09-2006 Press Releases

28/09/2006: BBC NI to Support Writer in Residence post at Queen’s University Belfast
28/09/2006: Optical devices could speed up the next generation of computers
28/09/2006: Optical devices could speed up the next generation of computers
26/09/2006: Queen's University Astronomers Find Planets Around Distant Stars
25/09/2006: Famous Faces Help Promote Fairtrade at Queen's University
25/09/2006: Genetics breakthrough by Queen's scientists will help reduce sight loss
22/09/2006: Queen's University launches four-year Research Programme on Ageing
20/09/2006: World innovation expert to lecture at Queen's
19/09/2006: Signing of an historic agreement between Queen's University Belfast
18/09/2006: 'Winning Smiles' Programme tackles tooth decay on all-Ireland basis
18/09/2006: £40M ECIT Institute at Queen's University Announces Advisory Board
15/09/2006: Students face collaborative dance and drama challenge
15/09/2006: 3,500 Students All Aboard the New Look Freshers' Festival at Queen's
14/09/2006: Forty different countries represented in Queen's 2006/07 enrolment
13/09/2006: Queen's forges historic link with Washington
11/09/2006: Spiegeltent Takes Centre Stage At 44th Belfast Festival At Queen's
07/09/2006: Queen's opens its doors to prospective students
06/09/2006: Queen's leads debate on future of Northern Ireland economy
05/09/2006: Belfast Symposium welcomes plan for Scottish Gaelic and calls for framework for Irish language development
05/09/2006: Duke of Edinburgh's Award strikes silver at Queen's in golden year
01/09/2006: Autumn Open Learning Programme at Queen's published


BBC NI to Support Writer in Residence post at Queen's University Belfast

BBC Northern Ireland has announced its support for a new BBC Writer in Residence post in the School of English at Queen’s University Belfast.

This initiative is the result of a partnership between two of the principal promoters of the creative arts in Northern Ireland and will seek to develop linkages between the BBC, Queen’s and the wider creative writing community. It has been established by the BBC to celebrate the life and achievements of local writer and broadcaster Louis MacNeice.

The BBC Writer in Residence post will be based in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast. It will receive financial and broadcast support from the BBC for a period of three years in the first instance. The post holder will have responsibility for the development of BBC–related projects, activities and events and will also play a full role in the work of the Seamus Heaney Centre. A recruitment process will commence shortly with applications being invited from writers with a distinguished record of publication in prose fiction.

Announcing this new initiative at an event in City Hall, Belfast, Peter Johnston, Head of Broadcasting with BBC Northern Ireland said: “The BBC Writer in Residence at Queen’s is a new and exciting partnership between BBC Northern Ireland, Queen’s and the wider creative community.

“Louis MacNeice was an innovative writer and broadcaster. He contributed to the development of the BBC’s drama, documentary and arts programmes and his work continues to inform the work of writers at home and around the world. Our partnership with Queen’s will celebrate the enduring nature of Louis MacNeice’s achievements and will seek to create broadcast opportunities for a new generation of writers.”

Professor Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s, added: “This initiative will allow us to extend the small back room of the author into the wider world of the airwaves.”

Glenn Patterson who works with the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s and is a presenter of the Study Ireland television series on poetry for BBC Northern Ireland, said: “The BBC Writer in Residence post will make an important contribution to the growth of the creative arts in Northern Ireland. It will facilitate the development of new literary talent and enhance the BBC’s role at the heart of our region’s creativity.”

Notes to Editors

Images captioned in IPTC Information will be issued to all picture desks via email.

The funding announcement was made at an event in Belfast City Hall last night organised by The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s, entitled Between the Mountains and the Gantries: Belfast, Carrickfergus and other landscapes of Louis MacNeice. The event launched the brochure for the Louis MacNeice Centenary Conference and Celebration, 12-15 September 2007, organised by The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and the School of English at Queen's University.

The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s has recently launched its Autumn programme of events. Full details can be obtained at www.qub.ac.uk/heaneycentre/

Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s, Professor Ciaran Carson, was born in 1948 in Belfast. He is the author of nine collections of poems, including The Irish for No, Belfast Confetti, and The Twelfth of Never. In recent years he has written four prose books: Last Night's Fun, a book about traditional music; The Star Factory, a memoir of Belfast; Fishing for Amber: A Long Story; and Shamrock Tea, a novel, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. He has won several literary awards, including the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His translation of Dante's Inferno (2002) was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and in 2003 he was made an honorary member of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association. Breaking News was awarded the 2003 Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection.

Queen’s Creative Writing TutorGlenn Patterson was born in Belfast and educated there and at the University of East Anglia where he studied for an MA in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter. He is the author of six novels: Burning Your Own (1988), for which he was awarded the Rooney Prize and a Betty Trask first novel prize, Fat Lad (1992), Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (1995), The International (1999), Number 5 (2003), and That Which Was (2004). His short stories have been broadcast on Radio 3 and Radio 4 and articles and essays have appeared in the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Independent, Irish Times, Dublin Review. He has been Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, writer-in-residence at University College Cork and Queen's University. He has also presented numerous television documentaries and an arts review series for RTE.

For further information please contact Caroline Cooper, BBC NI Press Office. Tel: 028 9033 8226 or Lisa Mitchell, Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or 0781 44 22 572.

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Optical devices could speed up the next generation of computers

An all-optical circuit that could operate at much faster speeds than present electronic ones may lead to the development of computers capable of unprecedented speeds (100,000 times faster than today’s Pentium chips) and light up super-fast computers of the future according to researchers at Queen’s University. The scientists have just been awarded close to £1 million to advance their optical nanoscale device research as part of a major European initiative.

New Scientist magazine reported recently that Anatoly Zayats and colleagues in the School of Physics at Queen’s University Belfast have developed a microscopic optical switch which they believe could be crucial to the development of smaller and less power-hungry optical transistors in the future.

The potential breakthrough in nanotechnology involved scientists at Queen’s building a prototype optical transistor that is both small and low in power. Efforts to develop optical transistors previously have resulted in devices that were too large or required too much power to be practical.

The American Physical Review has now also picked up on the breakthrough as there is world-wide interest in the potential of optical transistors which control one beam of light using another, similar to electronic transistors which control the flow of electricity through a circuit. They are among the most eagerly anticipated technological advances with the potential to revolutionise computers and communications. Scientists would love to use plasmons to ferry data around computer chips because they could operate at frequencies 100,000 times faster than today’s Pentium chips, without requiring thicker wiring.

Explaining the process Professor Zayats of Queen’s University said: “This device takes advantage of an effect known as ‘surface-plasmon excitation’, in which light interacts with the electrons in a metal. Altering the intensity and wavelength of the control beam has a knock-on effect, via this electron relationship, and changes the intensity and spectrum of the signal light correspondingly. You have a control light, which essentially modulates this signal light.”

