RSSPress Feed 23 Nov 2022 09:00:00 New report proposes six policy lessons to address digital inequality https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/new-report-proposes-six-policy-lessons-to-address-digital-inequality

Dr George Dafoulas, Professor and Director of Programmes in Computer Science and Charles Dennis, Professor of Consumer Behaviour in the Business School, have contributed to a new report by the British Academy exploring how to tackle the rise of digital poverty launched today (23/11).

The Middlesex research team are responsible for the section on analysing secondary data with the overal report.

The “Understanding Digital Poverty and Inequality in the UK” report highlights that across the UK there are huge disparities in digital access, digital skills, usage, and outcomes illustrated by the fact that "among people living on household incomes under £25,000, one in five never use the internet – rising to nearly a third of disabled people and nearly a half of those aged 65 or over". Empowering local initiatives and ensuring consistent and long-term investment are among the key recommendations in the study.

Commenting on the report Professor Dennis said:

"As government and the NHS strive to deliver more services digitally, those in digital poverty are being left behind. Digital poverty affects all ages but particularly older people and those with lower financial resources.  Middlesex University research shows that motivation, education and training are just as important."

To inform policy thinking around the crucial challenge of addressing inequality, the British Academy commissioned six projects that examined different aspects of digital poverty in the UK. ‘Understanding Digital Poverty and Inequality in the UK’ highlights these projects’ key findings and identifies six lessons to shape policy that effectively addresses digital poverty and inequality:

1. Addressing digital poverty involves more than improving access – interventions must empower people and places to benefit from digital access.

2. Local resources and intermediaries can be valuable assets in tackling place-based digital poverty, and the public sector has a crucial role to play in enabling them.

3. Strategies to tackle digital poverty are important components of broader policies of tackling inequality.

4. Policies should consider how and why intersecting inequalities are likely to exacerbate. digital poverty and design interventions that can benefit those most at risk of digital poverty

5. People can move in and out of digital poverty over time.

6. Consider policy interventions that can adapt to demographic and economic changes, through consistent and long-term investment.

"As government and the NHS strive to deliver more services digitally, those in digital poverty are being left behind. Digital poverty affects all ages but particularly older people and those with lower financial resources.  Middlesex University research shows that motivation, education and training are just as important." Professor Charles Dennis, Middlesex University

The report sits alongside and feeds into an Academy project on Technology and Inequality. The Academy’s Technology and Inequality project was prompted by a request, in early 2022, by Sir Patrick Vallance and the Government Office for Science to conduct an independent project on the topic of technology and inequality. This work seeks to improve our understanding of how government can play a key role in supporting access to, uptake of, and investment in technologies that can be critical to delivering broad public objectives, in a way that ensures inequalities do not become entrenched. A new evidence hub will collate the Academy’s Technology and Inequality work.

Professor Helen Margetts FBA, Professor of Society and the Internet at the University of Oxford, said:

“As digital technology has become increasingly integrated with modern life, it has become essential that people have access to broadband and appropriate digital devices. However, there are wide disparities in people's opportunities to use these technologies and engage digitally. This report highlights the profound impacts of digital inequality across the UK. It will provide policymakers with the evidence necessary to support those who are most marginalised and address wide-ranging inequalities.”

Main report: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/publications/understanding-digital-poverty-and-inequality-in-the-uk/

Evidence hub: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/projects/technology-and-inequality/technology-and-inequality-project-evidence-hub/

Click here to view courses in Computer Science and Business at Middlesex

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23 Nov 2022 00:00:00 MDX’s health and sport centre of excellence officially open https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/mdx-health-and-sport-centre-of-excellence-officially-open

The wait is over - after ten years in the making, the pioneering four-floor West Stand complex is officially open.

More than 100 guests attended the launch event on Wednesday, which included speeches from MDX Vice Chancellor Professor Nic Beech and MDX alumna Dr Chris Caldwell, Chief Nurse of the North London Integrated Care board.

Eighteen months ago MDX developed a partnership with Saracens Rugby Club and London Borough of Barnet, which has funded this project through a loan agreement alongside investment in specialist facilities and fitting out the site by the University.

The result is spectacular.

Dr Caldwell said: "The West Stand is such a great achievement and these facilities will make a real difference to all of those who study and work here.

"The technology is truly revolutionary.

"The West Stand personifies MDX's approach, it is about collaboration, innovation and preparing people to achieve success in the real world."

The space brings together MDX’s commitments to Health and Wellbeing, Entrepreneurship and Creativity, and Sustainability while its ethos of creating knowledge and putting it in to action is at the heart of the university’s approach to study.

Situated near the University’s main campus in Hendon, North London, the West Stand project is game-changing for staff and students alike because it links classroom theory with professional skills in a realistic and safe environment for teaching.

Students will be able to apply what they learn to the expertise they need as professionals by taking part in realistic situations that mirror what they'll find on placement or in the workplace.

This means midwifery students will have the opportunity to practice delivering babies and sports performance analysis students will learn how to monitor athletes.

Revolutionary technology will be used to create simulations, including virtual and augmented reality.

Professor Beech said that this use of technology is rare in UK universities.

He said: “The West Stand brings together three of our great strengths at Middlesex: our unequalled facilities, our focus on professional expertise and our connections with industry.

“This facility is already making a major difference to the lives of students and the community.

"We have made it possible for our sports students to learn inside an elite sports club and our healthcare students to learn from academics who work regularly in the NHS. Importantly, the West Stand space is enabling synergies between Nursing and Midwifery, Natural Sciences and Sports Science too.

“This is the result of our partnership with Saracens and our collaborations with the NHS and other professional organisations.”

New facilities for the London Sport Institute will include a biometrics room, strength and conditioning suite, human performance lab, cognition labs, health and injury clinic and clinical therapy rooms.

A bespoke Sports Performance Analysis suite will give students access to specialist software.

Students will have greater opportunities to engage with professional, academy and community athletes within a live working sport facility as they study in technologically advanced sport science labs.

Dr Rhonda Cohen, Head of the LSI, said: “The West Stand development will add to our reputation as one of the UK’s leading universities for Sports Science, Nursing and Midwifery and Natural Sciences while continuing to add excellence to an already established and successful curriculum.

“Students will have greater opportunities to study in technologically advanced learning environments and engage with professionals in the truly unique setting of a top flight professional rugby club.

“We’re so excited about the new facilities- practitioners and students will be empowered to teach, consult, and pursue cutting‐edge research.”

Nursing and Midwifery's new West Stand home will feature a modern skills training centre and simulation suite to replicate a hospital environment which will be an adaptable space to simulate a ward, A&E environment, birthing environments and consultancy areas.

The health skills rooms and simulation rooms will be connected by video link enabling activities to be accessed globally.

Meanwhile, industry-leading natural science facilities include an altitude chamber, phlebotomy room, dietetics sensory analysis lab, neurophysiology/neuroscience practical and research analysis labs, audiology diagnostics/analysis lab, cardiology practical lab and cardiology simulation suite.

This includes a heartworks system, together with a multi-disciplinary lab to support medical physiology teaching and research. The space has been fully equipped with Electrocardiography (ECG), Electroencephalography (EEG) recording devices, Electromyography (EMG) / Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) systems, otoscopy, tympanometry, and audiometry equipment, lung function and blood analyser.

The West Stand will bring significant opportunities for continued professional development with the NHS and private practice in cardiology, audiology and neurophysiology.

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21 Nov 2022 00:00:00 MDX sports cooling expert warns of heat risk for England World Cup players https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/Qatar-World-Cup-heat

Close up of the fifa world cup trophy

As England get their World Cup campaign underway, a sports cooling expert from Middlesex University has warned their toughest opponent could be the intense heat.

The 2022 World Cup is being held in November during the European football season, rather than  June, because the mercury can exceed 40 degrees in Qatar in the summer, which was deemed unsuitable for matches.

Heat risk is still a real issue and as England faced Iran in their opening Group B fixture on Monday they faced temperatures of around 27 degrees  – compared to around 9 degrees in the UK.

“During their first game on Monday the temperatures will be 27 degrees so it’s going to be a real test for the players. This could easily lead to a greater sweat rate, body temperature, heart rate, energy usage and perception of effort than more normal climates which could cause earlier fatigue so it’s essential they have effective cooling, fuelling and hydration strategies." Luke Oates, Associate Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science.

Moreover, England’s players have only had a week to adjust to the much warmer climate and prepare for the tournament, when traditionally there is a gap of roughly three weeks from the season ending to  the first World Cup game.

Luke Oates, an Associate Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science who is based in the impressive new West Stand facilities at Saracen’s StoneX stadium, believes how the Three Lions cope with the weather will be crucial.

He said: “Day to day training in the heat will be their biggest challenge to ensure they can train at the correct intensity to prepare for each game without fatiguing too much due to the effects of the heat.

“During their first game on Monday the temperatures will be 27 degrees so it’s going to be a real test for the players.

“This could easily lead to a greater sweat rate, body temperature, heart rate, energy usage and perception of effort than more normal climates which could cause earlier fatigue so it’s essential they have effective cooling, fuelling and hydration strategies.

“If they’re flying out and then have just four or five days before the Iran game, they might not have had such good preparations as other nations due to less time to adapt to the heat.

“Players who habitually live in hot conditions might have more of an advantage compared to England or other European nations due to the body’s adaptations to the heat."

England started their tournament with a bang and defeated Iran by six goals to two.

And the better news for England is they should acclimatise within five to seven days, with greater acclimation as the tournament progresses.

Luke Oates

As part of his PhD from the University of Hertfordshire in the physiological and thermoregulatory demands of fencing, Luke first looked at thermoregulation and issues surrounding high body temperatures during competition, before his final study explored how cooling interventions can have an impact on performance.

Luke believes England’s players have been undergoing heat chamber work at the national training facility at St George’s Park and he explained how other cooling interventions such as ice vests, or cold water/ice slurry ingestion can help Harry Kane & co.

He said: “There are short term protocols so players can adapt within five to seven days of training in this heat.

