50 @ 50 is a special series of blog posts that will run throughout the course of 2015, the University of Warwick's 50th anniversary year. This series of posts will introduce you to 50 different Warwick people, all of whom have something interesting to say as we not only look back at what we’ve achieved in our relatively short time as a University, but also look forward and imagine what our future might look like. You’ll meet academics, students, alumni and administrative staff who will offer you a window on what life is like at the Times and Sunday Times’ University of the Year for 2015.
Want to contribute a post to our 50 @ 50 series? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the final blog post in our 50@50 series, the 50th project team look back on some of the highlights of our anniversary year.
Well, what a year! Our celebrations started way back in December 2014 when, after a year of planning, we started our celebrations with a launch dinner to say thank you to all those people who were pivotal in making the University what it is today.
Over the year many departments took the opportunity to celebrate in their own way with their own events, and we were astounded that there were over 50 additional activities on top of what we were organising. It was clear that departments had put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that their events were well organised and delivered to a really high standard, and we were impressed that they really embraced the central theme of the 50th anniversary - ‘Imagining the Future’.
Our GRPs also held a range of 50th anniversary events in five strategic locations across the world. An exciting programme of research-led events took place in Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore, Venice and Washington focusing on 'Sustainable Futures'. You can find out more here>>
We held the first ever Warwick Music festival in May, where we worked collaboratively with the Arts Centre to put on a three day music festival. With the Arts Centre leading and the 50th team supporting, the music festival had cross-generational appeal. There was unique and exciting food and drink, alongside free performances and walk-about entertainers, drawing on the talents of local musicians. The Butterworth Hall played host to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Django Django (supported by Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and Joan Armatrading (supported by Lucy Anne Sale and Garfield Mayor).
The 50th anniversary provided a great opportunity for us to announce the University’s unique partnership with Cheltenham Festivals; a partnership that spanned across all four Cheltenham festivals (Literature, Music, Jazz and Science) and our Festival of the Imagination. You can read more about the partnership and all of the events here>>
We’ve had some great features on our website this year and, if you’ve not already checked them out we’d really recommend you take a look. This 50@50 blog has featured some fascinating alumni, academic and administrative staff and students, all of whom provide a bit of insight into ‘their’ Warwick and their thoughts for the future. The celebration poetry showcases the best talent at, or to come out of, the University and the count up to 50 series provides a snap shot of the last 50 years.
With a third of Warwick's alumni living outside the UK the alumni team wanted to make sure that they were as involved in celebrating Warwick's 50th anniversary as alumni in the UK. An International Alumni Week was held and countries were encouraged to hold their own celebrations alongside ours, countries as far afield as Luxembourg, Kenya, Mexico, Iraq and Canada all held celebrations.
Our highlight of the year was, without a doubt, the Festival of the Imagination. It was the first time the University had attempted anything like it and it was a huge success. The festival was two years in the planning and really hard work – but such good fun! We had the chance to work with lots of different teams across the University, all of whom helped to make the festival so fantastic.
We had 450+ volunteers (both staff and students), 50+ student performers and 110 speakers over 64 scheduled events and 30+ drop in activities. We welcomed 8,400 visitors and around 900 school children from 18 regional schools to campus over the two days.
The year has been a great experience for us all and we were privileged to be involved in so many ‘university firsts’ – the first Warwick Music Festival, the first International Alumni Week and the first Festival the Imagination (to name a few!) We hope to see events of this nature, which bring together the whole Warwick community and showcase the excellence research and people, continue in future years.
We want to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in celebrating the University’s 50th anniversary; whether that be attending events, holding your own activities or volunteering, you’ve really helped to make this year very special.
Here’s to the next 50 years!
Nicola, Emily and Christine
As our 50th year draws to a close, the anniversary project team - Nicola Hunt, Emily Little and Christine Fearn, from External Affairs - share their thoughts on what has been an unforgettable 12 months.
What was your overall experience of the year and being part of the 50th team?
Emily – The whole year from start to finish was an amazing thing to be part of. The variety of projects and events we covered from December 2014 onwards really meant there was consistently a lot of energy and creativity in the team and we thrived on the challenges. Looking back now the inevitable stress of putting on such high profile and public facing events was worth it and the laughter and support I got from the whole team carried us through and bonded us into a strong team.
I enjoyed coming up with the ‘light bulb’ visual identity with its vibrant colour scheme and then seeing it used in so many creative and imaginative ways throughout the year – from the giant billboard outside NAIC, the flowerbed outside the MRC, on dinner invitations, on aprons, on flags made by the international alumni for their reunions and even printed onto edible rice paper as part of a dessert (thanks to Graham Crump!).
Christine – My overall experience was very positive. The 50th team was really small so we all had the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of the planning and delivery of the celebration. It was great to be able to showcase some of the excellent work being done in academic departments at the festival, whether that be through the engaging talks and debates or the hands-on interaction in the Discovery Zone. I also really enjoyed hearing what departments around the University and our alumni were doing to celebrate. They really embraced the ‘Imagining the Future’ theme and held some great events.
Nicola – It’s been great! For me this project began in September 2013, and from then onwards it gathered pace to all but sweep the rest of my normal job aside. I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved in something so wide-ranging and ambitious. We set out to celebrate the 50th in a very forward-looking way (it would have been easy to wallow in nostalgia!) and I think we’ve managed to strike the right balance, and done it in a very Warwick way. The 50th team quickly developed into a strong team, and I’m proud of what the team achieved this year, especially as there were only three of us!
What was your best moment of the year?
Emily – So many to mention... From being proud to hear the poetic voices of the young IGGY members and their student mentors carried across a spellbound Butterworth Hall at the Gala Dinner, to seeing the smiling, lit up faces of the first group of the 900 year 6 schoolchildren that entered the Discovery Zone with ‘wows’ and ‘cool’ on the schools' day of the Festival of the Imagination.
From working with and meeting some fantastic people, including alumni Torin Douglas and Serena MacBeth, inspiring chef Vivek Singh and screenwriter Andrew Davies, to finally seeing my creative vision of the Discovery Zone come to life with such vibrancy and energy from the thousands of visitors that passed through the doors and the wonderful, enthusiastic Warwick academics and volunteers that worked so hard over the whole Festival weekend.
Christine – My best moment of the year was the schools' day at the Festival of the Imagination. This had been one of my key projects and I was keen to ensure that it ran smoothly. It was a great example of how teams across the University can work really well together: security took charge of the school buses' arrivals and departures, the Arts Centre staff ensured that the children were ushered around the Arts Centre calmly and safely, we collaborated with the Centre for Professional Education so we could have 100 PGCE students to help us on the day and the University events team helped the 50th team to manage the day and ensured timings were kept to. There were so many other people involved too and I was so grateful for everyone’s help and involvement.
Nicola – I don’t think I could identify a best moment (unless you count the lie-in I had the morning after the Festival of the Imagination finished!) There are so many highlights! From launching the year in a transformed Butterworth Hall with an event that was not only a dinner, but a full production to 200 guests of the University, to spending a week at Cheltenham Science Festival in the Science Faculty marquee engaging with thousands of visitors excited by science, to the Royal visit by Princess Anne, through to the Festival of the Imagination which I can’t really sum up in just a few words… There have been so many high points, and they’ve all come about through great team work and collaborations across the University.
What has been the most challenging part of the year?
Emily – Not sure there’s been too many bad moments, although the most emotional I’ve been was watching the National Grid Discovery Zone being dismantled and feeling like the year had come to an end.
Christine – Definitely the week in the run up to the Festival of the Imagination! I wasn’t quite anticipating the amount of last-minute changes there would be, the schedule was being amended right up until the last minute.
Nicola – I’m not going to say it was the worst moment, but there was a special kind of realisation that dawned on me after the initial excitement of hearing that we were having a Royal visit, when it hit home that that visit was only 10 days before the Festival of the Imagination… Let’s just say I’ve never known a workload like it…but it was totally worth it, as that was a really special day to be part of.
What will you take away with you from this experience and would you do it all again?
Emily – That it takes a fantastic team effort to pull off what we did. There really is nothing like team work. That our academics and students really do step up when it comes to engaging with the public and they constantly made me feel proud to be part of the Warwick community. I would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat, yes! With lessons learnt and the knowledge that there is still so much more to Warwick and what we can share with the public, our staff and our alumni, another Festival would definitely be something I would love to be involved with. I certainly won’t forget this 50th year in a hurry.
Christine –It was such a great experience being part of the 50th team and I have learnt so much, so YES, I would love to do it all again!
Nicola – It’s been really apparent throughout the whole planning and delivery of the 50th that there’s great enthusiasm across the University to reach out and share what we do with the wider community, and there is also an audience out there willing to engage with us to find out more. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Pictured (left to right): Christine Fearn (50th Anniversary Project Officer), Emily Little (Creative Producer, 50th Anniversary) and Nicola Hunt (University Events Manager).
As our 50th year draws to a close, Olly Rice, Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU reflects on the past 50 years of student democracy at Warwick.
"I’m Olly Rice, the current Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU. Democracy and Development is at face-value a bit of strange role: it means overseeing not just democracy, but SU outlets, events, and finances. Very few SUs have this role. Usually it’s left to administrative staff, but then very few SUs have as healthy a turnout and turnover as Warwick SU, one of the largest and most active SUs in the country.
Indeed Warwick SU doesn’t just have ‘democratic’ as a stale requisite necessitated under the 1994 Education Act, it actively strives to embody that and be truly accountable and representative to its students. This is reflected in a democratic structure that has been revised significantly over the years and decades. Indeed, this year we’ve curtailed the talk-shop that was Student Council and now elect students to eight new, action-orientated SU Execs. Where other SUs can get stuck in bad institutional structures that place barriers to student engagement and barriers to its own change, ours is a living, breathing and dynamic democracy. We genuinely try to empower our students to propose, organise, and carry out the events, campaigns, support and advice they want rather than just administrative staff who can and do provide excellent support to facilitate this.
The Sabbatical Officer roles themselves have also changed over the years with the first Sabbatical positions only being created and funded in the mid-70s, over a decade after the University was created. The SU back them was much smaller, and its increase in size, space, staff and representation has been hard won along the way. Indeed some things never change with student protest occupations on campus in recent years against tuition fees being the same tactics used successfully in gaining the SU its first building in the 70s.
Back then though; democracy was a lot more direct and communal than now. A smaller University, student assemblies on core topics of the day (including on controversial University decisions such as revealed student admission decisions by the then Vice Chancellor, Jack Butterworth) could gather around half the total student population to actively listen and discuss the issues. Now we facilitate All Student Meetings on our policy discussions, however our voting is online, but then so is many of our students’ private conversations, which often happen over social media. Democracy has changed to reflect this and will continue to do so. This improves its accessibility and in fact in absolute numbers empowers more students than ever before.
This doesn’t just include Sabbatical Officer elections, part-time officer elections and other direct SU Representatives. It’s easy to forget that every SU society and club is democratic too, as are the 700+ Student-Staff Liaison Committees students elect Couse Reps. These are the bread and butter of academic dialogue and student experience on campus in which democracy is at its core.
However, over the years Higher Education across the UK has become increasingly marketised. Rather than proving a benign force, it subtly but strongly changes the way students interact with and value their University environment. This is pervasive with markedly increased quantitative pressures from living costs, accommodation costs, degree classification, and competition for academic time and resources as well your final grade. This heightens the place of individualistic and materialistic values in society, values that are juxtaposed to the values of altruism and community embodied by democracy. Democracy, in short, wasn’t designed to give the individual and direct benefits students are being conditioned to expect.
This is interesting when you’re the Democracy and Development Officer, which necessitates interacting with students as consumers in our outlets, and as voters in our elections – two identities that are not easily conflated, no matter what the Economics Department tells you!
So when it comes to how democracy will change in the next 50 years, it can often seem like a small fish swimming furiously against a torrential river in order to increase participation. Despite this bigger picture, what we might in fact be seeing is that most students do still take part in democracy, but the democracy they perceive to be the most relevant to them – whether in their societies or on their course - and that’s no bad thing.
It takes a strong SU to keep not only turnout healthy, but a good quality of student participation. In the next few years it’s imperative that we work towards restabilising the links between democracy and its perceived relevance to the increasingly pressurised student. In reality though, Warwick is that strong SU. With a large number of student societies, strong levels of accountability, a good working relationship with the University, and elected Officers working day in and day out to improve the student experience and act on policy passed by our students, Warwick SU is more relevant to its students than ever before.
The next 50 years need to build on this solid foundation in the fast moving river of Higher Education."
Coinciding with our 50th anniversary, the Modern Records Centre is currently working on a project to digitalise copies of our student newspapers from years gone by. Lizzie Morrison, Assistant Archivist at the Centre, tells us more.
If you want to learn about the history of this University from a student perspective then the best place to look is in the newspapers which were written by Warwick’s student population. However, the original print copies kept at the Modern Records Centre have become extremely fragile over time and are susceptible to damage caused by constant handling.
That’s why the Modern Records Centre took the decision a few years ago to embark upon a lengthy project to digitise and make them available online. A dedicated team undertook the scanning of every page of each issue of the main student newspapers, creating metadata and carrying out OCR work as they went along, and even now staff are hard at work to add to what’s already available through the Warwick Digital Collections pages. You can view the newspapers here: http://contentdm.warwick.ac.uk/cdm/landingpage/collection/boar
At this website you will find issues of The Giblet and Campus and the first 50 editions of The Warwick Boar. Using the Advanced Search option will allow you to search for words or exact phrases in a range of different fields, such as Title, Page, Creator and Contributors. You can also narrow down your searches using the ‘Search by date’ option. So, if you studied at Warwick during the sixties and seventies why not try searching for photos of friends or looking for the events which defined your time here?
For everyone else, here are a few facts and some student journalism which may be of interest…
First things first, here’s an explanation of how Campus got its name (‘EXIT GIBLET’)…….. http://ow.ly/Vjtlp
…… and a quick summary of how The Warwick Boar was shaped by its successive editors (‘Still BOARing After All These Years’) http://ow.ly/VjtTx
…… and a photo from 1976 of the staff who worked on The Warwick Boar http://ow.ly/VjwTy
A sample of the types of articles available on line so far :
‘Paxton in Berlin’ http://ow.ly/Vjxr1
But the best articles (and the most entertaining) cover everything that happened on campus, from student protests and antics to union politics. You can read interviews with academic staff and find out which famous bands visited Warwick.
The papers also show how the campus landscape changed. For example, it’s hard to believe that where the giant Let’s Not Be Stupid sculpture stands near the
If you want to find out what other headlines and stories have been uncovered from the pages of the The Giblet, Campus and The Warwick Boar look out for the tweets posted by @warwicklibrary. We hope you enjoy them!
Earlier this year, three Warwick students set off on an adventure of a lifetime - cycling 20,000km around the world, with the aim of promoting renewable energy through microfinance. They tell us more about their project, 'The Green Wheels', in today's 50@50.
Tell us a bit about each member of the team.
The three of us all come from different regions in France but ended up finishing our high school years in Paris and came to the UK for university. All undergraduates at Warwick, Louis is studying Politics, while Maxence and Roland are studying Management at Warwick Business School. We all have very different qualities that are essential to the team. Louis is the " sales" guy, always finding a good way to add value to the project; Maxence is great at organisation and planning things; and Roland is the dreamer, doing everything to achieve our goals. We're convinced that these different features make our team more efficient.
How did you meet ?
The three of us met during our first year at Warwick. The fact we were all French 18-year-old freshers definitely helped us to bond quickly! We had all had similar pre-university experiences and had decided to study in the UK for the same reason: to discover something new. These similarities led us to spend a lot of time together, speaking about our future and discussing projects that we could build together.
What the does the project involve ?
Our project involves cycling 20,000 kilometers in 33 countries in 365 days to promote renewable energy through microfinance. Basically our goal is to meet (and, where possible, financially support) as many small entrepreneurs as we can who are willing to satisfy their energy needs through renewable sources of energy. Once back in Paris we will allocate 30,000 Euros to the projects we admire the most. This money has been raised through various corporate sponsors such as the Warwick Group Research Project Energy, IATL, Bouygues UK, Europcar, Laboratoire Carrare, MyTravelChic and many others as well as through a crowdfunding campaign.
Why and how did you decide to do this project? Who helped it to become a reality?
We spent our first year at Warwick sharing our ideas and opinions about what was important for us: politics, entrepreneurship, finance, environmental issues and many other things! We all wanted to build something that could be a mix of features that were important for us. We wanted to do something that could, to a certain extent, change the future of others. We always dreamed about being actors of a better future and we wanted to start as soon as possible. Being passionate about entrepreneurship and being aware of the the "green energy revolution", we started focusing on these two aspects, looking for something to bring them together.
In September 2013, it was Roland who first came up with the idea of linking entrepreneurship and renewable energy with a powerful financial tool: microfinance. He suggested we do it while achieving a childhood dream of his: cycling the world. The three of us loved the idea and decided to start the project and undertake this year-long challenge. After working a few weeks on the project, Maxence and Louis came up with the idea of raising as much money as we could in order to finance the trip but also, and more importantly, to finance green entrepreneurs all around the world.
Hundreds of people helped us to make this project a reality. Our friends and families were the first ones offering us crucial advice, followed by personal tutors and teachers. We also had really great support from our partner Babyloan and Entrepreneurs du Monde, who helped us a lot on the microfinance and micro-entrepreneurship aspects of the project. Finally all our sponsors (including the University of Warwick!) and all the people who trusted us gave us advice that enabled our team to make our idea a reality.
What do you hope to achieve during the year ?
We're always trying to make the most of this experience. During this year we have one main goal: Making our project a success in achieving our personal goal - cycling all around the world and coming back to Paris in 365 days while discovering as many new cultures as possible - and our social goal - meeting as many green entrepreneurs as we can and financially supporting them. We want to show people that a multitude of small actions can lead to big changes and everyone can undertake these small actions. Our final objective is to show other young (and less young!) people in Europe that we have to be the ones to build a better future and that the number of opportunities is constantly growing.
Have you had any favorite moments so far ?
We worked for almost 13 months on this project and have already cycled more that 6,000 kilometers. Of course we have had moments we preferred but as a whole this adventure has been great from the day we decided to build the project until now. If we had to choose a favourite moment, we would have to say that the departure was incredibly memorable. It was very satisfying thinking that we had already achieved a big objective and that it was the start of something new: the adventure. During the trip, our favourite country so far has been Bolivia. After getting over the hardest challenge - climbing the Andes - we spent one month cycling on the "Altiplano" at more than 4,000 metres crossing the Titicaca lake and the famous Uyuni's salt lake.
What has been the hardest part of the journey so far ?
The hardest part of the journey had definitely been the long climb of the Andes. We climbed 4,000 metres in less than a week on dirty sand roads! We were cycling at an average of 8km per hour and crossed a summit at 4,457 metres high. We spent two days cycling in snow - but we had hardly any winter clothes and it was so cold that our stove didn't work! Nevertheless, during this difficult climb we crossed a natural reserve full of mind blowing landscapes. This challenge forced our team to really work hard together and we now feel very proud having achieved it! After more than four months on the road we discovered that we can look back at every challenging moment and laugh.
