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 Men’s and women’s golf teams retain their titles at European University Championships

The University of Stirling men’s and women’s golf teams have been crowned champions of Europe again after a thrilling EUSA (European University Sports Association) Golf Championships in the Czech Republic.

Retaining the titles they won in St Gallen, Switzerland, in 2015, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Stirling group as, while the women’s squad enjoyed a six shot cushion at the top of the leaderboard ahead of Maynooth University, the men secured victory in a dramatic sudden-death playoff against Scottish rivals from the University of St Andrews. This year’s winning teams were: (Women’s) Gemma Batty, Chloe Goadby and Sinead Sexton; (Men’s) Jack Cope, Colin Edgar, Robert Foley, Alasdair McDougall and Jordan Sundborg.

There were also individual medals at the tournament in Liberec, with Goadby spearheading the women’s challenge with an excellent performance but, despite being the only player under-par in the last round, the third-year Psychology and Sports Studies student fell agonisingly short by one shot to finish second, behind Maynooth’s Shannon Burke. Meanwhile, teammate Sexton, who was playing in her final university competition after graduating with an MSc in Sports Management, joined Goadby on the podium, in third place.

In the men’s event, second-year Sport Studies student, Sundborg, claimed third in the singles before going on to be Stirling’s last-gasp hero, when he held his nerve to beat George Burns of St Andrews on the first playoff hole of the team event. Sundborg was ably backed-up by teammate and fellow second-year student, Robert Foley, who finished two shots back, in joint seventh.

Describing the success of his young charges, the University of Stirling’s High Performance Golf Coach, Dean Robertson, said: “It was hugely important for us as a team because student golf across Europe and the UK is getting better and, with the standard of competition increasing, the wins show the tremendous pride we have at Stirling in both our reputation and day-to-day work ethic.

“I’m absolutely delighted for all of the players, particularly on the back of an injury-hit BUCS Final earlier in the year, and losing Jack Cope at this event. The way they came together to win at Liberec was a fantastic team effort.

“We’ve got a lot of young players across both the men’s and women’s teams this year, so to see them achieve success early in the academic season is really pleasing. There are a couple of massive events coming up, including a trip to the States, and with everyone’s confidence high it’s a really exciting time.”

The University of Stirling’s Director of Sport, Cathy Gallagher, added: “Our Golf Scholarship Programme continues to succeed beyond national boundaries and this is reflective of the quality of coaching and experience delivered by Dean, as well as the hard work and commitment of the athletes.

“This year has seen a number of new players join the programme and they will no doubt benefit from training and playing with the more experienced scholars, and winning events like the EUSA Championships will have a really positive impact on those coming in.

“Once again, the team have done themselves and the University proud and it is our job to continue enhancing their support services and deliver a world-class performance environment to help them develop.

“We aim to provide our scholarship athletes with excellent sporting and life opportunities, and we now wish the team well as they head to America next week to pitch their skills against some of the world’s top golf institutions, including Yale, Stanford and Harvard, in what will be another memorable experience.”

Golfers top of the class with double Euro glory Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:08:30 +0000 Sports stars and amateur players who play on crumb rubber pitches could be at risk from a “remarkable” lack of occupational health checks, according to a new paper from the University of Stirling.

The health of some people who work with surfaces made from recycled tyres – such as manufacturers, suppliers, installers and maintainers – may also be jeopardised due to inadequate monitoring, the research suggests.

Professor Andrew Watterson, of the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said it appears that risks are being “downplayed” despite well-documented links between rubber production and illness, bans on landfill disposal of used tyres and concerns about the health of sports people and others who use such surfaces.

He said: “The study has identified a need for more, better and clearer information about hazards and risks linked to some crumb rubber pitches.”

Used by millions of people worldwide, indoor and outdoor pitches made from artificial grass may be filled with crumb rubber, which can contain hazardous chemicals at very low levels. Due to data gaps and limitations of earlier studies, the risks posed by such chemicals are constantly being re-assessed and lower control limits applied.

The UK regulatory bodies responsible for health and safety are local authorities for private leisure facilities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for council-run sports facilities. The regulators did not conduct any checks on the exposure of professional and amateur sports people to dust and fumes when using 3G and 4G pitches. Nor had they apparently received any reports of such investigations.

The HSE, which also covers crumb rubber factories, conducted just two checks on occupational health issues of factories – involving noise and dust – in just five visits involving artificial crumb rubber surfaces over a 10-year period. However, many more safety visits occurred in that period. Since 2007, it has carried out no inspections, monitoring or enforcement action on chemicals – covered by EU regulations - present in crumb rubber and artificial turf.


Professor Watterson, head of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, said the lack of health monitoring of sportspeople and crumb rubber production and maintenance workers was “remarkable”, given well-publicised concerns.

He said: “The HSE and local authority inspectors clearly have an important role to play here.

“We hope that our research results in more frequent, independent scrutiny of the industry by HSE and of private leisure facilities by local authorities and encourages the industry and regulators to increase and improve the information available to users along with more extensive health surveillance and monitoring.”

Professor Watterson analysed crumb rubber data sheets, examined HSE information relating to safety and health inspections of crumb rubber plants, gathered information on workers and examined health impact assessments.

