01-2004 Press Releases

29/01/04:Queen's research study into charitable giving by will
29/01/04: Maghera student addresses civic leaders
28/01/04: Queen's nurses stage panto for charity - oh yes they do!
27/01/04: Queen's key role in Northern Ireland's "shared future" - Bain
27/01/04: Northern Ireland's leaders in "shared future" debate at Queen's
23/01/04: Queen's plastics centre hosts European conference
22/01/04: Gender audit of company boards published
21/01/04:Queen's forges "divine" link-up with theological colleges
21/01/04:Commons Select Committee visits Queen's
19/01/04: Queen's man wins IT Professional of the Year Award
12/01/04: Northern Ireland's Newest Museum
09/01/04: Queen's appoints new Vice-Chancellor
09/01/04: High flying academic with his feet on the ground - a profile of Professor Peter Gregson
09/01/04: Gregson joins distinguished list of academics - a history of Queen's Vice-Chancellors
08/01/04: Higher Education Bill "a progressive step"
08/01/04: Engineering a healthier, cleaner future

 

Maghera student addresses civic leaders

A 17-year-old student from St Patrick's School, Maghera was among those giving their views on the future of community relations in Northern Ireland to an audience of leading public and political figures in Belfast on Tuesday.

Emma O'Kane was speaking at the "Shared Future" conference at Queen's University, which was organised by Queen's Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research in association with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and the Community Relations Council.

The event was the first chance for public debate on the response to "A Shared Future", a major consultation paper on the future direction of community and good relations policy issued by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in January last year.

Emma recently spent time at the International School for Training in Vermont as part of a cross-community project organised by the Spirit of Enniskillen and she will be attending the International Summit for Future World Leaders in Washington DC in the near future.

She was also involved in the JEDI (Joined in Equity, Diversity and Interdependence) Initiative in which the youth work sector has been working to develop a coherent strategy for community relations work.

Conference delegates heard from a range of political and civic leaders who spoke on the problems and challenges of responding to a divided society, and on the importance of moving society towards a more pluralistic and tolerant position.

The University's Institute of Governance is to produce a report of the discussions to provoke debate and propose policy directions and initiatives to facilitate movement towards a more integrated and sharing society.

For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Top of Page

Queen's research into charitable giving by will

The findings from a unique study by a team of researchers at Queen's University Belfast into the charitable legacies bequeathed in Northern Ireland wills between 1937 and 1997 are published today (Friday 30 January) in a new book 'Dying to Give? Trends in Charitable Giving by Will'.

As part of the three-year project, each of the wills admitted to probate in Northern Ireland for three sample years were examined.

 Professor Norma Dawson of the Queen's School of Law explained: "We chose three years spanning a 60 year period: 1937 - before the introduction of the Welfare State system; 1967 - when the Welfare State was at its height, and 1997 as a more recent sample year. In all we studied around 10,000 documents and many fascinating trends have been revealed."

Professor Dawson said that while seven in ten people in the UK give to charities during their lifetime, only one in 20 people make charitable gifts on death. "Although the sample population for this study is the population of Northern Ireland, it has wider significance for the charity sector and legal profession in the British Isles and beyond," she added.

The key findings in 'Dying to Give?' were presented by four of the five authors at a seminar that took place at Queen's on Friday 30th January to mark the book's launch. Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA, Dave Wall, Director of the Voluntary and Community Unit, Department of Social Development, and Emma Bockhop of the Legacy Promotion Campaign also spoke at the event. Members of the legal profession attended Friday's seminar, as did representatives from charitable organisations and churches.

The study addresses a range of issues including: who is most likely to leave a charitable bequest, the type of charities most likely to benefit, how the patterns of giving have changed in the last 60 years and what the signs are for the future. Among the fascinating trends and facts revealed by a statistical analysis of the data are:

*The stereotype of the typical charitable testator as single, childless and elderly is confirmed. Today, however, the charitable testator is most likely to be female, more likely to be in her 80s and increasingly likely to have children.

*Married men who have children are confirmed as the group most likely to make wills, but farmers are more likely to do so than people in any other occupation.

*Those working in education are the most likely to leave charitable bequests (26%) – while those working in engineering are the least likely (only 6%). Over 50% of charitable gifts in will in Northern Ireland are for religious purposes.

*Donations left for the relief of illness (17%) is the second most popular cause - with cancer charities dominating this category. Women were responsible for 72% of gifts left to animal welfare, with men accounting for 80% of gifts for sport and recreation.

*The value of building a strong local charity 'brand' is evident from the data: some 15% of all legacies for the relief of illness were made in favour of the NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association, while the USPCA dominates its category of charity.

In addition to Professor Norma Dawson, the other authors of 'Dying to Give? Trends in Charitable Giving by Will', published by TSO Ireland, are Sheena Grattan, Senior Lecturer in Law at Queen's and a barrister; Laura Lundy, a lawyer and Reader in the Queen's Graduate School of Education; Ruth Glenn, a solicitor with Arthur Cox NI; and Gordon Cran, a chartered statistician and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Queen's.

Notes: The book launch and seminar will take place on Friday 30th January 9.30am –2pm in the Council Chamber and Canada Room at Queen's University. Media facilities will be available at 9.45am.

For further information contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office 9097 5320; or Professor Norma Dawson 9097 3451.

Top of Page

Queen's nurses stage panto for charity - oh yes they do!

Nurses at Queen's will soon be swapping lecture theatres for a different type of theatre when they take to the stage next week to perform the pantomime "Cinderella".

Staff and students at the School of Nursing and Midwifery will be taking part in an extravaganza of music, dance and romance all in aid of charity, with money raised going to the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society and the School's Overseas Development Fund which supports students undertaking elective placements internationally.

The pantomime will run from Thursday February 5 to Saturday February 7 in Knockbreda Parish Church Hall at 7.30pm. There will also be a matinee performance at 3pm on Saturday.