“There are also heat acclimation protocols which mirror the conditions and can help beforehand such as exercising in Qatar at the same time as day as when they are competing

“Their heart rate and body temperature will come down as they get used to the heat and the body adapts to lose heat more efficiently in this climate.

“Players can use strategies on the day such as drinking cold water/ice slurries or using special garments – which I have used in my PhD research – called ice vests which have ice packs in. Players can wear these vests during warms ups and at half time which can help keep them cooler.

“Even psychologically spraying cold water in their face can help with the sensation of feeling cooler even though physiologically it might not be doing anything to the body. You will also see players with wet towels around their neck during the training sessions to lower heat stress.”

Luke believes the possession-based teams who can control the game will have a better chance of succeeding, but is certain England will fare well once they conquer the heat.

“England do have a fantastic squad of players and the deeper they go into the tournament they will get used to the heat and I’m sure performances will get better and better,” he added.

Read Luke’s PhD paper: Physiological and Thermoregulatory Demands of Epee Fencing.

Photo by Rhett Lewis on Unsplash

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18 Nov 2022 00:00:00 MDX wins prestigious accolade at 'higher education Oscars' for innovative renewable energy project https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/active-energy-project-waterwheels-geezers-club

Middlesex University Knowledge Exchange Times Higher Awards

An innovative arts and environment project in which Middlesex University engineers worked with a retired men’s club to design and build renewable energy waterwheels has won an award at the "Oscars of higher education".

Last night the Active Energy initiative was awarded the Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year accolade at the Times Higher Education Awards 2022 in London.

Professor of Nursing Helen Allan was also shortlisted for the prestigious ‘Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year’ THE Award.

Prof Allan has given expert supervision to many candidates over her 20 years in academia, including supervising 18 PhDs to completion, supporting PhD graduates into their postdoc careers and helping two students attain professorships.

Fifteen years ago, MDX began the Active Energy project to bring together young and old through their passion for engineering.

"Active Energy is a terrific example of how we can put knowledge into action not by telling or instructing but by inspiring and shaping community innovation. What Loraine and The Geezers have done is to create confidence in activities that span technologies, age groups and communities." Dr Mark Gray, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Director of Knowledge Transfer.

The initiative, led by Dr Lorraine Leeson, a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, started by asking older people how technology might be used to solve problems that they and their communities faced – with fuel poverty and pollution in nearby rivers identified as major concerns.

Working with MDX engineers, members of the Geezers Club – a group of retired men who meet at an Age UK centre in Bow, in east London – designed two floating waterwheels driven by tidal flows that pump air into water to help fish and wildlife.

After extensive fieldwork and testing in Middlesex’s laboratories, two working waterwheels were installed: one in the Three Mills tidal basin and one in the Olympic Park.

The Geezers Club has subsequently presented their work to schools and led interactive arts-based events in which children were mentored to create their own waterwheels – passing on vital skills to young people while helping to combat the problem of loneliness among retirees.

3.Public event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Active Energy

Subsequent initiatives have included the creation of a wind turbine for the roof of the Age UK headquarters, wind turbine projects in local schools and a collaboration with pensioners in Pittsburgh, as well as the staging of numerous talks, events and exhibitions across Tower Hamlets.

Speaking about the award, Dr Leeson said:  “It was a delight for the achievements of the Active Energy project to be acknowledged by this award after so many years, and especially for the seniors’ group The Geezers whose energy and determination provided a constant engine that drove its development.

"I feel strongly that the first-hand expertise held at community level is key to solving many of society’s challenges.

"Also that the arts are a great vehicle for communicating, consolidating and communicating these ideas and bringing them into the public domain. I hope this project can provide insight into how working with rather than for communities can serve to unlock this local knowledge for the benefit of us all.”

The judges were impressed with how this long-running project had “successfully engaged an oft-forgotten section of the society”.

“Unlocking the knowledge held within the Geezers community has brought young and old together to work on projects that are of direct relevance to the local community,” they said. “This approach has influenced other initiatives and demonstrates the importance of local knowledge when searching for technological solutions.”

1.One of the Geezers mentoring a pupil at Bow School.

In a supporting submission letter Ray Gipson, secretary of the Geezer Club, said: “The Geezer Club came about because many older men experience loneliness and isolation,  and Active Energy has given us good reason to get together and go out and about to explore places like this and do our research.

“We have met so many interesting people and feel the project has broadened our minds as well as horizons.

“Presenting our ideas to other people and the way they have listened to has made us feel positive about what we have to offer, even though the ideas of people our age are often overlooked.

“The project has made us think more about this country’s resources – the fact we are on an island surrounded by tidal currents, and that in recent years these have hardly been put to use for energy purposes.”

Active Energy’s methods have also been used to facilitate projects in India disseminating urgent information on water conservation between villagers in the Rajasthan desert and supporting children who have suffered from the conflict in Kashmir.

2.Floating water wheel at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Dr Michael Buser, an Associate Professor of Collaborative Community Practice at the University of West England in Bristol, has worked with Dr Leeson on a hydro-citizenship project and praised her “insights and contribution to building creative research projects with communities and non-academic partners”.

Praising the Active Energy project in a submission letter, Dr Buser said it is a “prime example of how artists can support communities and individuals in making real change in the world and in their lives”.

Commenting on the win, Dr Mark Gray, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Director of Knowledge Transfer said: “This is Loraine's triumph. It shows that knowledge exchange doesn't have to involve research and development partnerships, patents or spinouts. Active Energy is a terrific example of how we can put knowledge into action not by telling or instructing but by inspiring and shaping community innovation.

“What Loraine and The Geezers have done is to create confidence in activities that span technologies, age groups and communities. Lorraine's used know how from the arts to make environmental change happen. The project won this award, I'm sure, because it positively fizzed with an energy of its own.”

Picture captions in order: public event at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, member of Geezers helps student from Bow School. waterwheel in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - images by Lorraine Leeson.

Find out more about the Active Energy project.

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17 Nov 2022 00:00:00 Global Entrepreneurship Week: Talented MDX students and graduates who have forged innovative businesses https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/Global-Entrepreneurship-Week

Ashraf Khalif

During Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world's biggest celebration of entrepreneurship with 180 countries taking part, Middlesex University is showcasing some of the resourceful, innovative and determined current and former students who have developed and grown their own businesses. This is a chance to celebrate their success in starting and running a business which can be an enormous challenge.

MDX is one of the “best universities in the country” for student entrepreneurs with one in seven former students owning or managing a business according to independent research.

The University is always keen to help students develop and grow their businesses with mentoring programmes such as Enactus, the annual MDXcelerator competition and the Enterprise Development Hub which has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs.

Dr Simon Best, Programme Leader Msc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, who runs the Enterprise Development Hub, explained what makes MDX such a great place for entrepreneurial students.

“One of the things that makes MDX special is that we focus on the inspirational rather than the aspirational.  What this means is that our students develop ideas that are realistic, achievable and successful.  This is evidenced by the significant numbers of students who go on to set up and run successful businesses.” Dr Simon Best.

Dr Moon, MDX Enactus University Adviser and Senior Lecturer Eco-entrepreneurship in the Business School, said: "Our students have been amazing each year providing new ideas to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“They learn about these during their foundation studies and coupled with research and project management skills they pitch their innovative ideas to see if they are feasible. Some students then go on to enact real projects with Enactus, one of the largest student societies at MDX."

Here are just a few of the many successful current and former MDX student entrepreneurs.

Ashraf Khalif (pictured above) is part of the way through a MSc in Creative Technology, hoping to complete his programme next year.

While studying at MDX, he has been a Student Voice leader, Student Ambassador and Deputy Manager of the student radio station.

He was also co-founder of both MDX Entrepreneurship Society and MDX Enactus Society, which since 2020 has entered a team into the world’s largest competition for student entrepreneurs.

Born in Omdurman, Sudan’s biggest city on the opposite bank of Nile from capital Khartoum, Ashraf has set up Sudanpreneur Ltd as a platform to showcase Sudanese success, and to help people in Sudan and the diaspora into entrepreneurship.

The Sudanpreneur website profiles a wide range of visual artists, musicians and dynamic trendsetters, whose work and events such as artist Ahmed Awad’s drawing classes Ashraf also publicises on his social media.

He has also set up a smartly designed quarterly print newsletter, while Sudanhub is a source of information about the country which he is planning to incorporate into the rest of Sudanpreneur.

“My main mission is to put Sudan on the map, to make it into a powerhouse,” Ashraf says. “I’ve seen Instagram change the whole Sudanese way of thinking. Before people were sticking to medicine and law. The revolution [of 2018-19] helped push the music and arts scene.

“I’m trying to do interviews, mentoring, networking, coaching,” Ashraf adds, while noting the huge challenges such as sanctions on Sudan so most international payments systems don’t work, and political divisions and ‘tribalism’ among the Sudanese diaspora in the UK.

Ashraf has organised Global Entrepreneurship Week events at MDX, which include presentations by Dr Simon Best on mentoring and entrepreneurship, a session on sustainable entrepreneurship and a quiz with Dr Chris Moon and the Enactus Society, and an introduction to the MDXcelerator, for student start-up enterprises.

Oluwatosin Akomolafe

Oluwatosin Akomolafe or Tosin for short says he has been entrepreneurial for as long as he can remember. His career history certainly backs that up.

He’s currently coming to the end of his MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Middlesex and has managed to work and study at the same time by having an efficient and reliable team to handle his business.

He started a renewable energy company, Neezergreene LTD in 2020.

At Neezergreene, the team is focused on accelerating the switch to renewable sources of energy, with a huge focus on the African market, where the transition has been lagging behind. They offer the sales, installation and servicing of renewable products like solar panels, inverters and batteries to homes and businesses.

They plan to include blockchain technology as an add-on to the business next year to offer to finance, and participation of individuals to increase the adoption and usage of renewables.

