The Reporter
Issue no 487, 27 January 2003
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Letters

Send your letters to editor of the Reporter, Vanessa Bridge. Email the.reporter@leeds.ac.uk or send by internal post to press office, 12.67 E C Stoner building

 

Engineering inequality (Rik Brydon & Chris Hammond, SPEME) – In presenting the University’s annual report for 2001-02, the Vice-Chancellor stated that the University would work to attract more students to unpopular areas of study – such as mathematics-related subjects and interdisciplinary programmes (Yorkshire Post, 27 November 2002). For staff in such mathematics-related areas, such as the school of process, environmental and materials engineering, this statement was particularly welcome. There is, however, no evidence that it has, or is being, put into practice. On the contrary, the University’s financial model is clearly weighted against those departments which (a) have difficulty in attracting undergraduates, and (b) require extensive laboratory and workshop accommodation.

In attempts to reduce the burden of space charges (and to reduce the notional financial deficit), research laboratory and office accommodation has been reduced to such an extent that we would be unable to accept the numbers of research students that we had only 10-15 years ago – indeed in materials, we can hardly accommodate those we presently have. The capacity for expansion has been taken away. There is also a corresponding pressure to reduce the numbers of academic staff. The model takes a wholly inadequate account of the fact that (a) academic staff in SPEME achieved a grade 5 in the recent RAE exercise (only three out of a total of 52 submissions achieved grade 5*), (b) brought in £5m in research contracts in 2002 (perhaps the highest per capita in the whole University) and (c) have recently initiated a substantial number of new undergraduate programmes to combat declining numbers. It will be impossible to deliver these achievements in the future if further staff and space reductions are forced upon us.

To retain its status as a University of international standing (and its membership of the Russell group), it is essential that the University maintains a strong and expanding science and engineering base. Unless the financial model is radically changed to address these medium- and long-term objectives, it appears to us that, despite its great size, the University may well lose such status.

Complex numbers (Dr Syd Donald, German) – Am I alone in thinking that there must be a simpler way of quoting our new telephone numbers, such as in the format 0113 34 33511 – rather than using the prefix 343 and constantly having to attach and detach the initial 3 from the internal number?


It’s a dog’s life (Dr Bridget Matthews, Microbiology) – Many people around the University will know the little black and tan collie, often seen rolling happily on the grass, by the orange zone car park on a sunny summer’s day. He’s known as ‘Civic’, and has been stray in Leeds, living on his wits, for nearly 7 years.

For many years an elderly lady in Clarendon Place fed him, and more recently, Brian Wheelhouse of Whitehall Dog Rescue has kept an eye on him. Civic also has a number of friends around campus (including Janet Hindle, Maureen Clapham, Barbara Bennett and Linda Shepherd), from LMU and from the hospital and city, who have fed him daily for many years, even during holidays. However, we were each ‘working’ in isolation and couldn’t get him off the streets.

Civic was recently hit by a car, and this prompted his various ‘friends’ to get together and try to catch him before something more serious happened. He is now safe and receiving care and attention at Whitehall Dog Rescue Centre in Wortley. He will be found a suitable loving home, once he is ready.

The Whitehall Centre is a voluntary operation run and funded by Brian. At the moment he is overwhelmed with abandoned, neglected and ill-treated dogs and cats from the Leeds area. If anyone can offer a loving home to one of his charges or would like to help out, Brian can be contacted on 0113 279 8889.

 

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