Category / Impact

Research impact at BU: protecting sex workers in Brazil; defining standards for crowdsourced systems

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Improving the lives of sex workers in Brazil

Research area/s: Physical culture, mediated spectacles

Staff conducting research: Professor Michael Silk, Dr Amanda De Lisio

Background: Media speculation often points to heightened demand for sexual services around sporting mega events (SMEs), such as the Olympics. These reports tend to be used to justify policing and rationalise displacing sex work from the public spaces. Professor Silk had argued that SMEs are highly mediated commodity spectacles, during which governments seek to erase and/or hide from view those who are antithetical to market ‘logics’. However, there was a dearth of relevant data on the sexual landscapes associated with the Olympics or on the impact of large-scale sporting events on vulnerable populations of sex workers.

With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Professor Silk and academic collaborators from Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Kings College London undertook the first ever funded academic study that looked at the impact of the Olympics on sex workers. The project was centred on Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and carried out with two Rio-based partners: the Observatorio Da Prostituicao (ODP), who had been collecting data on sex work in Rio for more than 10 years, and Davida, an NGO that supports sex workers in Brazil. Ethnographic data was collected from more than 100 sex workers, while interviews took place with key stakeholders such as clients, sex workers, venue managers, security personnel, police and local support groups. Observational data was collected from sex-related businesses and – in conjunction with the sex workers – field diaries and audio-visual data were recorded during and after the 2016 Olympics.

The project found that, within the Brazilian context:

  • Public discourse was once again focused on anti-trafficking strategies, which conflated forced migration and sexual exploitation with adult, consensual sex work.
  • Sex workers were forcibly evicted and displaced, with women unable to access justice without first asserting themselves as victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking – although they refused to lie about their consensual involvement in adult sex work.
  • Labour rights were denied, due to the conflation of sex work with sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • The expected boom in ‘sex tourism’ did not materialise.
  • There was a heightened security presence in the street.

The final report made several key recommendations, including:

  • Stopping the conflation of prostitution with trafficking and sexual exploitation in law, public policies and popular discourse.
  • Creating opportunities for sex workers to add to the SME narrative.
  • Developing strategies to recognise and act against state-sanctioned violence faced by sexual minorities, and to guarantee social and spatial justice for those marginalised in the development process.

The impact:

Displacing sex workers during SMEs can have wide-reaching consequences for their safety, particularly in Brazil, where sex work is a legal profession.  By providing an evidence base on the spatial regulation of informal sex economies during SMEs, this project elevated the voice of sex workers in Brazil and shaped policy.

Changing policy

The research informed a submission by Davida to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2016, which documented human rights violations against sex workers in Brazil during the staging of SMEs. The report highlighted the eviction of approximately 200 women from a sex venue in 2014, with one evicted woman providing data on the eviction, denial of access to justice and the need for empirical evidence in the creation and execution of policies and strategies surrounding sex work. As a result of the report, she was invited to attend the EU Human Rights Defenders First Annual Meeting in November 2016. Subsequently, the UN referenced the Davida report in its Universal Periodic Review (Brazil) of February 2017 and adopted the following recommendations for the Brazilian government:

  • Improving the under-reporting of sexual violence/harrassment and developing policies to punish and prevent such actions.
  • Protecting human rights defenders and their families by implementing a national programme, policy and/or plan.
  • Combating police violence against women through training.

In September 2017, the Brazilian government enacted these recommendations into federal law, committing themselves to including human rights education in schools, creating domestic violence centres across the country, running an awareness campaign and setting up a hotline to report cases of violence against women.

Improving the lives and working conditions of sex workers

The project enabled Davida to reach a generation of women involved in sex work and the organisation has used the data to influence discourse around child labour exploitation, enhance ties with the Brazilian government’s anti-trafficking committee and ensure less conflation of sex work with sexual exploitation/trafficking at government level.

The ESRC team collaborated with local partners to develop a sex worker-author exhibition, documenting everyday work and life during the Olympics.  Participants curated their own pages for the online exhibition: “It was such an innovative, motivating process… I feel full of hopes and expectations… I feel like I achieved something”. As a result of the project, two of the trans sex worker photographers have developed careers in the arts.

Altering perceptions of sex work in the context of SMEs

The ‘What You Don’t See’ virtual exhibition was curated into a physical exhibition, shown in London, New York and Bournemouth.  The exhibition was converted into a film narrated by sex workers (and project participants), which offered accounts of the banality of everyday life, oppression and prejudice, bringing to life the project findings and challenging sensationalist media accounts of sex work during SMEs.  The film debuted at the MoMA PS1 Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance in New York City, attended by 1,000 people, all of whom received a newsletter summarising the ESRC project. Davida stated that the project “broadened cultural and political sensibilities, which might have never expected to see the work of Brazilian women involved in sexual commerce celebrated in art galleries”. Davida is currently incorporating the data into a project that is digitising sex work histories in Brazil for the State Archives of Rio de Janeiro.

Creating internationally recognised standards for crowdsourced systems

Research areas: Computing & Informatics, Software Engineering, Cyber Psychology

Staff conducting research: Dr Marios Angelopoulos, Professor Raian Ali, Professor Keith Phalp, Dr Jacqui Taylor

Background: Crowdsourcing can be defined as the practice of soliciting input from the general public. Crowdsourced systems incorporate devices provided by the public to opportunistically supplement their infrastructure. In crowdsourced systems, members of the general public permit the system to access and use the resources of their devices in return for an incentive; this can either be intrinsic (e.g. for social good) or extrinsic (e.g. receiving a service, a micropayment, etc).

However, the highly personal nature of devices like smartphones poses significant trust and privacy issues. Since crowdsourced systems are characterised by the network effect (their efficacy increases as the number of their users increases), such issues can hinder their adoption and development. In addition, the community has lacked a common understanding of which systems can be classified as crowdsourced systems and how such systems can be built following a trustworthy and transparent method.

BU researchers conducted a systematic survey of crowdsourcing research to extract and describe the taxonomy of features which characterise crowdsourcing. They analysed 652 papers, identifying 113 papers (72 academic and 41 from industry) as providing definitions on crowdsourcing. The paper detailed the methodology that was assumed in order to elicit the key features of the concept of crowdsourcing and the corresponding definition, which was adopted in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-T) standard. The model identified the four fundamental constituents of crowdsourcing: the crowd, the crowdsourcer, the crowdsourced task, and the crowdsourcing platform, and formed the basis for the reference architecture for crowdsourced systems specified in the ITU-T standard.

BU and European collaborators also assessed how crowdsourcing methods and tools can be used in designing systems (particularly in requirements engineering) and how these can be applied in industrial contexts. Dr Angelopoulos’ research underpinned the discussions within the ITU-T study group about implementation aspects of crowdsourced systems and corresponding use cases, and eventually helped shape the final text of the standard. These included architectural approaches for crowdsourced systems in a variety of applications, such as localised distributed computer infrastructure, crowd-enabled IoT systems and crowdsourced systems as enablers for citizen science.

The impact:

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations’ special agency for information and communication technologies, with global membership including 193 member states, as well as some 900 companies, universities, international and regional organisations, and 20,000 industry professionals. Its recommendations act as an international standard and common point of reference globally to enable members to develop policies at a local or national level.

The ITU accepted the definitions and reference architecture developed through BU research as the formal definitions for crowdsourced systems. Angelopoulos led the BU delegation for the recommendation throughout its lifetime, as part of ITU-T Study Group 20 (SG20), which develops recommendations in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities and communities. The terms defined were accepted by the Standardisation Committee for the Vocabulary and form part of official ITU terminology, which acts as a reference point for the international community. The recommendation was formally ratified by the ITU in February 2019 during the SG20 meeting held in China

Defining processes and attributes, and producing a standardised framework for the ways in which such systems are developed, helps to increase their transparency and provides a guarantee with regards to privacy and cybersecurity issues. This, in turn, helps increase public trust towards crowdsourced systems and, consequently, promotes their use. By helping to provide this formal, standardised framework – accepted by the global community through the ITU – BU has delivered a foundation of common understanding that will facilitate the growth and further adoption of crowdsourced systems and reference architecture, as well as identifying and addressing relevant security, privacy and trust issues.

 

Upcoming symposium “Social Impact of Audiovisual Media” – 12th – 13th August 2021 – Register now!

Please note our upcoming symposium “Social Impact of Audiovisual Media” – 12th – 13th August 2021 (12th: 4 – 8 PM CEST, 13th: 11 AM – 5 PM CEST):

Many films, videos and television programmes are produced with the intention of creating “social impact” – for example, reducing social discrimination, spreading environmental awareness or changing destructive habits. Media practitioners and researchers discuss a variety of impact strategies such as the emotional persuasion of large or small audiences, participatory production with affected communities or the targeting of individual decision-makers. At the same time, there is considerable disagreement about the feasibility and ethics of certain impact strategies, as well as about the concept of impact itself. The symposium aims to stimulate an exchange between media practitioners, researchers, activists and other stakeholders to better understand the “impact” of audiovisual media in its various dimensions, challenges and forms, be they fictional or non-fictional.

Research impact at BU: creating a novel medical device; assessing Brexit’s effect on UK food prices

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Creating a global market for a novel medical device: how BU
research helped make it happen

Research areas: Orthopaedics, Exercise Physiology

Staff conducting research: Professor Robert Middleton, Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, Louise Burgess, Shayan Bahadori, Dr James Gavin, Tikki Immins

The geko™ neuromuscular electrical stimulator

Background: The geko™ and the technology behind it is the only product of Firstkind Ltd: a battery-powered, disposable, neuromuscular electro-stimulation device designed to increase blood flow in the veins of the legs. Firstkind Ltd approached Professors Middleton and Wainwright to design and conduct the first ever study of the device in patients following hip replacement surgery. The randomised control trial (RCT) compared the geko™ with compression stockings in order to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and oedema post-surgery. Results showed that not only was the device safe, tolerable for patients, and effective in preventing DVT, but that it significantly reduced oedema.

