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School of Welsh announces the winners of their special undergraduate scholarships

Cardiff University’s School of Welsh has selected six prospective students to receive the 2016 Creative Minds Scholarships.

This is the second year that the School has offered these unique scholarships which reward the creativity of candidates as opposed to setting an exam paper or essay. Many entries were received from all parts of Wales, with posters, poems and pieces of art arriving at the School office.

There were five scholarships, each worth £3,000, available this year. However, because of the exceptionally high standard of the entries, six scholarships have been awarded.

The six winners, who will each receive £3,000 when they join us in September, are:

  • Cadi Jones - Ysgol Brynhyfryd
  • Esther Llwyd Ifan - Ysgol Gyfun Gymunedol Penweddig
  • Gwen Shenton - Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera
  • Kate Sloan - Ysgol Greenhill
  • Katy Wills - Ysgol Uwchradd Llanisien
  • Lleu Bleddyn - Ysgol Bro Hyddgen

Dr Siwan Rosser, Admissions Tutor at the School of Welsh, said: “We received more entries this year than last year and the standard was extremely high. It was very hard for the judges to choose the winners as each entry was deserving in its own way. Because of the quality of the entries we decided to award six full scholarships and shared £2,500 of additional funds between the other scholarship entrants.

“We wish all the winners the very best of luck in their upcoming exams and look forward to meeting them in the near future.”

The Creative Minds Scholarship was launched in order to increase the financial support available to students from the School. Applicants are asked to prepare an application that demonstrates their creativity, reflects their personalities and expresses their ideas in an original way.

There is no formal application form but applicants are asked to respond to three questions:

  • Why do you want to study Welsh in Cardiff?
  • What makes you a special candidate?
  • Why should Cardiff University’s School of Welsh accept you?

There are five Creative Minds Scholarships available for prospective students looking to join the University in 2017. The closing date for applications is 28 February 2017. Contact the School Office for further information.

At the end of the academic year Cardiff University hosts the Enriching Student Life Awards to recognise and celebrate the hard work of staff and students.

This year, the School is celebrating success with two staff members and one student making the shortlist for the awards. The winners will be announced in a ceremony on Thursday 28 April 2016.

Dr Angharad Naylor, lecturer and Welsh for All Project Manager, is nominated in the ‘Welsh Education Champion’ category and Dr Jonathan Morris is nominated as ‘Most Innovative Member of Staff’. In addition, Steffan Bryn, a final year student, has made the shortlist for the ‘Honour Roll’.

Dr Jonathan Morris said: “I was delighted with the nomination and making the shortlist is an honour. I’m genuinely thankful to everyone who has voted and I look forward to celebrating in the company of my colleagues from the School of Welsh and other Schools.”

Dr Angharad Naylor added: “It’s an honour to receive this kind of recognition and I’m very grateful to everyone who voted. It has been an exciting year especially with the launch of Welsh for All last summer. I’m looking forward to the ceremony.”

Congratulation to everyone who made the shortlist and all nominees. It is good to see that the staff’s work makes a real impact on the lives of students at Cardiff University. Best of luck at the awards ceremony!

The full shortlist for this year’s Enriching Student Life Awards is available on the Student Union’s website.

University academics will join star storytellers to celebrate the magic of literature for all ages, at the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival.

Experts from the School of Welsh and the School of English, Communication and Philosophy will play a leading role in the Festival, which runs from 16 to 24 April 2016, sharing their diverse and dynamic research in the field of children’s literature.

They feature in a programme that includes best-selling children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, Barry Cunningham - who discovered JK Rowling - and a host of English- and Welsh-language authors and illustrators.

The events the University will lead during the Festival are:

  • 18 April – Dr Catherine Butler (School of English, Communication and Philosophy)
    Taking children’s literature seriously
  • 20 April – Dr Siwan Rosser (School of Welsh)
    In discussion with Gareth F. Williams (celebrated Welsh-language children's author)
  • 21 April – Professor Damian Walford Davies (School of English, Communication and Philosophy), Dr Siwan Rosser and guests
    A Welsh Dahl? – Discussion based on the forthcoming University of Wales Press publication Roald Dahl: Wales of the Unexpected

Professor Damian Walford Davies, Head of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy said: “Our Schools’ involvement with this established festival plugs into both the radical playfulness and the high seriousness of children’s literature (which is literature for adults, too). On show is Cardiff University’s engagement with the capacity of literature to stimulate young readers’ imaginations.”

“The study of children's literature can shine a light on cultural and linguistic issues in contemporary society and the festival, which continues to grow every year, provides an opportunity to share the University’s extensive research and expertise in this area. It also celebrates the joy of reading and provides young people with a gateway to the magical world of words and imagination,” adds Dr Siwan Rosser from the School of Welsh, who has been involved with the festival since its inception in 2013.

