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’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 Why does sex exist when organisms that clone themselves use less time and energy, and do not need a mate to produce offspring? Researchers at the University of Stirling aiming to answer this age-old question have discovered that sex can help the next generation resist infection.

Populations that clone themselves are entirely female and do not need sex to reproduce. As sex requires males, and males do not produce offspring themselves, an entirely clonal population should always reproduce faster than a sexual one.

Yet while some animal and plant species can reproduce without sex, such as komodo dragons, starfish and bananas, sex is still the dominant mode of reproduction in the natural world.

Scientists know that sex allows genes to mix, allowing populations to quickly evolve and adapt to changing environments, including rapidly evolving parasites.

However, for sex to beat cloning as a reproduction strategy, there must be large-scale benefits that make a difference to the next generation. The theory has been difficulty to test as most organisms are either wholly sexual or clonal so cannot be compared easily.

A team of experts from the University of Stirling have taken an innovative approach to test the costs and benefits of sex. Using an organism that can reproduce both ways, the waterflea, researchers found sexually produced offspring were more than twice as resistant to infectious disease as their clonal sisters.

Dr Stuart Auld of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: “One of the oldest questions in evolutionary biology is, why does sex exist when it uses up so much time and energy?

“Sex explains the presence of the peacock’s tail, the stag’s antlers and the male bird of paradise’s elaborate dance. But if a female of any of these species produced offspring on her own, without sex, her offspring should come to dominate, while the other females watch the redundant males fighting and dancing. So, why are we not surrounded by clonal organisms?

“By comparing clonal and sexual daughters from the same mothers, we found sexually produced offspring get less sick than offspring that were produced clonally. The ever-present need to evade disease can explain why sex persists in the natural world in spite of the costs.”

The waterfleas and their parasites were collected from the wild. Sexual and clonally produced daughters were harvested from the wild waterfleas and these offspring were exposed to the parasites under controlled laboratory conditions. The research is published in Royal Society Proceedings B.

Scientists show sex evolved to help future generations fight infection Wed, 21 Dec 2016 09:10:00 +0000 The Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE) recently published a paper on the implications of Brexit for environmental law in Scotland.  

The paper, co-coordinated by Dr Annalisa Savaresi, Lecturer in Environmental Law at the University of Stirling, and produced by researchers at universities across Scotland, maps the possible implications of Brexit for environmental protection in Scotland, identifying core questions, as well as solutions that may be adopted, with the objective of initiating a conversation about this complex issue.

The report identifies a series of challenges associated with Brexit, including the loss of the stable regulatory framework provided by EU law, the potential loss of access to EU funds and programmes, and the repositioning of the UK and Scotland in international and regional environmental governance cooperation. The question of the allocation of environmental powers repatriated after Brexit between the UK and Scottish Governments is also raised – and is one which will require serious discussion between central and devolved governments across the UK.

The research also suggests some solutions that may be adopted to address these challenges, most importantly the possibility for Scotland to seek further devolved powers, including the capacity to conclude international agreements on matters within its competence, and of staying engaged with various regional and EU networks and institutions working on issues such as energy, fisheries and environmental law enforcement.

One of the report’s authors, Dr Annalisa Savaresi from the University of Stirling, argued that Brexit meant the loss of the stable regulatory framework provided by EU law.

She said: “Following withdrawal from the EU, existing regulatory and policy differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK may sharpen.

“Whether EU powers will, by default, go to the Scottish Parliament and other devolved administrations, or will be re-reserved to Westminster is yet to be seen. The latter question is likely to require discussion between central and devolved governments across the UK.”

The paper was informally discussed with members of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament and will be further discussed at a public meeting to be held in January 2017. 


New report unveils possible impact of Brexit on the Scottish environment Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:16:00 +0000 The first book to take an academic perspective on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers,co-edited by Dr Peter Matthews, University of Stirling, Cara Courage and Nicola Headlam, University of Oxford, has been published.

The Archers in fact and fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire, brings together 13 essays from various academic disciplines that use life in Ambridge and characters from The Archers to illuminate research findings for a general audience and comes from the popular Academic Archers Conference held in February this year. Each chapter is based on one of the conference papers, reaching across academic disciplines and topics from analyses of rural accents and archelogy, through to back pain and the mechanics of the tractor, a Shakespearian understanding of character Rob Titchener, and issues of social care and class. In a twist to the academic peer review, each chapter closes with a peer review from the character that is its focus or that is closest to the topic.

Dr Peter Matthews, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Stirling, said: “The response from Archer’s listeners has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re looking forward to feedback on this book and to the next conference.”

