OxStu Bitesize: Issue 57th August 2017 By Charlie Willis
Oxford keeps ticking even when its students are on holiday – so we at the OxStu News team have put together a weekly newsletter for all your Oxford news in one quick bite. Every Monday, to start your week, we’ll bring student, university, research and city news all together in one place.
Admissions to be monitored for discrimination against Brits
The Department of Education has promised that the Higher Education and Research Act, coming into effect in April 2018, will protect British students from discrimination, after an investigation by The Sunday Times found that the number of places offered to Brits is decreasing compared to increasing numbers of international places. The new legislation will help assuage fears that these numbers are due to the higher fees paid by international students.
Almost a million Ashmolean visits this year
Dr Alexander Sturgis, director of the Ashmolean, is a step closer to his goal of a million visits to the museum in a single year, with reported numbers of over 900,000 this academic year. The impressive numbers are in no small part due to two high-profile exhibits, Degas to Picasso and Raphael: The Drawings, the latter of which has had opening times extended to meet demand.
New private secretary for Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine Quinn, chief operating officer of the Saïd Business School, is to become secretary to the Duchess of Cambridge in October after being handpicked for the role.
Saïd Business School announces new fintech course
The Saïd Business School has announced the launch of the Oxford Fintech Programme which focuses on financial technology and innovation. In collaboration with GetSmarter, the programme aims to stay ahead of the curve by offering online teaching in areas which are constantly developing.
Curiosity Carnival brings access to Oxford academia
Oxford University is participating in European Researchers’ Night with this year’s Curiosity Carnival on 29 September. Over 400 academics will be showing the public the accessibility of research, with the opportunity to borrow a researcher from the Bodleian, a “Crunch Brunch” of insects in Wytham Woods, and open museums, gardens and libraries.
Oxford Open Doors programme revealed
The Oxford Preservation Trust has revealed the plans for the Oxford Open Doors weekend on 9 and 10 September. Colleges will be open to the public as well as d’Overbroek’s Sixth Form, where a 19th century villa and Masonic lodge will be available. The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter will also be entirely open to visitors for the first time.
Associate Professor Dr Aris Katzourakis and Research Associate Dr Amr Azwad of the Department of Zoology have discovered a new use for the DNA databases associated with next-generation sequencing. By looking at the genomes of ancient species of fish they found a distant lineage of viruses which may be a new viral family, indicating that the databases can be used to find previously unknown viruses. The findings will allow for easier identification of viruses in species which carry them, especially ones which show no symptoms of the virus, including rodents and bats.
Cladding fears force close of hospital unit
John Radcliffe Hospital is closing its trauma ward after an assessment by Trenton Fire found the building had “serious and embedded fire safety issues”. See our article for details.
Smart Oxford winner revealed
Oxford City Council has named the winner of the Smart Oxford Playable City Commission as Guerilla Dance Project, who in response to the theme “Shared City” proposed Star Light, Star Bright. The project will place pressure-sensitive lights in the shape of constellations across Oxford, requiring many people to complete the constellations, intended to bring together people in the community. Guerilla Dance Project will receive £30,000 and guidance on how to realise their plans.
Horton hospital maternity ward downgrades
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will make a decision next Thursday on plans to close 200 hospital beds in Horton General Hospital and centralise stroke and critical care. Concerns have been voiced about planned reduction in maternity services: the hospital currently delivers 18 percent of all births in Oxford University Hospitals NHS foundation trust facilities, which would drop to six percent.
Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has aired concern that the interests of patients are being ignored. She said: “The vast majority [are] against service downgrade in Banbury. I am disappointed that the CCG are recommending that the board agrees to press ahead without listening the views of patients.”
Policy change for Oxford food processing
The processing plant where Oxford’s food waste is processed now accepts non-compostable bags, meaning residents now have more options regarding liners for recycling caddies. Already able to process any food waste, cooked, raw or inedible, the new guidelines allow for any plastic bag to be used except black bin bags.
Free gym passes at Rose Hill Community Centre
From now on anyone who has never used the gym at the Rose Hill Community Centre is being offered a five day free pass after induction, in a push to get more involved at the centre. Councillor Dee Sinclair, council Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “this offer […] is a great kick-start to feeling the benefits of getting active and at the same time making new friends in a friendly local environment.”
Oxford receives six Green Flag Awards
The international Green Flag Award for quality green spaces has been awarded to Oxford’s Blackbird Leys Park, Bury Knowle Park, Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, Florence Park, Hinksey Park, and St Sepulchre’s Cemetery. Scheme manager Paul Todd said: “Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”
OCC housing service gets gold
Oxford City Council has received the National Practitioner Support Service’s “gold standard” award for their efforts to tackle homelessness, one of only 11 local authorities in England to have been given the award. Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “This is a real testament to the quality approaches that the City Council takes across all teams to tackle and prevent homelessness, and a great recognition of the dedication of staff. Delivering high quality services that make a real difference to people in need is what matters.”
Swift tower competition winner announced
Oxford’s University Parks will have a new swift tower built in Jonathan Wheeler’s design after his was picked in competition as part of Oxford Swift City. The structure will have many boxes in which the swifts can build nests.
OU murder suspect turns himself in
Andrew Warren, an employee of Somerville College, has turned himself in to US police after he was seen leaving Wyndham Lathem’s apartment in Chicago, in which the body of a 29 year old man was found later that evening. See our article for details.
Researchers claim French uni may hold remains of Holocaust victims
Work by experts including Oxford academics has found that the University of Strasbourg may hold the remains of Holocaust victims in their collection of specimens. See our article for details.
Philippines president lashes out against Oxford study
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has openly criticised Oxford University after a study revealed that he among other world leaders had used paid online commenters to support him both during his election and his term in office, calling the university “for stupid people”. See our article for details.
In case you missed it, here’s last week’s newsletter, Issue 4.
Oxstu Bitesize 07/08/17 – compiled by Charlie Willis.