Monday, 15 May 2017

Wales NEXUS Conference 2017

The Wales NEXUS Conference 2017, the annual learning and teaching conference of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, took place in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, 3-5 May, and was well attended by colleagues from across Wales and beyond. Please see this press release for a report of the Conference.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Wales NEXUS Conference 2016

The Wales NEXUS Conference 2016 is the annual learning and teaching conference of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), in association with the University of Wales, and will be taking place over two days on 23-24 March in Carmarthen.

The Wales NEXUS Conference provides a platform to further develop the links between research, professional practice and teaching in Higher Education. Linkages between research and teaching are defined broadly to include the scholarship of learning and teaching, research-informed teaching, enriching the student experience, and the learning and teaching in general. The NEXUS integrates subject- and multidiscipline-based research with curriculum, teaching and learning.

The Conference, which will be chaired by Professor Simon Haslett PFHEA who is Pro Vice-Chancellor (International and Enhancement), includes a number of keynotes, symposia and workshops, including themes such as:

Bilingual education, a workshop facilitated by Gwenllian Beynon of the Faculty of Art and Design at UWTSD and also Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

Education for sustainable development and global citizenship (ESDGC) theme will be kicked off by chaired by Dr Carolyn Hayles of INSPIRE and the UWTSD ESDGC Enhancement Group featuring a workshop and symposia on behalf of the HE Future Generations Group (HEFGG) and a keynote by Dr Alex Ryan (Director of Sustainability at the University of Gloucestershire).

Equality in education, a symposium chaired by Professor David Egan of the Wales Centre for Equity in Education.

Life Design, which is UWTSD’s current enhancement theme and programme that is designed to help students make the most of their time at university and prepare them for their future. Life Design is also the University’s contribution to the sectors Transition, Retention and Attainment (Wales) Strategic Enhancement Programme. The symposium will be chaired by Professor Andy Penaluna (Research Director of the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development and chair of the Enterprise and Employability Skills Enhancement Group at UWTSD).

Student partnerships, a workshop facilitated by the Wise Wales Project and chaired by Rhys Dart, Chief Executive Officer of the Trinity Saint David Students’ Union.

Other sessions include keynotes by Luci Attala (winner of the Sustainability Champion Award (staff) of the Green Gown Awards 2015) and Professor Simon Haslett, an academic publishing workshop facilitated by the University of Wales Press (and the relaunch of the Wales Journal of Education), a learning and teaching symposium chaired by Dr Erietta Bissa, a research-informed teaching symposium chaired by Rob Charters, and a technology-enhanced learning workshop and symposium chaired by Professor Tony Toole.

Registration is now open to all and delegates should register using this link by 5pm Friday 11th March 2016.

A Conference Proceedings will be published in due course as a special issue of the Wales Journal of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and submissions are welcome from all conference delegates.

Friday, 8 November 2013

A broader view of undergraduate research opportunity programmes: collaborative culture and curriculum development.

A presentation by Dr Nathan Roberts and Dr Iain Mossman (Cardiff University) at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 10th September 2013, at the University of WalesGregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Drs Nathan Roberts (left) and Ian Mossman
Undergraduate research opportunities programmes (UROPs) which offer students placement work as supervised academic researchers have become a feature at several universities. Their benefits to the students involved have been evaluated and affirmed (for example, by Crieghton and John, 2011), usually defined in terms of effective research skills development and an increased likelihood of progressing to doctoral study. Drawing on a long-term evaluation of Cardiff University’s CUROP scheme – one of the largest in the UK - we will explore how such schemes have a reach beyond that described in the current literature and argue that such initiatives can have significant effects on curriculum development, pedagogy and the culture experienced by the wider body of staff and students. With examples drawn from several different disciplinary contexts, we will demonstrate how a UROP programme can create an atmosphere of collaboration between researchers and the wider student body which shapes teaching practice, increases engagement and promotes curriculum development for active student research participation.

CREIGHTON, J. and JOHN, J. 2011 “Researcher development: the impact of undergraduate research opportunity programmes on students in the UK” Studies in Higher Education. 36, 7.

Working with international students as co-researchers: towards an inclusive educational community.

A presentation by Dr Julie Wintrup and Dr Kelly Wakefield (University of Southampton) at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 10th September 2013, at the University of WalesGregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Dr Julie Wintrup
Background to study: Institutional and political manoeuvres have ensured that international students are at once the subject of concern and opprobrium, in the UK and elsewhere. Increased recruitment, particularly of post-graduates, is a goal of all in the HE sector, and is generally accompanied by strategies to welcome and support new arrivals. At the same time, powerful discourses seek to vilify the international student - as interloper, seeking work rather than study – and are epitomised by recent reporting of the UK Border Agency’s aim to ensure ‘that only the right students get in’ (Casciani, 2012). Such a climate requires more than managerial approaches to marketing, accommodation and social networks. The curriculum, enacted through learning and teaching, provides a means of deconstructing and countering such discourses, and of providing alternative conceptions of an inclusive higher education community. But doing so requires attention and investment, along with a deeper understanding of what is meaningful and helpful to students.

