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'Expert opinion' news articles - Page 16

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Reforms mean children and vulnerable adults may not be properly heard, Kingston Law School expert warns

Posted Wednesday 23 April 2014

Government reforms to family law  could put children and vulnerable adults at risk, according to Professor Penny Cooper. Picture posed by model: ImageBroker/REXThe new 26-week time limit for cases where children are taken into care, designed to further reduce delays, could in fact lead to injustices taking place, a Kingston Law School academic has warned.

The changes are part of a package of family justice system reforms which also see new combined Family Courts come into being in England and Wales.

The new time limit may not be in the interests of justice in all cases, Professor Penny Cooper explained. "While there is much to be welcomed in these reforms, the renewed emphasis on completing care cases in 26 weeks means there is a real danger that children and vulnerable adults such as those who have been abused, or those with learning difficulties or disabilities, will not be properly heard," she said. "This time limit could be problematic if the desire to get on with completing a case overrides the need to get special measures in place for the vulnerable."

Professor Cooper also suggested the legislation represented a missed opportunity to bring in a proper scheme to protect the vulnerable in the family courts. "When the government brought in these new policies it could have introduced reforms to ensure that such measures as intermediaries for children or TV links for intimidated witnesses are available in family courts in the same way they are in the criminal courts," she said.

The need for the Professor Penny Cooper believes the Government has missed an opportunity to introduce similar measures for witnesses in the new family courts that currently exist for criminal cases.government to make this type of resources available was highlighted in the Family Justice Review in 2011 but it hadn't taken up the challenge, she said. "The court has a duty to make adjustments for the vulnerable but there is now the added pressure of time on family judges as well as the existing lack of resources."

There are about 270,000 new family cases each year dealing with issues such as local authority intervention, divorce, domestic violence and adoption.

The Family Justice review also found that vulnerable children were having their "futures undermined" by excessive delays, with care and supervision cases taking an average of 56 weeks.

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Kingston University academic Dr Nick Freestone named Society of Biology's Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year

Posted Tuesday 15 April 2014

Kingston University academic Dr Nick Freestone has become the proud holder of the Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award.A Kingston University academic has been named the Society of Biology's Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year. Dr Nick Freestone received the award at a ceremony at the 2014 Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) spring meeting in Buckinghamshire.

A physiology and pharmacology specialist, Dr Freestone was one of three candidates vying for the honour. The judges were particularly impressed with his commitment to placing students at the heart of teaching and providing them with high quality feedback.

Dr Freestone, who is an associate professor and course director for undergraduate pharmaceutical science at Kingston, makes a point of trying to get to know all his students by name. He uses a range of methods to support student diversity - from widening participation right through to stretching those who emerge as his most able students. As the subject area leader for physiology and pharmacology, he also plays a significant role in maintaining links between Master of Pharmacy teaching teams at Kingston University and St George's, University of London.

His passion for ensuring his students get the very best out of their time at university stems from his own experiences of higher education. "I was the first in my family to attend university and remember how it felt not really knowing how the system worked and not being familiar with the techniques I needed to master key tasks such as essay writing," he explained. "I'm always conscious that students from such backgrounds might not perform to their full potential in exams because they don't get enough chance to practise and could be tempted to rely too much on getting by on their coursework." To counter that, he dedicates time to repeatedly marking essay drafts from students to help them develop their confidence and knowledge. "I've been doing this for several years now and have seen a definite increase in their exam grades as a result," he said.

Dr Freestone has also found ways to encourage high achieving students to push themselves further. "A lot of our undergraduates come to study pharmacy at Kingston University after getting As and Bs at A-level and I'm determined to make learning as challenging for them as it is for everyone else," Dr Freestone said. To help nurture their abilities, he has developed an optional module which offers them tuition in more advanced laboratory techniques and theory. This extra input encouraged them to work hard and strive to perform to the very best of their abilities. "The results prove that even the most able students can be targeted to do better," he said.

