Category / Research communication

Call for Papers: Machine Learning in Medical Diagnosis and Prognosis

This is a call for papers for the Special Session on Machine Learning in Medical Diagnosis and Prognosis at IEEE CIBCB 2017.

The IEEE International Conference on Computational Intelligence in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (IEEE CIBCB 2017) will be held at the INNSIDE Hotel, Manchester from August 23rd to 25th, 2017.

This annual conference has become a major technical event in the field of Computational Intelligence and its application to problems in biology, bioinformatics, computational biology, chemical informatics, bioengineering and related fields. The conference provides a global forum for academic and industrial scientists from a range of fields including computer science, biology, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, statistics, and engineering, to discuss and present their latest research findings from theory to applications.

The topics of interest for the special session include (but are not limited to):

  • Medical image classification
  • Medical image analysis
  • Expert systems for computer aided diagnosis and prognosis
  • Pattern recognition in the analysis of biomarkers for medical diagnosis
  • Deep learning in medical image processing and analysis
  • Ethical and Security issues in machine learning for medical diagnosis and prognosis

Up-to-date information and submission details can be found on the MLCIBCB web-page. The submission deadline is the 31st of March, 2017.

Please e-mail with any questions.

What a philosopher and the Thirty Years War tell us about Donald Trump

Donald Nordberg, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

If you’d like to pitch your own article idea to The Conversation, please contact either or

Michel Foucault, who died more than 30 years ago, has something to tell us about Donald Trump. The French philosopher once delivered a famous lecture which sought to explain why the people of Europe had done away with the warrior kings of the past and embraced a whole new way of running things. The US now has a president whose advisers announce that he has “a mandate to blow up norms of good governance”.

The extraordinary events of the past few weeks also brought to mind something I heard in private while working as a financial reporter. The CEO of a major multinational happily declared: “No one ever accused this company of being a democracy.”

The corporate sphere and the state have unique characteristics, of course, but Trump is bringing the preoccupations of one into the other. On his first full day in office, the White House CEO invited the CEOs of major US corporations to discuss the future governance of America. They of course come from a world where establishing good corporate governance has sometimes felt like pulling teeth. It will be intriguing to discover what good governance means for Trump.

Immigration rhetoric

We have an early clue. Trump’s executive order closing the border to citizens of seven, mainly Muslim states was quickly set aside by the courts. And like a CEO annoyed by an underling, Trump ranted on Twitter against judges. Was he not the “Leader of the Free World”? Was he not, as president of the first democracy of the modern era, carrying out the will of the people?

This vignette brings to mind Foucault’s view of governance, and that extraordinary dismantling of the concept of divine right for Europe’s monarchies.

The new form of governance that emerged was based on central administration, guided notionally by rational processes. Foucault recalled Machiavelli’s The Prince, where right choices sustain faith in the ruler’s absolute authority. Poor decisions might destroy it. In the Enlightenment, the start of the modern era, such faith transferred to the state.

An illustration of the siege of Nuremberg in 1638.

What happened between Machiavelli in the 16th century and the Enlightenment in the 18th, of course, was the Thirty-Years’ War of 1618-1648. Protestants and Catholics slaughtered each other over articles of faith that disguised the territorial ambitions of kings and princes. It sapped the legitimacy of monarchies, setting the stage for the unenlightened French Revolution. Democratic at first, it reverted to pre-modern barbarism, which ended only when Napoleon conquered much of Europe and declared himself Emperor.

But before that, modernism – what scholars like Foucault called the turn towards rationalism and scientific method in the Enlightenment era – had ushered in a truly enlightened revolution, the American one. The US Constitution adopted broad enfranchisement, which broadened further over the decades that followed, and created three co-equal branches of government to constrain a president from ruling by divine right.

Hacked off

Reading Foucault’s lecture a few years ago, I reflected on a big news story of that time: The News of the World, a British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and directed by his son James, had hacked into the mobile phone messages of celebrities. Their protests did little to halt the practice.