His research colleague at Queen’s, Dr Gregory Wurtz said: “We now plan to use the device in a more complex all-optical circuit where efficient coupling to other devices will be required if this optical transistor is to become a building block for optical circuits and optical versions of microelectronic devices in the future.”

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, Tel: 02890 975320 or Professor Anatoly Zayats Tel: 02890 973133.

Notes for Editors:

The microscopic optical switch was created when the researchers used a film of gold just 220 nanometres thick and then drilled 360 holes 200 nm thick before coating one side of the film with a polymer. They then shone a white light through the holes in the material and used a second”pump” beam-fired at a 45° angle-to control the main beam.

Nanotechnology measures and works in nanometres. One nanometre is one millionth of one millimetre.

The new funding to support further research by the Centre for Nanostructured Media at Queen’s comprises 3 grant awards from the European Commission Framework6 Projects (EC FP6) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK totalling nearly £1 million.

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Queen's University Astronomers Find Planets Around Distant Stars

Finding planets that pass in front of their parent stars is so important to understanding how planets form that the European Space Agency will shortly launch the €35M COROT satellite to find them. However a team of UK, French and Swiss astronomers, including staff from Queen’s University, is already paving the way from the ground, with the discovery of two new Jupiter-sized planets around stars in the constellations of Andromeda and Delphinus.  

These planets are the first to be found during the UK-led SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) programme. Using wide-angle camera lenses, backed by top-quality CCD cameras from Andor Technology (a spin-out company from Queens), the SuperWASP team have been repeatedly surveying several million stars over vast swathes of the sky, looking for the tiny dips in the starlight caused when a planet passes in front of its star. This is known as a transit. 

Confirmation of the new finds came earlier this month when the SuperWASP team joined forces with the Swiss and French users of SOPHIE, a powerful new French-built instrument at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence. SOPHIE was able to detect a slight wobble in each star’s motion as the planets orbited around them. Together the two types of observation confirmed the existence and nature of the planets.  

“The partnership between the two instruments is particularly powerful – SuperWASP finds candidate planets and determines their radii, and SOPHIE confirms their nature and weighs them,” said Dr. Don Pollacco of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s, the SuperWASP Project Scientist. Dr Pollacco also leads the SuperWASP team at Queen’s, which comprises Professors Francis Keenan and Alan Fitzsimmons, and Doctorrs Rachel Street, Damian Christian and Robert Ryans.   

“These discoveries would not have been possible without the significant financial support that Queen’s provided for the SuperWASP project at its inception”, said Prof Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics. 

Approximately 200 planets around other stars are now known, but almost all of them were discovered using large telescopes costing tens of millions of pounds. This requires laborious study of one star at a time, in the hope of finding stars with planets around them.  

In contrast, the SuperWASP telescopes look at hundreds of thousands of stars at a time, allowing all those with transiting planet candidates to be identified in one go. 

In only a dozen or so of the known systems has a planet been observed to pass in front of its star. Although the number of known ‘transiting exoplanets’ is still very small, they hold the key to the formation of planetary systems, and an understanding of the origin of our own Earth. They are the only planets whose sizes and densities can be determined reliably. 

The stars around which the new planets are orbiting are both similar to the Sun. One is a little hotter, brighter and bigger, whilst the other is a little cooler, fainter and smaller. The larger star, in the constellation of Andromeda, is over 1,000 light years away. The smaller star, in the constellation of Delphinus, is only about 500 light years distant. Although both stars are too faint to be seen with the naked eye, they are easily detectable with a small telescope. 

The planets themselves, known as WASP-1b and WASP-2b, are of a type known as ‘hot Jupiters’. They are both giant gas planets, like Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, but they are much closer to their parent star.  

Whilst Jupiter is nearly 800 million km from the Sun and orbits it once every 12 years, WASP-1b is only 6 million km from its star and orbits once every 2.5 days, WASP-2b is only 4.5 million km from its star and orbits once every 2 days. The very close orbits mean that these planets must be even hotter than the planet Mercury in our solar system, which is nearly 60 million km from the Sun and has a surface temperature of over 400°C. 

The SuperWASP team are currently planning follow-up observations of the two new planetary systems with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope in order to measure more accurately the sizes and temperatures of the planets, and also to look for indications of any other planets in these systems.

 SuperWASP is expected to find dozens more transiting planets over the next few years. 

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office,  028 9097 5384.


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Famous Faces Help Promote Fairtrade at Queen's University
Ben Preston, President of Queen's Students' Union, pictured with some of the images from the Celebrity Fairtrade Exhibition which is coming to Northern Ireland for the first time and which will be on display at the Visitors Centre at Queen's  from Monday 25 September to Friday 30 September, from 10.00am- 4.00pm.
Ben Preston, President of Queen's Students' Union, pictured with some of the images from the Celebrity Fairtrade Exhibition which is coming to Northern Ireland for the first time and which will be on display at the Visitors Centre at Queen's from Monday 25 September to Friday 30 September, from 10.00am- 4.00pm.

Visitors to Queen's University could find themselves coming face to face with a range of well-known celebrities in rather strange guises this week, as the University hosts a specially commissioned Fairtrade Foundation photographic exhibition by the renowned photographer Trevor Leighton.

Declared a Fairtrade University in February of this year, Queen’s is bringing the exhibition to Northern Ireland for the first time in a further bid to highlight the positive impact that buying Fairtrade products can have on poverty.

Featuring 20 household names such as Vic Reeves, Fearne Cotton, Gail Porter, Lenny Henry and Harry Hill, Leighton’s black and white portraits show the high profile celebrities having fun with a range of Fairtrade products from bananas to pineapples. Accompanying the photographs are quotes from the celebrities explaining why they are committed to buying Fairtrade.

Speaking about the opening of the exhibition in the University’s Visitors’ Centre, Ben Preston, President of Queen’s Students’ Union and Chair of the University’s Fairtrade Steering Group, said: “I am delighted we are able to make this stunning exhibition available to everyone in Northern Ireland. It is another step by Queen’s towards highlighting how we can all make a difference and will hopefully encourage everyone to get into the habit of buying a broad range of Fairtrade products. By making Fairtrade our habit we can – cup by cup, banana by banana, help Make Poverty History.”

Echoing his sentiments, Gerry McCormac, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s added: “This exhibition is a great opportunity to fulfil our promise for ongoiong education and promotion of Fairtrade. With the help of the celebrities, we can show how we can all play our part in effecting real change in people’s lives. “

Vic Reeves, who is depicted with a Fairtrade banana in the exhibition, says: “The last year has been very successful for raising awareness for Fairtrade, and it’s so important that we keep forging ahead and keep on until it is no longer a conscious choice, but a habit for everyone.”

