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 Trafficked people in England are often denied healthcare and face significant barriers to access NHS services, reveals new independent research funded by Department of Health Policy Research Programme and carried out by a team led by King’s College London, the University of Stirling, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and The University of Central Lancashire.

To date, little research has been carried out into trafficked people’s experiences of accessing healthcare services or how health professionals meet their needs, but for the first time new research examines trafficked people’s access to health care in England.

Dr Joanne Westwood, Head of Social Work at the University of Stirling, along with a team  of researchers interviewed 136 trafficked people from 30 countries of whom 91 (67%) were female and 45 (33%) male. Participants reported being trafficked for domestic servitude (29%), sexual exploitation (30%), and labour exploitation (for example, agriculture or factory work) (38%). 19% of the participants reported having access to healthcare services while being trafficked, most often via GP surgeries and walk-in centres. However, 80% of women and 58% of men reported never being able to go out unaccompanied, meaning GP consultations were almost impossible.

Traffickers, other trafficked people, neighbours, and friends were named as people who helped the trafficked person register with GPs and to access health services. It was rare for trafficked people to be able to access healthcare services without being accompanied by the people who were exploiting them. For other trafficked people, their first contact with health services was during a medical emergency.

Many responders reported that traffickers restricted access to their services, accompanied them, or interpreted for them during consultations. Requirements to present identity documents to register for care, along with poor access to interpreters, were other barriers to care during and after trafficking. Others were unable to access health services because they lacked the necessary identity documents to register, lacked sufficient English-language skills or had concerns about potential repercussions from traffickers or immigration authorities

The report highlights that GPs and other practitioners would benefit from guidance on how these people can be supported to access care, especially if they lack official documentation.

Dr Westwood, said:

“People who have been trafficked are often scared of bad repercussions if they report their situations. This is why GP’s and other health practitioners need to be alert to signs that their patient may be in extremely exploitative circumstances and offer safe easy ways for victims to disclose their circumstances. The health sector also needs to develop clear options for referral to services that can address people’s health and security needs.

Our findings suggest that future guidance for practitioners recommend that potential victims are seen privately, are offered professional interpreting services; and given clear information, in their own language, about medical care options.”

The full research is available here

Trafficked people encounter significant health care barriers Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:07:00 +0000 University of Stirling high performance swimming coaches Ben Higson and Steven Tigg have been recognised at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, winning the 2016 Coach of the Year award.

The duo took the prestigious title at a star-studded ceremony in Edinburgh, attended by more than 50 Scottish Olympians and Paralympians from the Rio Games.

Nominated alongside Gordon Reid’s coach Karen Ross and Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, the coaches were recognised for their outstanding success in coaching the University of Stirling High Performance swim team.

The squad has taken 11 European and three Olympic medals this year, making Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence the best performing Scottish University at the 2016 Games.

Ben and Steven put the success down to a long-term approach to development, world-class facilities and the collaboration between the University, Scottish Swimming and sportscotland.

Speaking after the ceremony, Ben said: “It’s a great honour to receive an award of this stature and it speaks volumes about the quality of the programme at the University of Stirling. There are so many people who work with the athletes and contribute to their success - this award is for everyone who has given their support.

“A lot of hard work and dedication goes into coaching a squad to perform consistently, but we have found that openness and honesty with our athletes helps them achieve the goals they want to.”

Steven added: “It’s very humbling to be recognised amongst such esteemed company, across a wide spread of sports and high achievers.  It is an award for our wider team, who work so hard behind the scenes ensuring we, as coaches, have as much information to go on as possible.

“A culmination of great talent, hard work, belief and enjoying every minute of what you do goes in to making the squad a success. Nothing would be possible without the resource we have from the wider community including University of Stirling, Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Institute of Sport – thank you to all of them.”