But then its journalists hacked the mobile phone of a child who had vanished and was feared dead. Deleting voicemails, they led the family and police to conclude the girl was still alive – a runaway, not a victim.

After a popular outcry, the Murdochs closed the newspaper. They appeared before a parliamentary committee, on what the elder declared, ungrammatically, the “most humble day of my life”.

At that moment, I saw Rupert Murdoch as a Foucault-like version of Machiavelli’s prince, at great risk of forfeiting his “divine right” through the clumsy slaughter of his legitimacy. But Murdoch did not disintegrate. Indeed, he has retained and grown his empire. Now we learn that this corporate emperor was observing events as Trump gave an interview with Michael Gove for one of Murdoch’s titles, The Times.

Trump knows that many successful CEOs are indeed imperious. Murdoch built a small Australian newspaper into a global news and entertainment giant. The lack of external constraint – coupled with ambition, ideas and personal self-control – can create superior outcomes. But the evidence is mixed. Think of accounting scandals at Enron under CEO Jeffrey Skilling, or at Bernie Ebbers’ WorldCom.

And public governance is different from corporate governance. Consider this: markets constrain imperious CEOs when board structures and guidelines cannot – shareholders can sell and walk away. But the market in nationalities is very narrow, as the migrants controversy has underlined.

Trump has so far acted like the CEO of pre-modern corporate governance. He has sought to assert the “unfettered power” which the 1992 UK Cadbury Code sought to constrain at British companies. How it works in the boardroom echoes the checks and balances in the US Constitution.

Trump’s executive orders suggest a wilful, self-absorbed and self-justifying mentality of governance. It has clear echoes of the world of princes and the divine right of kings which the Thirty Years’ War destroyed and to which Foucault drew our attention. But the protests we have seen suggest many are not willing to return to governance that accepts anything like divine right.

There are large parts of US society – Trump’s supporters and doubtful but loyal Republicans – who think differently. Perhaps the “strong man”, with answers to all ills, still has an allure in our unfathomably complex world.

But if Trump pursues this path, he will find that dissatisfaction with both the rationalism of modernism and the intricacies of postmodernism isn’t strong enough to revert to pre-modern governance. Trump’s election may be a big moment in history; just not that big. We can hope so, at least. To put it another way, democracy rules: our ancestors’ rejection of the war-mongerers of 400 years ago is a legacy that will not be easily overturned.

The Conversation

Donald Nordberg, Associate Professor, Corporate Governance and Strategic Leadership, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Robot bees vs real bees – why tiny drones can’t compete with the real thing

Elizabeth Franklin, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

If you’d like to pitch your own article idea to The Conversation, please contact either or

The latest service to be revolutionised by drones might not be package delivery or internet connections but the far more valuable service of pollination. Researchers in Japan have been exploring the potential of using miniature drones covered with sticky hairs to act like robotic bees to counter the decline of natural pollinators.

Writing in a paper in the journal Chem, the team demonstrated their drone on an open bamboo lily (Lilium japonicum) flower. With a bit of practice, the device could pick up 41% of the pollen available within three landings and successfully pollinated the flower in 53 out of 100 attempts. It used a patch of hairs augmented with a non-toxic ionic liquid gel that used static electricity and stickiness to be able to “lift and stick” the pollen. Although the drone was manually operated in this study, the team stated that by adding artificial intelligence and GPS, it could learn to forage for and pollinate plants on its own.

But it takes more than just sticky hairs to be a good pollinator. As someone who studies pollinating insects, I think these drones have a lot of catching up to do to match our existing pollinators, which include bees, butterflies and even some larger animals, in all their diversity. But it is always good to see science learning from nature and these studies also help us to appreciate the wonders of what nature has already provided.