What are you looking forward to most during the rest of the year ?
We just spent a long time in Central and South America, so we're really excited about discovering a new continent! Australia and Asia will be fantastic - we have many green projects waiting for us there. We'll also visit Bangladesh, where Mohamed Yunus initiated the idea of "Green Microfinance". The constantly changing environment makes the trip unpredictable and fantastic and that is why we have the chance to experience something new every day.
What do you plan to do after the project is over ? Do you have any plans for after graduation ?
We'll be back in Paris by the end of July 2016. Our short term plan is to continue to promote the values and the idea of The Green Wheels. Moreover, we're in touch with other young entrepreneurs who are looking to start similar projects or other kinds of social businesses. We would like to share our experience with them in order to help them to build their projects.
We all loved this first entrepreneurial project and we are certain that this experience is likely to guide our life after graduation. We are constantly thinking about new projects to start and new ideas. After experiencing first hand social entrepreneurship we might move towards a more "classic" kind of entrepreneurship.
In our previous 50@50, Economics student Amanda told us about her interview with John Rothenberg, one of our very first students who came to Warwick in 1965 and studied Economics and Maths. In today's post, listen to extracts from that interview. (You might need to put your volume up.)
Why did you decide to come to Warwick?
How did you feel on your first day, coming to a brand new university?
Were there any clubs and societies at Warwick in the 60s?
What was it like studying Economics and Maths at Warwick in the 60s?
What was your accommodation like?
How did you feel about graduating?
What career did your degree lead to?
What do you think of today's facilities and opportunities at Warwick?
How do you hope Warwick will develop over the next 50 years?
Earlier this year, around a hundred of Warwick's very first students came back to campus for a reunion coinciding with the Festival of the Imagination, the pinnacle event of our anniversary year. One of the organisers of the reunion was John Rothenberg, who studied Economics and Mathematics at the University from 1965 - 1968. We invited one of our current Economics students, Amanda Dedmon, to interview John about his time at Warwick and how his experiences at the University have benefited his career.
As some of you might remember, this year, the University of Warwick celebrated its 50th birthday with a weekend of the ‘Festival of Imagination’. The weekend was filled with a diverse range of events that showcased the work done at Warwick focused around a central theme of ‘Imagining the Future’. The events ranged from cookery demonstrations to talks and debates, with lectures on the future of science and some wonderful market stalls colouring the Piazza!
The 50th anniversary also celebrated some of the first students at Warwick, who began their degrees in 1965. I was given the opportunity to interview one of these former students, John Rothenberg, who attended the University from 1965-68 and studied Economics and Mathematics.
We started the day bright and early at 10am in a quiet corner of Radcliffe House, where the alumni were staying for a weekend of reminiscing of their years spent at university. It was a pleasure to meet Mr Rothenberg, who was incredibly friendly and welcoming and eager to share his experiences of Warwick with me, and compare how much one place can change in only 50 years.
What struck me most during our conversation was the Students' Union and the clubs and societies that were available at Warwick in 1965. Today, I believe that we take for granted the vast range of societies and sports clubs that exist at Warwick – they are an integral part of university life, and something that I’m almost certain every student here gets involved in. But what are clubs and societies without members?
The very first students to arrive at Warwick in 1965 were the founders of the clubs and societies that we merely expect to be in place upon our arrival. Mr Rothenberg’s ambition and willingness to get involved in the creation of the Students' Union and various clubs, such as men’s football, struck me as very impressive – creating a successful club today would take considerable organisation and courage. The ability that Mr Rothenberg demonstrated at Warwick to adapt to new situations and create something huge from nothing benefited him hugely throughout his career.
In addition, the interview showed me that although there have been substantial changes to campus, the integral mission and philosophy of Warwick has remained much the same – a university that is determined to always improve and develop, never being complacent and always looking to the future. Warwick was one of the first universities to offer joint honour degrees, demonstrating a modern approach to education through blending the power of its strongest departments, before other universities realised the benefits of joint degrees.
As campus continues to evolve, it’s nice to know that Warwick will fundamentally never really change. The University will continue to be engaged with the local community, be home to a fiery Students' Union and top the national university tables in a wide range of subjects. When asked if he would choose Warwick today, Mr Rothenberg replied with an unequivocal yes!
We'll be posting excerpts from Amanda's chat with John in our next 50@50 post.
Amanda is one of our student bloggers, regularly sharing her experiences of life as an Economics student at Warwick. Take a look at her posts >>
As the autumn term of our 50th year draws to a close, Psychology fresher Amreet Sarai shares her favourite moments from her first few weeks as a Warwick student.
Term 1 has been an amazing rollercoaster, being both overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Of course there are many memories that I've made within the space of just over two months, but I'll recount my top five favourite moments for you all.
1. Joining societies
Going to the society fairs during freshers' week was so much fun, since we were able to explore what was on offer and were shocked by all the cool and unordinary societies that you wouldn't expect to exist. I especially loved going to all the meet and greets because I got to meet so many new people. One that I have pictures from is the Asian Society (ASOC) meet and greet, where I don't seem to be having too much fun as I was concentrating on the presentation, but I promise it was so fun!
2. Diwali Henna Charity Event
When I saw the henna event pop up on my Facebook timeline, I was super excited because I love getting my henna done and the girls who were doing it were seriously good. The line was really long, however, but I was willing to wait as long as needed - I waited for two hours! The henna was great though and at an amazing price considering how skilled the girls were, so getting my henna done was definitely a highlight.
Halloween week at Warwick was so fun, I'll never forget it. Me and my flatmates had planned two halloween outings, so for that reason I decided to do one scary look and one creative look - I love makeup and art! Our first outing was a bar crawl across Leamington Spa which then ended at Neon, all hosted by the Uni Express. It was definitely a long and tiring night, but one which was a great laugh.
Our second halloween event was the Halloween Ball at the Warwick SU Copper Rooms, which was great fun and required much less travelling! For this night, I created a Bambi look which took me forever but it was funny to see people's reactions to my different halloween looks. The events that I've attended to in the Copper Rooms have varied, some I've loved, some not so much... But the Halloween Ball had a great mix of Halloween music and contemporary music!
My source of procastination and go-to task when I'm bored is to bake. I have had times when I've simply been craving snacks, but other times I've just found it fun to bake with my flat mates. I first made a chocolate cake for everyone, which disappeared in ten minutes... and recently I made some amazing oreo cookies which also didn't last very long! Nonetheless, it was a fun thing to do and something different from watching Netflix all day!
5. Skool Dayz
Skool Dayz was another great event hosted by Warwick SU at the Copper Rooms! Everyone was dressed in their school attire and the music was a great mix of year 6 disco classics and current music, so it was a fantastic night that never got boring. I've found that the Warwick SU events that I don't expect to be that great turn out to be the best ones!
Amreet is one of student bloggers, regularly sharing her experiences of life as a Psychology student at Warwick. Take a look at her posts here >>
Did you know that we have enough solar panels on campus to power nearly 4,000 homes? Or that only 3.2% of the University's waste goes to landfill? These statisics are in major part thanks to the work of our sustainability team, who work with colleagues across the University to make sure our campus is as environmentally friendly as possible. We spoke to Judi Kilgallon, one of the team's sustainability champions, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’ve been here about a year, which has gone very quickly. Before that? Driving tractors in Australia, working as a National Trust Ranger in Devon and introducing students to haggis and whisky in Edinburgh – I like variety!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s the best job at Warwick, in my opinion! I get to meet so many people and see so much of campus – I’m barely at my desk. I love meeting people with different backgrounds and in different roles: working on projects with people who are passionate about sustainability and the environment, and opening the eyes of those who aren’t so interested to see the difference they can make.
We made this video recently when my colleague David was nominated for a Green Gown award. It explains more about all the different things happening across campus, so check it out!
Who makes up the sustainability team?
Our team is made up of five people. Joel Cardinal, Head of Energy and Sustainability, leads two Sustainability Champions (David Chapman and myself), and two Sustainability Engineers (Mark Jarvis and Andrew Thomas).
The engineers focus on the more technical aspects of sustainability, developing our carbon management plan and improving the sustainability of our buildings and services through refurbishments and better metering. The champions complement this by working to encourage positive behaviour change in our staff and students, and to support the sustainability initiatives of our community.
We work with many different groups across the University, making sure we look at sustainability issues from all angles. This includes our network of Green Champions that you can join right now if you like! This group shares ideas and help us make positive behavioural changes across campus.
All of this comes together to make Warwick more efficient with its energy, water and waste. It also saves us money which the University can invest in teaching and research.
What are some of the key projects that the team has worked on?
Let’s talk about water. Less than 1% of the world’s water is drinkable, but people rarely think about this when they turn on the tap. What do you do when you have students on campus using 43 litres per day more than the UK average? Our approach was to launch a new competition – “Cut the Flow”. We challenged different halls of residence to compete against each other to see who could save the most water in return for prizes.
This got our students thinking about how much water they didn’t need to waste. Little things like taking shorter showers and turning the tap off while brushing teeth all added up to save Warwick over 30 tonnes of carbon.
Moving from small changes to huge ones, building our new Cryfield Energy Centre was a brilliant project. When coupled with our existing Combined Heating and Power (CHP) plant, it cuts campus emissions by about 3,000 tonnes every year. If you want to know how we save the equivalent carbon emissions of over 1000 UK homes, check out this video.
Do you have any statistics about the University's energy usage that you can share?
- We have enough solar panels on campus to power nearly 4,000 homes.
- Only 3.2% of our waste goes to landfill – the rest is re-used, recycled or used to generate energy.
- Electricity, gas and water cost Warwick £1,024 per hour on average.
- There’s a 19km heating network underneath our campus.
- Leaving your computer on every night and over the weekend wastes the same amount of energy an average runner would burn doing a half marathon every day of the week! If just 5% of University staff leave their computer on it costs £13 000 each year.
Tell us a bit about some of the projects you'll be working on over the next year.
We'll work on lots of different projects over the next year, but here are my favourites:
The Eco-Centre project
We’re working with the student society Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to put forward proposals for a new campus Eco-Centre. If approved, it would showcase sustainable, low-carbon construction (involving straw bales) and offer a unique learning experience for the staff and students involved. Once complete, it would offer a flexible space for classes, workshops, events and exhibitions. Other universities have sustainability centres, but the student-led nature of this one would really make Warwick stand out.
Environmental Sustainability Fund
We’re working with the Students’ Union on this one. Basically, any student can apply for funding if they have a project in mind that supports sustainability. It could be anything from energy-saving to green spaces to big events… I’ll be really interested to see what comes in.
This is a massive issue in the UK and we will be focusing on this in the coming year. There are both financial and environmental costs: the average family spends about £470 a year on food they don’t actually eat (£700 if they have kids!) and wasting less food in the UK could save the equivalent emissions of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. It’s something we really need to address. We have a great group of students known as RAWKUS who collect food left behind in halls - last year they worked with Warwick Accommodation to collect over 15 tonnes of food from halls which went to charity. We need to change this!
Check out Love Food Hate Waste for top tips. Did you know you can freeze milk and eggs?
How do you hope the University will develop in terms of sustainability over the next 50 years?
Sustainability is a global issue and everyone needs to care about it, Warwick included. This is an exciting time – we are seeing attitudes changing in our students and staff, and discussions happening at all levels throughout the University.
One area we can already see flourishing is the cutting-edge sustainability research that’s happening here. Several of our Global Research Priorities (GRPs) are focused on sustainability-related topics like energy, food, manufacturing, cities and international development. I hope Warwick itself will increasingly be used as a living laboratory where our researchers can explore and develop these ideas, such as with the Eco-Centre.
We’re also seeing a growing demand in our students for sustainability to appear on the curriculum at university. Warwick is already responding to this – see this blog by our Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) on education for sustainable development. I hope this continues to develop, and I’m especially keen to see more practical teaching and learning like our Green Steps programme. That way we can send our graduates out in to the world equipped to make a real difference wherever they go.
How can students and staff get more involved in sustainability at Warwick?
We need your help – creating a more sustainable campus is as much about our new Energy Centre as it is about you turning off your computer when you leave to go home. Our team can only do so much so whatever you do here at Warwick, you can make a difference – every little helps!
So what can you do? Visit our website, sign up to be a Green Champion, car share, put your rubbish in the right bin, switch off your computer – the one thing we really want you to do is simply to stop and think about your actions and the impact it might have.
So get involved and help us make Warwick a better place to study, live and work!
The Coull Quartet has been Warwick's Quartet-in-Residence since 1977 and has a wide-ranging role that includes giving an annual series of concerts at Warwick Arts Centre, acting as ambassadors for the University and generally encouraging musical activity around the campus alongside our Music Centre. The members of the Quartet tell us more about their roles and what they believe music can contribute to the student experience in today's 50@50.
Roger Coull studied the violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London and it was there that he formed the Coull Quartet in 1974. In addition to playing in the Coull Quartet Roger is an experienced conductor and teacher.
He was appointed principal conductor of the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra in 2014, and is also a regular guest conductor of the Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Beauchamp Sinfonietta, conductor of the University of Warwick String Orchestra, and a regular director of the Helix Ensemble, the Academy of St Thomas, and the Crendon Chamber Orchestra, amongst others.
He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music for his services to professional music making. In his spare time his hobbies include cycling and photography.
Philip Gallaway was educated in Norfolk, and studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music. Always having been drawn to the chamber music repertoire, he joined Roger Coull as a founder member of the Coull Quartet in 1974.
In addition to his quartet playing, he has appeared with many orchestras, including the London Mozart Players, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the English String Orchestra.
He regularly plays with Orchestra da Camera and Sinfonia Viva as leader, section principal or soloist. He also enjoys his role as teacher and chamber music coach at Warwick and beyond, working with students aged from 9 to 90. Philip is also a keen gardener, and when time permits, he enjoys tending the fruit and vegetables on his allotment.
Jonathan Barritt studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Atar Arad and Mischa Geller and was awarded all the major prizes for viola. He graduated with distinction in 1983, was immediately offered a position with the English Chamber Orchestra, and has since regularly played concertos with them.
He has appeared as Guest Principal Viola with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestras and has played with many chamber groups, including Capricorn, Divertimenti, Raphael, Gaudier and Primavera ensembles. Jonathan has given Quartet concerts with William Pleeth, James Galway and Kiri Ta Kanawa, as well as being a member of the Allegri String Quartet for six years, and is currently professor of viola at the Royal College of Music. Given half a chance he will escape to his garden shed where he produces beautiful turned wooden bowls.
Nick Roberts enjoyed a varied freelance career for 20 years before joining the Quartet in 2000. Following studies at the Royal College of Music with Amaryllis Fleming, he toured the world with the English Chamber Orchestra, working with many top soloists and conductors, before branching out into other areas of music, including west end shows, contemporary dance, new music, baroque ensembles, and chamber music.
His commercial recording has encompassed backing tracks for groups such as the Sugababes, Boyzone, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, TV programmes including Inspector Morse, Forsyte Saga and Downton Abbey, and film soundtracks for Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code and the Mummy Returns and many others. Away from the cello he is often to be found in a dusty archive, or studying the economic and social history of music.
Tell us a bit about the history of the quartet. When did you form and with what purpose?
The Coull Quartet was formed in 1974 at the Royal Academy of Music under the guidance and mentorship of Sidney Griller, who encouraged us towards a life of playing chamber music. After a period of intensive study we continued working together as a quartet with the help of a Leverhulme scholarship. Soon after this we competed for the post as Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Warwick. We were appointed in 1977 and, alongside our international career, have been actively involved in music at Warwick ever since.
What's your role at the University? Roughly how many concerts do you perform each year?
The role of the Quartet at the University has evolved over time, but has always involved giving a concert series at Warwick Arts Centre, coaching student groups, taking orchestral sectional rehearsals and teaching individual students. The number of concerts given by the Quartet at the Arts Centre varies a little from year to year, but once included the complete Beethoven cycle in six concerts. In addition, we're involved in collaborations with various departments of the University, most recently the English and Physics departments. We also have an ambassadorial role for the University, and very recently performed in Singapore at an event that raised substantial funds for scholarships to enable Singaporean students to study at Warwick.
How do you think music can help students during their time at Warwick?
Music is an important part of many students’ lives before they arrive at Warwick, and some already play or sing to an extremely high standard. There are plenty of opportunities for students to build on what they have already achieved, as the University has a large team of expert instrumental teachers. The wide choice of ensembles is also important, as being part of these provides much-needed relaxation, and is for many students a social highlight. There is also an annual concert series given by world-class musicians at Warwick Arts Centre, and sometimes visiting artists offer workshops for the students. A thriving musical scene has become an increasingly important factor for many students when choosing their university.
What changes have you seen at the University in terms of music/ performing arts since you started playing here?
The sheer increase in size and the ever-increasing diversity of the student population has resulted in a much broader variety in the performance arts, and music, in its various guises, seems to be reaching out to more young people than ever before. The Warwick ethos is to give everyone a chance to develop their musical talents to the full, and to experience a wide variety of genres.
Are you doing anything special to mark the University’s 50th anniversary?
One of the highlights of our 50th anniversary year has been the University’s new commission for us from the composer Joe Cutler. Joe’s new quartet ‘Mind Moves Matter‘ emerged from a week-long ‘This Is Tomorrow’ residency run by the Arts Centre, during which he immersed himself in campus life and sought musical inspiration from his experiences. He was fascinated, for instance, by the contrast between the rather anonymous and grey exteriors of some of the campus buildings, and the intense activity, creativity and cutting-edge research taking place within them.
We're thrilled that he has managed to convey these images and impressions of the University in his new quartet. So far we've given two preview performances during the 50th anniversary year and we’re looking forward to giving the official premiere of the complete work during the Spring Term.
How do you hope music provision at universities might change over the next 50 years?
Warwick, as always, leads the way by being the only UK university to have a substantial and long term professional music residency working alongside its Arts Centre and student music centre. We hope that more UK universities will come to realise the benefits of facilitating the long term involvement of professional arts practitioners on campus, and that they'll become increasingly active in supporting the complex ‘ecosystem’ of music and the arts that plays such a vital, though often undervalued, role in the wider economy.
Graham Crump is the University's Development Chef, managing Rootes kitchen and providing support to our training and conference centres. He shares some cooking tips and a favourite recipe for you to try in this week's 50@50.
Did you always want to work in the food industry? How did you come to work at Warwick?
My interest in food evolved from helping my grandmother, who was a great cook. She had owned and operated a number of small businesses, all food related, and was also a school cook in the days when the ingredients were all fresh and seasonal.
I started in the industry at a large hotel at the age of 14, working part time, which developed into an apprenticeship and a full-time post.