Four Stirling swimmers coached by Ben and Steven were selected to compete on behalf of Team GB in Rio. Among the success stories was 19-year-old Sports Studies student and swimming scholar Duncan Scott, who won two silvers as part of the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle relay teams, and was nominated for the Male Athlete of the Year award alongside Andy Murray.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “Ben and Steven’s dedication to our swimming programme is unwavering and the support they give these young athletes to develop their talents and help them perform at their very best, has allowed the team to achieve great things.

“World-class coaching, paired with academic flexibility and support, are key ingredients to help our sportspeople get the most of their time at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. The role that mentors like Ben and Steven play in this success cannot be understated. Their recognition is richly deserved and we are immensely proud.”

Stirling’s former tennis scholar Gordon Reid also claimed Para-sport Athlete of the Year.

Sporting Excellence swimming duo win Coach of the Year Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:28:00 +0000 Could rehabilitation programmes for heart disease patients be used to help people recovering from bowel cancer get back on their feet? That’s the question cancer care experts at the University of Stirling have been exploring.

Researchers have found health and exercise sessions currently provided to individuals recovering from heart disease could also help people who have undergone bowel cancer surgery.

The NHS already uses physical activity to help thousands of people with heart problems improve their chances of survival and quality of life, and Stirling scientists now believe it could be rolled out to help people with an entirely different illness.

Dr Gill Hubbard, Reader in Cancer Care in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “People recovering from bowel cancer surgery are not currently meeting the recommended levels of physical activity after they undergo surgery. This could be for a number of reasons, but often patients do not know if they are safe to exercise.

“We wanted to bring together people recovering from heart disease and bowel cancer to see if the same rehabilitation programme could work for both groups. We referred patients with bowel cancer to the cardiac rehabilitation classes and found cardiac patients welcomed those with cancer into their classes. Both groups enjoyed exercising together and supported each other to make a full recovery.”

The rehabilitation programme involves aerobic and body strengthening exercises for about an hour each week for 12 weeks. Evidence clearly shows that these exercises are good for people with heart disease and cancer, and although cardiac rehabilitation exists for people recovering from a heart attack, there is currently no equivalent rehabilitation programme for patients with cancer.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), asked patients to record their physical fitness, quality of life, anxiety, depression and figure before and after the 12-week programme and gathered the views of doctors involved in cardiac rehabilitation.

Dr Hubbard continued: “We found cardiac clinicians were happy to involve cancer patients in their programmes, but to make this work on a much larger scale additional training would be required to fully support cancer survivors. Although a novel idea, we believe marrying these two quite separate groups during the rehabilitation process could vastly improve the quality of life for lots of people who are recovering from bowel cancer but do not have the confidence to exercise.” 

Heart disease exercise programme could work for bowel cancer patients Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:55:00 +0000 A study analysing a controversial ‘Stop out of Control Drinking’ campaign in Ireland has found that its promotion of “responsible drinking” could actually undermine public health.

The campaign, launched in Ireland last year by drinks company Diageo, stated it was designed to “change the country’s culture of drinking for the better,” and make out-of-control drinking “socially unacceptable”.

However, new research published in the journal PLOS ONE by experts in the UK and Ireland analysed newspaper articles, media interviews and social media activity relating to the campaign, and concluded that it lacked independence from Diageo, and presented problems with alcohol, and policy solutions, that were unfavourable to public health.

The scientists also found that the campaign used vague or self-defined concepts of ‘out of control’ and ‘moderate’ drinking, presenting alcohol harm as a behavioural problem rather than a health issue.

Dr Niamh Fitzgerald of the University of Stirling, said: “Diageo’s campaign generally failed to emphasise the policies known to be most effective such as marketing controls and minimum unit pricing, talking instead about culture change, psychological factors and parenting.

"The language used in the campaign appears to frame alcohol problems as the responsibility of individual drinkers rather than arising from the marketing of an addictive, carcinogenic product.  This tactic has been previously used by the tobacco industry. We need to ensure that going forward the public, policymakers and the third sector can recognise these industry strategies.”