Pollination is complex task and should not be underrated. It involves finding flowers and deciding if they are suitable and haven’t already been visited. The pollinator then needs to successfully handle the flower, picking pollen up and putting it down in another plant, while co-ordinating with its team and optimising its route between flowers. In all of these tasks, our existing pollinators excel, their skills honed through millions of years of evolution. In some cases, our technology can match them and in others it has some way to go.

The three major factors that make insect pollinators such as bees so good at what they do are their independent decision making, learning and teamwork. Each bee can decide what flowers are suitable, manage their energy usage and keep themselves clean of stale pollen.

Sticky hairs.
Dr. Eijiro Miyak

Modern drones can already achieve this level of individual management. As they have the technology to track faces, they could track flowers as well. They could also plot routes via GPS and return to base for recharging on sensing a low battery. In the long run, they may even have a potential advantage over natural pollinators as pollination would be their sole function. Bees, on the other hand, are looking to feed themselves and their brood, and pollination happens as a by-product.

The areas where drones need development, however, are learning and teamwork. Flowers are also not always as open and simple as those of the bamboo lily and quite a few of our commercially pollinated food resources have much trickier flowers (such as beans) or need repeated visits (such as strawberry flowers) to produce good fruit.

To solve this, bees learn and specialise on a specific flower so they can handle them quickly and efficiently. They also learn the position of rewards to learn the best routes. With all individuals in the team doing this, they divide their labour and get a lot more done. To replicate this in drones would involve some serious programming and the ability of the drone to change its behaviour or shape to adjust to flowers, or having different drones for different jobs as we have different species of pollinator.

Having more than one drone requires co-ordination and preferably non-centralised control, whereby individual drones can make their own decisions based on information from their colleagues and a set of simple rules. Honeybees have the ability to recruit others to rich floral rewards using movements known as the waggle dance. Bumblebees can tell if a flower has already been visited by the smell of the footprints left by previous visitors. All these adaptations make our pollinators very efficient at what they do. Similar skills would have to be developed into a team of pollinating drones in order for them to work as efficient pollinators.

Although I feel that these robots are a long way away from becoming the optimal pollinators, they may well have a place in our future. I could see these drones being used in the environments that are unsuitable for natural pollinators, such as a research lab where precision is needed in the crossing of plant breeds. Or even in a biodome on Mars where a swarm of honeybees may not be the safest solution. It will be interesting to see what else robotics can learn from our insect pollinators and what they can improve upon.

The Conversation

Elizabeth Franklin, Demonstrator (Biosciences), Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

New paper published by CMMPH’s Dr. Susan Way

This week saw the pre-publication of ‘Core principles to reduce current variations that exist in grading of midwifery practice in the United Kingdom’ in Nurse Education in Practice.  This paper is co-authored by Dr. Susan Way in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH).  The authors argue that these core principles could contribute to curriculum development in midwifery and other professions internationally.



Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen



  1. Fisher, M., Way, S., Chenery-Morris, S., Jackson, J., Bower, H. Sue Way Feb 2017(2017) Core principles to reduce current variations that exist in grading of midwifery practice in the United Kingdom, Nurse Education in Practice (forthcoming) see:


Working in partnership with businesses: how research can provide solutions

This year’s Bournemouth Research Chronicle explores the ways in which our academics are working with students, our local community and with partners abroad.  In the latest edition Shelley Ellis, Lecturer in Performance Analysis, shares her story of working with South Coast Canoes to tackle the problem of adapting sporting equipment to fit women.  Below, Simon Rham, owner of South Coast Canoes explains his company’s involvement in the project.

“I first got to know more about this subject after Shelley applied to become a South Coast Canoes Team Paddler. Shelley represents us on and off the water and has helped grow our profile with her coaching and expertise,” explains Simon.

“Shelley told me about the subject she was researching and to help her with this we have held talks both at the shop and at a charity paddling event in Devon which we run. These talks were extremely interesting and helped to increase the awareness within the paddling community of what Shelley is trying to achieve.  We’ve given Shelley access to our social media accounts to help her raise the profile of her research area.”

