Take advantage of degree apprenticeship SME funding with UWE Bristol

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15 May 2019 15:00 – 17:00

Register here

Are you interested in upskilling your workforce and does the cost of training seem a barrier to accessing local talent?

This event provides an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from existing businesses who have apprentices at UWE, and how to make it work. In addition to this, we will be highlighting upcoming degree apprenticeships and further opportunities for your business to train your employees at degree level with the funding available.

UWE Bristol is the only university in the region with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to support non-levy employers and has secured funding to support apprentices from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, will welcome you to the event and alongside the Degree Apprenticeship Hub team will be able to help identify your training needs and suitable solutions.
Spaces are limited for this event, so please register below.

If you have any questions about this event or degree apprenticeships please feel free to contact Ellen Parkes.

We are looking forward to meeting you and beginning the degree apprenticeship partnership journey.

The event takes place in the University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus from 15:00 – 17:00.

Register here

Facebook Usage and Mental Health

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Originally posted on the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre blog here.

Dr Guru Prabhakar’s co-authored paper has been published in the International Journal of Information Management (Impact Factor: 4.5).

Facebook Usage and Mental Health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK.

This paper explores the relationship between the nature of Facebook usage, non-directional comparisons and depressive syndromes. The extant research on linkage between social media usage and mental health is inconclusive. There is small but significant causal linkage between increased non-directional social comparisons and depressive symptoms among the users.

This study hypothesizes that one of the mediating factors could be the social comparisons that Facebook users conduct whilst on the site. Dr Prabhakar’s paper therefore explores the link between non-directional social comparisons on Facebook, with increased depressive symptoms in 20-29 year olds.  In brief, a positive correlation was found between passive Facebook use and non-directional social comparisons.

The findings of the research have implications at three levels: individuals, firms and medical practitioners. The individuals shall benefit from the finding that passive Facebook usage would lead to increase in social comparison which in turn results in depressive symptoms. The passive usage behaviour includes logging into the sites and monitoring others’ profiles without any interaction. Over a period of time, this might result in depression.

The issues surrounding social media usage and mental health in the UK have also been highlighted recently in the media. For example, only a few days ago the BBC published the following article:

Mental health: UK could ban social media over suicide images, minister warns

Follow this link to view the full paper:

Nisar, T. , Prabhakar, G. , Ilavarasan, P. and Baabdullah, A. (2019) Facebook usage and mental health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK. International Journal of Information Management, 48. pp. 53-62. ISSN 0268-4012

Bristol Business School host 6th form conference for the Lighthouse School Partnership

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On Friday 19 January, Bristol Business School hosted the Lighthouse Schools Partnership for their first 6th form joint conference.

200 students from schools across North Somerset attended the conference promoting innovation, self-leadership, team work and entrepreneurship.

Director of Bristol Business Engagement Centre at the Bristol Business School, Dr Noordin Shehabuddeen, delivered a keynote address on “Innovation: the art of unlearning” and Bob Reeves, Director of the Foundation for Leadership through Sport, delivered a session on leadership alongside Bristol Bears Rugby sensation Nick Fenton-Wells. Students attended workshops throughout the day and received tours of the Business School.

The event was a huge success with great feedback from the students. One student commented “I have a UCAS application to UWE, but to be honest I was very half-hearted about it and thought I’d be going the apprenticeship route, however, after Friday, I’m thinking I need to be at UWE! I was blown away by the Law courts and the trading rooms.”

We hope to replicate this event in the future.

UWE Alumni raise over £5.5k for Help Bristol’s Homeless Charity

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Three alumni from UWE Bristol’s Team Entrepreneurship course have raised over £5.5k for local charity, Help Bristol Homeless.

Help Bristol’s Homeless aims to change the face of homelessness in Bristol. They believe a home is a right and the complex issues homeless people face will not be solved when they have the daily task of finding somewhere safe to stay.