So far Tosin’s company has installed solar panels on more than 30 homes and businesses.  He is excited about the new inventions and progress made in renewable technology with better-optimised batteries and increased government participation in deploying capital and subsidies to achieve net zero. He is also intrigued by the opportunities of blockchain technology and how it can play a positive impact on industry and society.

He describes running a business is like a “rollercoaster of emotions, high points are when we exceed targets sets as a business or strike a good business deal, low points will be the opposite when we fail to achieve set targets and deliverables.”

Looking to the future Tosin wants to keep building and grow businesses that have a positive impact on human lives and the planet.

Kuniko Maeda

Kuniko Maeda, an MDX Fine Art graduate, set up a company selling handmade jewellery, artwork and installations.

The 40-year-old, who moved to London from Japan ten years ago, specialises in sustainable textile design and incorporates Japanese traditional techniques and digital technology to showcase different materials and their unique properties.

Kuniko always knew she wanted to work as an artist in the UK after graduating and launched her business by selling jewellery at London markets.

She says she is indebted to Dr Best for supporting her application for an Entrepreneur Visa to become self-employed.

She said: “It is important to me to be working as an artist here. Working for yourself allows me to take control rather than belonging to any other companies.

“It is great when people like my work and buy it, that is the best feeling.

“I like that I can exhibit in different places and show my work in a variety of audiences which is great experience for me.”

Kuniko learned about marketing, logistics, writing business plans and even composing better emails through attending an MDX business summer camp in Croatia.

“I did not have any knowledge about business before that,” she said.

“That is the difficult part, I have to do everything myself and I always have to think about what to do in order to get the best results.

“The culture is also different in the UK to Japan so knowing how to talk to people was hard.

“There have been times when I have wanted to give up but I am determined to work here as an artist and the support from MDX has kept me going.”

Kuniko’s dream is to have her own studio and exhibit at a large gallery.

“I’d love to have a high profile,” she said.

“I want people to reconsider paper through my work. As a material paper is so versatile, everyone uses it every day but no one really appreciates its value and uniqueness.”

Mahsa Samadi

Mahsa Samadi describes how she was “lost” in her ambitions to start up a jewellery business when she arrived at Middlesex University as an exchange student in Business Management (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) from the University of Siena in Italy.

“Some days I was very discouraged because I had little investment , I came here for only a few months and didn’t have any friends or connections, and also English is second language so there were a lot of issues,” she said.

“I owe Middlesex University and Simon Best so much thanks because Simon helped me with everything and shined a light on the path I should follow.”

Mahsa, who is originally from Iran and has an associate degree in Spanish and qualifications in Business Administration, said the mentoring workshops at MDX led by Simon proved invaluable.

After graduating from MDX last year, she has since launched a very successful jewellery business called Mahsa Jewellery with shops near the London Eye in Waterloo and in Camden Town.

The products include silver and stainless steel necklaces, earrings and rings with semi precious materials such as stone, topaz, amethys, garnet, opal sapphire and ruby.

Some products, which are all ethically sourced, are hand-made and specially designed by Mahsa and the business also provides a maintenance and repair service.

Every few months Mahsa returns to Turkey where she brings back materials.

She remains indebted to Dr Best for his tutorship.

“He is the best that’s why he is called Simon Best,” she added.

“He really inspired me a lot.

“At first I was lost but the mentoring started to alight something in my mind and little by little I moved to jewellery, went to workshops, made a business plan.

“I thought how can I become an entrepreneur without money, but now I understand how you can start with little and grow. Now the turnover is very good.”

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11 Nov 2022 00:00:00 Pioneering course teaches health care staff to work with intelligent robots https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/Robots-nursing-course-IENE10

A first of its kind online course preparing health and social care employees to work with intelligent robots has been co-led by Middlesex University.

More than 450 participants from 15 different countries enrolled in the IENE 10 MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which focused on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in health and social care environments.

The five-week course included new and customised AI and robotics modules on cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.

“I soon realised robots are not just science fiction and only seen in movies but used in real life, it is actually happening. Through the course, I have learned that technology and humans can co-interact with each other for the benefit of the people and society." Participant from Cyprus Nurses' Association.

Students learned about the capabilities of socially assistive robots, discussed what makes for successful interactions between humans and robots, and addressed ethical issues and common misconceptions.

Professor  Irena Papadopoulos, head of the research centre for transcultural studies in health at MDX who co-led the MOOC course, said: “The number of doctors and nurses is shrinking every year and we have to be prepared as best as we can to work with technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

“Socially assistive robots will be helping people with dementia as constant companions and we can expect to see more robots in operating theatres, in the reception of clinics and hospitals, as they are already in Japan and China, welcoming patients and providing information.

“The widespread use of robots in health and social care will be a reality in the next decade so this course was crucial because educating and informing the workforce and the public is really important.”

The MOOC was part of the IENE10 transcultural robotics nursing project, which is funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.

Middlesex University, the project co-ordinator, is working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, the University of Genova in Italy, the Cyprus University of Technology, Edunet in Romania, and FH Vorarlberg University of Applied Science in Austria.

Students from the different partner institutions enrolled in the MOOC along with members of the public and many have provided positive feedback.

One participant from the Cyprus Nurses’ Association said: “I soon realised robots are not just science fiction and only seen in movies but used in real life, it is actually happening.

“Through the course, I have learned that technology and humans can co-interact with each other for the benefit of the people and society.

“I found it interesting learning about the different types of robots (including companions, humanoid and socially assistive robots) which are already in use and the benefits they provide to their users and owners.

“It was impressive that robots can help children with autism develop their social skills, and they manage this because children feel accepted and not judged by them (robots) when interacting with them. I also liked how the social robot is designed to help people with dementia.

“What I’ve found promising and rather fascinating are the social assistive robots as a means of care to be used for the welfare of older adults, which are both beneficial and practical.”

A Chinese participant said: “This was indeed a very interesting course, which shows technologies have advanced beyond our perception. Robots will be more common in the health care and social care sectors, where they can assist residents and also help to reduce stress and pressure on health care professionals.”

Another participant from Austria said: “This project gave me a great insight into the world of robots in the field of care. Through this course I have seen which special and different types of robots exist and the positive effects they can have on people.”

A new book ‘Transcultural Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Health and Social Care’ has been written by academics from the IENE 10 project: Prof Irena Papadopoulos, Dr Christina Koulouglioti, Dr Chris Papadopoulos and Professor Antonio Sgorbissa.

In addition to the IENE10 project, Middlesex, Bedfordshire and Genova universities also spearheaded the CARESSES project,probably the largest ever global study investigating the use of culturally competent robots in caring for the elderly.

Find out more about the MOOC nursing course, which will remain open online to the public and free of charge as a self-directed course.

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09 Nov 2022 19:08:31 MDX students delight at using the latest Canon technology https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/canon-partnership-dan-sosnowski-jennifer-forward-hayter

A young white woman in a patterned mask with two cameras strapped across herMDX Creative Industries graduates have hailed an "amazing" partnership between the university and Canon, with students enjoying access to Canon products, expertise and professional networks and entry to international festivals.

2019 BA Photography graduate Jennifer Forward-Hayter went to the Visa Pour L'Image international photojournalism festival as a Canon award winner at MDX.

She was deeply struck by a talk by veteran Danish photo editor and photojournalism teacher Thomas Boberg - "very simple advice, I always refer back to it" - and stimulated by the different approaches taken by students from across Europe that she met there, who she still stays in touch with.

"In photography there isn't just one way answer, one way of doing something," she says. "You can appreciate a wider photographic oeuvre".

Jennifer, winner of Best in Show for Week 1 at the leading photography graduate showcase Free Range in 2019, and now doing her Photography MA at MDX, says she has felt extremely well supported both by Canon staff and the reliability of Canon photographic equipment. Nathan Dua, Education Segment Manager for the UK and Ireland is "really amazing, he gets stuff done. He'd just pick up the phone," she says.

For her documentary photography projects, which have included capturing photos of Fleet Street journalists and media campaigners at work, she says "I'm going to get the shot with Canon, and justify the respect that these incredibly busy people have given me".

"On these shoots I'm normally surrounded by other photojournalists/photographers rubber-necking. My subjects are editors and tough journalists who aren't used to sitting still and being told what to do, so there's definitely a lot of pressure to get things right, and to show off with high quality equipment".

Jennifer recently went to photograph journalists and news teams on the Ukraine-Poland border, taking a Canon with a compact 600D body and a huge L series lens. She has just started a three month MA project in Australia embedded with satirical outlet The Chaser to document its team producing wide-ranging content from TV to theatre to podcasts.

She was grateful to have a Canon for photography workshops she ran for young children in Athens and London over the summer. "You say, don't put fingers near the glass, and they do. My Canons remained completely workable - they've been through a lot".

2022 TV Production graduate Francisco Batista was joint winner of one of three prizes awarded by Canon at the MDX summer graduate showcase, for co-producing a show called Lazy Lyrics.

For his final project at MDX, a studio music show, Francisco used a Canon video camera to shoot the video inserts. "It was really nice to have a Canon with the high quality footage - light wasn't that much of a problem, we got all the details we wanted," he says.

A bald white man with a video camera on a tripod talks to three seated students who have their backs to the viewer"I've had Canon equipment for 10 years - it's been everything," Francisco says.

Self-confessedly "not a camera guy who knows exactly what equipment to use," Francisco appreciates Canon cameras' accessibility and user-friendliness: "The C100, C200, C300, it doesn't change much between them. With other cameras, you're going to the menu and the settings. With Canon, at the end of the day it's press and you're shooting".

Sine the prize he won at the graduate showcase was Canon equipment rental, "it was really nice to know Canon still wants to support us after uni," Francisco says. "Any idea we have - it's not the end for this year or next year".

Canon provides equipment to MDX on an operational leasing model, meaning students have access to the latest kit without the university having to keep making expensive purchases.

Students are such regular users - with each camera changing hands up to 5 or 6 times a week - that MDX acts as an informal test bed for Canon, offering feedback on different models.