“One of the other ways we’ve been able to help Shelley is by supporting her to find particular pieces of equipment which she needs for her research.  For example, Shelley was trying to purchase paddle shafts from New Zealand, which have power meters built in.  These are great for measuring performance and are a good tool for Shelley’s research.”

“She needed some blades to go with the paddle shafts, so I put her in touch with AT Paddles, who are based in the USA.  They kindly sent over some samples for her to use as part of her research.  With this equipment, Shelley has been able to gather more data out on the water to help her better understand how subtle differences in seat height can affect paddling performance.  We will continue to work with Shelley on this as it is an extremely interesting area of research.”

To find out more about Shelley’s research and her work with South Coast Canoes, take a look at the latest edition of the Bournemouth Research Chronicle.

The 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle can be seen in full here.

Getting involved in conservation in Indonesia: an undergraduate perspective

Photo credit: Ewan Hitchcoe

Photo credit: Ewan Hitchcoe

In July 2016, a group of undergraduate students travelled to Indonesia as part of the ‘Landscape Ecology and Primatology’ (LEAP) research project.  For many it was their first experience of living and working in the tropics.  Below, Ecology and Wildlife Conservation student, Ewan Hitchcoe shares some insights into the trip.

For more information about the LEAP project, take a look at the latest edition of the Bournemouth Research Chronicle.

The first part of the trip was based at the Ketambe Forest research centre, located in Aceh province. The forest here is part of the network of forests that makes up the Gunung Leuser National Park. The Ketambe research centre was built by Dr. Herman D. Rikjsen, a Dutch researcher, in 1971 and was the first Orang-utan research station in the world.  Since its inception, the station has provided a base for many scientific studies carried out by well-known Orang-utan field researchers and their collaborators.  The long-term nature of the station means that it’s been possible to carry out studies that help both the public and scientific community with an understanding of adaptive strategies, life history variables and social behaviour of animal populations.

Our group of BU students spent a total of 4 days at Ketambe, one half of the group staying at the research station for two days and the other half staying across the nearby river at a guesthouse, before swapping over. Ketambe was our first introduction to the rainforest and much of our time was spent on extended treks through the forest where we were lucky enough to experience a multitude of flora and fauna including many old growth trees, insects, birds and primates, as well as stunning forest landscape features such as rivers and waterfalls.  Both groups were lucky enough to see wild Orang-utans at Ketambe – a mother and a young infant.

Here at Ketambe, we learned field skills, such as how to use the audio array method (spatial explicit capture-recapture) for assessing primate population density. This involved a 4am start and trekking into the forest, where we set up 3 different listening stations from which to record the morning calls of Orang-utans, Siamangs, Gibbons and Thomas leaf monkeys.  We took note of the time, species, bearing and approximate distance, so that we could triangulate primate group positions later back at camp. We also learned some other techniques for monitoring bio diversity such as butterfly trapping and handling under the instruction of MRes student and LEAP team member Emma Hankinson.

After a pit stop back at Medan our next destination was at Serbajadi Aceh Timur to meet with Tezar Pahlevie and the elephant handlers of the Aceh Conservation Response Unit (CRU). Here we learned how this dedicated team use low tech methods such as fireworks or planting citrus crops to try to dissuade elephants away from people and crop plantations. We also learned how as a last resort the CRU uses trained elephants (taken from the wild as ‘problem’ elephants that would have most likely come to harm from farmers trying to protect their crops) to fight and effectively scare off wild herds. We were also privileged enough to be able to engage with the elephants by helping to wash and feed these magnificent creatures, becoming acutely aware of how truly powerful they are.