Rational and methodology: In general, International students’ broader experiences are well documented (for example, Bamford, 2008). Learning and teaching strategies are well explored in the literature, providing helpful advice and ideas (such as Leask, 2009). Yet all too often, as Preston-Shoot (2007) reminds us, the student perspective is interpreted and expressed by others. Research by established academics is shared through journals and books. The likelihood of findings or recommendations reaching students themselves or the many academics working as supervisors, programme designers or tutors is low.

This study, which is still at the data collection stage, aims to begin a conversation with international students, amongst and between students and educators, to discover more about a particular aspect of their learning; that is, how they experience, value and use verbal feedback from supervisors, peers, in group seminars, work placements and informally. Post-graduate students are interviewing their peers, having co-designed the interview schedule with researchers. Analysis and dissemination of findings will be a shared task, opening up opportunities for students to participate in a range of curricular and staff development activities within and beyond our institution.

Video referred to in the presentation:

Editor's note: see also Foreign students made to queue through the night by Hannah Richardson (BBC News education reporter).

Developing students as researchers within College-based Higher Education.

A presentation by Dr Jonathan Eaton (Newcastle College), at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 9th September 2013, at the University of WalesGregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Dr Jonathan Eaton
The purpose of this paper is to outline the challenges which College-based Higher Education (CBHE) providers face in nurturing communities of research encompassing both staff and students. It will present a case study of the development of a research culture within a large CBHE provider. 

Eight percent of HE students in England are taught within a college environment (Parry et al., 2012). This figure is likely to grow over the coming years in light of the renewed emphasis on widening participation and increasing demand for flexible provision, areas in which colleges are likely to play a crucial role. Embedding the concept of ‘HEness’ within institutions offering different levels of FE and HE is a matter of debate across the sector (Lea and Simmons, 2012). The research activities of teaching staff play a crucial role in differentiating between FE and HE provision. A number of larger colleges are in the process of applying for degree awarding powers which will give greater autonomy and responsibility to the institutions concerned. The QAA (2013) has recently published guidance on its expectations of scholarly activity within such institutions. 

Newcastle College has implemented a unique strategic approach to research and scholarly activity within the CBHE sector. This involves the creation of opportunities which empower students as researchers both within and beyond the curriculum. Particular emphasis is placed on celebrating the scholarly outputs of students. The institution values students as partners and peers in the research conducted by staff. Students are also encouraged to actively contribute to the management and dissemination of research. This approach is not without challenges, particularly in identifying a suitable range of opportunities to engage a diverse student body.

Video's used in the presentation:

Lea, J. and Simmons, J. (2012). Higher education in further education: capturing and promoting HEness. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 17 (2), pp. 179-193.

Parry, G., Callender, C., Scott, P. and Temple, P. (2012) Understanding Higher Education in Further Education Colleges. London: BIS. 

It’s time to ‘Face’ the truth. Is Facebook’s Survey Monkey a legitimate research and pedagogical tool?

A presentation by Stephen Hole in collaboration with Christopher House (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea) and Gavin Bunting (University of Wales), at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 10th September 2013, at the University of WalesGregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Dr Stephen Hole
The phenomenal development of social media in recent years is providing research and pedagogical opportunities for the University sector. Facebook has over 500 million active users, 50% of which access it on a daily basis.  The size and use of Facebook’s Survey Monkey represents an ideal tool for research and provides new teaching considerations.  This paper used research from postgraduate, undergraduate studies and Higher Education Institution (HEI) staff awareness surveys to identify the benefits, considerations and future opportunities for using Survey Monkey in publishable research, dissertations and class exercises.  Findings demonstrated that the use of Survey Monkey needs to be carefully monitored so that sound methodological decision making is adhered too.  The research proposes a set of recommendations that should be considered when formulating, implementing and interpreting research founded on Survey Monkey results.  Universities need to develop a set of hierarchical guideline that are dependent on the function of the survey and incorporates monitoring strategies.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Thought Experiment: Developing Research as Practice for Masters Students in Art & Design.