Explaining the rationale behind the exhibition, Trevor Leighton, who has one of the largest collections of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery said: ”This exhibition shows how celebrities are making a small change in the way they shop, to make Fairtrade their habit, and thus helping to make a real change in developing countries. This is not about a single action people can take but a small change they can make on an ongoing basis, helping individuals every time they shop.”

The Make Fairtrade Your Habit exhibition runs from 10.00am to 4.00pm, Monday, 26 September to Friday, 30 September at the Visitors’ Centre, Queen’s University. Admission is free and an accompanying brochure on the exhibition is free to all visitors.

Further information on issues surrounding Fairtrade can be found at www.fairtrade.org.uk.

Notes to Editors
Photographs featuring Ben Preston of Queen’s and actual images from the exhibition will be issued to all picture desks today, captioned in IPTC Info.

The exhibition has been sponsored by The Co-Operative Bank and Co-Operative Insurance (CIS).

Celebrities featured in the exhibition are Adrian Edmondson, Amanda Burton, Anita Roddick, Charlie Dimmock, Donna Air, Emilia Fox, Fearne Cotton, Gail Porter, George Alagiah, Harry Hill, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jemma Kidd, Jon Snow, Lenny Henry, Nick Knowles, Oz Clarke, Richard Wilson, Starsailor, Vic Reeves and Yasmin Alabhai-Brown.

To view Trevor Leighton’s work visit www.Trevorleighton.com

The Fairtrade Foundation was established in 1992 by CAFOD, Christian Aid, New Consumer, Oxfam, Traidcraft and the World Development Movement, These founding organisations where later joined by Britain’s largest women’s organisation The Women’s Institute.

Further information from Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office.  028 9097 5384 or m0781 44 22 572.


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Genetics breakthrough by Queen's scientists will help reduce sight loss

Molecular genetics research being conducted by Queen’s University Belfast scientists, offers hope of a breakthrough in the preventative treatment of blindness in older age, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The research findings were presented by Professor Anne Hughes at the British Society for Human Genetics Conference in York last week and are published today in Nature Genetics, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. AMD is the most frequent cause of sight loss and blindness in the elderly population, with severe disease affecting nearly 10% of individuals of European descent over the age of 75 years. Both genetic factors and smoking contribute to development of the disease.

The research was carried out with the help of patients attending the ophthalmology clinics at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The molecular genetics was carried out by Professor Hughes in Queen’s University’s Medical Genetics laboratories which were moved recently from the Belfast City Hospital into newly refurbished laboratories at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The research has shown that individuals with a deletion of two key genes are at lower risk of developing AMD. This finding provides a good basis for on-going studies aimed at prevention of AMD.

Professor Hughes said: “I am very pleased to have solved a complex and difficult genetic puzzle. This helps us to identify more accurately those at risk of developing AMD. There is hope for development of a preventative treatment based, perhaps, on gene silencing.

“It is important to state that it does not give hope of a cure to those affected by AMD at the moment, but there is potential to save the sight of others in the future. Without the cooperation of the patients at the ophthalmology clinics in the RVH, we could not have made this discovery,” the Queen’s scientist pointed out.

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320.


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Queen's University launches four-year Research Programme on Ageing

The Institute of Governance at Queen's University has unveiled a major new research programme on ageing designed to inform policies and services for older people. The Research Programme on Ageing will commission up to five projects a year over the next four years, while another three longer-term research projects, two of which will focus on fear of crime amongst older people and their economic rights, will also begin this autumn. 

Each project has been commissioned for £10,000 and the Programme envisages these funds levering additional resources for further research to support policy development for older people. Those projects commissioned for 2006-07 include: Medication Regimes in Nursing Homes, Young People’s Perceptions of Age, Happiness and Smart Housing. Two more three-year research topics will be selected in 2007. 

Announcing the projects, Professor Sally Wheeler, Director of the Institute of Governance at Queen’s said: “I am delighted we have been able to bring the knowledge and skill of so many different disciplines to bear on developing new ground for older people.  Our researchers come from the Schools of Sociology, Social Policy and Social work; Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering; Pharmacy and the School of Politics, International studies and Philosophy.” 

According to Professor Wheeler: “The Research Programme on Ageing is one element of an integrated project on ageing that brings together academics and practitioners in work to bring about improvements in the lives of older adults, transform how ageing is viewed within society and improve the way older persons are treated by society.”   

CAP, or the Changing Ageing Partnership, involves The Institute of Governance at Queen’s, Age Concern, Help the Aged and the Worker’s Educational Association.  Queen’s contribution is focussed on providing a robust evidence base for the development and implementation of priorities for advocacy by, and on behalf of, disadvantaged and vulnerable older people. 

Welcoming the first research projects to get off the ground, Ken Logue, Programme Executive with research funders, The Atlantic Philanthropies said: “Atlantic Philanthropies are very pleased to see this launch.  We are committed to doing what we can through our grants programme to improve the lives of older people.  We feel that improving the age sector’s ability and capacity to advocate on behalf of vulnerable and disadvantaged older people is very important.   

“Having robust evidence on which to base that advocacy is critical.  This launch and the other research work the Institute is doing will all help develop that base.  I congratulate the Institute of Governance at Queen’s on the projects, wish the researchers good fortune in their travails and look forward to the fruits of the research.” 

Notes to Editor 

Media Opportunities will be available at the launch of the Research Programme on Ageing, at 11.00am on Friday 22 September, in the offices of the Institute of Governance at Queen’s University, 63 University Road, Belfast.

The Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research is an interdisciplinary research centre which brings together practitioners and researchers in the field of public policy and governance from Queen's University, other universities throughout the world and the wider policy community.

The Institute, which draws in people from a variety of departments, was founded as a partnership between the following units within the University, all of which were rated in the top category of grade five in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise: School of Law, School of Politics and International Studies and School of Sociology and Social Policy .

The Institute of Governance joined the School of Law in August 2005.  