Professor Jean Orr, Head of School, said: "We work very hard all year, but I firmly believe that the best results are produced when people are having fun and enjoying what they do. The pantomime rehearsals have certainly given us all much fun, not to mention the physical exercise. It is a great way to become reacquainted with muscles long forgotten. "

"It is also good to be able to give something back, with the money raised going to very worthwhile causes. As nurses, midwives and health visitors we work closely with the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul and last summer the school sent a team to work in Ghana," she said.

Geranium Bouquet, alias Dr Paddy McCartan, is having something of an identity crisis as he alternates between being a lecturer in nursing and an ugly sister. Early indications suggest that May McFettridge should watch her back!

Meanwhile Prince Charming, Gary Seaton, a final year student nurse from Carrickfergus, seasoned in the art of fending off unwanted admirers, admits that the Bouquet sisters are "something else."

Claire Buchner, who not only plays the part of Queen Ella, but is also co-director of the pantomime, summed up the feeling of the team involved in the production.

"Juggling the rehearsals with work and family life is certainly challenging, but we are having a ball. People have really pulled out the stops on this one, and of course it's not every day you get the chance to shout orders at a professor!"

Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 concession and are available from reception at the School of Nursing and Midwifery. There will also be a prize draw on each night of the show and everyone is welcome.

Note to Editors: "Cinderella" will run from February 5 - 7 at Knockbreda Parish Church Hall, Purdy's Lane, Belfast (opposite Forestside).

For further information, contact: Una Lynch, School of Nursing and Midwifery, (028) 9097 2377 or email u.lynch@qub.ac.uk Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

Top of Page

Queen's key role in Northern Ireland's "shared future" - Bain

Queen's has a key role to play in promoting community relations in Northern Ireland, both by leadership and example, Vice-Chancellor Professor George Bain has said.

The Vice-Chancellor was speaking at today's "Shared Future" conference at the University. Organised by Queen's Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research in association with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and the Community Relations Council, the event was the first chance for public debate on the response to the consultation paper, "A Shared Future", issued in January last year.

The paper, published by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, was a major consultation document on the future direction of community and good relations policy.

The Vice-Chancellor, who gave the opening address at the event, said: "One of Queen's core objectives is to be an exemplar of a modern, pluralistic institution which aims to respect and celebrate the cultural diversity in Northern Ireland, and we are therefore delighted to be hosting this conference."

"We believe that universities are challenged to create an environment that is conducive to positive change, one that develops socially responsible citizens, and contributes to a better future for us all. We believe that universities must be committed social partners, working with all those in the communities we serve."

And he added: "This is particularly important for the thousands of Northern Ireland's young people who are students at Queen's, many of whom will go on to become the next generation of community leaders.

"Most of them appreciate that university offers them an opportunity for sharing both in academic and social life, and hope to continue this sharing in their future lives and careers. I know from talking to many of them, especially our student leaders, of their deep yearning and commitment to peace and prosperity for their - and everyone's - future.

"We know that the past cannot be changed, but the future still lies within our power. Today's conference will, I hope, help us to use that power wisely and well. Queen's is committed to helping achieve that aim."

Conference delegates heard from a range of political and civic leaders who spoke on the problems and challenges of responding to a divided society, and on the importance of moving society towards a more pluralistic and tolerant position.

The programme included a video message from the University's Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, the broker of the Good Friday Agreement, who stressed the need for strong political leadership if progress is to be made.

The Institute of Governance is to produce a report of the discussions to provoke debate and propose policy directions and initiatives to facilitate movement towards a more integrated and sharing society.

 For further information contact:

Bronagh Hinds, Tel 028 9097 2548

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Top of Page

Northern Ireland's leaders in "shared future" debate at Queen's

More than 500 leading figures from public and political life will gather at Queen's University on Tuesday for a major one-day conference on the future of community relations in Northern Ireland.

Organised by the University's Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research in association with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and the Community Relations Council, the event will be the first chance for public debate on the response to the consultation paper, A Shared Future, issued in January last year.

The paper, published by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, was a major consultation on the future direction of community and good relations policy.

Conference delegates will hear from a range of political and civic leaders who will speak on the problems and challenges of responding to a divided society, and on the importance of moving society towards a more pluralistic and tolerant position.

The programme will include a video message from the University's Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, who brokered the Good Friday Agreement. Senator Mitchell will provide an external perspective on the need for improving relationships across the communities in Northern Ireland and stress the need for strong political leadership if progress is to be made.

Conference organiser Bronagh Hinds, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Governance, said: "This event could hardly be more timely, taking place at the beginning of a new year, in the context of the recent Assembly election and prior to the review of the Good Friday Agreement which starts on 3 February.

"It is also very appropriate that we are hosting this debate on National Holocaust Memorial Day which has among its key aims the promotion of a democratic and tolerant society, free from prejudice, racism and other forms of bigotry."

"Our goal is to focus on the civic and political leadership required for overcoming community conflict and for building good relations and I believe this is realised in the list of participants. The interest in this conference has been phenomenal. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response. The number of those taking part is more than double our original estimate."

The morning's proceedings will include a panel of civic leaders who will speak on the importance of the 'Shared Future' agenda to themselves and their colleagues, share examples of good practice in their sector and identify some of the issues which they face in overcoming conflict and building good community relations.

Taking part will be Denis Rooney, Chair of the Institute of Directors; Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Seamus McAleavey, Director of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action; Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, speaking on behalf of the Chief Executive's Forum; and Dr David Stephens, General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches, speaking on behalf of the four main Churches.

In the afternoon a panel of senior representatives from the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party will talk about their respective party's approach to the creation of effective policies to improve community relations.

Delegates will be welcomed to the event by Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain. The keynote speech will be given by Nigel Hamilton, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and other speakers will include academics and young people. The event will end with a summing-up by Dr Duncan Morrow, the Director of the Community Relations Council.

Following the conference, the Institute of Governance will produce a report of the discussions to provoke debate and propose policy directions and initiatives to facilitate movement towards a more integrated and sharing society.

For further information contact:

Bronagh Hinds, Tel 028 9097 2548

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Notes for editors:

The "Shared Future" conference will take place on Tuesday 27 January in the Whitla Hall, Queen's University from 9.45am to 4pm. Media facilities will be available. Arrangements for interview can be made by calling either of the above numbers.