A presentation by Professor Howard Riley in collaboration with Paul Jeff (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea), at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 10th September 2013, at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Professor Howard Riley
The presentation describes an introductory project designed to stimulate students’ research activities on the taught Masters programme in the Faculty of Art and Design, and locates it within the ‘ladder’ framework suggested by Helen Walkington's 2011 Keynote and the research-participation matrix suggested by Mick Healey (2005). The Thought Experiment becomes the vehicle by which students are encouraged to develop individual approaches to the gathering, collating and application of information relevant to their assigned topic, chosen at random from a range provided by the staff team. Such staff-initiated, but student-structured research activities are shown to empower subsequent studio practice and enhance the quality of works produced for exhibition. The presentation is illustrated with examples of students’ work.

HEALEY, M. 2005 Linking Research and Teaching: Exploring Disciplinary Spaces and the Role of Inquiry-based Learning. In Barnett, R. (ed.) Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press. 30-42.

How to effectively integrate guest/visiting lecturers into HEI provision.

A presentation by Dr Gavin Bunting (University of Wales), in collaboration with Christopher House (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea), at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 10th September 2013, at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Research-Teaching Practice In Wales Conference 2013
Dr Gavin Bunting
In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) guest/visiting lecturers are an increasingly important pedagogical tool in bridging the gap between theory and practice; therefore it is important that their practice, skills and support procedures are carefully considered. This paper used a literature review and action research to provide an overview of the guidance and best practice available for guest /visiting lecturers. It focused on student engagement, quality assurance, assessment of group dynamics and how to tailor lectures. The initial results identified key considerations that need to be incorporated into HEI procedures so that these types of lectures form an integral and effective part of courses. From results, a checklist was developed to help ensure guest/visiting lecturers coordinate with learning outcomes, integrate assessment strategies and sufficiently engage students to encourage deep learning.  Hence, this research provides a set of considerations for this important part of HEI provision that now needs to be further tested and refined to develop a clear set of procedures, considerations and management tools to effectively integrate guest/visiting lecturers into the student experience and hence reduce the gap between theory and practice.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

British Conference for Undergraduate Research 2014 - Call for Papers now open!

BCUR14 will be at the University of Nottingham, 14th-15th April 2014. The Call for Papers is now available.

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research promotes undergraduate research in all disciplines. The Conference meets annually every Spring in a different British university. Undergraduates of all levels are invited to submit papers, posters, workshops and performances to the Conference. Abstracts are peer-reviewed and those accepted will be invited to attend the conference. Conference fees are usually paid by the student's own university. BCUR also accepts submissions from students outside of the UK.

It would be great to increase the number of students from Welsh institutions attending and presenting. Please encourage your students to submit an abstract and to provide some financial support if at all possible.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Status quo vadis? An assessment of the relationship between science, education and policy implementation.

A presentation by Christopher House (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea), in collaboration with Gavin Bunting (University of Wales) and Stephen Hole (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea), at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 9th September 2013, at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

Christopher House
Science and considered educational practice need clarification for the nexus between them to be effective.  Increasingly the relationship between science findings, educational practice and policy implementation are an area of lucrative research.  Research data, collected via semi-structured interviews with representatives of academia, government and quasi government organisations, was assessed alongside published work.  Principal findings emphasised that scientists, educators, street level bureaucrats and mandarins need to engage more coherently with the existing science education nexus to facilitate, but not format research agendas and their dissemination.  Findings showed that extensive research results are readily available, but there is need for further manipulation, coordination, communication and adaptation between the advocacy coalitions.  Consequently, the science, education, policy nexus should be internalised.  Furthermore, to develop shared awareness, considered dissemination of knowledge and understanding requires both vertical and horizontal integration.  Policy results should be clear and innovative knowledge transfer fora, using Technology Enhanced Dissemination (TED) must be applied.

Rethinking the dissertation: avoiding throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

KEYNOTE WORKSHOP by Professor Mick Healey (University of Gloucestershire) presented at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference, 9th September 2013, at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall. Edited by Professor Simon Haslett.

“For the students who are the professionals of the future, developing the ability to investigate problems, make judgments on the basis of sound evidence, take decisions on a rational basis, and understand what they are doing and why is vital.  Research and inquiry is not just for those who choose to pursue an academic career.  It is central to professional life in the twenty-first century” (Brew, 2007).

Prof Mick Healey keynote workshop
Prof Mick Healey keynote
Final year projects and dissertations (FYPD) are a topic of interest in many countries.  In the UK the final year dissertation has traditionally been seen as the gold standard for HE. It provides an excellent training ground for students who wish to continue research at Masters and Doctoral levels, as well as showing evidence of the all-important independence and critical thinking skills emphasised as graduate attributes. Effectively implemented, the outcome from undergraduate dissertations can be highly motivated students effectively empowered as independent self-learners.  For many students it provides a transformative experience, yet for others the experience is less inspiring and sometimes quite negative. The traditional dissertation has come under pressure for reform as student participation in higher education has increased, there has been a growth in professional disciplines, and staff-student ratios have deteriorated. Some departments have dropped the dissertation altogether or made it optional, but this could be seen as ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.

