Prof. Jon Fairburn

About Prof. Jon Fairburn

Professor of Sustainable Development. EU projects have been funded under INTERREG, GRUNDTVIG, FP7, ERASMUS, TRANSVERSALS

Throwing it away again – does the left ever learn?

“We didn’t lose – we threw it away! Four years after gifting power to Margaret Thatcher, that’s how I summed up the 1983 general election for Labour. What we in the Labour Party have to ensure is that we never throw it away again. And to do that we have to make certain that the Party never again comes under control of the left.” So begins John Golding’s Hammer of the Left (full publication details at the end).

John Golding was the MP for Newcastle under Lyme until 1986 when he became General Secretary of the Nation Communications Union. The book details how he took on the Militant Tendency and the rest of the hard left within the Labour party in the early 1980s. The book is visceral in it’s description of the left and gives an incredibly detailed insight into the internal politics and campaigning.

Do we learn nothing from history? Watching the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election you might think not. There seems to be a flat out refusal to not only ignore history but also to disbelieve the electorate. The electorate has told both the left and the right time after time that they are not interested in extreme positions, but too many activists just don’t want to listen. And if forced to choose given a choice between ideology and competence they will choose what they perceive as competence.

The Conservatives tested to destruction the idea that they needed to be a more right wing party losing a series of elections under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and then Michael Howard. In the end it was only when David Cameron (who consistently polls to the left of his party) was elected leader did they begin to win again.

For the left the early 1980s demonstrated that leftist positions (anti Nato, anti EU, unilateral nuclear disarmament, renationalisation) were outright rejected by the public in the 1983 election manifesto, also known as the longest suicide note in history. All of these positions are now being espoused by Jeremy Corbyn again!

When do political polls matter?

It should have been obvious by now that there is a problem with polls, after all according to the polls Neil Kinnock won the 1992 general election remember! This is a very well known issue in academic research which is sometime known as stated versus observed preference or social desirability bias. My favourite example of this was a street survey asking people if they bought free range eggs, 25% of people said yes, after the results were published the supermarkets stated that just 2% of the eggs bought were free range. But political polls can be useful if you look back to see who WON and LOST after the event.

Blair won three elections (invested billions in schools and hospitals which the left seems to forget) from the centre ground. His polling figures were right in the middle of the political spectrum when asked by the public to rate different political leaders consistently through his entire tenure.Gordon Brown polled consistently to the left of Tony Blair and lost (a little simplistic as there is sometimes a swing but still true), Ed Milliband consistently polled much further left than Gordon Brown and lost even more seats. Jeremy Corbyn and his backers seem to have persuaded themselves of one of two options, either

1. Labour just weren’t left wing enough to be elected at the last election or

2. The electorate are stupid,

neither is a credible position that will get the party back  into power.

As an aside doesn’t Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters find it odd that both David Cameron and the Daily Telegraph want him to win? Or is it they have no interest in actually getting power to change things?


Existential threats in the UK are rising

1. Labour could be wiped out and destroyed by a Jeremy Corbyn led party in the next election. He has consistently taken anti EU positions and this will rapidly become a big issue, he will have no credibility if he suddenly changes sides which is unlikely anyway.

2. The SNP are still agitating to leave the UK.

3. The Euro referendum in 2017 will tear the Tory Party apart as nothing that David Cameron brings back from Brussels will satisfy a section of his party, how big a section is still to be seen.

We could well be in a position  of a Labour leader advocating leaving the EU with a split Tory party, cheered on by UKIP in 2017. Leaving the EU would be a disaster for the country.

Towards the end of his book Jon Golding reflects on the 1983 election “We went into the general election with an unelectable Leader, in a state of chaos with a manifesto that might have swept us to victory in cloud-cuckoo land, but which was held in contempt in the Britain of 1983. We thought that things could only get better, but they got worse” (pg 297)

There is a good chance that Labour supporters will only need to change the date in that paragraph if Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader of the Labour party.

Publication details

John Golding (edited by Paul Farrelly) 2003 Hammer of the Left: defeating Tony Benn, Eric Heffer and Militant in the battle for the Labour Party. Politico’s

ISBN 1842750798

His book  was completed posthumously by the current MP for the seat Paul Farrelly.

