Social Inequalities in Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution: A Systematic Review in the WHO European Region

New paper that is open access

Full reference is Fairburn, J.; Schüle, S.A.; Dreger, S.; Karla Hilz, L.; Bolte, G. Social Inequalities in Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution: A Systematic Review in the WHO European Region. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health201916, 3127.

Here’s a short film of me discussing it

Follow me on twitter @Profjonfairburn and connect with me on Linkedin

New paper – Do alternative weighting approaches for an Index of Multiple Deprivation change the association with mortality? A sensitivity analysis from Germany

A new paper from Prof Jon Fairburn with collegaues in Germany. This is largely a technical paper looking at aspects of a German Index of Mutliple Deprivation. However it also considers general aspects of Deprivation indices and some of the approaches that are possible with the weighting of different components.

The article is open access so available to everyone and has a creative commons licence and has been published in BMJ Open Vol 9 Issue 8.



A Plan for Economic Renewal in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire

With Ruth Smeeth MP -(Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove)

You are cordially invited to join us for a discussion on ‘Economic Renewal in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire’, organised in partnership with Staffordshire University.

This is an opportunity for academics, business leaders, students and local residents to begin a serious discussion about how to develop a long-term vision for the area.

The event will feature a keynote speech from Ruth Smeeth MP on the economic challenges and opportunities for Stoke-on-Trent followed by workshops and discussions on some of the issues facing North Staffordshire.

Date: Wednesday 15th Feb

Location: LT111/113 Ashley Building, Leek Road, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent ST4 2DF

Time: 1.00 – 3.30pm

Facilitators from Staffordshire University (Business and Education)

Twitter – @RuthSmeeth @BusinessStaffs

To register please email or contact us on 020 7219 4844

For further details please contact Glen Watson on or by phone on 01782 454 370

Eroica Britannia – Day 1

So here I am in Bakewell for day 1 of the fantastic festival known as Eroica Britannia.

Riders are getting registered

Rider registration at Eroica

and then having a quick drink in the tent


There’s all sort on including talks about racing on penny farthings


There’s lots of bike stuff to buy


Plus great food including vegan


Local stalls such as British Boxers


Great music from Lewis and Leigh


So come along and join in . You can follow Eroica on twitter , facebook, and instagram

My report from 2015 with lots of great pictures is available as pdf here web version or here print version.

If you would like know more about sustainable tourism and building a career in the industry we have a range of courses or visit us on an Open Day.

You can also follow us on twitter @tourismsu  and we have a Sustainable Tourism in Europe facebook page



£10 for 10 days writing challenge

Today, I delivered a Research Conversation (organised by Dr Katy Vigurs) . The theme was pre-research activity and then getting started. I have previously blogged about Boice Advice for New Faculty Members so I adapted some of that and some ideas of my own to develop and issue a challenge to the audience at the end

£10 for 10 days writing challenge rules

  • 10 days of writing
  • 20 to a maximum of 30 minutes writing per day
  • Monday to Friday only
  • 8am to 6 pm
  • No references needed but you can include them if you want
  • ONLY Writing – not find references, etc.
  • Email partners to say done each day (optional but you will find it useful)
  • Email me the writing when finished to claim the £10

When I have used this approach I have found that I can write 200-250 words per day, so if everything goes to plan they should have roughly a 2000-2500 word draft at the end. Let’s get writing a little and often.

The idea is to change existing behaviour!

I accompanied the challenge with some tips:

  • Choose the same time everyday.
  • I chose to make it the first thing I did every day, so sitting on the desktop as I logged in was the word document.
  • Put a sign on the door DO NOT DISTURB !

Anyway the following signed up to the challenge:

Law – Hannah Jones, Rhona Hammond-Sharlot, Jo Beswick,

Business – Zedias Mutema, Hazel Squire, Ahmad Mlouk, Mark Wordley, Andy Hanks, Carol Southall, Stephen Kelly, Andras Kenez, Carl Cattell, Ganess Dirpal.

