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National Postgraduate Statistics Centre Opened

Story supplied by LU Press Office

the centre was officially opened by former president of the Royal Statistical Society, Professor Sir David Cox the centre was officially opened by former president of the Royal Statistical Society, Professor Sir David Cox

Subjects as diverse as criminology and cancer will be studied at Lancaster University's new Postgraduate Statistics Centre.

The new centre was officially opened on Thursday 21 February by the former president of the Royal Statistical Society, Professor Sir David Cox, as part of HEFCE's largest ever, single funding initiative in teaching and learning.

Sir David said he was delighted to unveil the plaque.

"It's an excellent building but it's the people who make it work and Lancaster University already has an international reputation in statistics. This Centre will further enhance that status and bring people here from all over the country. I'm sure that over the next few years this Centre will have a big impact at international level."

Nationwide 74 Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) have been funded as part of a £315 million investment to reward excellent teaching practice. The Lancaster Centre is the only one nationally to specialise in Postgraduate Statistics.

The National Centre includes a £2.4m state-of-the-art new building, with further recurrent funding of £500,000 for five years and will enable the institution to deliver substantial benefits to staff and students and to build on existing achievements in innovative and challenging ways.

The new centre and building will also establish Lancaster as a national training centre. The University is already an ESRC Regional Training Centre for statistics as well as being an ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, a national taught course centre for Operational Research and an academy for PhD training in statistics.

The Centre's Director Dr Gillian Lancaster said: "The new centre will welcome not only those wanting to specialise in statistics but also those from other disciplines who want to learn and apply statistical methods in their own research areas.

"Statisticians are found in all areas of the private and public sectors, and the demand for statisticians is high and growing. At Lancaster as a Statistics Group we get involved in many research studies that contribute to changes in practice or that progress knowledge in the field of application."

The work of statisticians at Lancaster has been vital in understanding issues as diverse as the foot and mouth outbreak and climate change. Collaboration with Pharmaceutical companies on international cancer clinical trials also has an important focus and from October 2008 this area will be a specialist stream on our MSc course in statistics. Studies carried out include:

  • Genetics: understanding the genetic factors which cause prostate cancer.
  • Assessing waiting times nationally for kidney transplants or modelling epidemics such as the foot and mouth outbreak in cattle in the North West
  • Credit scoring: applications for credit are now processed automatically using scoring rules that have been developed by statistical techniques. From the viewpoint of the bank, these techniques show that while clients in the 18-22 age range are more risky in terms of debt repayment, they are also the more profitable.
  • Criminal histories of serious offenders: work for the Home Office studying murderers and sex offenders reveals that those already convicted of kidnapping are four times more likely to go on to murder compared to those convicted of non-kidnapping crimes.
  • Climate change: studying effect of climate change on extreme sea levels, and working with DEFRA on flood risk assessment for the whole UK coastline.

Professor Sir David Cox commented: "This is a great occasion for Lancaster, for the North West, and for statistics nationally and internationally.

The opening of this new Centre of excellence builds on a long and richly varied tradition of statistical work at Lancaster."

The building itself is designed to maximise light and space and provide spaces where staff and students can meet, with open plan learning zones on the first floor.

The state-of-the-art technology includes a lecture theatre with podcasting facilities, two computer labs and video conferencing facilities allowing academics and students to take part in virtual lectures in different universities.

To reduce its environmental impact the Centre uses solar chimneys to cool the building during the summer and recover heat in the winter. The glass wall allows views of the surrounding parkland and a reed lake provides environmentally sensitive rain drainage

Statistics research at Lancaster is internationally-recognised and received the highest rating in the Research Assessment Exercise of six stars.

Fri 22 February 2008

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