Cyber for Seniors Workshop

Abertay University is holding a Cyber for Seniors Workshop on Thursday 28th March between 10am and 4pm at the Events Space, Abertay University, Kydd Building, Bell Street.
Its purpose is to find out the challenges are that the elderly face with respect to cyber crime.     There will be talks about cyber challenges such as security and passwords.    The aim is to come up with solutions together to address some of these problems.    Lunch will be provided.
To book a space, please contact Karen Renaud, Professor of Cyber Security –– or 308236 but please do so by close of play today.

Zoology Museum talk tonight – Fitness and Fatness in Seals and Humans

From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee :
Our next evening event in the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum will be tonight – Tuesday 13th December at 6pm:
Dr Kimberley Bennett (Abertay University) – Fitness and Fatness in Seals and Humans
Dr Kimberley Bennett
Fitness in humans rarely goes hand in hand with fatness. But for seals, to be fit they have to be fat. This talk by Kimberley Bennett (a Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Abertay University) will explore why being fat is so important to seals, what we know about how they regulate fatness compared with humans, how pollutants can influence body fat control in both seals and humans and the potential consequences for human and animal health. 
Refreshments will be served after the talk. Please enter by the main front door of the Carnelley Building, facing the back of the Tower Building.   Latecomers may not be admitted.
The talk is free but places should be booked via Eventbrite here.

Living Room for the City @VADundee #LivingRoom

Yesterday evening, I was pleased to attend a preview at the University of Abertay of Living Room for the City, the exhibition of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee’s first community engagement programme.
The exhibition features the work of photographer Ross Fraser McLean with communities across the city, along with images contributed by the public, and lighting created at the Living Room Drop In and Design community workshops.
It is really well worth a visit – open from 16th to 29th August 2014 (Mon–Fri 10am–5pm / Sat–Sun 12–4pm) at the Hannah Maclure Centre in the Abertay Student Centre, 1-3 Bell Street.

Busy Friday …

Yesterday, following my raising concerns that the latest City Council new recycling kerbside collection pilot excluded the West End Ward (and two of the other seven wards in Dundee), I met with the City Council’s Environment Director and the Head of Environmental Protection regarding the matter.

We had a useful discussion and I did obtain assurances that the department aims to swiftly roll out the facility to as many ‘viable’ houses as possible, hopefully this financial year.   It is expected that a report will go to the council’s Environment Committee later in the year regarding the roll-out programme and I will expect to see West End households benefiting from the extension of recycling facilities at that time.     I also raised the need to offer plastics recycling at Tesco Riverside and aluminium cans recycling at the Roseangle Car Park recycling facility and was promised that this would be considered.

Also yesterday, I had a site meeting with local residents and a City Council officer about improving security at the Lochee Park Bowling Green and thereafter met with representatives of the Community Spirit Action Group and a representative from Dundee City Council about the quality of grass maintenance in Pentland.    We viewed the remote controlled grass cutting machine in action (see right) and sought assurances about the way the grass is cut across Pentland to ensure a good quality result.

I had a superb lunch at the Dundee West Church Healthy Eating Lunches and the chance for a chat with Rev Andrew Greaves about local issues.   The Healthy Eating Lunches remain a hugely well-attended community resource.   Next Friday’s are the last before the summer break but they will be back later in the year!

Late yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a reception (see right) to launch the University of Abertay Dundee Digital Graduate Show, showcasing work by students in areas such as computer arts, creative sound production, game design, visual communications and media design.   A fantastic event and great to hear students talk about their work and ambitions.    See more below …

Willie Rennie on the SNP’s college funding cuts …

Dear Fraser,
Today at First Minister’s Questions I asked if the SNP government would use some of the £67 million of extra funding they have received from our government at Westminster to fill the £40 million college funding gap.
The SNP took the decision to cut college funding, which could threaten nearly 9000 student places next year and compromise the depth and quality of the subjects on offer.
Liberals have always understood the importance of colleges in giving people, no matter what their background, the opportunity to gain the skills needed for secure, well paid jobs.
As such, we have offered a solution to the SNP government – use the extra money to protect college places.
The First Minister did not commit to doing this today, so it is up to us to keep the pressure up and stand up for Scotland’s colleges.
Please join our new campaign today –
Willie Rennie
Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats

At last Friday’s meeting at the University of Abertay Dundee on the future of post-16 education in Scotland, I stressed the need to reverse the SNP college funding cuts and I view Willie Rennie’s highlighting this at FMQs today as very helpful.   The SNP college cuts amount to a staggered £40 million.   It is estimated that 9000 student places are at risk next year due to these cuts.     There must be pressure put on the SNP to back Scotland’s colleges in the run up to the budget before these cuts have a lasting impact on the quality and depth of courses on offer.

Future of post-16 education

Meeting at the University of Abertay Dundee
Last night, along with representatives from the University College Union (UCU) at the University of Dundee, the University of Abertay Dundee and London Metropolitan University and a UCU national representative, the National Union of Students (NUS), Abertay Students’ Association and parliamentary representatives from Labour and the SNP, I took part in a public meeting on the future of post-16 education – addressing the audience and taking part in the panel discussion thereafter.

For me, key messages include the need for clarity about what is actually meant by “closer collaboration” between Dundee’s two universities and reassurance regarding academic posts and other jobs and on course availability.    Both the NUS representative and I stressed the damage the SNP government’s proposed further cuts in college funding will cause and urged the government to reverse these cuts.

Dundee’s universities – an update

As readers of are aware, I have made clear my opposition to the merger of the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee, and I therefore welcome the apparent reassurance made by Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions yesterday that there would be “no forced merger” of our two universities.   Let us hope he is as good as his word.

Today, along with the City Council Group Leaders on the City Council representing the Conservative, SNP and Labour parties, as Liberal Democrat Group Leader, I signed a joint letter to Alex Salmond on this matter that can be summed up by its final sentence :

“Much can be gained by mutual co-operation;  much can be lost by a merger.”

This evening, along with colleagues from Dundee Liberal Democrat Association, I met with the Secretary of the University of Abertay Dundee’s Branch of the University and College Union.   We had a most productive meeting at which we agreed that the continued independence of our two universities in the city must be real and demonstrable.    

I am sure all realise this matter is not, as yet, fully or properly resolved.

Call to stop any merger of Abertay University with the University of Dundee

I am quoted in today’s Courier indicating my concerns that the SNP government is trying to bulldoze Dundee’s two universities into a merger and there are significant detrimental implications from such a merger in terms of course availability and staffing.   

It would indeed be a sad day if the number of universities in the city dropped to one.  Both our universities are dynamic institutions but their focus is rightly different and they complement one another. 

I would add that not only would a merger of Dundee’s two universities would be bad news for the city, I am asking exactly where did this proposal figure in the SNP manifesto at May’s parliamentary elections?   Of course, it did not feature, and the SNP has no mandate to force a merger of Dundee’s two universities. 

It should be stressed that the Scottish Government has failed completely to make any sort of business case for merging the two universities.   I am highly sceptical that there is any benefit to Dundee by the merger of the University of Dundee with Abertay University and I call on the two Dundee SNP MSPs to disown the merger proposal as it is clearly not in Dundee’s interests.

There is already a Save Abertay University Forum on Facebook and an e-petition against any merger has, in a very short space of time, already attracted nearly 400 signatures.   You can sign the petition by going to