A copy of the programme is attached.

 

More than 500 leading figures from public and political life will gather at Queen's University on Tuesday for a major one-day conference on the future of community relations in Northern Ireland.

Organised by the University's Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research in association with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and the Community Relations Council, the event will be the first chance for public debate on the response to the consultation paper, A Shared Future, issued in January last year.

The paper, published by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, was a major consultation on the future direction of community and good relations policy.

Conference delegates will hear from a range of political and civic leaders who will speak on the problems and challenges of responding to a divided society, and on the importance of moving society towards a more pluralistic and tolerant position.

The programme will include a video message from the University's Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, who brokered the Good Friday Agreement. Senator Mitchell will provide an external perspective on the need for improving relationships across the communities in Northern Ireland and stress the need for strong political leadership if progress is to be made.

Conference organiser Bronagh Hinds, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Governance, said: "This event could hardly be more timely, taking place at the beginning of a new year, in the context of the recent Assembly election and prior to the review of the Good Friday Agreement which starts on 3 February.

"It is also very appropriate that we are hosting this debate on National Holocaust Memorial Day which has among its key aims the promotion of a democratic and tolerant society, free from prejudice, racism and other forms of bigotry."

"Our goal is to focus on the civic and political leadership required for overcoming community conflict and for building good relations and I believe this is realised in the list of participants. The interest in this conference has been phenomenal. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response. The number of those taking part is more than double our original estimate."

The morning's proceedings will include a panel of civic leaders who will speak on the importance of the 'Shared Future' agenda to themselves and their colleagues, share examples of good practice in their sector and identify some of the issues which they face in overcoming conflict and building good community relations.

Taking part will be Denis Rooney, Chair of the Institute of Directors; Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Seamus McAleavey, Director of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action; Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Housing Executive, speaking on behalf of the Chief Executive's Forum; and Dr David Stephens, General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches, speaking on behalf of the four main Churches.

In the afternoon a panel of senior representatives from the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party will talk about their respective party's approach to the creation of effective policies to improve community relations.

Delegates will be welcomed to the event by Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain. The keynote speech will be given by Nigel Hamilton, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, and other speakers will include academics and young people. The event will end with a summing-up by Dr Duncan Morrow, the Director of the Community Relations Council.

Following the conference, the Institute of Governance will produce a report of the discussions to provoke debate and propose policy directions and initiatives to facilitate movement towards a more integrated and sharing society.

For further information contact:

Bronagh Hinds, Tel 028 9097 2548

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Notes for editors:

The "Shared Future" conference will take place on Tuesday 27 January in the Whitla Hall, Queen's University from 9.45am to 4pm. Media facilities will be available. Arrangements for interview can be made by calling either of the above numbers.

A copy of the programme is attached.

 

Top of Page

23/01/04: Queen's plastics centre hosts European conference

Plastics for medical devices, plastics packaging, polymer wood composites and the latest in plastics research will be just some of the topics to be discussed at a major conference hosted by Queen's University next week.

Organised by the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC), the conference on January 28 and January 29 is being held in conjunction with US-based Society of Plastics Engineers, making it the first time it has ever been involved in this type of conference in the United Kingdom

Among the 200 delegates attending the two-day symposium will be representatives from the plastics industry, not only in Northern Ireland, but also the Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and mainland Europe. There will also be polymer processors and equipment manufacturers who will get the chance to see at first hand what the Centre has to offer in terms of problem solving analysis, product development and graduate programmes.

Established in 1998 the PPRC has attracted substantial funding for many of its research programmes because of the expertise of its academics and research staff, as well as the wide range of state-of-the-art facilities which makes it quite unique in Europe.

Its work brings together existing expertise and facilities in extrusion processing, as well as activities in polymer processes such as injection moulding and rotational moulding. Rotational moulding techniques are used to create prototypes of oil tanks and plastic bottles, while food packaging and medical devices are made from extrusion processing methods.

Delegates will also be able to see the brand new £4.3 million Medical Polymers Research Institute (MPRI) which aims to develop new materials for medical devices, such as plastic ventilator tubes, implants and prostheses.

According to Mr Gerry McNally, deputy director of the PPRC, the symposium will not only allow knowledge transfer and networking for industrial partners, but also give staff at Queen's the chance to discuss their research and development programmes.

"We are very proud of the Centre that we have established here in Queen's and the wide range of state-of-the-art pilot plant and analysis facilities means the Centre is quite unique in Europe. Many companies now refer to the PPRC as their own research and development facility and this gives them a competitive edge, especially in export matters," he said.

The conference will run from Wednesday 28 January to Thursday 29 January and include an exhibitors presentation, technical sessions and a banquet at the Hastings Europa Hotel.

Among those attending will be representatives from The Denroy Group, Colorite Europe Ltd, British Plastics Federation (BPF), Brett Martin, Boomer Industries Ltd, Valpar, Harlequin Oil Tanks, TFX Medical-Rusch, Perfecseal, the Burnden group plc, Smiley Monroe, Northern Ireland Polymer Association, Brow Polythene, Tekniplex, Classic Marble, Canyon Corporation, Webtech, Steve Orr Ltd and the Northern Ireland Technology Centre.

Note to Editors:

The Polymer Processing Research Centre was established in 1998 and is based in the Ashby Building at Queen's. As well as offering pilot plant and analysis facilities, the Centre also offers excellent teaching and training facilities in undergraduate polymer courses. It also delivers tailor-made, hands-on workshops in extrusion processing and rotational moulding.

For further information, contact:

Mr Gerry McNally, deputy director of the Polymer Processing Research Centre, (028) 9097 4705, g.mcnally@qub.ac.uk

Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

Top of Page

Gender audit of company boards published

'Five percent of Private Irish Company Board Seats held by Women'

A gender audit report of private company boards in Ireland, prepared by the Queen's University Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics for the International Women's Forum (IWF) Ireland, was launched on Thursday 22 January.

The first Irish gender audit report of its type, Women and Corporate Governance in Ireland, reveals that women hold a mere five percent of board seats on Ireland's top 100 companies. This is considerably lower than in neighbouring countries. For example, in the USA 12 percent of corporate directors are women.

