All entries for October 2010

October 29, 2010

Warwick Week – Women Philosophers, Sperm Banking and GDP

Where are the women philosophers?

On Wednesday, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour looked at the study of Philosophy at University. A group of students from the University gave their views on the study of philosophy and Dr Angie Hobbs discussed the relationship that women have with philosophy.

Last week the Wiltshire town of Malmesbury branded itself the UK’s first philosophy town. But when it comes to the study of philosophy at university, women are largely under-represented in teaching posts. Jenni explores the reasons and examines why female philosophy students seem to prefer applied philosophy such as the study of ethics, whereas male students are drawn to the theoretical side such as the study of logic. She is joined by Dr Angie Hobbs, Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, also appointed as one of Malmesbury’s “town philosophers” and Professor Helen Beebee, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham and Director of the British Philosophical Association.

Listen again on the Woman’s Hour website >>

Male cancer patients are missing out on sperm banking

A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and conducted by researchers at Warwick Medical School has shown that only half of oncologists and haematologists across the UK agreed that information on sperm banking is readily available to patients, despite national guidelines which state sperm banking should be offered. In a survey of nearly 500 clinicians, the researchers also found that 21 per cent were unaware of any local policies on sperm banking.

Read the press release on the Cancer Research UK website >>

So we've built a chocolate race-car, but can we build a "gravy train"?

CBC Radio in Canada have been discussing Toronto's mayoral contest and the crticism that candidates and politicans have received for riding the "gravy train". They asked Dr Steven Maggs, Principal Teaching Fellow at WIMRC and Project Director (Warwick Formula Student) whether it would be possible to build a real life "gravy train".

Read more and listen to the interview on the CBC Radio website >>

Examining the Economy

On Tuesday, the Office of National Statistics published its estimate of GDP for the third quarter of 2010. Prof Nick Crafts, Director, CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy) was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s breakfast show talking about what these latest figures say about the growth of the economy under the coalition government.

Listen again (2:15.16) >>

Have you heard Warwick in the news this week? Please do share anything you have found interesting...


October 22, 2010

Warwick Week – Comprehensive Spending Review

This week, the whole country has been discussing the Comprehensive Spending Review. There are still significant unanswerable questions regarding how it will change the nature of the UK economy but Warwick academics have been having their say…

Vice-Chancellor Prof Nigel Thrift on Higher Education

Now that the Government has announced the outcome of its Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) we are beginning to get some indication of the level of the cut to public funding of higher education in England.

While we have yet to see the detail the CSR does appear to include a significant cut in University funding as was suggested in a wide range of news media over the last few weeks.

Read the full comment on the University website >>

Angie Hobbs on Fairness

The Comprehensive Spending Review announcements have prompted many discussions on the concept of “fairness”.  Are the spending cuts fair? Is fairness too expensive? In a feature on Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Angie Hobbs explains the philosophy of fairness.

Listen again on the BBC Radio 4 Today website >>
You can also read an interview with Angie Hobbs on The Knowledge Centre >>

Lord Robert Skidelsky on Growth Prospects

Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor in Politics and International Studies said Mr Osborne's cuts would "directly worsen immediate growth prospects". Writing in the New Statesman, Lord Skidelsky said:

What are the prospects for Osborne's cuts? They will directly worsen immediate growth prospects, as the Office for Budget Responsibility concedes, and they will not in themselves bring about offsetting reductions in long-term interest rates.

For this, we need quantitative easing (printing money) and it is no secret that this is what the Chancellor relies on to vindicate his policy.

Yet one would be wrong to think this is a cure-all ... the injection of £200 billion of new money in 2009 failed to revive lending and borrowing on the scale needed for robust recovery, and it is not clear why the Chancellor and the governor of the Bank of England expect another monetary injection to do any better now.

Lord Skidelsky’s comments were featured as the lead essay in this week’s issue of New Statesman >>

Wyn Grant on Social Security

In an article on bloomberg.com, Prof Wyn Grant commented on the social-security spending cuts:

Local agents who administer benefits are subject to local political pressures… Even if the local administrators do not know the people whose cases they administer, there may well be a local culture that is sympathetic to, for example, people who have been unemployed for long periods of time.’’

Read the full article on Bloomberg.com >>l

Prof Mark Harrison on the Welfare State

Prof Mark Harrison, Department of Economics was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on Thursday morning looking at the future of the Welfare State – have George Osborne’s cuts made it a thing of the past?

Listen to the interview here on BBC iPlayer (0:05.30) >>

Prof Mark Harrison, also looks at the principles and the future of the welfare state after George Osborne’s cuts on his blog:

Panic is in the air, especially in the British public sector. Yesterday's comprehensive spending review prompted BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire to ask me this morning if this marks the end of Britain’s welfare state.

