New Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015

A new Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2015 is launched for the first time in 5 years.

The IMD is one of the most important datasets in the UK because:

  • Government departments and agencies have used it to allocate billions of pounds of spending.
  • Lottery funders, charities and local government all use it to help allocate and evaluate funds.
  • Health researchers in particular have found it very useful to look at determinants of health and to link socio-economic data with health outcomes.

So what are the key features of the Index?

  • The data is available at a very small spatial scale (the technical term is super output area, usually a population between 1,000 to 1,500 people).
  • The entire country is covered (not a sample).
  • The index includes a relative ranking (as well as some absolute figures) so we can tell how much better off one area is compared to another. For example we can find the bottom 10% of areas in the country.

Key results show that deprivation moves very slowly. Stoke on Trent as a whole is ranked 13 most deprived local authority out of 326. More detailed analysis show that 30% of the neighbourhoods rank in the 10% most deprived in the country. Furthermore despite billions of pounds going into city regeneration there are still large concentrations of deprivation in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Data has also been produced for the Local Enterprise Partnerships and a series of summary reports and maps can be found on the link.  

Most of the work on the new IMD has been done by Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) but yours truly as in previous editions was responsible for creating the air quality domain in the IMD.

The IMD in England, Scotland and Wales formed the basis for a lot of the environmental justice work that was done at Staffordshire University over the last decade. This initial work for various UK government agencies lead us on to work in Europe and collaboration with the World Health Organisation. See my staff page for links and more.

In addition, the UK Statistics Authority have now confirmed the Indices have National Statistics status.

If you want to keep updated on any future announcements from DCLG on the Indices, please email Indices.Deprivation@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

General coverage of the IMD on twitter https://twitter.com/indices2015 

 

Sutton Trust research on student loans

Please see this account in the Guardian. The conclusion is that the Government’s proposed changes to the student loan scheme, although apparently minor, in fact would have significant impact. While, much less surprisingly, the changes to maintenance grants would have a still greater impact. So, more debt for students. The important subtlety to the report is that this ‘more debt’ would affect certain groups much more than others, women more than men, students from poorer backgrounds more than those from wealthy backgrounds. The net result is yet another increase in income and wealth inequality.

I might add that, unless there are other measures in place, the changes would affect most precisely those services the Government says it wants to encourage: teachers and nurses, for example.

PTES results

The Postgraduate (Taught) Experience Survey has just released sector wide scores and averages. I am pleased to inform you that Staffordshire is streets ahead of the sector average in SIX areas (including the really high profile ones such as teaching quality), equal in the seventh, and just 1% behind the sector in the eighth. So it is not surprising then that overall satisfaction is also way above the sector average. An extraordinary achievement and testament to the skills and professionalism of staff here, and our very appreciative students. Staffordshire is THE place to come for a taught postgraduate degree.

And the winner is…

One of the BIG league tables is just out, the QS World University Rankings. The BIG news this year is a change in methodology that means some BIG names drop or climb unexpectedly. So, Imperial drops from 2nd to 8th, Princeton drops out of the top ten altogether, to be replaced by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The change in methodology concerned the way that citations (research work that is then used by others) are counted, so as not to over-emphasise the ‘hard’ sciences and medicine especially. This gives those institutions whose research and reputation is found more heavily in social sciences, humanities or arts more of a chance. This new method works well for some, with the LSE, for example, popping up from 75th to 35th place!

Just to be clear, these changes of place have little or nothing to do with that the institutions concerned have done over the past twelve months — the data collected by QS is on a five year cycle. But if changes that dramatic can occur because of a change in methodology, it does make you wonder just how valid such tables are. Another look at the QS methodology shows some interesting and far-reaching decisions taken, for no particular reason. Some of the most heavily weighted measures are clearly related to the size of an institution. This leaves the mostly smaller UK universities playing catch-up — how can even a large organisation like Bristol compete with Michigan or UCLA both of whom are at or above 40 thousand students. Other measures do not, but the weightings of the various factors (why is this 40% of the score, and that only 10%), just seem arbitrary. See my brief discussions of a similar issue here and also here.

