Great Future

94.5% of our undergraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating

(Destinations of Leavers Survey 2014/15)

Book fights the free-market capitalism invading Higher Education


Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:42:00 GMT

“…there always was a purpose to Higher Education, but people are often now reduced to a financial unit…”

Dr Yvonne Downs THE financial crisis that erupted in 2008 was followed by a series of changes to the educational landscape of the UK, influenced by economic factors such as austerity and by the philosophies of “neoliberalism” – a modified form of liberalism tending to favour free-market capitalism.  Now they have been analysed and critiqued by a team of experts that includes the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Yvonne Downs (pictured right).

‌She has contributed a chapter to a new book titled Negotiating Neoliberalism: Developing Alternative Educational Visions.  The book deals with all sectors of education in the UK, including developments such as the setting up of academies and free schools.  But Dr Downs – a Research Fellow in the University’s Department of Accountancy, Finance and Economics – focuses on Higher Education.

Negotiating Neoliberalism The book is not purely an exercise in criticism, said Dr Downs.  “The overall aim is to offer alternatives,” she explained.  Her chapter is a response to the danger that Higher Education is becoming a “marketplace”.

‌“That is not a problem in itself.  We have all got to function in the real world.  But some things have been lost.  There always was a purpose to Higher Education, but students and people are often now reduced to a financial unit.”

‌Dr Downs has examined ways in which some people are actually using Higher Education to resist the neo-liberal agenda and “all the biggisms of the world”.

Reading and Teaching book by Ivor Goodson “It goes back to old-fashioned things such as thinking about your own values, your personal mandates and what you want from life,” she said.

“It would be ridiculous to deny that getting a job and earning a certain amount of money are important, but not at the expense of becoming dehumanised and a unit of finance to feed the global economy”.

Negotiating Neoliberalism is edited by Tim Rudd and by Ivor Goodson, an educational thinker with a global reputation who was the subject of a book by Dr Downs, a former languages teacher at secondary schools and colleges who switched careers to become a University-based researcher.  She belongs to the Financial Ethics and Governance Research Group, based in the University of Huddersfield’s Business School.

She explained the genesis of Negotiating Neoliberalism: “A group of us were getting a bit fed up with the way education was being talked about, in very financial and instrumental terms.  Resistance alone seemed futile, so we decided to think about some alternative visions.”

Dr Downs hopes that policymakers will take notice of the new book.  “We would like them to take away from it that the systems in place can be quite dehumanising and we need to think about how they are affecting people’s lives.”

But the answer is not to hark back to some imaginary golden age, added Dr Downs.  “We have got to find a purpose for Higher Education in the world as it is now.”

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Huddersfield to host annual Athena SWAN Conference

Professor Dame Julia King

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:36:00 GMT

The conference, Equality: Everyone’s job, no-one’s responsibility, will be held on 5 May, 2017

Professor Yvonne Galligan ONE of the UK’s leading female engineers will give the main address at the annual Athena SWAN Conference to be held at the University of Huddersfield.

Professor Dame Julia King DBE FREng Baroness Brown of Cambridge will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event entitled Equality: Everyone’s job, no-one’s responsibility.   On the day there will be discussions on issues surrounding equality, gender and diversity and how it affects both men and women working in higher education.

Baroness Brown was an academic researcher and lecturer for sixteen years at universities in Cambridge and Nottingham.  For the next twelve years she worked in industry and proceeded to become Vice-Chancellor of Aston University until September 2016.

In 2012, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to higher education and technology.  In 2015, her appointment to become a life peer in the House of Lords was announced where she sits as a crossbencher with the title Baroness Brown.

Professor Caroline Gatrell Three guest speakers will also be presenting.  Professor Yvonne Galligan (pictured right), from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast devised a new concept ‘gender democracy’ that is now becoming widely used in the scholarly community to highlight the gendered nature of democratic politics and practices.

‌Professor Caroline Gatrell (pictured left) from the University of Liverpool’s Management School has examined how working parents – both fathers and mothers – manage boundaries between paid work and their everyday lives.  Her talk is entitled Light the blue touch paper: Managing your research career.

Paul Walton Professor Paul Walton (pictured right), a chemistry lecturer from the University of York, is an advocate of gender equality and lectures widely on the subject.  His talk is entitled Equality for Women in Science: Sometime, Now, or Never?.

“The speakers this year are from across the board and cover engineering, science, social sciences and humanities,” said Dr Gemma Sweeney from the University of Huddersfield’s School of Applied Sciences who is principal organiser of the conference.  “They have published widely on gender equality and between them will be speaking from different levels, including political, institutional, departmental and from an individual level.

“This year’s conference promises to be relevant and as widely accessible to as many people as possible,” she added. 

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) established the Athena SWAN Charter in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).

Conference organiser Dr Gemma Sweeney with Dr Lindsay Harding collecting the School of Applied Science’s Bronze Athena Swan certificate and trophy

In May 2015, the Charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

Athena SWAN celebrates good practice at institutional and departmental level and recognises commitment to gender equality in recruiting, retaining and promoting staff with an awards scheme.