Having worked for a number of hotel and restaurant groups both large chains and private groups I was looking for a new challenge and was made aware of the opening of the first conference and training centre at Warwick (Arden House, which in those days was called the Executive Post Experience Centre).
What does your role involve at Warwick?
My day-to-day role is managing and running Rootes kitchen, providing delivered food across campus and catering for the large events in Rootes. I also support the training and conference centres.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Warwick?
It has to be the progressive attitude of Warwick, along with the people and the environment.
What’s your favourite meal/ signature dish?
Too many favourite meals to recall! A memorable meal was when I was stranded in Frankfurt in the middle of January. Cold, wet and hungry, a colleague and I found a small restaurant that provided the “house special” - 10 different types of sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potato and a stein of beer! A great meal.
I'm also lucky enough in my position as Secretary of the World Association of Chefs Societies Education Committee to have eaten in some of the great restaurants and hotels of the world.
I don't have any particular signature dish although I do enjoy producing desserts, having been trained as a pastry chef in my career.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have any favourite chefs?
My inspiration comes from the unsung heroes of the kitchen, those chefs who don't seek the media limelight and just want to cook good food, like Paul Gayler, Adam Bennett, Luke Tipping and Paul Foster, an ex Warwick chef. However there are a few that get into media by default but have not lost their way, such as Rick Stein and Keith Floyd.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
Of course - that’s how you learn! I have had operational disasters as well though - working for a hotel group I was once asked to prepare a lunch for 60 and was all prepared when 600 turned up! Yes, they all got fed!
What cooking tips do you have for beginners?
Keep it simple, keep food areas clean and keep it fresh. Good ingredients in equals good food out.
Do you have a favourite simple recipe to share?
Here's a simple Swiss roll recipe that's easy to remember:
- Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy
- Fold in the sieved flour and spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190c (Mark 6) for seven minutes.
- When cooked turn out onto greaseproof paper dusted with castor sugar, leave to cool slightly, then spread with jam and, using the paper, roll to form a Swiss roll.
- Add some fresh whipped cream along the top to make it that bit more special.
How do you think cooking in the UK has changed since the University opened in 1965?
Customers are well educated about food and ingredients now, produce is readily available all year round (although we have lost our way a little with seasonality), cooking gets prime time TV coverage and is now seen more as a career and a profession.
Do you have any predictions about how cooking will evolve over the next 50 years?
Food is like fashion, forever evolving and things will come and go. Molecular gastronomy is now on its way out, although elements of this will be retained and used. Core cooking skills will always come to the forefront and technology will progress, in particular for the home cook. Many keen cooks now have water baths, slow cookers, food processors etc as standard items in the home.
This week Warwick honorary graduate Krishnan Guru-Murthy, journalist and presenter of Channel 4 News, came to campus as part of the Boar's 50th anniversary speaker series. First year Politics and International Studies student Shanita Jetha attended his Q and A session and tells us about it in today's 50@50.
Earlier this week I attended a question and answer session with Channel 4 presenter, journalist and Warwick honorary graduate Krishnan Guru-Murthy. This was organised by the Warwick Boar (Warwick's student newspaper, I highly recommend any eager writers to get involved :D ) at the Warwick Arts Centre. Last year, I attended a 'Young People's Question Time' event in Parliament which was chaired by Krishnan, so it was great to see him again and be able to ask him some questions this time! I found the Q&A both interesting and inspiring, so thought I should share some of what he said.
The event started with an introduction from Krishnan, explaining how he became a television presenter and what encouraged him to enter this field. Krishnan recieved an offer from the University of Oxford to study medicine but changed his mind, deciding to take a gap year and reapply to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics instead. During his gap year, he was given the opportunity to present on BBC2 and discovered a new passion.
Krishnan's drive allowed him to do something he finds enjoyable. Emphasising the importance of working hard, he said: "If you are interested in journalism, there are still lots of opportunities out there." A favourite quote of mine: "never give up, you never know how close you are to success." Take on any new opportunity which comes your way, and don't forget university is a time to try new things and get out of your comfort zone!
There were many questions asked, such as:
- Who is your favourite interviewee?- "The ones you enjoy are the ones that are the most powerful"
- Is the news too depressing?- "There are times when I certainly wouldn't let my children watch [the news]"
- Do you think social media campaigns can be just as effective at holding politicians to account as journalists?- "It's important to remember that social media isn't necessarily a reflection of overall public opinion"
- Do you think your interview style is controversial, if so why? - "Ultimately yes I do, as this is the best way to get answers"
This event was part of the Warwick Boar speaker series, to celebrate Warwick's 50th anniversary. There are lots of events taking place across campus, covering various academic disciplines.
For instance Warwick Business School alumnus Tobias Wagnert gave a talk on mergers and acquisitions two days ago as part of their series of guest lectures. Similarly, Rolls-Royce gave a presentation to engineering students explaining their contribution to the aviation industry.
These events are great for students to engage in debates and learn more about a particular field, possibly even one you hadn't thought about before.
Big thanks to Warwick for organising these!
Warwick alumna Rebecca Gibb has recently become one of just 340 people in the world to hold the title 'Master of Wine'. What exactly does this mean and how can you become one? Rebecca tells us all in today's 50@50.
Tell us a bit about your time at Warwick.
I was a History and Politics student between 1999 and 2002 and while there wasn’t much contact time each week – I think it was around seven hours – the workload was demanding and incredibly stimulating.
I still managed to find time to play in the university orchestra, be part of the athletics team, was the first female member of the university weightlifting club and contributed to the Boar from time to time.
How did you imagine the future when were you a student?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do to be honest but writing for the Boar did give me a taste for writing. I worked for a PR firm once a week while in my final year and took a job with them after graduating, and thought that might be the way I would go. I quickly realised full-time PR and I weren’t suited. I found it very hard to get excited about writing press releases about dog food!
How did reality match your expectations?
The biggest shock when you graduate is that you still go in at the bottom, earn a meager wage and have to work your way up. A degree is a must-have for many employers but you also need to have relevant work experience and that takes time.
Tell us a bit about your career journey.
I discovered my love of wine, not over a £2 bottle of Lambrini from the supermarket on campus, but on a trip to Australia over summer break. I managed to find a job in the wine industry and to cut a long story short, entered and won the UK’s young wine writer of the year in 2006 and was then given a two-week internship on a wine trade magazine in London. From there, I was offered a job with the magazine, later going on to freelance for a number of well-known wine magazines around the world.
I went on to win the inaugural Louis Roederer Young Wine Writer of the Year in 2010 and have since edited the site of the world’s largest wine search engine – a little like the Google of wine – and was then recruited by a new luxury lifestyle magazine based in Hong Kong. Where does Warwick fit in all this? I admit I did once wonder what use a history and politics degree would be but the skills that I acquired – research, processing huge amounts of information, constructing a reasoned argument, writing up to three or four essays some weeks – are essential to my role as a journalist and editor.
What is your current role? What do you like most about it? Any challenges?
I’m the deputy editor of LE PAN, a luxury fine wine and lifestyle magazine that launched in June 2015. While it’s based in Hong Kong, I work remotely from New Zealand, where I live with my Kiwi husband and young son. I’m soon to relocate back to the UK to be closer to the wine action in Europe.
What is a ‘Master of Wine? How did you become one?
The Master of Wine course is considered the highest qualification in the wine industry. There are just 340 people in the world who hold the title. It takes several years of study to be accepted on the course and then to become a Master of Wine – or MW – you have to pass five theory papers, three tasting exams and finally write a 10,000-word research paper. It’s the Everest of the wine world and brings credibility and respect.
What advice would you give to students wishing to go into journalism after graduation?
Expect to start in a lowly position and work your way up. If you’re good, you’ll rise quickly. Be humble, take a short unpaid internship, if necessary; work hard, have passion – if you don’t care about what you’re doing, you’re in the wrong job – be kind to everyone you meet, network like hell, and always be looking to update and gain new skills. Don’t forget, you’re going to be in the job market for a long time and success doesn’t come overnight.
Do you have any advice for our freshers?
Warwick students are all high achievers academically and you’ll no longer be the brainiest student like you were at school and sixth form. Don’t be stressed out by it. You are among like-minded people and you are here to expand your mind – and your social life. Remember to have fun – and try not to spend all your money in the first term!
Dr Leanne Williams is a Senior Teaching Fellow in our School of Life Sciences. As well as teaching across a broad range of subjects, Leanne is involved in the School's outreach activities, which have reached over 2,000 children from more than 100 schools in the last year alone. She tells us what she loves about working with young people in today's 50@50.
How did you come to work at Warwick?
After graduating from Wolverhampton University in ‘96 I started my science career working at the Sanger Institute on the Human Genome Project. I stayed for quite a number of years - it was such a fun and inspirational place to work at that time. I then decided to pursue an interest in teaching and moved to Nottingham to gain a teaching qualification. I landed my very first teaching job in an inner city FE College in Nottingham. This was the hardest but most rewarding experience.
Upon this I built the foundations of my teaching philosophy and realised my passion for widening participation and second change education. After about five years I left this to pursue my own educational challenge and studied for a PhD in reproductive physiology, specifically ovarian follicle development. Following a short postdoc position I applied for a teaching fellow position here in the School of Life Sciences…and here I am.
What does your current role involve?
As a Senior Teaching Fellow I teach across a very broad range of subjects. I also get involved in teaching and learning innovation projects, such as Digichamps, Students as Producers and transitional skills development. I’m also a personal tutor; I take this role very seriously and work closely with senior tutors and student support services to ensure that we provide the very best support for our students.
I work in close association with Dr Kevin Moffat to coordinate and provide outreach and widening participation activities - check out our new webpage. We also organise and deliver the British Biology Olympiad finals every year and have worked hard with The Royal Society of Biology and Warwick conferences to secure the contract to host the 2017 International Biology Olympiad here. It’s an amazing opportunity for the School and for Warwick!
What’s your favourite thing about working at Warwick?
The thing I love most about working at Warwick is the beautiful campus. As a biologist I love Tocil Woods, the lakes and the wildlife it attracts. I commute from Loughborough every day so I aim to get here early about 7-7:30am to beat the traffic. In the summer I’ll go for a walk first thing and often see Muntjak deer - I get just as excited as I did when I was a little girl!
I also love the progressive nature of Warwick as an institution, particularly with regard to teaching and learning innovation. I’m excited to see how the WIHEA (Warwick International Higher Education Academy) influences us as practitioners and hope to get involved where I can.
Tell us a bit about outreach activities in Life Sciences at Warwick.
Over the last year we have delivered outreach sessions to over 2,000 students from over 100 schools across the country. We now offer more than 22 activities from reception year children even through to professional development sessions for teachers.
Have there been any particularly successful events this year?
I organised a biology training day for our CPE trainee teachers, on their early years PGCE. The aim was to develop their confidence in teaching biology. We then had a second day where over 40 KS1 (Year2) and 35 KS2 (Year 5&6) children came to SLS so the trainees could take the reins. We were mini beast hunting and tracking animals in the woods, pond dipping, measuring reaction rates and making oxygen with plants - we even had an interactive live animal display!
It was amazing, chaotic and tiring but the kids were just so enthusiastic and excited and the trainees were fabulous. Some of the kids had never been into a wood before to look under a log or into a pond. All you have to do is open their eyes to even the tiniest of marvels and you’ve got them completely hooked. That’s what I love about working with young people. That innate curiosity is easy to tap into and then you just have to give them the time and space to run with it. It’s the time to inspire and influence, for sure. And that’s how we’ll get more young people to study life sciences, by getting out there getting involved and giving them positive experiences and opportunities. I love my job.
What's the future of education? How could technology help us improve teaching and learning? Will education become more global in the years ahead? We asked members of IGGY to share their thoughts on this topic for this week's 50@50.
IGGY was established by the University of Warwick in 2007 to help support the brightest young minds from around the world to reach their full potential. In 2012 we launched the first global educational social network exclusively for gifted 13-18 year olds, and in the years since we’ve connected with over 13,000 young people from nearly 100 countries. IGGY is a community for young people who want to stretch their critical and creative thinking skills, broaden their communication skills, develop research techniques, and become accomplished, independent learners. Find out more >>
Our Festival of the Imagination, the centrepiece of our 50th celebrations, took place last week, transforming campus into a hub of talks, debates, cookery demonstrations and entertainment. (If you missed it you can catch up on all the action in this Storify.) None of it would have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers who worked across the two days, assisting visitors and speakers and making sure the sessions ran smoothly.
Greta Bendinelli was one of our volunteers and tells us about the experience in today's 50@50. A postgraduate student at Warwick, she's currently studying for an MA in Pan-Romanticisms in the School of Modern Languages.
Why did you decide to get involved with the Festival of the Imagination?
I'd never participated in something as interesting and creative as the Festival of the Imagination before and I thought it would be a great way to start the new academic year - especially before it gets too busy with deadlines and exams!
What did you do when you were volunteering during the festival?
My role was Venue Marshal and I had to prepare the venues before each event started, give out questionnaires and pass the microphone around during the talk. It was great fun, especially because it allowed me to attend several events that I would have never thought of going to and which actually turned out to be really interesting.
What was your favourite part about volunteering at the festival?
I generally tried to be as helpful as possible, both to speakers and members of the audience, and that felt really rewarding. I also enjoyed the debates that followed each event - it was nice to see many people from the audience actively engaged in the discussion.
How did you find the festival as a whole?
I thought that it was extremely interesting because it brought many different topics together, but still remained a coherent event. I went to the Shakespeare talk on Saturday and it was wonderful to see that some people on the panel were once Warwick students, as I am now. I thought, " I could be up there one day too!" It was inspiring.
Would you take part in an event like this again?
Yes, definitely! It's such a great way to engage in and discuss themes that you are either excited about or that you have never thought you would be interested in.
What do you hope to do after finishing your course at Warwick?
I hope to be able to continue my studies in Theatre, a subject that I'm really passionate about. As I mentioned, I would love to come back to an event like the Festival of the Imagination one day as a speaker.
Below are a few of the photos we took during the Festival of the Imagination. See more here >>
Our Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, shares his thoughts on the Festival of the Imagination.
Following months of anticipation, I’m delighted that our Festival of the Imagination - the pinnacle event of our 50th anniversary - is upon us. Over the next two days our campus will play host to a diverse programme of events and activities for the whole family to enjoy, all based around the theme of ‘Imagining the Future’.
We’ll be starting the festival by welcoming hundreds of local schoolchildren to the Arts Centre, where they’ll be taking part in interactive sessions led by some of our academics and outreach officers.
From 4pm tomorrow and throughout Saturday we’ll be running a series of thought-provoking talks, providing a platform for discussion and debate on topics ranging from healthy cooking and Shakespeare to big data and robots. I’m particularly looking forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the Higher Education sector over the coming years in a session tomorrow afternoon, ‘Universities Challenged’, where I’ll be joined by Professor Abhinay Muthoo and Siobhan Benita from our Department of Economics, Alison Goddard, Editor of HE, and David Palfreyman, Bursar and Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford .
In addition to the wide range of talks on offer, there’ll be a variety of food and drink stalls, music, taster classes and entertainment to enjoy - all of which I’m sure will create a fantastic festival atmosphere.
I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to organise what I know will be an unforgettable event, our volunteers, our speakers, our student performers and everyone who’ll be coming onto campus to help celebrate with us. I look forward to seeing you there.
What's it like to report from the world's biggest events and interview some of the most famous names in sport? Warwick alumnus Alex Thomas has spent the last six and a half years doing exactly that as a sports news correspondent for CNN. He tells us about his role and how his time at Warwick helped him get there in today's 50@50.
Do you have any favourite memories from your time at Warwick?
I have too many great memories to mention and most of them are too inappropriate! My favourite times were at W963 radio [now RaW] because it’s how my career started, and meeting friends who I’m still in touch with almost a quarter of a century later.
How did you imagine the future when you were a student?
I had no career plans when I arrived at Warwick. I chose to study Sociology because I thought it would be an interesting course. I hoped career inspiration would strike at Warwick and I guess it did, thanks to the radio work and writing for the Warwick Boar newspaper.
Tell us a bit about your career journey so far. How did you come to be where you are now?
I didn’t get a job straight out of university but did some weekend football commentary for BBC Southern Counties radio. After that I turned down a full time job offer at Next (following some Christmas work there) and focused fully on the media work. I moved to ITN where I spent eight years in radio and TV, then four and a half years at Sky, then the last six and half years I've been at CNN.
What do you think has helped you in your career?
Being Sports Editor of W963 radio for two years and writing for the Uni newspaper helped me get excited about
journalism and the media. It helped me get some part time work at Mercia FM in Coventry so my CV didn’t look completely blank as I graduated.
What’s the best thing about your role? What have been your career highlights?
I am very lucky to have been at the world’s biggest sporting events – three football world cups, several Champions League finals, three Olympic Games, cricket and rugby world cups, open golf championships, etc… And all those major events are career highlights, although its nice to make headlines with exclusive interviews. For example, David Beckham spoke to me after the Rebecca Loos allegations and before his second season at Real Madrid. Sepp Blatter told me Placido Domingo would head up his new Ethics Committee in 2011 and Luis Figo announced his FIFA Presidential bid in an interview with me.
You’re currently covering the Rugby World Cup – what are you most enjoying about it?
CNN has a new weekly rugby show which I am hosting so it's nice to focus on that as well as our daily coverage but, as always, the thing you most look forward to is being in the stadiums and seeing the action (this isn't always possible as a TV non-rights holder). That’s when you really get a feel for the game.
Do you have any advice for current students and Warwick graduates wanting to work in broadcast journalism?
Yes, lots! But I’ll keep it simple. The media is one of the most competitive industries of all and going through the biggest change in its history due to the digital revolution.
Your individual motivation, persistence, dedication and innovation will serve you far better than any qualifications. Don’t take no for an answer, be enthusiastic and say yes to everything.
Do you have any advice for our freshers about how to make the most of their time at university?
Don’t fret about the academic side of university. Do the work when you need to but, above all, fling yourself into everything and enjoy it. All your fellow freshers are in the same boat as you. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from you will meet like-minded people and make loads of friends.
Photos (top to bottom):
Alex interviewing All Blacks rugby star Dan Carter
Student days at Warwick
At the Olympic Games with his daughter in 2012
In August, a group of Warwick students performed a play they had devised at the Edinburgh Festival. Sam Thorogood, an English and Theatre finalist, tells us about the experience and how theatre outside of his course has played a huge role in his time at university.
How have you been involved in theatre outside of your course at Warwick?
I started becoming interested in theatre towards the end of secondary school and during my time at sixth form college, primarily with acting. Warwick has provided the opportunity to try out roles like producing and directing: roles that I never in a million years would have expected to fill three or four years ago.
In first year I was lucky enough to act in a variety of shows, whilst this past year I’ve focused more on producing and directing. Generally, doing shows outside the course has given me a really solid grounding in what it means to create theatre.
I’m really excited to currently be co-directing a brilliant piece of new writing called The Faithless Healer, which is going to be performed at the Arts Centre at the end of October.