The study discovered toxicity information included in safety sheets varies significantly depending on the date of installation and the manufacturer, with physical and chemical hazard properties sometimes sparse and, in some cases, not present at all.

The analysis also highlighted that, during the lifespan of a surface, crumb rubber is often topped up by different suppliers, with the source of the crumb rubber sometimes missing from data sheets.

Anecdotal evidence from those working in the industry indicates serious concerns about the occupational health of workers, and information sheets distributed to sports staff “almost exclusively” seem to focus on maintenance and do not address health and safety issues, it found.

Professor Watterson is now calling for “proper” cumulative health impact assessments to be carried out, looking at the risk of hazardous chemicals, including rubber crumb.

He said: “There have already been calls for tougher controls on some of the chemicals that may be present in crumb rubber and a cautious approach is wise.”

The paper, Artificial turf: contested terrains for precautionary public health with particular reference to Europe?, has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


Health checks on users of crumb rubber pitches is insufficient, study finds Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:25:00 +0000 An innovative new app could help enhance home and hospital environments for people with dementia – improving patient outcomes and reducing the strain on health services, according to University of Stirling academics.

On World Alzheimer’s Day, the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), together with Space Architects, launches Iridis – the first app of its kind in the world to assess and provide feedback on how suitable a residence, care facility or other environment is for older people, particularly those with the condition.

Lesley Palmer, Chief Architect at the DSDC, said: “Iridis revolutionises how we improve the day-to-day lives of older people and those living with dementia around the world.

“At the touch of a button, people with dementia, their families and health professionals will be able to assess how dementia-friendly their built environment is and how it can be improved.”

It comes as new research from the University reveals that the hospital environment plays a key role in ensuring a positive outcome for patients. The Older Persons Routine Acute Assessment (OPRAA) study found a good hospital environment is safe and secure, quiet and calm and familiar and consistent, with clear wayfinding signage in place.

The survey aimed to explore the outcomes that are important to people with dementia or confusion who have experienced a hospital admission. Respondents reported that the hospital environment was important for ensuring a good outcome.


Iridis allows users to use smartphones and tablets to assess environments – such as homes or hospitals – to ensure they comply with dementia design principles, which in turn, helps to reduce confusion and risk.

The technology asks users – including people with dementia, their family members and healthcare professionals – a series of questions about their surroundings and requests photographs of the environment. It then uses the data to highlight potential problems – such as issues with furniture, lighting, colour contrast and noise – before recommending changes that could enhance the environment for people with dementia.

Recommended improvements could be as simple as improving lighting to more complex enhancements, such as reconfiguring bathrooms.

The app is an updated, digital version of the DSDC’s existing paper-based Dementia Design Audit Tool, used by thousands of people around the world. It simplifies and digitises the process, with the assessment of a two-bedroom home taking around 20 minutes to complete.

Experts say the app will allow people with dementia to live independently for longer and, in turn, could help ease pressure on hospitals. They also highlight further benefits to the health and care sectors, with hospital and care home environments vital in ensuring patients receive the best possible outcomes.

Ms Palmer explained: “There are around 50 million people living with dementia worldwide and we have already received significant international interest in Iridis, from the likes of Japan, India and China.

“We already know that improving the living environment can have a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and latest research from the University of Stirling indicates that enhancing the hospital environment could lead to an increase in positive outcomes for patients.

“Iridis will advise and inform homeowners and health professionals of recommended changes to the built environment and, in turn, improve the health, dignity and independence of our senior population.

“We are proud to have led the development of Iridis.”

Stephen Brooks, Director of Space Architects, said: “In the UK, a wealth of housing stock is categorically unsuitable for elderly living, we are in an era where people are living longer and we have a duty of care to offer a better quality of life and improved living standards to allow people to remain independent for longer.

“What we’re doing in association with DSDC is offering a service which will reduce the high cost of specialist care by creating and adapting living spaces for specific needs and future-proofing homes as individuals’ needs change.

“Through the introduction of our new Iridis App, people can independently assess a building and take, often simply steps, to make them dementia-friendly.”

He added: “By providing the right living environment we can help people to stay safe, physically active and maintain mental stimulation for longer.

“The information and data collated from app users will allow us to understand the needs of the elderly in even greater detail and with greater certainty, and we can apply this to future design and planning of our homes. The Iridis app will be a catalyst for improved design and the first of its kind that brings together intelligent data and residential design processes.”

Quality of life

Richard Baker, Policy and Communications Manager at Age Scotland, who is speaking at the launch, said: “The living environment affects older people in a great number of ways, particularly those living with dementia. Therefore, ensuring older people are living in an environment which meets their needs is very important for their quality of life and independence.

“Age Scotland welcomes the launch of Iridis as innovations like this make it easier to adapt the living environment – such as homes, workplaces and public buildings accordingly. This can make a huge difference to older people, particularly those with dementia, and allows them to remain independent and living in their own homes for longer.

“We want to congratulate the University of Stirling and Space Architects on this exciting innovation.”

Two versions of the app will be available for download via the Apple App Store and Google Play in the coming days – a free homeowners’ app and a professional app, priced at £14.99 for a one-month subscription or £52.99 for six months.