Dr Freestone was last year named Kingston University's most engaging lecturer, adding to the lecturer of the year title he carried off while based in the former Faculty of Science. This year, he has been made a senior fellow and academic associate of the Higher Education Academy and a fellow of the Society of Biology.

He described capping off those successes by being chosen as the recipient of the Society's higher education teacher of the year accolade as incredibly humbling. "I'd like to express my unreserved admiration for the efforts of the other finalists and every other bioscience practitioner in the United Kingdom," he said. "I hope the award will act as a spur to improve my practice for the benefit of my students, both now and in the future."

In recognition of his achievement, Dr Freestone received the Ed Wood Memorial Prize of £1,000, one year's subscription to an Oxford University Press journal of his choice and a year's free Society of Biology membership. He was also awarded a one year licence by Labster, one of the sponsors of the HUBS spring meeting.

Environmental hazards and disaster management expert shares experience of working on frontline of Surrey flood response with his Kingston University students

Posted Friday 21 March 2014

Environmental hazards and disaster management expert shares experience of working on frontline of Surrey flood response with his Kingston University students

Environmental hazards and disaster management students from Kingston University have been getting a first-hand insight into the challenges of co-ordinating some of the emergency response efforts following the flooding in Chertsey earlier this year.

One of their lecturers, Dr Ian Greatbatch from the University's School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, is also Surrey Search and Rescue Service's head of flood and technical rescue, so when the River Thames burst its banks after weeks of heavy rainfall the authorities looked to him for help. "There's a gold, silver and bronze level national command structure, with gold being high-ranking individuals from frontline organisations such as the police and fire service and silver one level down - giving tactical advice on how to deploy any resources needed. That's where I came in, being put in charge of the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue," Dr Greatbatch explained. "I had a number of teams from across the country at my disposal which I was able to put into the water so I was organising where they were deployed and making sure they did the job as effectively as possible."...

Kingston Business School expert predicts many of Chancellor George Osborne's budget measures will have little impact

Posted Wednesday 19 March 2014

Dr Emmanouil Noikokyris said George Osborne's 2014 Budget was about style over substance.As Britain reacts to George Osborne's latest budget announcement, a Kingston Business School academic has contended that, with an election looming, the motive for many of the Chancellor's 'give-aways' is purely political.

Some of the measures outlined were simply about playing to the gallery, Dr Emmanouil Noikokyris, a senior lecturer in accounting and finance, warned. "Cutting beer duty by one penny a pint and slashing bingo duty to ten per cent, for instance, will score well on social media and in the tabloid press, but won't have any real impact and will soon be forgotten," he said.

Predictably there had been plenty of remarks about hard-working people, he said, despite only one significant piece of good news being announced for this group - raising the point at which income tax is paid to £10,500.

With an election on the horizon, Dr Noikokyris suggested some moves were designed to grab votes. "Scrapping the fuel duty rise might be a good move to please car-owning voters, but it has very little regard for the environment," he explained.

However, the budget did provide relief for those people who had been looking after their money. "Of course the measures designed for savers will be a great help for those who have been hit by low interest rates for so long, particularly pensioners," he said. Older people would also really welcome much-needed greater flexibility on pensions for those approaching retirement. "No doubt here Mr Osborne has an eye on the all-important grey vote, which will be critical for all the parties in the run up to the hustings in May 2015," Dr Noikokyris added.

The Chancellor's budget had been designed to appeal to savers and pensioners, according to Kingston University academic Dr Noikokyris. Picture: Jonathan Hordle/REX

Celebrities may be going bankrupt to avoid tax bills, Kingston Law School insolvency expert warns

Posted Tuesday 18 March 2014

Celebrities may be going bankrupt to avoid tax bills, Kingston Law School insolvency expert warns

A Kingston University expert has warned that celebrities may increasingly be abusing the bankruptcy system in order to maximise their earnings and reduce the amount of tax they pay.

