Staffordshire University graduates take ministerial positions in Kosovo

Staffordshire University economists have been working in the Balkans for over 20 years to assist with the reconstruction of those economies.  This has involved economics Masters and PhD training for several hundred people. Professors Iraj Hashi, Geoff Pugh, Jean Mangan and Nick Adnett have been the main staff involved with this work, and more recently Dr Mehtap Hisarciklilar and Dr Ian Jackson. Funding to support this work has come from the Open Society Foundation and Chevening Scholarships.

Two Staffordshire University graduates have recently been promoted to the cabinet rank in Kosovo’s new Government.

Dr. Avdullah Hoti, who completed his MSc in Economics for Business Analysis in 2002 and PhD in Economics in 2007, has been given the top economic post in the cabinet, the Minister of Finance. After the completion of his PhD, Dr. Hoti returned to Kosovo to work at the University of Prishtina where he is now an Associate Professor of Economics. For four years up to 2013, he was the Deputy Mayor of Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital city.

Dr. Avdullah Hoti

Dr. Avdullah Hoti, Minister of Finance, Kosovo

His period of study at Staffordshire and his PhD, which focused on Kosovo’s labour market, have given him the right training and preparation for one of the most important posts in the cabinet. He says, ‘I know that I have taken a huge responsibility and I will do my best’ to meet the expectations of the electorate.

Dr. Hoti is followed by Dr. Hykmete Bajrami, who completed her MSc in Economics for Business Analysis in 2003. She also went back to Kosovo after completing her Masters degree and joined the Faculty of Economics at the University of Prishtina as an assistant. She completed her PhD at the University of Prishtina and is now Assistant Professor of Marketing there. Since 2010 she has been a Member of the Kosovo
Assembly (the Parliament) and active on economics and business related issues. She has been appointed to the second economic position in the cabinet, the Minister for Trade and Industry.

 Dr. Hykmete Bajrami,  Minister for Trade and Industry, Kosovo

Dr. Hykmete Bajrami Minister for Trade and Industry, Kosovo

Both Avdullah and Hykmete were recipients of the Open Society Foundation- Staffordshire University scholarship during their studies in Stoke. They follow an earlier Staffordshire graduate, Dr. Fatmir Besimi, who has been a Minister in the Government of Macedonia in 2007. He is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration.

 Dr. Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration, Kosovo

Dr. Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration, Kosovo

Kosovo’s general elections in June 2014 did not give any party a majority control and following months of negotiations, the new Government was formed on 8th December with the LDK leader, Professor Isa Mustafa (himself a long time partner with the Centre for Research on Emerging Economies at the Business School), becoming Kosovo’s new Prime Minister and immediately announcing his cabinet which included the two SU graduates.
The cabinet was confirmed by the Assembly and the Ministers have now started their work. We wish them success.

Fair and Equal Education: An Evidence-based Policy Manifesto that Respects Children and Young People.

On March 10th, 2015, there is a public launch event in London for “Fair and Equal Education: An Evidence-based Policy Manifesto that Respects Children and Young People.”

This event summarises the outcome of the British Educational Research Association (BERA)  Respecting Children and Young People project, which Dr Katy Vigurs (Staffordshire University) has been leading along with Dr Ruth Boyask (Plymouth University), Professor Vini Lander (Edge Hill University) and Dr Pam Alldred (Brunel University). The aim of the project has been to use the best educational research conducted within six of the BERA SIGs to inform public debate prior to the Westminster election in May 2015, celebrating the work of our members and demonstrating how it can be used to provide an evidence base for policy that has issues of equality and social justice at its heart.

Children and young people are entitled to an education that has their best interests at heart and develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full. Fair and equal education recognises differences in children and young people’s experiences, interests and backgrounds and ensures equality in access and provision. Over the last 40 years, evidence from educational research has told us about the extent of inequality. It has also told us how to make education more equal and fair.

 The manifesto launch event will be used to debate the policies needed to make this vision a reality.

 The event is being held at Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SN.

 Partners for this event include:

 * Cambridge Primary Review Trust

* Paulo Freire Institute-UK

* Runnymede Trust

* Citizenship Foundation

This event is free to attend, however pre-registration is essential because of the venue.

Book your place at the event online:
Phone: 020 7331 5217

A blog for the project is here

Digital Future

The House of Lords report entitled ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future’ has just been published. It is extraordinarily wide-ranging, covering everything from infra-structure, to industry to education. With respect to higher education it makes several recommendations, all of which I find interesting.

First, the report takes a dim view of the recent decline in research funding to Universities (paras 151, 153) and also, and this is most interesting, clearly argues for a reversal of the concentration of research funding into a small number of institutions. This is the subject of a lengthy discussion (paras 240-269) in which it is recognised that high tech industries tend to grow up in clusters around Universities, but that the UK has only two examples of this (not surprisingly, in Cambridge and in London). They call for a greater role by the Research Funding Councils in reversing the trend, and assisting a number of regional strengths and clusters.