The next day we were invited to Leuser Conservation Forum offices, where Rudi Putra and Tezar Pahlevie gave us a presentation about the excellent work being carried out in Aceh and beyond. The presentation stressed the importance of and many reasons for protecting the rain forest. We learned about their success stories, as well as some of the problems that hinder the team’s progress.  The biggest recurring theme is a severe shortage of and sometimes misappropriation of government funds.  In a developing nation often struggling to provide housing, water, healthcare and education for its citizens, habitat and wildlife conservation is understandable not at the top of the government’s priority list.  It quickly became clear that the issues faced here and throughout Indonesia are daunting and are not going to be resolved easily.

The full story of Ewan’s trip to Indonesia can be read here on LEAP’s project website.

To see more of Ewan’s photos, visit his website.

The 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle can be seen in full here.

High Dynamic Range Point Cloud Rendering

We would like to invite you to the latest research seminar of the Centre for Games and Music Technology Research.


Speaker: Dr Carlo Harvey


Title:     High Dynamic Range Point Cloud Rendering


Time: 2:00PM-3:00PM

Date: Wednesday 15th February 2017

Room: PG11, Poole House, Talbot Campus


Abstract: As a new member of staff, I feel it useful to use this opportunity to briefly present my previous research in the field of physically based rendering.

This seminar however, will be mainly focussed upon introducing the challenges that enshrine my current research into synergising High Dynamic Range and Point Cloud data. Specifically the work presented will introduce a technique in development to flip the standard paradigm of geometry triangulation and re-topologisation from Point Cloud data. Instead, this fairly laborious, and often manual process, is optimised away from the rendering pipeline and rendering is instead conducted on a set of generated point lights and estimated surfaces reconstructed from a sparse set of points.


We hope to see you there.

Standing up for Science media workshops- applications now open!

Early career researchers- this is your chance to find out how your voice can be heard in the media!

Sense about Science will be running Standing up for Science media workshops for early career researchers to learn from scientists who have or are actively engaged with the media. You can also hear from respected science journalists who will teach you how the media works, how to respond and comment. As well as hearing what journalists want and expect of scientists. The first workshop of 2017 will be on Friday 7 April, at the University of Manchester. 

The workshop is open to early career researchers and scientists (PhD students, post-doctoral fellows or equivalent) in all sciences, engineering and medicine and is free to attend. The event will discuss science-related controversies in media reporting with practical guidance tips for working with the media.

Apply by 9am on Tuesday 21 March or click here for more information.

Humanising care: how research is making a difference to hospital care

For many people, going into hospital can be a very difficult time and the small things that staff do can make the experience less stressful – taking the time to offer reassurance, communicating clearly and going the extra mile in a myriad of different ways.  A joint project between staff and patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Stroke Unit and researchers at Bournemouth University has been exploring these humanising touches and how they improve care.

Nikki Manns, Ward Sister and Caroline Bagnall, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, are both part of RBH’s Stroke Unit and have been involved in the humanising care project since the beginning.  Below, they explain what motivated them to take part and how the project has been making a difference.

“I wanted to get involved because it seemed a good way of sharing our patients’ experiences,” explains Nikki, “I wanted our staff to hear patient stories from their perspective, so that we could get a better understanding of their journey on the stroke ward.  For me, that was one of the most valuable parts of the project.”

“I was interested in how we could improve our services,” says Caroline, “I was fascinated by the idea of humanised care and looking at how we could improve services from a human perspective.  I loved being involved in the project.  For me, one of the most important things was having the time to reflect on our work as staff and with patients.  It was very valuable to be able to think about each stage of the journey and explore how it felt to both staff and patients,” continues Caroline.

“I found it a very motivating process,” says Nikki, “Our staff really engaged with the project, which continued even after we finished.  Staff have been sharing snippets and stories with the rest of the team and really taking on board what we talked about.  They’ve been looking at all sorts of different things we could change in our working environment.”

“It’s been really  inspirational seeing people from all parts of the team getting together and coming up with new ideas and new projects that they want to lead.  They’ve been really motivated to improve patient care and experience.  The feedback they’ve got as a result has been great and has helped them to see how they’re making a difference.”

