Access to Learning course for adults in addiction recovery – RECOVEU

RECOVEU – A participative approach to curriculum development for adults in addiction recovery across the EU

RECOVEU is a project funded by the EU and based on an international partnership of educators and practitioners working in the field of drug addiction.

During the course of the project an ‘Access to Learning’ pack to help adults in addiction recovery prepare for, and succeed in, further learning has been developed. The activities within the course take into account the specific barriers that socially disadvantaged people, such as those in addiction recovery, often face and their development has been informed by people in recovery and drug treatment providers.

The full Course Pack consisting of the ‘Access to Learning’ materials, Evaluation Toolkit and Guidelines for Delivery is freely available on an E-Learning Platform on the RECOVEU website together with an online ‘Train the Trainers’ module:

For further details of the project please contact: Tom Ward, Project Administrator (

New paper: R&D Programmes, Policy Mix, and the ‘European Paradox’: Evidence from European SMEs

by Dr Dragana Radicic and Prof Geoff Pugh

Using a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises from twenty-eight European countries, this study evaluates the input and output additionality of national and European Union (EU) R&D programmes both separately and in combination. Accordingly, we contribute to understanding the effectiveness of innovation policy from the perspective of policy mix. Empirical results are different for innovation inputs and outputs. For innovation inputs, we found positive treatment effects from national and EU programmes separately as well as complementary effects for firms supported from both sources relative to firms supported only by national programmes. For innovation outputs,we report no evidence of additionality from national programmes and cannot reject crowding out from EU programmes. However, crowding out from EU support is eliminated by combination with national support. These findings have policy implications for the governance of R&D policy
and suggest that the European paradox—success in promoting R&D inputs but not commercialisation— is not yet mitigated.

Key words: R&D support; SMEs; policy mix; input and output additionality; European paradox

Science and Public Policy, 2016, 1–16
doi: 10.1093/scipol/scw077 

Please help us with our tourism questionnaire

We have a project to assist the tourism industry and a first activity is to find out the views of the different groups involved. A facebook group is also available if you are interested in these issues. 

The first questionnaire is for accommodation providers, visitor attractions, cafe/restaurants and other parts of the tourism industry – these are the main focus of the project and we will be developing an online training site based on this feedback. The site will allow the training to be customised (e.g. according to the type of establishment, type of staff etc) and provide feedback on progress.Please access the tourism industry survey here.

The second questionnaire is for  people living in areas with a tourism industry present. We have a short questionnaire of only 9 questions to get your views.Please access the community survey here.

The final questionnaire is for people who are tourists and who have been on holiday in the last year. Please access the tourist questionnaire here.

Thank you very much for your help and if you have any questions please get in touch with me on 01782 294094 or

Partners in the UK include Newcastle under Lyme college where the team is led by Vicky Disley

Newcastle under Lyme College and Jonathan Karkut and Dr Julie Scott at Touch TD

Touch TD

Funded under ERASMUS





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 engagement
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

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.
 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.
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.
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.




Universities, jobs, apples and oranges

Reports here and here (and, not surprisingly, in a dozen other newspapers) of a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, with the headline claim that 59% of UK university graduates are in sub-graduate level jobs. This contrasts with Germany and the Netherlands, who have only a 10% rate. Now, what are we to make of this? Depending upon your political persuasion — and thus what newspaper you are likely to read — this means that the UK is producing too many graduates and should focus more on vocational training, especially given the debts accumulated by university students; OR it means that the UK economic recovery over the past few years has produced some low-pay low-skills jobs but very few jobs that demand university-level skills, a bad sign for the economy’s balance and its future.

More immediately important, however, is the confusion over the numbers. You see, the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey reveals that only 32% of graduates are in non-graduate employment — and this survey is only counting recent graduates and its measurement point is six months from graduation. That means the real number — where we give graduates a bit more time to get on their feet — is likely to be considerably lower.

That’s a big difference.

What? You don’t suppose all this fuss is about nothing more than a difference in the definition of ‘graduate level employment’, do you? Oh, yes I do — although no one is publishing their definitions or how the data is gathered (students, what have I always said about defining your terms!?).