Data collected from users of the app will allow its designers to continually update and improve the technology.

The OPRAA survey found that hospitals can ensure people living with dementia, and their families and carers, can have a positive experience in hospital by:

Ensuring the environment is safe and secure, putting the patient and family at ease

  • Keeping the environment as familiar as possible, avoiding moving the patients multiple times and maintaining staff consistency
  • Making the patient feel “at home” by providing some recognisable items
  • Ensuring the ward is as quiet and calm as possible
  • Easy wayfinding signage for the patient, such as clear access to the bathroom
  • Providing flexible visiting hours
  • Improving facilities for carers within hospitals, such as rooms to retreat to when spending many hours on the ward

The full findings will be unveiled at a joint event, alongside the launch of Iridis, at the University of Stirling on Thursday, 21 September.


Pioneering app to transform the lives of people with dementia Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:21:00 +0000 A University of Stirling academic has been shortlisted for three awards after leading a project that helps people with learning difficulties come to terms with dementia.

Dr Karen Watchman developed the booklet, ‘Jenny’s Diary’, after a study she conducted found that some people with learning disabilities may struggle to understand dementia and the effects the condition has on them or their loved-ones.

Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the booklet features everyday scenarios to highlight the impact of dementia and suggests strategies for support. It is especially important to people with learning difficulties, particularly Down’s syndrome, as they may be at higher risk of developing dementia at an early age.

Jenny’s Diary has been nominated in two categories at the Herald Diversity Awards and in another at the Scottish Self Management Awards.

Dr Watchman, a Senior Lecturer in Ageing, Frailty and Dementia, said: “It is an honour to be nominated in two categories at the Herald Diversity Awards and one at the Scottish Self Management Awards.

“Jenny’s Diary is an excellent example of how academic staff can make sure that research findings are put into practice in an accessible format.

“The work is ongoing with translations of Jenny’s Diary available in German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian and Norwegian, with a French version on the way.”

Jenny’s Diary will compete in the Diversity Through Education and Design for Diversity categories at the Herald Diversity Awards, which will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on Thursday, 12 October.

Stirling’s BSc Nursing Programme is also shortlisted for the Design for Diversity award.

Dr Watchman’s project has also been shortlisted for Self Management Resource of the Year at the Scottish Self Management Awards, to be held at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, 4 October.

Dr Watchman is currently leading a three-year research project implementing non-drug interventions with people who have a learning disability and dementia.

Award nominations for dementia education project Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:52:09 +0000 The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) must do more to tackle the issue of contaminated cabin air on passenger planes, a University of Stirling academic has said.

Dr Susan Michaelis, a former pilot, says a “clear gap” between the CAA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is putting airline crews and passengers at risk.

The visiting researcher will address delegates at the International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference at Imperial College London on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The University’s Professor Andrew Watterson, Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, will also speak to global experts at the two-day event.

The academics, from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, will deliver a presentation on the health and safety regulations, standards and directives that apply to the aircraft cabin environment in relation to hazardous substances associated with contaminated bleed air supplies.

Dr Michaelis said: “There is a clear gap between the CAA and the HSE when it comes to the application and enforcement of standards that should afford protections to both crew and the public in terms of the aircraft breathing air supply.

“The CAA are relied upon to take the lead on hazardous substances on aircraft, but it does not have the expertise in this area. The HSE does have the necessary expertise, however, they leave it to the CAA.

“In short, protections present under occupational health and safety regulations in Europe are not being applied to the issue of contaminated air in aircraft cabins. Occupational health and safety regulators are inadequately meeting their responsibilities to ensure health and safe air travel.”

Dr Michaelis will present her recently completed work into how oil leaks from aircraft engines into the cabin air supply during normal flight operations. She will also review last year’s incident where an A380 aircraft was diverted into Vancouver with the entire crew being hospitalised after toxic fumes were reported in the cabin.

Meanwhile, Professor Watterson will host a presentation on exposure standards in aviation.

The conference provides a forum for the discussion of the risks posed by toxic air in aircraft cabins, with international academics presenting the latest scientific and medical evidence.

Stirling academic calls for action on aircraft cabin fumes Mon, 18 Sep 2017 16:51:00 +0000 A person’s confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

The new study found that self-confidence in athletes, who are highly dependent on a teammate, fluctuates depending on the person they are working with.

Researchers believe the findings could be key in analysing team dynamics and translate into work environments where teamwork is vital, such as the military, police and health sectors.

Christine Habeeb, of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, who led the work, said: “Standard, widely held theories typically suggest self-confidence is based on our own ability.

“However, our study indicates that our perception of confidence – in our own ability, or that of a teammate – is actually based on the role we play and those we are working with.”

The research analysed the performance of elite competitive cheerleaders – 51 men and 51 women - in the United States. Each participant worked in male-female pairs, carrying out 12 acrobatic performances with three different partners.

For each routine, the man threw his female counterpart in the air – meaning she was highly dependent on him, while he was less dependent on her.

Before each performance, participants were asked to rate the confidence they had in their own ability, that of their teammate and the pairing overall. Each performance was scored independently by researchers and then rated by each participant.

