Archive

Archive for December, 2010

Birmingham University Involved in Reconstructive Collaboration (case study published in University Business January issue)

The University of Birmingham has undertaken it’s most ambitious reconstruction in 30 years in partnership with Berkshire Consultancy Ltd.

Working towards creating five distinct university colleges by 2010 from the existing 19 subject based schools, the University aimed to create a more stable and flexible business foundation to meet the commercial pressures arising in the sector whilst retaining growth in research and postgraduate study.

The project, which was completed early last year, was initiated in 2005 as part of five year business plan. working in close cooperation with Berkshire Consultancy Ltd (BCL).

Heading the structural change programme was the People and Organisation Development Team (POD), led by Sally Worth, which is a division of the University’s Human Resources Team at the University.

In order to design and implement the new management and operational structure POD cooperated with BCL to design a bespoke programme that tailored to the unique needs of the institutions academic, non-academic, managerial and non-managerial staff.

Worth commented that they brought BCL into the restructuring programme because of their experience and the fact that their team: “demonstrated a commitment to understanding our specific needs from the word go.”

Both parties understood the potential upheaval the project could cause, and therefore undertook a needs analysis with 30 key stakeholders looking to maximise the transference of key skills and knowledge at every stage.

Two workshop stands were initiated in advance of the programme, which allowed staff of all levels to attend flexible events as and when the developments affected them. These workshops focused on providing the practical and psychological support for both managers and staff to maximise the benefits of the new structure and ensure that they had the skills needed to design and translate the changes in to local college specific perspective.

BCL and POD made sure all information was available before, during and after the restructuring process. At the end of the period BCL began a handover stage to in-house personnel, so the University’s staff could continue to provide support into the future.

According to both parties the development has gone ahead without major upheaval. Therese Turner, Account Director of the BCL team stated that: “Now the new structure is in place and all staff are pulling in the same direction. Birmingham University is now well placed to cope with new challenges facing the eduction sector.

Worth commented that the transition to the new structure was extremely smooth and added: “Rather than worry about the change, we have experienced a real buy-in from staff and excitement about the new structure.”

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The Pro Bono Approach (feature published in University Business Jauary Issue)

It has never been unusual for students take part in voluntary or pro bono work, even if it is just to add some vital experience to their CV’s.

In a market with an ever increasing amount of graduates for a limited number of positions having hands-on experience on leaving university can have a massive influence on employers hiring decisions. What is more unusual is the way that some universities are now integrating this work into their curriculum.

The University of West England runs a legal clinic, Community Legal Advice and Representation Service (CLARS), in conjunction with the Citizens Advice Bureau. Over 200 students work with a team of academics to interview and advise locals on a range of legal issues.

Heading the project is Marcus Keppell-Palmer who has spoken exclusively to University Business regarding the integration of this scheme in to their course.

Mr Keppell-Palmer stated that UWE has recognised the value of incorporating work within students degrees and that they are hoping to incorporate more placements into the course structure.

He continues, saying that: “students who work in our Street Law project and in our Innocence project my use their experience as the basis of their year-long placement in our Law in Action placement module.”

Any student on the Barristers Course can claim a module of work if they work enough cases through CLARS..

They are not the only institution beginning to put practical placements on to the curriculum. The University of Birmingham has recently extended it’s Free legal Advice Group (FLAG), and at Oxford Brookes they are beginning to add one day a week placements to the accountancy course.

The Accounting for Charities: Engaging Students (ACES) scheme was launched in January 2010 between Brookes and Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), and it puts second year undergraduates into local charities to run their books.

Catherine Dilnot, senior lecturer at the Business School, has told University Business that the project has now been approved as an independent study module, incorporated into the BSc Accounting and Finance.

Whilst students currently participate in these schemes out of the goodness of their hearts and for their CV’s, but as more and more universities start to create links with both NPOs and private businesses it seems likely that more placements could be integrated in to degree courses.

 

Big Green Week (feature published in University Business December Issue)

The University of Leicester have been supporting energy saving week and pledging their commitment to reduce their carbon emissions this month by staging it’s biggest ever environmental festival – The Big Green Week 2010.

Held over the 25-31st October, Big Green Week was a festival of events to show the University’s support to the Government’s aim of reducing the UK emissions of CO2 by 60 percent.

Although it carried a serious message, Big Green Week was a fun and friendly event, intending to bring people together behind the cause. The main message was sustainability, be it in eating or travelling, or even in the home.

The main exhibit was the Carbon Cube, a 8.24m³ cube of scaffolding and mesh representing the space taken up by a metric ton of CO2, on view at the heart of campus. The Carbon Cube was a life-size monument of the amount of the stuff we pump into the atmosphere.