The partnership began four years ago, evolving over that time into a unique working relationship.

"It was quite obvious from the start that Middlesex University was really investment in Canon, and that we needed to be equally invested in Middlesex" says Canon's Nathan Dua.

"We've done 'Canon on Campus' events, where we come in with equipment and products so students and staff can try it out for themselves. We bring industry professionals so students can directly engage and network.

“Using Canon’s corporate philosophy of “Kyosei”, living and working together for the common good, combined with MDX's forward thinking, inclusive approach, allowed us to try new ways in which to engage students and industry".

Two bearded men holding a card picture frame around them, with balloons in background smile at the camera. One of the men is holding a medal which is on a ribbon around his neckDuring graduation week 2022, Nathan was awarded one of the first new MDX medals, in recognition of his work to create valuable and exciting opportunities to co-create with Canon for MDX students, graduates and staff. As a result of the publicity around this, Nathan says, Canon head office got in touch with him and gave backing to an initiative he had long been trying to get off the ground.

"We do look at other products," says head of Technical and Teaching Resources at MDX, Dan Sosnowski, who has spearheaded the partnership "but Canon keeps on winning!" His names his favourite features as "the flexibility, durability and the professional aesthetic of the output".

"We shape and educate future creatives, and in turn, Canon does too," says Dan. "By establishing that element of trust, we can make our own calculated risks to invest and adopt.

"Our aim is to close or even eradicate the gap between education and industry, so we have have creatives, filmmakers, fashion designers, photographers going ready into the industry and sharing their imagination and creativity with everybody.

"That is at the heart of everything that we do here at Middlesex, and it was just great that we have colleagues at Canon that share our vision and understand it".

"From my interactions with Canon so far, and from what I have observed from them as a company, they really want their photographers to do well" says Jennifer Forward-Hayter. "They're not just selling cameras: they're building tough, decisive photographers".

To read more about studying Photography at MDX, click here

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04 Nov 2022 00:00:00 “Use personal trainers to target inactive middle-aged people to improve health and save the NHS billions,” say MDX academics https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/11/use-personal-trainers-to-save-NHS-money

Middlesex academics are calling for personal trainers to have NHS regulated training and standardised qualifications to enable them to target inactive people in middle age who have or are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, asthma, most cancers, strokes, arthritis and diabetes.

Dr Anne Elliott, Senior Lecturer at MDX’s London Sports Institute worked with Professor Tim Evans, MDX Professor in Business and Political Economy to investigate the link between historic negative connotations with PE and the subsequent cost to the NHS.

Their recent paper suggests that people who hated PE at school in the Sixties and early Seventies have avoided exercise ever since.

Now this population have reached middle-age or are approaching retirement and are not doing enough physical activity despite having the time and available resources to do so.

This sedentary lifestyle could be costing the NHS £6billion in treating chronic diseases, argue the authors.

Professor Evans said: “Overall, past failures in PE are estimated to exceed £6 billion in terms of what it’s costing the health service to treat people with chronic diseases.  At a time when the NHS is struggling for resources we should be looking at preventing illness rather than treating it – this would be much cheaper in the long term. We need to be innovative and doing more with what we have. Personal trainers could be a huge untapped resource.”

The calculation is based on 20 per cent of the health costs associated with obesity, being overweight, and physical inactivity being causally attributed to the historic failings of PE. Over a five-year electoral period, £1.2 billion each year equates to £6 billion, according to the academics.

Professor Evans said: “In 2015-16, the money spent on treating chronic diseases equated to enough money to fund more than 2.3 million people’s disability living allowances per year in the UK - three quarters of the total spend.”

Dr Elliot added: “From a political economy viewpoint, the cost is that these are the people who are now moving towards old age. Because they have been put off PE since school and because they stayed in sedentary jobs and undertook sedentary leisure pursuits, they are starting to see the ramifications and are now beginning to have long-term chronic diseases.

She argues that the mindset of an individual only changes when they become overweight or are faced with illness which affects their quality of life. Then they will approach a doctor or personal trainer.

The academics want to make better use of the UK’s 60,000 personal trainers, by using this workforce in a new NHS integrated care system.

In order to achieve this, qualifications within the fitness industry, which currently vary from a two-week online course to a master’s degree, must be regulated to NHS standards.

They advocate a system where a doctor or physiotherapist works with patients in the acute phase of an illness and then they are referred to a personal trainer who works with the individual on a long-term basis.

Dr Elliott says: “The problem is many personal trainers or gym practitioners aren’t appropriately trained to deal with individuals who have been inactive for most of their lives. Many of them might be suffering from multiple diagnosed or undiagnosed long-term conditions.

“GP referrals to gyms often do not work as they are short term and once people have to pay they stop the activity. A more long-term approach is needed so that people can be re-connected to work with their bodies.

“With the right training the personal trainer workforce can play a key role in this and could be used far more to improve individual health and potentially save on vital resources that could be used elsewhere in the NHS.”

The paper is based on the research and findings which formed part of Dr Elliott’s PhD in 2017: ‘A multi-method investigation into physical activity in middle-age through a lifecourse perspective’,

Find out more about studying Exercise and Physical Activity for Special Populations and Healthy Ageing MSc | Middlesex University London (mdx.ac.uk) at Middlesex.

Photos from Centre for Ageing Better on Unsplash and Inspired Horizons Digital Marketing on Unsplash

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31 Oct 2022 00:00:00 MDX-backed survey reveals devastating impact of infertility on wellbeing https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/fertility-network-uk-survey

Couple at Boston marina

A Middlesex University-backed survey of approaching 1,300 fertility patients in the UK reveals the devastating toll infertility wreaks on people’s mental health, relationships, finances and career.

Released at the start of National Fertility Awareness Week 2022, the findings also highlight the lack of information provided by GPs and the limited support options.

Gwenda Burns, chief executive of Fertility Network UK which led the survey, said: “Fertility Network UK’s major new survey reveals the far-reaching trauma of infertility, painting a stark, distressing picture of what it is like to experience infertility and fertility treatment in the UK.”

“Fertility patients encounter a perfect storm: not being able to have the child you long for is emotionally devastating, but then many fertility patients face a series of other hurdles, including potentially paying financially crippling amounts of money for their necessary medical treatment, having their career damaged, not getting information from their GP, experiencing their relationships deteriorate, and being unable to access the mental support they need.

“This is unacceptable. Infertility is a disease and is as deserving of medical help and support as any other clinical condition. Yet our findings, launched at the start of National Fertility Awareness Week 2022, shows how much more needs to be done. That’s why this week we are #Fighting4Fertility.”

Fertility Network UK’s survey was conducted with Dr Nicky Payne, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Middlesex University.

It found issues in various areas:

  • Mental health: 4 out of 10 respondents experienced suicidal feelings: 30% reported suicidal feelings sometimes or occasionally, while 10% experienced suicidal feelings often or all the time. Approaching half (47%) of respondents experienced feelings of depression often or all the time, while the vast majority (83%) felt sad, frustrated and worried often or all the time.
  • Finance: Two-thirds of patients (63%) had to pay for their own medical treatment. The average cost of investigations and treatment was £13,750. Around 1 in 10 couples (12%) spent more than £30,000 and a few (0.5%) spent over £100,000.
  • Career: More than 1 in 10 respondents (15%) either reduced their hours or left their job. Over a third (36%) of respondents felt their career was damaged as a result of fertility treatment, and the majority (58%) felt concerned that fertility treatment would affect their career prospects. Only a quarter (25%) reported the existence of a supportive workplace policy, while 1 in 5 (19%) weren’t sure if a workplace fertility policy existed. Less than half (45%) of respondents felt they received really good support from their employer. The majority of respondents (77%) did disclose they were undergoing fertility treatment to their employer, but of these less than half (47%) said reasonable adjustments were made for them.
  • Relationships: The majority of respondents (59%) reported some detrimental impact of fertility problems and/or treatment on their relationship with their partner, while 2% of respondents reported their relationship had ended as a result.
  • Information & Support: Approaching half (44%) of respondents sought help from Fertility Network UK, the nation’s leading fertility charity. Three-quarters of respondents (75%) felt their GP did not provide sufficient information about fertility problems and treatment and 7% were not sure. Less than one-fifth (18%) were satisfied with the information GPs provided. The majority of respondents (78%) would have liked to have counselling if it was free. Half of respondents (51%) did have counselling, but most of these (59%) had to fund some of it themselves. Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) attended a fertility support group but nearly half (47%) who didn’t attend would have liked to if one was nearby.

Commenting on the survey, Dr Payne said: “It is very disappointing to see reports of distress and suicidal thoughts remain worryingly high since the last survey in 2016.

“These stark findings show little evidence of the situation improving in terms of access to funded fertility treatment, and there remains a significant lack of psychological support and difficulties accessing support.

“The number of survey respondents reporting a lack of workplace policy, reasonable adjustments, and good support from their employer has clearly not reduced, and these were the same respondents who experienced the highest levels of distress.

“Urgent workplace policy and guidance is needed, both to support people undergoing fertility treatment, but also for managers who may have limited understanding of the needs of employees experiencing fertility challenges.

"Beyond the workplace, access to funded counselling and support groups is crucial throughout the fertility journey."

Dr Raj Mathur, chair of the British Fertility Society, said: ‘'This survey gives a sobering – some might say, shocking - insight into the wellbeing of subfertile people, especially women, in Britain today. For 47% to report feelings of depression and as many as 10% to report suicidal thoughts often or all of the time is unacceptable.’

‘This survey uncovers effects far beyond the physical health of patients. We must do better as a society and a health system in looking after patients with fertility problems. Above all, this must begin with a fair funding settlement for fertility treatment across the UK, based on full implementation of the evidence-based recommendations made by NICE.

“We must improve awareness of fertility matters and the effect of subfertility on patients, among healthcare commissioners, professionals and wider society.’

Commenting further on the survey, Fertility Network’s chief executive Gwenda Burns added: ‘The survey findings released today by Fertility Network UK also build on our previous infertility impact survey with Middlesex University in 2016. A comparison of the two reveals fertility patients are still being failed on many counts.’