Their mission is to develop a site with ten shipping containers, converted into self-contained studio flats, providing temporary accommodation until a service user can find a more permanent home.

Inspired by this social enterprise, Team Entrepreneurship alumni Zac Alsop, Jamie Rawsthorne and Rosh Gurung joined forces to try and make a difference.

As part of their Team Entrepreneurship degree, Zac, Jamie and Rosh all had to set up their own businesses. Rosh who set up Dazed Promotions, an events and DJ business, used his connections to secure Bristol DJ’s Roni Size and Danny Byrd for a gig to raise funds for the charity.

Zac and Jamie

Zac and Jamie (pictured) amongst other businesses, set up a successful YouTube channel which they used to raise awareness for Help Bristol’s Homeless and to promote the gig.  They recently shared a short film on Help Bristol’s Homeless on their YouTube channel which can be viewed here.

The gig was a great success and raised over £2,000.

The Team Entrepreneurship alumni have since raised an additional £5,835 for the charity. They have set a target of £25,000 which will help to build an additional two homes on the site.

The Help Bristol’s Homeless site currently has 20 shipping container homes and renovated bus that was donated by First Bus. The charity encourages anyone who stays on site to help with the construction and maintenance of the site.

To find out more and to contribute to the fundraising effort see here.

Alumni Case Study: Samira Abokor

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When Samira started out her International Business degree at UWE Bristol, she resolved to take on all the opportunities she could – both in and outside of the classroom. It has taken her to places and experiences she’d never have imagined.

From tennis to TEDx

“From the outset my degree programme had great connections with the outside world,” says Samira. “So many organisations would come in to deliver skills-based sessions, talk about the qualities they look for in employees and answer our questions.”

But it was a year-long sandwich placement in London that really took her work experience to the next step. As IBM’s Wimbledon game supporter and devices manager, and subsequently part of the Match Analysis team, Samira led presentations and talked tech with players, coaches and delegates, including Lord Coe.

A subsequent trip to Dubai provided a valuable insight into overseas operations, while an interest in languages saw Samira and a fellow intern co-found their own Learn a Language Scheme for IBM staff.

On returning to uni, Samira soon took on a new challenge in the form of organising UWE Bristol’s second-ever TEDx event. “It was a lot to do in my final year!” she says. “But I learned a lot about leadership and project management, and it opened some amazing doors.” The event attracted noteworthy speakers and sold out on the night, receiving a 96% ‘delighted’ score from TED as a result.

An international perspective on business

Wanting to hone her leadership skills further, Samira decided to stay on at UWE Bristol after graduation and study for an MBA. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she says. “It was 12 months of very intense work, but it was eye-opening in the sense that it elevated everything I’d learnt in my degree.”

The course attracts students from all over the world, making it an ideal setting for sharing new ideas and practices, which Samira found particularly valuable. Her hard work and commitment were recognised when she was presented with The Bristol Business School Award for Best Performance in the MBA on graduation.

New directions

At the beginning of 2018, part-way through her MBA, Samira received a message on LinkedIn. A recruiter for Just Eat, a leading global marketplace for takeaway food delivery, liked the look of her profile, and wanted to see if she was interested in a graduate role based at the company’s tech hub in Bristol. Samira jumped at the opportunity.

Now several months into her new job, she’s learning fast. “As a graduate associate product manager, I’m the person who has to understand the product inside out,” she explains. “It’s a really varied role – I have an overview of what the whole team’s doing, ensuring we’re all working together and making the right decisions to ensure we’re delivering the service that customers expect.”

Since arriving at Just Eat, Samira has been given the opportunity to learn how to code with CodeFirst:Girls, and has also joined Just Eat’s Women in Tech group – an internal employee network which aims to promote and encourage diversity.

Outside of her day-to-day job, Samira also is also helping to inspire the next generation of tech talent as a Just Eat STEM Ambassador. As part of the programme, Samira is one of 80 Just Eat Ambassadors, working with young people across the country to encourage them to consider a career in STEM.