Further details on the 2006-07 Research Projects on Ageing: 

  1. Looking forward: a systematic review of children’s and young people’s perceptions of old age.This project will gather together all existing research on what children and young people think about ageing and older people and make this resource available to policy-makers, practitioners and other researchers.  The research team will then identify gaps in knowledge and indicate areas in need of research.  The project will lay the groundwork for tackling the gap between what older people feel their role to be and how they are perceived, with benefits for older people, policy makers and young people.  Research Team:  Dr Rosemary Kilpatrick, Professor Geraldine Macdonald, Dr Laura Dunne, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast. 
  2. Designing better homes for the ageing population in Northern Ireland.Despite efforts to improve the situation for elderly people living at home, problems remain in relation to use of kitchens and bathrooms, wheelchair use, climbing stairs and various other safety and comfort matters.  This research project will identify key issues and needs of older people and examine housing types, patterns of use and performance to inform design improvement.  The aim of the project is to bridge the gap between users and designers in order to deliver more accessible, flexible, comfortable and safer homes.  Researcher: Dr Karim Hadjri, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast. 
  3. Adherence with medication in nursing homes for older people: resident enforcement or resident empowerment.There is increasing acceptance that patients should be more involved in decisions about their medication, for example on taking medicine where there are side effects.    While this may be possible for older people living at home, it is not known if nursing home residents have any say over continuing particular medication or whether they experience ‘enforced compliance’.  The project will explore medicine-taking in nursing homes from the point of view of doctors, nurses and residents.  Researcher: Professor Carmel Hughes, School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. 
  4. Old age and happiness: implications for health and savings policies.Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan has serious consequences.  It leads to negative views of ‘old age’ and, sometimes, older people.  It may also be a contributing factor in risk-taking behaviour among some young people, particularly in relation to health and savings.  Replicating a recent study in the US that found that people are wrong to think older people are less happy than younger people, the research will explore happiness and older people in Northern Ireland.  Researcher:  Dr John Garry, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast. 
  5. Three-year research projects: fear of crime & economic rights of older people.These three inter-disciplinary research projects, which will run for three years, involve The School of Law; The School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s. 

For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office 028 9097 5384.


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World innovation expert to lecture at Queen's

World-leading expert on innovation Professor Richard Lester of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will deliver a major lecture for the local business community at Queen's University on Tuesday 26 September.

Professor Lester, founder and director of the Industrial Performance Center (IPC) and a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, will speak on “Innovation – the Hidden Dimension” in the first of this academic year’s series of First Trust Bank Innovation Lectures at Queen’s.

His lecture will describe the two fundamental processes at the heart of every successful innovating organisation.One, rational problem-solving, is well understood and dominates management and engineering practice and economic policymaking.The other, which he calls interpretation, is much less well understood.These two processes are radically different from each other, and require vastly different managerial approaches, yet both are needed to sustain the creative output of both individual firms and entire economies.

Drawing on research at the MIT Industrial Performance Centre on innovations in a broad range of dynamic sectors, from cell phones to medical devices to fashion clothing, Professor Lester will show how innovative companies have successfully combined both processes. He will also discuss the importance of cultivating and preserving interpretive spaces for the innovative performance of national economies as a whole.

Professor Lester obtained his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT. He has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1979 and serves as an advisor or consultant to numerous corporations, governments, foundations and non-profit groups, and presents lectures and seminars to academic, business and general audiences throughout the world.

His research focuses on industrial innovation and the management of technology. He is currently leading the Local Innovation Systems Project, an international research project on the technological transformation of industries in regional economies and the role of universities and other public research institutions in that process.

Sponsored by First Trust Bank and Invest NI, the Chair of Innovation initiative brings world experts in innovation to Northern Ireland to share their insights and knowledge with local business audiences.

Professor Lester’s innovation lecture will be held in G9, Lanyon North at 6pm on Tuesday 26 September. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Claire McGivern at Queen’s University on 028 9097 1145 or e-mail c.mcgivern@qub.ac.uk.

The distinguished neuroscientist described by Harpers and Queen magazine as one of the 50 most inspirational women in the world, Susan Greenfield, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, will deliver the next innovation lecture at Queen’s on Wednesday 1 November.


For further information contact:


Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310


Notes for editors:


Media facilities will be available at the lecture. Arrangements to interview Professor Lester can be made by calling the above number.



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Signing of an historic agreement between Queen’s University Belfast and Georgetown University, Washington DC

Queen's University Belfast Chancellor Senator George Mitchell (centre) with the University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson (left) and President of Georgetown University Dr John J DeGioia at the signing of a historic research and education partnership between both universities. The Agreement was signed in Washington at a special ceremony hosted by British Ambassador Sir David Manning.

The initiative is founded on a long standing association between the world-famous Lombardi Cancer Centre in Georgetown, and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, led by Professor Patrick Johnston. The new partnership covers subject areas ranging from cancer research to post-conflict resolution and from human rights to creative writing and will establish world leading capabilities at both institutions.

One of the key focuses of this partnership will be Irish Studies in anticipation of setting up a global centre in Washington over the coming months. Senator Mitchell is one of Georgetown’s most famous alumni. The new partnership includes plans for a prestigious annual seminar named after Senator Mitchell which will reflect the links between academic staff in Law and Politics at both Universities.



'Winning Smiles' Programme tackles tooth decay on all-Ireland basis

The Report of an all-island research project conducted by Professor Ruth Freeman, Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Helen Whelton, University College Cork has been launched by An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern TD, at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.

The ‘Winning Smiles’ Research Programme is an innovative school-based oral health promotion programme, the first of its kind to embrace an all-island perspective.

The programme set out:

  • To encourage toothpaste use;
  • To improve child oral health-related quality of life and self-esteem;
  • To increase children’s oral health-related knowledge and attitudes;
  • Assess changes in reported oral health behaviours among children living in relative poverty.

The programme was introduced and evaluated in randomly selected schools identified as being in areas of high social deprivation and disadvantage in Dublin and Belfast.

Consisting of a controlled trial and several qualitative studies, the Winning Smiles programme has been shown to have a positive impact on the oral health of those children involved in the study, with all children at schools involved in Belfast and Dublin, increasing their use of fluoride toothpaste from the beginning of the trial.

The programme also investigated the children’s own perspectives and feelings on tooth brushing habits and rules, and provides a valuable insight into children’s beliefs regarding oral health. Professor Ruth Freeman and her team from the Dental Public Health and Behavioural Sciences at Queen’s University conducted the psycho-social quantitative and qualitative aspects of the Report interviewing the children involved.

Professor Freeman said; “Winning Smiles has very encouraging findings which show increases in children’s oral health-related quality of life, as well as increases in their oral health status awareness and oral and social self-image. This is particularly important for children living in areas of high social deprivation who can experience low self-esteem through lack of awareness of the importance of oral health. “Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases and Winning Smiles shows how oral health promoters can work effectively with schools to prevent this disease on an all-island basis.”

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320

Notes for Editors:
In Northern Ireland over 70% of 15year olds have tooth decay.
A recent European survey on brushing teeth recorded: About 50 per cent of children in the Irish Republic brush their teeth at least twice a day, compared with 65% in Scotland, 77% in Northern Ireland and 71% in Norway.


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£40M ECIT Institute at Queen's University Announces Advisory Board

The Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), the £40 million world class research centre opened by Queen’s University Belfast, in May 2005, has announced the composition of its Advisory Board.

