Project Testimonials 2010

The Annual Giving distribution 2010 was a great success, with more projects than ever before receiving more than £170,000 worth of funding. The successful projects were innovative and will have an immediate impact on the student and staff experience at the University of Birmingham. Thank you to everyone who submitted a bid for the money generously donated by our alumni. Please click on each project title to read updates on some of the successful projects from 2010.

Enterprising Birmingham - a Business Plan Competition

Catherine Mansell, Knowledge Transfer Development at the University of Birmingham 

"The Enterprising Birmingham - a Business Plan Competition is already showing itself to be a great asset to the University of Birmingham, as more people get to hear about this new initiative they cannot help but be impressed by the innovative thinking going on here. The fact that we now have Dominic Cadbury making an opening address at the final Showcase is just the icing on the cake and without the help of the Circles of Influence campaign and our other sponsors, this would not have been possible"

Ian Birch from PwC following the PwC run training session on writing a business plan

"It's great to be a part of such a worthwhile programme. We were genuinely impressed by the quality and breadth of ideas and jumped at the chance to help this talented group of budding entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into commercial enterprises."

See a video of the launch event.

ICT Accessibility Development in the Guild of Students

Dora Meredith, Guild President 2010/11

"Students told us in our market research that they wanted to be able to sit and relax with friends, and check their emails in the Guild without having to leave. Now that the Guild has wireless access, students are able to access services they can elsewhere on campus here – so they can now use our social spaces to both work and relax in thanks to the investment we have received to support this development"

Sarah Brier, 3rd year student

"The new membership area is a vast improvement on the old Guild. Easy access to Wi-Fi makes it a good environment to work in, and the new screens mean I can find out up-to-date information quickly"

Developing Science communication skills for Biologists

Money from the Alumni find was used to buy filming equipment for a new skills module in Biosciences called Biology, Communication and the Media.

The course has two objectives, firstly to give students training in communicating their science in the wider context and secondly direct experience of group work and self reflection. The experiences students are getting on this course are expanding their career opportunities, perhaps making them consider jobs in science communication such as journalism, television, radio and publishing. In addition, the generic group skills they are getting will help them whatever job they go into by giving them the confidence to solve problems in unfamiliar situations helping them in the interview process and beyond.

Emma Johnson, Biology student

"I have really enjoyed getting to grips with the camera and editing software and using what we have learnt to make science more accessible to everyone."

Joe Segal, Biology student

"One of the main positives from this course is that it engages students to think about how scientific research is perceived by the public and the media. I think as scientists it is easy to overlook the fact that the only way most people are informed of new research is through the media. The various aspects of this course have given me a good understanding of how this is achieved, particularly the Vidcast project where we can use the knowledge we gained creatively to express our understanding of how science should be presented to the public"

Shivum Kakkad, 3rd year Biotechnolgy

"Fantastic that due to the Alumni fund that we have been given the opportunity to learn and develop the vital skills needed as young scientists to interact with the media world. With the help of the equipment provided we will be in a better position to tackle the world of science and be able to convey the messages we want in a format the world would understand."

Upgrading Frankland building student resources room

The Cyber Cafe was opened at the start of this term. Funds provided a contribution towards furniture and refurbishment and 5 computers and a printer. This facility, within the undergraduate student room in Frankland, has been in constant use ever since.

Imogen Dalziel, 1st year Psychology student

"I think it is fair to say that the Cyber Cafe area is very much appreciated by Psychology students. It gives us easier access to computers if we do not want/need to go somewhere like the library, and means that we can be somewhat more social (i.e. do not always have to work in silence as is the case in some computer clusters). The computers can also be used to check emails or WebCT, particularly when waiting for the beginning of a study or a lecture"

Enhancing Disabilities Teaching in the School of Dentistry

Professor Deborah White

"Receiving this funding will ensure that our exciting student partnership with Lufron and Hereward Colleges can develop in the new academic year. This work will support student learning about disabilities and widen experiences for all of the students involved in the project"

Undergraduate Summer vacation studentships in Medical Research

Dr John Shuttleworth

"Circles of Influence funding has allowed our undergraduate students to gain valuable work experience. By undertaking laboratory projects with one of the research groups based here in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, students gain a real insight into the nature of medical research. This provides the stimulus for many to commit to postgraduate training and a career in medical research"

Capturing Problem Based Learning discussions using portable interactive whiteboards

Dr John Couperthwaite

"We are strongly committed to ensuring that the student learning experience is as rich and rewarding as we can achieve. With the funding, we are able to equip eight training rooms used by two PBL-focused programmes with portable interactive whiteboard units (Mimio). These units will greatly benefit the small, group-based sessions by allowing for more dynamic teaching methods, and for the capture and retrieval of ideas, plans and designs"

Invited external speakers on intercalated B.Med.Sci course

Professor Paul Moss 

"The alumni funding has been a tremendous boost for our intercalated B.Med.Sci (Clinical Sciences) degree. The course takes Medical Students who join us for one year to experience research 'first hand'. This support allows us to invite three of the strongest research leaders from across Europe to visit in order to give a lecture, meet the students and inspire a future generation. The effects will be seen for years to come"

Support for the acquisition of the files of the American Military Government in Germany (OMGUS files) 1945-4

Dr Armin Grünbacher

"The funding awarded from the Alumni funds for this project allowed us to extend the purchase to about 20% of the total of the files in this calendar year. This means that, with further acquisitions during the next academic year, (and even though not the full set of files will be available) the first dissertation students will be able to use the files for possible dissertation projects from summer 2011 onward,.

