university in Scotland, and the second in Britain, to offer sport scholarships which combine academic flexibility with elite level sport support. Established in 1981, the International Sports Scholarship Programme has assisted more than 1000 students, and invested over £4 million in the development of athletes.

Sport scholars inspired for 2017 Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:15:00 +0000’s-expertise/ Scotland’s £2.4billion heritage sector is set to benefit from an ambitious new educational partnership which will promote and develop expertise in managing Scotland’s heritage assets, as well as providing new training opportunities from apprenticeships to postgraduate level qualifications.

Launched at Stirling Castle, Historic Environment Scotland, the University of Stirling and Forth Valley College have today – Thursday 19 January – announced the innovative partnership model for collaboration; the first of its kind with a cultural heritage focus at an international level.

Providing a framework to develop, accredit and award qualifications for education and vocational training programmes, the partnership will look to the international market as an opportunity for Scotland’s heritage sector to lead the industry and foster new economic activity. As well as helping to drive collaborative research projects, it’s hoped the partnership could realise direct benefits for the sector, such as innovative new solutions and practices for addressing challenges, including those brought by a changing environment and climate.

A series of conferences and events will showcase best practice and help to engage people with international cultural heritage and its conservation and management.

Newly developed post graduate level and shorter-term courses will run alongside apprenticeships and a number of other skills training opportunities. These new courses are due to be developed and rolled out over the next year at partners’ campuses and sites, including the Engine Shed – Historic Environment Scotland’s multi-million pound, work in progress, building conservation hub in Stirling.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Collaboration is core to our work as the lead body for the historic environment and this unique alliance marks an exciting time for us and the wider sector.

“Whilst we have long benefited from working with key industry partners, this new model for collaboration will help develop and foster innovative solutions and increase knowledge and learning within the cultural heritage sector. Our shared ambition for this partnership is to capitalise on Scotland’s expertise in this field to help stimulate and drive new economic activity within the heritage sector at an international level.

“This enterprise will bring together a wealth of skills and expertise with education, research and training, reinforcing Scotland’s reputation for leading the way in conservation excellence.”

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “As an innovative, international University – committed to sharing our knowledge with the world – we are proud to play a central role in this partnership.

“Stirling are global leaders in the area of cultural heritage, and our expertise will help ensure this collaboration has a transformational impact in identifying and addressing world-wide challenges in heritage conservation.

“We are also pleased this partnership will provide alternative pathways into education, from apprenticeship to Masters level, providing students with opportunities to reach their full potential and equipping them with skills to succeed in the modern world.”

Dr Ken Thomson, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “We’re delighted to formally commit to a long term partnership with the University of Stirling and Historic Environment Scotland.  This agreement is a natural progression of ongoing collaborative work that we are already successfully undertaking with both organisations.  By working together, we can contribute significantly to the future success of Scotland’s heritage and conservation sector through innovative education and training programmes, events and joint projects.      

“We hope to benefit the partnership by bringing extensive expertise and experience in regards to vocational and bespoke training at all points in the skills pipeline in order to deliver solutions which respond to the needs of individuals, employers and the wider sector.”  


Partnership primed to capitalise on Scotland’s cultural expertise Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:09:00 +0000’s-expertise/name-145161-en.html The University of Stirling is top in Scotland for welcoming international students, according to a survey published today.

The International Student Barometer (ISB) Autumn 2016 also revealed overall satisfaction among overseas students at Stirling is the 3rd-highest in Scotland, among the participating universities. The survey showed more than 92 per cent of surveyed overseas students at Stirling were satisfied with their overall experience, placing the University above Scottish, UK and international averages.

Professor Leigh Sparks, Deputy Principal for Internationalisation and Graduate Studies, said: “As a global University, with internationalisation at its heart, our overseas students are valued members of the University community who contribute immeasurably to campus life.”

The ISB also found the University made an exceptional first impression with students – and was placed 1st in Scotland and 7th in UK among universities taking part in the ‘Arrival’ category, scoring highly in a number of areas, including registration, meeting staff and social activities.

The University was 1st in Scotland and the UK for campus environment and 1st in Scotland for good teachers, quality lecturers and performance feedback among universities that participated in the review.