Before the trial, the device settings had been informed by research on healthy subjects in a seated position; Middleton and Wainwright’s research discovered that the device settings did not always work optimally for patients with oedema or neuropathy, or for patients in bed whose knee was extended. Further research confirmed this and highlighted the opportunity to optimise the device further.

BU’s research built on data from a study carried out by Firstkind, which looked at patients who had not responded well to the geko™ T1 device. BU’s TEDs2 study replicated the methodology from the earlier study, with additional blood flow measurements, and used the next generation of geko™ devices. This showed that the updated devices increased blood flow, were effective in preventing DVT, and significantly reduced oedema.

Middleton and Wainwright also conducted a pilot RCT on patients with ankle sprains, which showed that the device reduced swelling. It was the first clinical trial undertaken at home, with patients applying it themselves and wearing it for at least eight hours a day for seven days, and patients showed no adverse effects.

The impact:

Benefits for patients

Before BU’s involvement, the device was designed for use in athletes and healthy individuals to aid their recovery from sport, or to prevent DVTs while flying. Wainwright and Middleton’s research led to the device being used to help patients in a wide variety of clinical settings: e.g 28 NHS Trusts are working to adopt the device for acute stroke patients at high risk of blood clots, and more than 4,700 devices have been ordered by the NHS to prevent DVTs as a potential side effect of Covid-19.

In addition, a study of post-stroke patients showed that 2.4% of those treated with Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) alone suffered from DVT within 90 days, compared with 0% of those prescribed the geko™. Patients had no adverse events and reported a greater tolerance of the geko™ than IPC.

In Canada, the device has been rolled out for chronic wound patients, leading to some experiencing complete healing, where other treatments were unsuccessful.

Approvals in the UK and USA

  • BU’s research demonstrating the effectiveness of the geko™ device led to Firstkind Ltd receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use it for venous thrombosis and oedema.
  • The device has also been approved for use by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In its guidance, NICE estimated the cost-saving per patient using the device to be £197 (compared with those receiving no treatment) representing a significant saving to the NHS.

Firstkind Ltd acknowledged that BU’s research was pivotal in achieving both FDA and NICE approvals.

Benefits for Firstkind Ltd

The NHS and FDA approvals have expanded potential markets for the device on every continent. Firstkind Ltd. references BU’s research extensively in its brochures, demonstrating its importance in its day-to-day marketing, driving sales and commercial expansion into new markets. More than 700,000 individual units have been sold to date in at least 14 countries, and, in 2020, Firstkind Ltd. won the International Life Sciences award for the Most Innovative MedTech Company.

Delivering analytical capacity and advice to inform government of the effects of Brexit and future trade arrangements on UK food prices

Research area: Economics

Staff conducting research: Professor Tim Lloyd

Background: In 2017, Professor Lloyd was commissioned, with Exeter University colleagues, to undertake a confidential UK food pricing project for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to assess the impact of Brexit on food prices in Britain. The econometric models at the core of the project drew on expertise developed by Professor Lloyd over two decades of collaboration with Exeter’s Professor Steve McCorriston. They found that domestic food price inflation is significantly affected by world food commodity prices, the exchange rate and oil prices, rather than domestic demand pressures and food chain costs, and that food inflation in the EU may be influenced by differences in the food sector across the Union, particularly barriers to competition. The quality and impact of the research led to Professor Lloyd being called as an expert witness as part of a House of Lords EU Committee enquiry into food price spikes.

Underlying the econometric modelling of food inflation is price transmission – the mechanism describing how price changes move through a supply chain.  Much of Professor Lloyd’s research career has been devoted to understanding the theory, methods and data that economists rely on to analyse the price transmission mechanism. In his 2016 Presidential Address to the Agricultural Economics Society, he set out this literature and his contribution to it, including the econometric methodology he helped pioneer to quantify the speed, magnitude and asymmetry of price transmission in agricultural and food markets, much of which emphasised the importance of imperfect competition (e.g. dominant retailers) in modern food chains. Professor Lloyd’s food industry expertise led to his appointment to Defra’s panel of expert advisors in 2012 and reappointment in 2018 as Brexit withdrawal negotiations intensified.

Food prices and Brexit

After the 2016 referendum, Defra commissioned the confidential development of a new food inflation model to assess the dynamic impact of the potential trade scenarios arising from Brexit. This included the impact of food prices on consumers at different levels of income, i.e. disadvantaged groups, and a detailed examination of trade in processed food and agricultural commodities.

For the first time, the project provided data that was able to provide a more accurate representation of the types and sources of UK food imports. Using these new data, Professor Lloyd led the development of econometric models that quantified the impact of agricultural and food import prices on the price of food in the UK high street, as well as other factors such as domestic agricultural product prices, manufacturing costs and most importantly, exchange rates. The work demonstrated that the geography and type of food imported into Britain impacted retail food inflation markedly, implying that the changes in trade and trade policy arising from Brexit could impact food prices significantly

The impact:

Informing Brexit negotiations: a new scenario modelling tool

The researchers used results from their econometric modelling to develop the bespoke software interface STEFI (Scenario Tool Exeter Food Inflation). With a simple, user-friendly interface, STEFI enabled non-specialists in Defra to calculate the dynamic effects of various trade scenarios. The user manual featured a step-by-step guide to inputting alternative policy scenarios and interpreting the results, filling an important analytical gap in government at the time.

Four innovative features allowed Defra to assess the food price impacts of Brexit in ways that were previously impossible, by incorporating: (i) the origin of trade; (ii) trade in both raw agricultural materials and processed food products (iii) macroeconomic factors that determine retail food prices including effective exchange rates and unemployment and (iv) manufacturing costs in the food chain.

STEFI has been used since 2019 as part of the government’s assessment of Brexit – most notably in October 2019 when a ‘no deal’ exit became a realistic prospect, and again in January 2020, to simulate the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan. The potential impact of both these scenarios on food prices helped inform the government’s position in trade negotiations. The outputs from the Brexit pricing project continue to be used by Defra in trade negotiations and policy making.

Minimising the impact on low-income consumers

Defra asked for an econometric analysis to be undertaken to assess the effect of rising food prices on consumers across the income distribution. Numerical results quantified the effects, particularly for low-income consumers, who stand to lose the most from Brexit-related price shocks. These concerns were heightened by the potentially acute impact of Covid-19 on the availability and price of food. Amid concerns over panic buying in the early stages of the pandemic, Defra repurposed STEFI to provide objective evidence to support and inform the government’s response.

Enhancing Defra’s capacity: cutting-edge research

Defra acknowledged the impact of the research by Professors Lloyd and McCorriston, stating it was ‘impossible to overemphasise the enormous contribution’ their development of STEFI had made to its capacity, and that it was ‘unparalleled in understanding food prices’. The tool remains in regular use and Defra stated it will be used to analyse other domestic and global issues in the future, such as future bilateral trade negotiations and the coronavirus pandemic.

Research impact at BU: computer modelling to predict effects of human activity on birds; smart digital marketing for tourism and hospitality

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Using a computer model (MORPH) for environmental decision-making to balance the needs of birds and society

Research area: Conservation Ecology

Staff conducting research: Professor Richard Stillman

Background: The development of BU’s unique computer modelling software, known as MORPH, addressed the need for a robust method of predicting the effects of a diverse range of activities (e.g. housing and port development, shellfishing, recreational pastimes) on legally protected bird species. MORPH creates virtual versions of real ecosystems, including realistic ways in which animals respond to changes in their environment.

BU’s research on diverse bird species globally, conducted with former colleagues at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Furzebrook/Winfrith), provided the basis for MORPH’s detailed understanding of the behaviour and ecology of coastal and wetland birds. Although it is a single piece of software, MORPH can simulate multiple systems, and, in effect, learns how to mimic different environmental conditions, species behaviour and physiology. This flexibility is key, as it means MORPH can be applied rapidly to a diverse range of systems without any time-consuming changes to its underlying computer code.

It is initially set up for present-day conditions for which the behaviour of birds in the real system is known. Its predictions are then compared to observations to determine whether it represents the system with sufficient accuracy to reliably inform decision-making. The environment within MORPH is then changed to predict how changes in the real world may impact the birds, with the results used to inform decision making. MORPH is a rare example of a model that is able to make such predictions accurately, relying on the fundamental evolutionary principle that both model and real birds will always behave in ways that maximise their chances of surviving and reproducing.

Since 2007, MORPH has been used to model 25 bird species in 22 sites in Australia, USA, Europe and the UK – BU’s Individual Ecology website details all applications of MORPH, funders, publications, species modelled, issues addressed and conservation recommendations. The model is increasingly being used by industry, conservation NGOs and government organisations to improve the cost effectiveness of their work, set sustainable fishing quotas, and understand the impacts of new developments and human activity on the birds.

The impact:

Improving regulation of infrastructure development and plans

  • Independent coastal partnership Solent Forum commissioned BU to measure the potential effects of housing development on the local wintering bird population. MORPH predicted that the construction of 60,000 houses over the next 13 years could potentially increase the mortality of wading birds; as a result, the developers had to offset any negative effects by making contributions to fund conservation per house built, based on a sliding scale according to the number of bedrooms. Between 2014 and 2020, this totalled £3.4 million, which went towards creating Bird Aware Solent, a partnership that aims to raise awareness of protected birds.
  • BU worked with Natural England (NE) to asses the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on wildfowl populations due to new developments. This enabled NE for the first time to predict whether such losses might result in a decline in protected bird populations.
  • US-based conservation organisation Ducks Unlimited commissioned BU to look at the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on black brant geese in California and used the findings as a key piece of evidence for an impact assessment of the environmental effects of the expansion of aquaculture activity in the area.

