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University wins at UK Sustainability Awards

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At the awards ceremony: UWTSD Vice Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Jane Davidson

At the awards ceremony: UWTSD Vice Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes and Jane Davidson

THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is celebrating its success following the prestigious Green Gown Awards in Bristol.
BEST NEWCOMER
Awarded to UWTSD for its Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resources Effectiveness (INSPIRE). INSIPRE is the University’s institutional approach to delivering sustainability through its culture, curriculum campuses and community.
The judges’ described INSPIRE as delivering ‘strong institution-wide strands for sustainability, embedded at all levels of the University. It demonstrates a top-down structured approach with clear goals and good results’.
LEADERSHIP AWARD
This award was presented to Dr Jane Davidson, Director of INSPIRE at UWTSD. Dr Davidson established INSPIRE in 2012 before which UWTSD had no history of involvement in sustainability. Three years on, INSPIRE has won the Guardian Award for Sustainability in HE in 2013 and the Soil Association Gold Catering Mark for its support of local producers in 2014. In 2015, UWTSD rose from 113th in the UK and a 3rd class degree to a 1st class degree and 8th in the UK (1st in Wales) in the People and Planet University League.
The judges’ said ‘Jane’s exemplary leadership demonstrates powerfully the role of a university as a catalyst for change and an ‘anchor’ institution impacting city/region and beyond. Jane has championed the embedding of sustainability throughout the university strategy. This is particularly powerful as the university is a dual sector institution, and this agenda connected the community during a time of change. Jane is an inspirational leader, charismatic and enabling of others – she is authentic and her passion has created a unique space for creativity and change led by others’.
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION – STAFF
This award was presented to Luci Attala, Anthropology Programme Director at UWTSD. Luci believes that to stimulate genuine and lasting change people need to experience how their actions make a difference. Recognising that future leadership demands confident individuals who make clear, bold decisions, Luci works stridently to empower undergraduates in diverse ways.
Her community work with students in Kenya was recognised with a UN Gold Star Award in 2014.
The judges were impressed with the breadth, quality and scale of the work undertaken by Luci. She has embedded sustainability into the anthropology curriculum, influenced other academics to adapt their teaching and learning techniques and provided a significant amount of support to students to help them raise money for developing countries. Her passion for sustainability was described by the judges as ‘truly inspirational’.
SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION AWARD – STAFF
Highly commended in this category was Gwenllian Beynon, Art and Design Senior Lecturer and Programme Director at UWTSD. Sustainable Pedagogy incorporating ‘social, economic, environmental and cultural’ values, is central to Gwenllian’s role in Higher Education. She has enabled students to study in their own language, to look at their own and global cultures, and to embrace sustainability in creative practice.
The judges were ‘impressed by the way in which she had embedded sustainability into her art and design course, developed the new Welsh language degrees and the international project with St Michael’s School to share sustainability expertise and learning across borders. The judges were also delighted to see the way that Gwenllion had involved the local community in her work – providing practical, sustainability experience for a student from the local school’.
SUSTAINABILITY IS KEY FOR UNIVERSITY
Now in its eleventh year, the Green Gown Awards provide universities and colleges with benchmarks for excellence and are well respected by governments, funding councils, senior managers, academics and students alike. The Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK. With sustainable development moving up the global agenda, the Awards are now established as the most prestigious recognition of sustainability excellence within the tertiary education sector, as well as the environmental sector.
The UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion, was shortlisted in six categories representing cross-campus initiatives as well as individual staff contributions to the sustainability agenda.
Dr Jane Davidson said “This is excellent news that demonstrates clearly the University’s commitment to sustainability. Colleagues and students across the UWTSD Group have worked diligently to ensure that this important agenda is embedded throughout our core operations and culture.
“UWTSD has placed sustainable development as a core value and aims to ensure that our students and graduates develop the skills and attributes that are required by employers and society across the world.”
Professor Medwin Hughes, UWTSD Vice-Chancellor, said: “These are prestigious accolades and they acknowledge our commitment to sustainability as one of our core values. Most importantly it celebrates the excellent and inspiring work of colleagues and students across the University’s campuses.”
Iain Patton, Chief Executive of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), said: “Every year the Green Gown Awards rewrite what business-as-usual looks like for UK universities and colleges. Sustainability makes business sense and this year’s inspiring initiatives prove that sustainability benefits staff, students, the wider community and of course the bottom line. Congratulations to all the finalists for their hard work.”