The University of Huddersfield was granted an institutional bronze Athena SWAN award in October 2015 and its School of Applied Sciences achieved the University’s first departmental bronze award in April 2016

Other schools will now follow suit by drawing up their own Athena SWAN submissions and once they are successful, this will pave the way for the University of Huddersfield to apply for a coveted Silver award.

The Conference will be taking place in the University’s new Oastler Building on 5 May and staff and students from all universities are invited to attend.  To register for the conference, go to the Eventbrite booking page.

Pictured above are conference organiser Dr Gemma Sweeney (right) with Dr Lindsay Harding collecting the School of Applied Science’s Bronze Athena Swan certificate and trophy.

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Huddersfield Weather Watch – December 2016


Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:08:00 GMT

One of the warmest and driest 

sunset DECEMBER 2016 was amongst one of the warmest and driest in Huddersfield since our records began.  Looking at the UK as a whole it was the eighth warmest since 1910 (Met Office).  The average figures are those recorded by the School of Applied Sciences ‌weather station since 1990.

The monthly mean temperature of 7.2˚C was significantly higher than the average temperature for December of 5.32˚C making it the third warmest December since our records began.  The temperatures recorded for both the warmest day and the highest maximum were the second highest recorded by the weather station for December since 1990; only beaten by figures recorded in 2015.  Four days of the month saw average temperatures reach double figures!  The warmest day of the month was Wednesday 7th with an average temperature of 14.3˚C (average 11.3˚C); the highest maximum temperature of 16.1˚C was also recorded on this day.  The coldest day of the month was Wednesday 28th with an average temperature of -0.6˚C making it the coldest December day since 2012 and the coldest day of all months since March 11th 2013.  The lowest minimum temperature of -4.2 ˚C was recorded on both Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th.  The temperature fell below zero on just three days of the month.

A total of just 35.4mm (average 98.5mm) of rainfall was recorded during the month making it the second driest December since our records began (December 2010 was the driest with 25.8mm of rainfall).  The wettest day of the month with 23.2% of the month’s rainfall was Wednesday 7th.  Eleven days of the month recorded no rain but there were no significant dry spells.

The mean wind speed for the month was 9.86km/hr.  The highest mean wind speed was 30.96km/hr recorded on Sunday 25th.  The maximum gust for the month was 104.4km/hr also recorded on Sunday 25th.

The prevailing wind direction was south west.

Julie Walker
Resource Centre and Environmental Technician
School of Applied Sciences


2016 Year Summary

A total of 761mm of rain fell in Huddersfield during 2016 compared to the average figure of 838.51mm recorded since our records began in 1990.  Looking at the six month period from January to June 1990 – 2016 it was the sixth wettest since our records began, the yearly figure however was below average due to less rainfall in the latter six months. The wettest month was January with 110.8mm of rainfall (14.5% of the year’s total).  The wettest day of the year was Sunday 27th March with 22.6mm of rainfall.  The driest month of the year was October with 30.4mm of rainfall.  The driest spell was the 16 days between Thursday March 10th and Friday 25th March.   A total of 90.8mm rain fell during the wettest spell of the year, Monday 25th January to Tuesday 9th February, accounting for 12% of the year’s total rainfall.

The warmest month of the year was July with an average temperature of 17.4˚C.  The warmest day of the year, indeed the second warmest day since our records began, was Tuesday 19th July with an average temperature of 26.3˚C.  The highest temperature recorded during the year, the fifth highest temperature recorded since our records began was 32.6˚C again recorded on Tuesday 19th July.  The coldest month of the year was February with an average temperature of 5.04˚C.  The coldest day of the year was Wednesday 28th December with an average temperature of -0.6˚C; it was the coldest day since March 11th 2013.  The lowest temperature recorded during the month was -4.2˚C recorded on both Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th December.

The windiest month of the year was February with an average wind speed of 13.8km/hr.  The windiest day of the year was Monday February 1st with a substantial mean wind speed of 46.44km/hr, amongst one of the highest recorded figures since our records began.  The highest gust of wind for the year and beating last year’s record gust of 136.44km/hr (11/01/15) was 136.8km recorded on Monday 1st February!


Monthly Overview 2016

All average figures are those recorded by the Applied Sciences weather station since 1990.

January – Higher than average temperatures and rainfall totals plus significant wind speeds were recorded during the month. Sunday 24th was the warmest January day since our records began.

February – Temperatures for the month were slightly below average and rainfall figures slightly above. Wind speeds were also above average with some significant gusts of wind. Storm Henry brought widespread gale-force winds on the 1st and 2nd especially in the north, and then storm Imogen brought further strong winds mainly to the south on the 7th and 8th (Met. Office).

March – Temperatures were below average whilst rainfall was above. It was the wettest since 2008 and the 6th wettest since our records began.

April – It was the fourth coldest since our records began. Rainfall was above average.