Prof Mick Healey - keynote workshop
Prof Healey and some workshop participants
This interactive presentation explored ways in which we can rethink the dissertation, while at the same time retaining a significant element of research and inquiry and deliver key graduate attributes. Our argument is that a more flexible approach is needed in the form, function and assessment of final year projects and dissertations to meet the needs of all students. These may include group, work-oriented and community-based projects. There can also be novel ways of disseminating the findings – via exhibitions, undergraduate research conferences and other forms of public engagement. Preparation for the dissertation needs to begin from the day students enter the university.

Prof Healey showed this following Youtube video at the end of his presentation.

Selected references on topic:
  1. 2005 Linking research and teaching exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning, in Barnett, R (ed) Reshaping the university: new relationships between research, scholarship and teaching McGraw-Hill/Open University Press, 67-78.
  2. 2005 Linking research and teaching to benefit student learning, Journal of Geography in Higher Education 29(2), 183-201.
  3. 2007 Linking teaching and research in departments and disciplines. York: The Higher Education Academy (Jenkins A, Healey M and Zetter R) 96pp 
  4. 2009 Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. York: HE Academy (Healey M and Jenkins A) 152pp 
  5. 2010 The research-teaching nexus: A case study of students’ awareness, experiences and perceptions of research, Innovations in Education and Teaching International 47(2), 235-246 (Healey M, Jordan F, Pell B and Short C) 
  6. 2011 Rethinking the dissertation, The Guardian 28th June
  7. 2012 Research-led or research-based undergraduate curricula, in Chalmers, D and Hunt, L (eds) Preparing to teach in universities: An evidence-based approach. Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: Acer pp128-144 (Jenkins A and Healey M) 
  8. 2013 Developing and enhancing undergraduate final year projects and dissertations. York: HE Academy (Healey M, Lannin L, Stibbe A and Derounian J)
Professor Healey is a HE Consultant and Researcher and Emeritus Professor at the University of Gloucestershire, UK.  Until 2010 he was Director of the Centre for Active Learning, a nationally funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. He is an adjunct Professor at Macquarie University, Australia and a Visiting Professor at the University of South Wales.  He was one of the first people in the UK to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) and to be made a Principal Fellow of the HE Academy. Earlier this year he won a SEDA@20 Legacy Award. Mick is an experienced presenter. Since 1995 he has given around 500 educational workshops, seminars and conference presentations. He has written and edited around 150 papers, chapters, books and guides on various aspects of teaching and learning in HE. He is often asked to act as an advisor to projects, universities and national governments on aspects of teaching and learning in HE. He recently completed being the director of a NTF two year funded project on ‘‘Rethinking Final Year Projects and Dissertations: Creative Honours and Capstone Projects”.  He presented and co-facilitated the All Wales Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set Event ‘Strategies for strengthening teaching and research links in Wales’ at Gregynog in 2009.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Research-Teaching Practice in Wales 2013: Welcome

Welcome presentation by Professor Simon Haslett at the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference 2013 on 9th September at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall. It briefly introduces the context of the link between research and teaching in Welsh universities, providing recent proxy data indicating that the more research-intensive universities receive higher student satisfaction results. Prof Haslett is Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales.

Peer-to-peer culture - research-led teaching

Research-led teaching on campus is the best option for academics and students, argues Ian Young in an article in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-14 supplement last week. Ian Young is Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference 2013 - delegate feedback

The Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference 2013 took place at the University of Wales, Gregynog Hall, on 9-10th September. Over the next few weeks the resources from the conference will be posted on this blog. To start with, delegates were asked at the end of the conference for their feedback; the responses to the three questions posed to them by Professor Mick Healey are as follows:

What was the best thing about this workshop?
  1. The friendly cross-curricular nature of the conference. The small number of delegates in one place made for better discussion and more time to ask questions.
  2. Exchange of innovative practice.
  3. Great keynote – really inspired opening up to alternative and additional ways of involving first year students in research. It had a fast and fun element, it was refreshing to get up and move around!
  4. Realising the wide range of activities relating to research-teaching nexus across many disciplines.
  5. The paper on artistic thought was well received, although links to other disciplines were not explicit, it bred so many ideas of how the concept could be applied elsewhere.
  6. The programme was well pitched in terms of paper length, balance of interactivity and more passive listening
  7. Colleagues’ enthusiasm about R-T links and meeting new delegates, especially across the education landscape – from large, public universities to FE and private colleges.  This provided a good breadth of representation.
  8. Learning about different practices across other universities and other people’s research.
  9. The organisation of the conference, the timings, venue and set-up.
  10. The variety of topics were very different, but all linked together coherently.