Environmental Manager, Dr Emma Fieldhouse commented that reactions to the exhibit were polarised: “many people were impressed with the visual representation of the tonne of carbon dioxide and others appeared to not want to know what their own impacts could be.”

Visitors to the Carbon Cube were encouraged to take part in a carbon footprint calculation, with every participants name entered into a prize draw to potentially win one of a range of prizes. There were five carbon footprint stations around campus for the week, the most notable being the mobile rickshaw darting around the campus.

Each day of the week had a different theme, beginning with Monday’s ‘use less energy’. Kicking off the week was a debate on climate change. Tuesday and Wednesday’s eating and travelling sustainability events included a local food fayre and a bicycle workshop. Thursday focused on recycling, but the main event was to culminate on the Friday.

Students and visitors came together to spell UoL Goes Green in Victoria Park. Setting people up in formation, the message could be read from roofs and this year the Big Green Statement was intended to be bigger and more powerful than any made previously.

Every day the Big Switch Off was set up at 6pm, for people to come and pledge to switch of as many appliances as possible with the aim of saving not just the environment, but also the climate. Around the Big Green Week 2007 there was a massive reduction in electricity use, with the University itself estimating its saving at £60,000. This year they continued to encourage all visitors to get behind this scheme and help attain even more fantastic results.

Running throughout the week was the open air photography exhibition, Hard Rain. Viewed by at least 15 million people in over 100 venues worldwide, this is Mark Edwards’ photographic illustration of the Bob Dylan song ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. On Wednesday the 27th Mark himself performed a presentation for free of his famous exhibit.

Environmental groups applauded the work done that week, which was sponsored by the WWF. A spokesperson for the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges stated: “the EAUC fully supports the work that Leicester do and is excited by the innovative approach.”

 

Spending Cuts In The Animation Industry (As published in Imagine: the magazine for professionals in the animation industry)

With the release of the Comprehensive Spending Review on the 20th October and the budget on the 3th November professionals have been concerned over how these cut-backs will affect them and their businesses.

The animation industry is so varied that it has been hard to tell how the cuts will affect the industry as a whole. Will the cuts made by the Culture, Media and Sport’s Ministry have an impact on our animation film industry? Do the Business, Innovation and Skills Ministry believe that our high-tech animators, especially in the video games industry, will see any of their £200m planned investment in high-tech industries? Here at Imagine, we asked professionals in the industry how they felt the cuts would affect them.

With cuts set at 25 per cent across the board, the animation industry will be hit hard in more than a few places it seems. Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, the trade association representing the UK’s video gaming industry, has been campaigning for two years to try and get games tax relief from the government.

In an exclusive statement to Imagine, Wilson told us that: “We believe that the loss of games tax relief will lead to a decline in the UK development workforce.”

Having worked so hard to get he previous government to add this proposal to the budget talks, Wilson was shocked that the coalition dropped it from their talks this June.

Over the last two years the number of employees in the computer games industry has dropped by nine per cent. Wilson is determined to keep campaigning and arguing with the government to get tax relief for the gaming industry, which he claims could generate up to £415m in tax receipts to the Treasury.

The video games industry is not the only concerned party. In June this year, production companies including Blue Zoo and Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, banded together as Animation UK called on the government to award them similar tax benefits as those awarded to the film industry.

Their campaign, Save UK Animation, was launched before the coalition announced their emergency budget. Both parties in the coalition proposed supporting the creative industries whilst in opposition, but now the cuts have come and the creative industries are being hit hard.

The global animation industry is estimated to be worth £200bn, but the industry in the UK is worth just £120m. Many professionals in the industry are worried that the cuts will result in the UK’s animation industry losing home-grown talent.

Miles Bullough, speaking on behalf of Aardman Animations, commented that: “If every country took away their financial support then the UK’s position in the international market would strengthen immeasurably because we are so good at it … as long as so many countries provide financial support to their production sectors we are at a disadvantage and we are losing to our overseas competitors.”

Wilson echoes these sentiments. When we asked him if he thought that the rise in university tuition fees to £9,000 a year would put students off studying animation he said he “hoped they wouldn’t” and said that universities in this country that provide courses in animation must be supported by the government in the same way as our competitors in Canada and Korea are.

The light on the horizon seems to be Business Secretary Vince Cable’s announcement on the 25th October that there will be a £200m investment in the high-tech industries. This could allow animators in both the film and games industry being able to claim a bit of government funding, but as Wilson points out, “It won’t simply be the development sector, or the animation sector that benefits from such a fund.”