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Education

Poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live

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Dr Siu-Ting: Specialises in amphibians

​ABERYSTYWTH UNIVERISTY​ scientist Dr Karen Siu-Ting discuss​ed poison arrow frogs at New Scientist Live ​last Thursday ​(Sept ​28​).

Dr Siu-Ting is an IRC ELEVATE-MSCA Co-fund Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University.

Her research into poison arrow frogs feature​d​ as part of ‘Ask a Biologist’​,​ hosted by The Royal Society of Biology.

An evolutionary biologist from Peru,​​ Dr Siu-Ting specialises in amphibians and combines field work in the Amazon rainforest with laboratory and computational analyses to address biological questions.

She is currently working on a project on poison arrow frogs between Aberystwyth University and Dublin City University.

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Education

Apply for six-month traineeship scheme

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Applications open: Join the National Park Authority’s Skills in Action traineeship scheme

​IF YOU’D like to earn as you learn hands-on skills to prepare you for a career in practical conservation or estate management, apply now for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Skills in Action traineeship scheme.

The project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future scheme, will provide two six-month salaried apprenticeships with the National Park Authority’s Ranger and Warden Teams.

Skills in Action Project Coordinator for Pembrokeshire Coast Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Tom Iggleden said: “The successful candidates will be learning the skills and experience that are essential to be successful in obtaining employment within a highly competitive sector.

“The main duties of the placement will include practical hands-on work-based experience in conservation and estate management.”

The six month traineeship will see the successful applicants learn a wide variety of skills including traditional hedgelaying and modern conservation methods that are essential to the work of the National Park Authority.

This is an extension to the original three-year project which has helped many of the 15 previous trainees gain employment​.​

The closing date for applications is October 2​4 with interviews to be held on November​ 6​.

Application packs are available from the National Park Authority’s website ​at​www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/jobs or by contacting contact Joanne Morgan by calling 01646 624856 or by emailing joannem@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

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Education

Committee concerned at £12.7m error

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ALN Bill: Savings turn into costs

​A £12.7M alteration to the cost of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill has been described as concerning by a National Assembly for Wales committee.

In the original figures submitted alongside the Bill the Welsh Government identified savings of £4.8m over a period of four years if the Bill was passed.

But the estimates were challenged by children’s charity SNAP Cymru which claimed the Welsh Government had misinterpreted figures it had provided concerning disputes and resolution services. The Welsh Government admitted the error and revised the figures from the original saving to a cost of £7.9m – a difference of £12.7m.

The Finance Committee asked the Welsh Government to delay the financial resolution on the Bill, the mechanism by which government gains support to spend the money enacting the law and the government agreed.

“A £12.7m swing from a saving to a cost is very concerning, as it shows a government which doesn’t fully understand the figures it quotes,” said Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee.

“It also throws into doubt any future costs connected to Bills which come before this committee as we are left wondering whether the government has done its sums right.

“We are grateful to SNAP Cymru for highlighting the inaccuracies and acknowledge the steps taken by the Minister subsequently, but we will need further reassurance that such errors will not happen again.”

The Bill’s aim is to improve the quality of support available to children with additional learning needs through a person-centred approach which would identify needs early on and make sure the right support, monitoring and evaluation was put in place to help them.

The Finance Committee welcomed the actions taken by the Welsh Government to address the situation. But Members were concerned and surprised that inaccuracies as significant as this were raised and that SNAP Cymru was not consulted on the final figures before they were published.

The Committee acknowledges that revisions have since been made and the Minister’s assurances that the revised figures are robust, however, it is concerned at the need to have made this level of changes to the original costings.

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