And another thing: with enormous real-terms slashes in funding for arts and humanities over the past five years here in the UK, this table leaves the Government with egg on their faces. Presumably there was a calculation made about how higher education world-wide is judged, but then someone went and changed the rules!

 

 

It’s not often that I agree with Boris Johnson…

But in this case, I do. The context here is the same changing profile of international students in the UK, that I drew attention to in my previous post. There I talked mainly about the future effect of exchange rates on the affordability of UK university places for Chinese students. The longer term story is about UK visa and immigration controls, which has left students from many countries believing that they are unwanted in the UK and indeed viewed with suspicion. Johnson (the Boris version) has written to Johnson (the Jo version) asking for urgent reforms to the student visa system, as the number of Indian students coming to the UK has halved in the past three years (a drop of 20,000 per year). An historical and hugely beneficial relationship with India is in danger. The Government’s official line is that there is no limit on the number of students coming into the country; technically true, but then there is also no limit on the number of people who can hit themselves over the head with a ballhammer. Yet the popularity of that particular pastime has never been high. In other words, it is not an undistorted market. Not surprisingly, those missing 20,000 students, plus a fair few more, are studying in the US.

The Jo version, on his part, has been talking recently about prioritising teaching quality, and about encouraging competitiveness in the HE sector. On the latter point, it is worth noting that there is not, and never has been, a truly open market in HE in this country. For one thing, the ancient Universities were given truly enormous assets at the moment of their founding, and in the centuries thereafter, most frequently at the largess of the governments of the era. When Staffordshire (for example) was made a University, no one said ‘Hey, here’s a billion quid — go out and be world-class!’. For another, there are all kinds of caps and incentives and variable bits of funding straight from Government coffers. The £9000 fee cap is the most obvious; but lesser known is the funding received to aid disabled students, which has fallen through the floor, disproportionately affecting students without financial assets of their own. In future, I suggest not only that Jo listen to Boris, but also that he mask his patent ignorance of market economics.

A review: Where to stay and eat in the Potteries

Latest update January 2016

This blog is mainly aimed at visitors who are staying the night and looking for places to eat and drink. As a University we receive visitors from all over the world. These visitors want a convenient place to stay with a selection of places to reach by foot in the evening for food and drinks if possible.

Accommodation

The Kenwood Guest house is generally very well rated on Tripadvisor and within easy walking distance of the main railway station and the Stoke campus of the University.

I am not much of a fan for chain hotels, but if you like that kind of thing…

The Premier Inn in the City Centre has good reviews

The Premier Inn at Trentham Gardens has been getting very good reviews and lots of people like the shopping village and gardens that are on the site.  It is also very easy to get to from the motorway. David’s Brasserie on the Trentham site is very good for food.

The Best Western Stoke on Trent Moat House is centrally located and incorporates some of Josiah Wedgwoods original house  and is another popular choice.

The Westfields is rated excellent by the vast majority of reviewers on Tripadvisor. It is a few miles outside the Potteries in a more rural setting.

In Newcastle under Lyme,

The Clayhanger Guest House has very good reviews

and the Travelodge New castle under Lyme Central Hotel this is chain but it has a good price and standard.

If none of these appeal then you are strongly recommended to check Tripadvisor before booking.

Food and drink

Near the University in Stoke town centre

Thalii Indian food which is good, Planet Bollywood also does nice indian food

in Newcastle under Lyme

The Blue Chilli Restaurant, 9 Berkeley Court, Newcastle under Lyme, ST5 1TT
Tel: 01782 715 885  great food, try the Thai Massaman curry.