The study concluded that sources of confidence differ depending on someone’s role in a team and the people they are working with. The more dependent a person was on someone else to perform in the group, the more their confidence depended on that person, the research found.

In the case of the highly dependent participants (the women), their confidence in their own ability, and that of their teammate and the pairing overall, changed ahead of each performance depending on their partner. The level of their own performance also changed.

In other words, they generally based their perception of their own ability, that of their teammates and the team overall on the person they were performing with.

In contrast, the confidence of the less dependent participants (the men) in themselves, their teammates and the group overall, remained stable and relative to their own ability, regardless of their partner. They rated others based on their own abilities.

The patterns were more apparent in the more difficult tasks.

Wider audience

Dr Habeeb said: “For men, regardless of the women’s ability, their performance remained stable and relative to their own ability.

“However, for the women, their scores changed with each partner. We witnessed their self-confidence change depending on their partner – and that was interesting. Their perceptions after the task also differed accordingly.

“This is important because many of us work in teams where we are dependent on others and, unknowingly, our perceptions of ourselves might be based on how others perform, instead of our own performance abilities.

“Another way to look at it is; our perceptions of others’ abilities may actually be a reflection of how we think about our own abilities.”

She added: “This updates our current understanding of how confidence emerges within groups and could have an effect on a much wider audience, such as military, police, and health sectors where there are hierarchies and persons of both low and high dependence.”

Dr Habeeb collaborated with Dr Pete Coffee, senior lecturer in Health Sciences and Sport, and Professor Robert Eklund, Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Florida State University.

The study, It depends on the partner: Person-related sources of efficacy beliefs and performance for athlete pairs, is published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.

Dr Habeeb is currently carrying out a second study to further investigate group dynamics, this time focusing on teams of four, all-female cheerleaders.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, Stirling study finds Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:05:00 +0000 Food shortages, climate change, children’s rights, big data and tobacco harm will be debated by leading academics, industry figures and politicians, at the University of Stirling’s 50th anniversary lecture series.

The Challenges of our Time programme will run from Monday 18 to Friday 22 September, and each lecture will feature talks and discussions focussing on a great challenge. The series will also showcase the role the University’s research and impact has played in each area, during the last 50 years.

The events are free to attend and open to all but as there has been significant interest, those planning to attend are asked to register in advance via the individual event pages for each lecture.

The following talks will take place during the Challenges of our Time series:

Monday 18 September (6pm-7pm)

The importance of Children's Rights: policy and research in Scotland

Chaired by Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, this two-part lecture will be delivered by Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, and Dr John I'Anson, Deputy Director of the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, based at the University of Stirling.

The session will look at the need for a far more mature understanding of how society and services can support children’s rights and how strengthening children’s rights benefits our society.

Tuesday 19 September (12:30pm-2pm)

Tobacco harm reduction: how e-cigarettes and vaping devices have transformed tobacco control 

Chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor of the University of Glasgow and featuring Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, Director of the Institute for Social Marketing and CRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention, and Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England.

The presentation will draw on a growing body of evidence from studies conducted at the University of Stirling, partner universities in the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and international academics, including evidence on: safety and risks; health effects; trends in use; smoking cessation; and harm perceptions.

Wednesday 20 September (1:30pm-3:30pm)

How to feed a growing population

This lecture will be introduced by Professor Maggie Cusack, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, with the keynote address delivered by Professor Tim Benton, Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House.

It will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Professor Rachel Norman, Chair of Food Security and Sustainability at the University of Stirling.

The lecture will explore one of the greatest challenges of our time; how to ensure everyone has access to safe and nutritious food in the light of a growing population, climate change and competing demands for resources such as water.

Thursday 21 September (6pm-7pm)

Big Data Revolution: Transforming Our Futures

Hosted by Professor George Burt, Deputy Dean of the Stirling Management School, this lecture boasts a number of notable speakers. Victoria Clark from The Datalab, Scotland’s data science innovation centre, will introduce the topic of the global data revolution. Raymond Martin, Customer Insight Manager at Virgin Money, and Jonathan Cameron, Head of Strategic Development at the NHS, will discuss how advanced analytics are helping to design and deliver better products and services.

The University’s Professor William Webster will close the event by highlighting the importance of sound data governance to safeguard data protection and privacy.

Friday 22 September (5:30pm-6:30pm)

Climate change: greatest human rights challenge of our times?

In this two-part talk, the Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland, and Dr Andrea Schapper, from the University’s Division of History and Politics, will speak about climate change, climate justice and sustainable development.

The lecture will explore how the relationship between climate change and human rights flows in two directions. On the one hand, the consequences of climate change – including droughts, floods and extreme weather events – lead to adverse effects on the right to life, the right to self-determination and the rights to food, water, adequate housing and health. On the other hand, the implementation of climate policy instruments can also infringe on the rights of local populations and indigenous peoples.

Following this talk, and to bring the Challenges of Our Time week to a close, the audience is invited to join Lord McConnell and members of the University at a drinks reception in the Crush Hall.

