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New Commercial brand supports University of Stirling student experience

The University of Stirling has today launched a new stand-alone commercial brand to maximise income from its multi-million pound conference and accommodation business for reinvestment in the student experience.

Stirling Venues provides a unique range of events management and holiday services using the University's extensive 330-acre property portfolio.

Set at the foot of the Ochil Hills, it is the largest single-site provider of conference, events and accommodation facilities in Scotland.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the University, Stirling Venues is led by Liam Spillane, Director of the University’s Accommodation and Commercial Services Directorate, which has generated more than £14.5 million in revenue since a refocus of activity in 2014.

The launch of Stirling Venues follows the successful rebrand of the former Stirling Management Centre to Stirling Court Hotel last November.

Liam said: “I am delighted that we have launched our new Stirling Venues brand and website This is the next step in consolidating and refocusing our commercial efforts at the University of Stirling to maximise our potential with existing customers and reach new markets.

“I am passionate about our commitment to reinvesting our profits in the University of Stirling to ensure an exceptional student experience for this and future generations.

“Our new Stirling Venues brand will give us a strong foothold on a national and international setting and reflects not only our stunning location in the very heart of Scotland but the great value and professional conference, accommodation and catering services that set us apart.”

Visit the website: Stirling Venues.


Enquiries to Lynsae Tulloch, Marketing Manager, Stirling Venues on 0044 (0)1786 466183 or
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Scotland's widening inequality highlighted by Stirling economists

The gap between rich and poor in Scotland has widened since 1997, according to two leading economists at the University of Stirling.

Figures presented by Professor David Bell and David Eiser show that while Scotland's richest saw their real income rise by more than 25 percent between 1997 and 2013, the poorest experienced a 10 percent drop in their real income.

David Eiser, Economics Research Fellow in Stirling Management School, said: "Since the late 1990s, the very poorest five percent of households have become even poorer, partly as a result of stricter rules around benefit eligibility. At the same time, the richest one to two percent of individuals have seen their incomes grow far more rapidly than any other group, largely driven by pay increases in the financial and business services sectors."

The economists believe this trend has continued in recent years. David Eiser said: "Our most recent population-wide data runs until early 2013, but it seems almost certain that inequality will have increased since then.

"The recession and its aftermath saw a large increase in the proportion of insecure work – part time work, temporary work, and out-sourced agency self-employment - which has increased wage inequality. Many working-age benefits have also been cut in real terms, reducing the incomes of the poorest households."

However, their study also shows that for those earning 10 to 13 percent of the national average - just above the 'super-poor' - the introduction of the minimum wage and working tax credits during this time helped them experience the biggest rise in real income of any group other than the 'super-rich', with an increase of 15 percent.

While control over most taxes and benefits, and regulatory powers over the labour market and finance industry, remain beyond Holyrood control, the academics have suggested certain measures the Scottish Government can take to tackle inequality.

This includes reform of the "badly designed and unfair" council tax system and the introduction of a more progressive income tax structure under the scope of the Smith Commission proposals.

David Eiser said: "There is a wide agenda for the Scottish Government to work with if it wants to tackle inequality. With more powers would come more opportunities. But in many areas of tax, welfare and regulation policy, the Scottish Government and Scottish MPs will have to content themselves with an influencing role at UK level."

The findings, which are due to be published shortly through the Centre on Constitutional Change, were previewed at an event run by the David Hume Institute earlier this week.

Professor David Bell and David Eiser are both based in the University’s Stirling Management School. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the School was ranked within the UK’s top 25 institutions for Business and Management. Over 90 per cent of its research impact is rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Media enquiries to: David Tripp, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 687 or
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From Paramedic to ‘Dr’ for University of Stirling graduand

Scotland’s first Paramedical Practice PhD graduand will collect his scroll at the University of Stirling next week.

Qualified paramedic David Fitzpatrick steps onto the stage at the Stirling summer graduation ceremony on Thursday (25 June) having completed his research doctorate.