Engaging with key stakeholders – Ruth Smeeth MP

Here at Staffordshire University our focus is on applied research, many of us carry out research in the area with local organisations businesses and residents. Having strong links with Members of Parliament is important – academics can provide evidence and reports, MP’s can raise questions or topics they would like to see investigated.

Ruth Smeeth came into see some of the work and projects and to start our working relationship.

Ruth Smeeth with academics

From left to right

Jim Pugh – Acting Head of the School of Education interests includes primary teaching, access to education, also works extensively with international partners. Current research the impact of tuition fees on access to higher education.  @Jim_Pugh

Dr Chris Gidlow   – (Associate professor) – Primary care-based health and physical activity promotion, natural environments and health. Extensive experience of researching health in Stoke on Trent with key stakeholders.  @cgidlow_staffs 

Clair Hameed – Programme manager for Enterprise, all things enterprise. Clair has been extensively involved in start-up programmes including student start-ups @beinspiredsu 

Ruth Smeeth MP    @RuthSmeeth

Dr Katy Vigurs – the elected co-convenor for the British Educational Research Association’s Special Interest Group (SIG) on Social Justice and Education. Katy was also a key member of the BERA team that produced the Fair and equal education manifesto. Katy currently runs the post doctoral programmes in education. @drkatyvigurs

Jon Fairburn (Professor of Sustainable Development) – environmental justice, energy and sustainability, economic regeneration, tourism. Extensive experience of EU projects, has worked with many govt departments and the World Health Organisation  @BusinessStaffs

Geoff Pugh (Professor of Applied Economics) – education policy, international economics and macroeconomics. Current research agenda is focussed on small business development: in particular, on SME diversification and innovation. @BusinessStaffs

After a round table discussion of common interests  it was over to the Science Centre where Dr Roozbeh Naemi explains the new equipment being developed to help patients in the biomechanics lab @StaffsBiomechanics

Ruth Smeeth MP and Dr Roozbeh Naemi

Prof Nachi Chockalingham explains the process…

Ruth Smeeth and Nachi Chockalingham


Then it is time for Ruth to have a go…looking a little nervous ruthontreadpad


And the results are very good….



Onto the Geographic Information System laboratory with Dr Ruth Swetnam @drruthswetnam old maps of Tunstall digitised including former bottle banks and potteries

Ruth Smeth and Ruth Swetnam

Ruth Smeeth and Ruth Swetnam

So the end of our first big conversation together and plenty more to come hopefully.

Tourism and sustainability – new report

L'eroica Britannia 2015This new report on Tourism and Sustainability includes:

  • The most beautiful bicycle festival in the world L’eroica Britannia held at Bakewell in the Peak District
  • New EU project to support sustainability in the tourism sector – SMARTOUR
  • Totally Locally strategic marketing – a grass roots campaign being used in towns and villages across the UK
  • Great weblinks for visiting the Peak District, Staffordshire and Derbyshire
  • Tourism Management, Events Management and other courses you can study at Staffordshire University
  • Discussion of the Fairbooking campaign to support businesses
  • Some articles en francais

A print version of the report can be found here (23mb)

A web version of the report can be found here (1.5mb)

L'eroica Britannia 2015 
L'eroica Britannia 2015

Sustainable Managers in the Tourism Sector (SMARTOUR) – EU project

SMARTOUR wants to define the profile of the Sustainable Tourism Manager, as a qualified professional that can contribute to the economic, environmental and social development of the community where the organisation is located.

In order to achieve its goals the project will develop a training path and related tools aiming to equip tourist professionals with the right skills to become a Sustainable Tourism Manager. This will include knowledge and skills to establish a sustainable management plan for the facilities under management, and to undertake the actions needed to achieve sustainability objectives from the environmental, economic and social point of view.

The project foresees the use of accessible online tools to allow people to understand which actions are the most suitable for their facilities. This should also enable a wider rural audience to take part in the project.

The Sustainable Tourism Manager model will develop as a result of the experience of the partners and the analysis of the territory where they are based, to encompass different perspectives, locational requirements and traditions. The structure of the project is therefore conceived to respond to European principles towards a European Area of Skills and Qualifications through the shared experience of the partners and joint recognition of training outputs. Very high turnover of staff occurs in the tourism sector, due to the inability to professionally progress through a lack of training or qualifications – this project will address this issue.

