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£21m boost for teaching and learning

Press release issued: 27 January 2005

The teaching of Medical Sciences and Chemistry at Bristol University is set to be transformed by funding worth £9 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England matched by a further £12 million from the University.

The teaching of Medical Sciences and Chemistry at Bristol University is set to be transformed by funding worth £9 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), matched by a further £12 million  from the University. 

The funding will be used to create two Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).  It will extend and enhance existing teaching space, provide advanced equipment such as computer-controlled manikins to act as simulated ‘patients’ for medical students, and help to develop new teaching approaches and computer-based learning.

Dr Kim Howells, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, who visited the School of Chemistry on Thursday 27 January, said: “I want to congratulate Bristol University on its successful bid for this funding.  It will further advance the teaching and learning opportunities for students in the Schools of Chemistry and Medical Sciences.

"I am delighted to be visiting the School of Chemistry on the day the funding is announced.  It is a great way to end my two day tour of the South West where there is so much good work being done to provide the best education for our young people.  The School of Chemistry shows us how our Universities can be at the forefront of science teaching, rivaling the best in the world and I wish them every success in the future."

In Chemistry, the new CETL – to be called Bristol ChemLabS (Bristol Chemical Laboratory Sciences) – will aim to transform the student experience of learning practical chemistry.  It will create a major national resource for the teaching and learning of the experimental sciences by establishing professional-standard laboratories and practices with state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities for the e-learning of modern laboratory chemistry.

The funding will also be used to host Fellowships for seconded schoolteachers, establish University Teaching Fellowships and develop outreach programmes to engage pre-university students and the general public.  New ways of teaching and learning practical science will be disseminated nationwide.

Professor Guy Orpen, Head of Department, School of Chemistry, said: “This is great news for the Bristol School of Chemistry.  Thanks to HEFCE and the University, we will have world-class facilities for students to learn practical chemistry – matching the outstanding research labs we now have in place.  Students will get to learn chemistry the best way – by doing it and by doing it as it is done in industrial or research labs: the professional way. 

“What’s more we will be in a position to use these 21st-century labs for teaching and reaching out to younger students from schools in the region, and to older students – school teachers and technicians, industrial chemists and members of the public.  These are exciting times for chemistry at Bristol.”

In the School of Medical Sciences, the new CETL – to be called the AIMS Centre (Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences) – will provide an excellent learning environment in which the teaching of medical sciences will be fully integrated with clinical skills.  

Proven teaching approaches in anatomy, physiology and pharmacology will be developed to include the latest models, images and simulations of normal and diseased body structure and function. 

A ‘virtual microscope’, a vast web-based library of images taken from microscope slides, will be created to aid study of the structure of tissues and organs which is fundamental to every medical, dental or veterinary student’s understanding of how the body functions.

Dr Richard Greene, CETL Director and Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy said: “This major injection of funds will enable us to build on our existing strengths in anatomy teaching. We will establish a Clinical Anatomy Suite in which to integrate traditional approaches to anatomy teaching with the latest medical imaging, computer-based and physical models. 

“The Clinical Anatomy Suite will also house a state-of-the-art surgical training centre to cater for the training needs of medical and dental undergraduates and surgeons at all stages of their careers.  The facilities will also be available to professionals allied to medicine and will be used to support applied anatomical research and research into teaching methods.”

 Dr Judy Harris, CETL Director and Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiology said: “In many of our existing practical classes, students measure their own vital functions such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing at rest and during exercise.  The CETL funding will enable them to compare their own healthy physiology with that of leading-edge, computer-driven, simulated 'patients'. 

“These life-like 'manikins' can be used to simulate a wide range of conditions such as heart disease and asthma.  The software can also be used to simulate responses to the drugs that are used to treat these diseases, so undergraduates will be able to investigate and treat a wide range of simulated 'patients' early in their course.”

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University said: “State-of-the-art teaching is as important to us as world-class research.  This money will help us to give students the excellent teaching they deserve and to keep producing some of the UK's most outstanding graduates.”

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