Comprised of a panel of 23 prominent international and local industrialists and senior researchers from universities worldwide, the Board, under ECIT Director, Professor John McCanny, will be responsible for overseeing ECIT’s activities which are at the very forefront of developments in the global Electronics, IT and Communications sectors.

Announcing the make up of the Advisory Board, Professor McCanny said: “We are delighted that we have been able to recruit so many leading figures from a diverse range of backgrounds to give direction and focus to the work being undertaken here at ECIT. “The fact the organisation has attracted so many eminent industrialists and academics reflects ECIT’s high standing in the UK and Ireland, as well as further afield in continental Europe and North America.

“Their contribution is already beginning to make a significant impact on our work as we begin to reap tangible benefits from their professional connections and substantial collective knowledge and market insights.”

Internationally renowned members of the Board include:

  • Professor Jan M Rabaey, the Scientific Co-Director of the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC) at the University of California at Berkeley and Director of the GigaScale Systems Research Center (GSRC). Professor Rabaey is an internationally respected researcher in the conception and implementation of next-generation integrated wireless systems.
  • Prof Andy Hopper, Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge and Head of the university’s Computer Laboratory. His research interests include networking, pervasive and sentient computing, mobile systems, and dependable infrastructure systems.
  • Mr Jeff Patmore, Head of Strategic University Research at BT. A Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, his main fields of interest include human-computer interaction, software agents, user modelling and the semantic web.
  • Mr Paul McCambridge, Vice President of Xilinx EMEA and responsible for the company’s Dublin facility. Previously he was a product line manager with Harris Semiconductor in New Jersey and spent 12 years with General Electric Semiconductor Division.
  • Dr Franz Dielacher, Senior Director for system engineering and technology for telecom circuits at Infineon Technologies. Since 1994, his main focus has been high-speed digital communications. Current research interests include mixed-signal IC design, telecom-system-integration and design methodologies.
  • Prof Steve Furber, Head of the Advanced Processor Technologies Group, University of Manchester. A chartered engineer, he was a principal designer of the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor.
  • Professor Michael Kelly, the Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge and a former executive director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute (2002 – 2005). Professor Kelly developed two new families of microwave devices while working with GEC Hirst Research Centre that are still in production with E2V Technologies at Lincoln.

In addition to those mentioned above, the full membership of ECIT’s Advisory Board is:
Professor Norman Apsley Northern Ireland Science Park; Dr Hugh Cormican, Andor Technology; Professor Mike Flynn, Stanford University; Professor John Mann, Queen’s University Belfast; Professor Daniel McCaughan, Industrialist Consultant; Professor Denis Murphy, Mobile Cohesion; Dr Steve Nightingale, ERA Technology Ltd: Professor Tobias Noll, AWTH Aachen University, Dr Michael O’Sullivan, University College Cork; Dr Stephen Seawright, TDK Ltd; Professor Earl Swartzlander, The University of Texas at Austin; Mr John Thompson, Invest NI; Professor Vince Fusco, ECIT Research Director; Professor Colin Cowan, ECIT Research Director; Professor Danny Crookes, ECIT Research Director and Dr Sakir Sezer, ECIT Research Director.

Notes to Editors
The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is a £40 million world-class centre with a unique focus on blue skies, strategic and industrial research projects. ECIT brings together, in one building, internationally renowned research groups from Queen's University Belfast, specialising in key areas of advanced digital and communications technology. The Institute extends the significant links Queen's has already developed with major industrial partners and research centres throughout the world. In addition, it provides hot-housing and incubation facilities to encourage and support the establishment and development of new companies. ECIT was officially opened in May 2005.

Further information on ECIT can be found by visiting www.ecit.qub.ac.uk.
For further information please contact Lisa Mitchell, Communications Office 028 9097 5384 or Brian Arlow on 07860289143.


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Students face collaborative dance and drama challenge

Fourteen students from Queen's University and the University of Ulster have been handed a dance and drama challenge which will test their creative powers. Meeting together for the very first time on Monday 11 September, the students were provided with a handful of Sunday newspapers and a pile of blue chairs for inspiration and asked to create a show of dance and drama.

The fruits of their creativity will be seen in two weeks on Wednesday the 27th September when they will perform the show they have created. The students have not been left totally to their own devices as working alongside them will be: Anna Newell, Artistic Director of Queen’s Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts (NI); and Sandie Fisher, Dance Artist in Residence at the University of Ulster. Sandie is also Artistic Director of live art company Assault Events.

Sandie said “This is an important collaboration between Queen’s and the University of Ulster and we are excited to be working together to support the creativity of our students and look forward to seeing their performance.”

Anna Newell has just completed a ‘theatre for development’ training week linking Northern Ireland, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Georgia in partnership with the British Council, fresh from leading over 60 women from Dundee and Belfast singing as the support act for Eddi Reader at this year’s Féile an Phobail West Belfast. The students will perform the outcome of their collaboration, “As Close As You Get To Being There”, at the Drama and Film Centre, 20 University Square, and tickets are £4/£2.

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, Tel: 02890 975320.


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3,500 Students All Aboard the New Look Freshers' Festival at Queen's
Queen's University Fresher, Chris Agnew, who will be studying Medicine, hops aboard an open top bus for a tour of Belfast, one of just dozens of activities laid on by Queen's for the 3,500 new students starting the University on 26 September, supported by Ulster Bank. Looking on is Dorothy Fee, Student Services Co-Ordinator at Queen's.
Queen's University Fresher, Chris Agnew, who will be studying Medicine, hops aboard an open top bus for a tour of Belfast, one of just dozens of activities laid on by Queen's for the 3,500 new students starting the University on 26 September, supported by Ulster Bank. Looking on is Dorothy Fee, Student Services Co-Ordinator at Queen's.

3,500 new students at Queen's University are set to continue enjoying a unique introduction to life at the University next week, as the new look Freshers' Festival which runs for a fortnight for the first time, continues with a host of guidance and financial workshops, campus tours, sport taster sessions, social events and in another first, a welcome and orientation scheme designed especially for mature students.

Other must-dos on offer next week for new arrivals at Queen’s include the Freshers Survival Breakfast, a Murder Mystery Evening in the Great Hall, open top bus tours of Belfast City, an International Food Fayre, a non-alcohol Ceilidh evening in the newly renovated Students’ Union and a fun Treasure Hunt organised by Queen’s Orienteering Club with great prizes such as weekends away with Jurys Hotels up for grabs.

Each student will be provided with a Freshers’ Passport and once stamped at workshops such as The X Factor: Get it – Personal and Professional Development, How do I Study in a Module? and Spending your Money, they will gain a free ticket to the social event of the fortnight, the Freshers Ball in the Students’ Union.