Enhancing sustainable shellfishery management to allow economic growth while better conserving protected bird species

  • MORPH was used in the Wadden Sea, Netherlands – the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats – to help determine whether cockle harvesting could continue in 2020/2021. The decision depended on evidence that the management of the cockle fishery in previous years had been enough to sustain the oystercatcher population – which MORPH was able to confirm.
  • The Marine Stewardship Council has used BU’s research in the management of Welsh cockle fisheries and the Exe Estuary mussel fishery to identify the amount of shellfish needed to sustain birds such as the oystercatcher over winter. This then informs the quota for fishing.

Improving evidence-informed efficiency, resource management and cost-effectiveness of conservation organisations

  • BU has equipped Natural England with models and knowledge to predict in-house the effect of land use change on bird populations, enabling them to conduct a more cost-effective assessment of impacts.
  • UK conservation charity Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust used MORPH to diagnose the environmental causes of the population decline of the Bewick’s Swan, currently listed as ‘Endangered’ in Europe.
  • The British Trust for Ornithology now routinely includes MORPH (or related approaches) as one of its methods in conservation projects.

Digitisation of tourism and hospitality marketing: towards smart ecosytems

Research area: Tourism & Hospitality

Staff conducting research: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

Background: Professor Buhalis has spent the past 20 years researching how Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can revolutionise marketing in tourism and hospitality. Since his arrival at BU in 2007 his key focus has been how to use digital technology to engage with the consumer; and how tourism organisations and destinations can develop their competitiveness and improve their profitability by developing smart networks. His research during this period has focused on:

  • The use of the internet (Web 1.0) to enable organisations to communicate their offerings and facilitate eCommerce transactions.
  • The application of social media and Web 2.0 to interact with consumers and engage with stakeholders through two-way dynamic communications. This enables the ‘co-creation’ of experiences with customers, allowing personalisation and contextualisation, and generating additional value and loyalty.
  • The development of Smart Tourism ecosystems, using technology to develop agility, facilitate value co-creation and deliver services in real time. For tourism destinations and governments, this means that they can integrate their production and supply systems, enhancing their competitiveness.
  • For tourism businesses, such as hotels, travel agencies and tour operators, adopting a smart ecosystem can help develop their competitiveness and profitability through interconnectivity and interoperability.

The impact:

Tourism businesses

Individual tourism practitioners and organisations have applied insights from Professor Buhalis’ research to enhance profitability and competitiveness.  His work on co-creation has informed social media strategies for hotels across the world, enhancing their online brand reputation, improving customer engagement and increasing repeat business. These brands include:

  • the world’s largest franchisor of hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – which collaborated with BU on a number of initiatives;
  • Aliathon Resort, Cyprus – which estimates that Professor Buhalis’ insights have extended the tourist season, increased guest loyalty and enhanced revenue by approximately €4 million per year, 2013-19;
  • Aquis Hotel & Resorts – which attributes an occupancy rate 10% above, and average room rate 8% above the competition to insights gleaned from BU’s research;
  • Omnibees Booking Engine – which has based its development on Professor Buhalis’ research into smart ecosystems, enabling it to achieve the best conversion rate among booking engines.

National governments

Professor Buhalis has worked with more than 100 national governments and tourism bodies to develop e-tourism strategies, strengthen the competitiveness of destinations, and increase tourism revenue. This includes: Visit Britain, the British Hospitality Association, Tourism Australia, the Ministry of Tourism in Jamaica, the African Tourism Leadership Forum, the Ministry of Tourism in Oman and the Agency for Development of Human Resources in Cyprus, a country where he has trained more than 1,000 hotel owners and managers in the creative use of social media.

International organisations

Professor Buhalis has acted as an adviser to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) since 2006, which has helped him to put technology and digital at the top of the tourism agenda globally.  In 2018 the UNWTO’s World Tourism Day was themed around digital technologies, with the UNWTO stating that Buhalis’ research was “a major feature” in the debate around big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, which all form a “central part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector”.

Covid-19

During the pandemic Professor Buhalis has collaborated with the UNWTO, TravelDailyNews, hotel associations and other media organisations channels to facilitate more than 150 online live sessions and discussion forums, training industry and governments around the world on how to use smart technologies to restart tourism, adopt hygiene protocols and communicate dynamically with stakeholders.

 

Research impact at BU: developing character animation techniques; assessing economic effect of airport expansion

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Developing character animation techniques to improve production practice in the animation sector and create economic impact on Humain Ltd

Research area: Computer Animation

Staff conducting research: Dr Shaojun Bian, Professor Lihua You, Professor Jian J. Zhang, Jon Macey

Background: Since 2008, BU researchers have been tackling the problem facing animation studios of producing high-quality virtual characters within a short time scale. BU developed two new techniques to improve skin deformation (the representation of skin and its transformations and movements); was a partner in a European Commission-funded project looking at geometric modelling, image processing and shape reconstruction; and worked with Humain Ltd to develop new techniques of facial blendshapes. The findings of the BU research team comprise:

Facial rigging tools

  1. Hybrid facial rigging tool. Integrates facial blendshapes and bone-driven facial animation to create various facial expressions easily and quickly.
  2. Automatic correspondences for deformation transfer. To tackle the problem of deformation transfer in manually specifying correspondences of facial landmarks, this achieves full automation and avoids manual operations.
  3. Machine learning-based 3D facial expression production. Combines a 3D face morphable model with machine learning to reuse existing datasets for reducing manual work in producing facial animation from a single image.

Skin deformation techniques

  1. Automatic rigging. Automates the process of placing a skeleton in a 3D character model and creates an animation skeleton in a few milliseconds.
  2. Analytical physics-based skin deformation. Obtains the first analytical solution to physics-based skin deformations to create the animation of a horse model with 10,128 vertices at 205 frames per second.

Character modelling methods

  1. Fast character modelling with sketch-based partial differential equation (PDE) surfaces. Enables a simple, easy-to-use, efficient, and sketch-based character modelling tool for fast creation of detailed character models.
  2. Character model creation with ordinary differential equation (ODE) based C2 continuous surfaces. Avoids tedious and time-consuming manual operations of existing techniques in stitching two separate patches together to achieve the required continuities, significantly reduce data size, and provide more flexible and powerful shape manipulation handles.

The impact:

Before developing the new techniques, getting a 3D virtual character into production took anything from a few days to a few months. The new techniques enabled Humain Ltd. to reduce the time frame for creating models with realistic facial expressions from 30 days to minutes, resulting in significant time and cost savings.

As well as saving time, BU’s new techniques helped make the company’s workload more streamlined and efficient. Producing high-quality 3D virtual character requires experts, modellers and animators from different disciplines to work together, and involves heavy and time-consuming manual operations in the production process. The new methods have been integrated into the company’s product offerings, transformed its facial development pipeline from a labour-intensive process by highly specialised artists to a simple command line interface everyone in the company can run.

Transforming Humain Ltd.’s ways of working changed its external reputation – the techniques developed by BU researchers at the company enabled them to work with world-leading organisations in the technology and entertainment industry, such as Activision and Google. They also contributed to the successful delivery of a £500,000 project to Microsoft and served as the basis for a successful application to the Audience of the Future Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator in 2019. Over the past three years, the company has worked on 16 different projects, generating revenue of more than £1 million.

Using economic modelling to inform UK airport expansion

Research areas: Economics and Econometrics

Staff conducting research: Professor Adam Blake, Dr Neelu Seetaram

Background: Economic impact research has evolved since the 1970s with the use of input-output models, although these typically estimated static economic impacts are limited in their applicability. Building on these earlier models, Professor Blake was one of the first to introduce computable general equilibrium models to tourism economics. More recent research at BU, in which Blake was instrumental, extended and enhanced economic impact modelling in the following ways:

  • The inclusion of forward-looking dynamics in economic impact modelling of tourism, which takes techniques for applied dynamic economic models used in other contexts and adapts them for tourism impact modelling. The dynamic nature of these models allows the estimation of the economic impact that tourism has over time, while their forward-looking nature allows for the estimation of investment and other effects that will come about because of future demand.
  • The inclusion of uncertainty and stochastic random effects in dynamic economic models of tourism allows the impacts of investment to be assessed based on uncertain anticipation about future tourism demand by allowing different growth paths to be modelled, giving the ability to estimate the effects of this uncertainty as well as of changes in the potential future growth paths.
  • Demonstrating the importance of segmentation in econometric modelling of tourism demand, both in terms of tourists’ purpose of visit and country of origin and showing that models that do not include these effects are systematically biased.

The impact:

BU research was instrumental in the UK government’s 2018 decision to progress with building a third runway at Heathrow. The Airports Commission funded Professor Blake and Dr Seetaram to investigate the economic effects of various forms of future airport expansion in the UK. Building on Professor Blake’s previous use of economic modelling by purpose of visit and nationality, they constructed and used an econometric model of tourism demand into and out of the UK, with different estimations of elasticities based on mode of transport and destination (for UK outbound) or origin (for UK inbound). These estimates were then used to construct and test a spatial dynamic computable general equilibrium of the UK economy. The spatial element contained different regions of the UK, with the South East and the local areas around both Heathrow and Gatwick airports included as separate regions. The dynamic element followed the model methodology developed by Professor Blake.