Professor Hywel Thomas, Cardiff University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, said: “The Children’s Literature Festival provides us with an exciting platform to share our first-rate literary research and engage a wide audience, from children through to adults. As co-organisers of the Festival we are proud to be help bring this diverse and entertaining programme of events to the local community.”

All of the festival events, whether for young people or grown-ups, aim to inspire, nurture and encourage a life-long love of reading and books. This year, the festival will also celebrate the birth of one of Cardiff’s best known authors – Roald Dahl - as it hosts themed events marking the centenary of his birth.

The festival has continued to grow over the years, expanding to run across two weekends this year.

The Children’s Literature Festival is funded by Cardiff Council.

Scholarship funds six week research visit to McGill University

Sara Orwig is jetting off to Canada for a period of study with expert academics at Montreal’s McGill University.

McGill University is a highly regarded institution, ranked in the top 25 in the latest QS rankings.

Sara’s visit is being funded by a Scholarship from the International Council for Canadian Studies and Professor Catherine LeClerc, an expert in literary multilingualism and literary translation in the French Department, is the academic sponsor.

Sara’s thesis centres on comparing code exchange in Welsh and French-Canadian literature and therefore sees the trip as an invaluable opportunity to utilise McGill’s library resources.

Discussing the trip, Sara said: “Travelling to Canada and McGill provides me with an opportunity to meet and engage with a number of authors responsible for the texts I am analysing for my thesis. It will also be an opportunity to establish relationships with noted scholars in the field and those interested in the connection between bilingualism and literature.”

Professor Diarmait Mac Giolla Chriost, Research Director at the School of Welsh, added: “This trip is a wonderful opportunity for Sara to take capitalise on the expertise and perspective of McGill’s academics. She will also be developing professional and personal contacts that will be valuable as she progresses with her thesis.”

Congratulations to Gethin Wynn Davies, third year LLB and Welsh student, who has won the Chair at the 2016 Inter-Collegiate Eisteddfod held in Cardiff on February 27.

Competitors were asked to submit a poem on the subject of ‘cam’, interpreting its meaning as they wished, whether to mean step or a wrong. According to Dr Llŷr Gwyn Lewis’ adjudication, Gethin managed to "employ the cynghanedd to his own uses, delivering his message in a fresh, economical and contemporary manner…This was a very subtle and succinct poem and certainly the most complete composition of the competition.”

Many students achieved success in the Homework competitions and on the Eisteddfod stage.

One student, Yann Guillaume Nurismloo, currently following the Welsh for All programme, was victorious in the Homework for beginners competition.

Dr Angharad Naylor, Welsh for All Project Manager, said: “Yann’s achievement is particularly notable given that he has only been learning Welsh since October. I am delighted that Welsh for All is proving such a success and look forward to expanding the provision in the new academic year.”

Bangor displaced as Cardiff rises 17 places to 12th in the UK.

Cardiff University offers the best student experience in Wales, displacing Bangor University, according to the latest Times Higher Education (THE) UK Student Experience Survey.

Measured against the rest of the UK’s universities, Cardiff now sits in 12th place – a rise of 17 places on last year’s survey - while Bangor and Swansea trail behind at 14th and 33rd, respectively.

The THE Student Experience Survey, now in its 11th year, is unique in that it looks beyond the usual definition of the student experience – comprised largely of teaching, learning, assessment and feedback – to a broader definition, one created by students themselves that includes those aspects of university life that matter most to them.

Professor Patricia Price, Cardiff University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience and Academic Standards, said: “We are delighted to be in the top 20 universities in the UK and top in Wales for student experience. The University’s much improved position overall, and particularly on measures such as high quality lectures, facilities and well-structured courses, reflect significant investments we are making in the student experience.

“These include upgrading our learning spaces, longer library opening hours, a major focus on assessment and feedback and more access to student support services, as well as the establishment of a Centre for Education Innovation to drive learning and teaching excellence.”

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh, added: “The THE results show how good Cardiff University students general experience is, on a social and academic level, and how we are leading the way in Wales. As a School, we are keen to ensure that the Welsh speaking students have an excellent experience. The community in Cardiff is a close and lively one and there are a huge range of activities and events on offer through the medium of Welsh, within the University and externally across the capital.”

More than 15,000 full-time undergraduates took part in this year’s survey, with 4% more participating than last year. All respondents were members of YouthSight’s Student Panel – largely recruited via UCAS – and their views were gathered between October 2014 and June 2015.

The full survey results can be accessed here

American students enjoy an afternoon at the Senedd

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM, welcomed 15 students from Colgate University, Madison County, New York, to the Senedd.

The students are currently in Wales as part of a Study Abroad Scheme. In addition to their own degree subjects, students are given a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study modules at the School of Welsh which focus on the language and culture of Wales.