Researchers found that the campaign emphasised alcohol-related antisocial behaviour among young people, particularly young women, when it is known that alcohol harms are a wider health issue affecting men, women and children across the whole population, resulting in the deaths of three people in Ireland every day. 

Professor Mark Petticrew, lead author, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The Diageo campaign was controversial from the start, not least because it was initiated and funded by an alcohol company. We were particularly concerned that the campaign emphasised the importance of public opinion about what might work, while placing little emphasis on the scientific evidence already available about solutions to alcohol-related problems. For example, the campaign presented education as an effective way to ‘change our culture’, though the evidence clearly shows that this has little effect.”

“Responsible drinking” campaign in Ireland likely to be harmful to public health Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:06:00 +0000 Two-time Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray was a smash hit with staff and students when he visited the University of Stirling campus to show off the Davis Cup trophy.

The World Number 2 visited the Gannochy Tennis Centre courts where he first honed his skills – and was joined by brother Jamie and mum Judy.

The 29-year-old spoke with youngsters from neighbouring schools who are keen to get into tennis, and gave some of the University’s high performance players the chance to take on Britain’s best.

Andy also caught up with members of the devoted Stirling University Barmy Army who supported Team GB throughout their Davis Cup campaign.

Andy said: "I am proud to be back in Scotland with the Davis Cup and for the opportunity to share what was an incredible moment personally and also for all involved, with the community.

"Stirling in particular played a huge part in mine and my brother's tennis careers as the indoor facilities are where we played during the harsh Scottish winters, and countless rainy days.

"Being a part of something that will hopefully encourage others to get involved and choose tennis as part of their everyday lives is an amazing feeling and it's important to ensure a lasting legacy follows the team's historic achievements."

Stirling staff and students also had the opportunity to see and be pictured with the impressive Davis Cup Trophy, following Great Britain’s historic win against Belgium in the 2015 Final, while student radio station Air3 provided the soundtrack to the afternoon.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University, said: “Andy Murray has a long history and affinity with the University – first as a young player and later, as an honorary graduate. It is always a pleasure to welcome him back on campus.

“It was very special to have both Judy and Jamie here, as well as the Davis Cup trophy itself, and to give the wider University community the chance to share in the success of the GB team and get involved in tennis. This was also a unique opportunity for our University tennis club and cohort of elite scholars to get up close and personal with their heroes and I am sure it has inspired them to play with renewed passion.”

In 2014, Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence honoured the Olympic Singles tennis champion with a doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to tennis.

Andy Murray’s visit to Stirling stuns staff and students Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:54:00 +0000 The University was first named in a list of top 50 universities under the age of 50 by QS World University Rankings. Reaching 47th place in the Top 50 Under 50, Stirling has been recognised as one of the world's top young universities. The University received its highest ranking in the QS 50 under 50 and was one of only two British universities on the list. 

First published in 2013, the QS Top 50 Under 50 celebrates universities which have established a strong position in the international ranking tables, in an impressively short space of time. 

In the same week, the University also climbed in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, featuring in the top 350 worldwide. The result brings Stirling to joint 38th place in the UK and 6th in Scotland. 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, founded in 2004, lists the world's best universities, evaluated across teaching, research, international outlook and reputation. Stirling was praised for its international outlook.

The University also moved up 7 places to 43rd in the UK and 6th in Scotland in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.The University’s improvement is due in part to Stirling’s improved 2016 NSS scores, a survey which gathers 4th year students' opinions on the quality of their courses, used to compile the rankings.

The guide provides students and their parents with an invaluable first reference point on the path to finding a university place. The league table is made up of nine indicators including student satisfaction with teaching quality and their wider student experience, research quality, graduate prospects, entrance qualifications held by new students, degree results achieved, student/staff ratios, service and facilities spend, and degree completion rates.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, Professor Gerry McCormac, said: “We welcome the improvement in this set of league table positions which reinforces Stirling’s reputation as an international university with a global reputation for high-quality teaching and research. 