If you require any additional information about the Challenges of our Time series, please contact the University's Events Team at

Climate change among global challenges explored in University anniversary talks Fri, 15 Sep 2017 16:36:00 +0000 Six current and former University of Stirling scholar athletes recently competed against top international opposition in an exciting format of triathlon which will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

Two Triathlon Scotland teams, supported by the University of Stirling, travelled to Nottingham to take part in the inaugural Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup. Each team of four athletes comprised two females and two males.

The event required each athlete to complete a 300m swim in the River Trent, 7.5km cycle, and 1.5km run before tagging a team mate to do the same. The team whose four members crossed the line in the quickest cumulative time would be the winner.

The Stirling teams featured a mix of Triathlon Scotland’s promising juniors and established international athletes, including Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games competitors and University of Stirling graduates Marc Austin and Natalie Milne. Austin and Milne were joined by current students, Julie Nimmo, Fergus Roberts, Guy Evans-Haggerty and Cameron Main along with fellow Triathlon Scotland athletes, Iona Miller and Sophia Green.

With the race field including Olympians and strong teams from Australia, Canada, England, Germany and Japan, the event was a great learning experience for Stirling’s younger athletes.  The event in Nottingham city centre attracted crowds of 20,000 spectators and was broadcast live by the BBC.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University of Stirling, was in attendance to watch Stirling’s triathletes compete. She said: “It was a pleasure to be part of such an exciting event and witness young athletes supported by the University of Stirling compete among a field featuring world-class athletes.

“Mixed relay triathlon will feature at the Olympics for the first time in 2020 and competing in Nottingham gives these athletes valuable experience of an increasingly popular format of triathlon.”

The line-ups for each team were:

Stirling I

Iona Miller, Marc Austin, Julie Nimmo, Fergus Roberts

Stirling II

Natalie Milne, Guy Evans-Haggerty, Sophia Green, Cameron Main

Full results can be found here:

University of Stirling triathletes mix it with global field at inaugural relay event Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:30:00 +0000 MSPs have congratulated the University of Stirling on its 50th anniversary during a special debate at the Scottish Parliament.

Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford led a 40-minute discussion on the University’s history and success at Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon. Members from across the political spectrum joined Mr Crawford in celebrating Stirling’s achievements as the University’s Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac watched on from the public gallery.

Mr Crawford told Parliament: “On 18 September 1967, the doors to the University of Stirling opened for the very first time, admitting 195 students, 164 graduates and 31 postgraduates. It was the first genuinely new university in Scotland for 400 years.

“The royal charter was signed in November 1967 and the great seal of Scotland was applied the following month.”

Reflecting on the last 50 years, the SNP politician continued: “Stirling’s university has grown to become a global player in educational excellence, and I am delighted to lead this debate to highlight the significant history and achievements of this wonderful institution.

“The debate also gives us the opportunity to consider the massive contribution that the university makes to education, culture and research.”

Mr Crawford praised the work of the University’s co-founder and first principal, Tom Cottrell, for building a “thriving institution that continues to inspire to this day”.


Politicians also paid tribute to the University’s “unrivalled” contribution to sport, its state-of-the-art library and its “remarkable track record” for welcoming international students during the debate, which was broadcast live on the Scottish Parliament website and covered by the BBC.

Alexander Stewart, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, praised the University’s “huge contribution” to the economy of Stirling, citing its 14,000 students and 1,500 staff.

He also spoke of Stirling’s achievements, mentioning the launch of its unique master’s degree in palliative nursing care in 1997. He said: “I congratulate all who have contributed to and supported the University, and I wish it well in its prospects for the future.”

Claire Baker, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “I wish the University of Stirling, all its students – some of whom are starting out on their academic journey this week – and all the staff who work on the campus the very best on this special anniversary. It is a real landmark in the University’s life, and I wish everyone many successful years ahead.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell, one of the University’s 82,000 alumni, spoke fondly of his time at Stirling and recalled a political “poster war” between him and another former student, the SNP’s Richard Lochhead.

Mr Ruskell added: “Indeed, he might not know that it was me who used to rip down his posters.”

Mr Lochhead and Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart also contributed to the debate before Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, brought proceedings to a close.

Ms Somerville, also a former Stirling student, added: “As someone who studied at the University of Stirling for two years as a postgraduate and had a very happy time there, I along with colleagues who studied or worked there, am confident that the institution will build on the history that we are celebrating today.

“I am sure that we will be back in the Chamber in years to come to celebrate its further success.”

University of Stirling celebrated at the Scottish Parliament Thu, 14 Sep 2017 11:18:00 +0000 Language education students are swapping the University of Stirling campus for schools and universities around the world as part of an international placement programme.

Six Masters students in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) have travelled to Brazil, Germany and Hungary, to put their teaching skills to the test.

The overseas university partnership has tripled in size this year, with Hungary and Germany joining the potential placement destinations for students.

Peerapat Singlong, from Thailand, has recently travelled to Hungary to take up a teaching placement at Széchenyi István University in Győr. He said: “I am so glad that the MSc TESOL programme at the University of Stirling provides such a unique opportunity to students.

“As neither English nor Hungarian are my native languages, teaching English here in Győr will be very challenging for me.

“I’m looking forward to passing on all the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt from the MSc TESOL programme to my students, and I hope to see an academic growth in myself.”