‘More patients now have to pay for their fertility treatment and continue to pay eye-watering amounts of money; the number of respondents reporting a supportive workplace policy has stayed the same at just one-quarter (25%), and three-quarters of patients still feel let down by their GP when it comes to providing appropriate information.’

Respondents to the survey, which was conducted between April and July 2022, were mainly white (93%) women (98%) in a heterosexual relationship (90%).

The average current age of respondents was 36.6 years and the average age when they started treatment was 33.7 years. They had on average been trying to conceive for 4.1 years. The majority (69%) were living in England, 18% in Scotland, 7% in Wales and 6% in Northern Ireland.

A copy of the full report The Impact of Fertility Challenges and Treatment can be viewed here.

We have a Fertility Network team in each country in the UK.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

26 Oct 2022 00:00:00 Russian civil rights organisation Memorial linked to MDX co-awarded Nobel Peace Prize https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/Memorial-Nobel-Peace-Prize-Russia-Ukraine-war

We are Memorial drawing photgrapher Andrey Rushailo-Arno

A renowned civil rights organisation in Russia closely affiliated with Middlesex University’s human rights advocacy centre has been co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2022.

Memorial, which is a long-standing partner of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), has shared the most prestigious accolade of its kind with the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties and activist Ales Bialiatski.

The EHRAC, a team of lawyers and experts, is part of the University’s School of Law department and based on the Hendon campus.

“Memorial has worked tirelessly to pursue democratic accountability for human rights abuses across Russia. The dedication and courage of our colleagues in the face of enormous challenges is inspiring.” Jess Gavron, EHRAC Legal Director.

International Memorial, and its sister organisation, Memorial Human Rights Centre (MHRC), founded 30 years ago, were liquidated by Russian authorities this year under the guise of non-compliance with controversial foreign agent laws.

MHRC has represented hundreds of victims of human rights violations both domestically and before the European Court of Human Rights, while International Memorial has worked tirelessly to expose Soviet era crimes against civilians.

The organisations have been opposing Russia’s invasion and ongoing military aggression in Ukraine.

For decades they have worked to protect human rights and the most vulnerable in society and exposes abuses committed in Chechnya and other regions of the North Caucasus.

Staff have been targeted, threatened and killed including Natalia Estemirova who was abducted and murdered in 2009, Oleg Orlov who was abducted in 2007, and Oyub Titiev who faced fabricated criminal proceedings in 2018-2019.

Together, the EHRAC and Memorial have co-litigated more than 200 cases together, leading to hundreds of legal victories at the European Court of Human Rights, including on behalf of 400 victims of the Beslan School Siege, 73 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) targeted by Russia’s foreign agent laws, the Bolotyna Square Protest and the murder of Memorial’s Natalia Estemirova.

Jess Gavron, EHRAC Legal Director, said: “We are delighted that our long-term partner Memorial has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Memorial has worked tirelessly to pursue democratic accountability for human rights abuses across Russia.

“The dedication and courage of our colleagues in the face of enormous challenges is inspiring.”

Tatiana Glushkova

Tatiana Glushkova, Board Member of Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre, (pictured above) said: “This prize is a powerful sign of recognition of the importance of the work of human rights defenders in the region.

“There was no better time for the Nobel Committee to award it to the three nominees, to recognise that human rights defenders transcend borders and warfare.

“It can be seen as both an incredibly significant and obvious gesture of support from the global community, and we at the Memorial are deeply touched and humbled by it.

“However, this prize also represents a tremendous burden of responsibility, because not only our allies, but also our opponents, as well as the public across the globe, will watch us more closely.

“It also goes without saying, that this award would not have been possible without EHRAC, our longstanding partner, which fought together with us to achieve justice for victims of war crimes perpetrated during Chechen wars, and of abductions, extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights abuses in the North Caucasus.

“We are proud to count EHRAC among our allies.”

The other Nobel Peace winners are the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties, which was founded in 2007 and is currently working to expose war crimes by the Russian Federation in its invasion of Ukraine, and Belarusian Ales Bialiatski who is a human rights activist and the founder of Viasna (Spring) Human Rights Centre, who has been in detention since last year.

On the award winners, The Nobel Peace Prize stated: "They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.

"They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy."

A version of this story was published on the EHRAC websiteUpdates on the MHRC's work can be found on its Telegram page.

* The photo of the We Are Memorial drawing and Tatiana  Glushkova were taken by the photographer Andrey Rushailo-Arno.

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25 Oct 2022 00:00:00 Plans unveiled to ensure every child in Barnet has access to the arts by 2027 https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/mdx-is-supporting-work-to-ensure-that-every-child-in-barnet-has-access-to-the-arts-by-2027

MDX supports the vision that Barnet children should have access to a wide range of cultural opportunities and has co-authored Barnet & Culture For Youth’s Cultural Education Strategy, which pledges an artist in each school by 2027.

Performing Arts at MDX is a founding member of the Barnet Cultural Education Partnership, which, since 2019, has been building on an aim to provide a rich cultural education for every child and young person in the borough.

When work during the Pandemic showed shortcomings regarding access to creative career opportunities, MDX helped develop, co-author, and design the strategy document together with key partners in the wider network, such as artsdepot.

Dr Robert Vesty, Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts at MDX, said: “This vision is a great example of MDX’s connectivity with our local communities as well as a serving as a lively example of how we can put the theme of ‘enriching lives through culture’, articulated in MDX’s 2031 strategy, into action.”

The Cultural Education Strategy has themes of engagement, employability, wellbeing and advocacy and places an emphasis on priority groups to include those removed from mainstream education, young people with learning disabilities and those faith and home educated.

Access to creative activity is known to support wellbeing, community connections, and lifelong engagement.

Ambitions set out in the paper include:

  • By 2027 every school in Barnet will welcome an annual artist residency, enriching cultural life in the school
  • Every child and young person in Barnet will have access to music lessons, dance classes, visual arts classes, theatre and museum trips
  • The cultural economy of Barnet will have expanded, the borough will be rich with collaboration and innovation, diverse communities will be engaged and centre-place
  • Young people will be supported to consider creative careers and enabled to live a rich cultural life supporting self-expression, talent development, self-confidence and wellbeing

Cllr Pauline Coakley Webb, Lead Member for Children and Education added: “It’s great that Barnet’s major cultural venues, the RAF Museum and artsdepot, the Music Hub, BEAT, production companies and studios are working alongside education partners, Middlesex University and schools to give Barnet children such a range of local creative opportunities.”

Joel, 16, a member of the artsdepot Young Advocates group said: “I think artistic subjects such as drama and music should be prioritised just as much as core subjects. As you get older these subjects, such as maths and science are given more importance and the creative subjects get left as an afterthought. If they were prioritised people would be able to see that you can actually get a job and make money from being creative.”

A strategy launch event will take place at the RAF Museum on 3rd November 4-6pm with presentations and performances from local young people.

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24 Oct 2022 00:00:00 MDX-backed study discovers many Polish migrant essential workers could leave after Covid-19 https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/Brexit-polish-workers

Poland flag kaboom pics

A third of Polish essential workers plan to leave or are undecided about staying in the UK because of such factors as discrimination at work and feeling unwelcome following Brexit and Covid-19 based on a new survey.

The study found 33% of respondents plan to return to Poland or are unsure about remaining after the pandemic with other issues such as unsafe working conditions, low paid and insecure jobs given as the reason.

This research was carried out by academics from the Middlesex University, the University of Glasgow and the University of Sheffield and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Research and Innovation body.

“Their decision to leave was solidified during the pandemic although it had been brewing since Brexit when they realised that their position in the UK is more precarious,"  Dr Kasia Narkowicz, Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Researchers surveyed 1,105 Polish essential workers and interviewed 40 of the respondents who work in industries such as health and social care, transport, education and childcare, utility services and the production of goods.

Around the time of Brexit, in 2016 there were about one million Polish nationals living in the UK but the number is now thought to be closer to 700,000, which is the largest UK migrant population group behind India.

Many issues related to their employment and 28% believed they were discriminated against in the workplace, with Polish health and social care employees claiming they were treated unequally compared to other migrants.

Dr Kasia Narkowicz, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University and co-researcher, said: “The overall sense of belonging to the UK, feeling welcomed and at home among Polish essential workers greatly diminished following the pandemic.

“Many of the Polish essential workers talked about feeling discriminated against and unwanted at work and in their communities.

“Their decision to leave was solidified during the pandemic although it had been brewing since Brexit when they realised that their position in the UK is more precarious and the perception of them as hard-working became much more unstable.

“When Covid began and essential workers were called on to continue working, often in unsafe, overcrowded, low-paid and insecure jobs, many of the Polish migrant workforce experienced negative impacts from their status as both essential workers and eastern Europeans.”

More than half of the respondents, a total of 55%, stated that their mental wellbeing deteriorated either significantly (31%) or somewhat (24%) during the pandemic, while 40.2% of Polish migrant essential workers surveyed became financially worse off.

Findings showed a relatively low uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations with 33% unsure (18%) or not willing (12%) to have the vaccine, which is believed to be related to a “strong anti-vaccination” movement in Poland.

Dr Narkowicz said: “Polish migrant workers are still closely connected to Poland in terms of where they get their news from via communication and social networks so if there is a strong anti-vax movement it would impact their views.

“Many have language barriers and difficulties understanding the available information regarding vaccines, and a general lack of trust towards health authorities along with fears having the vaccine would impact their employment through missed working hours.”

The study has made a number of recommendations including:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should make all migrant essential workers eligible for Universal Credit. The DWP, employers and trade unions should protect and raise awareness of migrant essential workers’ employment rights
  • Health authorities should rename online Covid-19 fact sheets and links in target migrant languages, and improve vaccine take-up amongst migrants by working with migrant communities to locate mobile vaccination units near places of work, leisure, or worship
  • Make mental health support and services more accessible and improve take-up for migrant populations in the UK which includes providing multilingual support, advice and information on service provision in target languages

Find out more about the survey on the Migrants Essential Workers website.