The results from BU’s modelling formed part of the evidence base that led to the Airport Commission deciding to support a new runway at Heathrow instead of expansion of Gatwick or extension of the current Heathrow Northern runway. In June 2018, based on this recommendation, the government formally approved plans for the new runway at Heathrow. In the final announcement of this approval, the Secretary of State for Transport gave the wider economic benefits as one of the key benefits of the Heathrow expansion

Overall, BU’s development of a novel, robust economic modelling technique provided the Airports Commission and the UK government with a more accurate and detailed analysis of the airport expansion options than could otherwise have been obtained. This led to a much greater evidence base for the decision over airport expansion, and to more confidence within government about the option to be chosen. The modelling approach that was developed has expanded the capability of economic impact modelling to analyse the impact of proposed major investment projects in the future.

Policy Influence Opportunities

New mailing list for colleagues who would like to use their research and expertise to engage with and influence UK policy making.

The policy team have set up a new mailing list for academic and professional service colleagues who are interested in using their expertise or research to influence UK policy.

We are keen to share timely information and encourage participation from a wider and diverse range of colleagues. We will send out opportunities in (usually) one email per week (less regularly when Parliament isn’t sitting). This will include:

  • expert calls
  • specialist or committee advisor opportunities
  • areas of research interest issued by the Government (topics they want to hear from you about)
  • fellowship opportunities (including for PhD students)
  • specialist inquiries and consultations that may be relevant to BU colleagues’ research interests
  • requests for case studies
  • Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) opportunities (such as POSTnotes, briefings, and reviewer opportunities)
  • information relating to All-Party Parliamentary Groups and other policy organisations which BU is a member of
  • internal (BU) and external training opportunities in the policy field
  • top tips for small steps to get started in policy influencing

The email will cover a wide range of opportunities so colleagues should simply scan through it for the factors that are of most interest.

BU colleagues can email policy@bournemouth.ac.uk to sign up to the weekly digest.

Research impact at BU: seeing Stonehenge in a new light; developing elite athletes

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Reframing Stonehenge: improving the visitor experience and
mental wellbeing, bringing economic benefit to the heritage
sector, and preserving the landscape

Research areas: Archaeology,
Archaeological Sciences, Nursing Science

Staff conducting research: Professor Timothy Darvill, Professor Kate
Welham, Dr Vanessa Heaslip

Background: Despite Stonehenge’s status as the world’s best-known prehistoric monument, academic understanding of the site, as well as its presentation to the public, was fraught with problems and gaps in the early 2000s. BU has conducted five interconnected projects in the past 20 years to improve this situation:

  • Stonehenge World Heritage Site Archaeological Research Framework (SRF) – guided research in the Stonehenge landscape since its publication in 2005 and  provides a greater understanding of the landscape surrounding Stonehenge and the sequence of construction.
  • Strumble-Preseli Ancient Communities and Environment Study (SPACES)/Stones of Stonehenge Project (SoS) – located and contextualised the primary source of Stonehenge’s famous bluestones at sites in south Wales. SPACES also suggested the stones may originally have been associated with the perceived healing power of local waters and brought to Stonehenge for that reason.
  • Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) – investigated the surrounding monumental landscape, filling important gaps in knowledge about a processional route through the site, making the landmark discovery of the ‘Bluestonehenge’ stone circle, and recognising settlement activity and Neolithic houses at Durrington.
  • Human Henge – building on the SPACES findings around perceived healing properties, examined whether a creative exploration of historic landscape could improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The impact:

Enhancing the visitor experience 

BU’s research provided: information for the Wessex Timeline – a new infographic running the length of the visitor centre, presenting the new chronology; digital plans for building full-size replicas of Neolithic houses; text, images, video, models, CGI reconstructions and physical artefacts for the exhibitions; updated content for the official website, guidebook, map, audio-tour, display cases and information panels.

An independent evaluation in 2014 confirmed that 70% of 300 visitors surveyed about the new content strongly agreed they better understood the chronology, context, building and significance of Stonehenge. The survey also indicated that after visiting the new centre, 68% of respondents strongly agreed they would like to explore the wider Stonehenge landscape.

After the opening of the new centre, visitor numbers immediately increased by 8% the following year (2014), becoming the UK’s third most visited paid-for tourist attraction. Numbers continue to rise, peaking at more than 1.6 million in 2019.

Improving mental wellbeing

Professor Darvill and Dr Heaslip worked with heritage NGOs and mental health charities to create ‘Human Henge’, a 10-week programme of activities taking place both within the stone circle and the wider landscape to improve mental wellbeing. It took place between 2016-18 and involved a group of 35 local participants with chronic mental health problems. A survey, based on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, demonstrated that 79.3% of the participants reported a positive impact on their mental health, which increased throughout the programme and continued a year later. Many credited the programme with increasing their optimism and confidence, inner strength and improving social interaction, and specifically cited feelings of connection with ancestors who had lived at the site, reconnecting with their community and engaging with the research.

Preserving the landscape for the future

BU’s research continues to feed into the future management and preservation of the Stonehenge landscape, forming a core component of the latest Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site Management Plan. Professor Darvill also sits on the A303 Scientific Committee, formed in 2017 to provide specialist advice to the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Group. BU researchers’ understanding of the extent and distribution of archaeological features in the wider landscape has thus been instrumental in negotiations with Highways England on the course of the planned tunnel and rerouting of the road.

The development of athletic talent: driving policy change in national sporting organisations

Research area: Sport sciences

Staff conducting research: Professor Tim Rees

Background: The initial driver for the
research was UK Sport’s desire to generate a better understanding of what underpins the development of world-class sporting talent (i.e. gold medal winners). Professor Rees and collaborators at Bangor University, the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, the University of Queensland, Australia, Queen’s University, Canada and University College London provided – for the first time – an authoritative and comprehensive review of the literature. The Great British Medallists Project serves as a key point of reference for researchers, practitioners and policymakers, as well as a guide for translating that knowledge into action. To date, it has been downloaded more than 46,000 times and has become the gold standard review.

Professor Rees carried out further research, examining the distinctions between super-elite athletes who have won multiple Olympic and World Championship gold medals and those of elite athletes who had not won any. Overall, the results showed the importance of early developmental experiences in the production of super-elite athletes, demonstrating the necessity of psychological screening.

Professor Rees’ research has helped develop an understanding as to how talented cricket players can successfully transition from the county academies and on through U17s and U19s into the Test side. He highlighted the importance of group memberships and social identity for coping with such transitions, as well as demonstrating that social group memberships also enhance resilience in the face of negative performance feedback. The findings suggest the importance of assessing players’ group memberships and monitoring ‘at-risk’ players who report belonging to relatively few pre-transition groups. They also highlight that groups are not just a context but  a critical psychological resource for athletes.

Professor Rees’ close working relationships with UK Sport, the English Cricket Board and England Rugby has allowed him to share his research at the very highest level of a number of sports, via senior management groups, performance directors, and practitioners. Publication of the research in open access format has also allowed it to reach physicians, sports medicine specialists, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, team doctors and trainers alike, helping to bridge the gap between science and practice.

The impact:

UK Sport

Research by Professor Rees and collaborators was used in strategic planning by UK Sport for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and continues to be used. Professor Rees’ findings have also been used to reshape UK Sport’s talent development pathway by making psychological profiling of athletes relatively routine and upgrading the talent data capture processes of governing bodies of sports to ensure that those most likely to become ‘super-elite’ are identified earlier.

England & Wales Cricket Board and Lawn Tennis Association

The findings of Rees’ research into the importance of group memberships and social identity has significantly influenced national junior player development programmes in both cricket and tennis. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s England Development Programme has focused on the development of training environments that provide higher levels of peer and social support, while also enabling individuals to remain connected to wider social groups at home.

The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) player development strategy has also been informed by the same research, with equal emphasis placed on personal, social and academic development as well as tennis skills and game style. Its National Academies, for those aged 13-18, ensure young players are integrated into the wider school and local community and maintain contact with family and friends at home.

Overall, the research has impacted on the journeys into and through talent development programmes of more than 2,000 high potential young athletes.

England Rugby

As a result of Professor Rees’ emphasis on the importance of developmental experiences and psychological screening of young athletes, England Rugby now routinely engages in psychological profiling and monitors player dropout and de-selection for possible re-entry of players into England Rugby’s talent system. The continued influence of this work led to the formation of a board to oversee further development of the ideas.

Announcements: Clinical Research | Broadcasting | Body Image | Decarbonising Transport | NHS

Today’s announcements:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has made an announcement on the £64 million funding provided to strengthen clinical research delivery

 

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has made an announcement on plans for a new broadcasting white paper

 

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has published a report on the government response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee Report; ‘Changing the perfect picture: an inquiry into body image’

 

The Institute for Public Policy Research has published a report on decarbonising UK transport

 

NHS Providers has published a survey on pressure on the NHS

BU research influences new UK Govt. Innovation Strategy

As mentioned previously on the BU Research Blog, Dr John Oliver’s (FMC) research into the effects of crisis events on corporate innovation and performance was published in a Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy (BEIS)Committee pre-budget report (February 2021) on The Impact of Coronavirus on Business and Workers.

The Govts. response to this inquiry demonstrates the instrumental impact of Dr Oliver’s research and the role it has played in helping shape the new ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ and the ‘BEIS Innovation Strategy’. Both of these plans aim to incorporate long-term strategies that centre on business investment that drives innovation in the UK economy.

Dr Oliver would like to thank Sarah Carter, Policy and Public Affairs Officer (OVC) who advised on the written evidence submission and helped with checking the impact audit trail.

Dr Oliver’s research can be accessed at: Oliver, J.J. (2020). Corporate turnaround failure: is the proper diagnosis transgenerational response? Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 3-9.

HE policy update for the w/e 18th June 2021

We’re still in the mid-June lull before the July storm we mentioned last week, however, the Skills and Post-16 Bill was debated at length in the Lords with disgruntlement over the lack of substance and missing details. Lord Storey’s Essay Mills Bill has a twin introduced by Chris Skidmore in the Commons. TEF awards have been extended, but are so out of date for some (most) institutions that the OfS has told the HE sector to stop promoting their awards. And Horizon Europe opened for business alongside Committee concern that the Government’s Horizon commitment is more mothballs than moolah.