The Jalsa –  19-21 George Street, Newcastle under Lyme ST5  1JX, Tel 01782 611551     for good Indian food – try the Nowabi Chicken, Baza Lamb or the shashlik  dishes

If you would like a drink after visiting either of the restaurants mentioned above then I would recommend The Greyhound which is owned by the local Titanic Brewery. This is a 2-3 min walk from any of the restaurants, just head straight up the road towards Hanley.

Bellini’s café 2 Pepper St, Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 1PR. This is at the other end of Newcastle under Lyme. It is an Italian and has the best food in the conurbation from the places I have eaten. It is a little more expensive than the others but it is excellent. They do not have a drinks licence so bring your own (free corkage). Tel 01782 943541

Excellent places to have a drink near Bellini’s are The Bridge Street Ale House and the Lymestone Vaults which is in the same street as Bellini’s.

Cobridge

The Med Bar – 28 Cobridge Road, Hanley, Stoke On Trent ST1 5JQ     Tel 01782 269955 Mob 07779641716. Please note they do not accept credit or debit cards    – I am a big fan of the pizzas, but it is all good here. Very good and reasonably priced Italian wine menu. This is within walking distance of the Moat House Hotel and the Premier Inn at the city centre mentioned above.

General info

General visitor information for the area including ceramic and factory tours can all be found on the Visit Stoke website

Trentham Gardens and Estate is very popular whether you want to eat, shop or walk around the gardens.

in the wider area

Enjoy Staffordshire has plenty of information for visitors and we are also only 10 miles from the Peak District National Park. Another good guide to places to stay and eat is Simply Staffordshire.

 

Taxis

Sid’s Taxis they always use the meter. If you book by mobile phone you will get a text with make and colour of car, car registration and name of driver.

+44 1782 565200

I will update this with other parts of the city when I have time.

UPDATED JANUARY 2016

Currency exchange rates and exports

If country A’s currency becomes less valuable with respect to the UK, then their cost for goods from the UK goes up — and, everything else being equal, the number of sales drops. When politicians, economists and city commentators talk about how currency exchange rates might affect the UK’s exports, their words are generally illustrated by manufacturing names: the sales of Jags and Land Rovers to China, for example. Well, no one is too worried: both the Telegraph and Guardian note that only 4-5% of UK exports go to China, so the overall effect on the economy will be modest.

However, there is one industry whose exports disproportionately go to China: higher education. We are not used to thinking of this as an export industry, but that it is — and a very successful one at that. Not only are there more Chinese students studying in the UK than students from the whole of the EU, but there are also as many Chinese students as the next five biggest non-EU nations combined. (See also this comment piece in the THE.) All in all, roughly 20% of all non-UK students are from China. It follows, again roughly, that a ten percent drop in the number of Chinese students in the UK would be a £140m annual loss to UK Universities in tuition fee terms, and as much again in associated economic activity. But of course the direct financial cost is not the only thing here: also a long-term loss would be cultural and political connections between the UK and China, that aids both prosperity and peace. I would like to know what the UK government is doing to help what could easily be a crisis in the higher education sector (other than macho posturing on immigration targets, which hardly helps)?

A dozen of the EU projects at Staffs University

Just some of the projects we are working on at the Staffordshire University. In some cases we are the lead for the project in others a project partner. Funding is through ERASMUS PLUS or the predecessor funding stream.

Key Contact Project Title Brief Description
Mark Webster RESIDENCY In 2014 the Residency team involving staff from Staffordshire University, Warsaw University and University of Barcelona embarked upon delivering artist residencies in Poland, Spain and the UK, each involving an artist from a partner country. The project secured EU Lifelong Learning funding through the Leonardo Da Vinci programme to explore how residencies could be used to train and support people in how to use community and participatory arts to promote civic engagementhttp://residencyproject.eu/
Kim Slack RECOVEU RECOVEU aims to develop innovative learning activities to help adults in addiction recovery prepare for college or university. It brings together partners working in the fields of drug addiction and education based in the UK, Romania, Cyprus, Italy and Ireland.  Staffordshire University is the lead partner. The learning activities will form a ‘taster’ representative of a complete syllabus which will seek to support participation in adult learning and enhance opportunities for social inclusion for people in addiction recovery. A key feature throughout the project is the active involvement of service users and providers