“One of the main things we’ve become aware of through the project is the power of small things,” says Caroline, “When people are in a new environment, they can feel quite overwhelmed.  The little things that we do as staff can help them to feel a little less vulnerable and scared when they have a huge event happening in their lives.  It’s been good to be reminded of the difference a small gesture can make.”

“Normally we get most of our feedback once people have left hospital,” says Nikki, “It’s usually through the friends and family survey sent out once people have been discharged.  Being face-to-face with our patients and hearing their experiences has been incredibly powerful.  It’s got so much more value to it.”

“I’d really like to see the humanising care project continue and rolled out in other parts of our NHS Trust.  All patients should have a fantastic experience, regardless of their age or what ward they’re on and I think all healthcare staff can learn something from being involved.”

To find out more about the humanising care project, take a look at the latest edition of the Bournemouth Research Chronicle.

The 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle can be seen in full here.

Taking part in an archaeology field trip: exploring Madinat al-Zahra

As part of her degree, archaeology student Josie Hagan, had the opportunity to join Professor Kate Welham at a dig in southern Spain.  Josie and Professor Welham formed part of the international team exploring the medieval palace city of Madinat al-Zahra.  Below, Josie shares her experiences of fieldwork.

“When I found out I would be going to Spain I was obviously extremely excited but also nervous!  I had participated in geophysical survey before in Wales and England but I knew that working in an entirely different country would bring different challenges,” explains Josie, “I really wanted to brush up my skills in geophysics (there is always more to learn), experience a different country’s archaeology and their outlook on how to manage archaeologically important sites.”

“I also wanted to meet more archaeologists! There is always so much you can learn from just speaking to other people and it is always nice making new friends across the globe.”

“While I was out in Spain, we used geophysical survey over what was the city at the bottom of Madinat Al-Zahara. We worked in small teams or pairs, as there was so much ground to cover, and this involved getting help from local Spanish archaeology and history students. Their English was amazing, and they were a brilliant team to work with, as everyone seemed keen to learn how to use the equipment.”

“The Spanish students were quite new to using some of the equipment, so it was nice to pass on some of the skills we had learned.  Towards the end of our time there, the Spanish students were taking their own surveys with us assisting.  Teaching someone else is great way of learning how much knowledge you have!”

“At the end of each day we also had the opportunity to help with downloading and processing the data we had gathered. This is really great experience and is also nice to see how our hard work was coming together on the screen.”

“My advice to anyone who is thinking of studying archaeology is to go for it! I didn’t do archaeology at A-level or have any real experience before I came to university but I have absolutely loved the course, found the teaching and content amazing and it’s just such a varied degree.  There is plenty to learn and I really appreciate the variety of lectures, seminars, lab sessions and field work, which keeps it all really interesting. “

“And for anyone thinking of going on a field trip – just go for it!  It will be scary at first but if you are happy to work hard and willing to learn then you will bring so much more to the trip then you can imagine.”

To find out more about the project and Professor Welham’s work, take a look at the latest edition of the Bournemouth Research Chronicle – BU’s research magazine.

The 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle can be seen in full here.

Declining sport viewership shows why we should keep it on free TV

Heath McDonald, Swinburne University of Technology and Daniel Lock, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

If you’d like to pitch your own article idea to The Conversation, please contact either or


Declining television viewership for sporting events might suggest that those of us who heralded sport as a potential saviour of traditional broadcast media had it all wrong.

In Australia, ratings for the recent one-day cricket matches were dire and the Australian Open tennis was mixed. In the UK, viewership for the British Open golf collapsed by 75% and even the once untouchable English Premier League (EPL) has seen declines in certain timeslots. Meanwhile, Formula 1 is in a slow decline that has been ongoing for almost a decade, and the NFL is down year over year as well.

But putting the numbers under closer inspection reveals other explanations. Many of these leagues are moving onto pay TV or are the victims of changing sporting tastes. Rather than dampening broadcaster enthusiasm for live sport, they show why sport should remain on free TV.