"Stirling’s continued success is testament to the hard work and commitment of the whole University community. Our new strategic plan pledges to build on our reputation as an outward-looking, global institution and the latest rankings are a welcome accolade as we look to the future."

14 subjects improved in this year’s Good University Guide rankings, including Computing Science which rose by more than 25 places. Stirling made the grade in Criminology and Communications and Media, taking the top spot in Scotland for both subjects and was named 2nd in Scotland and 5th in the UK for Education.

Stirling enjoys treble ranking success Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:56:00 +0000 Professor David Bell of the University of Stirling is to present evidence to the Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee, challenging Scottish Government proposals to change council tax.

The economist will advise that the suggested changes to the current system, including an increase on tax on bands E-H and a lift on the council tax freeze, do not significantly address the concerns around Scotland’s local property taxes.

Professor Bell of Stirling Management School said: “The proposed increases in council tax will have substantially different implications on revenue across the 32 local authorities and will not be uniform across the board. In Eilean Siar in the Outer Hebrides, for example, only 10 per cent of the housing stock is allocated to bands E to H, while in East Renfrewshire the proportion is 56 per cent.

“The net incomes of richer households will be reduced more than those of poorer households, however the poorest 10 per cent of households will see their net income reduced by less than 0.02 per cent. Meanwhile the richest 10 per cent of households will see their net income reduced by 0.2 per cent, a relatively modest increase for the most expensive properties.”

The expert also believes the proposed changes will add to the complexity of the tax.

“According to the Commission on Local Tax Reform, tax rules should be clear and simple to understand. These new reliefs will add to the administrative burden that local authorities face and prove difficult to understand and explain to members of the public”, Professor Bell added.

“Although the Commission on Local Tax Reform wants to radically change the current system, overall these proposed alterations are very modest, and do not address the problems with the system or allow local government to retain revenues they generate.”

Professor of Economics at the University since 1990, Professor Bell is an expert in UK public finances and has made significant contributions to the devolved parliaments including 

He was Budget Adviser to the Finance Committee at the Scottish Parliament from 2007 to 2013 and specialist advisor to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

Leading economist challenges council tax reforms Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:00 +0000 A team of four University of Stirling MSc students have won first place in the prestigious Global Investment Banking Valuation Olympiad, beating off entries from almost 470 teams comprising 5,000 participants.

MSc Investment Analysis students Nhung Nguyen (Lily) and Quynh Huong Nguyen (Jenny) and MSc International Accounting and Finance students Yu Luo (Scarlett) and David Cika Bodika presented a proposal for the merger of two companies, defeating competition from other finalists including University College London, University of Miami, the Polytechnic University of Milan and Warsaw School of Economics.

Organised by London-based Global Banking Training in partnership with Greensea Capital LLP, the competition had three competitive stages starting with an online business valuation test.

Candidates then identified a potential takeover target listed on the London Stock Exchange and a possible bidding company, and produced a proposal justifying and pricing the transaction. Both companies identified by the Stirling team are in the telecommunications sector.

The competition culminated in a presentation of the proposal at a final in London. The team received a £1,000 prize for their victory, while team leader Lily won a one-month internship with Greensea Capital.

David Bodika is the holder of a Chevening scholarship, while Lily and teammate Jenny are holders of Karen Napier Scholarships, awarded annually to MSc Investment Analysis students through the generous support of the Karen Napier Charitable Trust. Lily said: “We made our presentation as close to the real world of investment banking as possible, focusing on the strategic justification for our proposal as well as the valuation exercise. This was the key to our success.”