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*Photo: www.kaboompics.com

19 Oct 2022 00:00:00 MDX academics to evaluate pioneering children offenders project https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/London-Accommodation-Pathfinder

Heron Tower London

A team of Middlesex University academics will evaluate a pioneering London-based project designed to stop children from reoffending by housing them in supervised accommodation and providing the skills and support they need to turn their life around.

The Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) has been commissioned to review the first ever London Accommodation Pathfinder scheme led by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and supported by the Association Directors of Children Services.

Boys aged from 16 to 17 will be provided with residential placements as an alternative to youth detention in up to four properties across London with capacity for 20 children each and which are managed by a specialist accommodation provider St Christophers Fellowship.

“Hopefully, this model will create better outcomes for children including creating a therapeutic environment that provides them with the support they need for their mental health." Dr Elena Martellozzo, an Associate Professor of Criminology at MDX

In a two-year evaluation using innovative research methods, the CATS experts will analyse the outcomes of the pathfinder for children, costs comparisons, benefits and governance.

Speaking about the project Dr Anthony Goodman, Professor of Community Justice and co-director of the CATS team, said: “The aim is to keep those at high risk of reoffending from engaging in anti-social and unacceptable behaviour as well as improving the life skills and opportunities of the children.

“It will encourage the children to work on their behaviour and attitudes, and to develop their health, education and life skills in a pro-social way.

“Ultimately this should produce a sustainable intervention to manage risk as children make the transition into adulthood.”

Working with a number of specialist agencies in the community, the project will provide each child with a trauma informed programme and they will learn about the impact of their offending.

Co-director Dr Elena Martellozzo, an Associate Professor of Criminology at MDX, said: “I am very proud to be working on this project.

“It is an innovative and ambitious pan-London project developed for children in the youth justice system that need intensive residential placements as an alternative to custody.

“Hopefully, this model will create better outcomes for children including creating a therapeutic environment that provides them with the support they need for their mental health.”

The pathfinder has been developed in partnership with the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice and it is hoped it could be rolled out in future across the country.

Matthew Knights, London Accommodation Pathfinder Strategic Development Manager, said: “This pan London pathfinder project is the first of its kind and I am very excited to work with the commissioned organisations and Middlesex University to test out the models that we have developed.

“This will make a difference to the children within the youth justice system and support local authorities across London.”

The study will be directed by Prof Goodman and Dr Martellozzo, with the support of Dr Ruth Spence, Paula Bradbury, Susan Mulcahy, Bogi Meggyesfalvi and Sabrina Holness.

The CATS academics, who have worked on major national and European research projects including with the NSPCC, Internet Watch Foundation and the College of Policing, specialise in investigating online abuse and crimes against children.

Find out more about their work.

Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash

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18 Oct 2022 00:00:00 MDX student analysing data at Women’s Rugby World Cup as part of prestigious RFU placement https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/mdx-student-analysing-data-at-womens-rugby-world-cup-as-part-of-prestigious-rfu-placement

Matt Wallis will be part of England Rugby’s performance analysis team for upcoming major rugby tournaments, starting with the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The 26-year-old has received a MSc studentship with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the University, and is set to gain valuable insights from world-leading experts in the field of analysis alongside his MDX Masters.

He will help collect sophisticated data on top professional rugby players.

Sports Performance Analysis is an area experiencing massive growth and now most professional clubs work with performance analysts who provide them with objective data to improve sporting performance. Roles include preparing statistical reports, coding matches via performance analysis software and identifying differences between teams and players.

Matt came to MDX to study a Masters in Sport Performance Analysis after taking an undergraduate degree in Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett University.

He said: “In my first year of studying for my undergraduate Covid hit so I didn’t get any opportunities to go out and coach.

“I thought I would use the time to upskill and train in something else and from there I got the opportunity to do some data collection work for England Rugby on the Gallagher Premiership, just building up skills on different software.”

The placement led to a year’s internship working at Barnsley Football’s analysis department, which prompted Matt to look in to the MSc at MDX.

He said: “I had made quite a lot of contacts within the RFU because I was doing data collection for them and I saw that there was an opportunity in a world-leading department whilst gaining a highly regarded analysis degree at somewhere like Middlesex University.

“It felt like everything has been building up to this and I am very grateful to have had the opportunities that I have had that has led to working with the Red Roses.”

The Red Roses team are currently in New Zealand for the World Cup but Matt has already been integrating with analysis staff and working on team coding projects and building opposition profiles.

He is looking forward to the team’s return.

“When they come back and get in to the training camps I will be fully embedded and working on site,” Matt added.

“I will spend a week in camp supporting the team and there will be lots of analysis on Red Roses matches and their opposition.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity to be a sponge and will give me vital experience that will hopefully lead to a full-time role.”

Matt, who lives in Leeds, had originally planned to study remotely but says he learns a lot from being on campus and the weekly commute helps him make the most of teaching.

His studentship will involve working with on the Allianz Premier 15s tournament which is the newly formed Women’s Professional Rugby League.

“It is an opportunity to grow and be part of an exciting time, not just for rugby but for women’s sport,” Matt said.

“I have found a real passion for data and trying to produce impactful work to help performance on the field so I am excited to support throughout the World Cup but I can’t wait to be on site working alongside world-class athletes, coaches and support staff.”

Dr Nimai Parmar, Senior Lecturer in Sports Performance Analysis at MDX, said: “We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with the RFU to provide excellent learning opportunities for our students to support England Rugby's world-leading performance analysis provision.

“I am really grateful to Duncan Locke and his team for working with us to create these opportunities which show the commitment the RFU have towards developing the next generation of performance analysts, alongside supporting our other EDI initiatives such as the ‘Diversifying Sport Performance Analysis scholarship.”

MDX alumnus Oli May knows the value of a studentship as he was offered a full-time role as a data and video-co-ordinator with the RFU after graduating in September last year.

Due to the Pandemic, Oli completed his placement with the England Rugby Senior Men’s team remotely while the sporting world adapted. This was alongside his MSc in Sport Performance Analysis.

He said: “Remote working was made possible through the technology used in analysis.

“It was hard going into an environment where I had not really met the people or been working with them day in and day out in person and I had to learn a lot independently.

“There were a couple of tournaments that I worked on but the teams and camps were all in a bubble so visitors were not allowed in and out, however I was so grateful to have the opportunity to work on a sport that I enjoyed and working for one of the best organisations.

“I was supported by the analysis team and learned a lot.”

Oli describes his role with the RFU as a “dream job”.

He added: “I have played rugby since an early age and I wanted to make a career out of it.

“The last year has been challenging but very enjoyable. It is a very fast-paced environment where success and winning is the goal.

“During tournament time I am working on opposition previews, training analysis and match analysis.

“I really enjoyed my course with MDX, Nimai was very supportive throughout the whole process and the studentship was a really good opportunity to learn skills on the job, in the correct environment. “It allows you to meet people and network with other analysts in similar roles who you can learn from.

“Now I am in a role that I love.”

MDX alumna Zoe Harrison is a fly-half for the Red Roses and scored in their record Women's Rugby World Cup win over Fiji.

The former Saracens player made her England debut in 2017.

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13 Oct 2022 13:25:07 MDX exhibits are a big hit with kids and adults at New Scientist Live 2022 https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/new-scientist-live-festival-2022

A young black man with a light beard stands with his arm crossed next to a young East Asian woman with glasses on. Both are in black polo shirts with stickers saying "This is what a Scientist looks like" on them, and both are smiling broadlyMDX was among 80 exhibitors at this month's New Scientist Live festival of ideas and scientific discovery at the ExCeL Centre in Royal Docks - the first since the pandemic.

A team of staff and students talked to visitors and brought to life scientific games and demonstrations across two popular stands. MDX exhibits included a jump test, the Towers of Hanoi maths puzzle, "chaotic selfies" taken against the light trail left by a double pendulum, guiding robots around a tabletop, and a race to build models of molecules.

An established favourite of MDX's STEM engagement events, the Motion Driven eXperience - where participants sit in a moving chair while seeing a computer-generated passenger-eye view of a rollercoaster ride through a VR headset - attracted long queues of children and adults.

A young South Asian man with a short beard and wearing glasses. He wears a polo shirt and stands in front of two display bannersMDX alumnus and Graduate Academic Assistant in Computer Science Noman Niazi helped out all on four days of the festival.

"I was a Student Learning Assistant for all three years [of my undergrad] - I work with kids really well," Noman says. "Some of them, you realise from the get go, understand programming. They use [programming language] Scratch which is used a lot in primary school nowadays.

"In-person education will never be outdone by online," Noman added. "There’s more you can do, there’s things you can actually touch".

Two young women and two young men of different ethnicities stand in a row. They wear black Middlesex University polo shirts and they are smiling2nd year Sports Science student Georgia Rosenberg said that getting exhibition visitors to take the jump test was useful for and her coursemates' studies. "This allows us to see it in real life, with real body types," she said.

Georgia, who captains the university football team, says she "couldn’t think of anything better" than coming to MDX for her degree. "Everyone is so calm, nothing’s ever a problem. I love how the atmosphere is so mixed - the whole diversity and cultural aspects. You never feel like you’re being judged".

Third year Robotics student Olu Abdul, assisting on the Motion Driven eXperience, said that "it’s been nice participating in events again".

Two students in MDX polo shirts assist a boy in a red top and grey trousers with a VR head-set as he participates in a VR rollercoaster ride experience"The kids have been lovely - watching them bounce about but basically be fine". His coursemate Mikhaela Roy, who like Olu hopes to progress to a Masters programme after she graduates, was volunteering at an outreach event for the first time. "I didn’t think I would be able to engage that much. But it was really fun, much easier than I thought," she said.

MDX Product Design lecturer Wyn Griffiths tested a prototype digital maze programme for the next co-created immersive experience from the SMASHFest stable, WILDFIRE!