What could be improved upon?
  1. The conference could be slightly longer – possibly three days instead of two, depending on the quality of papers.
  2. A few more attendees would have improved the conference to spread the message and it was a shame that two speakers dropped out.
  3. Horseshoe-style set-up, rather than tables in rows
  4. Having a student(s) attend to talk about their experiences from their perspective.
  5. It would have been beneficial to have all Welsh HEIs represented. A longer notice period for “call for papers” might have made this possible.
  6. Wider participation from more HEIs.
  7. Encourage presenters to vary their approach/delivery. Could be part of the abstract and selection process.

What will you take away with you (action points)?
  1. Develop a “new” research methods course.
  2. Suggest university adopts a CUROP for potential students that are about to start their studies and/or help students with knowledge gaps
  3. Setting up paid Summer research projects, like Cardiff University’s CUROP
  4. Put together some institution-wide events on research-based teaching, potentially with a dissertation theme
  5. Use Professor Mick Healey’s exercises – line-ups, using post-its to filter down ideas
  6. Open an institutional discussion regarding the forms that a dissertation or project can take.  To help broaden the acceptability of different forms and embrace diversity of projects and dissertations.
  7. Using the dissertation workshop in-house.
  8. Disseminating the Southampton project and the Cardiff one. Also, discussing the Cardiff project with a colleagues who may wish to take this forward.
  9. Research internships at Cardiff and how the experiment employed by Swansea Metropolitan can be applied in a computer science context.
  10. Pursue publication of papers.
  11. Developing the idea of “research-as-practice” and “practice-as-research”, relevant to more traditional “practice placement” ideas.
  12. Feedback interviews between students – may incorporate this into study skills lessons.
  13. Follow up on some of the references mentioned in the presentations.
  14. Look at the CUROP website.
  15. Download and distribute Professor Mick Healey’s HEA report on capture project.

Any other comments?
  1. Great and congenial environment.
  2. Very enjoyable.
  3. Might be helpful to prepare delegates for small number.  See the event as a reflective/discursive opportunity, rather than a “conference”.
  4. Attendees could be asked to submit questions surrounding their practice.
  5. Good diversity of subject matter.
  6. Extremely crucial thematic area which needs on-going focus.
  7. Gregynog is an ideal setting.
  8. Thanks to the organisers.
  9. Should be made an annual event.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Research-Teaching Practice in Wales 2013 Conference

Places are still available at the Higher Education Academy funded Research-Teaching Practice in Wales 2013 Conference to be held at Gregynog Hall on 9-10 September and hosted by the University of Wales.

Keynote Workshop with Professor Mick Healey Rethinking the Undergraduate Dissertation.

For details and to book your place by 30th August see 

Monday, 12 August 2013

British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2013 Special Issue

The BCUR 2013 special issue of the Reinvention journal has now been published - click here. The issue houses 13 papers presented at BCUR in Plymouth as well as at ICUR – the International Conference for Undergraduate Research, inspired by BCUR and held concurrently at Monash and Warwick universities in May of this year.

Monday, 15 April 2013

BCUR 2013 starts today

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2013 started today at the University of Plymouth. There is a very exciting programme featuring undergraduate students from across the United Kingdom, including Wales. It promises to be a great conference.

Of the 200 or so delegates, there are 11 delegates from three Welsh institutions: University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea Metropolitan University, and the University of Wales. It is interesting to note that these three universities are in a three-way merger process with each other. Unfortunately, no other Welsh institutions are represented at BCUR this year.

The presentations by delegates from Welsh universities are:
  • Conor Campbell (UW:TSD) The Second Founder: Use of Foundation Mythology in the reign of Augustus.
  • Jon Coles (UW:TSD) Livy's new comedy.
  • Anna Pilbeam (UW:TSD) The Student Researcher: Journal of Undergraduate Research. On-going reflections.
'Student Researcher' poster at BCUR 2013
Poster by Anna Pilbeam (UW:TSD) at BCUR2013

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Learned Society of Wales response to White Paper

In July 2012 the Welsh Government issued a White Paper on the Further and Higher Education (Wales) Bill 2013 (WG14745).  This set out, for consultation, its proposals in relation to further education governance and higher education reform.

The Learned Society of Wales has serious concerns about aspects of the proposals relating to higher education and has submitted Comments on these to Government as part of the consultative process.  The text of the White Paper and the Society’s Comments may be found at:

Interestingly, the Learned Society points out that the Government repeatedly says "that with respect to the universities 'the twin drivers are delivering social justice and ensuring a buoyant economy' - nothing about excellence in teaching and research."