Dr Kevin Campbell, Programme Director of MSc in Investment Analysis, said: “Our students thoroughly deserve their victory, won in the face of stiff competition. Their achievement is a richly deserved recognition not only of their knowledge of company valuation but of their ability to be creative and to present their ideas in a convincing manner. It is also a reflection of the skills they have developed during their time studying in Stirling Management School and of the quality of support we provide.”

The Management School students’ success comes just months after a team of five MSc students won first place in the UK final of the global CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge, considered to be the ‘Investment Olympics’ for university students.

Stirling students win global Investment Banking competition Fri, 16 Sep 2016 11:17:00 +0000 New research from the universities of Stirling and Aberdeen suggests that lifting the international ivory trade ban will not protect elephants from poachers.

There has been much debate around the issue of how to regulate the current poaching epidemic, with a suggestion that lifting the existing ban on trade and tightly regulating  may be the solution, but research carried out by scientists shows there is no way to sustainably harvest ivory as the demand is too great.

Professor Phyllis Lee of the University of Stirling and Professor David Lusseau of the University of Aberdeen and have produced a new model to predict how much ivory could be sustainably harvested from elephant populations.

Lee and Lusseau aimed to develop a harvest model that would meet two challenges largely disregarded by systems: hunters harvest individual elephants, not ivory, and most demographic models only consider females when males are preferred targets.

Professor Lee said:  “Some proposals for allowing an international trade in ivory assume that you can source enough to meet current demand from natural deaths alone. Using known death rates for males and females elephants of each age from a healthy population, the actual amount of ivory available from any cause of death could be determined. It was very clear that ivory from natural deaths cannot meet demand.”

“Our research shows that if sustainable harvesting cannot be achieved at current levels of demand, then it is the demand that must be managed more effectively.”

Going forward, the team hope to build upon their model, introducing environmental and social demographic effects in the population model as well as developing a better understanding of hunter behaviours and motivations. This will help scientists to explore solutions for sustaining elephant populations into the future.

Professor Lusseau added: “We decided to produce a new, realistic model to define how much ivory could be sustainably harvested from elephant populations due to the fact that CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is considering the possibility of a legal ivory trade.

“Existing models treat each individual elephant as ‘average’ meaning that they supply an average amount of ivory. The trouble is that this isn’t the way it works. In reality, some elephants supply much more ivory than others, for example, males supply more than females. The amount also increases as elephants age.

“Our estimates tell us that for a healthy, well protected and growing population of about 1350 elephants, we could sustainably harvest ivory from about one big male every year. However the problem occurs when the biggest males have been used, you then need to take several smaller animals to harvest the same amount of ivory the next year, and so on. It takes time to grow ivory, a big male will be 45-55 years old before his tusks have grown to full size. We would need two to three generations of excellent reproduction to replace these ivory-bearing males. The most significant issue is that of demand. If only one male per 1350 elephants is the sustainable harvest, then there is simply no way to meet current demand.”

Going forward, the team hope to build upon their model, introducing environmental and social demographic effects in the population model as well as developing a better understanding of hunter behaviours and motivations. This will help scientists to explore a more sustainable solution for the way elephants can be used in the future.

Full research can be found here

Lifting ivory ban won’t solve elephant poaching problem Thu, 15 Sep 2016 10:10:00 +0000 As the University of Stirling’s four Olympic swimmers were applauded back to campus this week, bringing three silver medals home with them, Stirling is celebrating its place as Scotland’s top performing University in Rio.

Scotland equalled the country's best ever medal tally from any Games, matching the 13 from London four years ago, and Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence proudly delivered more than 20 per cent of the tally.

19-year-old sports studies student and swimming scholar Duncan Scott, coached by Steven Tigg, enjoyed tremendous success, bagging himself two silvers as part of the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle relay teams.

Full-time athlete Robbie Renwick also won a well-earned silver as part of the 4x200m freestyle relay squad.

The freestyle swimmers were selected for Team GB alongside Stirling team mates Ross Murdoch and Craig Benson who made it to the 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke semi-finals respectively.