Wyn says the tests went very well and this year's show had been "really fun... lots of contacts, and a more diverse audience [than in previous years]".

"Excellent objects... stunning lectures... and some excellent people: scientists, academics, artists, space photographers, herbalists, farmers, technologists," is how New Scientist editor Emily Wilson summed up the festival. "I loved every minute of it, and cannot wait to be back at the show next year".

To find out more about studying BEng Design Engineering at MDX, click here

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11 Oct 2022 00:00:00 MDX lecturer and fantasy author collates short stories "dedicated to the living, the dead and those in-between" https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/mdx-lecturer-and-acclaimed-fantasy-author-collates-short-stories-dedicated-to-the-living,-the-dead-and-those-in-between

The Book of the Dead features Middlesex University students and alumni in addition to creative writers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The compendium of short stories explores the history of, superstitions about and various spiritual practices involved with death, drawing upon the Book of the Dead (1550BC) which pre-dates the Bible.

MDX lecturer and fantasy author Dr Adam Dalton-West, who writes under the name A J Dalton, provides the academic introduction that invites the reader to learn how ancient tombs once worked as portals to the afterlife, find out the truth behind the judgement of Anubis, consider the arcane rituals of embalmers and spirit boards and be inspired and despairing with Loki and Hel.

The Gollancz author said: “'We teach genre writing on both our BA Creative Writing and Journalism and our MA Novel Writing - the interest and demand for fantasy, sci-fi and horror seems stronger than ever - perhaps as a response to the pandemic or greater concerns about the fragility of our place in the world.”

The Book of the Dead features stories from Marisa Mustafa (BA English graduate), Jodie Hammond (BA English, then MA Novel Writing student), Jen McDonald (MA Novel Writing alumna), and Laura Keating and JF Mulvey (current MA Novel Writing students), along with tales provided by prize-winning authors A J Dalton (www.ajdalton.eu), Steven Poore and Isabella Hunter.

Jasmin Mulvey is an MDX employee and alumna, having studied an undergraduate degree in Herbal Medicine and returning to complete her MA.

She said: “It was a great opportunity for me and an honour to be writing alongside A J Dalton, who is so successful.

“I work in the fantasy young adult, dark-romance genre. The story that I have written reflects a little bit of that aspect. The collection is a wide variety of stories, the themes being around death. Some are historic, some are more fantastical."

Jasmin's short story had a theme of Pagans and witchcraft.

She said: “It’s a real blessing to be involved in a project like this. I’ve been a wannabe writer for a long time. I’ve written things but I’ve never been published so to be involved with someone like Adam, and other successful writers and other MDX students and alumni who are all coming from different perspectives and who are all really good, is a great thing.

“I have absolutely loved the course. Using my experience I want to be able to talk to a young adult audience about a lot of different aspects including mental health.

"That’s something I want to include in my writing going forward.”

Laura Keating agreed that the opportunity to get published was “amazing”.

“I actually wrote my short story in the back seat of the car on the way to and from Nashville looking at the surroundings for inspiration,” she said.

“It was a lovely experience and so relaxed.”

Laura, who completed the distance learning Masters from her home in Tennessee, said her short story basis was the imagining of the afterlife.

“It was about our focus in life and where we put the things we find most valuable and what it might look like having those all present themselves as we are about to leave this life,” she said.

“Mine is about astral (a term used to describe an intentional out of body experience) travel and the woman visits all the places that she has dreaded. She sees all the actions of her attitudes facing her.

“She’s given opportunity to return to the life that she misses so much but she actually returns as her one-eyed dog. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek.”

MDX alumna Jodie is just finishing her MA in Novel Writing.

She said: “I jumped at the chance to be part of this book. It’s a great stepping stone after the course.

“From a young child I have always been obsessed with Ancient Egypt and Egyptian Mythology and the Great God of Anubis, the God of the Dead. When I heard that death was being featured, I knew that I needed to claim Anubis.

“My piece is about a young guy who’s trying to keep his family afloat in Ancient Egypt and needs to take drastic action to keep his children fed so decides to steal from a tomb, which is a big no. He meets Anubis.

"I’m stoked by the finished product.”

The Book of the Dead is published by Kristell Ink, one of MDX's partners on the Creative Writing HQ site (www.creativewritinghq.com). It is available to buy from Amazon UK.

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10 Oct 2022 09:00:00 World Mental Health Day 2022: MDX concerned cost of living crisis affecting students’ wellbeing https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/world-mental-health-day-2022-mdx-concerned-cost-of-living-crisis-affecting-students-wellbeing

Middlesex University is using World Mental Health Day 2022 to encourage students to seek help if they have financial worries and their ability to study is under strain.

The cost of living crisis is affecting most sectors of society including students. Support and welfare teams at Middlesex University anticipate the crisis could affect students’ mental health and might lead to some of them abandoning their course.

In a recent survey by Save The Student website, more than eight in 10 of those asked said they were worried about money and four in five said they had considered dropping out.

In order to reduce the impact, the University has put a support package in place and is committed to helping students study, enjoy their university experience and manage their stress and anxiety.

Matthew Lawson, Director of Library & Student Support at Middlesex University, said: “The University learnt a lot about how to support students during the pandemic and we’re continuing and expanding on that now.

"I have heard that students with money issues can feel the situation is hopeless, describe being unable to cope and experience a sense of failure. This impacts on their ability to study, hindering them from meeting deadlines, or concentrating on course work, which influences their whole university experience.

“For many of our students this is the first time they are living away from home and having to manage their own money. For mature students who might be balancing caring responsibilities with studying, starting a degree is a huge challenge and soaring prices and bills could lead them to reconsider their choices. Our international students are a long way from home and are already experiencing a different culture and financial concerns are yet another hurdle.

“Our approach combines both financial support and expert advice. By making both as easy and accessible as possible we aim to solve immediate issues and help students avoid problems in future.”

"World Mental Health Day feels like a good opportunity to highlight that we understand that cost of living crisis is causing a lot of anxiety but help is available - please use it. Seek support early before the situation starts to spiral."

The wide-ranging package includes a Living Costs Fund that provides support for unexpected costs and advice on scholarships and bursaries. Students can also earn while they learn by being employed by the university via the institution’s employment agency, Unitemps.

Middlesex is also committed to providing value for money for students, by reducing the costs of studying: offering free printing, free laptops for loan, free eTextbooks and reduced gym membership. A new initiative launched for the chilly autumn months ahead is the provision of free hot breakfasts and dinners served in the Quad.

There is also a wealth of useful guidance to help students during this challenging time including student discounts and cheap activities as well as information on housing rights, eviction and debt advice.

Matthew Lawson is keen for as many students as possible to take advantage of the support and added: “World Mental Health Day feels like a good opportunity to highlight that we understand the cost of living crisis is causing a lot of anxiety but help is available – please use it. Seek support early before the situation starts to spiral.”

Information about the support package is gathered in one place on UniHub and has also been promoted by the Students’ Union.

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06 Oct 2022 09:00:00 Researchers win grant to investigate the transition to parenthood in UK small and medium sized enterprises https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/researchers-win-grant-to-investigate-the-transition-to-parenthood-in-uk-small-and-medium-sized-enterprises

Researchers from the Universities of Middlesex, Leeds and Manchester have been awarded a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to examine how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) manage their businesses and staffing when their employees become parents.

Evidence suggests SMEs lag behind in recognising the challenges parents face and implementing ‘family-friendly’ work options.

This three-year study, which is funded under the Transforming Working Lives programme of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) seeks to address this knowledge gap and develop recommendations for the management of maternity and paternity in SMEs which works for parents and employers.

The research will be lead by  Dr Bianca Stumbitz, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Entreprise and Economic Development Research at Middlesex University.

Dr Stumbitz, who is an international expert on maternity and paternity at work, said: “Becoming a parent is one of the most impactful processes in a person’s working life course yet most research on the experiences of pregnancy or parenthood and employment focuses on large firms and thereby excludes the experiences of the majority of employees and employers in the UK.

“While focusing on the UK, our project addresses a global problem: SMEs are globally under-researched although they employ the majority of (parental) workers worldwide.”

The project team brings together organisation studies, employment relations, social policy, sociology and economics, along with researchers in partnership with policymakers and/or practitioners.

"Most research on the experiences of pregnancy or parenthood and employment focuses on large firms and thereby excludes the experiences of the majority of (parental) workers worldwide." Dr Bianca Stumbitz, Middlesex University

Previous UK research on pregnancy and maternity related discrimination at work found small employers had the lowest awareness about the rights of pregnant employees and new parents, and were least likely to provide options for flexible working.

In the UK, SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population, three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the private sector.

The management of new parenthood in SMEs is different from large firms as they often lack a dedicated Human Resources department and have no written maternity/paternity policies.

The charities Working Families and The Fatherhood Institute, have been involved in developing the project and the Advisory Board includes the International Labour Organization (ILO), Equality and Human Rights Commission, Maternity Action, Acas, Federation of Small Businesses, Medical Women’s Federation, SME (owner) managers, SME employees – including expectant/new mothers and fathers, and policy makers.

Simon Kelleher, Head of Policy and Influencing at Working Families and research team member, said:

“A majority of the UK’s parents work for SMEs so understanding and supporting their approach to parental leave policies is vitally important. While SMEs can often be great places to work for parents due to the positive working relationships and flexibility they can offer, a lack of HR resource can mean that the experiences of expectant and new parents aren’t always as good as they should be.”

Workplace support for fathers is seen as a key policy area for promoting gender equality in paid and unpaid work.

Dr Jeremy Davies, Head of Communications and Impact at the Fatherhood Institute and member of the research team, highlighted: “We are delighted to be part of this important study into support for parents in small and medium sized businesses: the backbone of the UK economy. Fathers are often an afterthought in employment policy - which is bad for dads and their families, bad for business, and bad for gender equality. We look forward to bringing a strong father-focus to this research.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which will participate in the research as members of the advisory board, stated:

“The Equality and Human Rights Commission protects everyone in Britain from discrimination and inequality by enforcing the law. One of our priorities is to ensure fairness at work and this includes protecting new parents working for small and medium-sized businesses. We look forward to the findings of this research so that all employers know how to treat their staff fairly and comply with equality law.”