Women and Corporate Governance in Ireland explores the reasons why women are so under-represented at the highest level of Irish business. It reveals that 78 percent of CEOs and chairmen interviewed did not have any policy regarding the appointment of women to their boards and 76 percent did not intend to introduce any such policy.

The research also reveals a striking divergence of men's and women's views on the reasons for the shortage of women directors. The chief reasons identified by men are that women have not been coming through the ranks for long enough, reluctance on the part of qualified women to announce their interest in board service and a shortage of qualified women. Women directors on the other hand, laid the responsibility for gender imbalance on companies, with a majority suggesting that boards did not know where to find suitable women. While they also recognised that suitable women were not coming forward for board service, they identified the persistence of gender role stereotyping in board cultures as an important obstacle to women holding directorships.

The greatest disparity in male and female opinion centred on the difference between male and female leadership styles. Only 23 percent of the men interviewed felt that a difference existed compared to 64 percent of the women.

Dr Yvonne Galligan of the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics at Queen's University Belfast who conducted the research commented, "This perhaps explains why so many men, whose boardrooms are women-free, are content that their board is sufficiently diverse. If they do not perceive women to bring something unique and different to the board, they are unlikely to feel women’s absence creates a gap to be filled."

Dr Maureen Gaffney, a member of IWF Ireland and a leading psychologist who conducted a qualitative analysis based on in-depth interviews with leading Irish CEOs, said : "This report confirms that while women comprise half the population and make up more than half of the entrants to many university courses, they comprise only a tiny minority at the highest level of most professions and occupations. There is a need to convince businesses to see diversity not just as a responsibility, but also as a competitive advantage."

Dr Gaffney added, "We are living in a world where women constitute at least half of a business’s customer base, and where women purchase well over half of all commercial and consumer goods sold. It seems a costly mistake for businesses not to take advantage of womens’ insights into such purchasing choices in the boardroom."

Commenting on the significance of the report for Northern Ireland Dr Galligan said:

"This report was confined to the Republic of Ireland and there is a need for a comparable study in Northern Ireland to be carried out. In the light of recent high-profile corporate scandals, there is a new spotlight being put on corporate governance. If Northern Ireland wants to establish itself as a major player in the corporate world, gender imbalance is one area that should be addressed."

"It is clear that companies can do considerably more than at present to bring women into corporate governance. Policies on gender balance at board level, accompanied by realistic targets, timetables and supportive measures could go some way in addressing gender deficit among the boards of top companies."

Women and Corporate Governance in Ireland, which was commissioned by the IWF- Ireland, calls for a deeper investigation into the boardroom culture of Ireland’s top companies and the continued monitoring of the presence of women on the boards of the leading Irish companies.

Ends

Note to Editors:

The International Women's Forum (IWF) – Ireland, the Irish chapter of an international women's organisation, was established in 1999. It is a network of women who are high achievers in their chosen fields, who come together to share knowledge and experience and, also, to help foster and encourage other women to achieve their highest potential. Set up originally in the United States the IWF has 3,500 members around the globe.

For further information contact:

Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, Queen's University Tel: 028 9097 5320 / 07815 133 415

Top of Page

Queen's forges "divine" link-up with theological colleges

Queen's University has forged closer links with Northern Ireland's four theological colleges.

At a unique signing ceremony on Thursday, representatives from Queen's and Belfast Bible College, Edgehill Theological College, the Irish Baptist College and Union Theological College will sign Memoranda of Agreement to formalise the relationship between the University and the four institutions.

Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning Professor Ken Bell, who will sign the agreement on behalf of the University, said: "Queen's already has close links with the Theological Colleges in Northern Ireland. We are delighted that today's ceremony - a requirement of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education - will enhance those links further.

"Under the terms of its charter Queen's was precluded from teaching theology but not from conferring degrees in the subject. Our Faculty of Theology, which in 1998 became the Institute of Theology within the Faculty of Humanities, was formed in 1926 in the belief that it is crucial for Queen's to be involved in all aspects of mainstream community and intellectual life in Northern Ireland.

"That statement remains as true today as it did in 1926."

The four Colleges are Constituent Colleges of the Institute of Theology. Since 1926, Union College (previously the Assembly's College), has functioned as a Recognised College of the University. Edgehill Theological College, the Irish Baptist College and the Belfast Bible College, were granted this status by the University in 1951, 1977 and1994 respectively.

Currently there are over 330 undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research students, studying for theology degrees at the Colleges plus a significant number of Queen's students studying theology modules.

For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

Note for editors:

The signing ceremony will take place in the Old Staff Common Room, Queen's University on Thursday 22 January at 11am. Media facilities will be available.

Top of Page

Commons Select Committee visits Queen's
Authors of the report 'Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland' share their findings on the extent of child poverty throughout Northern Ireland with members of the House of Comons Work and Pensions Select Committee who visited Queen's as part of their enquiry into Child Poverty in the UK.  (l-r) are: Professor Paddy Hillyard (University of Ulster), Liberal Democrat MP Mr Archie Kirkwood who is leading the Select Committee, Professor Eithne McLaughlin and Mike Tomlinson of the Queen's School of Sociology and Social Policy.
Authors of the report 'Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland' share their findings on the extent of child poverty throughout Northern Ireland with members of the House of Comons Work and Pensions Select Committee who visited Queen's as part of their enquiry into Child Poverty in the UK. (l-r) are: Professor Paddy Hillyard (University of Ulster), Liberal Democrat MP Mr Archie Kirkwood who is leading the Select Committee, Professor Eithne McLaughlin and Mike Tomlinson of the Queen's School of Sociology and Social Policy.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee visited Queen's University today (Wednesday 21 January) to take evidence from experts on poverty in the School of Sociology and Social Policy as part of its Inquiry into Child Poverty in the UK.

As part of their fact-finding trip to Northern Ireland, the Committee members spoke at Queen's this morning with Professor Eithne McLaughlin, Professor Paddy Hillyard (University of Ulster) and Mike Tomlinson, authors of the report published last October Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland.