Friday, 12 October 2012

British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2013 - Call for Papers Now Open

The call for papers from both students and staff is now open for BCUR 2013 at Plymouth University on 15-16th April 2013. Full information can be found on the call for papers tab at the BCUR website. The organisers and steering group are looking forward to receiving the submissions to the 2013 conference by the 3rd December 2012 deadline.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Volume 2 of The Student Researcher is now published.

An announcement has been made that Volume 2 of The Student Researcher is now available. It is an undergraduate research journal of the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David and edited by students and staff. Well done to them and the student authors for producing another interesting volume.

The contents of the volume is available here.

There is also a Facebook Group for the journal that students, and staff, can join.

Monday, 17 September 2012

British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2012 Resources and Welsh Participation

The resources of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) 2012 are now available from the BCUR 2012 website.

Regarding involvement of academics and students from Welsh institutions, the University of Wales and University of Wales: Trinity Saint David were the only universities from Wales represented this year, although there were more at BCUR 2011. Next year, BCUR 2013 will be held at the University of Plymouth on15-16th April 2013.

Please click on the links below for video footage of Welsh participants:
  1. Professor Simon Haslett (University of Wales and BCUR Steering Group member) opening interview of the poster sessions. See also Simon's review of Day1 of the Conference.
  2. Selina Ali (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David) presentation Applications of 3D Digital Methods in Nautical Archaeology: The Barland's Farm Romano-Celtic Boat, A Case Study.
  3. Sarah Goodridge and Selina Ali (University of Wales: Trinity Saint David) presenting The Student Researcher: Journal of Undergraduate Research - The Students' Journey.
Professors Simon Haslett (University of Wales) and Derek France (University of Chester) talking to Naomi Falkenburg, an editor of The Reinvention Journal (a journal of undergraduate research) - see Naomi's editorial about BCUR 2012 in the journal.

Professor Simon Haslett (University of Wales) talking to student Claudia Vilhena (University of Lisbon) about her research. 

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) produced their own video about their students and staff who attended BCUR 2012 and posted it on YouTube.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Call for Papers - BCUR 2012

The deadline is 4th December 20122 for undergraduate research papers for the British Conference of Undergraduate Research at Warwick University in 2012. Please encourage undergraduates at Welsh Higher Education Institutions to submit a paper.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Student Researcher: Journal of Undergraduate Research

As students, its nice to know that people from different institutions from around the country come together and combine ideas about linking research and teaching. Neither of us were aware that conferences such as this existed, and we both feel honored to have contributed, especially being the only students present. This has allowed us to contribute a unique point of view, and has given us a lot of ideas that can be taken back and incorporated into our own projects. For example, the keynote speaker, Helen Walkington, shared her experiences with her own research journals and as an organiser of a departmental wide research conference, in which students present posters of their individual research. We found this idea inspiring and are in the process of discussing the logistics and possibility for a similar, university wide, student conference. However more meetings are yet to come for that. We also valued Helen’s and the other delegates kind words and advice for our own journal, The Student Researcher. The questions people had for us were at times unexpected but incredibly beneficial for us because it highlighted ideas and themes, and even problems, that we hadn’t discovered or discussed yet.

The Student Researcher, is Trinity Saint David’s first ever volume of the Undergraduate Research Journal, in which we aim to publish the best of undergraduate research. We believe that publishing undergraduate research is important and empowering to all undergraduates, because we feel that most undergraduates believe that publication is not within their reach at this level. We hope that it becomes a target that students can aim for, and aspire to, and we also hope that it will guide other students. The Student Researcher, has the potential to be an invaluable teaching and learning tool, something that is made by students, that both staff and students can use. TSD is a new university, created from both Trinity Carmarthen and Lampeter University, and we feel that The Student Researcher is the first thing to truly link both campuses together into one new institution, it introduces a new university for Wales which values research at all levels. 

Now that the first volume is done, work has quickly begun on the second edition of The Student Researcher. As third year students, our studies have become ever more important and difficult, and our role with the journal has increased. This year both of us will co-author the foreword and both of us have become head student editors for our respective campuses. This year we hope to see the editorial board grow, and we are hoping to see an increase of submissions from all departments across the university. The students we have spoken to have seemed enthusiastic about the whole idea of publication, and eager to learn how to submit their own papers or how to get involved. The students union has been absolutely amazing with their support and enthusiasm with promoting the journal, and we hope to strengthen links between the editorial board and all those involved in the process of journal creation. The first volume was a steep learning curve, and we have learned a lot from it and the mistakes within it, and we want to create an even better, even more impressive second volume.

We want to thank everyone again for the fantastic reception, and all the compliments. However we are ever learning and improving on the journal, and any feedback, questions, comments, or observations would be much appreciated.