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

We have a summary of the Second Reading debate within Parliament on the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill here. It was a long (6 hour) session so look out for the bold type in the summary where we highlight the most interesting points. In brief influential points were made in relation to:

  • Questions about the role of local skills plans within the Bill and their interaction with a wider range of training providers other than FE colleges
  • Loan funding (and funding cuts) being part of the reason for the decline in adult learning
  • The Bill shouldn’t separate creative subjects and the humanities from technical subjects and the sciences.
  • Caution about how modular learning connects together in practice.
  • Careers advice and support including regular face to face support. It was also noted that careers hubs were included in the White Paper but do not feature in the Bill.
  • Calls for the lifetime skills guarantee to be made law with automatic funding rights.
  • Calls to limit apprenticeship funding for those aged over 25 to a quarter of the total pot.
  • Criticism that while the Bill was aspirational, the Government have not provided detail on the funding, nor long term commitments.

Wonkhe contemplate the discussion in this blog: Peers wanted to discuss policy, but had to debate a skeletal bill. The blog highlights some important points:

  • David Willetts [former Universities minister] referred to an “artificial conflict” between vocational and academic sectors, noting that there were many universities that have more than 70 per cent of their students studying work-linked courses that met standards and requirements set by professional bodies and employers.
  • Jo Johnson [former Universities minister]… cautioned against the likely attempts to limit access to creative courses – which would “starve the supply of talent” to a range of economically and socially important employment sectors because of a preference for other sectors that offered higher salaries.
  • …Tellingly, Johnson described the Treasury habit of assessing educational value by loan repayment rates as “reductive”, but few expected him to take aim at a “bewildering” range of regulatory bodies with responsibilities in post-16 education. Having given life to the beleaguered Office for Students, he seemed surprisingly keen to bring about a single – joined up – regulator.
  • On the crucial ‘local’ aspect: What’s curious (especially post-Covid when we are all statistical and administrative geography nerds…) is that “local” will be self-defined – the vision seems to be that groups will spontaneously form and apply to the Secretary of State for approval. The expectation is that bodies active in that local area (mayoral authorities, councils, LEPs…) would be involved.

Wonkhe summarise the overall feel of the outcome well: It is clear that we shall see a number of amendments at committee – Mike Watson noted these might include bringing other stakeholders into the “employer centred” LSIP process, and limiting some of the powers given to central government to control what is taught and where. Aims were welcomed, detail was sought.

Wonkhe also commented that pushback can be expected at further stages of the parliamentary process on the sheer scale of powers over provision centralised around the Secretary of State. They also tell us that Politics.co.uk has an opinion piece arguing that inconsistencies and exceptions in the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill could grant space for extremists to thrive.

The debate triggered several media pieces on highlighting the Government’s key messaging around the Bill.  A Prospects opinion piece is anti-HE expansion, pro-apprenticeship, and argues that successful arts graduates have failed as they could have earned more studying something else. The article continues along the current Government party line:

  • the rapid expansion of creative courses in recent decades is one of the main reasons why more than three-quarters of students will now never fully pay back their student loans, leaving the Treasury with an expected write off of taxpayer liabilities worth £28.8bn in 2049-50, according to current forecasts.
  • Of course, higher earnings are not the only reason why people study and creative arts courses offer society much more than just an economic dividend. This is particularly true in a place like Falmouth… that produced some of the best British artists of the last century. But it did so well before it converted to university status and sextupled the size of its student body compared to 1990s levels. The mistake is to think that artistic endeavour, or a whole other panoply of vocational pursuits, are best served through university expansion and funded by debt.

One wonders if the same arguments about value for money will be made once degree apprenticeships attract the same debt as a standard undergraduate degree.

THE also covered this angle in Local peopleIn the UK, Conservative MPs’ backing for new universities in their areas, despite Tory criticism of expansion at national level, has been seen as affirming that higher education must stress its local economic impact if it wants to build a “common dialogue” with the governing party.

Funding: Last Friday Gavin Williamson announced funding aimed for adults to access more, high-quality alternatives to university degrees under new measures to boost the nation’s skills and job prospects.  He confirmed £18 million new Growth Funding for FE & HE – providers bid for funding for equipment and to develop business links leading to skills training in certain sectors.

Tied in with the announcement are the previously announced £10 million for Institutes of Technology and £2 million of modular training aimed at future skills gaps. Overall the three funds try to jump start higher technical skills training for adults. Some of the sector rhetoric around the announcements talk of diverting students away from degrees and into higher technical provision, however, Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, suggests the Government needs to focus on the capable adults that did not progress beyond level 3.

UUK said: Expanding higher technical courses is a positive move which will increase choice for learners of all ages and help employers meet their skills needs as the nation looks to rebuild from the impact of COVID-19. Universities have been involved with developing these qualifications and many universities are ready to scale up their alternatives to the traditional three-year degree. UUK is working closely with government, employers and local partners to help make these qualifications a success.

Engineering Recommendations for local agenda: The Institution of Engineering and Technology have published Addressing the STEM skills shortage challenge exploring the ways local authorities can help train and equip people with the skills their region needs.

Their recommendations which are most relevant to HE are:

  1. UK Government should work more closely with the higher education sector and training providers to ensure funding is allocated on the quality of courses available, not the quantity of students on each course.
  2. Local authorities should initiate discussions between academic institutions and industry to ensure the right skills and training are available for adoption of new technologies as they emerge.
  3. Local authorities should take a lead in encouraging a diverse mix of people into the profession through locally targeted schemes.
  4. Professional engineering institutions (PEIs) and industry bodies should work with local government to ensure there’s a wider and updated provision of careers advice, particularly around engineering. This should include information on the variety of routes into engineering, such as vocational study.

Parliamentary Question: STEM skills shortages

Research and knowledge exchange

Business value and performance: At the end of last week HESA published data showing how HEIs interacted with business and the wider community in 2019/20. Including:

  • business and community services
  • social, community and cultural engagement
  • intellectual property, start-ups and spin offs
  • regeneration and development
  • strategies, approaches and infrastructures

You can see how BU performed compared nationally and within the south west region.

And this week the National centre for Universities and Business found that universities’ interaction and engagement with business and external partners grew despite the pandemic (Aug 2019 to Jul 2020).

  • UK university income from interactions rose compared to the previous year, totalling £5.2 billion
  • 3067 patents were granted – up by 14.6% from 2018-19
  • 16505 licenses were granted – up by 29.8% from 2018-19
  • 174 newly registered spinouts – up by 4.2% from 2018-19

However, University income from knowledge exchange activities with businesses fell compared to the previous year to £909m

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of NCUB, said:

  • The new HE-BCI survey results released today show that despite the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, universities’ have put significant effort into supporting and maintaining their partnerships with their communities and businesses. They have also continued to boost their research commercialisation activities. Across a range of indicators, universities have ramped up activity and engagement in a clear sign of their centrality in combatting the crisis and leading recovery.
  • Though the survey results showcase the resilience shown by universities and their important contribution to the economy and society, there are still challenges ahead. Universities did report declines in their interaction with both large businesses and SME’s in 2019-20, almost certainly driven by the pandemic. This is concerning, as university-business interaction is key to economy recovery, to keeping the UK competitive in global markets and to meeting decarbonisation and health-related goals. Experience from the 2008 recession shows that nations that invest in R&D are able to boost productivity, improve livelihoods, and drive forward economic recovery. To help build back better, now is the time for Government, businesses and universities to invest in, not away from, collaboration, research and innovation.

Quick News

KEF: UKRI presented at a recent Universities Policy Engagement Network event on KEF: What next? If you missed the event you can view the slide deck here.

Horizon Europe applications opened. Meanwhile the Commons European Scrutiny Committee has highlighted a £14 billion gap in funding for the UK’s contribution to the Horizon Europe research funding programme. Questions had been raised by the Committee to Amanda Solloway[who] estimates…the up-front cost of the pan-European fund to the Treasury to be £15bn over the seven-year programme. The programme will then invest the majority of this back into UK science projects. However, the report found that just £1bn of this has so far been committed following correspondence with Ms Solloway.

At the G7 the UK and America agreed to strengthen collaboration in science and technology through a new partnerships and a new era of strategic cooperation in the field:

  • The partnership will explore a number of areas for cooperation including research, innovation and commercialisation; defence, security, law enforcement and intelligence; and making sure technology is used as a force for good around the world. Officials from both countries will work to develop the partnership over the course of the next year.
  • It aims to strengthen cooperation in areas such as the resilience and security of critical supply chains, battery technologies, and emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and to improve the accessibility and flow of data to support economic growth, public safety and scientific and technological progress.
  • It will see the countries work towards a new statement of intent to help realise the full potential of quantum technologies, which use the properties of quantum physics to dramatically improve the functionality and performance of devices, develop proposals on future technology such as 6G and strengthen collaboration on digital technical standards.
  • The two nations have also committed to continue to broaden collaboration on science and technology to help facilitate world-class research and influence the rules, norms and standards governing technology and the digital economy.

Former universities minister, Chris Skidmore, writes for conservative home: To keep up with our G7 colleagues, we must increase our spending on innovation and research. The success of “Global Britain” now depends on matching countries that have transformed their economies towards innovation and research. I would now go further— and suggest if we wish to keep up with our G7 colleagues, the forthcoming Innovation Strategy should set a definite timetable for three per cent, and beyond to 3.5 per cent of GDP being spent on R&D. To fail to achieve this in contrast to the other major world economies be setting ourselves up to fail.

Cutting the aid budget is still news. Polling company Savanta ComRes reveal public perception showing support for the cuts.