The facilities on offer at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence also impressed the international student population. Stirling was placed 1st in Scotland and 2nd in the UK in the ISB for sports facilities.

The University’s international student population continues to thrive, with students from overseas making up 20 per cent of Stirling’s 12,000-strong student body. The ISB questioned more than 159,000 students across 182 institutions in 15 different countries.

Professor Sparks added: “The International Student Barometer results are extremely encouraging and show high levels of satisfaction among these students. In particular, overseas students receive a warm and reassuring welcome when they arrive at the University and enjoy high-quality teaching throughout their studies.”

The ISB tracks and compares the decision-making, expectations, perceptions and intentions of international students from application to the University, up to graduation.

Stirling top in Scotland for welcoming international students Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:00:00 +0000 Time-poor people who do fewer repetitions during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts may get better fitness benefits than those who complete more, according to a University of Stirling analysis.

Experts from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence have reviewed existing studies that investigate the benefits of regularly performing repetitions of a special type of high-intensity cycle sprint known as ‘supramaximal’. They found doing fewer repetitions of these sprint intervals on a bike may lead to greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness.

Dr Niels Vollaard, Lecturer in Health and Exercise Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “Lack of time is frequently cited as one of the main barriers to people becoming or staying physically active. High-intensity workouts have begun to tackle this problem, allowing people to get maximum health benefits while working out for a shorter time.

“We found improved cardiorespiratory fitness does not suffer when people complete fewer sprint repetitions and that this may even produce better results. The optimal number of repetitions appears to be just two, so workouts based on supramaximal sprints can be kept very short without compromising on the results.”

The findings of this research are only applicable to ‘supramaximal’ exercise, which requires specialised exercise bikes that enable very high exercise intensities. Whether HIIT workouts at lower intensities also benefit from a low number of sprint repetitions is not yet known.

Previously, it has been assumed that performing more repetitions of high-intensity exercise will produce greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness.

In this analysis, published in the leading journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, scientists found that after performing two maximal sprints, each additional sprint in a training session reduced the overall improvement in fitness by around 5% on average.

Dr Vollaard added: “For the first time, we have evidence to suggest an indicator of fitness levels is improved more by doing fewer repetitions of high-intensity exercise. We are currently performing studies to investigate the physiological mechanisms that may explain this unexpected finding.

“To encourage more people to become active and help increase the health of the population, we need to investigate the optimal duration and number of sprint intervals people could undertake on a bike, while getting the same benefits as longer sessions.”

Fitness levels were measured by VO2max, the maximal amount of oxygen the body is capable of utilising in one minute, which is accepted as one of the best indicators of future health and risk of premature death. However, studying other indicators of health and fitness, including blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, will give a fuller picture of how the body responds to different types of HIIT workouts.

Workouts with fewer reps could yield better results Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:18:00 +0000 Renting rather than owning a home may not be as expensive as many people think, according to financial research from the University of Stirling.

The prospect of no longer having to pay rent, known as imputed rent, is often cited as a major incentive to owning a home. However, financial researcher Dr Isaac Tabner has argued that many buyers overlook costs included in their rent, such as building insurance and property maintenance.

He believes a failure to properly account for these outgoings can cause householders to overestimate the financial benefits of owning versus renting.

Dr Tabner said: “Individual circumstances and market conditions play a big part in determining whether it is smarter to rent or buy, but this research should help households, financial planners and policy-makers make an informed choice.”

The new research, published in International Review of Financial Analysis, provides a step-by-step explanation of how households can objectively compare the costs of renting versus buying a home, while taking their own personal circumstances and macro-economic conditions into account.

In reviewing transaction costs, imputed rental yields, opportunity costs, inflation and the length of time owning a home, the study also shows that – during periods of deflation or zero inflation – people who rent are financially better-off than those who own their home.

Even when economic conditions are favourable, households may need to own their home for between five and 10 years before returns from the rent they are no longer paying are sufficient to compensate for the high transaction costs of buying. However, increases in inflation and imputed rent, tip the balance in favour of ownership.