“When I started at Stirling 10 years ago, I had only a postgraduate level certificate in pre-hospital care so if I can do it, then anyone can and for me, the more-the-merrier,” explains a modest David, 41. “I owe so much to the support of my colleagues and supervisors who helped me enormously.”

David, from Carluke, was a 22-year-old pool lifeguard when he decided to become a paramedic. Working his way up from non-emergency roles, he went on to serve as a single response crew member before switching his focus towards research study.

He still takes on monthly paramedic shifts in Glasgow and is regularly on call if an emergency occurs on campus.

David said: “If anything comes in that’s close to me and I’m on duty then I will respond. I can’t disclose what I have been to, but it’s anything that requires a 999 emergency call, where someone is very unwell. I do voluntary shifts to remain up-to-date, but it’s just not feasible or practical to do more combined with the research role.”

This role is a research collaboration between the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) in the University’s School of Health Sciences, with the collective aim of producing research which improves pre-hospital emergency care.

David’s PhD focused on hypoglycaemic emergencies, common occurrences for people with diabetes. This week is Diabetes Week – a UK-wide campaign to raise awareness of the increasingly common condition.

He said: “The research identified that a proportion of people who are treated at home by ambulance clinicians for a severe hypoglycaemic event experience repeat or recurrent severe hypoglycaemic events in the days and weeks thereafter.

“Despite referral advice from ambulance clinicians, very few people attend for follow-up care at the Emergency Department or with their primary diabetes care provider. This new knowledge helped inform the development of an intervention to ensure people who experience severe hypoglycaemic emergencies get the right treatment from the first emergency call-out and prevent further events.

“We developed a referral information leaflet and a follow-up telephone call from NHS 24, both of which reinforced the key messages on the importance of follow-up care. There is much that ambulance clinicians can do to ensure patients receive the right information on follow up care, with the intention of minimising repeat emergencies.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service has collaborated with the NMAHP Research Unit since 2005.

Past projects between the two - and other partners - include the development of a prioritised vehicle equipment check sheet to ensure each ambulance is appropriately equipped; measuring the effects of pre-hospital oxygen therapy for patients with severe chronic lung conditions; the development of a child harness transportation restraint, and determining consensus on the amount of equipment required for mass casualty incidents.

Current research focuses on improving the quality and safety of hypoglycaemic care and on improving care for psychiatric and self-harm patients being transferred to Accident & Emergency by ambulance.

Dr Edward Duncan, who supervised David throughout his PhD, said: “David worked tirelessly to gain his PhD. His studies clearly demonstrate the potential of research to develop clinically meaningful interventions which can transform patient care and service delivery. I am delighted that we will be continuing to work together with David and others in the Scottish Ambulance Service in the years to come.”

Jim Ward, Medical Director at the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “David is an inspiration to everyone in the Service and his research will directly enhance the quality of pre-hospital care for patients across Scotland. Ambulance staff are highly skilled clinicians who make life changing interventions every day and rely on continued research to inform and support the development of new skills and procedures that will ultimately save more lives.”

David joins almost 400 graduands from the Schools of Health Sciences, Natural Sciences and Applied Social Science at the final of three conferment ceremonies. Stirling’s summer graduations, on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 June, recognise the achievements of more than 1500 graduands.


Media enquiries to: David Christie, Senior Communications Officer, on 01786 466 653 or email
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Stirling’s Chair of Court Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

The University of Stirling's Chair of Court, Alan Simpson, has been awarded an OBE for services to Education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. 

Alan has served as Chair of the University Court since 2007, and is also a Deputy Lieutenant for Stirling and Falkirk.

He said: "I was absolutely delighted to hear the news about receiving an OBE. I had no idea that it was in being considered, and it is the icing on the cake following eight wonderful years at the helm of the University Court.  It clearly recognises the excellent work being carried out in all parts of the University in teaching and research.