Click into this link to view the chart more easily.

Parliamentary Questions

Admissions

Research Professional’s Sunday reading discusses tracking the CAG cohort. The CAG cohort are the subgroup of home undergraduate applicants for 2020 entry who only secured places at their firm choice institutions after the algorithmic adjustment (which originally had them missing their grades) was removed.

  • …tracking the CAG cohort might help inform future debates about merit and fair admissions. We believe that the CAG cohort provides a unique opportunity to test the robustness of algorithmically adjusted grades versus those determined through centre assessments and, consequently, to provide insights into higher education’s admissions practices and decisions.
  • institutions are well positioned to monitor the CAG cohort relative to the ‘mainstream’ cohort, to enable a better understanding of the extent to which A-level grades—both the initial algorithmically adjusted and subsequent CAG-only ones—are proving to be a good predictor of students’ ability to succeed and thrive in their ‘firm choice’ institution.
  • We should also gain insights into the impact that these late admissions decisions had on applicants’ emotional connection to the institutions to which they had applied, visited and perhaps prepared to attend and, ultimately, how this might have affected their sense of belonging. And we will develop a better understanding of what additional support—if any—has been or will be required for this cohort to succeed.
  • As always—and particularly during the pandemic and beyond—a multitude of factors will contribute to the student experience, retention and success, but might it be possible to isolate the impact of factors associated with entry grades and context? While the complexities involved may mean that any conclusions are tentative and nuanced, tracking the experience and outcomes of the CAG cohort has the potential to inform the evolution of fair admissions to higher education.
  • Should the prospect of a minimum tariff entry standard re-emerge…then there is an even greater imperative to assure ourselves, our applicants and the wider public that, in the light of emerging evidence, these well-established practices remain fit for purpose.

Contract Cheating – Essay Mills

You’ll be aware that Lord Storey continues his crusade to ban essay mills in his latest Private Member’s Bill on the Lords. His Bill is scheduled for a second reading (a debate) next week.  Chris Skidmore (former universities minister) has introduced his own private members bill on the topic. It has raised the profile of the issue but the Bill is last in a very long queue for parliamentary time (and PMBs in the either the Lords or the Commons rarely make it into law).

The volume of PMBs on this topic over the years is interesting as they have provided several opportunities for the Government to support the ban on essay mills. Moreover, the Higher Education and Research Act was an ideal opportunity to change the law incorporating it within the wider changes for the HE sector and legislative amendments were proposed to this effect. However the Government repeatedly stated they’d prefer a non-legislative route (tasking QAA and NUS to tackle it including providing guidance). Given the Government’s focus on quality of teaching and education and on value for money it is a little surprising they don’t seem willing to take a stronger stance. The House of Lords Library have produced a briefing note on essay mills to inform the debate. It is an excellent paper and contains the history and key points in short form. Give it a read if you want to understand or catch up on this topic.

We remind you in this context of a Paul Greatrix blog from March for Wonkhe on banning essay mills – it’s time to act and has interesting content on how the legal ban in Australia has worked. It is a good quick read, and the comments to the article are a must.

Times Higher Education has an article – Monopoly fears: The UK’s competition regulator is to investigate Turnitin’s proposal to buy out its last major rival in global academic integrity services.

Access & Participation

Outreach: NEON published The outlook for outreach stating that from 2022-23 the total invested in activities to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter HE will fall unless there is continued funding provided for the national Uni-Connect programme. They also highlight few HE institution’s APP contain specific targets for certain underrepresented groups and comments on the lack of collaboration between providers for shared targets. The NEON press release contains a short summary.

Social disadvantage impact on educational outcomes: The Centre for Progressive Policy published Re-examination Expanding educational opportunities for every child stating it maps the ways in which social disadvantage affects educational outcomes among children and young people, impacting their progression through the education system and ultimately their employment prospects.

  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to fail to achieve a level 4 in their maths and/or English GCSE compared to students from non-disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • 38% of those from non-disadvantaged backgrounds continue into higher education (HE), while only 25% of those from disadvantaged backgrounds will do the same.
  • 58% of students with low prior attainment at GCSE will continue into a further education (FE) college or other FE provider, where funding fell by 24.5% between 2010/11 and 2018/19.

You can read more and explore further charts here.

Mental Health

UCAS published the student mental health report Starting the Conversation stating there is still more work to do to smash the myths and stigma around mental health, and to highlight the support available to students in higher education.

  • 250% increase in the number of applicants who report their mental health condition to UCAS. (3.7% of all UK applicants declared a mental health condition in their application to study in 2020 – up from 0.7% in 2011.)
  • Despite the above increase UCAS estimates that over 70,000 students may enter HE every year with a mental health condition, but 49% do not disclose this.
  • UCAS suggests a common reason students do not disclose is due to a lack of understanding about what the data will be used for, and the belief it will impact on their chances of receiving a university offer.
  • UCAS are keen to promote positive disclosure and highlight OfS information which finds students with mental health conditions tend to have lower rates of continuation, attainment, and progression into skilled work or further study.
  • Women are 2.2 times more likely to declare a mental health condition than men.
  • Alongside engineering, medicine and dentistry courses have the lowest declaration rates with only 1.4% of accepted applicants sharing an existing mental health condition.
  • Some LGBT+ students are around six times more likely to share a mental health condition, and care experienced students are almost three times as likely. UCAS state this underlines the value of recognising how mental health intersects with other characteristics and support needs.
  • One in five students research support specifically for an existing mental health condition before they apply, and more than one in four look at the provision of general mental health and wellbeing service.

UCAS sets out next steps in fostering an environment of positive disclosure in the report.

  • A joined-up, cross-sector communications campaign to unify messaging – to promote the benefits of declaring a mental health condition, create a culture of positive disclosure, align terminology, and address lingering misconceptions and knowledge gaps.
  • Targeted action in subject areas with low declaration rates to reassure students that sharing a mental health condition will not affect their chances of receiving an offer. Particular emphasis should be given to medicine and dentistry courses so students feel confident that sharing this information will not have implications for their fitness to practise requirements.
  • Continued implementation of the Stepchange framework and the University Mental Health Charter in universities and colleges, with UCAS to develop good practice in collaboration with Universities UK and HELOA to support this work.
  • Student mental health to be a key consideration in discussions around admissions reform – UCAS’ proposed variation of the post-qualification offer model would allow for the early transfer of information, give the student time to develop a trusting relationship with the university or college, and start the conversation about support ahead of transition.

Work UCAS is undertaking:

  • Reviewing how UCAS collects information about a student’s mental and/or physical health conditions and other support needs, including ongoing collaboration with sector bodies and expert organisations.
  • Implementing additional fields in the applications (e.g. caring responsibilities, estrangement) to facilitate a greater understanding of students’ support needs, and how these may intersect with mental health.
  • Improving fluidity in the UCAS application to allow students to share information at any point during their application journey.
  • Enabling students to select multiple impairments and conditions so they can provide universities and colleges with more accurate and meaningful information about their support needs.
  • UCAS to undertake further research in 2022 to understand the experiences of students who follow different routes for sharing information regarding their mental health

Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds, said:

  • Once you’re at university or college, asking for help with your mental health needs to feel as simple as saying you’re trying to find the right book in the library. We know that universities and colleges are working towards comprehensive whole-institution approaches to mental health, which will support and enable disclosure of health conditions at any and every stage of the student journey.
  • The more our future students see how ingrained a mental health and wellbeing strategy is within and across an institution, the more confident they will feel that they are entering an inclusive environment that celebrates difference as a strength. 
  • I’m encouraged that our sector is heading in the direction in which this is the reality for all. This long-term investment is crucial especially as we know that many challenges will have been exacerbated by and will outlast the pandemic. For any student that is looking for support through this difficult period, we encourage you to visit our Student Space, where you can find out about the services at your institution, access guidance and a range of services.

Wonkhe have blogs on the topic:

  • The gap between those suffering from mental health problems and those declaring it is still too large, says Clare Marchant.
  • David Kernohan talks a lot of sense in What should we take from new figures on student mental health? He tackles the criticism levelled at the sector about why university students wellbeing ratings are below that of the wider population:
  • …So, if you took a sample of young (largely female) humans who are not (yet) educated to degree level; and then put them in rented accommodation where they felt lonely and isolated, and then ensured they had limited earning and spending power – you would expect to find a lot of people with depressive symptoms. And you do.
  • I make this point at length to emphasise that higher education itself is unlikely to be the problem – the demographics and living conditions of those studying in higher education are all massive risk factors. And this is why it is essential we get students to share underlying problems…as soon as possible – ideally at the application stage.

Mental health is also touched upon in the ONS recent data below.

Covid

2021/22 students: Many Covid questions about the 2021/22 academic year remain unanswered however Research Professional meander through the key points in So close, far away tackling what the start of term may look like, whether students will be vaccinated, the chaos that might ensue relating to students received the second jab in a different location, the start of term migration, and speculating what the Government may have in mind.

After the PM bungled his response to a question on student vaccination at the big press conference on Monday (asked about students getting two jabs in time for next term, he didn’t seem to have any idea, despite having just announced that all over 18s will have had one jab by 19th July, which would seem to be a good start, and was the response in fact provided by Sir Patrick Vallance).  Anyway, 18 year olds can now book that first jab.  And the PM, perhaps stung by accusations that he is ignoring the young, has taken to youtube (radical) instead.  Wonkhe’s Jim Dickinson has a take here:

MPs protesting about Covid restrictions: A familiar set of Dorset MPs are amongst those continuing to rebel against the latest Covid restrictions.  Conservative Home note that [at 49] “That’s the biggest Covid rebellion since December 2, when 53 Tory backbenchers opposed the tiering plan. The number of those who would vote against a further extension would almost certainly rise.”