How did you come to perform at the Edinburgh Festival, and how was it?
Our company, Clown Funeral, was formed from a group of likeminded student theatre-makers who thought: hey, why not try and get our work out there? So we did, with a devised show called Mr Poe’s Legendarium. We got in touch with one of the Edinburgh Fringe venues (C Venues) and took it from there.
The whole experience was great: from creating the show over a series of workshops and more intensive rehearsals to sharing it with over 500 people throughout August.
How do you hope student theatre at Warwick will develop over the next 50 years?
I hope it stays fresh, exciting and daring, and continues to attract a whole host of ambitious theatre-makers into its fold!
Do you have any advice for any freshers considering getting involved in theatre here?
Go for it! Especially if you’ve never done anything remotely theatrical before. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope I’ll continue to create theatre, whether that’s with Clown Funeral or not. I’m also really interested in community theatre projects, and I’m currently looking into career paths in that area.
Sam has been involved in the Tech Crew, Codpiece Theatre, Freshblood New Writing, and WUDS societies at Warwick.
The full list of performance societies on offer at Warwick can be found on the Students' Union website.
Back in 1972, we published a cookbook full of recipes submitted by our students and staff, called Simple Scoff. To celebrate our 50th anniversary, we're releasing a new version of the book, featuring cheap, simple recipes and cooking tips from around the University.
What can we expect in the new book and what does it tell us about how our eating habits have changed over the last 40 years? Professor Rebecca Earle from our School of Comparative American Studies has been coordinating the project and tells us more about it in today's 50@50.
What was Simple Scoff and why did you decide to get involved in publishing the new version?
I didn’t know anything about it until Sarah Shalgowsky, the curator at the Mead Gallery, told me about it. It’s a small paperback with recipes contributed by Warwick students and a miscellaneous handful of other people (including, mysteriously, someone from the Oslo Music Conservatory!) It’s very chatty in tone, and is peppered with food-themed cartoons from ‘Cosgrove’, who in reality was Ian Stewart, then a lecturer in the Maths Institute. As soon as I saw it I knew we had to make a new version.
The original Simple Scoff is utterly charming: the voices of the editors come through so clearly, and the recipes are so redolent of the early 1970s. I think the dish called ‘vegetable splog’ sums things up, but there are also lots of really tasty dishes—the stuffed herrings are absolutely worth making, for instance. Anyway, I spend far too much time reading cookbooks, and I work on the history of food, so it was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later I’d try to put together a cookbook.
Tell us a bit about the new book. Who has contributed to it?
It’s a ‘community cookbook’: the recipes were contributed by people from across the university community, from undergraduates in the English Department to postgraduates in Engineering, and from adminstrative officers in the History Department to the head of Catering. Most recipes have a little introduction from the contributor that explains how the recipe was invented, or what its particular features are, etc. So each recipe is very personal. There are about 150 recipes, from breakfast dishes to puddings. There are also several complete menus, including an ‘Immune Defense Menu’ to ward off freshers' flu, and lots of little snacks and nibbles. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes, too.
The recipes were submitted online along with, in many cases, photos of the dish, and sometimes even step-by-step photos showing the different stages of preparation. I was astonished at how adept students are in food photography. I guess it’s the effect of Instagram.
Do you have a favourite recipe in the book?
Hmm. I really like the onion bhajis - they just work perfectly. I’ll be making those a lot. Also the Indian carrot pudding recipe is really excellent. Also the ‘cardaffron cake’, which combines cardamom and saffron. There are so many tasty recipes...
Are there any surprising recipes in the book?
I didn’t expect as many ‘raw’ food recipes. There are clearly quite a few students equipped with spiralisers. There’s a really imaginative breakfast dish where you make a sort of spicy eggy bread but using a crumpet instead of bread. And then there’s the triple-layer brownie recipe... a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, a layer of oreos drizzled with dulce de leche, and a layer of brownie dough, all topped off with fleur de sel. My younger son was sceptical at first (‘what is the point?’, he asked) but once he tasted them he pronounced them the best brownies he’d ever eaten.
Does the new version demonstrate how students’ eating habits have changed over time?
Student eating habits have changed enormously! For instance, there were so many recipes for curries, dhals and other Indian dishes that the new cookbook has an entire section on curries and the like. The old cookbook had, I think, one recipe for curry. Nearly half the new recipes are vegetarian or vegan. The old cookbook had a rather unenthusiastic section of vegetarianism saying it wasn’t really such a great idea but that if you absolutely didn’t want to eat meat there were a few suitable recipes on such and such pages.
The new recipes employ a much broader range of seasonings and spices, too - from fresh coriander and za’atar to Sriracha and fresh chillies. Also, the recipes not only come from all sorts of different culinary traditions—from Korea and Hungary to Paraguay and Sweden— but they have also been contributed from students from all over the world, which reflects the really diverse, international community. I think the recipes reflect the University in a very nice way.
How can we get hold of a copy?
The book will be on sale (for £4.99) in the Warwick Bookshop, and online here. All proceeds will be used to support the University’s Warwick in Africa and Warwick in India programmes. And freshers will be given a free copy in their welcome packs when they arrive next week!
Based on the differences between the old and the new book, do you have any predictions about how students’ eating habits will change over the next 50 years?
I would like to be able to say that students will be eating much more fresh, locally-grown, sustainable food, but I think that’s very unlikely. Supermarkets, where the great majority of people in the UK get their food, are part of a global food system that offers great variety and choice, but at a cost. Students, like many people, are often unsure where their food came from and don’t have a clear sense of what’s in season right here, in the Midlands, right now. This makes it hard to be an informed eater. It would be great if in 50 years students could be eating tasty food grown - let’s dream a little! - right here on the campus!
Simple Scoff at the Festival of the Imagination
Want to find out more about Simple Scoff and student cookery? Come along to our Festival of the Imagination on Saturday 17 October to hear from members of the University, including former BBC media correspondent and Warwick alumnus Torin Douglas, author of Simple Scoff Serena Macbeth, University Development Chef Graham Crump, Professor Rebecca Earle and Warwick Students' Union President Isaac Leigh as they take a look at student cookery then and now. Book your tickets >>
English and Theatre Studies finalist Emily Dunford is currently working with the Festival of the Imagination team in External Affairs, focusing on volunteer recruitment. With less than a month to go until the Festival, Emily tells us what we can look forward to and how you can get involved.
How did you become involved with the Festival of the Imagination?
The opportunity to join the team was advertised on Unitemps. After an interview I started work at the end of July, and I’ll be here until the end of October, alongside my studies. Last year I was the WSAF (Warwick Student Arts Festival) 2015 Coordinator, which I think helped my application for this role.
What is your role for the Festival?
My role has the relatively vague title of Project Officer, so I’ll explain a little bit about what I’m doing. I dabble in everything – logistics, festival content – but my main focus is on volunteer recruitment. Festival volunteers will be reporting to me and I’ll be working out the logistics of the volunteer team on the day.
I have experience in several festival environments already, but this is dissimilar to what I’ve done in the past. The scale is larger – including stallholders and PGCE students we’re looking at over 400 volunteers – and there’s a huge team behind the scenes. As there’s greater call for consultation the progression rate is different, but I’m learning a lot about the way the University is structured.
What’s on offer at the Festival?
I could list the programme of events but it would take too long! There’s such a variety on offer, with speakers from most disciplines as well as performers and celebrity chefs. A lot of events are interdisciplinary, which is something I’m really keen on. The Festival’s focus is always academic but also a lot of fun.
Aside from talks and debates, which you can find listed on the Festival of the Imagination website, we’ll have a Discovery Zone in Butterworth Hall, and Discovery Zone Fringe in the Helen Martin Studio. This is going to be bursting with stalls from various departments offering curiosities to spark the imagination. I’m especially excited about seeing the Studio filled with robots for the occasion.
Outside, people can grab a bite to eat from the food market and watch student performers and live music in our Performance Marquee, or chat to Polar Explorer Mark Wood and his Huskies in a yurt on Senate House Lawn. Oh, and on the Arts Centre Public Space, Motionhouse will be performing their show Captive, which is just brilliant.
What are you most looking forward to at the Festival?
In terms of specific events, I’m looking forward to a panel discussion about the future relevance of the Bard, Shakespeare: 50 Years Hence. It’s being chaired by Professor Carol Rutter, who happens to be my personal tutor, along with an excellent panel, so I suppose my English student bias is showing here!
What I’m looking forward to in terms of the event as a whole though is seeing how visitors interact with the Festival. With a mix of students, members of staff and the general public, there will be a diverse range of ideas and opinions brought to the discussion. The Festival of the Imagination is about imagining the future, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping people will do! Even if visitors don’t fancy engaging with debates, people will be brought together in dancing to live music or enjoying street food.
How can people get involved with the festival? What volunteering roles are available?
As I said earlier, we need around 400 volunteers to ensure this Festival is a success, including a massive team of Festival Marshals. We’re looking for volunteers to work a 3.5 hour shift as a Festival Marshal, Venue Marshal or member of the Information Service, on the Friday afternoon or Saturday.
The roles are all different: Festival Marshals are the type of volunteers you see at music festivals, answering questions and helping people; Venue Marshals will be based in a specific area and the Information Service are based on our information points. This is a chance to mingle with the local community and contribute to the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
In return you’ll be given a snazzy, limited edition Festival of the Imagination T-shirt and lanyard, and light refreshments will be provided. Your time at the Festival will also count towards a Warwick Volunteers certificate and will appear on undergraduates’ HEAR reports. You’ll have somewhere to leave your belongings so when your shift is over you can go back to enjoying the Festival.
How can storytelling help us to communicate complex information? Are there some cases where storytelling could, in fact, have a negative impact? Could we use stories to greater effect in the future?
Kevin Morrell, Associate Professor of Governance at Warwick Business School, shares his research on this topic in the video below.
Robert O'Toole grew up in Coventry and first came to the University in the 1980s via the Open Studies programme (now the Centre for Lifelong Learning). He now specialises in learning technology and learning design in the ITS team. Robert tells us all about his Warwick journey in this week's 50@50.
In July this year I graduated with a PhD in Arts Education from Warwick, 21 years after I graduated with a first in Philosophy from Warwick, and following a long career developing our repertoire of academic technology services and practices. The title of my thesis was:
“Fit, stick, spread and grow: transdisciplinary studies of Design Thinking for the [re]making of Higher Education”
My research was originally inspired by the many great teachers, students and innovators that I worked with during my time as Arts Faculty E-learning Advisor. But once I got going on the PhD, I realised that there are designerly people like that all across the University. We just need to find better ways to facilitate design innovation and the spread of good practice. So that’s what I did – a synthesis of research and state-of-the-art professional design and innovation practices adapted to fit the needs, styles and capabilities of the University – so as to fit, stick, spread and grow.
But where did this all come from?
My story is perhaps unusual, but in a very Warwick kind of way.
I was born in 1971 in what was Walsgrave Hospital, but which is now itself affiliated to the University. My mother was a home help and my father worked for Ford’s, in the foundry and later at their distribution centre in Daventry. I grew up in the Coventry of George Shaw’s imagination – back streets of the city transfigured onto his canvases in green, grey and brown paint. We have some of his works in the University art collection. There is an uncanny everyday strangeness about them. Shaw famously works with Humbrol paints – the same textures and colours used by children to decorate model airplanes. Camouflage. Avoiding contact. Hiding our powers away. Stillness. Going nowhere fast. That was very much the Coventry of the 70s and 80s.
I went to a comprehensive school in Coventry. I’ll not name it. The school has since been completely rebuilt and revitalized. But for me it was just a brutal and grey monstrosity. There was a constant threat and occasional reality of serious violence. The Coventry Blitz had made a lasting impression on the psychogeography of the city. So I needed to find a hiding place. A shelter. Eventually I stopped going to school and found two welcoming homes: Coventry’s central library, and the Wedge socialist bookshop and café – the sandwiches used to be sold off at special solidarity prices at the end of the day. And then I started to listen to interesting music and to read philosophy.
How then did I end up at Warwick? And why did this experience eventually lead to my PhD?
Meanwhile, I watched from a philosophical distance as Coventry’s car industry was devastated. I can remember at some point, perhaps around 1984, having cycled to Warwick University with my friends. It was another world. And I had to be part of it. There were also, it seemed, many attractive and definitely quite clever girls. I really did have to be part of it. Later, I married one of those girls – attractive and clever. But first I went back to college. A-Levels of some distinction: Sociology, Psychology, Communication Studies – but not Philosophy, it was nowhere to be found. Warwick’s Open Studies programme (now the Centre for Lifelong Learning) offered an alternative route. I signed up for evening classes taught by PhD students. They were great. And finally I made contact with the Philosophy Department.
I can remember a meeting with Martin Warner, or was it an interview? Martin was so welcoming that it certainly didn’t feel like an interview. In an instant I went from being an outsider with no knowledge of being a university student, to becoming part of academia. The Philosophy Department has a wonderful inclusive culture – perhaps because philosophers can often feel like outsiders themselves, they welcome people in. I had a superb three years as an undergraduate – very much at the heart of the department. For two years I ran the Philosophy Society, hosting visiting speakers from other universities, helped by some great academics who seemed more like colleagues – David Miller and Angie Hobbs.
Working on post-Kantian European philosophy I got interested in the philosophical problems and possibilities encountered in architecture. That developed into a dissertation on Deleuze and Guattari. Their “assemblages” approach is a great way of thinking about how things get constructed by accident and by design, composed from entirely different materials and systems that co-exist in a kind of disequilibrium. My dissertation work evolved into a chapter for a book edited by Warwick’s Keith Ansell Pearson – an example of the now fashionable “student as producer” ethic.
And then over time I got into artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computing and teaching – all of which converged at Oxford, and then Warwick, into a career in learning technology. After ten years of that, in 2008 I won a Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence and a National Teaching Fellowship. Nice titles to have, but also a handy £15,000 to reinvest in the University, and specifically, to buy equipment for my student friends. I developed a team of students, the E-Squad, who did amazing work helping academics to develop digital resources and activities. The Re-performing Performance website is one that I am especially proud of. It was created by Catherine Allen and Pesala Bandara of the E-Squad, with Jonny Heron of the CAPITAL Centre (now IATL). Catherine has since become one of my best friends, and gone on to a glittering career in educational and academic app development.
Winning the WATE and NTF awards also encouraged me to revisit my research. One of the great things about Warwick is that top people like Carol Rutter and David Morley (both NTFs) just tell people like me that we can do great things. So I listened to them, and many other great people, and I just did it. Five years on and I’m an expert on how universities get assembled, by accident and by design, as complex non-linear systems in constant disequilibrium – and how we can do it better using Design Thinking methods.
I’m now working on applying this to the strategies that we use in the Academic Technology team – you might have seen some this appearing in the guise of the Extended Classroom initiative, and a development of the E-Squad approach called the Student Champions scheme.
Robert is pictured on the right receiving his WATE in 2008.
How can we encourage more girls to take science subjects at university and pursue scientific careers? That's the challenge that a new scheme at Warwick, 'XMaS Scientist Experience', aims to address. We spoke to Kayleigh Lampard, coordinator of the project, to find out more.
Tell us a bit about the XMaS Scientist Experience scheme.
The scheme aims to promote careers for women in science through a competition for AS-level female students to win a trip to visit the XMaS (X-ray Magnetic Scattering) facility in Grenoble, France and meet the amazing scientists who work there.
At Warwick we have access to the incredible facilities and people who work at the facility in France and it seemed a great opportunity to connect them with young female students to help them see some possible career paths that can be achieved with a degree in science. We also wanted to dispel some of the stereotypes of scientists and break down the perceived barriers of being female in a scientific career.
How was the pilot project this year?
This year’s pilot went better than we had ever imagined! To enter the competition the students wrote an essay responding to the question, ‘What is the legacy of Dorothy Hodgkin, both on the study of structure on an atomic scale, and for women in science?’ This gave the students their first opportunity to see the achievements of an amazing female scientist.
During the trip they toured the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the Institut Laue-Langevin, including XMaS, and had loads of opportunities to chat to scientists from lots of different backgrounds and scientific areas over coffees, lunch and dinner. They also had time to explore Grenoble and take the cable cars to the top of the Bastille to get an astonishing view across the city and the surrounding Alps.
We're still in touch with the girls as they are helping us share the experience of the trip through events such as the Big Bang science fairs, ScienceGrrl and the staff summer festival. They'll also be helping us to launch next year’s trip in the coming months. We're looking forward to seeing the paths the girls choose to take in future.
What feedback did you get from the girls? Were there any parts of the trip that they found particularly useful?
We received a lot of feedback from the girls. There seemed to be three themes that they all mentioned. Firstly, they all said that the best part was talking to the scientists:
“My favourite part of the trip was talking to the scientists; they were really friendly and they honestly wanted to answer our questions, give us advice and insights into the world of physics.”- Sophie
Secondly, they loved how scientists from different areas, cultures and countries came together to work at the ESRF. They learnt how collaborative science is and they no longer think of science as a lonely, isolated career:
“I found it interesting to see all of the scientists from different countries, studying in different fields and talking different languages, all in one place for one thing. It was really helpful for me to see what life is like as an international scientist and talking to various scientists has helped me to confirm the path that I want to take. It showed me the career options that I have.” - Chloe
Thirdly, they really enjoyed meeting other girls who were interested in science and physics too. They no longer felt ‘different’ in their love of science and they came together as a community. The girls are still in touch with each other, they are supporting each other with their A-levels and university applications and they have even bumped into each other at university open days!
“I feel that this trip not only allowed me to become more knowledgeable about science, but also allowed me to meet like-minded people who I was able to strike up genuine friendships with.” - Michele
We also found that the girls had realised that science careers were within their grasp and that hard work and determination were more important than an innate ability. They loved the passion the scientists showed for their specialist areas and they wanted to be part of it.
We also received lots of positive feedback from parents, especially regarding the student showcase after the trip, in which students presented what they had learnt. They said they had seen their daughters in a new light and loved their renewed enthusiasm for science and the fact that they had started talking about possible careers.
Take a look at the video one of the students produced and presented after the trip here >>
What’s been your favourite thing about working on the project so far?
My favourite part has been seeing the girls form great friendships with eachother. They may have felt isolated in their own schools but by taking part in the trip they were able to form their own community and they now continue to support each other and will hopefully do so for years to come. Having won the competition you could see them grow in confidence in their own abilities. They left the trip feeling like there were no barriers in their way and that, to me, felt like a job well done! Now, thanks to the generosity of the University’s widening participation fund, the project can be repeated annually. I’m excited to do it all over again!
What plans are there for the project in the future?
We have great plans in place for the project in the future! We'll be re-launching the competition nationwide this year in the autumn term. We'll have an event on campus where everyone who enters the competition will be invited to an evening of inspirational talks, during which they'll hear about loads of other opportunities and activities to be involved in, speak to professors, staff and students at the university and hear from the students who went on last year’s trip. We're also working with WISE Campaign, Stemettes, IGGY and ScienceGrrl to spread the news of the project and have had an article published in Materials Today
How can staff and students at Warwick get involved in the project?