Education – Katy Vigurs, Sarah Misra,

I can’t recommend Boice highly enough and we have copies in our library. Quite frankly this book should just be issued to all academics when they start working at any University. Anyone who accepted the challenge will find it useful.

Good luck to all those that accepted the challenge.

£10 for 10 days writing challenge

£10 for 10 days writing challenge


Middleport Pottery 中港陶器 – a guide for Chinese Visitors

Middleport Pottery

Provision of tourism attraction material in foreign languages is one way of attracting international visitors and the largest group of international travellers in the world are the Chinese middle classes. Staffordshire University often acts as host to Chinese visitors in the region due to the links we have with universities in China we also host to many Chinese students every year who come here to study.

Charlotte Rabey, Vincent Law, John Lowther and Frances Hunt

Charlotte Rabey, Vincent Law, John Lowther and Frances Hunt

The project team is composed of Vincent Law (BA Bus. Man. Fast Track), Charlotte Rabey (BA Events Man. Fast Track) and Frances Hunt (BA Bus. Man. Fast Track). They have been working with Prof Jon Fairburn and Dr Junie Tong to support Middleport Pottery in producing tourism materials in a range of print and audio formats.

As well as the general guide and plan of the site being available in simplified Chinese, a number of audio files have been created in Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

Middleport Pottery 中港陶器 – general introduction in simplified Chinese (pdf)

Middleport Pottery Plan – Chinese (pdf)


Sound files in Cantonese – 廣東話录音

Introduction to Middleport Pottery – 中港陶器

The Lodge – 游客中心

 The General Office – 办公室

The Designers Room – 设计师房间

Centenary Showroom 1951 – 百周年纪念室

Upstairs above the visitor centre 第二楼展览

The Bottle Oven Kiln – 瓶形窑

The Mould Store – 陶冶房

The cafe – 咖啡馆

The Burleigh shop – 伯利商店

The Factory Tour – 工厂旅程


Sound files in Mandarin – 普通话录音

Introduction to Middleport Pottery – 中港陶器

The Lodge – 游客中心

The General Office – 办公室

The Designers Room – 设计师房间

Centenary Showroom 1951 – 百周年纪念室

Upstairs above the visitor centre 第二楼展览

The Bottle Oven Kiln – 瓶形窑

The Mould Store – 陶冶房

The cafe – 咖啡馆

The Burleigh shop – 伯利商店

The Factory tour – 工厂旅程


Sound files in English – maybe useful for those with sight difficulties or who just prefer an aural medium – research by Charlotte Rabey, voice files by Frances Hunt.

Introduction to Middleport Pottery

The Visitor Centre

The General Office

The Designers Room

Centenary Showroom 1951

Upstairs above the visitor centre

The Bottle Oven Kiln

The Mould Store

The cafe

The Burleigh shop


The Factory tour


If you are interested in working on projects like this with us then please get in touch with Prof Jon Fairburn tel 01782 294094

Jon Fairburn and Vincent Law

Jon Fairburn and Vincent Law

If you would like to study tourism management or events management with us more information can be found here or come along to one of our open days.

Keep up to date with all things tourism and events by following our twitter feed @tourismsu



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





The best places to eat and drink in Europe

Do you enjoy food and drink plus prefer exploring new regions? Then the recent announcement of Winners of the EU EDEN Destinations of Excellence Awards for Tourism and local gastronomy  is just what you need if you are planning this year’s holidays in Europe.

According to data of the UNWTO, for about 44% of travellers around the globe, food is one of the three criteria they take into consideration when they decide where to travel. It is one of the top 5 factors driving visitors’ satisfaction. 1 in 5 international visitors to Europe are involved in gastronomic activities on their trip.

The EDEN Awards recognise the important work that is being done by the winning destinations with their specialised tourism offers. The awards help raise awareness for sustainable food tourism, and draws attention to exciting, little-known European destinations that are off the beaten track.

If you would like know more about sustainable tourism and building a career in the industry we have a range of courses or visit us on an openday.

You can also follow us on twitter @tourismsu

On the links you will find a description of the region and their specialties as well as links to the official tourism sites to get you started. 