A closer look at the numbers

The Australian Open television ratings are maybe the most interesting of the bunch. The women’s final won the night in Australia, but with fewer viewers than previous years. The men’s final was a huge drawcard and viewing figures were well up from the previous year’s final. Worldwide, however, both the men’s and women’s finals were significantly up on previous years.

So, what happened to Australian tennis viewership when the women’s final was on? More sport! The women’s tennis final was up against the final of the Big Bash League (BBL) cricket, which attracted more than a million viewers to come a close second in the ratings.

The increased popularity of the BBL shows fans aren’t cutting out or cutting down sport consumption. Instead, they are substituting one format of cricket, or one sport, for another. Cricket Australia launched the BBL for this exact reason, and it has been a tremendous success.

As BBL shows, the decline in one sport can be driven by consumer sport preferences changing, rather than people abandoning sport altogether.

The EPL and Champions Leagues, previously bastions of strong viewership, have also experienced fluctuations in audience figures. That said, a closer look implies that a lack of marquee fixtures in the EPL and the qualification of historically smaller clubs (i.e., Leicester) have diminished audience interest to some extent.

Moving to pay TV

Another explanation for declining audience figures concerns sports that have moved from free-to-air broadcasters to pay television. In the UK, the transition of the British Open from the BBC to Sky television led to a 75% drop in viewing figures. The highlights package broadcast on the BBC following the conclusion of the event drew almost half a million more viewers than the live coverage on Sky. This suggests that short-run events (at least in the initial stages of the relationship), such as the Open might be insufficient to translate British Golf fans into Sky subscribers.

In Australia, Optus gained the rights to EPL by paying almost three times the amount Foxtel was paying to show it previously. This has been the subject of a large amount of fan anger ever since. Viewership through these channels is difficult to track, but Optus subscriptions do not appeared to have increased markedly since the deal. Meanwhile, ratings for the home-grown A-league, which airs on Fox Sports and SBS, are up, possibly because fans are switching from EPL for their soccer fix.

But the money being offered to move to pay TV is hard to turn down.

It looks like the next five year BBL rights could go for up to $A300 million – a three-fold increase from the A$100 million Ten paid for the initial five year deal. A big part of the BBL’s success has come from it being broadcast every night of the week, on a major free-to-air channel, at a relatively non-competitive time of year. Broadcast it on pay TV and things might change. Sure, some people will subscribe, but BBL is largely a family sport and the added subscription costs could price out a substantial proportion of the consumer market.

Still a golden opportunity for free TV

Restricted broadcast threatens the future of a sport league. All brands grow by increasing the number of people who consume them. Only free TV gives that to sports brands. The EPL story defies this logic, demonstrating exponential growth since its transition to Sky Sports in the early 90s; however, if brands choose to limit distribution to narrow channels like pay TV, the chances of brand growth are severely limited.

Advertisers and sponsors, already confused about where they should be advertising, are also big losers if sport isn’t shown on free-to-air TV. As Professor Mark Ritson explains quite colourfully, traditional media gets much better results than social media advertising and other alternatives. But to do so, it must have wide reach – it needs to be attracting large audiences. If free to air television was to lose big draw card sport broadcasts, audiences shrink and advertising there becomes much less powerful.

Whatever it costs to retain sports on FTV, it is probably worth it for both advertisers and broadcasters. And it’s not just the sports that are big right now that they should focus on. Australia’s appetite for sport is not diminishing, but it is reshaping.

A recent survey we conducted of 4,000 people Australia-wide showed that interest in the AFL women’s league (AFLW) is strong. Around two thirds of AFL fans will either watch or attend at least one game of AFLW during this upcoming season. Across all people surveyed, around 27% said they were likely to attend a game of AFLW and 38% intended to watch at least half a match on television. Even allowing for the usual difference between what people intend to do and what actually ends up happening, these numbers are strong. The AFL has wisely moved games to bigger venues in anticipation of much larger crowds than the initial 5,000 per match estimates.