"Highlights have included the University's outstanding results last December in the Research Excellence Framework, being ranked 47th in UK and 5th in Scotland, the Queen's Anniversary Prize received last year for groundbreaking research into the effects on children's health of marketing tobacco, alcohol and junk food, and the improvements on campus covering, among others, the new residences and renovated library. 

"It has also been a privilege and joy to work with the students, academics and administrators who all contribute to the success of the institution."

Alan chaired the Committee of the Scottish Chairs of Higher Education Institutions and is a Past-chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland.

Born in Edinburgh, Alan gained a scholarship to study Engineering Science and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford. Following qualification as a Civil Engineer, he worked with Brian Colquhoun and Partners in London and the Middle East, before returning to Scotland to work as a consulting engineer with W A Fairhurst and Partners.  He became a Partner in 1989, and retired in 2009.

Alan served on the University Court as Chair of the Estates Committee and then the Finance Committee before taking over as Chair of Court eight years ago. He will step down in July, before the reins are handed over to Fiona Sandford.

The Chair of Court - independent from the University - is responsible for its mission, vision and strategy, and welfare of students and staff and for its overall governance.

Also honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List is former Stirling Economics lecturer, Dr Marianthi Leontaridi, now Director of Public Service Transformation at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. Dr Leontaridi is awarded an OBE for public service.

Please direct any media enquiries to: Esther Hutcheson, Communications Officer, 01786 466640,

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Stirling study considers football behaviour legislation

An evaluation by the University of Stirling and ScotCen Social Research has been published today, on the impact of legislation covering disorder and offensive behaviour at football matches.

They conducted a two-year assessment of Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Evidence gathered included: two national surveys of football fans in 2013 and 2014; interviews with representatives from Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service; supporters and supporters’ group representatives.

The evaluation is intended to be one contribution, sitting alongside other possible evidence, perspectives or material in the Scottish Government’s consideration of the Act.

Key findings included:

Successful prosecutions have dropped from 73 percent to 52 percent in the last year, which is consistent with other football-related charges.

Charges fell by 24 percent between the first and second year of the Act’s introduction though it is not possible to determine whether this is directly attributable to the Act.

The average time to progress and conclude football-related charges appears to be particularly lengthy; a source of frustration and unfairness felt by some fans.

The legislation, along with the complementary initiatives set up prior to the legislation such as the establishment of the Football Coordination Unit Scotland, was well-regarded by Procurator Fiscals, who felt that it enabled the fiscal service to work more effectively.

Policing methods in the early stages were seen as adversarial and disproportionate by some fans whilst enforcement of the Act by policing and stewarding was inconsistent between different grounds.

In the qualitative research, both fans and stakeholders expressed some disquiet over the extent to which the Act is perceived to be targeted at younger fans.

Eighty-five percent of surveyed fans agreed it was offensive to sing songs or make remarks about people’s religious beliefs or backgrounds and 90 percent agreed it was offensive to celebrate the loss of life.

Reaction from Sheriffs ranged from strongly supportive to emphatically critical, with most in between, whilst Police Scotland felt the act gave them greater clarity on how to act. 

Dr Niall Hamilton-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Stirling said: “Our evaluation neither endorses nor rejects the Act, but presents robust evidence on patterns of implementation, perceptions of impact and emerging issues and questions relating to section one of the legislation.”
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Stirling golfer tees off in student ‘Ryder Cup’

University of Stirling Business & Marketing student Mathias Eggenberger tees off today in the student equivalent of the Ryder Cup.

The Stirling scholarship golfer is the only British-based player in Team Europe for the Palmer Cup, the transatlantic tournament which pits the best golfers at European universities against their American counterparts.

It is recognised as a springboard for emerging talent, with previous Palmer Cup players including Rickie Fowler, Luke Donald, Webb Simpson and Graeme McDowell.