The Bare Necessities report, published by think tank Democratic Dialogue, provided the first 'scientific' measurement of levels of poverty in Northern Ireland and attracted widespread interest nationally and internationally.

"One of the report's key findings highlighted the extent of child poverty throughout Northern Ireland," Mr Tomlinson said. He added:

"More than one-third of Northern Ireland's children are growing up in poor households - 37.4%. Poor households were found to be those with incomes around half the average and lacking three or more identified necessities."

In the report the authors concluded that "Northern Ireland is one of the most unequal societies in the developed world". They called upon the region’s politicians and policy-makers to address these important findings, saying the reduction of poverty and inequality is "ultimately a matter of political will."

Commenting on the visit by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee Mr Tomlinson said:

"Today's investigation is part of an important UK-wide study. Our report established that poverty in Northern Ireland is worse than in either the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain. We welcomed the opportunity of drawing to the Committee's attention the findings from our report and had a fruitful discussion of the best methods for measuring and monitoring children's poverty."

Ends

Notes:

1. The research, that led to the publication of Bare Necessities: Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland was directed by Professor Paddy Hillyard of the University of Ulster, and by Professor Eithne McLaughlin and Mike Tomlinson of Queen's University Belfast. It is based on a representative sample of more than 3,100 people across Northern Ireland surveyed between October 2002 and January 2003. It was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, the Department of Finance and Personnel, and the Treasury's evidence-based policy fund. The published report is available from Democratic Dialogue, 23 University Street, Belfast BT7

For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, Queen's University Belfast, Tel 028 90975320

Top of Page

Queen's man named IT Professional of the Year
Professor John McCanny shows off his latest accolade - the IT Professional of the Year Award presented by the Belfast branch of the British Computer Society. Looking on is Paul Hanna, Acting BCS Chairman.
Professor John McCanny shows off his latest accolade - the IT Professional of the Year Award presented by the Belfast branch of the British Computer Society. Looking on is Paul Hanna, Acting BCS Chairman.

Professor John McCanny, director of Queen's University's new £40M Institute of Electronics Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and founder of Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. has been awarded the IT Professional of the Year Award for 2004 by the British Computer Society (Belfast branch).

This prestigious award is made for a contribution of major significance in the advancement of the Information Technology industry within the BCS Northern Ireland Region.

Professor McCanny was presented with the award at a special lunch held in Belfast Castle by last year's winner Mr Brian Baird MD of Merido Ltd. Commenting on the award, Mr Baird said: "Professor McCanny is one of the best examples of an individual who is prepared to pioneer the development of new technology, apply that through collaboration with Industry and create high value jobs through export focused start-up businesses based in Northern Ireland.

"Professor McCanny has demonstrated great personal conviction and exemplifies all that is best in Northern Ireland as we seek to develop a knowledge based enterprise culture. He has made an outstanding contribution to the ICT industry in Northern Ireland and his selection as the award winner would continue to enhance the standing of this already prestigious award. Not only is Professor McCanny a world leading researcher who has made many important contributions to the design of complex silicon chips for Digital Signal Processing applications, he has also been responsible for co-founding two successful high technology companies – Audio Processing technology Ltd. and Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. 

Welcoming the award, Professor McCanny said: "I am obviously therefore very pleased and honoured to receive this year's BCS award. However this owes as much to the many very talented people I have had the privilege to work with over many years. It is they rather than myself who deserve to receive this and I trust this reflects strongly on their many achievements. I particularly wish to dedicate this to both my research colleagues in Queen's and to the engineering team in Amphion".

 Professor McCanny went on to describe briefly the activities of both ECIT and Amphion.
ECIT is a new research centre currently being built on the Northern Ireland Science Park specialising in research in electronics, communications and computer technology. Its mission is to stimulate major opportunities for economic growth, by pioneering future directions and innovation in key areas of advanced technology through the integration of complementary research expertise in a world-leading facility. ECIT's aim is not only to pursue state-of-the-art high technology research. Its function is also to germinate new high technology companies to commercially develop these new ideas and new product innovations.

Amphion was created as a Queen's spin-off nearly 10 years ago. Its current focus is the design of complex silicon chips for digital video compression and video decompression. Major applications for this technology include set-top boxes, DVD recorders, 3G cell phones and appliances for the future "digital home". Amphion does not actually manufacture these chips but rather licenses these to major semiconductor companies worldwide. Its customers are a "who's who" of the electronics industry including Sony, Toshiba, Sharp in Japan and Microsoft in the US. Indeed last week the company signed a major agreement to provide its video compression technology to IBM.

Notes to Editors:

IT Professional of the Year Award
Nominations for the award are welcomed from all sources within the IT profession in Northern Ireland. Contributions may be made within industrial, academic or educational environments.  They can relate to advancements in or the development and implementation of information systems in general or in particular, promote wider IT profession or industry issues or be considered to benefit society, the economy or the environment.

The British Computer Society
As the only Chartered Professional Institution for the field of information systems engineering, the British Computer Society (BCS) exists to provide service and support to the IS community, including individual practitioners, employers of IS staff and the general public.  Formed in 1957, the Society now operates under a Royal Charter granted in 1984 and has 38,000 members.

The BCS is also an Engineering Institution, fully licensed by the Engineering Council in May 1990 to nominate Chartered and Incorporated Engineers and to accredit university courses and training schemes.  The BCS is a registered charity: No 292786, patron: HRH The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO ADC

In 1989 the Society helped to found the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies http://www1.bcs.org/docs/01400/1406/cepis.htm (CEPIS) through which it gains access to the European Commission.  The BCS is also the UK member of the International Federation for Information Processing http://www.ifip.or.at  (IFIP).  The BCS web pages can be found at www.bcs.org.

Professor John McCanny CBE FRS FREng
Professor John McCanny is an international authority in the design of silicon integrated circuits for Digital Signal Processing having made many pioneering contributions to this field. He has published 5 research books, 250 major journal and conference papers, and holds 25 patents.

