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University retains Fairtrade Status

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Delighted: Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice Chancellor UWTSD

Delighted: Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice Chancellor UWTSD

THE UNIVERSITY OF WALES TRINITY SAINT DAVID (UWTSD) has retained its status as a Fairtrade University by making a strong commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade produce across its campuses.

This commitment is part of the university’s overall dedication to sustainability, including its pledge to supporting local producers.

In order to achieve this important title, universities have to ensure that as many Fairtrade products as possible, including food, drink and clothing, are available in as many places as possible in and around their campuses.

Increasing the use and sales of Fairtrade products among students, staff and visitors can have a huge impact for producers and their communities.

Increased usage also raises the awareness of Fairtrade and the benefits that it brings to workers and farmers in developing countries.

To achieve Fairtrade status, UWTSD has demonstrated that it has achieved five key goals, including instating a formal Fairtrade policy; ensuring that Fairtrade products including food and cotton are made available for sale in all campus shops; ensuring Fairtrade products are served at all meetings and events hosted by the university and the Student Union; arranging campaigns on campus to increase the understanding of Fairtrade and the establishment of a Fairtrade Steering Group.

UWTSD has surpassed these five goals and has clearly demonstrated its dedication to making its Carmarthen, Swansea and Lampeter campuses Fairtrade as part of its overall commitment to sustainable development.

“We’re delighted that UWTSD has retained its status as a Fairtrade University and that the feedback we received from the assessors was so positive,” said Dr Jane Davidson, Pro Vice Chancellor for External Engagement and Director of INSPIRE (Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness).

“Sustainable development is about making better decisions using long term values; it’s about thinking about the impacts of today’s actions on future generations and learning to live within our environmental limits. It’s also about balancing social, environmental, economic and cultural needs in a way that does not compromise future generations. Fairtrade is a great example of this and we, as a university, are pleased that we can help promote and encourage the use of Fairtrade produce.

“This is something UWTSD takes very seriously and through work carried out via our Institute of Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE), we aim to place sustainability at the centre of its delivery for its curriculum, campuses, communities and culture,” added Dr Davidson.

The success of promoting Fairtrade is a partnership between the Student Union and the university. In terms of the catering offer, the university’s catering staff work with the student body to ensure a good provision of Fairtrade products.

Fairtrade tea, coffee, and sugar are available at all meetings at UWTSD and the university also sell juices and snacks in its catering outlets, with Fairtrade wine being available at all university events. Catering staff use Fairtrade ingredients in some of their home-made cakes, too.

UWTSD also arranges a range of events and initiatives for students and staff to further promote its commitment to Fairtrade. These have included Fairtrade Fortnight events; a Big Breakfast ‘Sit Down for Breakfast, Stand up for Farmers’ event, where the university worked with local producers; free bananas given away in the gym; hamper draws; Valentine biscuits; Mothering Sunday cakes and Shrove Tuesday celebrations.

As part of the INSPIRE Directorate, UWTSD also has three Fairtrade Student interns – one for each main university campus – with part of their role being to help promote the use of Fairtrade products and to engage with students to raise awareness of the reasons why staff and students should support the use of Fairtrade products.

The feedback UWTSD received from Fairtrade on each of the five goals was incredibly positive.

“Congratulations! We are delighted to renew your Fairtrade Status and thank you for your continuing hard work and support,” said Chrysi Dimaki, Campaigns Coordinator at Fairtrade.

“The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is clearly committed to Fairtrade, and this shows in your success in upholding and surpassing the five goals. Well done – we look forward to seeing how your campaign develops and what activities you have planned in the coming year,” she added.

Tom Defis, Chair of the Carmarthenshire Fairtrade Group, is also delighted that UWTSD has retained and reinforced its status as a Fairtrade University: “The Carmarthenshire Fairtrade Group is delighted to note the successful outcome of University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s recent application for renewed Fairtrade status,” he said.

“As one of the region’s leading providers of Higher Education, UWTSD plays a key role in shaping the leaders of the future and we believe that promoting Fairtrade is an important aspect of that wide-ranging transformative provision.”

Over the last few years, UWTSD has been awarded a number of accolades linked to sustainability, including winning a First Class Award and being ranked 8th out of 151 universities across the UK and first in Wales in the People and Planet University League 2015; being the first university in the UK to achieve a Food for Life Gold Catering Mark from the Soil Association for its banqueting and events services across all campuses and winning three awards in the 2015 Green Gown Awards.”

UWTSD has also been nominated in two categories in this year’s ceremony.

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Education

821% increase in homeschooling for Ceredigion area

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OVER the last decade homeschooling has risen by 821% in the Ceredigion area, according to figures supplied through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by homeschooling provider Wolsey Hall Oxford.

In 2013, figures revealed that 28 children were homeschooled in the Ceredigion area but by 2022 this had increased to 258.

In the last four years alone, the Ceredigion area has seen an overall rise in homeschooling of 52%. The number of Primary-aged children being taught at home rose from 65 to 109 (67%) and the number of Secondary-aged children has risen from 104 to 149 (43%).