The three-day tournament, named after legendary player Arnold Palmer, takes place at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, with the USA looking to wrest back the Cup from Team Europe following their 2014 victory at Walton Heath.

Team Europe is led by Head Coach Jean Van De Velde, whilst there is further Scottish influence with his Assistant the multiple Solheim Cup player Janice Moodie.

Mathias, from Liechtenstein, was selected following his win at the R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament at St Andrews. That victory came after an impressive performance this time last year at the Swiss Challenge Tour where only his amateur status meant missing out on €10,400 pay day after he tied third.

He said: “To be in the team of the best Europeans is a great honour. It gives me confidence that all the work I have been putting in has been worthwhile. It’s the best European student golfers against the best Americans so it’s a Ryder Cup for students.

“We are there to win it and all I can do is give it my best. It’s at a brilliant parkland course, just like at the Challenge Tour and the type of venues I’m used to when I’m back home.

“To know so many famous players have competed in the Palmer Cup and gone on to succeed as professionals is motivating. I’ve chosen the University route as many established Tour players – like Richie Ramsay at Stirling – have followed it and it’s important for me as even if golf doesn’t work out, I have a degree in my back pocket.

“The amount of support you get as a scholar at Stirling and through the Santander scholarship is unbelievable and everything is geared around helping you to achieve your potential.”

Mathias, who represents his father’s native Switzerland on the international stage, will have called upon advice from his University team-mate Jack McDonald, who was part of the victorious team in 2014.

Head Coach Dean Robertson said: “It is a great opportunity for Mathias to go head-to-head with some of the finest players emerging in the USA. Many of the American players will also form their Walker Cup team so it is an excellent level for Mathias to compare himself against.

“Mathias is meticulous in his preparations and at putting into practice what he has learned. That’s what the scholarship programme at Stirling is designed to do, give talented players the chance to develop their game and compete at the highest level whilst also completing a degree.”

Mathias is one of 17 current Golf scholarship recipients studying at Stirling. His team-mates include Irish International and two-time British Universities Strokeplay Champion Cormac Sharvin; Curtis Cup player Eilidh Briggs and current Scottish & British Universities Strokeplay Champion Gemma Batty.


Media enquiries to David Christie, Senior Communications Officer, on 0044 (0)1786 466653 or
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Stirling expert-led team to pioneer hearing aid that can ‘see’

A next-generation hearing aid which can 'see' is to be developed by a University of Stirling Computer Scientist-led multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians.

Designed to help users in noisy environments, the device will use a miniaturised camera that can lip read, process information in real time, and seamlessly fuse and switch between audio and visual cues.

There are more than 10 million people in the UK – one in six of the population - with some form of hearing loss. By 2031, this is estimated to rise to 14.5 million.

Professor Amir Hussain is leading the ambitious joint research project, which has received nearly £500,000 from the UK Government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry.

Professor Hussain said: "This exciting world-first project has the potential to significantly improve the lives of millions of people who have hearing difficulties.

"Existing commercial hearing aids are capable of working on an audio-only basis, but the next-generation audio-visual model we want to develop will intelligently track the target speaker's face for visual cues, like lip reading. These will further enhance the audio sounds that are picked up and amplified by conventional hearing aids.

"The 360-degree approach to our software design is expected to open up more everyday environments to device users, enabling them to confidently communicate in noisier settings, with a potentially reduced listening effort. This will be important to help ensure uptake of this transformational technology.

"In addition to people with hearing loss, the unique lip reading capabilities of this device could also prove potentially valuable to those communicating in very noisy places where ear defenders are worn, such as in factories, and in emergency response scenarios."

Professor Hussain’s team has been working on a prototype and the research investment will be put towards tackling the key challenge of blending and enhancing appropriately selected audio and visual cues. Speed is crucial, with time delays for hearing aids to be less than 10ms.

Stirling Psychologist Professor Roger Watt will work with Professor Hussain and help to develop new computing models of human vision for real-time tracking of facial features.