In an added bonus three lucky Queen’s students opening an Ulster Bank account will also win £3,000 each, while every student activating their Ulster Bank account will receive a £20 voucher for use in the Students’ Union. Ulster Bank are supporting the enrolment and registration of students at Queen’s during the Freshers’ Festival after securing the sponsorship contract for Enrolment and Registration in May of this year. The deal gives the bank exclusive access to all the registration and enrolment activity at the University for a three-week period at the start of each academic year until at least 2009.

For newcomers to Belfast, Learn the Lingo, a short course by Bronagh Crummey-Bryan from The Cultural Exchange in Belfast, will take a light-hearted look at how to translate some of the more common phrases used in the City, while the Freshers’ Quiz in the Students’ Union, which last year had over 80 teams competing, will give students the opportunity to get their grey matter in gear for the year ahead.

Queen’s are also making a special effort to ensure mature students receive a warm welcome this year.

The Discovering Queen’s pilot scheme will offer special workshops on such topics as How to Study, for those who have been out of education for some time, a family gathering at the Garden Gourmet Event in Botanic Gardens this weekend and a special night in the Students’ Union. Mature students will also be offered advice and guidance on the various sources of support within Queen’s, specially devised tours of the campus and a Question and Answer session with current mature students at the University chaired by Claire Bailey, Mature Students Officer at Queen’s.

Speaking about the forthcoming new academic term and the new-look Freshers’ Festival, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s is very much a student-centred university and we aim to ensure that our students are not just stimulated and stretched intellectually but that they also enjoy the finest cultural, political, social and sporting life too. I am delighted the new Freshers’ Festival is going to provide a suitable introduction to what will be their life at Queen’s, or as we like to call it, the Queen’s Experience.”

Russell Rowley, Director of Student Services at Queen’s added: “Queen’s is rightly proud of its tradition of making all our students feel welcome, but this year will be that bit extra special for new undergraduates and particularly so for our mature students.

“We are delighted with the support of Ulster Bank and are putting on a Freshers’ Festival that will address all aspects of being a student in a bid to assist Freshers settle in to their new way of life. They are going to receive a wealth of academic and financial advice tailored to their needs, have the opportunity early on to sample the wonderful sporting and social side of life available as a Queen’s student and most importantly, be made to feel at home in their student career.”

Further information on the Festival can be found at www.qub.ac.uk/freshers and advance online registration by students will be required for some events.

Notes to Editors

Photographs to accompany this release will be issued to all picture desks. Ulster Bank secured the sponsorship contract for Enrolment and Registration at Queen’s University Belfast in May of this year. The deal gives the bank exclusive access to all the registration and enrolment activity at the Unviersity for a three-week period at the start of each academic year until at least 2009.

For further information please contact the Communications Office 028 9097 5384


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Forty different countries represented in Queen's 2006/07 enrolment
Belfast Lord Mayor, Pat Mc Carthy personally welcomed new international students at Queen’s to the City Hall
Belfast Lord Mayor, Pat Mc Carthy personally welcomed new international students at Queen’s to the City Hall

Four hundred new international students representing forty different countries have begun to arrive at Queen’s to enrol for the new academic year and many have already joined the three-day orientation programme organised by the International Office. The Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Mc Carthy also extended a personal welcome to the students at City Hall on a tour which took in the Waterfront Hall and the Parliament Buildings at Stormont.

Half of the new students will enrol on full degree programmes at undergraduate or postgraduate level and many international students also take advantage of a range of Exchange programmes that have a variety of funding sources.

A large number of the international students are participating in the SOCRATES-ERASMUS Programme which is an EU funded scheme to promote mobility of staff and students, and many students from the USA and Canada enrol under the University’s Study Abroad and Exchange programmes. Existing Queen’s students can themselves gain international experience at another university through these programmes and fifty second year students have just left to spend a year in the United States

After enrolment, international students will attend a special reception in the Great Hall followed by a dinner in the Sir William Whitla Hall on Friday night. The International Friendship Association at Queen’s has been on hand once again this year providing new arrivals with a ‘meet and greet’ service at both Belfast airports.

For more information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, Tel: 028 9097 5320 or the International Office Tel: 028 9097 5088


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Queen's forges historic link with Washington

Another major link between Northern Ireland and North America has been forged. A historic research and education partnership has been agreed between Queen’s University Belfast and Georgetown University in Washington DC which will benefit the research communities on both sides of the Atlantic as well as current and future generations of students and staff at both institutions.

The Agreement will be signed in Washington by Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Dr John J DeGioia, President of Georgetown University at a special ceremony hosted by British Ambassador Sir David Manning on Friday.

This initiative is founded on a long standing association between the world-famous Lombardi Cancer Centre in Georgetown, and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, led by Professor Patrick Johnston.

The new partnership covers subject areas ranging from cancer research to post-conflict resolution and from human rights to creative writing and will establish world leading capabilities at both institutions. One of the key focuses of this partnership will be Irish Studies in anticipation of setting up a global centre in Washington over the coming months.

Among Georgetown’s most famous alumni is Queen’s Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, who will attend Friday’s event. The new partnership also includes plans for a prestigious annual seminar named after Senator Mitchell which will reflect the links between academic staff in Law and Politics at both Universities.

Speaking before his departure for Washington, Professor Gregson said: “This will be a very special occasion in the history of both universities. The establishment of academic relationships across the Atlantic is a key feature of globalisation; Queen's developing relationship with Georgetown is the latest in a series of leading university partnerships including the Cambridge - MIT link, and the Trinity/UCD – Notre Dame collaboration.

"It will help forge a connection between our two institutions which will benefit the research communities and current and future generations of students and staff at both Georgetown and Queen’s. This partnership will enhance research collaboration in key areas which will impact positively on life in Northern Ireland and around the world.

The Vice-Chancellor added that international connections are increasingly important in the global higher education environment saying: “International research partnerships like this make a significant contribution to the leading edge performance of the countries involved. They enhance our international research reputation, and ensure that we provide the best possible experience for our students. They also underpin wealth and job creation and make a significant contribution to quality of life.

“My colleagues at Queen’s and in Georgetown recognise that increasing transatlantic mobility, especially for young people, is essential. This partnership is an important step towards enriching the student experience and enhancing the curriculum and research profile at both universities.”

For further information contact: Anne Langford,  028 9097 5310

Notes to Editors
Georgetown was founded in 1789, while Queen’s was established in 1845. Both have a distinguished academic and cultural history, based on a commitment to the highest standards of scholarship and intellectual discovery, and to contributing to society and the greater good, nationally and internationally.

The links between the institutions are personified in two of the United States’ most famous political figures, former President Bill Clinton, a graduate of Georgetown and an honorary graduate of Queen’s, and our Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, also a Georgetown alumnus.

The link-up will be underlined next year when a number of events associated with the Georgetown-Queen’s partnership will take place as part of the Smithsonian Festival event on Washington Mall.


