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April - June 2009 News Items

Queen's Scoops Enterprise Awards

New MSc Business Economics receives final seal of approval

MSc New Venture Creation: Scholarships available

New Degree Course Increases Job Prospects

12 Full-time PhD Studentships in Interdisciplinary Childhood Research Available at Queen’s

Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times

Queen's Paper selected for the Academy of Management best papers proceedings

Infrastructure Investment in Northern Ireland was under the spotlight at Queen's

PhD student awarded New Researcher Prize at the Economic History Society annual conference

Queen's Scoops Enterprise Awards

Enterprising staff and students from Queen’s University have been recognised twice at the Students in Free Enterprise national awards in London.

Queen’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) initiative was named Rookie Champion 2009 after only eight months of existence, and staff member Aisling Harkin from Queen’s University Management School and Denise Murtagh from the Students’ Union were named SIFE UK Advisors of the Year.

SIFE, spanning 40 countries is a global network of business executives, academic leaders and university students dedicated to nurturing students’ entrepreneurial skills in a way that benefits their careers and the wider community.

       SIFE team    
Queen's SIFE students celebrate their success. L-R Vincent Murray, Joseph McMullan, Lisa Collins, Gordon Douglas (Acting Chief Executive of Queen's Students' Union) former Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley, Susan Kearney and John Boyle      

Guided by university and business advisers, SIFE teams share their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge with groups or individuals in their local community - such as low income families, charities or the homeless - to help them develop sustainable business ideas.

Lisa Collins from Omagh is a Masters History student and Chairperson of SIFE at Queen’s. She said: "Whilst SIFE at Queen’s has only been in existence for eight months, we have taken on a number of challenging and rewarding projects that have made a real difference to communities in Northern Ireland and as far afield as Uganda. We are delighted to have been named SIFE Rookie Champions 2009 and I am sure our success will continue well into the future.

      LR Chris Hall, Enterprise Educator UK, Denise Murtagh from the Students’ Union and Aisling Harkin from Queen’s University Management School.

“As our motto says, SIFE students have ‘a head for business, a heart for the world’. In the last eight months we have developed projects in Uganda to help provide education for orphaned children and support women working in the pig farming industry. Locally, we work with primary school children to foster peace and reconciliation, and within Queen’s we support the management of the University’s Money+ financial education programme. Supported by Queen’s Students’ Union and the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship, SIFE projects have made a valuable, positive impact on communities at home and further afield.

“Much of SIFE’s success is due to the guidance and leadership provided by our University Advisers Aisling and Denise, who have been named SIFE UK Advisers of the Year - an award they thoroughly deserve."

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New MSc Business Economics receives final seal of approval

The MSc Business Economics programme has been given final University approval and will run from September 2009.  This new programme will be attractive to graduates in economics, business economics and related disciplines.  Opportunities for careers include employment in consultancy firms, financial institutions and other private and public sector organizations, as well as the programme being a stepping stone to further study towards a career as an academic or research economist. Students will also be given the opportunity to apply for short-term placements with prestigious employers on completion of their dissertation. Further information on the MSc Business Economics 

The new MSc Business Economics, Take a closer look, things aren't what they seem

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MSc New Venture Creation: scholarships available

Do you have a business idea with high growth commercial potential?  Do you want to start your own business whilst studying for a masters degree?  Are you a final year undergraduate or postgraduate (taught or research) student?  Then the MSc New Venture Creation might be of interest to you.


Up to eight scholarships will be available for participants on this programme.  The scholarships will cover the cost of approved university tuition fees and a stipend of £13,290 per annum.  Students who are due to graduate from undergraduate or postgraduate courses (taught or research) from Queen’s University Belfast during 2009 will be eligible to apply for a scholarship for this programme.

Eligibility for programme:

Places are limited on this programme and home and EU students are eligible to apply.

Further information

Please Note: The MSc New Venture Creation was previously known as MSc Enterprise

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New Degree Course Increases Job Prospects

Queen’s University Management School has been working with actuarial employers in the fields of pensions consulting, general and life insurance and investments as they begin to place students in actuarial employment on the Actuarial Studies degree.

As a result of establishing the degree, interest has been shown by firms from mainland UK, the Republic of Ireland and here in Belfast.  There has also been interest from further afield with an American insurance giant relocating some of its actuarial functions to Belfast to take advantage of the high calibre of students coming off the actuarial studies degree. One such employer is Kerr Henderson Hewitt, a pensions consultancy based in Belfast, who have offered facilities and support in the development of the degree.