The study by the Chartered Institute uses European data; the Destinations survey uses UK data. If there is a difference in definition, likely it can be traced to the differences in the conception of universities in the UK and on the mainland. Historically countries like Germany have had massive systems of vocational education, and have not experienced nearly as huge a broadening of university systems. By contrast, in the UK the university system is much larger than it was only a couple of decades ago. This increase is greater than the increase in students studying classics, theoretical physics or philosophy; instead, it has been achieved in great part because courses that tended to be mainly in the vocational sector, are now increasingly taught at universities: design subjects, for example. Journalism, nursing and education schools are now much bigger than they used to be. It would not be surprising, then, if the definition both of university level subject, and also graduate level job, were different between mainland Europe and the UK.

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.

More testing, that’ll work

The Economist weighs into the timely debate about higher education in America. The piece makes several major points, all of them poorly considered.

The first is that there are two models of higher education funding, a European model of equal funding for all institutions, and a ‘market-oriented’ model in the United States. This is patently false. The European model is that it takes a certain amount of money to education a student to University standards, and all providers receive just this funding. This may happen by way of a grant from central government or (in the UK more recently) by a more or less fixed level of tuition fees. But in every other way, European Universities are not ‘equal’. Not only do the ancient Universities have enormous endowments, but are granted special privileges (Oxford and Cambridge, for example, are exempted from the ban that applies to all other Universities concerning invitations to ‘extremist’ speakers.). Most importantly, research funding is heavily concentrated — in the UK now at least as much as in the US (and see here). Broadly similar arrangements are found in all the other ‘European’-model systems of which I am aware. In other words, expressed crudely, the European model recognises that universities have two jobs — teaching and research — and also recognises (indeed helps to create) a rich, old and distinguished/new, urban, cash-poor gap. Research is allowed to drop off the radar for the second category of institutions; it is just that this model refuses to allow the relatively cash-poor institutions to also fail in their teaching role by being completely starved of funds.

The second is that universities world wide have a problem with the ‘added value’ they give to their students. The Economist claims that, for the most part, students gain nothing in terms of knowledge or skills, and that the main value of attending an elite institution is having been selected to go there in the first place. (Note that the evidence adduced here is both anecdotal and all from the US.) Now, it may well be the case that the quality of education is variable and in some cases very poor. But this claim becomes absurd if generalised: the implication would be that, in most cases, a high school teacher with a degree in English from the University of Wherever has no more knowledge of English than his or her students; and that an engineering graduate of the University of Somewhere, designing gear-boxes for GM, would have been better doing so straight out of high school shop class. No doubt this sometimes happens, but it is difficult to conceive that it might be very common, and no one has noticed before…

Third, the answer to all this poor education is generalised testing of graduates across the board. Look, this test already exists, and has done since 1949. It is called the Graduate Record Examination, which comes in two flavours (general and subject-specific) and is one of those tortures routinely supplied to university Seniors. To be sure, the GRE is not actually required. However, given that it is part of the admissions requirements for many US Graduate Schools, it is widely enough used (800,000 tests taken annually) so that, if there were some undergraduate institutions that were failing their students, the data would be there. In the UK, there is an alternative system which is a combination of internal moderation of courses and marking, and external oversight (external examiners and the QAA). It is important to realise that these mechanisms are actually more light-touch now than they were 15 or 20 years ago, as the many millions spent on such procedures gradually revealed that there wasn’t a problem to begin with.

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).

Still more ‘distant mirror’

You wait ages for significant international developments re student choices and tuition fees, and three come along at once! Here is a major report from France, putting forward a vision for the future of French Universities, and especially their international competitiveness. At the moment, in France there is no tuition fee premium based upon residence: everyone pays the same really very low fee. The headline proposal is to charge non-EU students full economic cost — interestingly, with the exception of doctoral students, who are seen as research assets in and of themselves. The money gained is to be plowed back into French higher education, and there this is to be accompanied by no decrease in the level of central funding (good luck with that one). The point is that, by dramatically improving the product that French universities can offer international students, France’s market share will increase despite the rising fees.

This proposed move is broadly in keeping with the ‘super-university’ proposed for Paris, Paris-Saclay, which will join 19 universities together in a single entity, the better to compete in international league tables. While this model can work for Paris, one wonders what might in store for regional institutions who don’t have geographically near-by HEIs with which to merge.

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

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.