Dr Cara Courage from the University of Oxford, said: “It’s been a joy to work on this book and thank you to everyone that has been a part of it. We are doing this out of a love for the programme, and of our subjects, the day intended to join the two to illuminate and explain life in Ambridge and using the programme to talk about wider social issues too.”

Nicola Headlam from the University of Oxford, said: “We always knew that there were a lot of Archers fans out there in academia, Academic Archers has formed a place for us and all fans of the programme to talk about the issues it raises in more depth.”

The book is available now for pre-order from John Smith, the University Bookseller, and Dr Matthews will be hosting a reading and Q&A session on Monday 9 January at the bookshop, including listening to the 2pm broadcast of the Archers. To sign up to the event please click here. The book is also available for pre-sale and as an e-book here.  

The second Academic Archers Conference is being held at the University of Lincoln, 17 to 18 February 2017, and will feature presentations and a field trip. Speakers will be announced in December with tickets on sale soon after.


Stirling lecturer publishes academic Archers book Tue, 13 Dec 2016 11:41:00 +0000 Bumblebees' ability to produce the buzzing – or vibration – that enables them to pollinate key commercial food crops may be harmed by the controversial pesticides neonicotinoids, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

The preliminary findings of the study – which examined a type of pollination unique to bees known as 'buzz pollination' – will be presented at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting in Liverpool this week.

In standard forms of pollination, bees collect pollen by simply brushing it off plants' anthers. But buzz pollinated plants – including crops such as tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines – guard their pollen inside the anther and release it through small pores in the tip.

According to Dr Penelope Whitehorn of the University of Stirling, who led the study: “Bees produce a vibration – or buzz – to shake pollen out of the anther like a pepper pot.

“The bee lands on a flower, curls her body around the anther and grips the base with her mandibles. She then rapidly contracts the flight muscles to produce the vibration, without beating her wings.”

Because buzz pollination requires a complex set of behaviours, Dr Whitehorn wanted to find out whether it was affected by neonicotinoids.

She split a bumblebee colony into three groups of workers and fed them different field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam.

She then measured how much pollen these bees collected from buffalo-bur flowers Solanum rostratum in the lab, and recorded their buzzes to analyse the acoustic properties.

The results reveal that learning is key to buzz pollination, and that the more bumblebees practice, the more pollen they collect over time. The study also showed that bumblebees fed field-relevant doses of thiamethoxam did not collect more pollen over time, suggesting the insecticide was affecting their ability to learn.

“The study adds to the now large body of evidence from lab and field-based studies that neonicotinoids reduce learning and memory in bees, impair their communication, foraging efficiency and immune systems and, crucially, reduce their reproductive success as well as the pollination services that they can provide.

“These chemicals do have serious implications for wild bee populations in agricultural landscapes but some, notably from the agrochemical industry, still promote their use,” Dr Whitehorn warns.

In 2013, the EU issued a moratorium limiting use of three neonicotinoids on crops attractive to bees. This moratorium is still in place and is currently under review by the European Food Standard Agency, which will be concluded in early 2017.

Dr Penelope Whitehorn will present her findings at the British Ecological Society annual meeting at the ACC, Liverpool on Tuesday 13 December 2016. 

Pesticides are damaging bumblebees’ vibes Tue, 13 Dec 2016 09:07:00 +0000 It was a record-breaking week for University of Stirling swimmers competing at Short Course competitions in both Canada and Scotland.

Charlie Boldison, Ross Murdoch, Dan Wallace and Kathleen Dawson all made the trip to the FINA World Championships in Windsor to compete in the faster waters of the 25m pool.

In one of the first international race opportunities of the Tokyo 2020 cycle, 19-year-old Kathleen finished fifth in her first global final in the 100m backstroke and took Scottish records across the championships.

Kirkcaldy-born Kathleen now holds Scotland’s national records across the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke events for both long course and short course.

In the final event of the six-day championships, Charlie Boldison and Ross Murdoch swam with Adam Barrett and Stephen Milne in the 4x100m medley relay, finishing fifth.

Closer to home, more than 20 Stirling swimmers competed at the Scottish National Short Course Swimming Championships in Edinburgh.

The team took 15 national champion titles and broke six records in the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

19-year-old Duncan continued his winning form, taking the 200m freestyle in 1:42:47, breaking Robbie Renwick’s record which had stood since 2009. In the same race, team-mates Martyn Walton and Craig McLean won silver and bronze respectively.

Duncan, Martyn and Craig joined forces with Calum Bain for the 4x100m freestyle, breaking the Scottish Club Record in 3:12:10.