Student Yingying Wu, from China, is undertaking a placement in Germany in partnership with Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.

She said: “When I moved to Stirling, it was the first time I had been away from China, and it’s been such an exciting experience.

“I’m now looking forward to applying the skills I have learnt in the MSc in TESOL at this University in another country and to gain experience teaching in a high school in Lüneburg.”


Stuart Milne, from Aberdeen, has travelled to São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil, alongside two other Stirling students – from Thailand and Vietnam. The Stirling cohort will help Brazilian undergraduates prepare to sit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.

He said: “I’ve never been to South America, so it will be fantastic to spend three months teaching there. I have taught at international language schools throughout Europe but, for me, the trip to Brazil will be an excellent opportunity to develop my career and embrace teaching English in a completely new context.”

In total, three Stirling students have travelled to Brazil, two to Germany and one to Hungary.

Dr Vander Viana, lecturer in TESOL and Applied Linguistics at the University of Stirling, said: “The opportunity to apply their English language teaching skills abroad is a fantastic opportunity for our TESOL students to practice what they learned throughout the year on the Master’s program and to add to the practical skill set that they need to enter or progress in the job market.

“We’re delighted to partner with three internationally renowned institutions to deliver these placements. The experience of working abroad helps students to learn about respect and diversity in other cultures as well as to develop their international outlook and intercultural competence, aspects which are most needed in today’s world.”

Stirling’s highly-successful TESOL postgraduate degree has been in place for nearly 30 years and currently supports 45 students.


Masters students apply teaching skills around the world Tue, 12 Sep 2017 11:21:00 +0000 A University of Stirling academic has won a prestigious literary prize for his book which details the early years of televised sport in Britain.

Richard Haynes, Professor of Media Sport, was awarded the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize by the British Society of Sports History (BSSH) for his book, BBC Sport in Black and White published by Palgrave Macmillan. The BSSH awards the annual prize to the best book on any aspect of the history of British sport or sports history book by a British author.

Professor Haynes’ latest book provides the first detailed account of the formative decades of BBC televised sport, providing insight into the launch of its flagship programmes Sportsview, Grandstand and Match of the Day. Through extensive research of the BBC’s archives and interviews with leading producers, editors and commentators from the time, many of whom have since past away, the book provides a behind-the-scenes history of a major British cultural institution.

BBC Sport in Black and White tells the story of those responsible for helping the BBC develop the techniques of televised sport, drawing on material collected from over a decade of research.

Professor Haynes, from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “It’s an honour to receive an award which recognises the quality of my book and the many years of research which went in to producing it. Sport has provided some of our nation’s most memorable televised events and this book investigates and celebrates the pioneers who made these possible.

“It’s as much a media as a sport history text and I hope it proves an enlightening and entertaining read for a diverse audience.”

The book was very well received by the BSSH’s three person judging panel, who described it as: ‘An engaging, indeed a refreshing, subject that is presented in a well written and well-structured way. Covering a range of sports, it forwards a convincing thesis on the pivotal role of broadcasting in the development, management and perception of sport, and vice versa.’

The BSSH promotes the study of the history of sport through a variety of activities including encouraging research, preserving sporting records, collaborating with museums, and engaging with the media.

Professor scores prestigious literary prize with sports history book Mon, 11 Sep 2017 15:33:00 +0000 A pioneering new study conducted by older people has provided valuable insight into what people want and need to make them happy as they age.

As part of the project, involving the University of Stirling and Age Scotland, community researchers aged between 50 and 84 were engaged to carry out their own research and analysis of Scotland’s older people and what they thought constituted a good quality of life.

The study, A Good Life in Later Years, was funded with a grant of £97,000 from the Life Changes Trust. Led by the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, the project actively involved the subjects of the research – older people - to play a central role themselves.

Thirty community researchers were recruited from five areas across the country – Aberdeen, Galashiels, Kilmarnock, Perth and Stirling – who then received training to collect data, carry out analysis and establish findings. The process allowed participants to learn new skills, refresh old skills, have their voices heard and also provided enjoyment.

The community researchers made key findings across a range of topic areas including communities, health and well-being, services and facilities, learning and education, and hobbies, pastimes and activities.

The data has already been used to inform Scottish Government policy and has also formed part of Age Scotland’s local election manifesto. The findings will be presented at a Scottish Parliament reception, hosted by Bruce Crawford MSP, tonight [6 September].

Unique approach

Principal investigator Dr Corinne Greasley-Adams, University of Stirling, said: “For this project, we used a unique approach that blended the knowledge and skills of both community and university researchers, whilst providing a platform for new learning and experiences.

“By doing this, we were able to demonstrate how it is possible to do research with people rather than about people that can make a real, tangible difference to their lives."

Community researchers began by capturing images which they thought conveyed a good quality of life in older age. One example showed walking boots and walking pole alongside a chair. This conveyed their idea that older people enjoyed being active – but also had to set aside rest time too.

For the second phase of the project, the community researchers established their own focus groups – involving other older members of their communities – to discuss the topics that had emerged from the images.

The project’s research phase concluded with a national survey of older people, which was composed by the community researchers and attracted a total of 748 responses.