There will be a major contraction, for sure. At the same time, it is far from the end of welfarism as we have known it since the late 1940s. George Osborne’s cuts, if and when they take effect, will bring the government’s share of GDP back down just below 40 percent – that is, where it was in the early 2000s. At that time, less than a decade ago, the welfare state was still alive and well.

What will have changed? Most likely tomorrow's welfare state will be smaller than it is now. And the principles on which it is based are evolving. But given the scale of cutbacks, the evolution of the principles is surprisingly slow.

Read the full blog post here >>

An Academic Analysis

The morning after the Comprehensive Spending Review announcements, Prof Abhinay Muthoo from the Department of Economics, Prof Wyn Grant from the Department of Politics and International Studies, and David Elmes, Director of the Global Energy MBA at Warwick Business School, got together to talk through some of the details in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review .

Watch the video here >>


October 15, 2010

Warwick Week – Fairness, The Browne Review, Government Spending and 100 Objects

Warwick in the News

What is Fairness?
What is a fair world? What does it mean to be fair? This week, Radio 4 have been exploring the topic of “fairness” and on Monday, Dr Angie Hobbs, Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy considered the concept of “fairness” and what it means.

It rests on the assumption that each person matters in themselves and is more than a number. To put it formally, persons are separate bearers of human dignity and rights so any distributions, transactions or cuts that disregard the dignity and rights of the individual will therefore, not be fair.

Listen again to Dr Angie Hobbs >> (1:14.09)

Vice-Chancellor comments on the Browne Review
Tuesday saw the publication of Lord Browne’s review on university funding in England. The review recommends a significant increase in the cap on the undergraduate student fees and changes to the pattern of interest rate charges on student loans. Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift commented:

...there is much yet that has to be resolved before we can be sure of the full implications of this review for Warwick or any other English university. The report will be debated and considered by both government and parliament before any of its recommendations are adopted, amended or even set aside. We also await the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR)  which will have a significant impact on the consequences of the Browne review if, as is expected, it includes a significant cut to University funding.

Read the Vice-Chancellor's comments in full >>

Government spending and GDP
Prof Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy (Department of Economics) was on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday discussing government spending and GDP with Jonathan Freedland. The programme compared the present public spending review with the 'Geddes Axe' of 1921-22.
Listen again >>

Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Honorary Graduate Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The award was given "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."
Find out more about Mario Vargas >>

A History of the World in 100 Objects
Vice-Chancellor Prof Nigel Thrift appeared on Radio 4’s “History of the World in 100 Objects” on Tuesday discussing the marine chronometer that accompanied Darwin to South America and its role in measuring time and geography.
Listen again >>
(07:27)

Linda Norgrove
The University was saddened to hear the news reports last weekend on the death of WBS student Linda Norgrove. She had almost completed her WBS Distance Learning MBA, and had been serving as an aid worker in Afghanistan. She was taken as a hostage in September and was killed in the course of a rescue attempt on Friday 8 October.
Read more about Linda Norgrove >>

Comment

Higher Education: Who Else Should Pay? Mark Harrison

The Browne report, Securing a sustainable future for higher education in England, says higher education should be paid for by those that benefit from it: our graduates. It also says they should pay later, in easy instalments, and only when they can clearly afford it, with all risk transferred to the government and universities.

It looks to me like a no-brainer ... Yet lots of people are showing signs of moral outrage.
A question the critics seldom address is: Who else should pay for my degree?
The taxpayer is usually implied. But here's the problem: tax-financed higher education involves a lot of poor-to-rich redistribution.

Read more on Professor Mark Harrison’s Blog >>


October 08, 2010

Warwick Week – JLR, Inbetweeners, Digital Healthcare, Warwick Ventures and Alzheimer's

Warwick in the News

Jaguar Land Rover advanced research group to relocate to the University of Warwick
Jaguar Land Rover is to relocate its 170-person advanced research group to the University of Warwick as part of a strategy to raise vehicle production from fewer than 100,000 to 300,000 a year.
Read more on FT.com >>

The Inbetweeners take “A Trip to Warwick”
The latest episode of hit comedy The Inbetweeners saw the guys take a trip to “Warwick”. The show aired on Monday 4th October but as our alumni will have noticed, the show wasn’t actually filmed at Warwick at all! 
Find out more on E4.com >>

Announcements

New Institute of Digital Healthcare
The University of Warwick has joined forces with NHS West Midlands to create the new Institute of Digital Healthcare, a collaboration aimed at improving people’s health and wellbeing through the use of innovative technologies. The Institute was officially launched on Wednesday 6th October.
Read the Press Release >>

Launch of Warwick Ventures Ltd!
After 10 years helping Warwick academics launch spin-out companies and commercialise their research, the University of Warwick's technology transfer office is set to become a spin-out company in its own right. Warwick Ventures Ltd will be launched to a selection of invited guests at London's Buckingham Gate hotel on Monday October 11at an event that will also celebrate the organisation's achievements over the past decade.
Visit the Warwick Ventures website >>

Warwick Comment

Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at University of Warwick backs Alzheimer's drug U-turn by NICE

Professor Donald Singer, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Warwick has spoken in support of new plans to allow access to drugs for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Current rules prevent doctors prescribing three drugs, donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine, in early cases of the disease. However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)  now says evidence backs the use of drugs for mild symptoms.

