Princess Royal visits Coventry University

DSC_0400The Princess Royal commissioned the multi-million Engineering and Computing building at Coventry University on the 8th of February. Princess Anne, who arrived at around 10.40am with her accompanying entourage was received by the vice-chancellor of Coventry University, Professor Madeleine Atkins, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the High Sheriff of West Midlands; Mr Stewart Towe and the clerk of West Midlands Lieutenancy; Mr martin Tunstall.

It is just over ten years ago when her Royal Highness opened the library building which sits just next door to the new engineering building. After a tour in parts of the building, she was taken to the flight simulator centre which is name after Dr Majid AlSadi; one of Coventry University’s highest achieving alumni. She was welcome by Professor Mike Blundell, other members of staff and two aviation students Joshua Holmes and Ana-Maria Cotofan.

Joshua Holmes caught wind of the visit weeks ago when he was invited to one of the lecturer’s office for top secret chat. When asked about his conversation with the Princess Royal Joshua said: “My heart was pounding at first, however she was very friendly to talk to and that put me at ease.”

Ana-Maria Cotofan described her conversation with Princess Anne as a very quick one but she was happy. Adding: “She asked about what I was doing at the control desk and I explained how important it is for aviation students to understand air traffic control.”

The Princess Royal was then accompanied to EC1-29 where a crowd of about 150 including invited guests, staff and students were waiting for the unveiling of the plaque. In her address to the audience, Professor Madeline Atkins expressed her thanks to the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation for their generous grants towards the cost of the building. She added: “I’m delighted that we have been able to name the two lecture theatres downstairs to recognise their contribution.

Professor Atkins also thanked the Sir William Lyons Trust and the 29th of May 1961 charitable trust who have been generous in the way they have given money and support to students in the faculty.

Officially opening the building, the Princess Royal said: “Thank you for showing me some of the work you do here. I know it’s just a little of it but its all exciting stuff. All that technology progresses at such speed and this building will need to maintain that level of speed.”

Princess Royal in Coventry University

National Libraries Day

The Lanchester Library of Coventry University celebrated National Libraries Day today with a series of events which run simultaneously from 11am to 5pm. Activities included Sound and Vision Installation, interactive arts, a question and answer session, synchronised ironing and more so, an amnesty on all library fines below 10 pounds.

The Interactive Arts session was run by Lynne Langton; MA Contemporary Art Practice student, who had a large sheet of white paper spread out on the floor with books scattered around. I love drawing and that’s what brought me to Coventry to study she said.

Adding: “I have been holding conversations with people who walked by and invite them to draw on the white sheet or throw a book on the floor in whichever direction they wanted.”

Jenny Parkin, study support lecturer for Lynne said: “What she is doing is incorporating the text and thought of a book. A library can seem sterile sometimes but Lynne is opening drawing and text for all ages in a relaxed and informal way which is good.”

Amy Weir and Emma Smith, second year music performance students, dressed as house wives demonstrated synchronised ironing; which is meant to be a random form of visual art for people to look at as they walked past.

Access Development Manager for Coventry City, Sorrelle Clements’ session reminisced on the libraries of ‘the good old days’ and the libraries today. She commented: “People have different expectations of what a library should be like. Some like a library where children can come and have a story telling time with noise while others prefer a quiet library. We to try to cater for all individuals.”

Poetry writer, Deborah Alma, dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope ran the emergency poet work shop. Emergency Poet ran like a clinic where people go in, lie down on the couch and after a ten minute consultation, she prescribed them an appropriate poem. Her patients were people at the library who were feeling tired, stressed, anxious or even lovesick.

She said: “What I do seems like a silly idea but it’s underpinned with something serious.”

As keen readers and book lovers were milling about on all floors of the library, students flocked to the reception desk in their numbers to have their library fines waved off.

2nd Year

If you think second year is hard, wait till you get to third year said the third year students. There is just too much work in second year, gosh we wish we were in first year said the second year students.

This term has been an eventful one. With loads of assignment deadlines, filming to do and carrying heavy camera equipment around.

Nonetheless it’s all been fun and the hard work has paid off. When I look back I feel I deep sense of achievement and proud for the good work I contributed to.

‘Bullies Stop Now’

Coventry University student union launched its new ‘Dignity and Respect’ policy yesterday in the Hub.  The policy is designed to support individuals who feel they are being bullied, harassed or humiliated. It also marks the start of National Ban Bullying week.

‘Dignity and Respect’ is about helping people to take control of the situation. The policy is supported by volunteers who are also University staffs who offer a “listening ear”.

Coventry University is committed to providing a study and work environment that is free from any form of discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment.

Some signs of bullying include: teasing, intimidation, physical threats, unwanted physical contact, inappropriate jokes and so on.

Whilst at the university every student as well as staff has the right to be treated and also an obligation to treat others fairly with dignity and respect. To achieve this, the university has a formal ‘Dignity and Respect’ policy and will not tolerate behaviours that breach this policy.

The ‘Dignity and Respect’ advisers provide a service which is informal and totally confidential and thus serves as an opportunity to discuss concerns and identify options or possible next steps to take.

The details of the advisers can be found on the University’s Equality and Diversity Staff and Student Portal. You can also contact the Equality and Diversity Office on Ext 7148 or alternatively email:equality.per@coventry.ac.uk.