Duncan also broke the Scottish Record in the 200m individual medley final, improving on his heat time by over ten seconds. Again, it was a clean sweep on the podium for Stirling, with Martyn Walton picking up silver and Callum Lawrie the bronze. Duncan also won the 100m butterfly and 400m freestyle titles.

Speaking at the event, Duncan said: “These finals have been difficult to get into. I’ve been trying different things in the heats, lengthening my stroke a little. Everything seemed to come together correctly tonight and I was certainly happy with those times. Dropping ten seconds from the heats in my individual medley, I didn’t know I had that in the locker!"

Meanwhile, Cameron Brodie finished in silver in the 200m butterfly, piped by a tenth of a second by Duncan who grabbed another Scottish Record in the event.

Craig Benson also enjoyed tremendous success, completing a clean sweep of all three breaststroke titles. The final victory came in 2:05.07 in his Olympic event, the 200m.

Elsewhere, the squad picked up a raft of National Champion titles including Lauren Mills in the 50m butterfly, Calum Bain in the 50m freestyle, Martin Walton in the 100m individual medley and Callum Lawrie in the 400m individual medley.

There was success in the 4x50m freestyle relay for another Stirling quartet. Calum Bain, Martyn Walton, Jamie Graham and Duncan Scott broke the Scottish Club Record on their way to gold.

Martyn Walton, Craig Benson, Duncan Scott and Calum Bain also took gold and broke the National Club Record in the 4x50m medley.

World-beater Danielle Joyce also had an extraordinary week, breaking the Deaf World Records in 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke and 50m and 100m freestyle.

Ben Higson, Head High Performance Swim Coach at the University of Stirling, said: “It has been a fantastic week for University of Stirling swimming, with the athletes putting in some incredible performances in both Ontario and Edinburgh.

“It was great to see the team make so many new records in Edinburgh and at the World Championships. This stresses the diversity and depth we have in the squad, as well as the level of performance throughout the program as a whole. The work that Brad Hay is doing with the athletes in our second high performance squad is evident in these great results that round up a record year.”

Earlier this year, University of Stirling swimmers won a combined total of nine European medals and three Olympic silver medals.

Short course swimmers break records at Scottish and World Championships Mon, 12 Dec 2016 15:03:00 +0000 The University of Stirling is seeking support to make a historic archive chronicling a Scottish soldier-turned-activists’ support of independence in Southern Africa digitally accessible for the first time.

The Peter Mackay Archive contains a detailed account of the life of the late Scot who fought for black freedom in Rhodesia and the University is using crowdfunding for the first time to bring the collection to life.

Donated to the University in 2013 by the Mackay family, the archive is currently housed in more than 30 large crates and provides a comprehensive record of the man’s journalism, political activism, travel, photography and charity work.

Experts believe the collection is invaluable to maintaining a record of the struggle for freedom in a number of Southern African countries, including Zimbabwe and Malawi, and want to make it accessible around the world.

Karl Magee, Head Archivist at the University of Stirling, said: “The Peter Mackay Archive is of international importance and provides a comprehensive record of a remarkable life and the role one Scot played in the independence movement across Southern Africa from the 1950s.

“Mackay played a crucial role in the liberation of Zimbabwe but his stories have not yet been fully told. We want to make Mackay’s personal and political papers, and photography, accessible to scholars and students in Africa and open up one of the most important collections of its kind, to the rest of the world.”

The remarkable Scot died in Zimbabwe in 2013 and had close links to Stirling. His family lived locally in Doune and it was his wish that the University of Stirling became custodians of the unique archive.

Stuart Rennie, Fundraising Manager at the University, said: “The funds we raise will allow the University to catalogue all of the materials received and make them available in our archive reading room on campus and online.

“We will use crowdfunding for the first time to give anyone who wants to play a small part in preserving this important collection, the ability to pledge to the campaign and help make its restoration possible.”

Funders who donate £10 will receive exclusive updates and behind the scenes commentary from the University archivist; those who give £25 will receive an exclusive invitation to the exhibition launch; individuals who donate £100 will have their name inscribed on a catalogued box of the archive; while anyone who gives £250 will receive a limited edition framed photograph of their choice from the collection itself.

To help crowdfund the Peter Mackay Archive visit

Crowdfunding support sought for historic African archive Mon, 12 Dec 2016 09:14:00 +0000 Researchers undertaking Scotland’s first long-term study of the health, economic and social circumstances of people aged 50-plus are now seeking insight from individuals across Scotland.

Experts from the University of Stirling-led Healthy Ageing In Scotland (HAGIS) pilot study are now contacting 50-plus residents to take part in the vital survey.