“Right now my focus is discovering what kind of product manager I want to be,” she says. “It’s a world I didn’t know existed till recently, but I’m very happy to start my career here and see where it takes me. Helping inspire others to do the same is really important to me. This industry is really exciting, and so long as you work hard, the opportunities are endless.”

Meanwhile, she’s accepted an invitation to join the Bristol Business School Advisory Board, so UWE Bristol looks set to continue to be an important part of Samira’s life for a long while yet.

Case Study: Empowering women through mentoring

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Sue Durbin and  Empowering women through mentoring.

Written by Jeremy Allen:

In the UK, there is a distinct lack of women in engineering roles and this is prevalent in the aerospace and aviation industries. A project led by UWE Bristol that is four years in the making is helping women to move up the career ladder and to seek support by receiving mentoring from other women in the industry. This work hopes to change the way females are perceived in male-dominated industries and aims to put an end to gender inequality in engineering.

“The UK is the country in Europe that has the least amount of women in engineering and this includes the aerospace industry, where there is a chronic shortage of females,” says project leader Professor Sue Durbin, whose research specialises in gender inequalities in employment in male dominated industries. “Through this project, we want to empower women to gain confidence by receiving non-judgemental female-to-female advice and support, thereby enabling their careers to take off.”

Called ‘alta’, the project enables professional women to access an online platform to help them link up with a suitable female mentor. Based on their answers to online questions, the website’s algorithm then matches up the mentee with the most compatible mentor.

Volunteering mentors are also required to answer questions on the platform to determine whether they have the right skills and personality to oversee someone else’s career development. As well as helping women receive career guidance, alta is beneficial for the mentors, as it helps raise their profile in the profession.

After initial contact, both parties are free to arrange when, where and how often they meet, although they are advised to meet for one to two hours every six weeks.

Under the aegis of the Royal Aeronautical Society, alta is working with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and other partners across the aerospace industry. By signing up to alta and paying a small joining fee, companies can help their female professionals receive mentoring from across the industry – not just from someone in their company.

Such assistance can help women feel valued, to assist them in getting into leadership positions, and increase female retention in the industry. It might also help them gain confidence, receive assistance when they are returning to work after a maternity break, or reduce their suffering from ‘impostor syndrome,’ whereby they feel they don’t deserve to thrive in a male-dominated workplace.

“If we take the Royal Aeronautical Society, it has 25,000 members but just 1700 are women, while in the UK only four percent of pilots are women,” says Professor Durbin. “This puts a lot of pressure on women working in the industry.”

The mentoring project comes at a time when many young women who take STEM subjects are failing to enter the engineering workforce, given the gender stereotyping that can exist in the sector. Professional women engineers also often drop out of the industry or fail to return after maternity leave. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a “leaky pipeline,” a metaphor used to describe the continuous loss of women in STEM as they climb the career ladder.

Prior to alta’s launch in June 2018, the team organised focus groups, interviews and a survey to decide how the scheme could help professional women in the aerospace and aviation industry. After contacting 250 women, they discovered that existing mentoring was extremely limited in the industry and often did not include women as mentors. They also discovered that women were actively seeking female mentors in senior positions.

“You can’t be who you can’t see,” says Stella Warren, who is Research Associate in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre and also works on the project. “If you don’t have a female mentor who is a leader in the industry, it is hard to aspire to reaching that same level.”

One mentee who has received mentoring through alta says it has really helped boost her self-belief.

Guest blog post: A student representatives’ perspective of the Times Higher Education awards ceremony

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Guest author: Mia Collins, 3rd Year Business and Management Student 

Currently in my final year of studying Business and Management, I have been fortunate enough to represent the department as its Lead Department Representative and the Finance, Business and Law faculty as its Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee member. These roles have demonstrated huge benefits to my educational and professional development, yet, the most monumental opportunity the positions have brought me is attending the Times Higher Education Awards in London. As a typical student does, I have had significant exposure to Bristol’s nightlife – but none of them compare to the night I had at the awards ceremony.