   New Degree Course Increases Job Prospects
Left to right
Colin O’Hare, Programme Director BSc Actuarial Studies
Martin McAllister and Arran Dickson (second year BSc Actuarial Studies students)
Phil Murray, Head of Actuarial Services at Kerr Henderson Hewitt

Colin O’Hare, Programme Director, BSc Actuarial Studies in Queens University Management School said:

“The degree is very practical in orientation. In designing the degree, we were keen to ensure that students were exposed to the day-to-day tasks of an actuarial trainee.  As a result, we purchased industry-based software so that the students could see the work in practice as well as learning the theory.  Our motivation for this came from concerns that students graduating with an Actuarial Degree quite often attain high-level academic qualifications but lack the day-to-day practical implementation of the theory.

“We have been extremely fortunate that companies of the calibre of Kerr Henderson Hewitt are enthusiastic about the degree and its practical slant.  Indeed Kerr Henderson Hewitt has provided us with advisory support plus facilities within their business premises for the students to try out the actuarial software used by their staff.”

Philip Murray, Head of Actuarial Services at Kerr Henderson Hewitt, reinforced the company’s support for the Actuarial Degree Course at Queen’s and the importance of being able to support the students in a practical way.  “We must nurture and develop our future business talent and retain their skills, which are vital if Northern Ireland is to develop a strong economic base in advanced services to business.”  

He went on to say: 

“Our staff are to be congratulated on the commitment and enthusiasm brought to the project.  We have a number of highly experienced actuaries within the organisation who provide actuarial services to corporate and trustee clients so that the students are being guided by those who are amongst the best within their field.

“One of the key elements of the course is that the students will spend their third year in placement and will be heading to cities such as Dublin, Manchester, Birmingham Glasgow, London and the US.  Here in Belfast we are looking forward to taking on our first placement student next year and are confident that we will continue the relationship with Queen’s with more placement students in the following years.

Colin O’Hare concluded:

“The feedback from the students is very positive particularly the support they have been receiving at Kerr Henderson Hewitt.  The fact that a large American company is relocating some of its actuarial work to Belfast on the back of the degree gives a great incentive to the students.”

28 May 2009

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12 Full-time PhD Studentships in Interdisciplinary Childhood Research Available at Queen's

As part of a major strategic investment by Queen's into childhood research, the university is currently advertising 12 full-time PhD studentships. 6 of these are being provided through the Improving Children’s Lives research initiative and 6 through the Research Forum for the Child.

The 6 studentships associated with Improving Children’s Lives project are open to home and EU applicants. The studentships relate to specific projects that will be jointly supervised across various Schools within Queen’s. For more information on the initiative as well as on eligibility criteria, potential projects, guidance notes on how to apply and who to contact for informal enquiries please visit .

The 6 studentships associated with the Research Forum for the Child are open to home, EU and international applicants. These studentships are open to any area of interdisciplinary research on childhood.  For more information on eligibility criteria, guidance notes on how to apply and who to contact for informal enquiries please visit .

All of these studentships are available from October 2009, and cover University fees and a maintenance allowance of £13,290 per annum, for three years.

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Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times

Inspirational speakers dawned the historic Great Hall to provide Northern Ireland leaders with an insight of how to succeed in today’s challenging times. 

The Chartered Management Institute in conjunction with Queen’s University Management School hosted the Northern Ireland Leadership Conference 2009 at Queen’s University Belfast on 15 May 2009.  The event attracted delegates from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times  was an apt title given the current economic climate.

  Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times

Professor Richard Harrison, Director, Queen’s University Management School
Geoff Smyth, Manager for the Carbon Trust in Northern Ireland

Peter Dixon, Chair of Arena Network

Bro McFerran, CBE President of NICCI

Stanley Wallace, Regional Manager Northern Ireland, Chartered Management Institute

Professor Richard Harrison, Director, Queen’s University Management School, chaired the event.  He said “this event provided a unique opportunity to present, exchange and develop knowledge informed by current leading edge professionals and ongoing academic research”.

Bro McFerran, President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Managing Director of Allstate Northern Ireland provided a perspective on the Northern Ireland economy in the midst of the recession, having first set the global scene.  He then spelt out the road to recovery and the need to think outside the box to seize opportunities.

  Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times3

Professor Richard Harrison, Director, Queen’s University Management School
Gavin Cargill, Director of Value the Person

Peter Dixon, Group Chief Executive of Phoenix Energy Holdings, and Geoff Smyth, Carbon Trust Manager for Northern Ireland focussed on The Green Challenge, and illustrated how caring for the environmental can both be financially rewarding for business and good for society.

Gavin Cargill, Co-founder of the Value the Person International, presented on “The Bucket, the Pearl and the Starfish”.  Gavin is well recognised as a motivational speaker, seminar leader, conference facilitator, mentor and coach provided a stimulating presentation.  The delegates were provided with the opportunity to identify personal improvement in their own style to help them better motivate, develop and lead their people, using the metaphorical aids developed by Gavin.

  Developing Real Leadership Skills in Challenging Times2

Professor Richard Harrison, Director, Queen’s University Management School

Ruth Spellman OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, summarised proceedings by turning to the strategic challenge we face over the next ten years and beyond.