We're looking for staff, especially in the sciences, to be involved in our events. If you're interested in finding out more please email Kayleigh.email@example.com and follow us on Twitter @XMaSSchoolTrip. Keep an eye on insite for news and dates of future events!
Pictured (from top)
- Kayleigh Lampard
- Laurence Bouchenoire from XMaS explains to the girls how a synchrotron works, with the ESRF experimental stations in the background
- Didier Wermeille from XMaS discusses his work and experiences of working at the ESRF with the girls over a coffee break during the tour of the ESRF
- Some of the girls at the Bastille overlooking the picturesque city of Grenoble with the Alps and ski slopes in the background
Want to find out more about the project? Look out for the XMaS Scientist Experience stall at next week's staff summer festival.
At the heart of campus is the University’s Chaplaincy. A hub for student faith societies and religious identity at the University of Warwick, the Chaplaincy employs a coordinator and hosts five chaplains from their own faith communities.
We meet some of the team:
Sheila Hope: Chaplaincy Coordinator
Rabbi Fishel Cohen: Jewish Chaplain
Shaykh Imran Suleman: Muslim Chaplain
Revd Kate Pearson: Anglican Chaplain
Fr Harry Curtis: Catholic Chaplain
Revd Dr Stuart Jennings: Free Church Chaplain
Tell us a bit about yourself
Sheila: I started work at the Chaplaincy in January 2009. Previously I was a church administrator, and before that a senior manager at the YMCA Northampton, responsible for support service (HR, training, admin, finance, IT etc).
Fishel: Our longest standing chaplain, Fishel has been the full-time Jewish chaplain to all universities in the Midlands since 1984. He is based in Birmingham but is at Warwick regularly to offer advice, counselling and Jewish education. He is married to Esther and they have four sons.
Stuart: “I am about to start my tenth year as Free Church chaplain here at Warwick arriving in the September of 2006. Previous to coming to Warwick I served 18 years as a Methodist minister and six years as chaplain and honorary fellow of history at Nottingham Trent University. I am married to Carol, with two grown up children.”
Kate: “The newest member of the team, I arrived in March 2015 after completing my curacy (training post) in West Birmingham. Before ordination, I worked in regeneration and community development at a law firm in Birmingham. I am passionate about social justice in the UK.”
Imran: “I have been Muslim chaplain here at the Chaplaincy for nearly five years”. Imran’s knowledge of Islamic and Arabic literature is very highly regarded, having commenced memorisation of the Holy Qur’an at the tender age of eight. He spent over eleven years studying several combined Islamic sciences such as Scriptural Exegeses & Intonation, Inter-textual analyses of Prophetic Traditions, and Arabic syntax & etymology, inter alia, at an Islamic seminary in the UK. Upon completion of this extensive course of study, he graduated as a Scholar of Islamic Sciences & Arabic Literature, with distinction. He is also a qualified Qaari’, and has studied the seven, ten and advanced ten dialects of Qur’anic recitation.
Harry: “I was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1984 and have worked in several parishes around the Birmingham Archdiocese. Besides that I have worked as Diocesan director of RE in primary and secondary schools and have lectured at the Diocesan Seminary on their two degree courses. In February 2012 I was appointed as chaplain at Warwick , although I did an earlier spell as a "supply" for two terms in 2002, and I am also parish priest of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, just off campus.”
What do you know about the history of the Chaplaincy?
The University of Warwick’s Chaplaincy Centre was founded in 1974, initially by the Christian and Jewish communities. The work to establish the Chaplaincy through cooperation between different faiths was in many ways very innovative. This partnership was also timely as in the city of Coventry in the 1970s the Cathedral was setting up the Community of the Cross of Nails, now recognised around the world as a symbol of peace and reconciliation, and of which the Chaplaincy would have been one of the first members. This focus on reconciliation remains at the heart of the work of our chaplains.
In 2006 the Chaplaincy was extended, through cooperation with the Muslim community, to include a large Islamic prayer hall and the path to a multi-religious Chaplaincy, supporting genuine efforts at interfaith conversations, was set. All of our chaplains delight in the diversity and vibrancy of relationships between people who see the world differently from one another. The Chaplaincy continues to grow, now including many other faiths as well as the Abrahamic religions, and is a hub of activity and good relationships.
What does the Chaplaincy offer for students at Warwick, whether they are religious or not?
Kate: “At the Chaplaincy, we’re all about providing and helping you find space.
"That’s physical space, of course, and we have some wonderful facilities for the use of students and staff on campus, including our multi-faith prayer rooms at Gibbet Hill and Westwood campuses. But we also provide ‘space’ in other ways – space to be yourself; to meet likeminded people; to have the time and resources to stop and reflect.
"The chaplains and our coordinator work hard to create spaces in the Chaplaincy buildings and in our encounters with students and staff that go at a different pace to the rest of university life. The Chaplaincy is a place of hospitality, safety, care and encounter.
"The Chaplaincy is a home away from home; an oasis in the enormous number of activities available across the campus. And that’s available to everybody, whatever their religious beliefs."
What’s the best thing about working in the Chaplaincy?
Sheila: “The team, the diversity of the people (students, staff and visitors) that I come into contact with and variety of work I end up doing – yes I know that’s two things!"
How would you like to see the Chaplaincy developing in the years ahead?
Harry: “I should like to see the Chaplaincy remain as a quiet refuge for staff and students in the midst of the work and busyness of the University. It should be a place where anyone can come to find God through support, friendship and guidance.
"As well as our vital provision of space, in all its facets, the Chaplaincy is recognising a shared responsibility with the University to ensure our graduates are ready to work and study in a globalised world where 85% of the population have religious beliefs."
Imran: “The need for faith provision is going to continue to grow at the University.
"As our space comes under increasing pressure, we will need to think creatively about what a diverse and vibrant, multi-religious chaplaincy looks like across our campus."
Stuart: “As Warwick continues over the next 50 years to develop and become further established within the city of Coventry and county of Warwickshire, I hope we will see faith provisions within the university increasingly being linked with the diversity of local faith communities who are our neighbours.
"Local Mosques, Gudwaras, temples, churches etc will be enriched by both the enthusiasm and experience of our growing international community and the local faith communities will offer to our students their own reflective and practical experiences of living out their faith within a multicultural and increasingly secular society. For both student and local communities this will be an informative and enriching experience to the many others the University has to offer.”
Pictured (top to bottom, left to right): Rabbi Fishel Cohen, Fr Harry Curtis, Sheila Hope, Shaykh Imran Suleman, Revd Kate Pearson, Revd Dr Stuart Jennings
The second photo shows the Chaplaincy shortly after opening in 1974.
Debbie Castle has been the manager of Warwick's nursery for 12 years, overseeing both the provision of care for the 125 babies and young children enrolled in the nursery and managing holiday schemes for primary school children in the local area. We spoke to Debbie to find out more about her role and the work of the nursery and to hear her thoughts on how childcare provision is likely to develop over the coming years.
What were you doing before coming to Warwick?
It's now 40 years since I qualified as a nursery nurse. In the intervening years I have worked mostly in full day care, as I do now, but I have also worked for Social Services departments, run play groups and trained new nursery nurses in college.
Before coming to Warwick 12 years ago I worked for the NSPCC. There were two aspects to my role there. I trained and supported volunteers who would themselves support families who needed just a little bit of extra help for short periods of time. I also worked as a family support worker, going into people's homes to provide advice and guidance. These were vulnerable families and the aim was to prevent children from becoming ‘at risk’.
It was challenging work. Sometimes, when life is difficult because of worries such as housing, money or relationships, it is difficult to prioritise children and the last thing families want is an organisation like the NSPCC knocking on their door. But my work was about helping to keep families together and when I got through that initial barrier, parents would generally welcome all the help they could get.
What does your current role involve?
My role focuses on managing the 78 place day nursery on campus. We have 125 children enrolled in the nursery and there are 32 staff employed in a variety of different roles. My role includes areas such as childcare, staff management, administration, finance and communications.
I am responsible for ensuring the care and education we provide meets the requirements of the Statutory Framework for the foundation stage, which is the legal framework that governs the operation of a nursery like ours, as well as the criteria by which Ofsted will inspect us.
Our last Ofsted inspection was in February 2011, so we are well overdue for another one. We were judged as being outstanding by the inspectorate last time, which is very satisfying and testimony to the hard work and dedication of the nursery team. Of course that does mean that there is a lot of pressure to keep up the standard, especially as the bar was raised quite considerably in 2014 and is set to be raised again in September 2015, making it increasingly harder to achieve an 'outstanding' rating again.
I’m ultimately responsible for ensuring that we do the absolute best we can for each and every child who comes to the nursery, whatever their needs, although admittedly I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like with the children.
I am extremely fortunate to have a very talented and experienced team of early years practitioners working with the nursery and it is through their hard work and dedication that we are able to call ourselves an outstanding nursery. I can't over-emphasise how fantastic they are at what they do.
In addition to the day nursery, I am also responsible for developing the University’s Children’s Services.
Tell us a bit about Children’s Services at Warwick
The day nursery is well established - there has been a nursery of some description on campus for about 40 years. Just over six years ago we were fortunate to move into a purpose-built nursery building right beside the lake at Lakeside. This was a great opportunity for us and has enabled the nursery provision to grow and become highly respected within the early years community in Coventry and Warwickshire. We are particularly pleased to be able to have an accredited Forest School as part of our offering. This has been possible with the support of a number of different departments on campus, from the Registrar’s Office and security team to the Estates Office and the grounds staff as well as the management at Scarman House.
Over the last three years I have been developing the children’s holiday scheme. This is a high-quality childcare solution for children who are at primary school. We hold schemes in the Easter and summer holidays. Our aim is to offer the children activities that will stretch their minds as well as their bodies.
I remember going to a holiday scheme when I was younger where we played rounders and football if the weather was nice and board games if it wasn’t. In the holiday scheme we provide, we aim to do better than that. We do have sports games, but these are led by professional coaches, such as the team at the Tennis Centre on campus. We also have sessions in cookery, puppetry, circus skills, photography, art, music, drama, dance, forest school, science, computer skills and visits from the Leicester Space Centre. All of these sessions are provided by professionals in each field. It's exhausting just thinking about it, but the scheme is becoming a very popular choice for parents and now that we are open to the general public, I have high hopes for a successful future.
Children’s services also provides a crèche service on campus for specific events. For the second year running we have provided the crèche for the summer and winter graduation ceremonies. This is a free service provided by the University for the children of those attending their graduation ceremony and their guests.
A crèche is very different from a nursery. The children in the nursery can be there for the whole day, but a crèche is short-term childcare of just a few hours, usually no more than three hours, while parents are busy elsewhere.
This Easter we also facilitated a family room for the Law School conference. Providing crèches for conferences is an area I’d like to develop further.
Do you have any interesting statistics to share about the nursery?
We have 78 places with a total of 125 children attending in each week. There are 32 staff working here, 10 of whom have degrees in childcare or education, mostly taken at Warwick. I mention this because childcare is not generally a graduate profession, although more graduates are coming into the work, so to have 10 staff who are graduates is quite something.
Over 50% of the children in nursery have English as a second language and we often have more 20 different languages spoken by the children here. This provides us with a fantastically rich cultural environment within the nursery, but it can also can present us with many problems, particularly at the beginning of the academic year when we have a large number of children joining the nursery, some of whom are not able to speak English at all.
All of the children here have some connection with the University - we are not able to offer places to the general public. 80% are children of university staff, and of the other 20% all but one have parents who are postgraduate students. This group make up the majority of our overseas families.
Each day we change around 100 nappies, provide 356 meals and drink 25 pints of milk. We have two washing machines that are on the go for most of each and every day and our toaster, according to the catalogue, can make around a thousand slices of toast in an hour – although I haven’t tested it!
What do you know about the history of the nursery at Warwick?
I’m not sure exactly when the nursery was set up originally, but it was at least 40 years ago. I am the third manager in all that time. I have been here for 12 years, my predecessor worked for the University for 25 years and we think the first manager was here for three or four years. Sadly no records have been kept.
I was told - a long time ago and from a very credible source - that when the University was first being developed the idea of a crèche (or nursery) was put forward, but discounted because ‘children are a fire risk'!
The original service we provided was a crèche. It was open for just a few hours in the morning, term time only, and provided just 10 places. At some point we moved into the old nursery building on Westwood Campus, where there were 32 places. When the building next door became vacant in 2001, we expanded to offer 47 places and then in April 2006 we moved into our new site at Lakeside.
The answer to why the University first provided a nursery is probably because other universities provided childcare, but it is such a valued service by all those who use it that I would say the reason we have a nursery on campus is because we need one. A lot of our children live on campus and so this is their nearest childcare service. We also have children who travel from as far afield as Watford and Staffordshire, but most of our children live in Coventry, Kenilworth, Warwick and Leamington Spa.
What is the favourite thing about your role?
It has to be the children. Although I don’t get the time to spend with them as I would like, they make the day such fun.
The children are at the heart of everything we do here - they are the reason the nursery, my job and those of my team exist and everything we do is about getting it right for them.
Of course as a parent, and grandparent, one of the luxuries I have come to appreciate about my job is that at the end of the day, when everyone is tired and tempers are getting frayed, we give the children back to their parents and go home to a peacefully quiet house!
What’s your favourite thing about working at Warwick?
It's hard to find just one thing. I can honestly say this is the best job I have ever had.
I like the autonomy I am given, and how my expertise is respected. I like coming onto campus - the grounds are so well maintained and there is always somewhere nice to walk to or just sit. I really enjoy the university community and belonging to it. I like meeting such a diverse range of people, in the nursery and across the campus generally. Most times when I walk around the campus, I bump into someone I know - usually ex-nursery parents. Everyone is so friendly and it's great to catch up on how the children are doing in school.
I have a great team of people here in the nursery and, if I have to pick one thing I love about working here, I would have to say it is the people I work with on a daily basis.
How do you hope Children’s Services will develop at Warwick over the coming years?
I'd really like to see an expansion of the services we provide - there is certainly scope for expansion. The nursery is fully booked year on year now and it is frustrating not to be able to offer people the places they desperately need. The waiting time for a baby place is now 18 months, which effectively means that parents have to put their names down as soon as they become pregnant, and even then there is no guarantee of a place.
The holiday crèche is ready to grow considerably in the coming years. This is a fairly new venture for us - although this summer will be the third year we have held a scheme, it has effectively only been running for 17 weeks and our bookings are steadily growing. The external market beyond the University is yet to be properly explored, but this year (summer 2015) we have already received more external bookings than in previous years.
The crèche side of our services would also be an area to expand, perhaps by working with Warwick Sport and Warwick Conferences.
If money were no object I would like to develop a Children’s Services headquarters, which would include a second nursery. This building would have additional space to run the holiday scheme from. One of my biggest challenges with the holiday scheme currently is finding a suitable, inexpensive, venue as a base. To have our own space, so that we could store equipment and provide the children with a familiar location, would make things so much easier.
During term time when the holiday scheme wasn't open, the space could be used for other activities such as training. This year we have worked with CPE and CSE to provide practical training opportunities in good practice and forest school, and I would really like to expand this partnership. The Children’s Services building could also offer local parents a rentable space to hold children’s parties, especially those families living on campus who have no community hall type of building that they can use, which means they end up going to places like soft play areas for parties, which are very expensive. The potential uses for a building like this are almost endless.
How do you think childcare provision will change in the UK in the years ahead?
This is difficult to answer. I’m not sure if, 40 years ago, I would have been able to predict the tremendous growth there has been in the private sector childcare provision that we have been seeing, particularly in the last 20 years. When I first qualified, most childcare was provided by Social Services departments for children in deprived areas or education departments in nursery classes. Privately run day nurseries were few and far between.
Most mothers stayed at home with their babies and most children went to play groups when they were three years old for a few mornings a week. Now, many more families have two working parents and children go to nursery for whole days and often whole weeks.
As the childcare industry has grown, so too has the legislation and regulations governing it, quite rightly. However, good quality childcare is difficult and expensive to provide. The range and quality of training for new early years practitioners in recent years has not always been great and as a result there is a serious shortage of good practitioners out there. Coupled with, in a lot of cases, poor working terms and conditions and low pay and increased expectations on practitioners to provide written reports and other paperwork, it's hardly surprising that young people are not looking at childcare as a possible career path.
I would like to add here that the University is an excellent employer, we have terms and conditions, pay rates and holiday allowances that are much better than most in the private sector, which means we attract the best candidates for employment here. However, it can still be challenging to get the right people.
The challenge for providers and government is finding a solution that ensures high-quality childcare run by motivated practitioners who are properly rewarded for the work they do. Job satisfaction is very important in any role, but so is being properly rewarded for doing a responsible job.
There is currently a drive to get more practitioners qualified at degree level to go into early years work, which I think is excellent, but there is no career structure - particularly in the private sector - to offer graduates any real progression. This means they are looking for employment in the statutory sector such as local authority-run nursery schools and reception classes or children’s centres, or they are continuing their studies to become early years teachers, where the salaries and terms and conditions are much better. There is also a significant staff turnover problem in the private sector - which can never be good for the children - and this just makes providing high-quality childcare even harder to do.
For too long childcare has been under-appreciated as a professional role and under-funded by governments and local authorities. I’d like to see a real shift in the attitude towards childcare so that it is recognised as the profession it should be. The notion that early years practitioners spend their day sitting on the floor playing with children is a long way from the truth.
I’d also like to see more men go into the childcare profession - less than 2% of the workforce is male and this is a real problem that needs addressing. Research carried out some 10 years ago suggested that the main contributing factor is the low pay and status of childcare workers. While I think there is truth in this, I also think it goes a lot deeper than that. Sometime the attitude of parents when they see we have a male employee surprises me. There can be a real suspicion about why a man would want to work with children. Peer pressure also prevents a lot of male school leavers from pursuing a career in childcare, which is a real shame. Men have a lot to offer the world of childcare, especially where there are increasing numbers of female-led, single parent families now.
Over the last five years we have employed three male staff members at different times, and while their own aptitude for the work differed, the benefits to the children were always very positive.
I can’t see the current arrangement, where the majority of full day childcare is provided in privately owned settings, changing. In fact with the way things have been changing in the last five years I think more and more childcare will be offered by private providers as local authorities have their budgets tightened and are less able to offer childcare.
I think the number of families where both parents work will continue to increase and the demand for childcare with it. As I have said before, the challenge for all of us is ensuring that we provide the highest quality childcare, but that cannot be achieved simply through legislation and inspection. Quality training is essential and better recognition of the work we do is necessary too.
Shaza Fatima Khawaja graduated from Warwick's MA in International Relations in 2011. Since then she has become the youngest ever member of the National Parliament of Pakistan. Shaza tells us about her time at Warwick and how it led to her current role in this week's 50@50.