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Spiegeltent Takes Centre Stage At 44th Belfast Festival At Queen's

One of the world's most decadent travelling cabaret and music salons, The Spiegeltent, is set to become one of the star attractions at the 44th Belfast Festival at Queen's, which runs from 19th October to 4th November.

Built in 1920 by master craftsmen from wood, canvas, leaded glass and mirrors, this hand-hewn art nouveau pavilion will take centre stage at Custom House Square, with support from the Laganside Corporation, for the duration of Ireland’s biggest international arts festival. Also known as the Salon Perdu, the Spiegeltent will play host to everything from World Music and Cabaret to Magners Comedy, BT Talks and more.

Amongst the other highlights from this year’s festival programme, details of which were announced earlier today, are the breathtaking voice of one of the world’s leading tenors, the hot and spicy sounds of Cuba, an innovative new version of a Shakespearean classic and the one and only ‘human sparkler’!

Over 18 packed festival days and nights, artists and events from over 15 countries - including Argentina, Russia, Sweden, Israel, Spain, Australia, France, Cuba, Somalia, Canada, United States and Norway – will entertain audiences in venues throughout the city.

Speaking at the festival’s programme launch, Graeme Farrow, Festival Director, said: “This year’s festival presents a fascinating, balanced mix of events, ranging from large-scale spectacles and familiar names on the big stage to smaller, intriguing and more irreverent shows all over the city. It brings culture from around the world to our doorstep and showcases the very best work of our local artists. The introduction of the magnificent Spiegeltent venue is the icing on the festival cake - at least one night out here is essential!”

Opening Events

Topping the bill at this year’s festival is The Ulster Bank Opening Concert at the Waterfront Hall on Friday 20th October, featuring world-renowned Argentine tenor José Cura with the Ulster Orchestra. Maestro Cura, who has been hailed in the media as the successor to the Pavarotti-Domingo-Carreras triumvirate and baptised as "the fourth tenor", will sing and conduct arias and overtures from some of the world’s greatest operas at this, his only UK and Irish date of 2006.

Following the sensational success of Sticky in 2003, The World Famous return to the festival to present Crackers?, a free outdoor extravaganza combining fireworks, projection, performance and music. The event is presented in association with the NI Fire and Rescue Service and Bank of Ireland and will open the festival on Thursday 19th October at Botanic Gardens Playing Fields. The audience of adults and brave children is surrounded by fire and smoke, spinning wheels and fireworks and the ‘human sparkler’…

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “For several decades, through the Troubles and beyond, Belfast Festival at Queen’s has become a key annual highlight in Northern Ireland’s cultural and artistic calendar. As its longest-running supporter, the Arts Council is delighted this year to be able to help the festival to continue to offer its eclectic mix of events and carry on its tradition of bringing over headline international arts to Belfast.”

The Right Honourable, The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat McCarthy said: “Belfast City Council is immensely proud of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. This year’s programme has so many treats in store, demonstrating once again a real commitment to showcasing the best of international performance alongside local talent. As well as providing really memorable and inspirational events for local people, this flagship festival is doing a great deal to project a very positive image of Belfast and attract visitors to our city.”

Booking Information

The programme for the 44th Belfast Festival at Queen’s is available free with today’s copy of the festival’s media partner, the Belfast Telegraph. The brochure will also be available soon from outlets throughout Northern Ireland and full details of all events are also online at www.belfastfestival.com

Tickets for Belfast Festival at Queen’s events are on sale from today from the following outlets:

  • Telephone the Festival Box office on 028 90971197 – open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5.30pm.
  • Call in to the new festival box office at QFT, 20 University Square – open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
  • Book online at www.belfastfestival.com
  • Belfast Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place – open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 7pm.
  • Text Phone 028 90971324. ENDS.

For further information, artist images and interview requests for all festival events, please contact:

  • Sarah Hughes, Communications Officer, on telephone 028 90971398, email s.hughes@qub.ac.uk or mobile 07905 276399.
  • Ciaran McKenna, Press Officer, on telephone 028 90971397 or mobile 07791598456.


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Queen's opens its doors to prospective students

More than 10,000 prospective students from across Northern Ireland will descend on Queen's over the next two days, to learn about the exciting options that the University delivers.

The 'Queen's Experience' will be shared at the University Open Days on Thursday and Friday and allow those students making critical decisions about their future education to get a full taste of what is on offer.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson points out that the Annual Open Days provide a unique experience saying: “These visiting students will be making one of the most important decisions in their life over the next few weeks. We at Queen's want to help them make that decision and at the same time show them the opportunities that this university offers.

"The two days are tailored to meet the needs of potential students and to invite their questions about the courses we offer. Advice is given on the entry requirements we expect and the subsequent career prospects that specific qualifications can bring with them.

“In deciding to come to Queen’s, students are joining a forward-looking university with a long and distinguished record of education and research. They will also be coming to a university which is committed to providing a fully-rounded student experience. We look forward to helping them make the right choice.”

Although most of the visitors are final-year students at schools and colleges in Northern Ireland, mature students undertaking foundation courses and those currently studying in further education also take up the opportunities provided at the two day Queen’s showcase. Significant numbers of students from other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland are also expected at the campus, already aware of the widespread media reports that Belfast currently has lower costs for accommodation and daily living than most cities in these islands.

The Queen’s programme has changed this year with a central Welcome and Information Centre provided in a huge marquee on the front lawns of the university containing 35 stands of which 21 are information points for each University School. The Centre also provides a one-stop shop for the Careers Service, Student Accommodation, Queen’s Sport, the University Health Service and the Students’ Union who will provide tours of their facilities, many of which have recently been refurbished and expanded in line with the £259 million pound spend allocated in the current Academic Plan. The intake of 2007 will be among the first to benefit from the new state of the art Library currently under construction with an estimated cost of £44 million.

Existing Queen’s students will also be on hand to act as guides for the special visitors directing them to Talks and Exhibitions. Demonstrations in subject areas are spread across the university campus and provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience in a number of subjects, discuss directly with students and staff their own plans and ambitions and have their questions about Queen’s answered.

For further information, please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320.

To view the Open Day Brochure visit the Queen’s website at www.qub.ac.uk/news/OpenDays

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Queen's leads debate on future of Northern Ireland economy

Leading business, political and public sector figures are gathering at Queen's University on Wednesday 06 September to debate the future of the Northern Ireland economy and the region's role on the global stage. A panel discussion organised by the Chief Executives' Club at Queen’'s will examine the private and public sector balance of the Northern Ireland economy and whether steps can be taken to support the growth of a reinvigorated and globally competitive private sector.