We have been in early talks with a publisher about the digitalisation of the files. These talks seemed to be very promising, since, thanks to the Circles of Influence funding, we were able to provide them with a clear timeline for the project"

Birmingham Law School Pro Bono Group

Bharat Malkani

"The funding from the Circles of Influence campaign has been of tremendous help to the Pro Bono Group. The funding has helped pay for speakers for our lecture series, and has been instrumental in getting the Free Legal Advice Group up and running. This has not only helped law students gain practical experience – it has also been of help to people from the local community. Without the alumni’s generosity, none of the pro bono group’s work would be possible"

Karamdeep Sandhar, Student Pro Bono Coordinator

“On behalf of the Pro Bono Group, I’d like to thank the alumni of the University for their support and generosity – by funding the Pro Bono Group, they’ve made a huge difference to our experience at University”

Students on Stage - Students from the Italian department performed a play in Italian – an adaptation of "Sabato, domenica e lunedi"

Anna Bucci

"[The play] was a great experience for several reasons but above all because students and staff used the Italian language and because the setting and the costumes made us live the atmosphere of Eduardo’s comedies. The day of the performance (16 March 2010) was a real success with students from different departments and the moments we all lived were unforgettable.

All this was possible also thanks to the contribution and generosity of the Alumni who gave us the opportunity to recreate a lively social context and the typical family setting of the time"

Modernisation of Audio-Visual facilities in the Danford Room

Reginald Cline-Cole

"When completed, the upgrade will give the Danford Room a new lease of life, significantly enhancing its value as a multi-use facility through providing up-to-date Audio-Visual equipment for a range of tasks and facilitating a variety of room dispositions including, significantly for Centre of West African Studies staff and students, for effective group and other kinds of interactive learning, as well as live performances and virtual exhibitions"

Refurbishment of 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor landings within the Arts Building

Georgina Fletcher

"The College of Arts and Law is part way through the refurbishment of the landing areas in the Arts building. New furniture has been purchased and installed. The furniture has inbuilt points for laptops. The areas have been used very well since the start of term. We have procured some new display cases to further improve the areas but there has been a problem with delivery. The cases will allow research and teaching materials to be displayed and will further improve the look and feel of the landings"

Extending service user involvement in the assessment of social work students' 'readiness for practice'

Denise Tanner

"We had exciting ideas about how to improve the way we assess whether our social work students have the necessary skills and qualities to begin their practice placements.  Without the funding, this creative and innovative project that will benefit students and service users would have remained just a good idea!" 

Quotes from some of the students who benefited from this project

“Doing the role plays with service users made it feel more ‘real’; it felt more like we were in a professional role”

“It was great to have a DVD of the interview, to be able to watch the interview again and learn from what was good and not so good!”

“The feedback that the service user gave on how I did in the interview was especially useful. It gave a real sense of how I came across and I can learn from this”

“The role plays were very realistic; once I had got over my nerves, I could believe it was a real interview with a service user”

“Through the interview I could demonstrate my communication skills and my ability to engage with service users and this has increased my confidence”

“I think the whole process is great preparation for when we go out on placement. Although it was nerve-wracking, I will feel more confident now"

This short film describes the process for the 'Readiness for Practice' learning interviews

TEFL Student Conference Scholarship Fund

Encouraging students to become active members of the TEFL professional community and disseminate their research through facilitating their participation within the IATEFL annual conference.

Lesley Wheway, MA Education TEFL, 2009


“My professional development was extended thanks to the University of Birmingham Alumni Scholarship which allowed a group presentation for the international IATEFL conference. This raised my confidence and was really a confirmation of the usefulness of my research.”  

Dr. Maggie Kubanyiova, 2010

“The first phase of our Circles of Influence funding was a huge success and made an enormous difference to the students’ appreciation of further professional development opportunities internationally, increased their confidence and made a real difference to their career! One of the three who presented at the conference got a PhD scholarship and another is being considered for promotion in her current job and I have no doubt that their presentation at such a prestigious forum was a contributing factor in both cases! What is more, the three students also wrote up their presentation for publication in the conference proceedings and we should hear soon whether this has been accepted. So as you can see lots of benefits indeed – the most important of which is that thanks to the Alumni our students have been enabled to grow beyond the boundaries of their postgraduate programme! I really value this important contribution of the Alumni.”  

Information on the presentations is on the MA TEFL website with a reference to the AG contribution

Prize Pitch – To boost the employability and presentation skills of Sociology and Media, Culture and Society students

The project aims to support the development of key employability skills for current sociology and media culture and society students through a media skills project, for example, presentation, communication, networking and technical skills.

Dr Will Leggett

"This innovative project enabled current students to interview a range of our alumni in the workplace and at the University. They developed interviewing, digital technology and editing skills in recording the sessions as video clips. In addition, they established invaluable contacts with alumni. The materials generated will provide a lasting careers resource for current and future students on using their degree to navigate the jobs market, as well as an impressive feature in Open Day and other recruitment activities"

To find out more about this project, and read testimonials from the participants, please see the Prize Pitch Report (PDF - 435 KB)