AFLW stands a very good chance of being Australia’s dominant women’s sporting league – in its very first year. For a savvy broadcaster, this represents a golden opportunity.

The ConversationHeath McDonald, Professor of Marketing, Swinburne University of Technology and Daniel Lock, Senior Lecturer in Sport, Bournemouth University

New BU research magazine published

Cover image

The latest edition of the Bournemouth Research Chronicle (BRC) is now available.  The magazine shares just a small selection of the research taking place at BU, from working with local hospitals to shaping conservation practices in Indonesia to improving sports equipment.

Complex global challenges are a defining feature of today’s world and universities can play a key role in addressing these challenges.  Here at Bournemouth University, we encourage our researchers to work together with our students and external organisations – businesses, charities, and hospitals to name just a few – to find solutions to these issues.  We believe that by bringing together research, education and professional practice, we can make a real difference through our work.  We call this Fusion.

This edition shares some of our examples of Fusion in action.  You’ll discover how our academic community is working together to co-create solutions to global challenges and to better understand society and the world around us.  You can also read about some of our newly awarded research grants and projects being undertaken by some of our PhD students.

Our students are a key part of our academic community and are involved in a wide range of research projects at BU.  In this edition of the BRC, you can find out about their fieldwork in Indonesia, Nepal and Spain, where they have been able to develop skills and gain experiences which will enhance their employability and help them later on.  In Indonesia, our students have been working with local charities to improve conservation practices, while in Nepal, student journalists have been reporting on the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake.

Locally, our researchers are collaborating with partner organisations in the region to extend our impact and make a real difference.  One example is our work with the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, where staff, former patients and BU researchers have been exploring the idea of ‘humanised care’ and how this can improve patient experiences.

We also encourage and support our researchers to work alongside businesses and other external organisations, enabling them to create projects that provide new, innovative ideas and drive industries forward.  Just one of the ways we support this is through Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF), which allows us to support a wide range of knowledge-based interactions between universities and the wider world.  In this edition of the BRC, you can read about two of our newest HEIF projects and challenges that our researchers are tackling.

The Bournemouth Research Chronicle gives an insight in to the exciting work taking place at Bournemouth University every day.

The 2017 Bournemouth Research Chronicle can be seen in full here.

British Academy Flagship Skills Project – The value of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

british_academy_logoThe British Academy is launching an exciting new project which aims to articulate, for the first time, the skills that are inherent to the study of arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS), their value to the individual, and the contribution they do make and could make in future to society.

Building on the success of its Languages and Quantitative Skills (LQS) Programme, the British Academy is developing a new programme of work on skills. The flagship project of this programme aims to articulate the skills that are inherent to the study of arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS), their value to the individual, and the contribution they do make and could make in future to society as well as those that are important for educators of AHSS students to introduce directly. The Academy hopes to stimulate and facilitate a national debate about the nature and value of these skills, as well as setting the agenda for its own Skills Programme to 2020.

The project will seek to intellectualise what is meant by skills, and look at questions such as what skills should studying AHSS develop? What skills do individuals who have studied AHSS demonstrate? What contribution do individuals with AHSS skills make to society and the economy? What skills do employers want? What skills will be needed in the future

To find out more, download their introductory booklet here

The Call for Evidence document is available to download here

People talkingWho should respond?

The Academy is seeking the views of a broad range of stakeholders in the education and skills sector, including but not limited to education providers, learned societies, careers advisory services, students, employers and policy-makers.

How to respond

Please ensure that all responses are in Microsoft Word format (not PDF), and that they include concrete examples wherever possible and are fully referenced where appropriate. Responses should not exceed 3000 words and should be as clear and succinct as possible. Please submit your completed response to by Wednesday 15 March 2017.