Sarah Goodridge and Selina Ali

Friday, 16 September 2011

Conference Photographs and Feedback

Dear Delegates,

I hope you enjoyed the Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference this week at Gregynog. Please could you take a few minutes to leave a comment to this blog post with answers to the following questions:

1) what was the best thing about the Conference,
2) one thing that you will take back to your institution and/or your own practice, and
3) what could have been done to make this a better Conference (this might help inform future events).

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference - starts today!

The Research-Teaching Practice in Wales Conference starts today at Gregynog Hall near Newtown in mid-Wales. The programme includes around 20 presentations from academic in higher and further education from around Wales, and has attracted around 45 delegates for the two day conference.

The Conference is convened by Professor Simon Haslett of the University of Wales and will kick off with a Keynote from Dr Helen Walkington of Oxfrod Brookes University. Three sessions over the two days will be chaired by senior academics in learning and teaching in Wales, including Professors Norah Jones (University of Glamorgan) and Howard Riley (Swansea Metropolitan University, and Charles Buckley (Bangor University).

Delegates are encouraged to blog and tweet about the conference and it is hoped that a proceedings volume will be published in due course.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Research-Teaching Practice in Wales 2011 Conference

The Higher Education Academy Wales Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set and the University of Wales Alliance Learning and Teaching Thematic Group are co-organising this event to be held at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown (Powys) on 13th and 14th September 2011. The Conference will be of interest to both university staff and students, and follows on from the successful meeting that took place at Gregynog in 2009 (photo below).

The provisional title of the event is “Research-Teaching Practice in Wales” and the event will be split into two themes:
  1. Practice in Research-Informed Teaching;
  2. Student Engagement with Research in the Curriculum.
The likely cost per person will be around £100 for staff and £50 for students, which includes full-board and registration. Places are limited but at least two places will be reserved for each Welsh HEI up until a deadline (yet to be set). A call for papers and further details will be issued in May.

 Please express an interest as soon as is convenient. Please reply to Professor Simon Haslett (, and please feel free to circulate this information widely amongst interested colleagues.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Welsh Students at the British Conference of Undergraduate Conference

I attended Day 1 of the inaugural British Conference of Undergraduate Research today at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. I gave the opening keynote and then saw some excellent student research posters over lunch.

These included a poster by Daniel Jackson (a student from Cardiff University) on his dissertation an investigation into the reliability of tidal turbines' for sustainable electricity generation (photo below).

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay for the other students presentations on the programme from Welsh institutions:
  • James Gardiner (Swansea Uni) The affect climate change on the Blaencwm landslide.
  • Nicky Evans (Swansea Uni) N170 activity in prosopagnosia and normals; an EEG study.
  • Wai Leung Sze (Swansea Uni) Safety in the railway domain.
  • James Walker (Swansea Uni) Visualisation of animal tracking data.
  • Desislava Terziyska (Cardiff Uni) "Two plastic surgeries for the price of one" or what makes up the 'perfect' Bulgarian.
  • Liam Betsworth (Swansea Uni) Audacious: a location based application for the iPhone that makes use of a virtual audio space.
  • Jordan Scoberg-Evans (Swansea Uni) Prosopagnosia in the perceptual "face/house" decision making paradigm.
  • Jessica Esa (Swansea Metropolitan Uni) Religion in classic fairy tales.
  • Jessica Lawson Hughes (Swansea Metropolitan Uni) Representations of women in modernist literature.
Well done to them all and their tutors for encouraging them to submit papers.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

British Conference of Undergraduate Research Programme

I've seen an advanced copy of the BCUR Programme for 19-20th April at UCLAN. The good news is that eight students from Welsh Higher Education Institutions are presenting at the conference, the disappointing news is that these eight students are from just two universities! So well done to Cardiff University and Swansea University for raising awareness and encouraging students to attend. It would be good to see an increase in institutions sending students for BCUR 2012.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Research-teaching relationships and HE professional practice

A presentation by Professor Simon Haslett (University of Wales) at the Higher Education Academy Wales Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set Meeting, 10th February 2011, at Aberystwyth University.

The audio for this presentation will be available in the near future.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Is Wales set to break research-teaching links?

On 22nd December 2010, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) issued a statement on The Future Shape of the HE Sector in Wales in which it identifies expectations to be met by March 2013 that may damage research-teaching links in undergraduate curricula across Wales.

Although the main headline of HEFCWs statement is a reduction in the number of Welsh HE institutions (down to six), so that there are no more than two institutions in each of the three Welsh regions, it also states that each "region [in Wales] should have research intensive (in which we will increasingly focus our QR funding in support of sustainable excellence and relevance to Welsh Assembly Government objectives) and strong community/widening access focused provision"; implying that each region should comprise one research intensive and one access (teaching?) focused institution.