The event comes at a critical juncture for economic development in the region. Ongoing political negotiations have placed the economy centre-stage with a sub-group of the Assembly’s Preparation for Government Committee reporting on the major impediments to the development of the local economy and aspects of an economic package to promote investment and economic regeneration. The sub-group received evidence from a range of economic bodies including the Industrial Taskforce which, under the chairmanship of Sir George Quigley, outlined a series of recommendations on economic initiatives and fiscal incentives.

The nature of the private and public sector balance in the Northern Ireland economy is of primary importance to the region’s key decision-makers. Business leaders and commentators have long expressed concerns at the dominant role of the public sector, pointing to an unsustainable intervention from the public purse. The outcomes of the Review of Public Administration will bring about radical reform of the management and delivery of public services in a region which the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Peter Hain, described as being “over-governed and over administered”. The gallop of the Celtic Tiger in the Republic of Ireland has given rise to both admiring glances and pointed questions from leading figures in Northern Ireland and issues such as harmonisation of corporation tax on the island have been high on the business community’s deliberations.

These issues and more will be explored at this keynote debate at Queen’s chaired by the BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick. The pre-eminent panel will include:

  • Sir George Quigley: Chairman of Bombardier Aerospace Belfast and Chairman of the Industrial Taskforce
  • Stephen Kingon: Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Northern Ireland and Chairman of Invest NI
  • Declan Billington: Managing Director of John Thompson & Sons Ltd and Chairman of the CBI – Northern Ireland
  • Eoin O’Driscoll: Managing Director of Aderra and Chairman of Forfás – the Republic of Ireland’s national policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation
  • Mike Smyth: Senior Lecturer of Economics at the University of Ulster

For further information, please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office 028 9097 5320 or Mobile 07704449590


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Belfast Symposium welcomes plan for Scottish Gaelic and calls for framework for Irish language development

A Symposium held at Queen's University has called upon the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to produce a comprehensive plan for the Irish language as a matter of urgency.

The 6th Language and Politics Symposium on the Gaeltacht and Scotstacht brought together scholars and practitioners representing Irish and Ulster-Scots in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with Scottish Gaelic, Scots speakers and international experts in the regional language field.

Professor Dónall Ó Baoill from Celtic and Irish Studies at Queen’s, one of the conference organisers, said that there were many new issues emerging around languages in these islands, some driven by the recent recognition of Irish as a working language of the European Commission.

“Central questions were asked at this Symposium about the role of governments, including language boards and agencies such as Foras na Gaeilge, Bord na Gaidhlig and the Ulster-Scots Agency, and also what the various government departments charged with enterprise and investment, were doing or planning in their policies and attitudes towards languages for economic purposes.

“Without proper policy integration and direction, promotion and planning of our regional and minority languages are taking place in a vacuum,” the Queen’s Professor said.

The 50 academics and practitioners participating at the event welcomed the publication of the draft National Plan for Gaelic in Scotland and have written to the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Executive calling for an integrated policy framework for the Irish language here.

The proceedings of the three day Symposium are to be published by Cló Ollscoil na Banríona in December 2006 in Irish, Ulster-Scots and Scottish Gaelic.

For further information, please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 or Professor Dónall Ó Baoill 028 9097 3390


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Duke of Edinburgh's Award strikes silver at Queen's in golden year

Queen's University Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has paid tribute to young people in Northern Ireland undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Professor Gregson, who will present the Silver Standard Awards at a special presentation at the University today (Tuesday) said: “The young people receiving these awards have demonstrated a remarkably wide range of qualities – particularly commitment, a sense of service, and a spirit of adventure – and I commend them all.

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award offers an individual challenge, and encourages young people to undertake exciting, constructive, challenging and enjoyable activities in their free time.

“The benefits of participation in these activities are truly impressive, ranging from the acquisition of new skills to obtaining a tangible sense of achievement and responsibility, developing self-confidence and self-reliance, and making new friends.

“In this, the Award’s Golden Anniversary year, I am delighted to learn that the numbers of young people taking the Award continues to rise, with an increase of 10 per cent last year, and that Northern Ireland still enjoys the highest penetration rate into its eligible population. I urge our young people to continue this trend.”

Eric Rainey, Director for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Northern Ireland, said: “Every young person taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award finds something of huge inner worth even if they don’t realise it at the time.

“This year in particular has seen young people focusing on the world outside themselves, travelling to Sri Lanka to assist in the Post Tsunami Rebuild, giving blood to raise the percentage of those in Northern Ireland who regularly support the Blood Transfusion Service with the gift of Life, and cleaning up our beautiful countryside.

“We all should be rightly proud of our young people. The future of The Award in the next 50 Years is in very good hands indeed.”

For further information, please contact: Eric Rainey,  028 9050 9550

Note for editors:
The Award ceremony will take place in the Whitla Hall at Queen’s University at 7.30pm on Tuesday 5 September. Media facilities will be available.

The Award was started by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956 and, since then, over 3.5 million young people have entered the UK Award Programme, with more than 1.5 million achieving a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. The Award is now run internationally in more than 100 countries worldwide.


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Autumn Open Learning Programme at Queen's published

A breakthrough which could answer ethical objections on stem cell research will be one of the topics addressed in Queen's new Autumn Open Learning Programme.

The American research, announced only last week, suggests that scientists may be able to save one life without destroying another. The Medical Ethics course is one of many featured in the Autumn Open Learning Programme focusing on important contemporary debates.

The newly published brochure also offers courses on areas such as the new Pensions Legislation (and how to make the most of it), internet security, the new computer based art of blogging, peace-building in interface communities and, topical on the literary front, a course on Seamus Heaney’s latest collection, District and Circle.

Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow in charge of the Programme said: “The Open Learning Programme is a great conduit for people who are not specialists to inform themselves of the latest thinking and research on a whole range of important current issues.

“Many of our courses are about innovations, and many take an innovative look at a familiar topic. So, for example, we have a course that takes a fresh look at those wonderful action adventure programmes such as The Avengers, or another which approaches Belfast shop fronts from an unexpected angle; giving a insight into the history of the very stones that form them.

“Often we combine different subjects to create new fields of study – politics and music or changing concepts of relationships, as mirrored in literary texts.”

The spectrum of courses includes a large language section with lots of practical courses on offer in areas like digital photography and interview skills, the Qur’an for beginners, as well as ‘classics’ in literature, history, law, philosophy and theology, nature and environment.

You can get a free copy of the Autumn Open Learning Programme on line or by telephoning the School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast , 20 College Green, Belfast BT7 1LN, Tel: 9097 3323/5941, www.qub.ac.uk/edu.  

Course fees range from £20 to £86 and concession rates are available to staff, students, persons unemployed and those over sixty who have retired.

Full details can be found in the Open Learning Programme. Further information from: Tess Maginess, Wendy Hunter or Martina Grogan.


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