Duncan Scott said: “To win one Olympic medal was beyond special so to say that I have two is an incredible feeling. I have something special to show for all the hard work that people have put into my progression over the last four years.

“My coach Steven Tigg has worked with me for 10 years now - he has been a huge part of my swimming career and will continue to be. Both Steven and Ben Higson have been extremely supportive and positive throughout last season and incredibly professional in getting the best out of the entire team. They work closely with my lecturers to communicate my schedule so between that and the world-class facilities on campus, the University plays an important role.”

Rio 2016 was the University’s most successful Olympic Games to date and the University is putting the historic success down to brilliant coaching, academic flexibility for students, and a long-term commitment to nurture sporting talent.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University said: “Our designation as Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence is one we take seriously – sport is part of our DNA and we are at the heart of Scottish sport. The scholarship programmes we run continue to show what young sportspeople can achieve with the right support.

“The guidance, professionalism and support of our performance coaching staff has readied our athletes for the extraordinary experience of an Olympic Games and we’re incredibly proud of what they have achieved.

“Performance development takes patience, commitment and a long-term strategy. While we pause to celebrate the success of Rio 2016, we will now continue to harness the power of sport and education, foster strong relationships with sporting bodies, and focus on the sporting and academic development of some of Scotland’s brightest talents.”

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said: “There’s no higher honour than competing on a global stage and these swimmers have done Scotland, and University of Stirling, proud with their achievements for Team GB. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the celebrations back on campus, and I hope their achievements will help to inspire their fellow students to take up and enjoy sport. Swimming is a great activity, whether you enjoy it as a competitive sport or a recreational pastime.”

Duncan is now looking to the next chapter of challenges, adding: “Qualification for the Commonwealth Games is in April so that’s my next big target, however the main thing this year is my individual swimming for the World Championships.”

Stirling honorary graduate Andy Murray also claimed a gold medal at the Games, while former sports scholar Colin Fleming competed in the tennis and alumni Catriona Matthew was tied in 22nd place in the women’s golf.


Stirling is Scotland’s best performing university at Rio Olympics Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:34:00 +0000 The Davis Cup by BNP Paribas will visit the University of Stirling on Tuesday, 20 September as part of a national Trophy Tour of Great Britain launched by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in April this year.

Following Great Britain’s historic win against Belgium in the 2015 Davis Cup Final, when Team GB hoisted the Trophy for the first time in 79 years, the LTA wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Students and staff members can attend the free event and experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and be pictured with the impressive Davis Cup Trophy up close and personal at the Gannochy Sports Centre between 3pm and 6pm on Tuesday, 20 September. Air3 radio will provide the soundtrack to the afternoon.

Leon Smith, Davis Cup Captain, said: “Winning the Davis Cup was an incredible moment for me and all the team. Lifting the trophy on the court in Ghent was an amazing feeling and I’m eager to ensure a lasting legacy following this historic achievement. Taking the trophy across the country and being able to share this momentous achievement with the nation is an important part of this legacy. I can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction when they see the Davis Cup and sharing a bit of that passion we had on court will hopefully encourage others to get involved and choose tennis as part of their everyday lives”.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University, added: “We are thrilled to have been chosen to be a part of this very special Davis Cup Trophy Tour. The opportunity for our students and staff to share the successes of the GB team will only increase the passion and enthusiasm for tennis on campus. We have a fantastic University tennis club and cohort of elite scholars on campus who continue to accomplish so much in the sport. I would encourage everyone within the University who isn’t familiar with the Cup to come down and experience this little bit of history for themselves.”

Staff and students must have ID cards with them and wear flat shoes. Entry from 3pm.

Davis Cup Trophy Tour comes to Stirling following historic win Tue, 13 Sep 2016 12:03:00 +0000 Scientists from the University of Stirling have discovered a link between childhood self-control and smoking habits across life.

