Monthly Archives: April 2015

Kent alumna abseils down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in aid of the Kent Law Campaign

On Friday 17 April, Natalie Salunke (Eliot, 2002), Chair of the Kent Law Campaign’s Young Alumni Group, abseiled down the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London to raise money for the Kent Law Campaign.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, which was constructed to commemorate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is the UK’s tallest sculpture and plays host to the UK’s tallest freefall abseil, with views of up to 20 miles across London.

Natalie said: ‘I was quite apprehensive to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit when I realised that it was a free fall abseil rather than down the side of the structure! Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and the wind wasn’t too strong. The most difficult part of the abseil was making it over the ledge and allowing your body weight to hang entirely on the cables. After that, it was all about taking in the spectacular views and trying not to get swept away by the wind! Thanks again to all my friends, family and Kent connections who took the time out to support and sponsor me.’

Natalie’s abseil has raised an incredible £1,426.36 so far towards the Kent Law Campaign, a     £5 million project to build a new home for the Kent Law Clinic, which provides free legal advice and representation to members of the local community who need but cannot afford access to legal services, and the University of Kent’s Mooting programme.

To date, Natalie has raised in excess of £7000 towards the Kent Law Campaign, a staggering amount for which the Campaign sends her its heartfelt thanks.

Christina Banjo (Keynes, 2006) selected as finalist in emerging designers competition

Christina Banjo (Keynes 2006), who graduated from Kent in 2009, has been selected as a finalist for an international emerging designers competition, The Abury Design Experience.

The Abury Design Experience (ADEx) is the first international contest for emerging designers to create an accessory collection using traditional crafts knowledge from different cultures. Christina is one of nine finalists who will be up for the public vote, and was selected out of 80 candidates from 35 countries.

The two winners of the competition will receive a travel and production budget up to 5000 Euros and will also spend up to three months in Morocco or Ecuador. Not only will they have the opportunity to feature in leading fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar Germany, their collections will also be marketed with their names under ABURY, with half of the profits made being re-invested back into community educational programs.

Whilst studying her degree in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at Kent, Christina worked part-time for Liberty in London. ‘A sales manager from one of the brands we stocked visited the store to talk about the inspiration behind the new collection’ explains Christina. ‘I was immediately inspired, and asked her if I could intern at her company.’

The sales manager invited Christina to attend London Fashion Week, where Christina watched her talk to people about the collection and sell to store buyers. The experience inspired Christina to sell handbags of her own. ‘I went to a wholesale shop in London and bought 50 bags, which I then advertised to my friends at University and on Facebook. I went on to sell all of them.’ But Christina desired more creative input. After graduating from Kent and working as an HR Assistant in London for three years, she enrolled on short courses in handbag design with the London College of Fashion. She later travelled to Spain, where she spent time with Spanish artisans, learning the craft of luxury handbags, before launching her leather accessories brand Christina Chi in 2014.

Christina was unsure what career path to pursue when she left Kent. ‘I think one of the challenges I faced after leaving university was getting the first proper job. You think that, because you have a degree, you will have better access to jobs, but that’s not always the case. Though I enjoyed my degree, it was not a field which I felt passionate enough about to work in for very long. I was always going to set up a business, I just didn’t know at that time which field it would be in’ says Christina.

Her future aspirations are to further develop her business, and later to possibly invest in the tourism and leisure industry. ‘I want to grow my business to a point where I feel I have made an impact and a difference. I consider myself a business person first, and designer second. My passion lies in the operation of running a designer brand’ explains Christina. ‘I’ve learned that it’s important to be commercially minded and know what will sell, and how you should go about it.’

Voting for the Abury Design Experience is now open, and will close on 9 May.

Kent alumna abseils down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in aid of the Kent Law Campaign

On Friday 17th April, Natalie Salunke, Chair of the Young Alumni Group, abseiled down the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to raise money for the Kent Law Campaign.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit plays host to the UK’s tallest freefall abseil with views of up to 20 miles across London.  The Kent Law Campaign would like to congratulate and thank Natalie for taking part in this exhilarating challenge in support of the Campaign.

Natalie said: “I was quite apprehensive to abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit when I realised that it was a free fall abseil rather than down the side of the structure! Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and the wind wasn’t too strong. The most difficult part of the abseil was making it over the ledge and allowing your body weight to hang entirely on the cables. After that, it was all about taking in the spectacular views and trying not to get swept away by the wind! Thanks again to all my friends, family and Kent connections who took the time out to support and sponsor me. So far I have managed to raise £1,426.36 in total towards the Kent Law Campaign.”

Natalie has raised an incredible £1,426.36 towards her ArcelorMittal Orbit abseil so far. To date, she has raised in excess of £7000 towards the Kent Law Campaign.