Stanley Wallace, Regional Manager of the Chartered Institute of Management, said “delegates have been able to share their experiences, develop new ideas and return to their office inspired to make a difference”.

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Queen's paper selected for the Academy of Management 'best papers' proceedings

Ralf Barkemeyer from Queen’s University Management School, and co-author Giulio Napolitano also from Queen’s University were among the select to have their paper accepted for the Best Paper Proceedings for the forthcoming Academy of Management Annual Conference being held in Chicago in August 2009.

Given the size of the conference of approximately 6000-7000 delegates this demonstrates the significance and exceptional standard of this paper.

In the paper entitled 'The UN Global Compact: Moving Towards a Critical Mass or a Critical State?' the authors applied a medical statistics technique (Kaplan-Meier estimates of a survival function) to analyse and predict compliance levels of member companies of the UN Global Compact, which is a global corporate citizenship initiative. The paper had been submitted to the 'Social Issues in Management (SIM)' track of the conference.

2009 Academy of Management Annual Meeting, 7-11 August 2009, Chicago, Illinois, USA.  Theme: Green Management Matters

Link to 2009 Academy of Management …  

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Infrastructure Investment in Northern Ireland was under the spotlight at Queen's

Key policy and decision makers met at Queen’s University on 29 April 2009 to discuss how the global financial crisis will impact on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Schemes in Northern Ireland.

PFI arrangements involve joint working between the public and private sector on projects including schools, roads and hospitals.  To date capital investment of £1.36 billion has funded 33 projects in Northern Ireland, including the M1/Westlink upgrade, Laganside Courts and Belfast Metropolitan College, which reached closure this month.  Last month HM Treasury announced Government action to ensure PFI infrastructure projects go ahead as planned despite the current financial market conditions. Under these plans £13bn of public investment in procurement is to be safeguarded to secure the public infrastructure projects across the UK.

     John Dowdall, Comptroller and Auditor General, NI Audit Office
Professor Istemi Demirag, Professor of Accounting, Queen’s University Management School   
     Angela Hunter, HM Treasury

Among those addressing the Roundtable event at Queen’s was Angela Hunter, Senior Policy Adviser for Corporate and Private Finance for HM Treasury and John Dowdall, Comptroller and Auditor of the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

Ms Hunter spoke about safeguarding government infrastructure investment while Mr Dowdall focused on auditing of PFI projects in the current economic climate.  He said: “‘The PFI is experiencing unprecedented problems - I welcome this roundtable as an opportunity to take stock of the future of the Initiative”.

Other panel members included representatives from the Department of Regional Development, Northern Ireland Water, the Strategic Investment Board and Irish Business Employers Confederation as well as accountants and lawyers.

Istemi Demirag, Professor of Accounting, in Queen’s University Management School organised the event and chaired the discussion groups.  He is leading a team of researchers from Queen’s and Manchester University exploring the risk issues involved in PFI finance.  He said: “As the banks are becoming more reluctant to finance projects in the current global financial crisis it is even more important to find alternative ways to finance infrastructure projects and boost employment and economic activity.

       Delegates attending the PFI Roundtable Discussion

“The Roundtable discussion  helped us to examine the form and content of the financial packages recently announced by the UK Treasury and enabled the stakeholders to have frank discussions regarding the future opportunities and problems surrounding the PFI industry in Northern Ireland and beyond. “Speakers reflected on their experiences in a number of other countries including the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.”

Professor Istemi Demirag commented that “the PFI Roundtable was a real success in terms of its outcomes as it provided a solid foundation for future events within Northern Ireland and beyond.  Significant financial and risk issues for PFI investment in Northern Ireland were discussed and practical and useful suggestions were put forward to HM Treasury in order to minimize the impact of credit tightening on infrastructure investment in Northern Ireland”.

About PFI  -  The private finance initiative (PFI) provides a way of funding major capital investments, without using the public purse immediately. Private consortia, usually involving large construction firms, are contracted to design, build, and in some cases manage new projects. Contracts typically last for 30 years, during which time the building is leased by a public authority.

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PhD student awarded New Researcher Prize at the Economic History Society annual conference

Gareth Campbell has been awarded the New Researcher Prize at the Economic History Society annual conference which was held in the University of Warwick on 3-5 April 2009. Two prizes are awarded annually for the best papers presented at the conference by new researchers, judged in terms of both their written paper and presentation.  Gareth’s paper was entitled: The railway mania: fundamentals of a bubble.

Gareth is in the final stages of his PhD at Queen’s University Management School, which focuses on the Railway Mania which occurred in Britain during the 1840s. During this period the prices of railway shares rose sharply, but then crashed, in a pattern which may be described as a financial bubble. Gareth investigated the causes and consequences of these price movements, and draw parallels with the current credit crunch and the housing bubble which preceded it.

7 April 2009

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