Professor Alison Park, Interim Executive Chair of the ESRC, emphasised the vital importance of this and the other six studies funded under the Transforming Working Lives programme:

Professor Park said: “The world of work is changing rapidly. Understanding how and why it is changing, and how this affects workers’ lives, will help policymakers, businesses and employees to navigate key challenges, including how to help people to progress in their careers and how to enhance gender equality in the workplace. These seven new research projects will collaborate and coordinate with one another, enhancing the collective impact of ESRC’s investment.”

Each of the projects will start on 1 October 2022 and will run for three years.

To find out about Business courses at Middlesex click here.

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04 Oct 2022 07:27:26 A labour of love project, and the caring professional cultivating “a better version of me”: two MDX stories https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/black-history-month-2022-appiah-archibong

A headshot of a black woman in a yellow top and grey jacket with a decorative collar. She wears glasses, has her hair tied in a bun and is smilingChemistry and biochemistry senior lecturer Dr Sandra Appiah has taught at MDX for 15 years and before that studied her PhD at the University. As Black History Month 2022 begins, she explains that previously she had held back from social justice activities because they seemed all-consuming and risked not going anywhere, thinking she would wait until she became a Professor and confident she would have impact. But two years ago, on the day the Black Lives Matter movement burst onto the scene, she had a change of heart: "I just thought how long am I going to wait," she says.

She was discerning about the approach she wanted to take to exploring barriers facing those from black and minority backgrounds. "I am an Analytical Chemist by training. Where is the evidence that students’ grades are compromised because of being Black or Brown? I needed data, not just that they are".

She convened a team from across MDX of academics, technicians and students to look at factors including student progression and attainment. "We started off with the question - what is the problem?, as scientists do," Sandra says.

She applied for and won a grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry to extend the work to surveying the whole UK HE sector and enable students working on the project to be paid. In partnership with MDX, publishers and education training providers McGraw Hill conducted an audit to see how many of their UK and US authors were Black. Students including then-MDX Students’ Union Vice Presidents Jaudat Alogba and Anastasia Calin examined universities’ staffing diversity and designed informational posters.

"Building the website was a labour of love... It was designed by all of us," says Sandra. Successes in Academia was chosen as a name for the project collectively by staff and students working on it, having gone through many iterations. "We don’t want something that says “Black" or "Brown” because it excludes people. Half of the team were White in any case" says Sandra. "Everything we do we wanted to make as inclusive as possible”.

One aspect was looking at how MDX was doing - "are we making any progress, how do our students feel and how they felt about MDX - how it had helped them and any discriminations they felt”. In December 2021, Successes in Academia held its first Black Chemists' Conference and a workshop supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Now Sandra and colleagues are building a global Knowledge is Change consortium, to drive inclusivity in research.

A series of blogs profiling Black chemists has been published by McGraw Hill's US branch to showcase their research. The ultimate goal is to diversify the curriculum in higher education by embedding the work of these scientists in learning resources.

A black man in a blue checked suit and a red academic gown stands holding a large card frame around him saying "MDX Grad"Sandra and Successes in Academia’s objective of encouraging underrepresented groups comes to life hearing about the experiences of high-flying recent MDX doctoral students.

Archie Archibong, who since 2001 has worked as a nurse, midwife and health visitor, describes the special qualities of MDX as follows: “the environment gives opportunity to people from different backgrounds, with different capabilities and who speak different languages. You see people from different cultures interacting with each other - the learning environment is very inclusive. The lecturers are passionate to see you succeed. MDX gives you a chance to explore your dream and your career”.

Archie studied for his BSc, MSc and most recently his PhD at MDX, after a brief interlude to earn his postgraduate diploma at another institution. In March he was appointed research lead for 0-19 services in Newham, covering health visitors and the likes of school nurses. Before that, he was senior health visitor for Hackney for 7 years. As a nurse he worked in forensic healthcare settings and supporting services in young offenders’ institutions and adult prisons.

“I see a lot of young people from very troubled backgrounds,” he says. “When you look at what caused their traumatic experiences, it boils down to parenting and families”.

A bald-headed black man in a blue three-piece evening suit with green detailsIt was the lack of good opportunities to enable young people to thrive and his awareness of the network of social, cultural and economic factors critical to outcomes for children that brought him into health visiting. His PhD was in the role of health visitors in decision-making about care for vulnerable infants.

Part of his inspiration to go from practice into research, Archie says, was to put his varied healthcare experience into context, “and to bring out a better version of me to benefit the community,” he says.

He praises MDX Nursing Professor Michael Traynor and Dr Helen Hingley-Jones from the Department of Mental Health and Social Work for seeing the impact of his proposal - which brought health visiting and social care together - and the School of Health and Education’s open-minded and supportive ethos across the board. When he presented his original, imperfect PhD proposal, “they didn't just judge me by my flaws,” he says. “They were not dismissive of me - they thought I had something to offer, I had potential. They said have you thought about this, that, have you looked into that area?”

Dr Sandra Appiah will be taking part in an EDUBATE at MDX on Thursday 6th October on Acknowledging Black Achievers’ Success, chaired by Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management and co-chair of the MDX Anti-Racism Network Dr Doirean Wilson, alongside Dr Jak Beula of CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust, MDX Senior Lecture in Criminology Dr Rima Saini and singer and actress Dr Patti Boulaye. Further EDUBATEs will follow on 20th October and 27th October.

To find out more about studying Biochemistry at MDX, click here

To find out more about studying Nursing and Midwifery at MDX, click here

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03 Oct 2022 00:00:00 Awards in Continuing Professional Development at MDX are developed through research, knowledge exchange and networking https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2022/10/awards-in-continuing-professional-development-at-mdx

MDX Work and Learning Research Centre (W&LRC) in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, has been leading on Continuing Professional Development (CPD), part of lifelong learning, for the last 30 years.

Networks of academics, practitioners and organisations have been set up to engage in Research and Knowledge Exchange (KE) which facilitates a connection between the world of work and higher education.

People already in work and community settings who wish to undertake studies to extend their knowledge and skills are benefiting from curriculum development that leads to recognition for the kinds of learning needed for people at work certified by the University.

The ground-breaking Work and Learning Network was the first CPD network, founded by MDX in 1992.

Now led by Dr Paula Nottingham and Dr Elda Nikolou-Walker, the network is part of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL).  Darryll Bravenboer, part of the W&LRC leads the SEEC network advances the use of academic credit, a key concept for inclusion and access in lifelong learning, which is part of UALL and is on the Board of Trustees.

UALL Chair, Professor Jonathan Michie, University of Oxford, said in Times Higher Education; When designing lifelong learning programmes, some universities focus on the needs of local communities, while others look to the world of work. The Universities Association for Lifelong Learning brings together universities with a range of approaches to adult and continuing education. Along with its Work and Learning Network, it is a rich source of advice.”

Director of MDX’s Work and Learning Research Centre and prominent researcher Professor Carol Costley, said: “From Certificate to Doctorate level awards, those in work, paid or unpaid use their work as the focus of their learning through part-time study underpinned by scholarly research.

“Debates and publications arising from our networks have enabled pedagogical research into how people learn at work and the curriculum and teaching techniques required to develop this highlevel learning.”

Current research includes CPD and practice-based learning projects, which can be found in the MDX repository.

MDX has become internationally known for research that explores how people learn in work situations and for its work-based learning and professional doctorate awards that are tailored to accommodate people at work doing university study. In 2020 MDX was identified as the main institution - alongside research-intensive Monash University in Australia - producing knowledge on work-based learning.

Professor Costley explained that although the research trajectory has often been named “The curriculum of the workplace”, it is not a case of taking existing curricular “off the shelf” but designing units of study that enable the needs of the work and life of practitioners to be met in unique ways.

“Colleagues internationally have engaged with this approach through our networks and Middlesex colleagues have been asked to speak at conferences worldwide,” she added.

“It is not just our own networking that has gained success in the ongoing development of professionals through CPD. Our students have also found that exchanging ideas through both professional and academic networks has been a significant part of navigating their learning.”

MDX has run programmes for professionals in corporates – including Asda, Halifax, EasyJet, Toshiba and BT ­- in local government and public services and for people working in community organisations and charities. The university is also committed to work-based learning in another context by providing higher and degree apprenticeships in a range of public and private sector roles.

Among disciplines with which MDX work-based learning academics are engaged is dance

Professor Costley chairs the International Association of Practice Doctorates (IAPD) which developed in 2009 after the first international Conference on Professional and Practice-based Doctorates was launched between Middlesex University and the UK Council for Graduate Education.

It addresses issues surrounding the innovative ways that higher education, professional associations, businesses and other stakeholders are creating new opportunities in doctorate level learning. The next conference will be in York, March 30-31, 2023.

Other prominent figures in the research centre include Professor David Boud, who is in the top 1% of researchers in the world.

Professor Brian Sutton is affiliated to the Learning Performance Institute and is a veteran of the corporate training world. His research led to a Middlesex MSc for professional people.

Prof Bravenboer represents MDX in a 2025 government initiative for a Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE), contributing to its development.

The DfE plan to introduce an LLE ‘account’ from which learners will be able to draw on funding for 480 credits of learning enabling them to use their LLE account throughout their lives and are effective in meeting the needs of employers.

The move away from funding higher education on a yearly or programme basis is intended to significantly increase accessibility for a wider range of learners who may be seeking new skills, upskilling or re-skilling. Current research in the W&LRC is looking at innovative responses to the LLE initiative.

Undergraduate, postgraduate CPD, short courses and the highly successful Doctor of Professional Studies are available in faculties across the university and with Middlesex partners. Find out more here.

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