Behavioural Scientist Dr Michael Daly and his team examined 21,000 people from the UK tracked over four decades. The researchers found children with low self-control by age 10/11 were more likely to take up smoking in adolescence and had substantially higher rates of smoking as adults, even decades later aged 55.

Dr Daly explained: “We first saw that children with low self-control were twice as likely to smoke as adults compared to their more self-controlled peers. We then examined alternative explanations like differences in parental smoking, intelligence, and social class. Even after taking these factors into account, we found that low self-control, measured early in life before smoking is initiated, predicts a substantially raised risk of smoking throughout adulthood.”

Additionally, the study found that children who lacked self-control tended to go on to smoke more cigarettes, had greater difficulty quitting smoking and relapsed to smoking at higher rates when they did manage to quit.

Self-control varies widely between children. The characteristics of those with low (vs. high) self-control in this study were identified using teacher-ratings and included poor attention, lack of persistence and impulsive behaviour. The researchers called for action to support these young people to increase their life chances.

Dr Daly continued: “Many efforts focus exclusively on educating children about the dangers of smoking. However, our findings suggest that a complementary approach - one which increases general self-control - could have lifelong health benefits. Prior research from our team and others has indicated that raising a child with high self-control is likely to improve school grades, employment prospects, quality of relationships and mental and physical health. We can now add not smoking to that already formidable list – along with the diverse health and other benefits that non-smokers enjoy.”

The participants were drawn from two nationally representative cohort studies; the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS) and the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), with participants reporting their smoking status at five time points (ages 26 to 42 years) in the BCS and six time points (ages 23 to 55 years) in the NCDS.

The full research paper can be found here.

Children’s willpower linked to smoking habits throughout life Tue, 13 Sep 2016 11:03:00 +0000 The Scottish Parliament’s new Education and Skills Committee met with University of Stirling staff and students this week to discover the innovative approaches taken to create a culture where students’ ability, not background, is valued. 

In a demonstration of best practice in widening access to education, the Committee saw first-hand examples of how the University has developed strong partnerships across the local community to open doors to education for individuals who are the first in their family to attend university.

Stirling has almost doubled the proportion of applicants from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas in two years, with almost 35 per cent of students coming from the 40 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland. The University’s retention rates for students from a wide range of backgrounds are among the best in the country.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “Widening access to education and providing young people with the opportunity to succeed academically, regardless of their background, has been a commitment of this University since our formation almost 50 years ago.

“We’re delighted to host this session on behalf of the sector and to work with the Scottish Government and other leading education providers, to continue to lead the way in expanding routes to education.”

Johann Lamont MSP, Deputy Convener of the Education and Skills Committee, said: “An important part of the work of our Committee is meeting people and hearing first hand their experiences. It was a pleasure to meet staff and students from the University, Forth Valley College, schools and the Open University.

“We were particularly pleased to hear about how the University is taking forward programmes to widen access to higher education.  I know that the whole Committee will be extremely interested at what was said and the lessons that can be learned.”

Committee members were shown a recent dance programme developed with local schools, a theatre group and the armed forces, as an example of how to engage with school pupils in a new way.

Staff also talked through their leading partnership with Forth Valley College – an integrated undergraduate degree programme which allows students to make the transition from college to university study.

As part of a session focussed on different careers and education opportunities, students from local schools had the opportunity to meet the MSPs and question the Committee.

The Committee ended the visit with a discussion on widening access, partnerships and engagement with staff and students from Stirling, the Open University and Forth Valley College.

Stirling shares widening access success with Education and Skills Committee Thu, 01 Sep 2016 08:51:00 +0000 A new economic study by the University of Stirling and Royal Holloway, University of London, has found evidence that there is a big difference in cash flow problems faced by men and women in the UK. They found single women face more severe constraints to their incomings and outgoings, but that those single women whose personal wealth increases unexpectedly through an inheritance are more likely to start a new business than their male counterparts.

