OxStu Bitesize: Issue 4

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.


Scammers found to sell fake OU awards

An investigation by the Times has uncovered a scam run on an international scale to sell fake Oxford University awards to the unsuspecting. The business rented venues in Oxford for events and used the university’s logo. See our article for details.

Professor to enter charity run in thanks for funding

Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology Neil Herring, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), will be participating in the BHF’s running event at Blenheim Palace on 1 October, completing a half marathon to raise funds for the charity. The event is projected to raise more than £200,000 for research.

Prof Herring said: “I was over the moon when the BHF agreed to fund my research […] I want to do my part to help in the fight against heart disease.”

“I hope to see as many people as possible join me at Blenheim Palace to help us achieve our goal,” he added.

BioArt and Bacteria exhibit to launch at MHS

Anna Dumitriu’s contemporary art created using bacteria is to be displayed at the Museum of the History of Science, exploring the history of antibiotics, as well as “newer innovations in science such as whole genome sequencing, the microbiome, and the field of synthetic biology”. The exhibit will include “teeth grown in a lab” and a pneumothorax machine, originally used in the treatment of tuberculosis.

Brookes researcher shortlisted for awards

David Shiers, Reader in Sustainable Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, has been shortlisted for the 2017 UK and Ireland Green Gown Awards for “exceptional sustainability initiatives in universities and colleges”. Shiers’ Green Guide to Specification evaluates and compares the environmental impact of different construction materials. No reliable method of evaluating this existed before Shiers’ work.


Psychology and Sociology  

Flexible work hours for husbands have been shown to correlate with increased pay for their wives, in new research by Dr Laura Langner of Oxford University’s Department of Sociology. Once the husbands began working flexible hours, the wives’ hourly wages “increased significantly”, and more so if they had children. Langner said: “The results suggest that men may use flexible working hours as an alternative to part-time work to support their wives’ careers.”

Researchers from Oxford University are to explore whether cork or cap is a better closure for wine as part of Neuroenological Tasting: The Grand Cork Experiment in Soho, London. Participants will be fitted with brain scanners to monitor pleasure receptors gauging different responses to different types of closures.


Homeless cave to city council threats

Oxford City Council has been heavily criticised for their recent employment of Community Protection Notices against the local homeless population. The notices gave rough sleepers less than 24 hours to move their belongings, and threatened fines of up to £2,500. The city council has defended their actions, calling the situation “a fire safety issue”. See our article for details.

OCC and police tackle antisocial behaviour and criminal exploitation

Thames Valley Police and Oxford City Council are taking new measures to take on drug supply and use, street drinking and begging in the city centre. In response to nationwide issues with the exploitation of children and vulnerable people being employed by drug dealers from larger cities, the initiative seeks to challenge criminal behaviour and offer help to those affected.

Supt Joe Kidman, Local Police Commander for Oxford City, said: “We are proud of the compassionate approach of our city to those in need. The lifestyle associated with antisocial street behaviour is chronically dangerous for the health and wellbeing of those involved. We also need to challenge the wider risks to our community, especially our children, and ensure that the city centre is and feels safe for everybody who lives, works, studies or visits here.”

Oxford city council finishes flood prevention measures

The £2.2m Northway and Marston Flood Alleviation Scheme, begun in November 2016, has been completed. The work includes temporary water storage areas, channel realignment and embankments, and significantly reduces risk from flash flooding for 110 homes. The homes had previously been vulnerable to flash flooding due to proximity to Peasmoor Brook and the Headington Hill Tributary, and “as little as half an hour of torrential rain” was able to cause flooding of homes in the affected areas.

Government clean air plan criticised by city leaders

Oxford councillors Bob Price and John Tanner have joined leaders from Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Southampton and Liverpool to urge stronger action from Michael Gove, whose Clean Air Plan they say does not do enough to combat pollution.

The plan, intending to target small areas and individual roads, does not mandate Clear Air Zones, instead leaving the decision to local governments. The critics are sceptical of these plans, claiming that the “surgical” approach could lead to more congestion and the dispersal of the problem.

Councillor John Tanner said: “The Government’s decision to abdicate its responsibilities and push responsibility for air quality to local authorities risks a patchwork approach across the UK […] to meet air pollution targets in Oxford, we urgently need another step change to reduce emissions.”

BMW to build electric Mini in Oxford

Oxford has been confirmed as the location for construction of the new fully electric Mini, starting in 2019. Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “This confirms the strong role that MINI Plant Oxford will play in the city’s economy […] and supports our drive to encourage a shift to electric vehicles to improve the city’s air quality.” See our article for details.

Council launches food access map

Good Food Oxford and Feeding the Gaps alongside the city council have launched a database for food access, allowing users to search for services local to them, and displaying the type of service and what if any prerequisites it has. The database is intended to address the problem found in earlier research of a lack of transparency in Oxford’s services. It will also help key workers to provide up to date information about services available.

Councillor Dee Sinclair, Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “The City Council is very pleased to have collaborated with Good Food Oxford and Feeding the Gaps to develop this Database and Map. Not only will it make it easier for people to access the food services they need but it will also help us to monitor the take up of services and identify any gaps that there might be in services.”

The database and map can be found here.

In case you missed it, here’s last week’s newsletter, Issue 3.

OxStu Bitesize 31/07/17 – compiled by Charlie Willis.