As Chair of the Higher Education Academy Wales' Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set, I am concerned that this statement, and the explicit QR funding expectations, has the potential to weaken or even break the link between research and teaching in the undergraduate curriculum in Wales.

Since its first meeting at the University of Wales, Newport, in February 2009, the Action Set has worked actively towards enhancing existing, and forging new, links between research and teaching across Wales; holding a conference at Gregynog Hall in September 2009 and launching a book of Welsh case studies at the Higher Education Academy's Annual Conference in June 2010. At the last meeting in September 2010 at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David's, the focus was on promoting and celebrating undergraduate research, including student participation in mainstream research projects and publishing papers.

The focus of planned Action Set activity in 2011 is to influence and inform the next generation of 5-year Welsh institutional learning and teaching strategies that are required by HEFCW in the Autumn (a HEA-convened strategy briefing event will take place in the Spring), with the aim that measures to enhance research-teaching links are featured explicitly as a part of institutional quality enhancement targets. But how might the December HEFCW statement affect this?

The HEFCW statement heralds a period of uncertainty for Welsh Higher Education, particularly as institutional mergers are inevitable, which will undoubtedly have an effect of the development of learning and teaching strategies and quality enhancement initiatives. But will the statement lead to a more fundamental disconnect between research and teaching?

I am concerned, using HEFCWs language, that the research intensive institutions may, as has happened elsewhere, exclude undergraduate students from the institutional research culture - there are many examples where students are never taught by the top research professors that attracted them to the institution in the first place!

Furthermore, given the separation stated by HEFCW, access focused institutions may now see research as unecessary and, with heavy teaching loads, academics may not have time or resources to pursue research, especially as HEFCW suggest reducing QR funding for these institutions, so minimising the opportunities for research to be embedded in the curriculum and adversely affecting the quality of the student experience. Indeed, some would argue that Higher Education is not 'Higher' without research.

The next Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set meeting is to take place at Aberystwyth University on Thursday 10th February and presents a timely opportunity to discuss the issues and concerns that the HEFCW statement raises, and also other recent calls for research concentration in elite institutions. I feel the Action Set may have suddenly taken on a signficant new role in the future shaping of Higher Education in Wales, one that wont let the sector lose sight of the importance of maintaining and strengthening links between research and teaching in all Higher Education institutions in Wales.

I would urge existing Action Set members and any newcomers to attend the Aberystwyth meeting to contribute to the discussion, but would also welcome comments posted in reply to this blog entry.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Call for teaching-only institutions again!

The Times Higher Education have run an article this week calling for research to be concentrated in pre-1992 institutions. This is an arguement that was first aired around 10 years ago and most have considered it has been put to bed, so a bit disappointing for it to raised yet again.

Friday, 7 January 2011

British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves presented on Undergraduate Research at the last meeting of the R-T Nexus Action Set in Carmarthen. At the meeting he promoted the first British Conference of Undergraduate Research to be held at the University of Central Lancashire on 19-20th April 2011, and posters and flyers were sent to Welsh institutions in the autumn. He was delighted at the meeting by colleagues suggesting they would look into encouraging their students to consider attending and presenting at the conference. However, the submission date passed in December and no submissions from Wales were received.

Stuart has kindly agreed to allow submissions from Welsh students until the end of January. Therefore, I would urge colleagues to encourage students to submit so that we have good representation from Wales. Details may be found at

Next Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set Meeting

The next meeting of the RT Nexus Action Set will be 10 February 2011 at Aberystwyth University. If you have not already done so, please could you confirm your attendance by replying to as soon as possible (31 January latest).

The meeting will take place in MedRus 4 in Penbryn Hall. The programme is below.

10.15 Arrival and coffee

10.45 Presentation: “Research-teaching relationships and HE professional practice” by Professor Simon Haslett (University of Wales)

12.30 Lunch

13.15 Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set business meeting (All welcome – chaired by Simon Haslett)

14.45 Close

In the presentation, Professor Simon Haslett (University of Wales) will examine the ways in which research and teaching may be linked in academic practice in Higher Education. He will attempt to unravel the various linkages through scholarship, research (both subject-based and pedagogic), and curriculum, and outline the activity and contribution of the Higher Education Academy Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set in Wales. The presentation will draw upon his recent experience as Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Wales, Newport, as a case study, and he will also provide examples of research-teaching links from his own professional practice.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Newport NEXUS Conference 2010

The Newport NEXUS Conference was held at the University of Wales, Newport, on 14-15 June 2010. Read the Conference blog.

Linking Research and Teaching in Wales

The Higher Education Academy book is now published online. There was a launch of the online version of the book at the Newport NEXUS Conference on 15th June 2010, but hard copies will be launched at the HEA Annual Conference at the University of Hertfordshire on 22-23 June.