Second, the report takes a number of swipes at current education immigration policy, particular with respect to postgraduate research students, who should be seen as a resource rather than some kind of threat. (See specifically para. 152, but also throughout)

Third, the report suggests that one factor holding back the upskilling of the UK population is inflexibility in education provision, and Universities should be encouraged to offer more short, part-time courses. Fair enough. Utterly bizarre, then, was the omission of distance learning courses from the menu of recommendations to Universities (see paras 198-200), despite the fact that the OU is one of their case-studies.

Using EU research projects to inform policy making – research seminar

The next Business, Education and Law, Faculty Research Conversations seminar will be taking place on Wednesday 4th March12.30-1.30pm – in B325 Brindley, hosted by Dr Katy Vigurs.

One of our Visiting Professors, Prof. Heather Eggins, will be leading a session on Using EU research projects to inform policy making.

The seminar will explore the connection between research and the development of policy. Heather will draw on a recent project that was funded by the European Commission under its Lifelong Learning programme to identify barriers in promoting the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) at Higher Education Institutional level.  This was a three year project (2010-13) that studied 28 higher education institutions in seven European countries (the Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia).  Particular dimensions of institutional quality were analysed through the study: e.g. access, students, stakeholders, management and governance, the academic profession, information provision, and the interface with secondary education.

You can see more about the IBAR EU project here:

This project is now complete and the resulting outputs of the project include a series of institutional case studies, comparative analyses, a final report to the European Commission and a book (Eggins 2014). The findings and recommendations were made available to the E4 group tasked with drawing up proposals for the revised ESG, which will be presented for consideration at the Higher Education Area Ministerial Meeting in Armenia in May 2015. The research is thus of relevance to European policy makers, and will inform policy making in the quality assurance domain.

Heather looks forward to discussing with you both the process of developing a successful EU project as well as reflecting on the outcomes and implications of the specific IBAR EU project.

All welcome.

Public lecture: Joan Walley MP ‘A woman’s place is in the house’, 9th March

Joan Walley MP ‘A woman’s place is in the house’, 9th March 6:00pm

Joan will reflect on her time in the House of Commons, consider how well women’s needs are met and what women can do to influence policy at international, national and local level.

Public lecture – to reserve a place contact or 01782 295860

Twitter accounts at Staffordshire University

An initial list of twitter accounts at Staffordshire University – if there are any more either add them to the comments or email

Business School

@BusinessStaffs Business School

@Tourismsu Tourism and Events Management staff
@PaulWilliams – Head of Business School – heritage and cultural tourism
@PaulDobsonUK – Senior Lecturer in the Business School
@Prof_RuneTBy – Professor Rune Todnem By is Professor of Organisational Behaviour, organisational change management and leadership; organisational ethics; HE management

School of Education
@aboutlearning – Steve Hall – Senior Lecturer in Education – areas of interest/research in metacognition, pedagogy, and education with enterprise
@drkatyvigurs – Senior Lecturer in Education – education and research
@Jim_Pugh – Principal Lecturer in Education – education and the student experience
@Russell_Spink – Senior Lecturer in Education – pedagogy and initial teaching training

Law School
@KrisLines – Senior Lecturer – research interests: sports law (particularly doping, personal injury and ambush marketing), torts, elearning
@DrJoBeswick – Medical law and ethics

@AllanWatson1 – Senior Lecturer in Geography – creative labour, films, music, cultural geography
@ProfFionaTweed – Fiona Tweed, Professor of Physical Geography – glacial processes and natural hazards
@drpaulbarratt – Dr. Paul Barratt, Lecturer in Human Geography – digital geographies and environmental engagements
@davemomo – Dr. Dave Moreman, Senior Lecturer in Geography and Environment – environment and sustainability
@StaffsGeography – News from Geography and the Environment, School of Sciences
@StaffsGeogML – News from Geography with Mountain Leadership,
@susdl_staffs – For notices relating to the postgraduate Sustainability and Environment programme at Staffordshire University

Politics, Arts Humanities
@rainerelkanders – Dr. Rainer-Elk Anders politics and the political economy of Russia, Ukraine and post-Soviet countries.
jackie_staffs – Dr Jacky Reynolds  Senior Researcher , arts and community engagement

Psychology, Sport and Exercise
@DrJamieBarker – Dr Jamie Barker, Sport and Exercise Psychology
@DrMattSlater – Matt Slater, Sport and Exercise Psychology
@ProfMarcJones – Professor of Stress and Emotion
@ProfRodham – Karen Rodham, Professor of Health Psychology
@pgwjones_dr – Dr Peter Jones, Head of School of Psychology Sport and Exercise
@JackyForsyth – Senior Lecturer in Sprt and Exercise
@SUPeakCondition – student-led sports science support service