It is difficult for an aspiring entrepreneur, or current business owner, to obtain the funds necessary to start a business or expand an existing one. Labour Force Surveys show that from 2009 to 2014, the proportion of men in self-employment increased by 6 per cent. Over the same period, the proportion of self-employed females jumped by a remarkable 22 per cent.

Despite the relatively large growth rate in self-employed females, obstacles for women that want to engage in entrepreneurial activities still remain. In the area of small business operations, one of the main problems many entrepreneurs face is how to maintain a flow of cash through the business.

Using previously unexplored data from the Wealth and Assets Survey, researchers found evidence that there are substantial differences in liquidity between the genders in the UK. This is based on the finding that the willingness to start a new business increases with personal wealth, and this relationship is stronger amongst women than men. The relationship is strongest amongst single women.

Researchers found that £1,000 more money in the bank would lead to an 8.5 per cent increase in the probability a single woman starts a new business.  

Researcher Tanya Wilson, Early Career Fellow in the Division of Economics at the University of Stirling, said: “There are several possible explanations as to why liquidity constraints are most severe for single women. It could be that single women have less collateral necessary for securing a loan. There may be gender discrimination in the granting of credit. It is also possible that single women are more risk averse than others and choose not to borrow money even when borrowed funds would be forthcoming.

“A glass ceiling may emerge even in self-employment when women suffer relatively more from liquidity constraints than their male counterparts.

“If lack of collateral is the main obstacle preventing a single woman from starting a new business, or expanding an existing one, then a new private initiative or public policy that helps channel sufficient collateral to liquidity-constrained single women would be of great economic and social value. Public policy programmes that encourage business start-ups do currently exist, but they are generally too restrictive to affect a substantial proportion of single women.”

The full research paper can be found here.

Single women with personal wealth more likely to become entrepreneurs than men Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:20:00 +0000 Sports nutrition recommendations may undergo a significant shift after research from the University of Stirling has found individuals with more muscle mass do not need more protein after resistance exercise.

Health and exercise scientists from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence found no difference in the muscle growth response to protein after a full body workout between larger and smaller participants.

Kevin Tipton, Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said: “There is a widely-held assumption that larger athletes need more protein, with nutrition recommendations often given in direct relation to body mass.

“In our study, participants completed a bout of whole-body resistance exercise, where earlier studies - on which protein recommendations are based - examined the response to leg-only exercise. This difference suggests the amount of muscle worked in a single session has a bigger impact on the amount of protein needed afterwards, than the amount of muscle in the body.”

Experts also found participants’ muscles were able to grow and recover from exercise better after a higher dose of protein.

Consuming 40 grams of protein after exercise was more effective at stimulating muscle growth than 20 grams. This increase occurred irrespective of the size of the participants.

Professor Tipton continued: “Until now the consensus among leading sports nutritionists, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the British Nutrition Foundation, is that weightlifters do not need more than around 25 grams of protein after exercise to maximally stimulate the muscle’s ability to grow.

“In order for nutritionists to recommend the correct amount of protein we first need to consider specific demands of the workout, regardless of athletes’ size. This throws commonly held recommendations into question and suggests the amount of protein our muscles need after exercise may be dependent on the type of workout performed. These results are limited to younger, trained men so we may see different results with other groups, such as older individuals or females digesting different amounts of protein.”

Young, resistance-trained males were recruited for the study and divided into two groups, one with lower lean body mass of less than 65 kilograms and one with higher lean body mass of more than 70 kilograms.

Each volunteer participated in two trials where they consumed protein after resistance exercise. In one trial participants consumed 20 grams of whey protein and in the second, they consumed 40 grams of whey protein after exercise. Scientists measured the muscle’s ability to grow at an increased rate with metabolic tracers and muscle biopsies.

Recommendation that men with more muscle need more protein challenged Mon, 22 Aug 2016 09:54:00 +0000