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12 January 2018

East 15 alumni return to the nest

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 6:32 pm

Familiar faces will be on the stage at the East 15 Clifftown Theatre in Southend  this term as alumni return with their new touring productions, The Lost Leigh Goose on Saturday 27 January performed by new Southend company, Wild Story Theatre and Joan,Babs & Shelagh Too on Monday 29 January presented by Conscious Theatre.

Wild story theatre weekly

Wild Story Theatre, founded by Elaine Hartley, aims to produce local stories about wildlife, folklore and history around Essex.   This project, which is backed by Metal Culture, includes several East 15 alumni, Dylan Tate, Assistant Director and Media Marketing, Emily Essery and Kate Austen, both performers and devisors and Rhea Locker-March, devisor.

Elaine said: “Dylan was on the Community Theatre course in Loughton. He graduated in 2008 and now tutors at East 15 in Southend, this term he is focussing on puppetry for the Physical Theatre course and BA Acting and Stage Combat. I met Dylan at an audition in 2010, we both got a job working with Flabbergast Theatre, and have been touring and creating exciting comedy puppetry shows ever since. We are now married and living in Leigh-on-Sea where Dylan is from.

“Emily was on the Physical Theatre course in Southend. We have been working with her for about four years and she is so much fun to work with, very creative and has great energy and input for devising and performing.

“Kate Austen, from Leigh-on-Sea,  was on the BA Acting course and I met her this summer at the Edinburgh Festival. We got chatting and realised we had Leigh-on-Sea in common among other performance interests.  It is great to involve another local in the production who feels close to the project matter and who can bring some  local knowledge to the production.

“Rhea was also on the Physical Theatre course and joined Flabbergast last year. She is a very talented and creative performer and I am excited to work with her on this production. Rhea is based in Southend so it is fantastic to have her on board. Rhea is helping with the development and devising of the show.”

Elaine chose Clifftown Theatre to launch this production as it is such a fantastic space that supports smaller theatre productions. She said: “I have been to watch a number of shows here and have always come away impressed, whether it is a student production or touring company.

“It is so important to have theatres such as Clifftown that will support upcoming companies and productions and provide an alternative to the large, commercial receiving houses that so often dominate theatre. The staff at Clifftown are always so friendly and helpful. Southend is lucky to have such a wonderful theatre on its doorstep.”

Joan, Babs & Shelagh Too is brought to Clifftown by Loughton Campus Contemporary Theatre graduate Gem Rudd-Orthner who is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Joan Littlewood’s birth, the woman many consider to be the mother of modern theatre.

Gem in role

Gem as Joan

Gem said:”Joan, Babs & Shelagh Too was inspired by Ken Campbell who taught me at East 15 just before I graduated. A few years later, when it was the centenary of Joan’s birth, I decided to take Ken’s advice and be Joan. Joan’s students founded East 15 to carry on her extraordinary actor training method. Debuting at Edinburgh Fringe as a work in progress, it attracted Oliver Senton who expressed an interest in redirecting it. I am so grateful for the journey I have taken with Oliver making the show into what it is today. I feel the whole process has been a tutorial from Joan because I have learned so much about producing shows as well as writing and performing them.

“I wanted to bring this piece to Clifftown because Joan is our guiding light and I feel that we, of all the theatre practitioners out there, should know about Joan and her enormous legacy. All contemporary theatre, especially the work that we all make, is derived from her.”

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NEwComERs brings early career researchers together

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 3:49 pm
The NEwComERs team

The NEwComERs team

The Network for Early Career Essex Researchers (NEwComERs) has had a very successful launch week, with its first training programme attracting over 250 participants from across all of our faculties.

The programme ran all week from 8 to 12 January, to support researchers in the early stages of their careers including newly-appointed lecturers, post-docs, research fellows and PhD and Master’s students.

NEwComERs is a cross-departmental collaboration between the UK Data Archive, the Research and Enterprise Office and Library Services to bring together researchers interested in different aspects of the research lifecycle.

The NEwComERs team is made up of Beate Reinhardt, REO, Katrine Sundsbo, Library Services, and Annette Pasotti and Helen Johnson from the UK Data Archive.

“We’ve had five workshops each day on everything from data management to publishing research and getting funding and demonstrating impact”, explained the team.  “It’s been a very successful week, helping the researchers with professional development, and alerting them to the resources we have that can support their work.”