From 1999-2000 he chaired the (US-based) IEEE Signal Processing Society's Technical Committee on the Design and Implementation of Signal Processing Systems and was also a member of the Society's Technical Directions Committee. Over the past 20 years he has also served on many UK and EU electronics research committees and on the technical committees for many major international conferences. He currently sits on the Royal Academy of Engineering's Standing Committee for Engineering, the DTI's Electronics Innovation and Growth Team Steering Board and several Royal Society committees.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Physics. He is also a Fellow of the US based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. Professor McCanny was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded a CBE in 2002. He was also awarded the 2003 Royal Dublin Society/Irish Times Boyle Medal, which recognises scientific excellence in Ireland. Professor McCanny has won numerous other awards. These include a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 1996 for "outstanding contributions to UK engineering leading to market exploitation" and an IEEE 3rd Millennium medal in 2000.

About Amphion Semiconductor Ltd
Amphion is the leading supplier of semiconductor intellectual-property (IP) for digital video System-on-a-Chip (SoC), ASIC and programmable logic (FPGA, PLD) integrated circuit design. Amphion delivers high-performance solutions for video and image compression, including solutions based on the MPEG2, MPEG4 and recent H.264 standards with a comprehensive range of silicon-optimised products. Using proprietary techniques to directly map digital signal processing functions and algorithms into hardware, Amphion develops and licenses semiconductor intellectual-property (SIP) cores that are close to optimal in terms of power, cycles, and area - computationally up to several orders of magnitude more efficient than equivalent functions implemented on a programmable processor. Amphion cores operate standalone, or by direct interface to industry-standard RISC and DSP processors, and can be easily migrated through successive generations of fabrication technology, thus preserving engineering investments in SoC design. Amphion is a privately held company with corporate headquarters and engineering in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK with sales operations based in both Belfast and San Jose, California, USA. Amphion was formerly known as Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd, or ISS. For more information, visit http://www.amphion.com

Top of Page

Northern Ireland's Newest Museum

Today, Queen's University celebrated the creation of Northern Ireland's newest museum - the Naughton Gallery at Queen's.

The Naughton Gallery was officially opened in September 2002 as part of a major refurbishment of the University's Great Hall within the landmark and listed Lanyon Building. It is named after its benefactors, Glen Dimplex founder Dr Martin Naughton and his wife Carmel.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain welcomed guests - who included many well-known figures from Northern Ireland's arts organisations, galleries and museums - to the special celebratory event that took place in the University this afternoon.

Professor Bain said that the creation of the art gallery enabled the University to play a greater role in the local community by promoting the visual arts and ensuring that its extensive art collection could be seen and appreciated by others.

"The creation of this art gallery was the realisation of a personal dream of mine and many of my colleagues. We shared the view that, as the custodian of an important art collection and an institution at the heart of the local community, Queen's had an obligation to promote the delights of the visual arts and to ensure that its art treasures could be seen and appreciated by others.

"The award of museum status by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries is well-deserved and very welcome recognition of the standards of excellence which the Gallery has already achieved. Most importantly, it will open up a range of exciting new opportunities for its future development."

Dr Brian Kennedy, Head of Fine and Applied Art at the Ulster Museum and Chair of the Queen's Art Board, outlined what museum status means for the Naughton Gallery.

"First and foremost, the achievement of museum registration is a recognition of the gallery's professionalism," he stressed. "We have demonstrated that the work of the Naughton Gallery meets the standards of museum operation required by the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries. Being registered means the gallery can work more closely with other institutions and galleries throughout the UK and can borrow exhibits from them."

Guest of honour Mark Fisher, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, who is currently compiling a UK-wide Museums guide, presented Dr Kennedy and Queen's Curator of Art Shan McAnena with the formal certificate of museum registration.

A series of thought-provoking and varied exhibitions have been staged in the Gallery since its opening. A new exhibition, curated by Dr Maureen Alden, Lecturer in Greek at Queen's, entitled "The Classical Feminine: Women and the Antique 1780-1940",opens in the Gallery on Wednesday 14 January.

Notes:

1. The event took place at 12.15 in the Canada Room at Queen's University. Short speeches were given by: Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain, Dr Brian Kennedy, Mark Fisher MP and Shan McAnena.

2. Dr Naughton's interest in art also led him to fund the Irish Museum of Modern Art- Glen Dimplex Awards, established to recognise Irish artists and the arts in Ireland. Carmel Naughton was formerly chairman of the National Gallery of Ireland and is currently on the Board of Management of the Queen's Art Board.

3. The Naughton Gallery is open from 12pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.

For further information, contact: Shan McAnena, Curator of Art: 028 9097 5383: or Dolores Vischer, Communications Office: 028 9097 5320

Top of Page

High flying academic with his feet on the ground - a profile of Professor Peter Gregson

Peter Gregson, who becomes the next President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's in August, combines his career as one of the UK's leading academics with his responsibilities as a father of three young children.

In eight months' time the family will be swapping their home near Romsey for the Vice-Chancellor's Lodge in Belfast's Lennoxvale where his hobby of gardening will come in handy.

Professor Gregson also enjoys tennis, sailing and classical music. "I'm hoping to find some time to explore Northern Ireland's waterways," he said.

"But the most important thing for me now is to get to know the University, its staff, students and alumni more intimately, and to ensure there is a smooth handover from Sir George. It's a cliché, I know. But he will be a hard act to follow. I am looking forward to the challenge."

Born in 1957, Peter Gregson was an academic high-flyer from the start. Graduating with a first-class degree in Materials Science at Imperial College London, he went on to earn a PhD before being appointed to the academic staff at the University of Southampton.

At Southampton he has combined a distinguished academic career with a reputation as a forward-looking leader. Appointed to a personal Chair in 1996, he was awarded the prestigious Rosenhain Medal and Prize of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining the same year, and elected a fellow of the Institute in 1998.

In 2000 he was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Southampton. In 2001, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and became a member of the Windsor Leadership Trust in 2002. He was appointed to the governing body of one of the UK's most important research organisations - the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils - in 2003.