http://www.recoveu.org/

Rosie Borup DESTINY It is well known that EU member states are in a time of economic challenge.  There is an acknowledged need for more innovation and entrepreneurship among our businesses, to foster economic growth and provide jobs for our unemployed (or under-employed) labour market,  but while our youth and adult job seekers leave schools and Universities with educational qualifications, employers complain of a mismatch in skills WORK SEEKERS (WS)  offer, and skills employers require.  The rationale of DESTINY is to develop, implement, test, refine a method for HEIs to PROMOTE + SUPPORT the use of MOOCs as a tool to address LLMN SKILLS SHORTAGES, thereby supporting regional ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT +  improving the EMPLOYABILITY of  youth and adult learners. www.destiny-eu.net
 Jon Fairburn SILVER WORKERS SILVER WORKERS will look to assist people in their 40s and 50s to set up a business. This is the most common age for business start ups but many businesses fail because they do not get sufficient guidance when starting up. As the Potteries has one of the lowest start up rates in the country it will help to meet a strong local need.
Jon Fairburn SMARTOUR SMARTOUR will look to develop a new curriculum and qualifications for those in the tourism industry. It will be targeted at accommodation and facility providers and look at a broad range of sustainability topics. An online tool will be developed for the delivery of courses. Staffordshire University is the lead partner, there are two partners form the UK (including Newcastle under Lyme College), as well as partners in Finland and Italy.
Claire Gwinnett EFEN The Development of a European Forensic Education Network (EFEN)’, funded by ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnerships aims to create an inclusive and sustainable network of HEIs and industry partners working within the criminal justice system.  This network will improve European collaborations within forensic investigations by sharing best practice in forensic learning and teaching and linking industry with higher education. A main output of this project is the creation of a postgraduate award in International Forensic and Crime Science that will offer an insight into forensic science and policing practices across Europe and the rest of the world in order to create awareness of cross-border investigation protocols and provide professional development for individuals planning to work or already working in investigations that involve multiple countries.
Bobbie Fletcher MINDSET The objective of the @MINDSET project is to actively support diversity management within education settings, by equipping teachers with the appropriate tools to deal with diversity issues, while better encouraging students to become active citizens and empathizing adults. The project will identify the most common types of diversity in the school environment and develop on one hand the tools for the teachers to better manage it within the classroom and the school in general. While on the other promote the issue of diversity and what it entails within society for pupils and help them embrace it.http://bdfprojects.wix.com/mindset
Rosie Borup IDEATE Staffordshire University is part of a major 3 year EU funded project, working with partners in Slovenia, Finland and Lithuania, from 2013 to 2016. The project aims at changing higher education through the use of innovative, interdisciplinary teaching methods. The project will enable a ‘pilot’ of  4 groups of inter-disciplinary  students to learn entrepreneurial skills and knowledge through trans-national intensive learning mobilities themed around employer led projects. www.ideate.me
Peter Kevern PEP This Grundtvig-funded project grew out of a shared concern: that the rapid rise in the numbers of older people with care needs across Europe was creating the conditions for neglect and abuse. It brought together agencies from 6 countries, representing a wide diversity of perspectives  and social roles, for a series of exchanges which proved by turns both frustrating and mutually enriching. The presentation will outline the structure, conception and management of the project, along with some of the key findings, the learning points and possible directions for future projects.
Steve Kelly PERFECT Developing a curriculum for the procurement industry and supply chain activities.
Iraj Hashi EUFORIA This project aims to establish and develop links between universities and enterprises in order to enhance teaching and learning, upgrade the curricula in line with the needs of enterprises and improve the financial sustainability of HEIs in Kosovo.Enterprise managers will be appointed to a number of university committees as the voice of the private sector to help the universities design programmes of study in line with the needs of enterprises and the labour market. Universities will send a number of their lecturers to companies for a short placement period to observe the working of the company and, in consultation with company managers, identify challenges facing them. The lecturers will use their knowledge of the companies and insights they have gained to formulate case studies for their subjects. Experienced EU partners will assist the Kosovar lecturers to write case studies which case be used in the classroom. The use of case studies, particularly those based on Kosovar companies, is rather unusual in Kosovo and will require a change in teaching, learning and assessment strategy. It will have a profound impact on students’ learning experience and their preparation for the labour market.
Louise Rutherford SUCCEED SUCCEED (Shaping University Curricula to Critical Infrastructure Employer Needs) aims to look into ways to help tackle terrorism and cybercrime through education and partnerships. Research and consultation with key employers will inform strategic HE curriculum development. www.succeed-eu.uk

