Excellence in education
Investing in teaching and learning facilities
Supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the University this year invested £1.5 million in formal and informal learning spaces. Pool lecture rooms were refurbished and new informal areas providing facilities for student group work were developed.
An extensive wireless network for study areas across the University was also completed. Over 250 wireless hotspots around the campus allow internet access from most academic and related buildings. Students can use the network for formal and informal group working all around the campus, accessing IT-based resources, via laptops, mobile phones and PDAs, whenever and wherever they are needed. The University has now been commissioned to advise the whole UK higher education sector on wireless networking.
This year also saw a £1 million refurbishment of the Mathematics Learning Support Centre, part of which houses ‘sigma', the Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics Support – a joint initiative between Loughborough and Coventry universities. Opened by TV presenter Johnny Ball, the centre provides support to undergraduates and postgraduates who require some knowledge of mathematical and/or statistical methods for their studies.
The University has now begun developing an online ‘Student Learning Hub', which will draw together and expand the study and generic skills support provided outside academic departments. A dedicated web site will provide students with easy access to a wide range of services and support – for instance, study and language skills, courses offered by the Careers Centre, and training for mentoring and committee work. The Student Hub, which will be launched in January 2008, is designed to help students maximise their potential.
Double success in national education awards
In November Loughborough won two 2007 Times Higher Awards, for the Best Student Experience and Outstanding Support for Overseas Students – the only two awards to be voted for by students. It was the second successive year that the University had picked up the hotly contested Best Student Experience title.
Organised by The Times Higher Education Supplement newspaper, the awards aim to raise awareness of and reward the huge contribution British universities make to the economic and cultural health of the country.
The Best Student Experience award recognises universities' outstanding contributions to the learning experience. Loughborough was rated highly by its students for the community atmosphere, extracurricular activities and societies, and the good environment on campus and around the University.
The Outstanding Support for Overseas Students award is presented to the university that helps international students to gain the maximum benefit from their study. International students were asked to rate various aspects of their university experience. The careers service, Students' Union and visa advice were among the services that international students rated highly at Loughborough.
Helping care leavers achieve their potential
Loughborough's work in helping care leavers – those who have spent time in the care of their local authority but are now moving on – to achieve their potential received Government recognition in its ‘Looked After Children' White Paper this year.
With donations from University supporters and former students and staff, Loughborough has been able to establish a PhD research studentship to compare the experiences of care leavers in higher education, and fund bursaries for care leavers coming to the University. The research project and bursaries are being run in conjunction with the Frank Buttle Trust, a charity with significant experience of working with children in care.
Loughborough also this year joined forces with FKI plc, the parent company of the local BRUSH businesses, to extend an initiative to give young care leavers a taste of higher education. A pilot event held last year proved exceptionally successful – nine students from Leicestershire and the East Midlands attended, all of whom have continued in education.
At this year's two-day summer school, students took part in an engineering design challenge to build a tower out of everyday materials, with the creations judged on the look, durability and how economical their design was. In a sports science session the students were able to test their own fitness and learn how top sports men and women find their motivation to win.
Company commission offers real-world experience
Visitors to local firm 3M Health Care will now be greeted by a striking new sculpture by Fine Art student Pip Godfrey, who won first prize in the company's Design Awards and a commission to produce the artwork for the reception area of the company's manufacturing site in the town.
The site is a centre for the development and manufacture of asthma inhalers and Pip's design symbolises the delivery of the drug to the lungs. It incorporates a four metre high stainless steel pole that suspends 40 glass spheres, representing the drug, over 12 large stainless steel spheres that represent the alveoli in the lungs.
Alan Bunkum, Fine Art programme leader in the School of Art and Design, said the award scheme had given the students an invaluable experience in researching and developing an original concept around a design brief."Live projects like this commission are so important in enhancing the students' knowledge and understanding of the challenges of producing artwork for a site-specific project and in providing a real and professional experience before the students graduate."
A year of student success
The success of Loughborough's students has once again been marked with a wealth of awards.
Three Industrial Design and Technology students claimed top prizes at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Design Direction Awards. Richard Andrews received the National Patient Safety Agency Award for his self-service food catering system for hospitals, developed to give nurses more time to care for those who most need it. Lauren Brooking's design, ‘Sleepz' – a system designed to maintain personal wellbeing through improved knowledge and understanding of sleep patterns – won her the GlaxoSmithKline Cash Award. Richard Linford was presented with the BT Award for his alert system for hearing impaired swimmers, which notifies athletes of race starts and alerts them to their coach's instructions during training.
Fine Art student Paul Morrison won one of this year's Boundary Gallery Prizes for Figurative Art, which celebrate the work of the most talented UK art students. For the award Paul submitted a series of three paintings, which examine the nature of the human body. The finalists' work was exhibited at the Boundary Gallery in London in the Spring. Loughborough students claimed both Textiles awards at the New Designers show – the foremost event in graduate design – with Rebecca Cox picking up the Harlequin award and Emma Wedd receiving the Designers Guild Award.
Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering student Ewan Porteous won the ‘Best Maritime Technology Student' prize at the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Awards, for his work in developing new ideas in acoustics and vibration that could be applied to maritime technology. The SET Awards are Britain and Ireland's most important acknowledgement of science, engineering and technology undergraduates, providing a showcase for educational excellence through public recognition of both students' and universities' exceptional achievements.
Artwork by Fine Art students Matt Atkinson and Victoria Lambert reached the finals of the prestigious Nationwide Mercury Prize 2007 art competition, which was set up to highlight the link between art and music and promote the work of art students in the UK to a wide audience. Matt's work, entitled Blue Klein Cabin, was an examination of disused buildings, while in her work If You Go Down To The Woods Today…, Victoria challenged common conceptions of flowers.
A self portrait sculpture by Fine Art student Wendy Mayer was named runner-up in the first-ever Grieve+Samaritans Art Prize 2007. Supported by Christie's, the competition was developed to raise the profile of emotional health within the art world and raise funds for the Samaritans. Wendy's work, together with the other finalists', was exhibited at the House of Commons in June.
Art and Design students picked up ten accolades at the Bradford Textile Society design awards, the most prestigious competition of its kind in the UK. Rhia Jaiswal, Siobhan Salisbury, Linda Mackie and Louise Webster were each awarded second prize in their respective categories, while Jessica Fox was presented with a third prize. Commendations were received by five other students.