Professor Donald Singer said:

The proposal by NICE to extend its guidance to include access for 3 drugs (donepezil, galantamine and rivastigimine) to patients with much milder disease than previously eligible is excellent news for patients with Alzheimer's disease and their families. It is also very encouraging to have in the guidance a new treatment option (memantine) for patients with more severe disease. 

People with serious conditions such as Alzheimer's may naturally express concern about how long this has taken. However it is essential that health policy makers have convincing evidence both for effectiveness and risk before making a medicine available to people who could benefit. Consider the recent public concern about regulation of the diabetes drug rosiglitazone, for which an unexpected increase in cardiovascular risk appears to have occurred after it became widely available. It will still be very important to remain vigilant for possible unexpected risks of the Alzheimer's treatments, as these drugs will now be exposed to large numbers of people, who may also be medically more complex, and therefore more at risk of adverse effects, than in the clinical trials on which the NICE guidance has been based.

Read the article on the Telegraph website >>


October 01, 2010

Warwick Week – Miliband, IGGY, Diabetes, WBS Branding, Life Sciences

Warwick in the News

Wyn Grant discusses David Milband’s departure from front-line politics
Prof Wyn Grant, Politics and International Studies, was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on Wednesday evening talking about David Miliband’s departure from front-line politics. Wyn said;

I think it was quite difficult for him because he has been the front-runner in the election, up to the last minute he thought that he had won and then to be defeated by a very narrow margin, that was psychologically difficult. He also has a young family and I think he would probably like to spend a bit of time with them as they are growing up.

I think it’s quite possible that at some future shadow cabinet election he might decide then that he can stand again but as he said in his statement he hopes he will be doing policy background work for the party.

Discussing David Miliband’s response to Ed ‘s comments on Iraq, Wyn said:

I think he was really quite annoyed about that comment about Iraq, I mean obviously I think in that speech yesterday Ed Miliband was trying to tack both to the left and to the right and what he said about Iraq was something to reassure those on the left of the party. But of course Iraq’s not really a live issue any more, the live issue in terms of foreign policy is Afghanistan.

Listen to the full discussion on BBC iPlayer (0:26.40) >>

Donald Singer discusses Diabetes on BBC Arabic TV
Professor Donald Singer took part in a live TV interview on BBC Arabic TV Live News on the 26th September for a report on a new gene abnormality in migraine which may provide a new biomarker to help in treatment choice in migraine. It is thought that the new discovery may give clues to development of new treatment approached in selected patients - a further advance in personalising medicines.
Watch the video (translated into Arabic) >>

Nurturing Gifted and Talented Youth
Prof George Rowland, Department of Physics was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire earlier this week talking about the International Gateway for Gifted Youth. Prof Rowland spoke to Annie Othen about the importance of providing opportunities for talented young people to help them reach their potential.
Listen again (1:11.13) >>

Announcements

The New School of Life Sciences
As of today (1 October 2010) the Department of Biological Sciences and Warwick HRI have officially amalgamated to form the new School of Life Sciences. This exciting initiative brings together the renowned research and teaching excellence in the two departments, and will form a platform to further enhance multidisciplinary Life Sciences activity in the University.
Find out more on the Life Sciences website >>

New branding for Warwick Business School
On Monday, Warwick Business School unveiled their new corporate logo and launched a new design for their website. At the official unveiling of the logo, Dean of Warwick Business School, Professor Mark Taylor, said:

Today is the first day of our new WBS brand, and I have to say I am delighted with it. The logo is modern yet timeless, clear and striking, and implies a dynamic and forward-looking institution; the blue background also co-brands us with the rest of the University.

Watch a video of the event on the WBS website >>

Research News

£650,000 Funding Grant Awarded to West Midlands’ Foremost Research Universities
The University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham have been awarded a £650,000 research grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a collaborative project developing new materials for a highly efficient class of fuel cells. The research will investigate novel doping strategies to improve the performance of electrolyte and electrode materials for use in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell systems.
Read the press release >>



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