Why did you choose Warwick?
When I was considering universities, the best things that appealed to me about Warwick was its campus life, the vibrant international society, the quality of professors and the considerate admissions staff - especially the Warwick International Office in Lahore, Pakistan.
What's your favourite memory of your time at Warwick?
I think it would be unfair to quote any single favourite memory! However, winning a badminton trophy and medal has to be one of the best. Another picturesque memory that has really stuck with me is the snow outside Lakeside residence during the winter and how it lit up the whole area with the frozen lake... As well as that, whole nights spent playing cards, the friends we made, and walking to Tesco in unbearably cold weather which, while a challenge back then, is now fun to look back on!
How did you imagine the future when you were at Warwick?
I planned to teach at my undergraduate university, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), in Pakistan as well as doing social work through political involvement in society. After gaining some experience, my long term plan was to work with the development sector.
How close was the reality to your imagination?
Fortunately, as soon as I came back, I was offered a teaching position in the Social Sciences department at LUMS. However, just two years after returning, an unimaginably good opportunity came my way. I applied for one of the reserved seats for women in the National Assembly of Pakistan, our national parliament. I was inducted and now serve as the youngest ever member of the parliament in Pakistan. So I should say not only were my plans realised but they turned out to be better than expected!
What's it like working in the National Parliament of Pakistan? What are your favourite aspects of the role and what is the most challenging?
Its absolutely amazing! Getting to be a part of policy making that impacts millions of lives is exciting and challenging at the same time, as well as being a huge responsibility. My favourite part of the role is being the General Secretary for the Young Parliamentarians Forum, a cross-party forum for all young members of the parliament, where I lead the members on various issues that impact young people. The most challenging thing is being the youngest member of Parliament.
How has Warwick influenced your life?
Studying at Warwick was the first time I lived away from home, so one of the most important things I learnt during my time there was how to survive on my own. Tolerance, coexistence, intercultural interactions and coursework all changed my view of looking at the world. I feel I am better able to comprehend diverse perspectives thanks to my time at Warwick.
Do you have any advice for students about to start Warwick in the autumn?
Make the most of the time you have in this awesome place! Hang out, take part in the never-ending activities around campus, join clubs, play sports, attend socials, study hard! The number 12 bus is your best friend, and Lakeside/Heronbank people should befriend the shuttle drivers. Get a Warwick Sport membership, explore the city, travel across the UK and preferably Europe and do whatever you feel like doing, for this will undoubtedly be the best time of your life! I envy you!
Henry Jinman studied Politics and International Studies at Warwick, graduating in 2013. Since then he’s been working on building his own business, Crowdfund Campus, which is a crowdfunding platform for university communities. Henry tells us about the benefits and challenges of setting up a business in today's 50@50.
Tell us a bit about Crowdfund Campus
Crowdfund Campus is a crowdfunding platform for university communities. Students, staff and alumni of Warwick and our other partnered universities can post up details about their projects and businesses to our site and raise money by pre-selling products or offering thank yous and rewards in return for contributions. The project sets a target amount and if they hit that target then they get their funds. It’s a great way for alumni to give back to clubs and societies they were involved in, projects they care about, or just to be a part of the great innovations that come out of Warwick and help make them happen. You can find out more at crowdfundcampus.com.
Why did you decide to set it up?
When I was graduating from university, none of the jobs on offer appealed to me. I found myself writing all sorts of rubbish to fill the boxes and appease the demands of recruiters who seemed to enjoy interviewing me as much as I enjoyed the delayed 2-hour train journey down to London (which seems to be the inevitable career destination of most grads). Pigeon-holed into this future, it seemed worth exploring the idea I had been ‘sitting on’ for the previous year. When Warwick Ventures saw the potential in it and offered to support me to develop it, I couldn’t refuse the opportunity.
I am a spoilt member of Generation Y, who wants more from life than a front porch, a secure job and steady pay-check. Then again these unrealistic expectations will probably lead to ruin and despair, but I figure it’s worth a shot!
How were you helped by Warwick Ventures?
When I first approached Warwick Ventures, I was pretty clueless. I still am clueless about a lot of things but I thought I had a good idea and I didn’t really know how to take it forward. There were lots of people at Warwick who would give me one-off advice but Warwick Ventures were the ones who put me into a long-term programme of support; the Warwick Ventures Software Incubator. There are loads of Incubator/Accelerator type things you can go to when you have a proven product but it's rare to find a programme that will take you on when you only have an idea. I am immensely grateful to Warwick Ventures for the support they have given me over the last two years and it is thanks to them that I have got this far.
What is the best thing about running your own business? What’s the most challenging?
The best thing is the freedom. Working remotely, travelling around the country, meeting people, and not feeling like you are on the bottom rung of a greasy ladder from a Tom and Jerry sketch. The most challenging thing was doing it alone. Thankfully, I was joined by Alex Bargate in January (also a Warwick alumnus, who graduated in Biological Sciences in 2013) and now we are able to grow much quicker and I enjoy it more. Without him, the business would have failed months ago.
How do you hope your business will develop in future?
We launched a reward crowdfunding platform at Warwick in October 2014 and we are now branching out to more universities. We expect to have six universities using our service by October 2015.
Our long term goal is to bridge the funding gap that threatens the development of university technologies. This means developing equity crowdfunding where alumni investors will be able to buy shares in early-stage, research-based businesses coming out of the University. Through our close links with the University of Warwick we are developing the most suitable model of crowdfunding for universities in the world.
How do you think student entrepreneurship will develop in the future?
I think student entrepreneurship is actually quite nascent at Warwick. There are entrepreneurial individuals who use their spare time and the networks and facilities that Warwick provides to start businesses and social enterprises, but when you compare the infrastructure that Warwick has in place to support student enterprise, we are behind Coventry, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Nottingham and many others. With the birth of the Warwick Incubator, Warwick Software Incubator, Warwick Tech, the Warwick Enterprise Partnership and Crowdfund Campus all within the last year, I think Warwick has real tools at its disposal to create a lasting framework to support student enterprise for the next 50 years.
The University is actually using Crowdfund Campus to develop a Student Enterprise Fund and you can find more information about it by going to the 50 Years of Warwick Enterprise Campaign.
Do you have any advice for Warwick students or graduates thinking of setting up their own business?
I meet a lot of students at an early stage who are developing their ideas and looking at setting up their own businesses. My advice largely pertains to how to get good advice going forward:
• You won’t find help if you don’t ask for it.
• If you are looking for advice, ask direct questions so busy people can give you quick answers.
• Find people who are one step ahead, and people who have ‘done it’ - you will need both.
• Build your network from Warwick alumni (there’s quite a lot of us doing interesting things). Start with the Warwick Entrepreneurship Professional Network (WEPN).
Come to me if you have questions about raising funds, and do it early on before you are even investor ready because learning what you have to do to raise funds is the best way of sharpening your mind to what you need to do to add value to your business.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, Professor Wyn Grant from Politics and International Studies has written a booklet about the early years of the department. He gives us an overview in today's 50@50.
What was it like to establish a new academic department at Warwick when the University was founded, particularly in a relatively new discipline like politics? This was the task that faced Professor Wilfrid Harrison who at the age of 56 had come to the University from being head of department at Liverpool, having previously been at Oxford. He also had the heavy responsibility of being the University’s sole pro-vice-chancellor.
The Illustrated London News reported in October 1965 that ‘For the last year Wilfrid Harrison has been organising his courses in politics from the rosy-wallpapered master bedroom at No.12 Gibbet Hill Road – a small, detached house used as temporary offices until the university buildings are completed.’ Harrison was described as a ‘small, detached Scot’ who was determined ‘to keep politics in its place.’
Much of the debate that took place in the department was about issues of curriculum design. Research was very much seen as an autonomous activity for individuals and it was largely left to each academic to decide what they did and how they did it. There was relatively little pressure by contemporary standards to secure research grants or publish in highly rated journals.
Malcolm Anderson, later to succeed Wilfrid Harrison as head of department, was an early appointment from Manchester. The first intake in 1965 was administered by him making trips from Paris where he had a research fellowship. Graham Webster-Gardiner recalls making a ‘foggy and wet journey to the East Site mud campus of the “White Tiles”.’ He thought that Oxford rejects were being targeted.
Another early appointment from the strong department at Manchester was Jim Bulpitt who had already established a reputation with his Party Politics in English Local Government.His later book on Territory and Power was reprinted by the European Consortium for Political Research and a number of contemporary academics claim to be influenced by his work.
An early student Paul Smith recalled, ‘The department was very friendly. I never felt patronised. I never felt put down because of my young left-wing politics.’ He was inspired by the teaching of another early appointment, also from Manchester, John Halliday: ‘I found him inspiring despite totally different political views. His seminars reminded me in a good sense of A level poetry.’
A priority was the establishment of a single honours degree in Politics. Malcolm Anderson recalled, ‘I realised that the department could not grow without it. It would have been a little fish in a sea of sharks. Departments soon developed pretty tribal attitudes which created difficulties for joint degrees.’ However, Anderson did succeed in establishing a jointly taught Making of Economic Policy course for the Economics and Politics degree which survives to this day.
A MA in Politics was established in 1968, but a major contrast with the department today was the relative insignificance of the graduate programme. This grew substantially after Politics merged with the smaller International Studies department in 1990.
You can read more about the history of the department up to 1979 in Wyn Grant, The Founding of a Politics Department, which can be obtained free of charge from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sian Elvin has just completed her degree in English Literature at Warwick and is set to start a course in journalism at the Press Association in August. Throughout her degree she’s been heavily involved in student newspaper the Boar, working in a number of roles over the last three years including deputy editor. We caught up with her to find out more about her experiences there and to hear her thoughts on student journalism.
Why did you choose to come to Warwick?
As soon as I clapped eyes upon the piazza I absolutely fell in love with Warwick. The community aspect of a campus university was something I had always wanted to be a part of, and learning that Warwick Students’ Union boasted the most societies in the UK made me even more excited. And I was certainly proved right!
How and why did you get involved in the Boar?
As soon as I came to university I knew that I wanted to get involved in student media with the eventual aim of a career in journalism, so I threw myself right in at the deep end and joined the Boar and RaW in my very first week at Warwick. And I never looked back - before I knew it I’d become deputy news editor in my first term and then news editor in my second term. I remained news editor for the rest of my first year and my second year and then became deputy editor in my final year. I was certainly in it for the long haul!
Do you know anything about the history of the Boar?
The paper was founded in 1973, incorporating the old student newspaper of the 1960s, Campus. Why it was actually called the Boar remains a bit of a legend - it was supposed to be some kind of pun on the fact that the town of Warwick's symbol was a bear, but no one really knows. It’s had a name change a couple of times - for a few terms it was even called Mercury - but somehow the bizarre animal has stuck with us.
How has the Boar changed over the years? Have there been any key moments in the Boar’s history?
In 1990 the paper became free and that's when everything kicked off really - we started to be nominated for awards left, right and centre. In 2006 we received 17 nominations in both the Guardian and the NUS awards, which we believe is a record for student media. And in 2013 we celebrated our 40th anniversary, which also saw us winning the Ones to Watch Student Publication of the Year. That was definitely one to celebrate!
What are your favourite memories from your time with the Boar?
It sounds ridiculous but throughout my time at the Boar, asides from the pub, I've spent most of my time in our office in the Union. I've experienced pretty much everything in there - I've laughed, I've cried (with both misery and joy), I've sweated in fear, and I've even slept in there when the going got tough.
We've argued about which hard-hitting story should go on the front page; we've screamed with frustration when Photoshop just won't edit a strand of hair in the right way; once I was even enveloped in a wad of bubble wrap and went rolling down the corridor, much to the confusion of Union staff. And all those things for me outline my entire university experience: it's been hard and sometimes I thought we wouldn't get there, but every single fortnight another paper magically goes to print, and it’s just so worth it in the end.
What’s been the best thing about being involved in the Boar?
When I was younger I always saw journalists as being really intelligent, knowing a little bit about everything. And the Boar gives you the chance to do that - on a campus-wide scale, at least! You get to meet a wide assortment of people who you likely would never have spoken to before and, in my opinion, it's the perfect way to get a slice of life from the campus bubble and properly get involved with the Warwick community.
What’s next for you? How do you think your time with the Boar will help you in the years ahead?
After graduation I will be taking an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) diploma course at the Press Association in Victoria, London. Without a doubt my involvement with the Boar got me my place there, and I've learned some skills that I just could not have got from my degree - writing to a print deadline, subediting, using InDesign and manipulating pictures in Photoshop. I’ve also made some fantastic connections as well as friends for life; some Boar alumni now work for ITN, the Telegraph, Twitter, local newspapers and more.
How do you think student journalism will evolve in the future?
Actually we're in a very fortunate position at the Boar in this moment in time and I see us being one of the pioneers leading the future of student journalism. Unlike most student newspapers in the UK, we are editorially independent from the Students’ Union which means we are fully able to hold both the University and the Union to account without a staff member editing what we publish. Other student newspapers in the country are now looking for more freedom and want help from publications like us to help them become independent - in the financial sense, too. None of our editorial staff are paid and we rely on self-generated advertising revenue to keep us running, so we don't need much support from the University or the Union.
I’m about to take on the position of Midlands officer at the Student Publication Association too, so I’ll be watching (and helping!) the development of student journalism with interest, and will hopefully still be involved with the future of the Boar.
What advice do you have for students wanting to get into journalism?
Whether you're dead-set on becoming a hardcore news reporter or just fancy writing a couple of film reviews, your student paper is the best place to start - purely because it's so flexible. The Boar has 15 different sections, as well as a subediting and business team you can get involved with, so it's definitely not just for English students! You can write every week or just once a term if you want to, and all it takes is a tiny email or Facebook message to the section editor to get started. And finally - student media is the best place to practise your journalistic pursuits before you hit the real world. You're allowed to make mistakes!
Pictured below: Godfrey Rust, the very first editor of the Boar in c.1975 (photo credit: Jake Bernard), celebrating the Boar's 40th anniversary in 2013, and the newspaper's Exec team for 2013-2014.
Economics student Idris Sami is a young entrepreneur at Warwick who recently launched his own internet startup, Kiestar, alongside his studies. We find out more in this week's 50@50.
What is Kiestar?
The idea of Kiestar came to me because I realised that there's a lot of undiscovered talent out there. Talented people whose skills are simply not getting the attention they deserve, whether that's singing, playing an instrument, doing magic or anything else!
I believe that anyone can become famous. I want everyone's talents to not merely be seen, but also appreciated. My platform is ideal for the many creative people out there who want an opportunity to become the star of the moment. Simply put, Kiestar is the social network of talent.
What help did you get here at Warwick?
The team at the Warwick Incubator have offered their support in the form of feedback and suggestions, which have been really helful, particularly regarding the website. Being at Warwick has been helpful for many reasons - the University staff have been really supportive, advising me and making things easier for me by getting a hall and equipment for our Kiestar Performance Night.
How does Kiestar work? How can people get involved?
Kiestar is a platform for people to share their talents with the world. It's a place where everyone can become famous. We wish to reach out to all those hidden passions and give them the stage they deserve! It’s so easy to become buried underneath the millions of songs and videos on the internet. We operate as a creative outlet in order to allow the community to bring forward the stars. Our points system is designed specifically for this purpose, as our community selects a 'star of the moment' every month.
It’s very simple to get involved: you can sign up on our website in a matter of seconds by logging in with your Facebook account. This automatically generates your profile by using your Facebook information and you can get started on Kiestar right away. From here you can both display and promote your own talent or you can browse our platform for new talents and vote for who you think should become the next star of the moment.
What happens to your ‘star of the moment’?
The star of the moment is displayed on our homepage and gets invited to perform for an audience at our monthly Kiestar Performance Night. Additionally, we want our stars to be seen outside of the internet, promoting them via serveral media outlets. It may seem out of reach now but in the future we also hope to reach out to record labels and movie producers to promote our stars. We will do our very best to make sure our stars are seen and heard!
Where do you see Kiestar going?
Our concept has worked very well here on campus and has brought us our first star of the moment. I now want to apply the concept at a larger scale by reaching out to Coventry University and then expand further to Birmingham. After that it would be great to select a star of the moment for all of the UK. The ultimate aim is to go global and have Kiestar become an international platform, so that people all over the world can share their talents with others.
Phiroza Marker (BA History 2006-09) left Warwick to work in financial services but soon realised that she wanted to be doing something different. With her brother she created Spanish Marks, a language school which employs teachers from Guatemala who connect with students from all over the world through live online classrooms. Charitable work is central to their school and they aim to give back to the communities where their teachers are based. Phiroza tells us more in this week's 50@50.
How did you go from Warwick to Spanish Marks?
I’ve always wanted to set up my own business. After three years working in financial advisory I decided to throw it all in and act on my impulses, setting up a Spanish language school with a charitable focus. I’ve never looked back!
What does Spanish Marks do?
Spanish Marks is an online Spanish language school based in Guatemala and the UK. I set it up with my brother, Rustom, and our friend, Sandy. We employ experienced teachers from Guatemala to teach Spanish to students all over the world through live online classrooms. The school has a really strong charitable focus, and aims to give back to our teachers’ communities in two ways:
1) working hands-on with local charities
2) donating part of the income from our Spanish lessons to charitable projects.
You studied History at Warwick - how does this help you in your career?
I approach potential customers like I would approach a history essay. I research companies which might be interested in taking on Spanish tuition, gather evidence as to why our services would help them and compose the email (making sure my argument is consistent throughout). I know it’s a well-worn phrase that History has transferrable skills, but it’s so true!
What was your favourite aspect of the History course?
Without a doubt the term spent in Venice as part of the Renaissance module. I remember seeing the 15th century palazzo near the Grand Canal and thinking if that didn’t motivate me for morning lectures, nothing else would!
What are the most challenging parts of your work?
Since it’s an online business and there’s no physical store-front as such, there’s a constant need to think of new ways of bringing the school to people’s attention. It also means I never switch off – I’ll be shopping in the supermarket and get distracted by the idea of how I can design Spanish Marks notices for the community boards.
You’ve taken an unusual career path - what inspired you?
My dad – he got me and my siblings working in his restaurant during most summer holidays, so I had entrepreneurship drilled into my head from a young age!
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Seeing how funds from our Spanish lessons have translated into tangible results – we’re working closely with a Guatemalan charity, Asociación Fatima, which helps vulnerable families at risk of malnutrition. To date we’ve helped them set up their own website so that they can publicise and collect donations on a wider scale, and also used funds from our lessons to fix their roof so there’s now a place to train women to sew and sell their products.
What drives you?
I get an adrenaline rush whenever a new customer signs up - whether it’s an individual or company. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away.
How do you balance work and life?
At the moment it is more work than life, but there are definite perks. Travelling to Guatemala to see the teachers is more like a holiday dressed up as a business trip!
What are your favourite memories of your years at Warwick?