The night began on, rather, a stressful start; having only 1 hour to get to get ‘black tie’ ready, I was under significant pressure– for those who know me well enough, will understand exactly the level of stress I mean. Despite this, I was immensely excited. We ventured over to the JV Marriott Grovesnor House in London, where we were met with bubbly and snacks. Walking into the reception room, in itself, was an experience; everyone had gone above and beyond with their appearance and looked fantastic. Before the night had really began, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know the people who facilitate the day to day operations of UWE; as a team of 14 (2 being myself and Lily Liu, the only students in attendance), were able to get to know the likes of Steve West, Donna Whitehead and lot more. Before one too many glasses of prosecco, we got a #teamUWE picture:

(Don’t we scrub up well!)

After a chatter and a social, we were taken into the main awards hall. Merely walking towards the hall, you are greeted by the most amazing floor imaginable (see below). From the onset, everything about the night was glamourous. Once we (eventually) found our tables, we sat down to a starter of crispy salt cod fritter (essentially, the fanciest fish finger ever), followed by slow braised beef short rib with vegetables, finishing off with a Greek yoghurt tart and petits fours – yum.

As time went on, the more nervous we all became, and before we knew it, our category was up next. We had thankfully been shortlisted, for the second year in a row, Business School of the Year and were up against some intense competition. The category was announced… UWE’s participation was mentioned… a huge cheer from all of our 3 tables… on the very edge of our seats…the winner was announced… and THEN, ah. ESCP Europe Business School were awarded the winners of 2018. Despite not winning, this year(!), we didn’t lose spirit. We were up for Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration. Again, we didn’t quite get it this time; we did, however, receive a special commendation for our efforts. Not all bad, eh?

The night didn’t end there – a disco was to follow. Thankfully, we were sat the closest to the stairs, so UWE were the first to get to the dancefloor. I must add, we took over the ENTIRE dance floor, truly a UWE takeover. The night didn’t purely involve partying, it was a great opportunity for me to develop my networking skills and get to meet some senior figures from all across the country – one in particular, the Sponsorship Director of the Times Higher Education awards. After hours of singing our hearts – out at the very top of our lungs – lunging and squatting(?) to the beat and showing the other universities why UWE really are the best, the disco came to an end – it takes a lot of skill and endurance to be the FIRST and LAST ones on the dancefloor, but we executed it so well.

We got back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning and, with no voice left and feet in agony from high heels, we sat in the lobby, each with our takeaway laughing and chatting until it was time for bed.

The night as an entity was phenomenal, I am incredibly grateful to be 1 of the 2 students fortunate enough to attend. I’ve not only taken away great memories from it but have also made great relationships with senior staff whom I would never usually have the opportunity meet. A huge thank you to everyone who facilitated the evening and made it as incredible as it was. Every day I am more and more honoured to represent UWE and everything we achieve. Bring on Business School of the Year 2019!

Below are a few photos from the evening:

Scale up scheme to offer businesses in the West funding and support from leading experts

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S4G (Scale Up 4 Growth), a brand new programme that launched mid-November, brings together experts from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), NatWest and law firm Foot Anstey, to deliver grant funding and relevant, high quality support and training to West of England businesses with ambitious growth plans.

The scheme is open to businesses in any sector that want to grow and scale up their business. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available to help address the challenges that West of England businesses face when growing and scaling up their operations. The grants will cover 37.5% of growth projects’ costs.

From January, leadership and business experts from UWE Bristol, as well as legal and finance professionals from Foot Anstey and NatWest will conduct a series of fully funded workshops and provide targeted support through one-to-one sessions. These workshops and one-to-ones will help businesses address the challenges they face in growing or ‘scaling up’, such as how to increase leadership capacity, finding a talented workforce, increasing sales, expanding infrastructure and accessing finance.