May – It was the second warmest experienced in Huddersfield during the past ten years.  Rainfall and wind speeds were below average.

June – A dull start to summer with temperatures only kept around average due to warm nights.  It was the sixth wettest June since our records began.

July – Monthly temperatures were very close to average. Tuesday 19th was the warmest day of the month with temperatures averaging an amazing 26.3˚C; thus making it the warmest July day and the second warmest day of all months since our records began! 

August – Temperatures were slightly above average; rainfall was below.

September – It was the second warmest experienced in Huddersfield since our records began.  Rainfall was below average; wind speeds above average.

October – Temperatures were slightly below average and very low rainfall meant it was the third equal driest October since our records began.

November - Below average temperatures, average rainfall and relatively low wind speeds.

December - Amongst one of the warmest and driest in Huddersfield since our records began.

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Conference salutes 20th anniversary of childhood research centre

childhood research centre

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:16:00 GMT

Delegates call for “stronger sense of collaboration across boundaries between researchers and practitioners”

Professor Barry Percy-Smith with Professor Bob CryanDirector of the Centre Professor Barry Percy-Smith (right) with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan

HEALTH and social care professionals came to the University of Huddersfield to learn about new research in fields that include domestic violence, child neglect, eating disorders, gay and lesbian adoption, the wellbeing of children with parents in prison, and youth participation and citizenship.  They also heard how fruitful partnerships can be forged between university-based researchers and practitioners working for bodies such as health trusts, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations.

The event was the annual conference held by the University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research, which is marking its twentieth anniversary.  Titled Improving lives: Making a difference with children, youth and family research, the day featured 13 presentations by academic staff and researchers.

Following a welcoming address from the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan, the Director of the Centre, Professor Barry Percy-Smith, welcomed delegates to the conference.  The keynote speech was from Professor Nigel Parton, whose books include The Politics of Child Protection.  He provided critical reflections on applied research with children and families.

‌Throughout the day, conference attendees – some 70 in total – had a choice of panel sessions, which featured University researchers describing recent and ongoing projects.

childhood conference delegates Opening the conference, keynote speaker Professor Nigel Parton

Brid Featherstone, who is Professor of Social Work, spoke about the relationship between poverty and maltreatment, during a panel session that also featured social work lecturer Dr Kate Wood, whose presentation was titled Conceptualisation of family in gay and lesbian adoption and fostering.

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery Dr Joyce Marshall and Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr Dawn Leeming dealt with issues surrounding breastfeeding, while Head of Pre-Registration Nursing Dr Jackie Vasey spoke about parental involvement in a child’s acute pain care.

Research Fellow Dr Kate Smith’s presentation was titled Rethinking stories of migration with children, women and families.  Senior Lecturer in Social Work Ben Raikes explored the issues faced by grandmothers caring for children with parents in prison.

David Smith, who is a Research Assistant in the University’s School of Art, Design and Architecture, described the development of a computer game designed to empower and promote empathy for children affected by domestic violence.  This is an element of the None in Three research project that aims to prevent domestic violence in the Caribbean.

childhood conference delegatesGuest panelist (l-r) Belinda Cashman, Dr Suzanne Smith and Diane Curry

Dr Bernard Gallagher, Reader in Social Work, reported on a project that appraised the experiences and view of the users of domestic abuse services in a local authority area, while Senior Lecturer in Social Work Dr Sasha Williams spoke about lay people’s views of child neglect.

Dr Sarah Kendal – who is Head of the Division of Mental Health and Learning Disability – described young people’s perspectives on eating disorders.  Senior Research Fellow Dr Gráinne McMahon gave a presentation on online activism and political participation by young feminists drawing on a European funded project; along with a talk from Centre Director Barry Percy-Smith on supporting the participation of marginalised young people using action research.

The conference concluded with an hour-long session that began with presentations from four health and social care practitioners who have worked on projects with the University of Huddersfield.  They were Dr Suzanne Smith, of the Pennine Health Trust; Diane Curry of the organisation Partners of Prisoners (POPS); Belinda Cashman of Kirklees Council Leaving Care team; and Louise Warner, of the Calderdale and Kirklees-based WomenCentre.

childhood conference delegates Guest panelist Louise Warner (right) with the University’s Professor Brid Featherstone

There followed a discussion session that Professor Featherstone described as inspiring.  “We all agreed that although there are challenges around money, this also forced us to think creatively together about how we can meet needs in challenging times.”

A key theme that emerged, added Professor Featherstone, was that it was vital for partnerships between universities and outside organisations to value and build on the good relationships built up over time, giving rise to a stronger sense of collaboration across boundaries between researchers and practitioners.

Commenting on the overall success of the 2017 conference of the Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research, Professor Percy-Smith said: “We are very pleased with how the day went and the wide range of participants who attended.  There was a positive energy throughout the day evident in the vibrant and productive discussions and feedback during and after the event.

“The success of the day further reinforces the value and importance of the work of the Centre in developing high quality applied research with children, youth and families.  We look forward to new and continuing research partnerships in the coming year.”

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