Deciding to walk to Warwick castle (along the motorway), sleeping on the tennis courts outside Rootes, Top Banana, Tuesday nights at Smack, setting up camp in the library break-out area, and making lifelong friends.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently during your time as a student?
I honestly can’t think of anything! Warwick for me, gave me some of the best years of my life and I wouldn’t have changed anything.
What would you tell someone thinking of studying at Warwick?
Definitely do it! Some of my fondest memories are from my time at Warwick, and the campus experience can’t be beaten. I made my best friends there, the teaching is first class and my lungs were probably a lot healthier from breathing in all that fresh air.
Do you have any advice for new graduates?
Don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect job straight after university. Life takes so many unexpected twists and turns so take time to enjoy yourself!
Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
I hope to have expanded the school into new areas – for example offering students the opportunity to do homestays in Guatemala combined with language classes. Also to have set up similar Spanish schools in other Latin American countries, and expanding our ethical focus.
Later this month, a team of eight Engineering Masters students from Warwick will compete in the International Submarine Race in the United States, with a submarine they’ve designed themselves over the last academic year. We spoke to team leader Richard Freeman to find out more.
Tell us a bit about Warwick Sub
Over the last seven months we’ve designed and manufactured an innovative human-powered submarine, meeting the criteria set by the race organisers. During the race it’ll be flooded on the inside and one of our team members will be inside, in scuba gear, piloting the submarine using a powertrain similar to a bike to power a set of propellers at the back.
How did you get involved?
The project itself – designing a submarine – is part of our Masters course, and it’s worth 25% of our year. We’ve produced a technical report detailing the project and justifying the decisions we’ve made.
However, manufacturing the machine and entering the submarine race is an extra-curricular project which we chose to do ourselves. We decided we really wanted to use the knowledge gained from our degree to make something practical and impressive and to have the satisfaction of seeing our final product put to the test!
Is this the first year Warwick has taken part?
No – it’s actually the third year a team from the University has been involved in this project. In the first year the team came up with some design concepts, and last year the Warwick team both designed and made a submarine and entered it into the race.
They used some novel techniques, such as 3D printing the propellers! The final machine was very slow but incredibly robust and they did really well, coming fourth overall for design and second out of the UK teams.
How have you designed this year’s entry?
We’ve decided to try something a bit new this year. The submarine we’ve designed uses innovative materials and green technology, including a hybrid composite hull made from glass fibre and a natural fibre made of flax – a derivative of linseed.
Some of our sponsors have got on board because they’re keen to see the outcomes of using this green technology that hasn’t been used before.
We’ve gone for a modular design, so the submarine flat packs into a small crate to minimise the cost of shipping it over to America. And making the submarine as safe as possible is obviously a priority as well.
How have you found the project?
I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the project. It’s been a pleasure working with such a motivated team of people – we all have different areas of expertise and I think that’s made us very effective as a team. Our supervisor, Dr Ian Tuersley, and other members of staff including Nigel Denton and John Flower have been very engaged and supportive.
There’s been a lot to achieve in a limited amount of time. As well as completing the project and getting ready for the race we’ve been involved in several outreach activities, including exhibiting at the Imagineering show, encouraging young children to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities. Two of our team members went to Aberdeen to exhibit at the Subsea Expo a couple of months ago as well.
So what will happen at the race?
The race will be going on for a week at the end of June at the David Taylor Basin, a missile testing facility in Washington. It’s basically a mile-long swimming pool! This year it’s a drag race – so you have to go as fast as possible. We’re hoping to reach about 6 knots.
When we get over to the States we’ll have a bit of time to test out the submarine – things may well break but hopefully we’ll be able to fix them. We’re planning to do some testing in Stoney Cove diving centre near Leicester before we get over there to iron out any kinks.
There’ll be other universities from the UK competing, as well as lots from the States and a few from Germany and the Netherlands. It’ll be great to meet them and discuss the different approaches other teams have used.
Realistically there are some fantastic teams competing and it would be a big ask to come top in the design category, but coming in the top three would be brilliant – and we’d love to win the award for best use of composites.
What’s next for you? Do you think this project will help you in your future career?
Absolutely. I’ve been offered an engineering job at Rolls-Royce and from my year in industry that I spent there last year it’s quite apparent that the skills I’ve developed through this project will be invaluable in my career there – for example the ability to document your work correctly in a visually appealing way, the ability to coordinate properly and knowing how to have the right conversations with the right people.
During the Warwick Sub project I’ve acted as the team leader and it’s been incredibly useful to gain experience in leadership and project management. I’ll definitely be taking a lot of valuable experience with me thanks to this project.
Update 30/06/2015: We're delighted to report that the team was awarded first place for innovation in the competition! Congratulations!
What events are you particularly excited about this year?
Technology has had a huge impact on the way students learn at university over the last few decades. But is it true to say there’s been a ‘digital revolution’ in education? And how could technology transform learning further at Warwick in the years ahead? We spoke to Amber Thomas, who leads the Academic Technology team in IT Services, to hear her thoughts.
What is 'academic technology'?
Academic Technology is the application of technology to support learning, teaching and research. It encompasses software, digital content, hardware devices and the technology in physical and online learning spaces. My team in IT Services run several services and we advise on the effective use of technology for teaching and research. I've been at Warwick for over two years now and I love this role. It's hugely varied, much more about people than about computers.
How important is technology to academic work?
Feeling competent and confident with technology is an important part of modern life, and that includes skills development, study, research and communication. Digital literacy is not about learning particular software or learning to code: it’s about using technology to help you do what you want to do, whether that's managing information, crunching data, presenting an argument or communicating with your peers.
Some technology decisions are individual, but it’s when people use it in groups that it gets really interesting. That’s why universities have to make smart choices to ensure that technology enhances student experiences, supports research and improves processes.
Is there a digital revolution in education?
You sometimes hear people saying that education hasn't changed since Victorian times, but I don't think that's true at all. On the contrary, there have been many shifts in teaching practice and curriculum approach in all levels of our education system. Even in large lecture theatres, students can be online, academics can use media clips and draw on visualisers, the lecture can be easily recorded for recap, and students can share notes afterwards.
Assessment evolves too: as well as essays, assignments can be by video or portfolio, students can be assessed for group work and work can be submitted online. Most of all, the web has changed learning. My seven year old has grown up in a world where the answers to his questions can be looked up on Wikipedia or YouTube. He makes PowerPoint presentations, builds in Minecraft and has no fear of computer code. Imagine what his generation's university coursework will look like! I think it’s exciting, but it’s evolution, not revolution.
What’s the next step in evolution then?
Right now, we’re working hard to enrich the extended classroom so that students have access to what they need, when they need it, wherever they are. Moodle is a web-based system that enables academics and administrators to make a website for each module that brings together the information, learning materials and activities for each module.
It is used all over the world and because it is 'open source', many hundreds of people contribute improvements in code, so it's always evolving. We’re rolling it out at Warwick to improve access, flexibility and consistency. Echo360 is a lecture capture system that records the academic’s slides and voice so that it’s easy to recap lectures.
MyPortfolio is a tool that individuals can use to present their work, reflect on progress, and keep track of their learning. There are also developments in our teaching spaces and in our administrative systems and taken together these amount to a big step forward. I think getting these things right creates a flexible and inclusive learning environment, and that’s what helps students thrive.
Is technology changing research too?
The web makes it possible to redesign the way information is shared. There was a lot of buzz that massive open online courses, 'MOOCs', would disrupt higher education, but the web has also enabled open access to research outputs and I think that might be the long term disruption, it’s just slower.
Over the last decade many more research outputs have become available to many more people. I believe open access brings advances in science, social science and the humanities, it oils the interdisciplinary wheels and it aids public understanding of academic work. Add to that the growth in data-rich methods in disciplines like politics and history, an explosion in ways of presenting ideas, and the future of scholarship looks exciting.
What will Warwick’s use of technology look like in another 50 years?
As a proud owner of a new smartwatch, I’d love to make an accurate guess on how education will make use of wearables, but I’ll leave that to the researchers! What I do know is that universities are full of smart people who work hard to create and communicate knowledge. There are certainly exciting times ahead with student-owned devices in the 'extended classroom', and advances in research collaboration. The answer isn’t always technology, and technology isn’t a panacea to every problem, but it can be an enabler of progress. My hope is that all staff and all students develop their digital literacies so that as new technologies come along they can make the most of them.
Colin Grahamslaw studied Mathematics at Warwick from 1988 to 1991,before becoming Sports Sabbatical Officer in the Students' Union. This led him into a career in the sport industry - something he had never imagined before arriving at the University. Colin tells us more in this week's 50@50 and shares his thoughts on why he thinks it's essential for students to get involved in extra-curricular activities.
Why did you choose to study at Warwick?
It was a bit by accident really! I had liked the look of Heriot-Watt Uni – a campus close to the city – but wanted to move away from home to study. Warwick looked very similar - it was only afterwards I found that I was applying to one of the top maths universities!
What’s your favourite memory of Warwick?
There are many: winning the local Coventry Cup with the football club; standing in the balcony overlooking the marketplace on the final night of term watching the madness below; the party at the end of my finals – but probably the one that stands out was in my final year at the end of the winter term on the last night, when it snowed – heavily!
We woke up on Saturday morning to find Coventry in chaos and traffic going nowhere. Parents coming to collect students were stuck on campus and there was nothing open. In the end, a couple of the Union staff arrived in on foot and with a few conscripts from the student body. The Union was opened, including the bars and catering, and a second final night disco was staged for those stuck on campus. I spent the night working in the snack bar – I'm not sure everyone got the best prepared meals they ever had but there were no complaints of food poisoning…!
How did you imagine the future when you were a student at Warwick?
I had gone to Warwick expecting to get my degree and head off into the world of accountancy or insurance. Working in sport was not on the agenda and the thought of standing for election for anything was certainly not something I had considered. So to find myself campaigning for the sabbatical Sports Officer role and standing on stage giving a speech, telling a joke and singing a song to a crowded hall was unexpected!
Where has your career taken you since leaving Warwick?
After my sabbatical role at Warwick I headed to Cranfield University as a Students' Union General Manager, but soon moved back into sport with a move home to Scotland to work for Scottish Fencing. Five years there was followed by a stint with the Scottish Hockey Union and the Royal Caledonian Curling Club before, in 2010, I was appointed as Secretary General of the World Curling Federation, one of only three Brits to hold a role such as this in an Olympic Sports Federation.
I have held a number of voluntary roles in sport as well as continuing an involvement in student sport for many years, both in committees and as manager of the Scottish universities cricket team. I have also served as the Vice Chairman of the Scottish Sports Association and on several lottery awards panels.
What does your current job involve?
I am the senior staff member for the World Curling Federation, responsible to the elected board for the staff and management of the Federation. The WCF turns over around US$8m per annum and has a permanent staff of 15 expanding to almost 100 during events, when we also run our own broadcast operation supplying TV pictures to various channels around the world.
The role of an International Sports Federation is varied, from overseeing the rules and regulations of the sport, through to introducing the sport to new countries, to running world championships and the curling events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
How has your time at Warwick influenced your life?
It is true that without my time at Warwick I would not be where I am today. Although my degree (BSc Maths) probably has little day-to-day impact on my job, it provided me valuable lessons in how to work and deliver projects to time – although I would like to think I am a little less last minute these days!
It was my time in the Students' Union that obviously had the biggest impact on my life, becoming involved in the Sports Federation and being elected Sports Officer led me down a path that I would not have expected to be open to me. It has led to me travelling the world and experiencing the world’s greatest sporting events from the front row – even carrying the Olympic torch and being part of medal ceremonies at the Youth Olympics and Paralympics.
If you could offer one piece of advice to current and future Warwick students what would it be?
It is harder now given the financial commitment required to being a student, but I still think it is important to take advantage of everything the University has to offer outside the degree - whether that be sports, arts or any of the other clubs, societies etc.
Many of the people I knew from Warwick are now working in jobs more influenced by their extra-curricular activities at Warwick than their degree.
What would you like to see happening at Warwick over the next 50 years?
I would like to see the student (particularly the undergraduate) been seen as the core of the University. The University also needs to find ways to ensure that people are not put off attending Warwick because of the costs involved. Education is a right, not a privilege, and society as a whole benefits from a well educated population and the University benefits from a diverse cultural, ethnic and social-economic student body. It is important to find ways to allow students to develop as individuals outside their degrees to achieve their full potential – sometimes that will not happen by just following the course.
Warwick RAG (Raising and Giving) is one of the largest student societies on campus, with 1,300 members this year. We spoke to the society’s president, Andy King, to hear about some of his favourite memories from his time with RAG and what he hopes it’ll achieve in the future.
RAG has played a huge part in English and Philosophy finalist Andy King’s Warwick experience since his very first week at university. “I went to a RAG social on my third night at Warwick and really enjoyed it,” he says. “I got involved in RAG week shortly after that and when one of the exec team decided to step down from her position as secretary at the end of term one, the president of RAG approached me to see if I’d be interested in taking up the role, which I was! It was great to be given responsibility like that during my first year.”
Andy spent his second year as a volunteer officer for the society before being elected president last year, and it’s clear being involved has been one of the highlights of his time at Warwick. “I’ve had an amazing time with RAG – it’s a brilliant way to learn some new skills and increase your confidence while having fun and raising money for some fantastic causes.
“I also love the fact that it’s a very diverse society – out of our 1,300 members, 30% are international students and 5% are postgraduates, meaning you get to meet a wide range of people.”
RAG: Then and now
RAG is one of the oldest societies at Warwick, as the photos on the left from a RAG week in the 1960s show, but the society has gained increased momentum over the last decade.
“Over the last four years, we’ve started putting greater emphasis on collaborations with other societies and clubs, which has seen our fundraising increase massively”, Andy explains.
“A few years ago our fundraising hit £330,000, making Warwick the third biggest RAG in the country. Suddenly we were recognised as a major player in the RAG scene.”
This year Warwick RAG is aiming to raise £700,000, which would be the highest amount ever raised. To help achieve this, new international fundraising events have been introduced, including a trek to Kilimanjaro, the Uganda Gorilla Trek, the Guatemala Volcano Trek and the 3-peak challenge, as well as an annual skydive.
Another change this year has been the introduction of an opt-out process for RAG week, the annual event on campus which sees students being sent items in lectures and other fundraising activities.
“We were very keen to make sure RAG week is seen as a fun, light-hearted week to raise money for good causes rather than having people feel worried about it”, Andy explains.
“It was a big success and we raised £4,600 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.”
Andy will graduate this summer and is now in the process of handing leadership of RAG over to a new president and her exec team, so what are his hopes for the society for the years ahead and how does he think student fundraising will develop in the future?
“Now that students are paying higher tuition fees, they’re understandably becoming increasingly concerned about their CV – and fundraising is a great addition to your CV! So I can only see student fundraising growing in the years ahead”, Andy says. “I also think more charities will start to work closer with student fundraisers – they’re starting to see the value in it and I think a lot of good work could be done through more collaboration.”
One change for Warwick RAG over the next academic year will be the introduction of a part-time, paid student staff member, who will focus on the administrative side of running the society.
“It’ll be really useful to have someone doing the behind-the-scenes work that will allow the exec to concentrate on delivering their goals”, Andy says. “I just want the new RAG team to keep up the good work and for the society to keep on growing!”
And what’s next for Andy?
“I’ve been offered a job as a Gorilla Project Coordinator for the charity East African Playgrounds, which I’m really excited about. After that I can imagine working in a managerial position in a charity – I like leading people and helping people achieve their goals, and a job in management in a charity would let me do just that.”
In this week’s 50@50 blog post we meet Dr Grace Huxford, Research Fellow in Oral History,who manages the university’s oral history project ‘Voices of the University’. Commissioned by the Institute ofAdvanced Study (IAS), the Voices of the University collection comprises of over 200interviews with current and former staff, students and local residents and reveals the history of the University of Warwick through their voices. Grace describes the project in more detail.
I first joined the university as a history undergraduate in 2007, staying on to study for my Masters in 2010 and for my PhD in 2011. I have long been interested in oral history as a methodology in my research and was therefore very excited to hear that the IAS was producing an oral history of Warwick. I joined the IAS as Research Fellow in Oral History in September 2014 and manage the day-to-day running of the ‘Voices of the University’ project.
The ‘Voices of the University’ project was initiated by the IAS in 2013. Its primary aim is to record people’s memories of Warwick– as a place of work or study, as a research and teaching environment, and as a local institution. The project also contributes towards the wider history of higher education, as Warwick was established in 1965 as part of a nationwide investment in universities. Our interviews capture many aspects of social, cultural and economic life since the 1960s – both in Britain and across the world.
Since the oral history project started, our interviews have been carried out by a great team of undergraduate, masters and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral researchers based at the IAS. To date the team has conducted over 200 oral history interviews and we aim to add to this throughout the anniversary year.
What is ‘oral history’?
Oral history is a historical research method based on interviewing people about their experiences. In the ‘Voices of the University’ collection, interviews follow what is called a ‘life history’ approach, first discussing how interviewees’ early life and how they came to arrive at Warwick. Some participants have been at Warwick since it opened in 1965, whilst other interviewees have been here just a few months. Interviewees include students and academic staff, but also administrative and support staff from across the campus. Overall, the project aims to represent a wide cross-section of the university community over time and to cover not just the history of the university, but also the place of the university in people’s lives.
Oral histories do not always necessarily tell the same story: interviewees have different relationships and recollections of the institution, but that is why it is such a fascinating methodology. In oral history research, we ask not just ‘what happened’, but also try to find out why people tell particular stories (and why interviewers like myself ask particular questions!)
I really enjoy listening to former students describing living away from home for the first time, learning to cook or adapting to university-level study. One of our interviewees even described getting struck by lightning in Rootes Hall! Warwick staff (both academic and non-academic) have also shared their insights on the institution’s development and particular moments in its history, such as the visit of President Bill Clinton in 2000. As a historian, I also find people’s stories about the changing social and economic life of the local area particularly interesting. Many of our interviewees describe the booming car industry in Coventry in the 1960s and the changes that have taken place in the city since.
Most of our interviews are available online here for you to listen to, through the Library’s online digital collections. A small minority of recordings are not online and only available in the reading room at the Modern Records Centre (which you can arrange to visit).
You can also listen to extracts from the project in our podcast series, which takes a specific theme each month. This is accompanied by a blog post highlighting various aspects of the collection.
If you have a story to share about Warwick, please do get in touch. We are conducting interviews until the start of August this year and would love to speak to as many people as possible before then. If you are interested you can sign up via the Voices of the University website: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/current/universityvoices/about/form/
Warwick welcomed its first joint PhD student from Monash University, Thomas Ryan, last autumn. We caught up with him to find out how he’s finding life in the UK and what he hopes his experiences here will help him achieve in the future.
Why did you decide to get involved with the Monash Warwick Alliance joint PhD programme?