The project will be looking to work with a range of organisations including those managing accommodation, facilities and attractions. Please get in touch with the lead if you would like more information or to be involved in the project.

Project start Autumn 2015           Project end Autumn 2017

The project is funded under ERASMUSPLUS Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships.


Jon Fairburn, Professor of Sustainable Development, Staffordshire University

+44 1782 294094


Vicki Disley, Newcastle under  Lyme College, UK

Dr. Julie Scott, Touch TD, UK

Barbara Maria Casillo, Associazione Italiana Confindustria Alberghi, Italy

Gianluca Coppola, Eurocrea Merchant Srl, Italy

Pirkko  Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Mattheos Kakaris, CrystalClearSoft, Greece



The European Union – the benefits to education and research in the UK

The European Union provides enormous benefits to UK students, UK academics,  and UK Universities in supporting and carrying out teaching, knowledge transfer and research.

Examples of European support for students includes the ERASMUS exchange scheme which supports students to study or work abroad in a company. The European Union also supports the development of new and innovative teaching at all levels of education primarily through the ERASMUS+  funding mechanisms.

Similarly, with respect to enterprise and knowledge transfer, if you are thinking of starting up your own business you may want to take part in the ERASMUS young entrepreneurs scheme; or if you are an established business (trading for more than 3 years) hosting someone from another country in Europe.

In terms of research funding,  the results of the recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) in the UK demonstrates just how important Europe has been and it is likely to become even more important for funding of research in the UK in the future.

To give one example – Panel C of REF covered the following disciplines (Units of Assessment in the jargon): Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology, Economics and Econometrics, Business and Management Studies, Law, Politics and International Studies, Social Work and Social Policy, Sociology, Anthropology and Development Studies, Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism. Figure 1 clearly demonstrates a precipitous decline in UK government funding since 2004-05  (about 50% or 80 million) — remember those heady days of evidence-led policy! Secondly, research council funding  also declined in real terms due to inflation with every other source of funding static except the EU government.

Remember that we are talking here about only the best University departments and best academics being entered into the REF exercise. So despite extensive efforts by academics and government to get more money and investment from the private sector it is not happening and UK government sources of funding are in decline. Ominously, there is still no word on what will happen with QR funding and it may well be cut again as it was in the last funding round. The only source of funding that increased since 2007-8 is the EU government i.e Commission.  

Sources of funding panel C in British Universities

The most recent results for the EU annual call for research funding are here (2014). This shows that  the UK was the second largest beneficiary of Horizon 2020 funds in the first round of calls, with nearly EUR 527 million received by more than 500 UK organisations. UK universities do very well in Europe and are well regarded.

Given this overwhelming evidence of the many valuable European benefits to UK higher education, it is not surprising that campaigns are beginning to counter misinformation on Europe, and thus influence a referendum vote. This post in the Guardian describes potential impacts on science research of pulling out of the EU and scientists are already mobilizing on social media and here on twitter. British Influence has established a website and campaign to support us staying in the EU and to put the positive case.

Universities UK which represents 133 UK universities is also supporting a pro European REMAIN campaign. So from Vice Chancellors to the National Union of Students, the University sector is overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU. 

Of course most of this post has just dealt with the financial aspects of funding, but international collaboration provides a much wider range of tangible and intangible benefits. Being exposed to new cultures and sharing of knowledge leads to new innovation and research as well as providing us with insights to what has been tried before. My personal experience of working on a number of EU projects over the last 5 or 6 years has given me  a number of new friends and colleagues, and has directly lead to collaborating and sharing to improve the economies and societies in Europe.

Problems in the private colleges in the USA

Rolling Stone has a good  article on how higher education is being dismantled in many parts of the USA – a word of warning for those that would like to see more market forces being allowed to run free. The UK seems to be following down this road at the moment as been discussed here

Only one University in the UK (as far as we know) ever got into very serious trouble , the question is would any Minister want to be the first to have a University go bankrupt on their watch? I suspect not.