Findings included:

  • Being part of a community is considered vital for a good life in older age, with more than 96 per cent of survey participants indicating such.
  • Health and well-being were also reported to be central factors in being able to live a good life in later years, as many reported living with a long-term condition. Walking, swimming and cycling are popular among older people for keeping fit, while crosswords and other puzzles allow people to keep mentally active.
  • Those living in rural areas raised concerns that they are on the periphery of public services. In one example, an island community was forced to travel to the mainland after the doctor service was removed.
  • Intergenerational aspects of community were found to be particularly important to those polled, with 82.3 per cent indicating that the most effective communities encourage generations to come together.
  • Some of those surveyed feared the potential impact of frailty and outliving family and friends, with people generally wanting their social connections to continue as they aged.
  • Technology is increasingly important in allowing older people to communicate with family and friends.
  • Having enough money to live relatively comfortably and not having to worry about struggling financially in their retirement is important to older people.

Independence, freedom and choice, good public transport and housing were also among the areas assessed as part of the study.


Bruce Crawford, MSP for Stirling, said: “It is a privilege to host a parliamentary reception to celebrate the success of this pioneering project from the University of Stirling and Age Scotland.

“I welcome the findings of this study, which provides an important insight into the lives of older people. This work will help to inform and influence future policy decisions to ensure that people in their later years continue to enjoy a good quality of life.

“It is great to see that older people themselves were empowered to be involved in this research and I congratulate all of those involved.”

Keith Robson, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “Age Scotland has been particularly pleased to be involved in this project because it has enabled older people themselves to take the lead in researching what issues are important for a good quality of life in later years. It shows that older people are concerned about stereotypes which we are committed to challenging. The report also highlights the importance of issues like good care services, access to transport, community resources, and intergenerational cohesion.  These findings will inform our future campaigns in these areas of policy.”

Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust Dementia programme said: “This project has given older people the opportunity to voice their own opinions and aspirations about what they think constitutes a ‘good life’ in later years, and what is needed to achieve this.  It asks what would best support people through changing needs and circumstances - for example retiring, becoming a carer or developing a long term condition like dementia.  This work will enable older people and services to think about how to plan better for later life in order to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.  The project has actively involved older people themselves, and the results will be used to influence policy development and service provision.”


Older people identify the key to happiness in later years Wed, 06 Sep 2017 09:01:59 +0000 A University of Stirling professor is leading calls for the Scottish Government to restrict supermarket promotions on unhealthy foods which contribute to obesity and related cancers.

A new survey by Cancer Research UK found that 89% of parents in Scotland believe supermarket promotions impact what they buy. With more than half (57%) stating that multi-buy offers lead to them buying more junk food than they really want, the charity is pushing for restrictions on such promotions.

Professor Linda Bauld, Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling and a Cancer Research UK cancer prevention champion, said: “These offers are persuading parents to ignore their shopping lists and buy cheap unhealthy food in large quantities.

“If that junk food sits in our kitchen cupboards, we’re tempted to keep reaching for it, even if it’s been bought as a treat. The consequence of this fatty and sugary food can be seen on growing waistlines across Scotland.

“As part of its expected strategy, the Scottish Government has an opportunity to help families make it easier to keep a healthy weight. By restricting offers on unhealthy food and drink, we can make our shopping baskets healthier.”

More than two thirds (71%) of parents think too much junk food is on promotion in supermarkets, and three quarters (75%) of those surveyed would like to see the focus shifted towards healthier items.

The Scottish Government is expected to publish its obesity strategy later this year. With obesity linked to 13 different types of cancer, Cancer Research UK is demanding strong action which its research results show the majority of parents support.


Limits on junk food promotion could help combat cancer Mon, 04 Sep 2017 16:47:07 +0000 University of Stirling triathlete, Cameron Richardson, wins ITU Junior Duathlon World Championship in Penticton, Canada

One of the University of Stirling’s newest sport scholars, Cameron Richardson, has made a blistering start to his university career as he became world junior duathlon champion at the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Penticton, Canada.

Taking on the world’s best young athletes, 19 year-old Richardson, who is due to start an accountancy degree in the new term, led from the front during the race.

The event consisted of a 5km run, 20km cycle and 2.5km run, which the young Stirling Triathlon Club athlete won in a time of 58 minutes and 7 seconds. His first success on the world stage is still sinking in.

He said: “I can’t even put it in to words yet, it’s still not really sunk in. I couldn’t honestly comprehend it and I’m still in disbelief!

“I took the first run out pretty fast then slowed it down and controlled it. I could see a few guys were suffering going into the second lap, so I tried to pick up the pace again and ended up dropping a few of the good cyclists. Then I just attacked going into transition and managed to open a bit of a gap on the bike.”

Despite his race plan resulting in the gold medal, it wasn’t all plain-sailing for Richardson as a misplaced helmet caught the attention of the marshals.

“I actually ended up with a ten second time penalty because I missed the box where you’re supposed to put your helmet during transition and didn’t realise before continuing on the run, so was pulled up and had to serve a standstill penalty. However, it gave me a chance to look back and see I had a substantial gap between me and the chasers.”