Once developed, the software prototype will be made freely available to other researchers worldwide, opening up the opportunity for further work in the field.

Future hardware prototyping research will explore the most user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing placements of the mobile mini camera attachment, such as fitting it into a pair of ordinary glasses, wearable brooch, necklace or even an earring. 

Professor Hussain is also collaborating with Dr Jon Barker at the University of Sheffield, who has developed biologically-inspired approaches for separating speech sources that will complement the audio-visual enhancement techniques pioneered at Stirling. Project partners include: the MRC/CSO Institute of Hearing Research - Scottish Section, and the international hearing-aid manufacturer, Phonak.

The Institute’s Dr William Whitmer said: "We are excited about the potential ability for this new technology - that takes advantage of the similar information presented to the eyes and ears in noisy conversation - to aid listening in those difficult situations, a consistent issue for those affected by hearing loss." 

Please direct any media enquiries to: Esther Hutcheson, Communications Officer, 01786 466640,
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Sally Magnusson and John Byrne among figures to be honoured at Stirling graduation

Figures from broadcasting, the arts, the civil service and education will receive honorary degrees at the University of Stirling’s Graduation ceremonies this month.

Sally Magnusson, John Byrne, Sir John Elvidge and Kevin Clarke will join more than 1000 Stirling graduands to receive their awards at ceremonies on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 June.

Broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson will be recognised for her outstanding contribution to Scottish life and her support of the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre.

Daughter of the broadcaster and writer Magnus Magnusson and journalist Mamie Baird, she began her career in print journalism before moving into broadcast media. Among her many TV roles, she presented BBC’s ‘Breakfast Time’ in the 1980s. She is a long-standing presenter of 'Reporting Scotland' and 'Songs of Praise' and has also written a number of well-received books.

In 2012, she helped to launch the University of Stirling's Dementia Services Development Centre’s virtual care home and last year returned to the Centre to launch her book 'Where Memories Go', which chronicles her late mother’s dementia.

Artist and playwright John Byrne will become a Doctor of the University in recognition of his distinction in the arts. Best known for his 1978 play 'The Slab Boys' and multi-BAFTA award-winning 1987 TV series 'Tutti Frutti', he has also received acclaim as a painter and illustrator, with many of his works held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He has also designed record covers for The Beatles, Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty.

Sir John Elvidge spent seven years as Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government from 2003 and 2010, having previously worked in the Cabinet Office and the Scottish Office. Sir John will be recognised for his outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of the people of Scotland and his dedication to the Modernisation of Public Services.

Kevin Clarke, a Stirling philosophy graduate, returned to Stirling to serve as University Secretary for more than 17 years before retiring in 2012. He will be honoured in recognition of his outstanding contribution and service to the University of Stirling and to the Scottish and United Kingdom Higher Education sector.

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: "As a University with a firm tradition of excellence in media and the arts, it is fitting that we celebrate Sally Magnusson, a familiar and reassuring presence on our screens for many years, and John Byrne, one of Scotland’s most treasured, distinctive and multi-talented artists.

"Sir John Elvidge made a substantial contribution to Scottish society and education and has, like Sally, given great support to the University’s work in the field of dementia care.

"Kevin Clarke’s dedication, knowledge and passion were a huge asset to the University and to Higher Education as a whole, and we look forward to welcoming him back to Stirling.

"I extend my congratulations to all of our graduands and honorary graduands on their achievements."

The ceremonies will celebrate the achievements of graduating students from the Schools of Education, Arts and Humanities, Sport, Applied Social Science, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences and the Stirling Management School.

Media enquiries to: David Tripp, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 687 or
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Scottish Sustainability Centre launched

A ground-breaking new Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living has been launched at the University of Stirling.

A unique collaboration between the University of Stirling and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Centre’s core objective is to inspire and empower communities to develop new pathways to achieve sustainable practice.

