News review

Record numbers at graduation

The popularity of our bi-annual graduation ceremonies has continued to grow this year, with around 8,000 graduating students, family members and friends attending the July ceremonies, and many more watching live online.

Those awarded honorary degrees in July included legendary guitarist Jeff Beck (the Yardbirds, the Jeff Beck Group), who was made an honorary Doctor of Music for his services to the music industry and his continuing support of music students, and Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC, who was made a Doctor of Engineering for his unstinting support of engineering students at Sussex.

The January ceremony was also extremely popular, with Stephen Fry awarded an honorary Doctor of the University degree in recognition of his contributions to campaigns for people living with bipolar disorder, mental health issues and AIDS/HIV.

Japanese students send help back home

Students and staff at Sussex raised nearly £10,000 in just four days to support the relief effort launched in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Japanese students at Sussex decided to set up a Sussex branch of the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, a national organisation of Japanese students studying in the UK. The four-day campus-based fundraising drive raised £9,228.

Undergraduate intake is ‘best ever’

The undergraduate intake for 2011-12 looks set to be the highest quality ever, with record numbers of applicants having met their offer conditions. Undergraduate applications to Sussex were up by 20 per cent this year – despite the fact that entry requirements were raised for most subjects – set against a national average increase of less than 5 per cent. Applications from home and EU students were so strong that, for some degree programmes, Sussex did not accept any new applications after the first UCAS deadline in January. Sussex was also close to its highest-ever intake of overseas undergraduates – around 450.

Sussex in the rankings

We are delighted with our recent performances in the UK league tables: the University has continued to climb the rankings and is firmly in the top 20 UK universities across national guides to higher education. In fact, we are one of only 15 UK universities to be listed in the top 20 for all of the league tables.

  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011: Sussex is ranked 12th in the UK, 31st in Europe and 99th in the world, setting us alongside some of the world’s most prestigious institutions.
  • The Guardian University Guide 2012: Sussex is placed 11th overall, making it the top university in the South East outside London.
  • The Sunday Times University Guide 2012: Sussex is placed 19th in the UK.
  • The Complete University Guide (published by The Independent): Sussex is placed 19th in the rankings.
  • The Times Good University Guide 2012: Sussex rose seven places to 14th in the UK.

In the National Student Survey, over 90 per cent of students at Sussex are happy with the teaching at the University. This keeps Sussex in the top 10 universities across the UK for teaching satisfaction. There were also strong performances among individual subjects at Sussex, with four subjects being rated number one in the UK: Mechanical Engineering, Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy, and Social Work. All four had the highest overall or overall satisfaction scores in their subjects out of all universities in the UK.

Finally, Sussex has also been shortlisted for ‘University of the Year’ in the 2011 Times Higher Education Awards, the winner of which will be announced in November.

Bang Goes the Theory settles in on campus

Sussex is the new home to the BBC’s popular science series, Bang Goes the Theory.

The BBC1 programme puts science and technology to the test, and places science into an everyday context via some entertaining and unusual experiments.

The programme now has a permanent home in the old Accelerator Building – a former nuclear physics bunker with one-metre thick concrete walls which, from the 1960s until 2010, housed the University’s particle accelerator.

The arrival of Bang Goes the Theory on the Sussex campus marks the start of a special collaboration between the University and the BBC. Aside from providing facilities, University academics will be on hand to advise on experiments and ideas for future programmes. The series will feature exciting science and technology research taking place at Sussex, while science and media students will be helping out with various aspects of the production.

Student projects get a boost from Sussex alumni

Sussex alumni generously donated over £140,000 to the Sussex Fund in 2009-10, which supported students throughout the last academic year. £100,000 went to scholarships, hardships bursaries and sports bursaries, and the rest helped fund a range of student projects, including:

  • Learning to Lead – leadership and management training
  • Students’ Union volunteer training
  • The University of Sussex Student Review – an academic journal of student work
  • ‘International Day’ events to bring international and home students together
  • ‘Well-Fair’ event offering guidance and a space to relax before exams.

Honey bee research continues to attract support

Thanks to generous donations from Waitrose and the Merrydown Trust, research at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) continues to help the honey bee. Waitrose has donated £67,500 to support a PhD studentship focusing on helping honey bees and agricultural pollination in farmland, and is also funding an undergraduate Junior Research Bursary. The Merrydown Trust is providing £50,000 to fund a researcher working on a project breeding hygienic bees to combat parasites and diseases. Both donations will help continue the pioneering work of LASI, which opened at Sussex in 2008.

A new Director of Development for Sussex

Following Sussex’s most successful year for fundraising to date, Dr Marina Pedreira-Vilarino has been confirmed as the new Director of Development and Alumni Relations. Marina has worked in Development and Alumni Relations at Sussex since 2002, and was previously the Deputy Director. She will be leading Sussex’s new fundraising campaign (refer to Making the future).

National Teaching Fellowship for Sussex lecturer

Cath Holmström (Social Work and Social Care) was awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship in October 2011. The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, now in its 11th year, recognises and rewards individual excellence in teaching in higher education.

It is Cath’s inspirational teaching of social work and dedication to widening participation and improving the student experience that have secured her the Fellowship. Her influential research on admissions and selection has made her one of the UK’s leading voices on this aspect of social work education. Similarly, her research into the experience of younger students has had significant impact, as colleague Professor Suzy Braye explains: ‘Her work has become a benchmark for the sector nationally and takes its rightful position as a key point of reference in the international literature.’

Campus transformation

Bramber House

A year’s refurbishment work has culminated in the launch of new catering and retail facilities on the ground floor and first floor of Bramber House. The lively Eat Central catering area on the ground floor incorporates four different styles of eatery, including made-to-order sandwiches and rolls, a tapas-style choice of dishes and hot food. Elsewhere on the ground floor, a new, large Co-op supermarket has been opened, giving staff and students somewhere to shop for the essentials. And full refurbishment of the first-floor restaurant has created Dine Central, a flexible space with different styles of dining service, including a bar area.

The overall aim has been to create new and innovative facilities with a contemporary feel: flexible space with a broader range of catering services to meet the requirements of all customers, including students, staff, conference delegates and visitors.

Northfield

Phase one of this project to construct a 777-bed residential development on the Northfield site was completed in July 2011, with students moving in in September 2011. The development consists of 14 residential buildings plus a social centre. There is a mix of accessible units and single-occupancy and family flats. Construction has now begun on phase two (180 bedrooms in three blocks), which is due for completion in summer 2012. The new development has been carefully designed to suit its location at the edge of the South Downs National Park.

New academic building

The superstructure for the £30-million new academic building has now been finished, with completion due in time for the start of the 2012-13 academic year. As well as a 500-seat lecture theatre, the building will house the Schools of Law, Politics and Sociology, and Business, Management and Economics

The Library

Work is now complete on the £6.4-million, twoyear Library refurbishment project. The building has finished, with new technology-enabled