The team have set up a mailing list, to keep the researchers up-to-date and to create a forum for discussion.  There’ll also be another research week in June, to build upon the success of the launch week.

If you’re an early career researcher and want to find out more, or talk to someone about the challenges you face and what you’d like to see in future workshops, email

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9 January 2018

On the move

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 5:01 pm

I know it hardly seems a minute since you were moving your student into university accommodation, but I’m afraid it’s already time to start looking at rental options for year two!

The subject may have been broached over the winter holidays and there are lots of different alternatives available, so there is still time to take advice and gather some research on what is the best path for your student.

Student in room blog

There’s plenty of choice in Colchester and Southend and students can stay on at University Square in Southend if they prefer to be close at hand. The Students’ Union has its own SU Lets office on the Colchester Campus which offers valuable support.

The first job at hand is to find people to share flats or houses with and you could pose some valuable questions to your student.

  • Are you looking for fellow clean beans or party pals?
  • Are you happy with one bathroom between you or do you like your own privacy?
  • Is speedy wifi a must?
  • Have you checked you are all thinking of the same sort of budget?
  • Do you need parking or are you happy to walk to Campus every day?

In my daughter’s case she opted for a flat run by a privately managed company which specialises in student accommodation. It was a simple three bedroom flat with one bathroom but worked ideally for her and her friends who shared it for the next two years.

It was easy to keep clean and just a 20 minute walk from Campus and a short stroll (or cheap taxi!) from a big supermarket. Any problems were dealt with quickly and the deposit was small and returned promptly at the end of the contract.

The other advantage to staying there for two years was we could leave stuff there securely over the summer and I didn’t have a house full of uni paraphernalia which had to be lugged to and fro.

I suppose it was really an extension of campus life so doesn’t suit everyone if you want a bit more freedom and your own front door. Also a year down the line and looking to fly the nest, she is concerned she has no experience of coping with  household bills.

If your student is keen to remain on campus, they can apply to be a member of the Residence Life team. Living in student accommodation, their (paid!) role is to help build a community spirit among the first year undergraduates by organising fantastic events and inspiring everyone to work as a supportive group.

It’s a brilliant experience to have on a CV and can be very rewarding. While Residence Life team members pay the standard price for their accommodation, they can make a substantial dent in the cost through this role.

As you can see there are plenty of options and it is definitely worth doing a bit of research rather than plunging ahead with the first idea that comes up, it will be home for the next year after all.

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5 January 2018

Blue is the colour for Essex Dementia Day

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:31 am

Everyone is invited to support Essex Dementia Day on Friday 19 January with events on the Southend Campus, organised by the School of Health and Social Care, and in Southend town centre.

Dementia3 weekly

Lecturer Wendy Rajah is arranging the popular Dementia Friends training and staff have the opportunity to experience the Virtual Dementia Tour. Worldwide, more than 1.7 million people have been on this tour which is medically and scientifically proven to be the closest experience of what dementia might be like.

The training will be held in the Multi-Skills Lab on the first floor of the Gateway Building and runs from 10am until 2pm.  Tea, coffee and cakes are provided, but take your own lunch. Please contact Wendy on to reserve your space.

Wendy said: “As this day is Essex Dementia Day, we would love colleagues to wear blue in support.”

A stall dedicated to Dementia Friends awareness sessions and providing information, support and contacts within the borough for those affected by dementia will be at The Royals Shopping Centre between 9.30am and 4.30pm.

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Our students are all heart

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 9:47 am

Furniture and electrical items worth more than £1100 were among the amazing goods donated by our students as part of the annual British Heart Foundation Pack for Good collection.

BHF 2017 Weekly

In the third year of this clear out campaign, students in our accommodation were encouraged to hand over items they didn’t want to squeeze into their packing when they left at the end of the summer term 2017.

In advance of the vacation, Accommodation Essex alerted all the students who live on campus and arranged for a mixture of donation boxes and clothing banks, giving students a total of 16 easily accessible points.

In 2015 when we first signed up to the nationwide scheme, 1,000 bags were collected. This year 2,843 bags were picked up at Colchester and 371 bags  in Southend.

Angie Flynn, deputy head Accommodation (operations) said: “These were fabulous results and this process definitely works both for our students and the operational clearing of the rooms, hopefully onwards and upwards in 2018!”.

