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    Archive for the 'Maths and Physical Sciences' Category

    Education Select Committee Brexit hearing session at UCL

    By Melissa Bradshaw, on 9 February 2017

    On 25 January, the Education Select Committee held the second Oral Evidence Session of its inquiry on the effect of Brexit on higher education (HE) at UCL.

    The committee heard evidence from UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education) Sorana Vieru and representatives of University and College Union, Erasmus Student Network UK, Universities UK, the British Council and London Economics.

    There was a strong consensus on the potentially damaging effects of Brexit on HE, and an urgent call for the government to do more to address them.

    Professor Michael Arthur

    Professor Michael Arthur

    The hearing took place just over a week after Theresa May’s historic speech on the UK’s strategy for exiting the European Union, and evidence was heard in two panels.

    The Chair of the Education Committee, Neil Carmichael MP, began each session by asking the panellists for their reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech.

    Every one of the panellists welcomed the tone of the speech and its emphasis on a “global Britain”, but called for immediate action and more specific detail – particularly in regard to the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK.

    Referring to the Prime Minister’s expressed wish to guarantee the rights of EU citizens, Professor Arthur said: “I’d like to challenge the Prime Minister to go one step further and take the initiative to make the guarantee and challenge the rest of the EU to follow”, arguing that this would give Britain the moral high-ground and provide the negotiations a foundation of good will.

    The committee heard evidence of the significant contribution of the higher education sector to the British economy, including the contributions EU staff and students make to the wider economy when they are residing here.

    Dr Gavan Conlon (London Economics) also argued that, with education the UK’s fifth largest services export, the HE sector can generate revenue that could contribute to the government’s proposed industrial strategy.

    The panellists spoke of the positive contributions that EU staff and students make in terms of diversity and ‘soft power’, contributing to Britain’s prestigious academic profile and giving their British peers invaluable experience in international engagement, leadership and collective problem solving. “For a global Britain we need global graduates”, said Rosie Birchard (Erasmus Student Network UK).

    The committee also heard evidence that currently UK HE “punches well above its weight” globally – thanks, in part, to our membership of the EU. Jo Beall (British Council) pointed to statistics showing that the UK leads the world in research quality (by field-weighted citation impact) and 1 in 10 world leaders were educated here.

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    Launching a citizen science paper at the League of European Research Universities

    By Guest Blogger, on 7 December 2016

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    Written by Alice Sheppard – Community Manager, UCL ExCiteS

    A little over a year ago, many academics and I – not, then, an academic, but a long-time citizen science volunteer – gathered in Zurich for a day of presentations and panels to discuss the idea of creating a set of standards and recommendations for citizen science across and beyond Europe.

    Should citizen science have policies and guidelines, or would this be too prescriptive or restrictive? What would ensure that everyone, and science itself, benefitted?

    The conference organisers spent the next several months writing a paper of guidelines for researchers and policies for universities wishing to engage in citizen science, which they launched this year’s event in Brussels. I have since started working at UCL, and I was asked to introduce citizen science as a concept, from the perspective of both a volunteer and an academic.

    Katrien Maes and Daniel Wyler presented the paper, ‘Citizen science at universities’. Citizen science, an activity where a person not in an academic institution contributes their time to scientific activities, is not new.

    Renaissance science was mostly practised by wealthy “gentlemen scientists” (whose wives and other nearby women were often unacknowledged contributors!), and Charles Darwin corresponded with thousands of citizens who recorded aspects of nature around them.

    mulitple citizen science projects slide

    But in the digital age citizen science is undergoing a revival. There is huge new potential for communication between scientists and the public and for data collection and analysis.

    Therefore, the paper states, it is important to do three things: citizen science practitioners should collaborate and share best practices; we should create platforms that support a wide variety of citizen science projects, so as to create more public awareness and increase opportunities; and we should not treat citizen scientists simply as agents to get the simple but lengthy tasks done, but to involve them at all stages of the research process, from beginnings to publication.

    I was pleased to see advice to use open science and to plan properly for substantial community management. This means not treating citizen scientists as colleagues, taking into account adequate communication with them, tracking not only what they are doing but also their diversity and numbers, and of course properly acknowledging their work.

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    UCL in the Middle East: crossing cultures

    By Guest Blogger, on 21 September 2016

    pencil-iconWritten by Sophie Vinter, Global Engagement Communications Officer

    “When we talk about the Middle East we’re talking about many places and very different contexts – what goes for Qatar is not the same as for a refugee camp in Syria.”

    The panel of the inaugural ‘UCL in the Middle East’ event nodded in agreement at the words of Dr Seth Anziska (UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies), who was joining in a lively discussion by Skype from the USA.

    Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

    Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

    Focusing on a range of contemporary issues – ranging from urban development and cultural heritage to healthcare and education – ‘UCL in the Middle East’ was the second regional-specific event that had been organised by Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & the Middle East) and the Global Engagement Office. The first event, Knowledge Africa, took place in June.

    Open to academics and professional services staff from around the university, these events have offered the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers, network and take part in panel discussions to share ideas and learn more about UCL’s collaborations in a specific area of the world.

    Questions from the audience encouraged thought-provoking debate on some hot topics in the Middle East, including the balance of encouraging entrepreneurship while also allowing for intellectual property ownership and the idea of post-conflict ‘interventionism’.

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    Leading researchers debate survival to 22nd century at It’s All Academic Campaign launch

    By Guest Blogger, on 16 September 2016

    pencil-icon Written by Abigail Smith, Head of Supporter Communications – Office of the Vice-Provost (Development)

    Some of UCL’s leading academics joined together last night for a public event to answer the question “How Will Society Survive to the 22nd Century?” at the launch of It’s All Academic – UCL’s biggest ever philanthropic giving campaign.

    With a target of £600m, the Campaign aims to raise more money and engage more people with UCL and our work than ever before.

    UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

    UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

    The launch event brought nearly 1,000 people to UCL’s Logan Hall to hear what the future might hold from a great line up of speakers, chaired by ITN Economics Editor and UCL alumna and honorary professor Noreena Hertz.

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