Research Professional delve a little deeper in university finances amongst the turbulence of the pandemic: Till debt do us part.

The Office for National Statistics published the latest experimental statistics from the Student Covid-19 Insights Survey (the impact of coronavirus on HE students) for the period 24 May to 2 June 2021.

  • 29% of students said they had engaged with mental health and well-being services since the start of the Autumn 2020 term; among the most frequently specified services used were GP or primary care (47%), online university services (40%), and NHS or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme (29%).
  • The most frequently specified mental health and well-being services students would use in the future, in the first instance, were GP or primary care (25%) and online university services (10%).
  • 61% of students who were in HE prior to the outbreak of the pandemic reported that the lack of face-to-face learning had a major or moderate impact on the quality of their course; 52% said that the pandemic had a major or significant impact on their academic performance.
  • Most students (81%) said that they were living at the same address as they were at the start of the Autumn 2020 term; this has statistically significantly decreased since early May 2021 (86%).
  • There was a statistically significant increase in the proportion of students reporting that they had at least one COVID-19 test (even without symptoms) in the previous seven days (38%) compared with April 2021 (30%).
  • The proportion of students who have already received at least one vaccine dose (33%) also significantly increased compared with April 2021 (28%).
  • Average life satisfaction scores among students continued to increase at 5.9 (out of 10) in late May 2021, following the improvements seen in April 2021 (5.8); average scores remained significantly lower than the adult population in Great Britain (7.1).

TEF

Last week the OfS announced a pause to the TEF while they consult and consider changes. Current TEF awards have been extended (again) and universities were told to remove TEF references from their marketing and campus promotions after September 2021 (a late decision as many universities have already published their future student material). Given that people (including us) have been pointing out that something would need to be done about the TEF awards expiring this summer, this late notice announcement is disappointing.

Here is what we wrote on this blog on 27th November 2020.

  • So what is the situation with the TEF? The current awards were all extended to 2021. The OfS announced in January 2020 that they would not run a TEF exercise this year. But what is going to happen when those existing awards run out at the end of this academic year? It’s all a far cry from September 2019 when the Secretary of State was encouraging the OfS to get on with things and run an extra TEF in 2020
  • … Will there be a gap? Or will the existing awards be extended again – at which time the year two awards given in Spring 2017 based on data from the three previous years start to seem a bit long in the tooth.

Concerns about timing remain.  The OfS haven’t launched the consultation on it yet  – and the recent OfS blog said that we should not expect this until November.  Even with an institutional only process (no subject level), in order to get results before summer 2022, the time for the new exercise will be very short if the framework is only settled in the new year.  Anyone involved in writing their previous submissions will be anxiously recalling the challenging December/January 2017/18 and not looking forward to the repeat. Or another extension is on the cards.

If you are wondering what the new TEF might look like, the 27th November blog set out our ideas pre the release of the Peace review, and we summarised the Pearce review and the government response, and possible next steps in our blog on 21st January 2021.

Inquiries and Consultations

Click here to view the updated inquiries and consultation tracker. Email us on policy@bournemouth.ac.uk if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations.

New consultations and inquiries this week:

Other news

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, spoke at the at the British Council’s Going Global Conference galloping through the Government’s current policies and international student matters in short order. The speech itself is unremarkable.

STEM diversity: Dods tell us new findings from an external evaluation of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science postgraduate conversion courses funded by the Office for Students (OfS) shows a high proportion of enrolments from women, black and disabled students. 

The data showsthat nearly half (46%)of the total UK students are women, compared with 27% on computing postgraduate taught masters courses previously 23% are black students (12%) and 20% are disabled (16%). This is much higher than the tech workforce as a whole.

£13.5 million funding was allocated to the programme, consisting of £3.5 million to assist with course costs and £10 million to deliver 1,000 scholarships worth £10,000 each, aimed at women, black students and disabled students, among other groups considered to be underrepresented in higher education.

 The programme aims to enrol at least 2,500 students by autumn 2023. At the end of the first year, the programme is over halfway to achieving that target with 1,315 students enrolled on courses. Of the 170 scholarship students who were from the UK, nearly three quarters (74%) were women, a quarter (25%) were disabled and 40% were black.

Antisemitism: UUK published Tackling antisemitism: practical guidance for universities. The guidance makes recommendations on actions universities can take to tackle antisemitism. The briefing suggests there is limited understanding of antisemitism and that is can be under reported alongside issues with complaints processes. It also explores online harassment and provides four case studies.

Nursing & Health professions: A parliamentary question on Clinical knowledge and skills training (nurses and health professionals).

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VR Chillout Zone: Immersive virtual reality to distract from itch for children with moderate to severe eczema

(BU Nursing Students using VR Headsets)

The Team

Dr Heidi Singleton, Professor Steven Ersser and Professor Debbie Holley, Dr Xiaosong Yang, Dr Emily Arden-Close, Amanda Roberts (Nottingham Support Group for Carers of Children with Eczema), Professor Liz Falconer (Virtual Heritage) and Yaqing Cui (research assistant).

 

Background to the project

Atopic eczema, (atopic dermatitis (AD) is a long-term inflammatory skin condition and one of the commonest childhood illnesses. It is a debilitating disease with high levels of disease burden for the patient (Blakeway 2020). The main symptoms are itch and dryness. AD is the most common long-term disorder, affecting up to 20% of children in industrialised countries (Tsakok 2019).

 

Standard treatment is trigger/irritant avoidance and regular application of emollients and topical steroids/calcineurin inhibitors (Wollenberg 2020). There have been concerns around steroid withdrawal amongst some patients who have very severe AD. Hence, non-pharmacological treatments are being sort.

 

In addition to educational programmes, a range of psychological therapies are used to treat children. These include mindfulness, relaxation, and guided imagery techniques to distract children from the scratch itch cycle that contributes to insomnia and impacts on quality of life (LeBovidge 2021). The last Cochrane review of Psychological and Educational interventions revealed no robust interventions to enhance effective guided imagery in this context (Ersser et al 2014).  Furthermore, virtual reality (VR) has not been sufficiently applied to intervention development in dermatology.

 

Traditionally, guided imagery has been used in the form of audio scripts spoken to the patient to guide their imagination away from any stress and the itching sensation (Vagnoli 2019). The use of VR works to focus attention, distracting the patients in relation to different environmental stimuli (Carrougher 2009). Whilst we have found no previous studies that have evaluated VR to treat eczema, it has been used to treat anxiety, burns and pain (Barros 2014; Scapin 2018). Since itch and pain can be triggered from the same receptive fields in the skin (Behrang 2020), it is proposed that VR could be used as a more sophisticated and immersive version of guided imagery. VR displaces a person to an imagined ‘other’ location, with complete immersion as the goal (Brigham 2017), physically blocking out the real world and replacing it with a computer-generated world which includes visual, auditory, and haptic stimuli. VR may potentiate the distractive effect, building on what would be the more limited reach of existing guided imagery interventions. Therefore, our hypothesis is that VR would provide immersive diversion from unpleasant symptoms of eczema. Singleton is leading a Cochrane review protocol of the evidence base, due for publication in August 2021.

 

Project Aim

To co-create immersive VR based on the guided imagery approach to treating eczema (Ersser 2014); targeted at children (aged between 7 and 11 years of age).

Bournemouth University would like to know what kind of VR game will help children with eczema relax and stop scratching.

 

Can I take part in the project?

If you are aged between 7 and 11 years old, and you have eczema, ask your grown up if you can take part in our research project.

 

What do I need to do?

If you want to take part, then you will need to complete an online questionnaire (your adult can help you read/type). Every child who completes a questionnaire will be entered into our prize draw with the chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher or one of five £10 Amazon vouchers (selected randomly by our computer). Each child can complete the questionnaire once (so if you have more than one eligible child then you can do more than one entry per household).

 

When you fill in the questionnaire it will give you the chance to volunteer to take part in an optional zoom session with Dr Heidi Singleton/ Professor Debbie Holley. The zoom session will allow you to view the virtual reality game/scene and then you can let us know what you think about it. We will send you a google cardboard headset in the post (which you can keep), you will be able to view the software via this headset. Every child who takes part in the zoom session will be sent a £20 Amazon voucher (to their adult’s email address).

 

Where can I find the online survey?

The questionnaire is now live, and we would love your replies by Wednesday 30th June.

Link Here: https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/chilloutvr

ADRC Research Seminar – Interactive Digital Narratives for Health

Thank you to Dr Lyle Skains for your very interesting and informative presentation this Wednesday.

Title: Interactive Digital Narratives for Health: Approaches to using storygames as intervention and education  

For anyone who couldn’t make it or would like to recap on the information please email adrc@bournemouth.ac.uk to request a copy of the presentation slides or the recording of the seminar which we can send on to you. 

 Abstract: Interactive digital narratives (IDNs) (a.k.a. digital fiction, storygames, hypertexts, interactive fiction) are an emerging form of engaging storytelling adaptable to many devices, platforms, purposes, and audiences. This talk highlights pilot studies in creating and using IDNs as health and science education-through-entertainment on the Playable Comms project (playablecomms.org). As an interdisciplinary network of projects, Playable Comms combines science and arts research and practice to develop a model for creation of health- & sci-comm IDNs, and evaluates their efficacy, attempting to measure message uptake from outright rejection to holistic adoption engendering associated behavioural change. IDNs can be used in schools, GP waiting rooms, on tablets and smartphones; interactivity significantly increases retention, particularly when incorporated into media that audiences voluntarily and eagerly devote attention to.  