Based on an estimated £14 bag value, the British Heart Foundation puts the total raised in cash terms at nearly £44,000, up from about £35,000 in 2016, helping to fund a range of projects, including research into fighting heart disease, defibrillators and heart support groups.

The scheme also means that the equivalent of 24.3 tonnes of items were diverted from landfill, instead being sold through the extensive network of BHF shops which sell 90,000 items every day.

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15 December 2017

Find out more about Yerun

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:10 pm

Essex is one 18 universities from across Europe that form the Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN).

We’re working with these universities to enrich the educational experience of our students, increase the impact of our researchers and share best practice across institutions.

We’ll be hosting the first YERUN Research Workshop at the Essex Business School on 25 and 26 January 2018,  bringing together academics from across the network to facilitate research collaborations in the area of Big Data.

As part of the workshop, we’re organising an open meeting from 12 noon to 1pm on Friday 26 January. This will be a great opportunity to find out more about YERUN and the opportunities that are available for all of our departments.

There will also be time on the afternoon of 25 and morning of 26 January for you to meet with key YERUN staff, discuss potential collaborations, and get some advice and support on how to do this.

If you want to come along to the open meeting, or if you’d like to meet with one of our YERUN colleagues to discuss specific collaborations, please email Benita Ganeva.

Future workshops will be hosted by other members of the network, focussing on Health and Ageing, Digital Humanities, Migration, and STEM.


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13 December 2017

Support for students

Filed under: Latest news — mh17332 @ 1:03 pm

Hannah Lamb, Student Engagement Manager, looks at the support available for students

By now most students will have settled into university life and will come home full of tales of their adventures.

But for some, the picture won’t be quite so rosy and they may be questioning their decision to go to university.  First year students are the most likely to leave their studies, with the end of the Christmas holidays being a particular pinch point.

It is hardly surprising that some find it tough. New students have so much to contend with, from settling into a new environment and learning to live independently to meeting new people and adapting to a new way of learning. Every day poses new challenges.

A national survey looking at why students leave university early found the top reasons fell into four main categories:

  • The course or university not matching their expectations.
  • Difficulty keeping up with the academic pressures.
  • Homesickness and struggling to integrate socially.
  • Financial difficulties or managing competing demands.

The good news is help is available for students who are struggling and the support of friends and family is vital. You can provide encouragement and moral support as well as pointing them in the right direction if they need help.

Students are far more likely to succeed if they get involved in university life and engage with their studies. They need to know that having to work hard is normal, and having to work hard doesn’t mean they are stupid.

They should speak to their personal tutor if they are struggling with the course or find it hard to meet assignment deadlines. There is advice online about submitting work late and what to do if there are extenuating circumstances, such as health issues or competing demands, which are affecting their coursework or performance in exams. For those who feel they are on the wrong course or in the wrong place, there is the option to transfer course, transfer university, or both. Find out more  online.

Homesickness is also normal, and will probably be accentuated if they are home for a month over Christmas. Getting involved is crucial, but often easier said than done.  At Essex there are lots of clubs and societies to join, a packed programme of events – with something to suit everyone and plenty of volunteering opportunities.  Do your best to encourage students to take part.

For those with money worries, the Students’ Union provides financial advice. The SU also employs more than 550 staff at Essex – the majority of whom are students. A part-time job is a great way for students to boost their CV and earn money at the same time. The University also runs a Frontrunner placement scheme – giving students the opportunity for paid part-time employment in University departments. Summer placement vacancies will be advertised in March.

Students are not alone at Essex, and if they want to know more about the help and advice available, a good first port of call for any student enquiry is the Student Services Hub.


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5 December 2017

Carol Service adds to the community spirit

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 6:25 pm

Have a look at the photos from our Christmas Carol Service on the Colchester Campus organised by student Thomas Watkiss to bring everyone together to share the season of goodwill, whatever their faith.

Thomas, a student at the Edge Hotel School, wanted to bring as many people as possible together. He said: “It was a truly multi-cultural event. I wanted to create a real community atmosphere and lots of different societies joined in.”

People taking part included the University Show Choir, Redeemed, Chinese Christian Fellowship , JAF – Jesus Alive fellowship, CathSoc and even the Students’ Union President herself, Zoe Garshong

Zoe said: “I believe that the spirit of Christmas is about unity and bringing people from all walks of life together. That’s what the story of the first Christmas illustrates, the wise men and the shepherds coming together from different backgrounds to celebrate.”