This new interdisciplinary centre, based in the Stirling Management School, will move to establish a sustainability leadership programme, inspiring leaders from across society to drive progress towards a more sustainable future.

Drawing on expertise from across the University, it will be an active hub for innovative research and education and provide a safe environment for collaborations between the civic, business and public sector.

Speaking at the 2020 Climate Group Summit at the University of Stirling, Scotland’s Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, announced the establishment of the Centre.

She said: “We all need to do our bit for the environment and to tackle climate change. The Centre for Sustainable Practice and Living will bring together the public sector, academic research, business and environmental organisations to work collaboratively with communities towards a more sustainable future and a low carbon economy.”

Professor Sharon Bolton, Head of the Stirling Management School, Dean of Equality and Diversity and Professor of Organisational Analysis at the University of Stirling said: “Sustainability addresses the need to balance economy and enterprise, environment - in its widest sense - and society. The Centre aims to harness the creative tension between these three elements to bring about transformational change.

“The University of Stirling Management School adopts an holistic approach to sustainable practice, with a particular focus on sustainable business, sustainable societies and sustainable selves.Our philosophy is that effective management can make a positive difference, which means reaching into the heart of what is involved in the management and organisation of a diverse range of activities.

“This approach captures the complexities, dynamics and realities of involving and empowering a range of stakeholders in support of developing sustainable futures.”

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA Chief Executive, said: “The role of environment protection agencies is changing. We are no longer here simply to ensure compliance with regulations, but to work collaboratively with communities, businesses and other public bodies to make the most of the opportunities which top class environmental practice brings to achieve real and meaningful benefits for human health and well-being, and economic success, or in other words sustainability.

“The Centre will provide us with a unique vehicle to engage actively with prospective partners to better understand needs, aspirations and opportunities and make real progress in creating a more sustainable Scotland.”


For any media enquiries, please contact: Senior Communications Officer David Christie on 01786 466653 or email
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Two Stirling-led projects share new arts research funding

Scotland’s feminist anti-violence movement and the impact of reading habits in the eighteenth century are the focus of two Stirling-led PhD arts research projects to receive new funding announced today.

The new three-year Applied Research Collaborative Studentships (ARCS) have been awarded through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) and are supported by the Scottish Funding Council.

Seven projects across Scotland have been awarded a total of £380,000 funding. Stirling is the only institution to lead two of the projects and is a partner in a third.

The first Stirling-led project, led by Stirling’s Dr Katie Halsey, will examine library records from 1747 to 1857 to gauge how reading habits and book borrowing could affect people’s social and geographic mobility. The University of Dundee and Innerpeffray Library are the partners in the project.

The University will also lead a project which will provide an account of the development of the feminist anti-violence movement in Scotland from the 1970s onwards. Professor Karen Boyle, Director of Stirling’s Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies, will lead the project in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library and the University of Glasgow.

Stirling is also a partner in a study of the nature of improvement in the planned settlements of rural Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, led by the University of Dundee, with Argyll Estates and Inveraray Castle.

Professor Kirstie Blair, Director of Graduate Studies at the University’s School of Arts and Humanities, said: “We’re delighted by Stirling’s success in the Applied Research Collaboration Studentships.

“Our 100 per cent success rate in these awards and in the Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Awards this year highlights the emphasis we have on developing innovative PhD projects with our external partners.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming a very strong cohort of PhD students in October.”

Laurence Howells, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council said: “It’s vital that we invest in developing the best research talent in our universities. The students benefitting from this £380,000 investment will be the people leading innovation and discovery in the future.

“They will be helping to create prosperity and jobs in the creative industries as well as enhancing our enjoyment of history, art, film and new media. The fact that the students will be collaborating with organisations like festivals, libraries and the National Theatre of Scotland is also very exciting.”

For more information on the studentships and how to apply, please visit

Media enquiries to: David Tripp, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 687 or
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