Robin Halpenny, who leads the S4G programme at UWE Bristol said: “S4G is an exciting and unique offering for businesses, as it is rare to find a scheme that offers one-to-one sessions from experts combined with workshops, as well as the option to get funding in order to grow.”

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “The scheme aims to stimulate the regional economy by helping successful, fast-growth companies in the West of England make that next step up, to realise their full potential and overcome the barriers to getting on to that next rung of the ladder in terms of growth.”

Matt Hatcher, NatWest Director of Commercial Banking in the South West, said: “NatWest runs the largest fully funded accelerator programme in the world and over the last three years more than 5,000 entrepreneurs have been supported by one of our 12 regional Entrepreneur Accelerators to grow and scale-up their businesses.

“In the South West this year, we’ve provided funding of nearly £3bn to SMEs and S4G is a perfect fit with the development of our scale-up proposition, which aims to help even more local companies. The partnership allows us to reach more businesses across the region so we can support them with the funding and sector specific help then need to grow their business.”

Nathan Peacey, Partner at Foot Anstey, said: “Foot Anstey has been on its own incredible growth journey in recent years so we really understand the challenges and opportunities that businesses face from our own personal experience.

Our team can provide insights and the right level of legal expertise across a whole range of areas to businesses when they need it.”

S4G will run until 2021. For more information and to submit an application for the scheme, please visit www.scaleup4growth.co.uk 

Case study: Eliminating Uncertainties and Improving Productivity in Mega Projects using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Lukumon Oyedele and the power of big data in relation to Mega Projects. 

Written by Jeremy Allen:

A series of projects at the Bristol Business School combining cutting-edge digital technologies could potentially revolutionise the way industry tackles management of Mega Projects at the bidding stage. These innovative technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Professor Lukumon Oyedele and his team of developers have created software that harnesses the power of big data and artificial intelligence to help companies accurately plan and execute Mega Projects (large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost hundreds of millions of pounds).

The software uses advanced analytics to predict a whole range of complex project parameters such as three-points estimates, tender summaries, cash flow, project plans, risks, innovations, opportunities, as well as health and safety incidents.

The project, whose flagship simulation tool is called Big-Data-BIM, is part of a partnership with leading UK construction contractor Balfour Beatty, to help it plan better power infrastructure projects involving the construction of overhead lines, substations and underground cabling. By using the software, the company is able to improve productivity and maximise profit margins.

“When planning a tender for a project, companies often plan for a profit of 10 to 15 percent, but on finishing the project, many struggle to make two percent profit margin,” says Professor Oyedele, who is Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Chair Professor of Enterprise and Project Management.

“The reason is that there are many unseen activities, which are hard to capture during the early design stage. Besides, the design process itself is non-deterministic. This is why when you ask two quantity surveyors how much a project is likely to cost; they often produce different figures.

“With Big-Data-BIM, we are bringing in objectivity to plan the projects and taking care of uncertainties by engaging advanced digital technologies, so that a tender estimate remains accurate until project completion, with minimal deviation from what was planned at the beginning.”

The tool taps into 20 years of Balfour Beatty’s data on power infrastructure projects and learns predictive models that inform the most optimal decisions for executing the given work. The tool informs the business development team at the beginning of the project whether it is likely to succeed or fail.

One of the functions of the software is to create a 3D visual representation of project routes to understand complexity, associated risks (like road and river crossings) and opportunities (such as shared yards and local suppliers). For this purpose, the software taps into Google Maps data and integrates data from the British Geological Survey and Ordnance Survey to discover automatically the number of roads, rivers, and rail crossings.

The tool performs extensive geospatial analysis to find out the optimal construction route and measure distances between route elements with a high degree of accuracy. “This all happens within a twinkle of an eye. Without leaving your office, you can determine the obstacles on the planned route of the cables, or whether there is a river in the way,” says Professor Oyedele.