In the US the latest problem in the private sector is “the high-profile bankruptcy of Corinthian Colleges earlier this month amid a wave of fraud investigations shows that the expansion of for-profit schools has hit its limit.”  I am unsure of the latter point given the worship of market forces and the general disdain for the public sector in the USA.

Review – The Extent and Consequences of P-Hacking in Science

Just a quick blog on this very interesting paper

The Extent and Consequences of P-Hacking in Science by Megan L. Head , Luke Holman,  Rob Lanfear, Andrew T. Kahn, Michael D. Jennions

“A focus on novel, confirmatory, and statistically significant results leads to substantial bias in the scientific literature. One type of bias, known as “p-hacking,” occurs when researchers collect or select data or statistical analyses until nonsignificant results become significant.”

This is a very well written and readable paper which will be of interest to researchers and would be useful for discussion at under graduate level and post graduate level. What I like about this paper is the readability and clarity of the writing (often a rarity in many peer review papers) .

As well as the statistical aspects in the paper, it raises issues that could easily develop into a discussion about ethics in research  and the problems in the publication process.

The lead author recently carried out an Ask Me Anything debate on this paper on REDDIT a website with an enormous number of readers.  


Book review – Advice for new Faculty Members – Robert Boice

Boice’s book was published in 2000, but remains as relevant as ever. It is well known in the United States where some universities used to issue it to all new staff. The book is divided into three sections:

  1. Moderate work at teaching.
  2. Mindful ways of writing i.e. how to produce research papers.
  3. Socialising in your new university.

I am going to focus on the second of these which relates to research and writing of papers.

Boice is a psychologist and was very heavily involved in the induction of staff and follow up processes at his University. This gave him plenty of opportunity to run different experiments and approaches with new staff and to see what worked. He was taking about mindfulness and moderation even back then and despite my strong initial doubts whilst reading the chapters his results are staggering. Ever wondered if you have been doing things wrong? Or rather is there a better way? – well this should make you think.

Boice looked at the exemplars in his study group and compared them against the other staff.  Essentially Boice found that successful academics:

  1. Wrote daily even for a short period (often up to 30 minutes maximum).
  2. Knew when to stop.

These sessions he terms brief daily sessions (BDS) and he contrasts them with binge writing and also discusses the feelings and emotions associated with both approaches. Chapters 10 and 11 give detailed practical guidance on how to get your writing going (and the results at the end of those two chapters will make you think this is at least worth trying). Chapter 14 also deals with letting go of negative thoughts which is useful especially for perfectionist type academics.

What effect has it had on me? Well I am going to try this approach for the next paper I am writing, it is never too late to try a something new .

If you haven’t come across Boice before then I strongly suggest you have a read, especially if you are a new member of staff, or new to research and writing.

Three copies are now in the Staffordshire University library and you can find excerpts online.

Dr Katy Vigurs presents BERA manifesto to Tristram Hunt MP

Dr Katy Vigurs presents the BERA manifesto to Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Dr Katy Vigurs presents the BERA manifesto to Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Dissemination and communication of research is essential to good research and to informing society. Dr Katy Vigurs recently presented Tristram Hunt MP with the  British Educational Research Association ‘Fair and equal education manifesto.

You can download a copy of the complete manifesto at

The manifesto we have developed makes recommendations about how the Government, educators and the wider public can work towards a more equal society. We think, given the evident problems of our increasingly unequal world, that it is essential to reinsert the word equality back into discussions about the futures of children and young people, and recognise that we need to do more than offer ladders for social mobility to a few.

Three key articles on the changes in Higher Education

Prof Stefan Collini’s article in the October 2013 London Review of  Books is partly based on the review of two books from key individuals (see notes 1) . His article is very strong, detailed and beautifully written. Some quotes -“But for all their differences, these two books provide a chillingly convergent description of the huge gamble that is being taken with higher education in England: an unprecedented, ideologically driven experiment, whose consequences even its authors cannot wholly predict or control.”

“Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first.”

Marina Warner writes from her personal experience and how she was forced out at one University and the proliferation of gagging orders at Universities, March 2015 London Review of Books.

Andrew McGettigan brings us right up to date with the student loan book, the possible sale of the loan book and the impact on the national debt. Here is just one of the quotes “It is now thought that the new higher education funding system will add more than £100 billion to the national debt before repayments reach a significant level in the mid-2030s. At that point, the OBR thinks, the borrowing to create student loans could constitute one-fifth of national debt.”