My supervisor at Monash drew my attention to the programme. I applied to take advantage of the existing research relationship between the two departments in my area of research and to interact with a broader philosophical community in the UK.
What does your PhD focus on and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m a philosopher, and I’m focusing on emotion in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and what we can make of him as a “therapeutic” philosopher. At the moment I’m working through the history of the term “passion” and looking at Nietzsche’s relationship with classical and Christian ideas about the passions and their role in human life.
How are you finding life in the UK so far?
In the UK my life is much more campus-focused: I live just by the university and spend most of my time with other philosophy grads. This means the graduate community at Warwick is active and close-knit, but it’s been a big adjustment leaving Melbourne behind.
What are the similarities and differences between Warwick and Monash?
Both universities are similar ages and maybe because they are young, both are expanding internationally. Monash has campuses in a number of countries and I’ve seen Warwick wants to develop a presence in California.
The campus setting is probably the biggest difference - Melbourne’s certainly a much bigger city than Coventry. But because of this I think students at Warwick spend more time on and around campus, which means more things happen on campus.
What’s been your highlight at Warwick so far?
Presenting my work at 'Hellenistic Ethics from Nietzsche to Foucault' at Warwick last September. I’m a member of the Monash Warwick Alliance graduate project of which this conference was a part, and it was wonderful both to take part in the rich philosophical discussions the conference generated and to see the project’s first event come to fruition.
How is your year at Warwick benefitting your PhD?
I have a whole extra department of academics and graduate colleagues to explore ideas and arguments with, and being in the UK means I have access to a wide range of philosophical events happening all over the country and nearby in Europe.
In June of this year I’ll organise a conference, ‘Modern Appraisals of the Hellenistic Legacy’, in Prato, Italy. After that I’m particularly looking forward to the annual meeting of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society at the University of Hull.
How do you think your experience of living and doing part of your PhD in the UK will benefit you in the future?
Besides improving the quality of my PhD research, spending time in the UK gives me academic contacts for research collaboration down the line, as well as a broader perspective on the direction of philosophy worldwide.
What advice do you have for people considering taking part in the joint PhD?
I’d suggest they get in touch with graduate students in both departments, but especially at the university they will visit part way through their candidature. It’ll make finding their feet in a new country in the middle of their research much easier.
How do you hope the Monash Warwick Alliance will develop over the coming years?
Ideally more philosophy students will take part in both the joint PhD program and the funding opportunities offered by the Alliance. I hope collaboration between grad students becomes a lasting part of graduate study in both departments.
in South Africa and so my PhD is a collaboration between the two universities.
The Learning Information, Dissemination and Networking Team are responsible for community liaison with the village leaders, which is based on trust and mutual respect, so all research is understood and accepted before being conducted.
Challenges to address
It’s either that or start a cupcake business!
Supporting students to do something positive with their time at university and seeing the difference they make in the local community is one of my favourite things. I also enjoy getting to work with our Student Executive Committee and project leaders throughout the year, developing their skills and seeing them grow into their roles as leaders. With feedback like this: “Warwick Volunteers has given me the opportunity to meet and make many friends who I know I will call friends for many years to come. WV is a big family”, I can’t help but feel immensely proud of the work we do.
Being right in the centre of campus life – we’re located in the Students' Union HQ, which means that we get lots of students popping into the office to talk about volunteering. It’s great getting to meet such a diverse mix of people.
By working with academic departments we could develop unique projects which draw on the expertise and skills of staff and students at the University. This would enable Warwick to increase its impact on communities by offering volunteering expertise which will help resolve social issues locally, nationally and internationally.
In this week's 50@50 we meet Warwick alumna Bojusia Wojciechowska, who studied History from 1972-75 followed by a masters in Comparative British and European Social History from 1975-76.
Since studying at Warwick Bojusia has spent almost all of her working life in higher education, both as an instructor and administrator. She is currently Dean of Professional Studies & Workforce Development at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Why did you choose Warwick?
I wanted a university which was not tied to tradition so that I could forge my own identity. I also wanted a self-contained campus, a good history department and a university with an active student life. Warwick made its way to my shortlist and, after I found out that it had opportunities for study abroad, it made its way to my top five. After visiting for my interview, I knew that this was the place for me.
What was your first day on campus like?
I knew that the University was a building site, so that was no shock. I was dropped off by my sister and her boyfriend who had driven me up from London in his Austin Morris Traveller. It was a relief when we got there as they were worried whether or not the car would make it. I was excited and nervous, in a good way. I felt that I was at the beginning of a great adventure.
My room was in Rootes Hall, 'L' block. I tried making my sister and her boyfriend a coffee but had no sugar, so they suggested I get to know my neighbour by knocking on her door and asking her for some; very corny. Still, I did ask her; she was a 3rd year English student whom I rarely saw during the rest of the year. It was exhilarating to be there; I could discover myself and be myself. The people I could see looked like 'my type of person', what my parents would have called 'hippies.' I was very happy to meet my other neighbours, two of whom were from my part of London. I had no culinary skills: one of them had to show me how to use the cooker! We remain good friends to this day.
What did you imagine your time at university would be like?
I would work hard and play hard. Life would be very full and I would experience a lot of new things and meet lots of different people.
How close was the reality to your imagination?
Very close. Obtaining a history degree was no cake walk. I worked very hard. The Department Chair, Professor Jack Scarisbrick, told us that we had to have the 'moral fibre' to succeed; this was his justification for giving us full-blown finals which determined our course grades. That put us under a lot of pressure, especially if we were planning to continue our studies after we earned our BA.
Socially and politically, Warwick was very vibrant and was acquiring a reputation for itself as a left-wing campus with a very active students' union. There was always something going on and we watched the campus grow. New buildings were constantly going up. You felt like a pioneer participating in the growth of a new community.
What’s your favourite memory of Warwick?
There are many, but the friendships were key. My 21st birthday was celebrated in Tocil flats where I lived with a group of friends. Most of us lived together in the same flat for two years so we got to know each other pretty well. For my birthday we had food and music in our kitchen - the music provided by our own resident group, Bretton. I recorded the performance and gave the members of the band a copy of the tape a few years ago.
What do you regret?
This is a tough one to answer! I don't believe in regrets and thinking "what if..." I prefer "carpe diem".
Do you keep in touch with any friends from Warwick?
Yes, many. Although I have been living in the USA for almost 30 years, we stay in touch and when we get together it doesn't feel like we've ever been apart.
How did you imagine the future when you were at Warwick?
Anything was possible. We were all full of optimism and fortunately did not anticipate the tragedies that some of us later experienced in life. It is a confirmation of the strength of our friendships that we have been able to support each other throughout the good and bad times that some have experienced. I decided on my first day that I would not leave higher education until I got my PhD, and that I would work in academia. I achieved those goals.
How has Warwick influenced your life?
It enabled me to solidify my beliefs, and to make sense of my values and priorities, which have changed little to this day. I believe that Warwick enabled me to become the person I am. The environment at Warwick, particularly at the Labour History Centre where I obtained my MA in Comparative Social History, fuelled my passion for grass roots history and social justice. Whereas there have been opportunities for me to work in the 'ivory tower’, my research focus has been on populations who have traditionally not had a voice and, in terms of my work, to contribute to institutions that create opportunities for the economically and educationally disadvantaged.
What do you think has been the most important invention of the last 50 years?
The computer. Not the Charles Babbage or Alan Turing machines, but the multi-purpose, portable gadgets which have us permanently connected to the outside world.
What do you think has been the most substantial cultural change of the last 50 years?
Civil rights, which includes rights for minorities, those with physical and mental disabilities, and various sexual orientations.
What are the best book, film and album of the 1970s?
That's difficult to answer as there was a big shift in culture from the early to the late seventies, especially in music. That being said:
- Non-fiction: All the President's Men
- Fiction: Roots
- Films: Apocalypse Now
- Album: early 70s: Dark Side of the Moon
- Album late 70s: Saturday Night Fever
If you could offer one piece of advice to current students what would it be?
Have an open mind and try everything. See yourself as a canvas with a charcoal sketch to which you are going to add colour and details. Get involved in social issues; if you don't do it now when will you?
With Dr J Emilio Jimenez-Roldan, Astronomy Outreach Teacher Fellow, Physics
What if we discovered life on another planet? What questions would this raise and what consequences could it have? Dr Emilio Jimenez-Roldan shares his thoughts in this week's 50@50 video.
Do you know someone who you think we should feature in our 50@50 series? Get in touch at email@example.com.
In this week’s 50@50 post, third year History and Sociology student Jesal Sheta tells us about ‘Where’s Warwick?’, a project he’s organising this year to engage people with the University's 50th anniversary.
I’m currently in my final year at Warwick and decided I wanted to organise a project this year for the 50th anniversary that would allow me to give something back to a university that has provided me with some great experiences and amazing memories over the last few years.
The concept behind ‘Where’s Warwick?’ is simple. Each week, a society or sports club from the University takes our Warwick bear to a location on campus and then takes a photo of it, making sure they don’t give away too many clues as to where the location is. The photograph is then posted on the Where's Warwick? Facebook page and people have to guess the location.
When we give the answer, we post some information about the history of that particular location on campus, reminding people about the University’s past and the 50th anniversary this year. Can you guess where Warwick is in the four pictures above? Answers below!
The project engages students and others with the 50th anniversary because it shows how the university campus has developed over the past 50 years. As we are now on the verge of redevelopment, we are in a great position both to look back and to look to the future to see what’s coming. The aim of the project over the coming year is to make people aware of how wonderful this university campus is and how every time it has changed it has provided new experiences for the students that are studying at the University.
I came up with the idea based on a similar project that I helped with in the summer of 2013 in my home town of Leicester. This project was run by Leicester City Council and involved placing a plastic duck around various locations in the city and asking people to guess where it was.
A duck was used then because of the common Leicester saying, 'Aye up m'duck'. A bear is used in the Where's Warwick project because I believe over the years it’s the animal that has been associated with Warwick and the University the most.
I think the 50th anniversary celebrations this year are going to be great and I’m particularly looking forward to the art exhibition in the Mead Gallery, ‘Imagining a University: The University of Warwick Art Collection at 50’.
I’ve always admired the University's art collection and it’s something I mention on every campus tour that I give to prospective students. It’ll be brilliant to see such outstanding art in one exhibition.
Like Where’s Warwick? on Facebook >>
We're keen to feature as wide a variety of Warwick people in our 50@50 series as possible, including students, academics, support staff and alumni from all faculties and across departments. Know someone who you think we should feature in our 50@50 series? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where's Warwick answers: 1) Warwick Arts Centre 2) Gibbet Hill campus 3) Avon Drama Studio 4) To be announced this week on the Where's Warwick Facebook page
Sarah Brennan is on course to graduate with a degree in English and Cultural Studies this year, following six years of part-time study at Warwick through the Centre for Lifelong Learning. What's life like as a mature student and how challenging really is it to juggle a degree with a full-time job and family life? Sarah tells all in this week's 50@50 post.
What did you do you after leaving school?
I left school in 1997 and commenced a GNVQ Art and Design course at Warwickshire College. Although I appreciated and admired art, especially artists such as Monet and Dali, unfortunately my drawing left a lot to be desired! So I finished the course and went in to the big wide world of work.
Why did you decide to study for a degree as a mature student?
After many years of working, I felt that in order for me to progress in any career path I would need to gain a degree. In addition to a degree being a neccessity, I had always felt that without a degree my education was incomplete.
Why did you choose to study English and Cultural Studies at Warwick?
I have always had a love of the arts but I have always been naturally good at English and creative writing, so an English degree was my first choice. I completed an English Higher Access Certificate in 2008, and then in 2009 embarked on the BA Hons English and Cultural Studies degree. Warwick was always my first choice as it has consistently ranked in the top ten of UK universities in the national league tables, so I knew this would bode well with future employers and open up many more employment opportunities.
How did you feel on your first day at Warwick?
Of course I was nervous, I had not studied for many years, I did not know anyone, and there is always going to be a little bit of self doubt in regards to your own skills and knowledge. The first evening was daunting but the lecturer was so welcoming that within the hour I felt confident enough to start offering my opinions and thoughts in class discussion.
How have you found the course?
The course is fascinating. It has incorporated so many different elements such as history, theory and psychology - themes I never once imagined I would be learning, let alone understanding! I have been introduced to so many amazing authors and texts. There have been many highlights, from receiving my first essay mark to my first class presentation.
I have been lucky as the majority of my classes have been mixed age groups. We all get on because we have a common interest, and I believe with the mix of ages it opens up a more diverse range of conversations and opinions.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of your degree?
Time management! As a part-time mature student I also work full time and I am a single mother to a teenager so, as you can imagine, my life is quite full on! I have to plan my time and prepare well in advance, but unforeseen circumstances make prioritising important.
Do you have any tips on how to balance study with work and home life?
It is difficult, but if you are determined to gain a degree then you will find a way. I tend to work to 'to do lists' and prioritise my workload. Prepare as much as you are able to in advance. I try and keep weekday evenings free so I can do my reading and prepare for the following week. I tend to spend them working on essays and researching - when I'm not taxiing my daughter and her friends around, that is!
What’s your favourite place on campus and why?
The Warwick Arts Centre would be an obvious choice as the building is still so modern and the facilities and events are great, but I have an affiliation to the Humanities Building as that is where it all started for me, and it is where I still spend most of my time now.
Do you have any favourite memories about your time at Warwick?
I have a few. My first essay, my first presentation, the people I have met along the way. The whole experience will be with me forever.
What are your plans after finishing your degree? What would you like to achieve in the future?
I have already applied for an MA in Eighteenth Century History and after that I would like to do a PhD. I just want to fulfill my potential and make the most of any opportunities that arise. My ultimate goal would be a career as a professor at a highly regarded institute such as Warwick.
How do you think your time at Warwick will help you achieve those goals?
Warwick has changed me as an individual in so many ways. Not only have I had the opportunity to increase my knowledge about a subject that I love, but it has helped me to grow personally and aspire to achieve more. I have been at Warwick for six years, and during this time I have acquired new skills and I have had many experiences which have given me a new found confidence. It is this confidence that will help me achieve a better future for my daughter and me.
Do you have any advice for people considering studying at Warwick as a mature student in the future?
Do it! What do you have to lose? You will have continued support throughout from your lecturers and your peers, and yes there will be times when you will doubt yourself but ultimately it will be worth it. A degree from Warwick in terms of career and personal progression is second to none. The sense of achievement you will feel will make it all worthwhile.
With Professor Irene Ng, WMG
The internet has changed the world significantly over the last few decades, but how could it transform our lives further in the future? Could everything be connected to the internet and, if so, what impact would this have?
Following this week’s hugely exciting announcement that Warwick will be one of the five universities leading the Alan Turing Institute for data science, today’s 50 @ 50 post features Professor Irene Ng, whose work focuses on data management. We asked her to consider the question ‘what if everything was connected to the internet?’Watch her answer below.
Would you like to be featured in our 50 @ 50 series or know someone who would? Get in touch at email@example.com.
In this week's 50 @ 50 post we meet alumnus Anthony Felix, who was one of the very first students at Warwick in 1965. Following his degree in Economics, Anthony went on to found a publishing company, create the world’s first public on-line interactive text information service and to be the first chairman of the North London Training & Enterprise Council. He is now a self-employed business consultant advising several Israeli start-up companies developing medical devices.
Why did you pick Warwick?
I wanted nothing more than to be one of those students but I also knew that to leave home was an essential component of the student’s experience. So when my time came to choose a university, I looked for a “Sussex away from home”. Warwick fitted the bill perfectly!
It must be said that Warwick developed its own distinct characteristics and certainly was not a carbon copy of Sussex. There is no doubt in my mind that Warwick gave me everything I had hoped for and more.
Was it a risk attending a new university?
There was no risk, as far as I was concerned, going to a new university was a fantastic opportunity to be fully involved from the start. I knew that in the first year of a new university, freshers would take the lead. I was chairman of several clubs and societies in the first term of the University’s life.
What was your first day on campus like? What were your impressions?
I expected more intensive tuition, a bit like sixth-form on steroids.
How close was the reality to your imagination?
What’s your favourite memory of Warwick?
The memory that is most vivid has to be the first day – the day it all began for me and for the University. I can still feel the emotion and the atmosphere in the lecture theatre when Jack Butterworth told us how he and the other founders of the University had looked forward to our arrival.
What do you regret?
Film – Dr Zhivago
Album – Leonard Cohen – Live in London
With Dr Helen Wheatley, Film and Television Studies
What if every television programme was available at the push of a button? Would we want this or is there something special about watching programmes like Downton Abbey and the Strictly final at the same time as your friends, family and millions of others?
For this week's 50 @ 50 post we want to imagine the future of television, so we asked Dr Helen Wheatley from our Film and Television Studies department to consider the question 'what if all television was on demand?' Watch her answer below.
50 @ 50 is a special series of blog posts that will run throughout the course of 2015, the University of Warwick's 50th anniversary year. This series of posts will introduce you to 50 different Warwick people, all of whom have something interesting to say as we not only look back at what we’ve achieved in our relatively short time as a University, but also look forward and imagine what our future might look like. You’ll meet academics, students, alumni and administrative staff who will offer you a window on what life is like at the Times and Sunday Times’ University of the Year for 2015.
You can even contribute a post to our 50 @ 50 series – if you’re interested please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by the 50th anniversary team
Happy New Year and welcome to 2015! This year is a very special one for everyone connected with Warwick as it marks our 50th anniversary and we have plenty of exciting things planned to help celebrate – including a special series of blog posts of which what you’re currently reading is the first.
’50 @ 50’ will introduce you to 50 different Warwick people, all of whom have something interesting to say as we not only look back at what we’ve achieved in our relatively short time as a University, but also look forward and imagine what our future might look like. You’ll meet academics, students, alumni and administrative staff who will offer you a window on what life is like at the Times and Sunday Times’ University of the Year for 2015.
And what better focus to kick off this new feature than by hearing from us – the team co-ordinating all of the 50th anniversary celebration activities? We’re incredibly excited about what 2015 has in store for Warwick and wanted to highlight some of our stand-out events.
From 21-23 May campus will be alive with the sound of the Golden Festival of Music, featuring a performance from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, some of the most exciting upcoming acts and plenty of other special guests.
We’ll also be a key partner at all four Cheltenham Festivals in 2015 – offering our input on literature, music, science and jazz.
Finally, our showpiece event will be back on campus from 16-17 October; the Festival of the Imagination. These two days will feature an interactive research zone, talks and debates, taster classes, street performance, a food market, cooking demonstrations and more.
We also want you to take part in our celebrations – come to our events if you can, stay up to date on social media using the hashtag #warwick50 wherever you are or explore how you can help shape the next 50 years by becoming a donor. You can even contribute a post to our 50 @ 50 series – if you’re interested please get in touch at email@example.com.
So, here’s to a fantastic year of celebration and, even better, the next chapter in Warwick’s incredible story.
Nicola, Emily and Christine
50th anniversary team