 

ERASMUS PLUS

ERASMUS PLUS

New EU project – EUFORIA-Entrepreneurial Universities for Industry Alliances

This project aims to establish and develop links between universities an enterprises in order to enhance teaching and learning, upgrade the curricula in line with the needs of enterprises and improve the financial sustainability of HEIs in Kosovo

Specific objectives.

  1. Establishing bilateral links between partner country HEIs and enterprises on a formal basis to arrange representation of enterprises on university committees and placements for staff and students
  2. Improving teaching and learning methods by developing and using case studies based on partner firms’ specific experiences
  3. Conducting surveys of companies and using feedback on student placements to identify skills and knowledge shortages of university students and graduates and upgrading the curricula by embedding these skills, thus enhancing the employability of graduates
  4. Enhancing the financial sustainability of partner country HEIs by enabling them to develop additional sources of income (e.g., by organising training courses and offering services to companies based on their identified needs)
  5. Setting up advice centres for SMEs run by staff and postgraduate students

Summary

This project aims to establish and develop links between universities and enterprises in order to enhance teaching and learning, upgrade the curricula in line with the needs of enterprises and improve the financial sustainability of HEIs in Kosovo.

Enterprise managers will be appointed to a number of university committees as the voice of the private sector to help the universities design programmes of study in line with the needs of enterprises and the labour market. Universities will send a number of their lecturers to companies for a short placement period to observe the working of the company and, in consultation with company managers, identify challenges facing them. The lecturers will use their knowledge of the companies and insights they have gained to formulate case studies for their subjects. Experienced EU partners will assist the Kosovar lecturers to write case studies which case be used in the classroom. The use of case studies, particularly those based on Kosovar companies, is rather unusual in Kosovo and will require a change in teaching, learning and assessment strategy. It will have a profound impact on students’ learning experience and their preparation for the labour market.

The project will also identify the knowledge and skill gap in university graduates through a Survey of 50 largest companies in Kosovo. The results of the Survey will be used by universities to revise their curricula in order to embed in their programmes the knowledge and skills which are required by enterprises. EU partners will support the Kosovar colleagues in enhancing their curricula by employability skills on the basis of their own experiences.

The universities will, through staff visits and the Survey, identify the training and other needs of enterprises and will offer to provide these services to companies. In particular they will offer training courses to company employees organised jointly with EU partners, who will also provide updating visits for some of the teaching staff of Kosovar institutions. The provision of these services will improve the financial sustainability of Kosovar universities.

Finally, universities will establish SME advice centres who would work with SMEs to identify their specific problems and provide appropriate advice for them.

Partners in EU: Staffordshire (Coordinator), Nottingham Trent, Ancona and Zagreb universities and Munich University of Applied Sciences

Partners in Kosovo: Universities of Prishtina, Peja, Gjakova, Gjilan and Riinvest College and four SMEs

Coordinator: Prof Iraj Hashi (Business School)

Starting date: 15 October 2015