Stirling’s Dr Isaac Tabner, Senior Lecturer in Finance and Director of the MSc in Finance, said: “It is often thought that buying a house makes more financial sense in the long run: however, renting is frequently more worthwhile than buying for financially-constrained households, as well as households likely to relocate within 10 years.

“As well as a reduced ability to recover transaction costs, households relocating within a few years face a higher risk that medium-term prices will move against them, thus reducing or eliminating their equity, while financially-constrained households face much higher mortgage costs.”

The research charts how deflation, or rising interest rates without a corresponding increase in wages, has the potential to impact negatively on homeowners.

The study shows that, for someone purchasing a home with no mortgage, deflation of just 1% per year can result in an equivalent loss of half the present purchase value of their home if they hold it for 45 years. By contrast, inflation – including wages – of 2% per year, results in the same individual gaining 50% of the present purchase value of their home if held for around 28 years.

Japan and, more recently, some Eurozone countries have experienced prolonged periods of deflation. Despite efforts to keep inflation positive, actual realised inflation has been consistently below the Bank of England’s median inflation forecasts since the second quarter of 2013.

Benefits of renting a home may be underrated Thu, 12 Jan 2017 09:09:00 +0000 Education leaders gathered at the University of Stirling to showcase the Scotland-wide Making the Most of Masters (MMM) programme which uses work placements as an alternative to traditional academic Masters dissertations.

Delegates were joined by keynote speaker Professor Sue Rigby, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Lincoln to hear more about the innovative scheme which has now created work-based projects for almost 1,500 students from nine Scottish universities since its launch in 2011.

Rosemary Allford, MMM Project Manager at the University of Stirling, said: “Employers are increasingly looking for postgraduate students that have experience applying research in the real world. We want to support skilled postgraduates to contribute directly to research and enterprise in Scotland’s economy.

“Strong university-industry partnerships will help us take new and innovative steps in Masters provision in Scotland. This event is to celebrate our success to date and encourage more employers in Scotland to use postgraduate students’ research skills to add value to their business.”

Supported by Scottish Funding Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the programme works with employers across a number of economic sectors.

One University of Stirling student was supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to complete his Masters in Law in Corporate Social Responsibility through the programme.

Bastian Roos worked for a fish-processing company in the North of Scotland. After experiencing significant growth, they were looking for feedback on human rights compliance and potential avenues for future Corporate Social Responsibility activities.

The company facilitated Bastian’s interviews with workers and he gained insight in current human resource and supply chain management challenges and processes. These formed the basis of the student’s Masters dissertation project.

Bastian said: “It was very insightful to see how companies manage human rights in their daily operations and supply chains. I had first-hand experience of observing the need for effective communication so that the language of academia and business can work together to progress this important area. I feel that this work related project will help me in the articulation of my skills as I progress my future career.”

The event included presentations from Professor Rigby and the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) alongside a series of workshops to help push the initiative forward.

Practical postgraduate education takes centre stage in Stirling Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:26:00 +0000 The traditional Christmas dinner might be at risk from major threats to food from climate change and population growth, argues a Stirling academic.

Writing in The Conversation, Professor Rachel Norman, Chair of Aquatic Food Security at the University of Stirling, points out that political uncertainty is a risk to people’s food security. Due to the uncertainties of Brexit, one estimate is that Christmas dinner will cost 14% more than last year – and that’s before the UK actually withdraws from the EU. 

Professor Rachel Norman, said: “Climate change and more intensive farming are causing new and emerging diseases. Prawn and shrimp production, which since the early 1990s has been under attack from white spot syndrome virus, probably due to more intensive farming. Worth considering as you tuck into your smoked salmon or prawn cocktail starter on December 25.”

“Turkeys are under threat from bird flu, farmers have been told to keep them indoors to protect them. This meant some turkeys would technically fail the requirements for free-range status by spending too long in barns.”

She added: “Although our Christmas dinner is probably safe for this year, the issues we are encountering may well be a sign of more serious things to come and we need to start finding some solutions.”

Read the full article on The Conversation.

Is your Christmas dinner at risk? Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:13:00 +0000