By mining the huge datasets of health and safety incidents, the software can also determine what kind of injuries might occur on a project, and even produce a detailed analysis of the most probable body parts that could be prone to injury. This can help prepare an accurate health and safety risk assessment before the work begins.

The software provides an intuitive dashboard called “Opportunity on a page” where all predictions are visualised to facilitate data-driven insights for designers to make critical planning decisions.

As a contractor, Balfour Beatty uses the tool to enable it to submit the best bids to clients so that it can have a high chance of winning them. The software is also set to be provided for other industries carrying out linear projects. These are to include water distribution networks, and the rail, roads, as well as oil and gas sectors.

 

Case study: Shaping minimum wage policy

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Featured Researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Felix Ritchie’s research on the minimum wage.

Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Research conducted at Bristol Business School on the UK’s minimum wage has significantly influenced how the government sets its rates for entry-level pay. By helping shape policy decisions, and redesigning some national surveys about pay, the work has led to direct impact on the wider community.

“Wage levels are extremely important – the difference of a few pence on a wage may be negligible to an employer, but for someone on the breadline working 40 hours per week, this can make a big difference,” says Dr Felix Ritchie who leads the research.

Dr Ritchie is Director of the University’s Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) and is an authority on non-compliance with the minimum wage in the UK and on the quality and use of labour market data.

He and UWE Bristol colleagues Dr Hilary Drew and Dr Helen Mortimore (both Human Resource Management experts) have worked extensively with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Their work has looked to establish whether results from national surveys on minimum wage paint a true picture of the minimum wage landscape. This in turn allows governments to monitor more accurately how the rate affects employment.

The team has discovered that survey results on minimum wage often do not tell the whole story. Based on statistical analysis and interviews, they have found that both employers and employees tend to round up or reduce rates to the nearest whole number when answering survey questions about pay.

This means that a wage set at, say, £7.05 can lead employees to report it as £7 on a survey, which inaccurately implies employer non-compliance. And if the wage level is below a whole number (e.g. £6.93), the employer tends to round up the figure, meaning statistics inaccurately show a higher number of employers paying over the minimum wage.

Based on these findings, Dr Ritchie and his colleagues have made a recommendation to set a rate that is easier to use in calculations. In 2014, this directly influenced the government’s decision to set the wage at £6.50, which subsequently had a direct impact on how employers reported their pay in surveys, and led to more accurate statistics.

The researchers have also found that employers who are non-compliant in paying the minimum wage – especially when remunerating apprentices – often do so unintentionally because of a lack of knowledge about wage structure. For instance, minimum wages are usually based on age, but employers are sometimes unaware that apprentices over 18 are eligible for a higher wage once they complete their first year of training.

“Apprentices trust Employers, who think they are doing the right thing but many don’t know or understand the rules. This means that if something goes wrong, there may be no mechanism for correcting errors,” explains Dr Ritchie.

The experts also found that while surveys indicated that up to 40% of apprentices appeared to be underpaid, the true figure was closer to 10-15%. Based on interviews with apprentices, the team attributed this inaccuracy to the poor survey wording. Dr Hilary Drew explains: “We found that the apprentices had problems filling information in, and we wouldn’t have known this just by looking at the statistics.”

The team therefore suggested ways to modify the questionnaire with more accessible questions so results would better represent apprentices’ knowledge of hours and pay. This was implemented in a brand new survey.

Overall, the team has developed an excellent reputation in the area of wage level statistical analysis. As a result, the LPC and other organisations often call on Dr Ritchie and colleagues as experts to comment on minimum wage policy.

Professor Felix Ritchie

Featured researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Felix is an applied economist with an interest in government data, labour economics, data management and security, statistical disclosure control, privacy and identification, decision-making policy in the public sector and alcohol and drugs policies.

Email: felix.ritchie@uwe.ac.uk Phone: +4411732 81319