Engineering and computing 
@lady_akatosh Debbie Roberts – Automotive/Motorsport/Engineering/Women in said areas/Academia/personal views
@staffsracing – views and news for students on Automotive/Motorsport courses at Staffordshire
@aerostaffs – views and news for students on Aeronautical courses at Staffordshire
@jcwestlake –  Jonathan Westlake, Technology blogger and outreach news
@MartinFiddler – in School of Engineering, comments on HE, recruitment and Aeronautics

Executive/Senior Staff
@StaffsUniVC – Michael Gunn, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive
@mikehamlyn – Mike Hamlyn, Director of Academic Enhancement
@daveparkes – Associate Director, Information Services

Enterprise and careers
@beinspiredsu – Be Inspired, business support, entrepreneurs and student businesses programme
@Staffs4Business – For Business, Enterprise and Commercial Development
@careeratstaffs – Careers service

Stoke’s Big Debate: Election 2015

Have YOUR questions answered in an hour-long General Election debate on the issues that matter.

Chaired by Professor of Journalism and Politics Mick Temple

Venue: Staffordshire University Science Centre

Date and time: Friday March 27, 6.30pm

Confirmed participants:
Tristram Hunt (Lab)
Jan Zablocki (Greens)
Liam Ascough (Cons)
Dr Zulfiqar Ali (Lib Dems)
Mick Harold (UKIP)

Book your place: 01782 295860/

Attendees are invited to submit their questions beforehand to

External engagement, a trans-Atlantic perspective

This opinion piece in the Chronicle for Higher Education gives an overview of the problem of external engagement by researchers, in the US environment. Notice, though, that external engagement has a particular flavour here: it is not primarily about interesting the public or communicating findings or even encouraging regard for higher education. Rather, it is about well-informed commentary on the ‘bigger picture’ — in other words, about participation in the crafting of public policy.

Students use your vote!

This general election on the 7th May 2015 will be one of the most important in recent history – not only do the two main parties have radically different views on the function of the state but they will also be joined by a range of minority parties including the Greens, UKIP as well as nationalists.

Turnout at the last general election in Stoke on Trent was poor:
Stoke North 55%
Stoke Central 53%
Stoke South 58%
it was also poor amongst young people, nationally just 51% of 18 to 24 year olds voted.

Poor turn out by young people and students is one of the reasons that we have the highest student fees in Western Europe and generally poor support for young people. Both main parties target policies at pensioners and older people as they know they are much more likely to vote.

Voting can be viewed in many ways:
a. A right established over centuries in the UK – this is the 800 year anniversary of Magna Carta
b. A duty as a citizen and as a remembrance for all those who died to establish and maintain democracy.
c. A way of showing your support for ideas and for change in society.
d. To act as a beacon across the world. All over the world people are killed, tortured and imprisoned simply because they want to have a vote and say in their country.

So this time there is a big drive both locally and nationally to engage students and young people and to get out the vote including:
1. Staffordshire University Students’ Union has successfully applied for funding from the National Union of Students to train General Election Ambassadors, who will be driving up engagement. And they have also had their application for the University’s first on-campus polling booth approved.

2. The NUS has launched a General Election campaign called “New Deal for the Next Generation” that declared: “Students could swing almost 200 seats at the General Election”. For further information visit:

3. Come along and debate the issues with our special event at the University, chaired by Professor of Journalism and Politics Mick Temple, panel members include Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt and Stoke Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

  • Liam Ascough, Conservatives,
  • Jan Zablocki, Green Party,
  •  Mick Harold  UKIP
  • Dr Zulfiqar Ali Liberal Democrats
  • Mick Harold (UKIP)

Venue: Staffordshire University Science Centre
Date and time: Friday March 27, 6.30pm

Book your place: 01782 295860

If you haven’t registered to vote yet then see these links

If you live in Stoke on Trent then here

The registration deadline is 20th April.

What is a University education for? To create an informed, discerning, educated citizen so take your place in society discuss, debate and VOTE. And if you really don’t like any of the political parties then form your own party or stand as an independent.

Are Universities efficient with their funding?

Interesting poll reported in the THE: Among Members of Parliament, UK Universities are given a poor rating in the ‘value for money’ / ‘efficiency’ category. This no doubt reflects the political hot potato that tuition fees still are, especially with the prospect of them increasing further. No self-regarding politician, a few months prior to an election, wants to suggest that Universities are doing the best they can with the fee income. And no doubt there is waste in the system, although probably less than many think.

Also reflected in these results is that the decision is now close on how to distribute — and indeed also reform — research funding in the light of REF2014. Reality is more clear here. Even the United States, which has a history of concentrated funding, is moving away from this. Any one concerned about ‘value for money’ in research funding need only glance at the REF results. Take Staffordshire University for example. With research funding amounting to a rounding error on that received by some Universities, internationally excellent and world-leading work is being achieved. A denser concentration of research funding into the hands of fewer Universities is certinly not going to improve the ‘bang for the buck’.