Kent Law Campaign shortlisted for national THE award

The University’s successful Campaign to raise money for new facilities for its Kent Law School has been recognised in the 2015 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards.
The Kent Law Campaign, which has so far raised £3.4m out of a targeted £5m, is shortlisted in the Outstanding Development/Alumni Relations Team category of the annual THE awards.
The Kent Law Campaign is raising funds to build a bigger home for the Kent Law Clinic and a new Moot Court, both part of Kent Law School.
The award-winning Law Clinic involves staff, students and over 40 volunteer solicitors and barristers in private practice locally.  The Clinic provides free legal advice and representation to those in the community who need but cannot afford that service, and teaches and inspires the students who participate under supervision in providing this public service, developing their practical understanding with law in a rich social context.
The Kent Law Campaign has galvanised law alumni, current students and friends of the University in a dizzying range of law student-alumni initiatives, pulling the past and current generations into a shared fundraising endeavour, and also drawing in many individuals and organisations in the local community behind the University and its much loved Law Clinic.
By increasing alumni relations activity and organising a relentless programme of imaginative law events from sky diving to legal walks to abseiling to fun runs the Campaign has delivered an 86% increase in total philanthropic income raised in 2013/2014, compared to 2012/2013, according to the annual Ross Case Survey of Philanthropic Giving.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 18 June at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.  This promises to be a spectacular event with over 800 guests expected to attend, including politicians, senior sector figures, and academic and university staff from all corners of the UK.

Alumni join forces to run Kickstarter campaign for new theatre production – and they need your help!

Rachel Savage (Darwin, 2004) and Jess Cheetham (Darwin, 2005) met and became friends whilst they studied Drama and Theatre studies at Kent. After graduating in 2009, Jess formed the Spun Glass Theatre company, which creates theatre pieces that explore the barriers to love, and breaks down classic texts in order to address the modern issues within them. Rachel and Jess’ paths crossed again when Jess cast Rachel, now an actor, in her devised production, You Left Me in the Dark, inspired by Chekhov’s The Seagull. ‘It was a site responsive piece, performed in the Old Police Cells in Brighton for the Brighton Fringe Festival a couple of years ago’ recalls Rachel. ‘It was a testament to Jess’ vision for atmospheric creations, as it won an Argus Angel Award, one of the main festival awards’.

The duo have since joined forces again, this time to run a Kickstarter campaign for Spun Glass Theatre’s latest project, The Lovers. Inspired by The Lovers of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the theatre piece explores the chaotic nature of love and looks to explore the weight of gender stereotypes.

The piece recently enjoyed a very successful Research and Development (R&D) period with funding from Arts Council England (ACE), in which the characters were switched so that they were in same-sex relationships, and ran symposiums discussing issues of sexuality and gender, which were streamed online and led to people across the country discussing the issues raised.

The success to the R&D was so positive that Spun Glass Theatre has decided to take The Lovers to a full scale production. In order to raise funds to get the production on stage, the team have launched a Kickstarter campaign, and they need your support! ‘If we can show that there is a vested interest in this project by achieving our Kickstarter fundraising goal, with an audience willing and eager to see it, we will be eligible to apply for additional funding from ACE, so that we can take this production on a small scale national tour’ explains Rachel.

To find out more about Spun Glass Theatre, including details on how you can show your support for The Lovers, visit

‘Identity, Neoliberalism and Aspiration: Educating white working-class boys’, by Garth Stahl (Eliot 2001)

Garth Stahl (Eliot 2001), a Lecturer in Literacy and Sociology at the University of South Australia, has recently published a new book, titled Identity, Neoliberalism and Aspiration: Educating white working-class boys, which will be of interest to individuals in the field of sociology of education, and those from related disciplines studying class and gender.

A theorist of sociology of education, Garth’s research interests lie in the nexus of neoliberalism and socio-cultural studies of education, identity, equity/inequality and social change. He attended the University of Kent in 2001-2002 on his junior year abroad from Indiana University, where he studied for a degree in Second Education and English. During his time at Kent, he undertook volunteer work with at-risk students. The work inspired him to return to the UK to work professionally. His first employment was teaching at a failing school in Essex with a low level of teaching and learning (the school subsequently closed). ‘This experience – which was well beyond the scope of run-of-the-mill urban education challenges – taught me important first-hand lessons about disengagement, cultural deprivation, and the provision of education in British society’ says Garth.

He explains: ‘In the United Kingdom, it is widely documented, both in academic circles and in the popular press, that white working-class children consistently underperform at school. Today this ethnic group is considered to be one of the lowest performing in terms of educational attainment. The persistence of white working-class underachievement was also noted widely in the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills [OFSTED] (2014) annual report for the 2012-2013 academic year, where a poverty of low expectations was linked to ‘stubbornly low outcomes that show little sign of improvement’ (p. 1). Furthermore, the white working-class were portrayed as devoid of aspiration: “white young people have lower educational aspirations than most other ethnic groups” (Department for Children, 2008). As an educational ethnographer, who employs equity-based frameworks to explore the interplay of identity, culture, and schooling, I have a particular interest in these so-called ‘stubborn’ outcomes.’