Originally from Cumbernauld, Richardson left school a year early to join the Triathlon Scotland High Performance Centre at the University of Stirling, which acts as a British Triathlon satellite training centre for elite competitors. As he starts his degree, Richardson will also become part of the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and he’s confident he made the right the choice.

“I’d been running in my local club for five or six years and it got to a point where I was struggling to get much better so felt a change of scenery was required and I decided to come to Stirling.

“It’s just an amazing university. The facilities are world-class with the National Swimming Academy, and a really good track, as well as there being brilliant trails and hills in the surrounding area.

“As well as training with the university group, my main training partner is Grant Sheldon who races on the World Series circuit. Grant’s a world-class athlete and I feel working with him gives me an extra edge over the guys I race because I’m always chasing in training.

“Since joining the programme, I’ve gradually progressed from 10 hours a week of training to roughly 30 and completely changed my strength and conditioning programme which has led to a dramatic improvement in both my running and cycling. The next step is to get my swim sorted!”

The University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme is one of the largest high performance sports programmes in the UK and has supported more than 700 student athletes since its inception in 1981. Working closely with dedicated high performance coaches and support staff, Stirling athletes enjoy regular success at national and international competitions, including the Olympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Richardson on top of the world at Duathlon Champs Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:23:00 +0000 Big charities were more likely to pay a voluntary fundraising levy than smaller ones, a University of Stirling academic has found.

The finding emerged in Dr Alasdair Rutherford's analysis of data from both the Fundraising Regulator for England and Wales, and the Charities Commission.

Dr Rutherford said: "It is critically important to build trust in the charitable sector, and to ensure good practice in fundraising. But in naming charities who have decided not to contribute, a distinction should be made between those large charities who have opted out, and the smaller charities who have been caught up in the Levy due to an exceptional year in 2014.

"This affects only a small number of charities, but being named and shamed could have consequences for their reputations."

About 84% of the 1,665 eligible charities have paid the Levy and signed-up to the new Fundraising Regulator. The largest charities are most likely to have paid (93%), with lower take-up amongst smaller charities (82%).

Dr Rutherford said: "Some smaller charities with fluctuating fundraising expenditure refusing to pay may feel that the way the threshold has been assessed is unfair. Most of the largest fundraising charities have joined the new Regulator, but it is right that questions are asked of those large charities that have taken the decision not to participate in the regulation."

A number of recent fundraising controversies led to calls for increased regulation and, in July 2016, the new Fundraising Regulator took over from the Fundraising Standards Board. The new regulator was to be funded by a ‘voluntary levy’ collected from all charities fundraising in England & Wales who spent over £100,000 on fundraising in 2014.

This consisted of an annual payment of between £150 and £15,000, depending on how much each charity spent on fundraising. In addition, charities spending less than the threshold could also choose to register for £50 per year.

Registration involves committing to upholding the revised Code of Fundraising Practice, and allows charities to use the Fundraising regulator’s badge on their website and marketing materials as a marker of good practice. The new regulator has also committed to greater transparency, and has published details of all the charities who have joined in the first year.

The Fundraising Regulator originally indicated around 2,000 organisations would fall under the levy, confirming at the end of August that 1,665 charities had been approached. The responses of 1,570 charities were released, with a further 95 unnamed charities still in negotiations.

Of the data released, 104 are exempt from registration with the Charity Commission, while the remainder can be linked with Charity Register data in order to explore their characteristics.

However, charitable funding is volatile, and the amount spent each year on fundraising for those close to the threshold of £100,000 can vary dramatically. A total of 93 charities who crossed the threshold in 2014 spent less than £100,000 on fundraising in 2015.

More than a third of these reported no spending on fundraising at all in 2015.

Dr Rutherford, a Senior Lecturer in Social Statistics, said: "Many of these organisations may understandably feel that determining eligibility based on one year of data is unfair."

The data released by the Fundraising Regulator confirms that 1,407 charities have paid, or 84% of the organisations approached. If all ongoing negotiations were successful, this has the potential to take this figure to over 90% for the next year.

Nearly 90% of the charities who spent large sums on fundraising across both 2014 and 2015 have paid the Levy in the first year. Charities with falling fundraising expenditure are a little less likely to have paid, with 86% joining the scheme.

The vast majority of the Levy payers operate in the fields of Education and Research; Health; or Social Services. This includes many universities, as well as large charities providing health and social care services.

Participation is fairly consistent across different fields of charitable activity. The lowest participation in the regulation is amongst organisations operating in the fields of Religion; Professional Associations; and Culture & Recreation - although all of these have achieved participation above 75%.

Dr Rutherford said: "In order to ensure that the Levy is as fair as possible, the Fundraising Regulator should consider ways in which multiple years of fundraising expenditure are taken into account when assessing eligibility to pay the Levy.

"Reputation is a critical element for charities building relationships with donors. The reputation of the sector can be affected by the actions of a small number of misbehaving charities, and the firmer focus on good fundraising practice and independent regulation is designed to build confidence in those charities who are taking their responsibilities seriously.

"Increased transparency - and the availability of data - makes checking up on the charities we support even easier."

Charity fundraising regulation in the spotlight Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:51:00 +0000