As part of the Wales and the Welsh Language module, the students were afforded the opportunity to tour the Senedd. They also had the unique opportunity to meet and ask questions of the First Minister and Llyr Gruffudd AM, Shadow Minister for Sustainable Communities, Energy and Food. The students posed a number of questions concerning Welsh history, the Senedd and its role in Government as well as Welsh political life more generally.

Joel Sommers, Colgate University’s Co-ordinator, said: “It was an honour to be able to meet the First Minister and Llyr Gruffudd AM at the Senedd, the heart of Welsh political life. Speaking with them and having a tour of the building has given me and my students a deeper understanding of Wales and its politics, society and culture.”

School of Welsh congratulates former student, the bard Ifor ap Glyn, on his new role.

Ifor ap Glyn has been named by Literature Wales as the new National Poet of Wales, following on from Gillian Clarke.

Ifor will take up his new role, the fourth National Poet for Wales, on May 31 2016 at an event with his predecessors, Gillian Clarke, Gwyn Thomas and Gwyneth Lewis, during the Hay Festival.

Born in London to a Welsh family, the poet, presenter and Director of Cwmni Da, now lives in Caernarvon. Twice a winner of the National Eisteddfod Crown (1999 and 2013), Ifor also spent a year as the Welsh Children’s Poet (2008-2009).

Ifor studied for a degree in Welsh and Welsh History at Cardiff University between 1980 and 1983 and some of the staff remember him well.

Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh, who taught Ifor, said: “I’d like to congratulate Ifor on this special honour. We are very proud of his connection with the School.

“The School of Welsh has long been a breeding ground for some of Wales' greatest writer. It is a pleasure to see one of our former students achieve such significant public recognition. We wish him well in his new role and hope we can welcome him back to the School in the near future.”

As Welsh people around the world celebrated St David’s Day, a new project which aims to document contemporary use of the Welsh language got underway

Led by Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy, in collaboration with Swansea, Bangor and Lancaster Universities, the £1.8m National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh, or Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes (CorCenCC), project commenced on 1st March 2016. CorCenCC is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The funding enables the development of the first ever large-scale corpus - a collection of texts, or a body of written or spoken material for linguistic analysis - of the Welsh language.

Contributors will be drawn from the 562,000 Welsh speakers in Wales, who will contribute via crowdsourcing digital technologies, and the completed corpus will be freely available online to anyone wishing to view or use it.

The community-driven project is the first of its kind in that it aims to capture and represent Welsh language use across all communication types, including spoken, written and digital mediums, from people of all backgrounds. This will allow individuals to identify and explore the Welsh language as it is actually used, rather than relying on more formal approaches of how it 'should' be used.

Dr Dawn Knight, from Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy, who is leading the project, said: “Since securing the funding in late 2015 the project team across the partner universities has been planning towards the go live date. We have recruited five excellent research assistants and will shortly be announcing the involvement of high-profile project ambassadors very soon.

“This is an exciting time for us and we look forward to beginning the work of building the corpus. We will be launching our innovative data collection app, and reaching out to contributors from demographically diverse backgrounds, so that the data gathered represents the richness and variety of the Welsh language.”

The corpus project has linguistic, cultural and social relevance. Engaging with the public through new technologies will play a significant role in tracking variation and change in real language use, such as regional differences or the use of mutations over time.

The project will have a positive impact on the work of translators, publishers, policy-makers, language technology developers and academics, and a bespoke toolkit will be constructed for teachers and learners, integrating basic corpus functionalities for the exploration of language use.

The interdisciplinary, collaborative project will run for three and a half years and key stakeholders include the Welsh Government, Welsh Joint Education Committee, Welsh for Adults, Gwasg y Lolfa and University of Wales Dictionary.

The School welcomed around 140 second language sixth form pupils for a revision day recently.

A full day of workshops and interactive sessions was held in order to help the students prepare for their exams and give them an insight in to studying Welsh at University.

Lively sessions were held on specific aspects of the AS and A-Level curriculum such as poetry, film, the play, as well as general sessions on practicing Welsh language.

Dr Angharad Naylor, the School of Welsh’s Second Language Provision Co-ordinator, said: “As a School we are eager to help second language pupils from secondary schools in the area prepare for their exams. It is important that we work with schools in supporting these pupils and helping to instil confidence when using the Welsh language, inside and outside of the classroom. There has been an increase in the demand for Welsh speaking graduates and it’s important to encourage pupils to practice their language skills and highlight the doors that it may open for them in the future.

“The revision day was lively and we received a lot of positive feedback from the pupils and their teachers. We would like to wish the pupils well with the studies and hope to welcome them back again soon, whether that is for another revision day or as future undergraduates.”