Best wishes

The Ageing and Dementia Research Centre

Research impact at BU: the benefits of emotional processing & advising government and business on trade post-Brexit

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Emotional processing and its impact on mental and physical health

Research areas: Clinical Psychology, Health Care Statistics & Epidemiology

Staff conducting research: Professor Roger Baker, Professor Peter Thomas, Dr Sarah Thomas

Background: In the late 1970s, Professor Baker began to see a connection between physical symptoms and the way earlier stressful events were emotionally processed. Emotional processing is a type of natural healing that protects people from emotional distress. However, there are some styles of emotional processing that inhibit successful processing and which could contribute to psychological disorders or psychogenic conditions, i.e. physical illnesses which have a psychological cause.

Together with a project team and clinicians, Professor Baker began the development of the Emotional Processing Scale (EPS) in 2000. Research findings indicated that nearly every psychological disorder they studied revealed significant difficulties with emotional processing. In 2012, the team collaborated with 70 research groups globally to develop a wide range of cultural, diagnostic and healthy norms. The final EPS consisted of 25 questions, covering five different dimensions, and was published in 2015.

Emotional processing offers an alternative approach to diagnoses of psychiatric illnesses. Problematic ways of emotional processing are implicated in nearly every type of clinical condition, from psychological disorders to medical conditions with or without organic pathology. The development of EPS has enabled clinicians to identify patients for therapy and measure change in significant emotional dimensions during therapy. It has also led directly to the development of emotion-based therapies in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tinnitus and psychogenic epilepsy.

The impact:

Patient benefits in the UK

The EPS is used as a tool to diagnose and treat people with a variety of physical, behavioural and emotional pathologies. It has been employed by clinicians and in teaching, with examples including:

  • a consultant clinical neuropsychologist at Dorset HealthCare University Foundation Trust;
  • a psychologist working with the Dorset Youth Offending Team;
  • Sheffield’s Specialist Neurology Psychotherapy Service, for the treatment of patients with non-epileptic seizures; and
  • the Open University, which invited Professor Baker to contribute material on panic attacks – based on his Emotional Processign Model – for their new MSc in Psychology. The material has also been re-purposed for its OpenLearn Platform, where it has had more than 30,000 unique visits since March 2019.

Healthcare guidelines and policy

The British Psychological Society (BPS) awarded the EPS a 4/4* (Excellent) evaluation, describing it as “spearheading a revolution in thinking to overcome the limitations imposed by the ‘medical model’… [it] makes it possible to explore more fully the contributory role of key emotional factors in psychopathology and psychological therapy.” The Emotional Processing Scale now has BPS Registered Test status, which provides clinicians with reassurance that it meets the necessary quality standards.

A global resource

The EPS has been translated into 19 languages and been used by therapists, psychologists and teachers in France, Poland and Italy, while Professor Baker’s three self-help books – Emotional processing: healing through feelingUnderstanding trauma: how to overcome post traumatic stress and Understanding panic attacks and overcoming fear – have sold more than 90,000 copies worldwide in total. They have been translated into French, German, Polish and Czech and continue to receive positive reviews, including: “Best book ever if you suffer from panic attacks” and “My doctor told me to buy this book. It certainly worked for me.”

Supporting trade policy: Brexit and beyond

Research area: Economics

Staff conducting research: Professor Sangeeta Khorana

Background: From 2008, Professor Khorana took the lead in a series of studies on trade agreements, which demonstrated how data and techniques can support trade negotiations. In 2015-17, she led research on the European Commission’s ‘Public Procurement Initiative’ project, developing a methodology to use contracts data for negotiating free trade agreements with third countries, and devising a template that uses statistical tools to analyse negotiating positions.

As co-investigator for the European Commission’s ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme in 2015, Professor Khorana carried out research on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This led to her co-editing a book for EU member states to enable them to understand the implications of TTIP and how an agreement could affect the future of global economic governance.

After the UK’s EU referendum in 2016, Professor Khorana’s research focus shifted to an examination of the likely economic impact of Brexit. Her expertise in this area fed into the Handbook on the EU and International Tradeused as a learning resource and reference guide – as well as an edited book on Brexit, produced in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat. More specifically, she has utilised her computable general equilibrium techniques, which combine economic theory with real economic data to compute the impacts of policies or shocks in the economy, to conduct a series of economic impact assessments on Brexit.

The impact:

The Department for International Trade (DIT)

The DIT approached Professor Khorana to seek her expertise on trade negotiations post-Brexit. Her subsequent involvement included:

  •  contributing directly to the ‘Market Access’ project, an ongoing initiative at the DIT, to support UK trade negotiators in trade talks with the USA and Australia;
  • membership of the Expert Advisory group on Public Procurement and Expert Advisory member of the Department of International Development’s Trade and Development group;
  • advising DIT officials on which sectors the UK could target for greater market access in a trade deal with the USA and Australia.

Welsh Assembly

The Welsh Assembly commissioned Professor Khorana and Welsh Assembly Adviser at Aberystwyth, Professor Nicholas Perdikis, to report on the economic implications for Wales of the UK’s departure from the EU. The 2017 study’s findings – that the Welsh economy would suffer under all scenarios – informed Senedd Cymru’s (the Welsh Parliament) decision to update its policy, stating that Wales “must maintain full and unfettered access to the Single Market” post-Brexit. This became the official policy position adopted by the Welsh Government at Westminster from 2018-2020.

Professor Khorana also gave oral evidence to the UK government’s Welsh Affairs Committee in September 2020, providing an updated assessment on Wales’ preparedness to leave the EU on 1 January 2021. The Welsh Parliament acknowledged Professor Khorana’s contribution and support in making a decision on future trading with the EU, noting that the 2017 report “systematically influenced” its analysis of the impacts of post-Brexit UK-EU trade agreements on the Welsh economy.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)

Between May and November 2018 Professor Khorana researched the impact of Brexit on Scotch Whisky exports, and utilised CGE modelling techniques to examine potential scenarios. The findings presented loss of market access for all Scotch whisky producers, and especially those making the more expensive single malt. The SWA used Professor Khorana’s estimates of potential costs of the different scenarios in its Position paper, aimed at defending the industry’s interests at Westminster, and recognised that it enabled it to prepare for the different Brexit scenarios and associated costs.

Dorset business sector

Professor Khorana also led briefings for the Dorset Engineering and Manufacturing Cluster, advising more than 70 local businesses on the effects of Brexit on exports and their workforce. These sessions enabled members of the Cluster to understand how to prepare to mitigate the effects of various scenarios on the UK’s departure from the EU.

EVENT: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid

The Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC) invites you to join us at our lunchtime seminar, “Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid”. The seminar is taking place on Wednesday 7 July, between midday and 1.30pm.

The event, which is being held in conjunction with BASIS (the British Association for Sustainable Sport), aims to bring together practitioners and academics working in sport & sustainability, to discuss key issues and best practice as we emerge from lockdown.

The seminar is an excellent opportunity for BU staff to engage with those working in industry, in one of BU’s Strategic Investment Areas – Sustainability.

Programme:

12.00   Introduction: Sport and Sustainability Research – Raf Nicholson (Bournemouth University)

12.10   Building Back Better: The BASIS White Paper – Russell Seymour (CEO of BASIS)

12.25   Strategies to Ensure the Sustainability of Women’s Sport – Beth Clarkson (University of Portsmouth) and Keith Parry (Bournemouth University)

12.40   Returning to Action – Leigh Thompson (Head of Policy, Sport and Recreation Alliance)

12.55   Roundtable Discussion: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid

 

The Zoom link for the seminar is here: https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/89306375276?pwd=SWJSay80QTl3V256eWk2N3JhMUtmUT09

 

For any queries, contact Dr Raf Nicholson – rnicholson@bournemouth.ac.uk

Interactive Digital Narratives for Health Seminar via Zoom

You are invited to join our lunchtime seminar this Wednesday at 12:30, hosted by the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre, via Zoom.

Title: Interactive Digital Narratives for Health: Approaches to using storygames as intervention and education  

Speaker: Dr Lyle Skains 

Time and date: 16th June @ 12.30pm – 13:30

Abstract: Interactive digital narratives (IDNs) (a.k.a. digital fiction, storygames, hypertexts, interactive fiction) are an emerging form of engaging storytelling adaptable to many devices, platforms, purposes, and audiences. This talk highlights pilot studies in creating and using IDNs as health and science education-through-entertainment on the Playable Comms project (playablecomms.org). As an interdisciplinary network of projects, Playable Comms combines science and arts research and practice to develop a model for creation of health- & sci-comm IDNs, and evaluates their efficacy, attempting to measure message uptake from outright rejection to holistic adoption engendering associated behavioural change. IDNs can be used in schools, GP waiting rooms, on tablets and smartphones; interactivity significantly increases retention, particularly when incorporated into media that audiences voluntarily and eagerly devote attention to.  

Join Zoom Meeting

https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/86494645871?pwd=QnAxQVVyWjYvSUc5Q3pzSVF3QVRudz09

Meeting ID: 864 9464 5871

Passcode: 7d!kX5LM

Meeting ID: 864 9464 5871

Passcode: 69937258

Find your local number: https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/u/kDPhCvAbL

We look forward to seeing you Wednesday.

Best wishes

The Ageing and Dementia Research Centre

RKEDF training: impact and funding bids

Don’t forget to book your place on the RKEDF online training session Impact and Funding Bids on Thursday 17 June 13:00-14:00! Although the UKRI removed the Pathways to Impact sections of grant applications last year, they expect impact to be embedded within bids and this session will help you understand how to write about impact.

Although the session will include a brief look at definitions of impact, it is advised that you watch the 10-minute introduction to impact video on Brightspace beforehand to get the most out of the training.

Booking: Please email OD@bournemouth.ac.uk with evidence of approval from your Head of Department or Deputy Head of Department. You can see all the Organisational Development and Research Knowledge Development Framework (RKEDF) events in one place on the handy calendar of events.