Thomas used his degree training in hotel management to ensure the evening ran smoothly, even borrowing a function sheet from Wivenhoe House hotel to double-check he ticked all the boxes, including Elf (Health) and Safety.

“The plan was to have a lot of fun but that takes serious organising. I have used my training, including looking at target markets and food hygiene, to make it a success.

“My studies keep me very busy but this is very important to me so I made sure I was well ahead of myself and could get everything done in plenty of time.

“Everyone I approached wanted to join in and I’ve had tremendous support from the Students’ Union and the University.”


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Festive fun before a busy year ahead.

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 6:17 pm

While the majority of students are heading to their families for the holidays, around 500 students don’t go home , but stay on our Colchester and Southend campuses.  Every year, our Students’ Union organises a packed programme of activities, including trips to London’s Winter Wonderland and film screenings. Southend students dressed up for Santa

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster hosts his popular Christmas lunch on Thursday 28 December, when about 150 students enjoy a festive get together. On other days students can enjoy days out to winter markets across East Anglia and even a visit to the famous Colchester Zoo.

But before that there was lots of activity to put everyone in the festive spirit.  At Colchester, there was a winter fayre on Thursday 8 December and a Christmas carol service on Monday 11 December. Our East 15 Acting School students in Southend started early with an upbeat carol concert in front of the famous Coca-Cola lorry which visited the town centre as part of its pre-Christmas nationwide tour.

While you relax and enjoy the holidays spare a thought for our hotel school students and nursing students who will be working over the break as part of their degree courses.

And what will 2018 bring? If your resolution is to expand your horizons keep an eye out on our what’s on calendar for the THINK! series of talks, designed to make you do just that. The series of thought-provoking Professorial Inaugural Lectures also continues in the new term. Our Students’ Union promises a galaxy of exciting diary dates including free screenings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

We will be opening our new indoor sport arena at the end of January with lots of new space for activities and matches.  We’re also hosting several events open to all during the ever popular Essex Book Festival during March. There’s never a dull moment here at Essex.

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21 November 2017

All I want for Christmas

Filed under: Latest news — mh17332 @ 2:06 pm

Heather’s daughter has now completed her studies at Essex, but here she remembers that first visit home.

Heather, left, and Manda, right, have both had children go off to university.

Heather, left, and Manda, right, have both had children go off to university.

Before you know it, it’s the middle of December and your offspring are on their way back from University for the winter break, one whole month of being together again.

Yes, that’s right ONE WHOLE MONTH. We had just about got used to our own company again, our home was beautifully tidy and we had even decorated our daughter’s bedroom.  The washing and ironing had reduced by a disproportionally large amount as had the food bill and now all that would change.

I had only instigated one rule for home visits from University – no laundry. I had never forgotten visiting a friend whose son was home for the holidays and her entire hallway was strewn with a term’s washing. She was very calm about it, while I was in inner turmoil.

So there we were all together again. While she had been away I had been in more contact with our daughter than my husband, so for the two of them, always the best of friends, it was valuable time to reconnect and get back to the important job of putting the world to rights.

Meanwhile I was biting my tongue as the dishes piled up, the ironing basket overflowed and the television seemed to be on a permanent loop of The Kardashians.

School friends were still a major part of our daughter’s life, of course, and there were plenty of catch-ups over the holidays. Most of them had gone to University so it was a great opportunity to exchange their varied experiences, different but often with the same pluses and minuses.  Every time she came home from a night out, I think she felt more reassured that her friends felt the same about being away from home and grappling with essays and presentations.

In a way it’s a funny time of year for the first big visit home. There are so many parties, celebrations and family gatherings that the winter break can make life at home seem like one big bundle of fun. The summer holidays before University, when, by the end, everything was ‘so boring’,  are instantly forgotten in a haze of presents.

Our daughter had had her ups and downs in her first term but there was never any doubt in her mind that she would be going back.  By now she was now thoroughly enjoying her course, had made friends and was looking forward to some Society events in the New Year. But of course, that isn’t the same for everyone and students can have second thoughts, particularly when they are home for a while. If, at any time, you have concerns about their wellbeing you can contact our colleagues in Student Support, using this form.

Before we knew it, the house was not only stripped of the Christmas decorations but also of the presence of our lovely daughter who had headed back to her student flat with supermarket bags full of food essentials for another ten weeks,  including washing powder of course.


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