Dr John Tribe, a leading researcher on personal insolvency law and bankruptcy history at Kingston University, says that during the past few years he has noticed a significant spike in the number of well-known people becoming bankrupt. "It looks like this trend has been developing partly in response to the recent changes which mean that an individual's bankruptcy record is effectively wiped clean after just a year, reducing both the stigma attached to becoming insolvent and, at the same time, providing a solution to their monetary problems," he suggested. "Also, I suspect that some celebrities are being advised that bankruptcy is the best way to avoid their tax bills."...

Award-winning journalist Samira Ahmed lets students in on the art of the great interview

Posted Thursday 6 March 2014

Award-winning journalist Samira Ahmed lets students in on the art of the great interview

Kingston University journalism students received an insight in to how to carry out the perfect interview recently when award-winning broadcast and print journalist Samira Ahmed gave a talk to budding reporters.

The former Channel 4 News presenter, who currently fronts the BBC Newswatch programme and writes for the Big Issue, is a visiting professor for the University. She has been divulging the secrets of her successful career in journalism to students for the past three years. In her latest lecture, she turned the spotlight on interviewing skills - giving students her top do's and don'ts and guiding them through how to get the most out of an interview....

Best picture triumph for Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen no surprise to Kingston University film studies expert

Posted Tuesday 4 March 2014

Best picture triumph for Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen no surprise to Kingston University film studies expert

With his film 12 Years a Slave winning three awards at this year's Oscars, including the coveted best picture gong, British director Steve McQueen has become one of the world's most talked-about new film makers. For Kingston University Professor Will Brooker, however, McQueen's meteoric rise is no great surprise. In the early 1990s, he crossed paths with the then-Goldsmiths College art student as he made his first exploration into the world of film.

"I met Steve McQueen when he was on the cusp of becoming a film-maker," Professor Brooker explained. "I was doing a postgraduate course which saw each student direct a short film that would become their industry calling card. We all helped out on each other's projects and one day a young man who was studying fine art asked if he could join us as he wanted to learn about film-making. The student was Steve McQueen and, in hindsight, this was a crucial point in his career."...

United States Ambassador and internet pioneer Matthew W. Barzun delivers address at Kingston University's Chancellor's event

Posted Tuesday 18 February 2014

United States Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun steps into the spotlight to address the Chancellor's event. The United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom has visited Kingston University as the first high-profile speaker in a new series of Chancellor's events. Eager to see for himself some of the work the University's US-born Chancellor Bonnie Greer had been regaling him about, Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun toured the Knights Park campus where he also addressed a packed lecture.

Ambassador Barzun described the creativity and energy he observed during his visit as contagious, before speaking to staff and students about the close connections between the digital and creative economies. He drew on his own background as an internet pioneer, which saw him become the fourth person to be employed at CNET Networks where he served in a number of roles, including executive vice-president and chief strategy officer. 

During a question and answer session, graphic design student Lizzie Reid asked Ambassador Barzun for his thoughts on technology enabling governments to eavesdrop on their citizens. He traced this back to the reaction of the security agencies to the terror attacks of 9/11, when they had been told never to let such a thing happen again. Since then, he said, technology had advanced and terrorists had become more clever, so the security services needed to place even more emphasis on staying one step ahead.

It was an issue that needed to be kept on the agenda, he added. "It's not enough that only American citizens feel comfortable, or even the citizens of our closest ally, the United Kingdom, feel comfortable," he said. "We need to consider the privacy concerns of 96 per cent of the world who aren't American or British."

When questioned about prominent court cases faced by Amanda Knox and Gary McKinnon and whether issues surrounding extraditing suspects between the United Kingdom and United States might damage the two nation's special relationship, Ambassador Barzun pointed out that the US had never turned down British extradition requests. "This is a matter of trust - whether we trust each other enough to allow our citizens to face trial in the other country," he said.

Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun is introduced to an eager audinece of staff and students by Vice-Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg.

Dean of the Faculty of Science Engineering and Computing Professor Edith Sim said the ambassador's visit had highlighted the significance of cross-disciplinary work between arts and technology, particularly demonstrated through Digital Media Kingston and the University's expertise in gaming technology. "It was invigorating to hear how vibrant Ambassador Barzun found the environment at Kingston University and his presentation and openness in answering questions was inspirational, " she added.

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