His impressive research profile - particularly in the fields of aerospace materials and innovative approaches to the replacement of hip and other joints - has attracted international interest. Underpinned by core strategic partnerships, his specialist research groups have received substantial investment from research councils, the Government, private sector and charities, and they have put strong emphasis on harnessing the potential of interdisciplinary research.

Professor Gregson said: "I believe it is crucial to bring academics from different fields together; exciting new areas of activity open up in such circumstances. On the face of it, engineering has little relationship with medicine. Yet by working as part of the same team, engineers and medics can come up with solutions to problems which can have a dramatic impact on the treatment of people with joint problems.

"Queen's has made important strides in interdisciplinary work, with a number of exciting new projects in sonic arts, cancer studies, nanotechnology and digital processing, to name just a few. I am looking forward to building further on this."

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Southampton, he has led the development of its strategy and policy. "One of the things of which I am most proud is the development of a radical new approach to the development of a culture of enterprise and innovation at the university.

"I believe it is a primary role of universities to develop partnerships with the public and private sector which foster knowledge transfer between academia and industry. This aspect of a university's work is particularly crucial for Northern Ireland."

He said: "Queen's University is a remarkable institution which has played a pivotal role in Northern Ireland. I strongly endorse the University's commitment to access and to quality. Queen's is known nationally for its teaching, research, student experience and contribution to the community.

"I would like people to feel instinctively that it is connected to society, and will do all I can to ensure this is the case."

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9033 5323

Top of Page

Gregson joins distinguished list of academics - a history of Queen's Vice-Chancellors

Professor Peter Gregson will be the 11th Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University and follows a distinguished list of academics, each of whom has made a lasting contribution to the University and to Northern Ireland.

The first Vice-Chancellor - and one of the most significant figures in the history of Queen's - was the Rev Thomas Hamilton. Appointed Principal of the then Queen's College in 1889, he became Vice-Chancellor when the College was awarded university status in 1908 and served in this role until 1923.

He guided the University through a period of change and expansion - setting the standard for his successors as a highly successful fundraiser. Hamilton launched a major campaign urging the Government to increase its grant to Queen's, and he appealed to the public for endowments. Some things never change.

His energy and commitment laid the foundations for the young university which continued to expand under the vice-chancellorships of classicist Sir Richard Winn Livingstone, political economist Sir Frederick Ogilvie and historian Sir David Keir.

Keir's successor, Sir Eric Ashby - later Lord Ashby of Brandon - was to play a major role in ensuring Queen's reputation on the national stage. Under Ashby, in the golden years of the 1950s, Queen's grew in size and prestige. Ashby had a legendary reputation for identifying and nurturing academic talent.

His national standing was so high that, when he left Queen's in 1959, it was to become Master of Clare College, Cambridge, the first appointment in centuries of someone outside the College. He was also the only Queen's Vice-Chancellor to serve as its Chancellor, a role he held from 1970 to 1983.

Like his predecessor, Ashby's name is commemorated in one of Belfast's best-known landmarks - the striking Ashby Building on Stranmillis Road. Dr Michael Grant, a renowned classicist, was chosen to follow Ashby. He was succeeded by physicist Sir Arthur Vick, described as one of the most able administrators to hold the post.

It was during his tenure, from 1966 to 1976, that the first signs of what he called the "economic blizzard" sweeping universities began to appear. These grew increasingly chilly during Sir Peter Froggatt's 10 years in office, during which he guided the University with ability, good humour and integrity through a period of great financial upheaval for the higher education sector.

But it fell to his successor, Sir Gordon Beveridge, to lead Queen's during one of the most challenging periods in its history. He took office at a time when the University was facing a serious financial crisis, controversy over its fair employment practices and the challenges of managing increased student numbers.

By the time of his retirement in 1997 Queen's was in a healthy financial position, had developed and enhanced its commitment to equality issues, becoming an exemplar in this field, and successfully celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1995.

His groundwork in helping Queen's adopt a more strategic approach to its key aims has been continued by the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir George Bain, who has seen it as his mission to help the University realise its full potential. Under his leadership, the University has implemented far-reaching restructuring and investment programmes which have resulted in its place as a top 20 UK university for teaching and research power.

He also launched the £150 million Campaign for Queen's - the most ambitious fundraising exercise in its history - to ensure the best possible university experience for current and future students.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9033 5323

Top of Page

Queen's appoints new Vice-Chancellor
Professor Peter Gregson FREng, who takes up the post of Vice-Chancellor of Queen's in August
Professor Peter Gregson FREng, who takes up the post of Vice-Chancellor of Queen's in August

Queen's University Belfast's next Vice-Chancellor will be Professor Peter Gregson FREng, the University announced today. Professor Gregson, who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, succeeds Professor Sir George Bain who retires in July.

His appointment was confirmed at a special meeting of Senate, Queen's governing body, this morning. Professor Gregson is 46 years old.

Pro-Chancellor Brenda McLaughlin, who chaired the appointment panel, said: "Peter Gregson has a distinguished record of achievement and brings to Queen's the personality and skills needed to take the University through its next stage of development.

"His strong academic leadership skills, combined with an international research profile, will help cement Queen's position as one of the UK's leading universities.

"Queen's is committed to delivering global excellence in teaching and research, and to playing a full role in the economic, social and cultural life of Northern Ireland. Peter Gregson shares that vision, and has a track record in ensuring universities make a significant contribution to the regions they serve."

Professor Gregson said he looked forward to taking up his new post, and he paid tribute to current Vice-Chancellor Sir George Bain. "Queen's is one of the oldest and most distinguished universities in the UK and Ireland. It has a tradition of academic excellence, but it has also shown itself to be responsive to the needs of the modern day. In Sir George it has had a leader of vision. I hope to build on his legacy."

He said the University's achievements were "the result of years of hard work by staff and students".

"I look forward to working with them to ensure the University continues to make a major contribution to Northern Ireland and the wider world. Higher education faces enormous opportunities, and securing the resources needed to deliver a first-class student experience at Queen's will be one of my priorities."

The Vice-Chancellor designate said it was impossible to overestimate the importance of having a world-class university in Belfast. "Queen's is perfectly placed to help develop Northern Ireland as a major international force in the knowledge-led economy."