All articles from the London Review of Books – excellent for long thoughtful reads.

Note 1

The books reviewed in Collini are:

Everything for Sale? The Marketisation of UK Higher Education by Roger Brown, with Helen Carasso Routledge, 235 pp, £26.99, February 2013, ISBN 978 0 415 80980 1 and

The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education by Andrew McGettigan
Pluto, 215 pp, £16.99, April 2013, ISBN 978 0 7453 3293 2

Professor Iraj Hashi awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit for Kosovo

Professor Iraj Hashi was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit in the list of honours awarded on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of Kosovo’s Independence on 17th February 2015. The Medal of Merit is awarded to people who have contributed to Kosovo society in specific fields such as education and science.

The nomination for this Award was made by a group of staff from the Faculty of Economics, University of Prishtina and the Central Bank of Kosovo, including some of the former and current PhD students of Staffordshire University.

The Award is in recognition of Professor Hashi’s work with various universities and research institutions in Kosovo which has resulted in improvements in the quality of academic programmes in economics, business and management and building the capacity of educational and research institutions in Kosovo.

Professor Irah Hashi (left) and the Prime Minister Prof Isa Mustafa

Professor Irah Hashi (left) and the Prime Minister Prof Isa Mustafa

Professor Hashi was the coordinator of three large scale EU funded Tempus projects and a scholarship programme jointly funded by Staffordshire University and the Open Society Foundation (and until 2010 also by the UK Government’s Chevening Programme).

Through these programmes a large number of Kosovar academics were provided with updating opportunities to learn about the latest developments in their subject area as well as teaching, learning and assessment methods in various EU universities. A large number of young university graduates were also offered the opportunity to continue their education towards Masters or PhD degrees in Economics at SU. These graduates, all of whom have returned to Kosovo, are now working in universities,  research institutions, the Central Bank, commercial banks and various government ministries, contributing to the development of their country (two of these graduates are now serving as Minister of Finance and Minister of Trade and Industry, and one of them is the Chief of the Cabinet and Advisor to the Prime Minister).

International conference – Health from the Outside In: Urban Design, Green Space and Human Health

There is growing evidence that close contact with nature brings benefits to human health and wellbeing, but the mechanisms are not well understood. This conference aims to bring together leading researchers in the area of natural environments and health to share new and ongoing research, and to consider how to turn the evidence in to practice.

This one-day event will include latest findings from the EU FP7 PHENOTYPE project and a range of invited speakers and panel discussions.

Full programme and how to book on this link



EU flag

EU flag

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

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

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.

Research Excellence Framework funding – a fair share needed

Universities are vital to a successful local and regional economy; many of them are carrying out applied research with business and other stakeholders such as Local Enterprise Partnerships. The Research Excellence Framework funding allocation acts as seed money for many of these universities. For example, the money we have received last time at Staffordshire University has allowed us to lever in EU project funds and to provide staff time to bid successfully for work with companies.

December 2014 provided the announcement of the Research Excellence Framework results for British Universities. What these results demonstrated is that world class research was occurring throughout most of the University sector although often in pockets within a University. The summary for Staffordshire University is here

Research funding in the UK is overly concentrated in two ways:

a. The vast bulk of the money goes to a very small number of Universities, in fact University research funding is the most concentrated research funding in the world. For example, in 2013-2014 the top 9 universities received 51% of research funding, and 87 universities shared just 10% of the funding.

b. An incredible spatial concentration of funding to London and Oxbridge. A further concentration of funding is only likely to exacerbate regional inequalities in the UK.

Decisions on the split  for funding will focus on how much is awarded to 3* and how much to 4* units over the next couple of months. We need to see that research rated at 3* receives at least 40% of the allocated budget with the remaining 60% going towards 4* rated research that way world class research will get funded regardless of where it takes place.

Dermot Lynott provides an initial look at the Psychology ref and whether we are getting bang for the buck with some of the most prestigious universities.

Dorothy Bishop has an  entry on how the REF exercises over time have led to a divergence in the sector and whether this is desirable.

A wider spread of funding will be best for the UK and best for the regions the Universities serve.