Of course if you are wondering where to visit in England then Staffordshire is fantastic, and here are some great events happening in Staffordshire in 2016


16 great regional events in 2016

This is just a flavour of the events that are happening in the region over the next year. Many of these events provide volunteer opportunities for our students, credited work experience and some organisations become partners in our research. The Peak District is the most popular national park in Europe and provides a great laboratory for our  field visits as well. So see the link if you want to know more about our courses in Events Management and Tourism Management or visit us on an Open Day.

Remember to follow us on twitter @tourismsu 

If you are reading this from abroad here is a guide for how to get to Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire

Students getting ready for Stone Food and Drink festival

How to get to Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire – a guide for European visitors

Last updated Oct 2019


If you are coming from France, Belgium, the Netherlands or even parts of Germany it is worth considering the train. If coming from Brussels or Paris it will be both quicker and cheaper than flying plus you can usually travel at a better time of day.

The Eurostar site may be all you need.

The German national railway site where you can look for journeys all across Europe is very good. Available in lots of languages click the flag icon at the top.  an amazing site site full of hints and tips on train travel across Europe. You should definitely have a look at this site before you buy a train ticket.

You will need to change trains in London. You arrive in London St Pancras and you will need to go to London Euston. The easiest way to do this is to walk it (about 10-15mins), come out the main entrance onto Euston Road and then follow that in the south west direction (see ). If possible try and book your ticket all the way through to Stoke on Trent as this is a much cheaper option in general. Paris to Stoke can be as little as £65 or 65 Euros one way (prices correct Oct 2019). 

Flights and airports

There are four possible airports, in descending order of ease of travel to reach Stoke on Trent – Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Liverpool.

Manchester – Has a dedicated train station (Manchester Airport) to connect to the main Manchester Piccadilly train station. Manchester Piccadilly to Stoke is about 45minutes on the train direct.

Birmingham – Has a dedicated train station Birmingham International with frequent services to Birmingham New Street which is the main station where you may need to change but there are also direct trains to Stoke on Trent. Direct journey time is about 1 hour 10 minutes.

East Midlands – If you are going to be hiring a car then this airport may be suitable. From the airport by car you come along the A50 in about 45mins to 1 hour.

Liverpool – again if you are hiring a car this may be suitable

You might want to try the websites  or google flights when looking for flights.

Travelling within the UK 

Airport taxis – the University supplier is A Star Travel and they are excellent, friendly people used to working with overseas visitors. Email

Tel +44 1782 633555             Mobile +44 7774 808083

Trains within Britain

There’s lot of train sites but don’t let that fool you, underneath they are all using the same database!

Arriving at Stoke on Trent by Train

Stoke on Trent train station is right next to the Campus and forms part of the University Quarter.

As you come out the main entrance you will see a statute of Josiah Wedgwood opposite. If you go left you will come to College Road, if you go right you will come to Leek Road (see the campus map link below).

 Taxis within the Stoke on Trent area

Lucy Seven Taxi   01782 33 33 33

 Other useful information

If you want to know where to stay and eat in area then visit this link

Forum on Postgraduate Education

I’ve just come back from a day long forum in Manchester (at the Radisson Blu – looks like a nice hotel, shame about the low-ceilinged, poorly lit, stuffy and cramped conference facilities.  Oh well). It was run by ‘Inside Government’ and comprised a series of speakers from all over the country on postgraduate education. Some things I want to magpie:

  • Most presentations were reports on particular, innovative projects at various universities. Some were on postgraduate taught courses (PGT) and some on (PGR. Almost no one reflected on both. They seem to be viewed, almost instinctively,  as entirely separate processes. I wonder if this is a trend on the increase?
  • Most, again, were focused on skills delivery, and of these, most on employability skills. It is flavour of the month (and for good reason, after all!), but I was taken aback at how few reflections there were on new types of route, new pedagogy, etc. Since the general consensus in the room seemed to be that ‘targeted’ PGT programs — programs designed for specific industries, even specific organisations — the focus on employability seemed to me particularly short-sighted. If all we can offer to a company is an enhancement of their employees’ ability to get a job elsewhere, that’s not helpful.
  • Some presenters spoke of p/t students, some of full-time. Few talked of both. Once again, the almost instinctive sense that these two groups might as well have been on different planets.
  • A PGT approach at Aston struck me as offering a great looking program, and a model for others: free language tuition, comprehensive peer mentoring, a specialist postgrad careers centre – these were a few examples of good practice. There was also an observation which hadn’t occurred to me before: that employers have a poor sense of what postgrad education offers by way of enhanced skills. We have to educate them. Not surprisingly, Vitae has taken a lead, with specific resources targeted at employers.
  • Data heavy presentation by Dr. Iain Cameron from RCUK, looking at some interesting conclusions drawn from HESA and other data-sets. Not a lot was surprising. More interesting to me were other instances of the ‘other world’ phenomena. There was a real sense that RCUK regularly distinguishes between haves and have-nots among PGR providers: big focus on doctoral training centres, for example, and some of the results (remember, we are talking about PhDs, here) were divided up by quartile of undergraduate admissions tariff (i.e. first year undergraduate selectivity).
  • A similar point was made by the presenter from Durham, who talked about some great PhD programs they run, always connected to a doctoral training centre. These were cohort based PhDs – in that way similar to a professional doctorate – except that these were full-time research council funded programs. Not many institutions, and fewer subject areas, would have the critical mass to do this. Are there now “two classes of PhD?” he asked, and “class” didn’t just mean type!
  • Finally, a good looking program from Edge Hill Business School. What struck me here was that the program was designed from the beginning to be both an MA route, and for individual modules to be available as CPD opportunities. That kind of flexibility should be a more common aim.


Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)

As with both undergraduates and taught postgraduates, there is an official, national survey of their satisfaction levels with the University at which they study. For research degrees students, the survey is once every two years. I’m pleased to report that Staffordshire University’s results are out and look very welcome. Specifically, we are among the top slice of UK Universities in three categories — and important categories, I’d have thought! — quality of supervision, provision of research skills, and professional development (i.e. how well we improve the ’employability’ of research students).

Of Graduate Schools

Well, so Staffordshire University now has a Graduate School, and I am its Head. Run for the hills!

I thought it might be worth thinking about what is a Graduate School?

Coming as I do from the States, the phrase ‘Graduate School’ has two very distinct meanings. On the one hand it means, as it does here, a part of the University in some way responsible for ‘graduate’ students and their studies. A Graduate School is a place, a thing. It often has a building, or set of buildings — sometimes a whole campus! On the other hand, though, it is most commonly used to mean exactly the same as ‘I am studying for a Masters/ a Doctorate’. So, an undergraduate might be asked ‘Are you going to graduate school?’. By this the questioner simply means ‘Are you planning on studying for a Masters/ Doctorate?’ ‘Graduate School’ here is an activity or a pursuit, not a place or thing. Up to last year, a student could be at graduate school here at Staffordshire, even though we didn’t have a Graduate School.

Why is this important? For someone in my position, a newly appointed Head and trying to set up the GS, it is a salient and humbling lesson. What is being set up here need not and perhaps should not have an identity of its own, as a place or thing would. It does not need and again perhaps should not have a shiny new building (which is fortunate, ’cause that ain’t going to happen), nor a fancy name (although The Charles Darwin Graduate School springs to mind — we have as good or better claim to that name than anyone else). The Graduate School first and foremost should be a service, designed simply to help the graduate-level education that was already happening run a little more smoothly.

Global Entrepreneurship week events at Staffordshire University


This gallery contains 4 photos.

Organisers – Prof Jon Fairburn, Clair Hameed, Ben Dyer, Angela Lawrence, Hazel Squire, Mark Wordley Contacts Jon Fairburn 01782 294094 or Clair Hameed 01785 353518 with initial queries or media requests Social media Business School twitter Be Inspired twitter Ben Dyer – Enterprise Days … Continue reading

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

General coverage of the IMD on twitter 


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.

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.