In his book, Garth seeks to expand the understanding of white working-class disengagement with education, through presenting the findings from an in-depth sociological study exploring the subjectivities of white working-class boys within the neoliberal ideology of the school environment. The chapters discuss how white working-class boys in three educational sites embody social and learner identities, focusing on the practices of ‘meaning-making’ and ‘identity work’ that the boys’ experienced, and the disjunctures and commonalities between them. Considering the white working-class underperformance phenomenon to be highly contextual and symptomatic of larger issues in the UK education system, the central questions are:
What shapes the aspirations of these young men?
How do these young men comprehend their own disadvantage?
How do these boys make sense of expectations surrounding social 
What factors contribute to them ‘buying into’ education or ‘buying 
out’ of education?
How does the system set them up to fail?

Identity, Neoliberalism and Aspiration: Educating white working-class boys by Garth Stahl is available now.

Students help make Easter ‘eggstra’ special


Kent students helped make Easter ‘eggstra’ special for children in the Dolphin Ward at Medway Maritime Hospital.

The nine students, all studying at the Medway campus, handed out Easter eggs, toys and personalised cards to children on the ward. There was also a surprise visit by the Kent bunny (alias student Amy Burgess).

The visit on 2 April was organised by David Coldwell, Kent Union Volunteer Co-ordinator. On arrival at Dolphin Ward, the students were met by a nurse, known as ‘Auntie Annie’, who showed them around and introduced them to children patients and their parents

The Kent students involved were Rachel Johnston, Rabya Hasan, Tanvi Mahajan, Lima Calderia. Liam Barber, Gilbert Radulescu, Amy Burgess, Hazel Chan and Anastasia Borodina from Kent Business School, the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, and School of Sport and Exercises Sciences.

David Coldwell said afterwards: ‘My overriding image was that of joy, the beaming faces of our students and the response, although sometimes apprehensive, of the children on seeing the bunny. Most of the students had volunteered for me over the past year so I felt this visit was a kind of reward.’

Anastasia Borodina, who is studying Business & Management with a Year in Industry at Medway campus, said: ‘I really enjoyed bringing smile to kids’ faces, seeing little kids receiving Easter eggs and giving them out myself! The best part was when one little girl started following the Easter bunny and laughing out loud.’

To find out more about student volunteering opportunities at Kent, see: the GK Unions website (for Medway students)  and Kent Union webpages (for Canterbury students).

Special 50th celebrations in Rome


The University has celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special gathering at a prestigious art gallery in the centre of Rome.

Over 120 guests, including University staff, students and alumni, gathered at the Galleria Borghese on 1 April. They were welcomed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Keith Mander and Professor Tom Henry, Academic Director of Kent’s Rome centre.

During the Rome event, Professor Mander spoke about Kent’s development over the past 50 years, and its aspirations for the next 50. Professor Henry thanked the curator of the Galleria Borghese for enabling Kent to host the celebrations in such stunning surroundings, and also spoke about the University’s close partnership with the American University of Rome (AUR), where Kent’s postgraduate centre is based.

Guests were given exclusive access to the Galleria Borghese – which features an important collection of works by Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Canova – throughout the evening. Students from Kent’s Rome centre spoke about the art on display and Professor Henry gave a talk on Raphael’s The Deposition.

The University’s Dean for Europe Professor Roger Vickerman said afterwards: ‘It was wonderful to meet with our alumni, and our colleagues from AUR, at the event; my thanks to all who attended for providing us with such a warm welcome.’

The University has also recently hosted a 50th anniversary celebration for more than 200 alumni in the House of Lords, which included a performance by Invicta Voices, Kent’s alumni choir. To find out more about the other activities which are being held to mark the University’s 50th anniversary, see our events pages.

Celebration of outstanding research


Outstanding research across the University has been celebrated at a presentation of Kent’s first Research Prizes.

Twelve prizes were presented which highlight exceptional achievements over the past year – from publications in top ranked journals to high citation rates, significant funding awards and impact through public engagement and policy development.

The prizes were presented by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation Professor Philippe De Wilde during a gala dinner in Darwin Conference Centre on 27 March. Guests at the ceremony, compered by Professor of Agricultural Economics Rob Fraser, included Deans, Heads of School, nominators, the winners themselves, and a wide range of internal and external guests.

The Research Prizes scheme has generated considerable interest across the University since its launch in 2014. Forty applications were received from four-fifths of the University’s Schools, representing academics and students working in Biosciences, Philosophy, Drama and Psychology, among many others.

Professor De Wilde said: ‘The standard was extremely high, and reflects the diverse, exciting and vibrant research culture across the University. These prizes celebrate the exceptional achievement of our staff and students, and the panel had to make some tough choices between excellent candidates.’

Winner of the Social Sciences Faculty Prize for Early Career Research, Dr Nik Rajkovic (Kent Law School), spoke for many in thanking the selection panel for his prize: ‘I cannot describe to you how wonderful this news is. It means a lot to a junior colleague like me to have this vote of confidence and support from my university. It give me that extra boost to keep ploughing forward and develop new contributions and impact.’

A full list of Research Prize is available on the Research webpages:

The second round of the Research Prize scheme will open in autumn 2015.