Ghanaian students studying in the UK Conference 2011

 His Excellency the Ghana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Dr David Pilsbury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Development, Coventry University, Honourable Mike Hammah, Gordon Headly, Chief HR, Tullow oil, Professor Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw and many more were the renowned speakers at the conference of Ghanaian Graduates and Students of Higher Education in the UK held at Technology park Coventry University West Midland.

The conference which was running behind schedule started with an opening prayer, a zealous singing of the national anthem, welcome address from the president of the Ghana Union Coventry University, Evans Gyasi and a few inspiring words from Emmanuel Lekunze the VP representation of CUSU.

His Excellency the High Commissioner, Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo began his presentation sighting the successes of Ghana thus far, adding how Ghanaian graduates feature prominently in national roles across most sectors in the country.

He also stated how foreign trained graduates are instrumental in the facilitating of research in sciences and education. He quoted an enormous sum of £22,000 was spent by the government on a student per year to sponsor students abroad.

This has made it crucial that students take it upon themselves to acquire knowledge and skill during their study period abroad. He reiterated that not just any form of knowledge but relevant knowledge and skills.

His Excellency also encouraged students to partake in various students associations and also take the various roles they play in them seriously.

More so, He didn’t fail to mention to the attentive students and audiences gathered that the opportunities offered to students and especially those that study abroad provided them with an enabling environment for them to realise their full potential.

As a further highlight to Ghana’s successes, he mentioned that Ghana has joined the top rank oil producers in the Sub-Sahara Africa.

He stressed the need for real change in our attitude citing a quotation from Winston Churchill: “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Try as much as possible to make a difference he added.

He also added that our aims are not too high that we cannot reach them but rather they are sometime too low that we attain them.

He concluded with the de facto national anthem of Ghana

“Yεn ara asase ni,
Ɛyε aboɔden de ma yεn”  

Which subsequently earned him loud applauds and a standing ovation.

The presentation from Honourable Mike Hammah started with a very popular Ghanaian chant which was indeed well received by the audience.

“Ghana, Ghana, O Se Yeh!

Following a very loud “Yeh, Yeh” from the energetic standing audience. The chants somewhat got them really excited it took a few seconds for them to quieten down and listen to the minister.

His presentation was centred on the need to acquire skills in all areas. He described Ghana’s economy as a knowledge based economy, highlighting the significant contribution the oil has made.

Similarly he described Ghana’s economy as the fastest growing economy in Sub-Sahara Africa and His core points were tailored to encouraging professional in the Diaspora to return home to contribute their quota.

Hon. Mike praised the present government as working hard to accelerate the reduction of poverty in Ghana and also maximising the benefits of the oil. Despite all the named successes, he expressed that the present economy’s benefit to the mining industry is zero.

As Ghana is new to running a big oil industry, the government is also investing in sending people abroad to acquire the maximum training. The need to train Ghanaians in specialised areas is to enable them occupy high level job and also to achieve a 90 percent local participation he added.

Building on from this, he announced that 10 million dollars was spent by the government to train 200 Ghanaians at the Masters and PHD level. Ghana he stated has gained deeper international recognition following on from President Obama’s visit.

In conclusion, he harped on the need to return home to join build mother Ghana.

Gordon Headly the Chief HR for Tullow oil also expressed the benefits as well as challenges Ghana’s oil industry is facing. He announced that there are 86 percent Ghanaians working in the sector and they are looking to expand that number.

Adding on from the all that was said Professor Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw reiterated the immerse opportunities available for graduates coming from abroad seeking to work in Ghana.  Come and support to build the manpower of our great nation he concluded.

The conference which was well attended by students from all parts of the country as well as professionals served as an excellent platform to network.

“ILLITERACY SWEEPS OUR CITIES”

Education is said to be the well spring of wealth and happiness. However the shocking statistics assembled by the Evening Standard present a challenge not only to schools but for society as a whole.

Recent report shows that our nation especially London is in a literacy crisis as one million people in London cannot read. Statistics provided by the London Evening Standard shows that 1 in 4 children in London leaves primary school at age 11 unable to read or write properly. 1 in 5 leaves secondary school without being able to read with confidence whilst 16 percent of 16 to 65 years old have the reading ability of an 11 year old.

David Cohen from the Evening Standard said:  “Children are most often glued to the television, houses are full of the latest game consoles but there are no books. More so, statistics also show that 1 in 3 children say he or she does not own a book however 85 percent of children ages 8 to 15 own a game console. Homes without any books; not even a magazine is described as scandalous. Without books, children have a much greater chance of spending a life time being unable to read. When a teacher asked his pupils to bring a book from home, one nine year old brought an Argos catalogue saying “It’s the only one we’ve got.”

Children whose first language are not English and also have parents who cannot speak English are seen as being at a disadvantage. The reason being, parents struggle to find the opportunity to read with the children. Nonetheless, Sir Michael Wilshaw of Mossbourne community Academy in Hackney States: “That immigration is often used as an excuse for low literacy. There is work to be done as there is a rise in the Argos catalogue family. 72,000 British children arriving in high school every year are unable to read to the expected level. However, schools that strive to go beyond the national curriculum are said to have a better achievement.”