These figures show that despite Covid-19 restrictions easing up, and schools re-opening, many parents have opted to continue homeschooling their children. They reflect a similar picture seen across the UK, as statistics show that there are now more than 71,515 homeschoolers – up from 59,559 in 2018 and 22,408 in 2013. Wolsey Hall Oxford has been collating this information from over 100 UK Councils through FOIs.

Wolsey Hall Oxford Principal, Lee Wilcock, comments: “What seems very apparent is that those parents who chose to try homeschooling for the first time during Covid-19 have realised how beneficial online learning can be. Homeschooling allows children to learn at their own pace and at a time which suits them. It is a much more child-centred approach to education than is available in a traditional classroom.”

Of course, the pandemic is not the only reason parents opt to homeschool their children. At Wolsey Hall we’ve found that some of the most common reasons for parents to choose homeschooling include:

Lack of progress or underachievement at mainstream schools
Frustration with teaching standards in mainstream schools
Concerns for their child’s safety/bullying
Behavioural issues that are not suitably dealt with in mainstream schooling
Medical reasons or learning difficulties that inhibit a child’s ability to learn in a conventional environment
Travelling and expat families
Gifted/higher learning potential students or those who are elite athletes/in the performing arts industry

It is also interesting to note that a well-being survey conducted by Wolsey Hall Oxford in September 2022 – and completed by 343 parents – concluded that 91.5% of parents believe that their child’s well-being has improved since they opted to homeschool.

One parent noted, “My son has thrived. He is a true (gregarious) introvert… He loves being around people socially, but it tires him out, so school left him feeling drained, with no energy for true social interactions. Being able to learn alone and quietly has left him with plenty of energy for social and extra-curricular activities – scouts/young leaders, tennis, drama club, youth group etc. He has become confident in his own abilities and also learnt when and how he can take the initiative to get help when needed.”

To find out more about these statistics or to interview any of our team members, please contact Danielle Hilton: danielle.hilton@wolseyhalloxford.org.uk

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Education

Aberystwyth academic helping to improve British wrestling

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A LECTURER in Film Theory and Practice from Aberystwyth University is contributing towards a ‘code of better practice’ for British wrestling.

Dr Thomas Alcott from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies has been invited by the All-Party Group on Wrestling at the UK Parliament to participate in a conference on the topic later this month.

The group – which includes MPs from across the political spectrum – recently led an inquiry and published the findings in April last year.

The cross party group reviewed regulation, funding, safeguarding and wellbeing in wrestling, and sought to find ways to better support and regulate the industry.

Dr Alcott’s doctoral research, which explored the relationship between audiences, stars and industry within the world of Professional Wrestling, was one of the resources used and quoted in the report.

Organised by the groups of MPs, Loughborough University and wrestling training school Playfight, the conference will be attended by academics, wrestlers, promoters and coaches.

It is intended to provide an opportunity for training and discussion, and lead to a safer and more inclusive environment.

Dr Alcott told The Ceredigion Herald: “For over a century, wrestling has been a popular form of culture and entertainment. However, a lack of clarity on whether it sits within the sector of sport or theatre has led to complexities about how the industry is governed and regulated.

“The inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wrestling is the first official analysis and intervention in the wrestling industry for many decades. The conference that follows the publication of the group’s report will provide an opportunity to discuss a guide of better practice to improve the industry for the future, for the benefit of both performers and fans.”

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Education

New Japanese partnership to boost climate change research at Aberystwyth University

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ABERYSTWYTH University has signed up to a new partnership with a Japanese university in a boost to its climate change research.

The new memorandum of understanding with Ritsumeikan University includes exchanging research and joint investment in cutting-edge technology.

As part of the partnership, the two universities are collaborating on major projects studying climate change in Mexico and Japan.

In southern Mexico, a joint team will investigate records of past climate change in the region and its role in the collapse of the Classic Mayan civilisation.

Professor Sarah Davies, Head of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University said:

“It’s a pleasure to confirm our commitments with this new memorandum which builds on a long-standing research relationship between our two institutions. These projects will make an important contribution to our understanding of climate change, and its role in the development of human civilisation.

“Together with our Japanese partners and the support of Aberystwyth University and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, we have made a significant investment in our X-ray Fluorescence core scanner. This is a resource of both UK and international importance, enabling very high-resolution geochemical analysis of sediment cores to reconstruct climate variability. These joint investments in instrumentation are an important boost to our future research work.”

Professor Takeshi Nakagawa from Ritsumeikan University commented:

“We are delighted to forge even closer ties with our partners at Aberystwyth University as we conduct ground-breaking research together. The joint research on climate change is a very exciting opportunity to unlock some of humanity’s secrets and better understand our world.”

As part of the partnership, Professor Takeshi Nakagawa and Dr Ikuko Kitaba from Ritsumeikan University are visiting Aberystwyth until 14th November.

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