The information the public provides will help to address questions such as how individuals plan for retirement and about the care given by, or provided to, our elderly population. The survey includes memory tasks and will also check if respondents’ understand key concepts that will help them plan their finances.

HAGIS Project Lead Dr Elaine Douglas, said: “This study will address some of the important economic, social and health problems faced by older people in Scotland. The data we gather is treated securely and confidentially. By linking the survey to health and social records, with individual consent, we will gather a much clearer picture of how Scotland’s elderly population can be better supported.

“I encourage anyone over the age of 50 who is approached about the survey to take part. Their contribution will help inform the design and implementation of policies and services affecting them now and in the future.”

This first phase of the study will seek information from 1,000 adults and will investigate the different stages at which people are willing to invest in their pension, healthcare and other outgoings that bring benefits later in life. Interviews will take place in people’s own home and will be carried out by trained interviewers from FACTS International.

The information will allow the researchers to understand why some people invest more in their future than others. This will help researchers and policy-makers to understand more about the ways in which people plan for their retirement and long-term security.

The study, jointly funded by the USA’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA) and the Nuffield Foundation, is part of Scotland’s contribution to international ageing research, with the ultimate aim of supporting a better quality of life for older people.

As part of the International Network of Ageing, HAGIS findings can be compared with findings from other ageing studies in the British Isles, Europe and around the world.

Stirling Economist and HAGIS Principal Investigator, Professor David Bell said: “This is a fantastic study. One of the key policy areas for cross-country comparison is the devolution of welfare payments to Scotland. These include disability payments, personal independence payments, carers’ allowance – the welfare benefits that are predominantly paid to the over 50s.”

The multi-partner project team includes Professor Ian Deary of the University of Edinburgh, also known for his work with the Lothian Birth Cohort.

Scotland’s first long-term ageing study seeks views of over 50s Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:34:00 +0000 University of Stirling high performance swim coaches Ben Higson and Steven Tigg have won the title of Coach of the Year at the 2016 Sunday Mail and sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards.

The duo have coached the University swimming team to a record medal haul at the Olympic Games, and great success at national and European competitions.

Their efforts and expertise were celebrated at a glittering ceremony in Glasgow and follow Coach of the Year wins at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering (COV) Awards and Team Scotland Awards

Steven Tigg was also awarded BSCA Coach of the Year at the Scottish Swimming Awards.

The accolade finishes off a sensational year for the coaches who guided Ross Murdoch, Duncan Scott, Craig Benson and Robbie Renwick to Olympic selection in 2016 and continue to coach a group of talented young athletes through the University’s high performance swimming programme.

Head coach Ben Higson, said: “This recognition rounds off a fantastic year for everyone associated with the high performance programme at the University of Stirling. The talent of the support staff and athletes themselves have contributed to our success this year and we look forward to building on this success in 2017.”

Sporting Excellence coaching duo take title at Scottish Sports Awards Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:27:00 +0000 University of Stirling’s roster of Olympic and Paralympic athletes were recognised at a special reception evening held on campus yesterday evening, Tuesday 29 November.

Staff, students, supporters and University partners gathered to celebrate Stirling’s high performance athletes, current students, alumni, honorary graduates and coaching staff who participated in the 2016 Games.

Hosted by Stirling alumna and BBC broadcaster Rhona McLeod, the event saw Stirling Olympic medallists Duncan Scott and Robbie Renwick give an insight into their Olympic experience alongside high performance swimming teammates Craig Benson and Ross Murdoch, and Head Coach Ben Higson.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, said: “It’s been an incredible year for sport, particularly at Stirling. We wanted to take this opportunity to show our pride in each of the University of Stirling athletes who competed in Rio and look back on what has been a milestone year.

“It was fantastic that so many people across our community had the chance to be part of an Olympic Games. The attributes of self-belief and dedication that our athletes possess are ones that we aim to instil in all of our students, no matter what challenge they have set themselves, and the recognition they receive is well deserved.”

New Stirling athlete and fellow Olympic swimmer Dan Wallace also joined the celebrations, alongside former tennis scholar and Stirling alumnus Colin Fleming, who played in the men’s doubles in Rio.

Stirling was also represented in the Paralympics by double medallist, former student and wheelchair tennis scholar, Gordon Reid, while alumni Charlotte Henshaw and Scott McCowan competed in Paralympic swimming and boccia respectively. Charlotte took a bronze medal in Rio and Honorary Graduate Andy Murray also secured another gold medal, equally his success in London.

Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence was Scotland’s top performing University in Rio.

Stirling athletes celebrate year of Olympic success Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:02:00 +0000