Professor Gregson and his wife Rachael have three young girls. "They are all looking forward to moving to Northern Ireland. This is a wonderful place," he said.

His impressive record of academic achievement began at Imperial College London where he graduated in 1980 with a first-class Bachelor of Science degree. He was also awarded the Bessemer Medal.

He obtained his doctorate, and was awarded the Matthey Prize, at Imperial in 1983. A Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, he began his academic career at the University of Southampton as a lecturer in Engineering Materials in 1983, rising to become Professor of Aerospace Materials in 1995.

He has held a series of senior academic posts, becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the university in 2000. In this role his responsibilities have included research, enterprise, human resources, financial and strategic planning, and restructuring.

In 1993 he was awarded the Donald Julius Groen Prize of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was awarded the Rosenhain Medal and Prize of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in 1996. In 2001 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of the UK's most prestigious academic institutions.

He is internationally renowned for his research in two specific areas: engineering performance of aerospace materials, and the development of innovative load-bearing medical devices for use in hip and joint replacements.

Notes for editors

Professor Sir George Bain steps down as President and Vice-Chancellor in July 2004, having reached the University's retirement age.

The appointment panel was chaired by Queen's Pro-Chancellor Brenda McLaughlin, who also chairs Queen's governing body, Senate. The panel included members of the academic and administrative staff, the Student President and lay members of Senate.

Peter Gregson is the 11th person to hold the office.

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office Tel (028) 9033 5323

Top of Page

Engineering a healthier, cleaner future

Researchers at Queen's will be helping to develop the automotive engines of the future, thanks to a new £1 million facility which opens at the University on Friday.

Work in the Engine Test Laboratories will include developing and improving engines for better fuel economy and reducing harmful exhaust emissions which contribute to global warming.

The new facility is part of the University's world class Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), which carries out cutting edge research focusing on solving design problems and testing new products in a virtual environment. Powerful computers and the latest imaging and sensing technologies allow researchers to study complex systems using a range of senses, including touch and smell.

Opened last year, the pioneering centre conducts multi-disciplinary research on the computer simulation of complex engineering system, including internal combustion engines.

Engine research at Queen's has focused on advanced engine modelling, engine development and research into automotive catalysts, with researchers developing strong industrial links and partnerships with major engine and automotive companies around the world.

State-of-the-art equipment in the new labs will also enable researchers to test engines under typical city driving conditions – something they haven't been able to do before.

Professor Robert Fleck, head of the Internal Combustion Engines Research at Queen's said: "These top class facilities will enable us to interact with the automotive industry at the highest level. It will allow us to be at the forefront of engine technology in the drive for reduced exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy. They will also help to maintain the reputation of Queen's as a world class centre for engine research."

The new research facility will be officially opened by Queen's graduate Detroit-based Dr Gary Smyth, who is Engineering Director of Advanced Engineering for General Motors Powertrain, a global producer of engines, transmissions, castings and components for GM vehicles, including Vauxhall and Opel. It is responsible for the manufacture of over 43,000 engines and transmissions per day.

A native of Londonderry, Dr Smyth began his career with GM in 1989 as a senior project engineer with GM Advanced Product Engineering in Michigan. He has held numerous positions in the Advanced Powertrain organisation and took up his current post in 1999.

A former student of Foyle and Londonderry College, he studied mechanical engineering at Queen's where he completed his PhD in 1989. Married with two children, his wife, Dr Susan Smyth (nee McCann) is a fellow graduate of Queen's and a fellow executive at General Motors.

The new facility received most of its funding under the SPUR programme (Support Programme for University Research). Additional funding was obtained from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industrial sources including Optimum Power Technology (Pittsburgh), Horiba (Japan) and Ricardo Test Automation (UK).

Later in the afternoon Professor Roy Douglas, who is chair of IC Engines Technology and is currently on secondment to GM Motors in Detroit, will present his inaugural lecture entitled "Aftertreatment: A Catalyst for Environmental Progress" in the Ashby building.

Note to Editors:

The official opening will take place at 12 noon in the Northern Ireland Technology Centre, Cloreen Park, Malone Road. Media facilities will be available.

Engines research at Queen's is the largest research group within the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering which was awarded the highest rating, 5*, in the last two Research Assessment Exercises.

The Virtual Engineering Centre is one of four projects at the University to receive funding under the first phase of Northern Ireland's Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) initiative.

For further information, contact:

Professor Robert Fleck, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Tel: (028) 9097 4116 Email: r.fleck@qub.ac.uk

Dr Robert Kee, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Tel: (028) 9097 4113 Email: r.kee@qub.ac.uk or

Elaine Fitzsimons, Communications, (028) 9097 5384

Top of Page

Higher Education Bill "a progressive step"

Queen's University warned of a growing gap between Northern Ireland and other regions of the UK if the proposed reforms outlined in today's Higher Education Bill are not extended to Northern Ireland.

The University described the replacement of upfront tuition fees with a contribution payable when graduates are in work as a progressive step which would both improve the funding of higher education and bring its benefits to wider social groups. It also endorsed the proposal to allow universities to vary the amount they charge for individual courses.

"Queen's believes that university education should be free at the point of entry, free during the period of study, and free until the graduate is in a position to pay,” said Vice-Chancellor Sir George Bain.

"The current debate on university funding demonstrates government recognition of the significant underinvestment in higher education. It also acknowledges that it is no longer possible to fund a mass system from general taxation alone and, at the same time, maintain its quality.

"At present, there is a shortfall in funding of £20 million per year between Northern Ireland's universities and the rest of the UK. This gap must be made up if our universities are to serve the community and compete in the national and international arena. In this context, an increased student contribution seems inevitable. The deferred repayment aspect of these proposals is more equitable than the current up-front fees.

"Queen's has always argued that, to address social and economic issues specific to Northern Ireland, it is important to consider increasing support for students, so that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are not deterred from entering higher education,” Sir George said. .

For further information, contact: Robert Baxter, Communications Office, Tel (028) 9033 5323

Top of Page