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A new study abroad program at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England will offer juniors majoring in English and American Studies an immersive experience in an English-speaking country, Notre Dame International (NDI) associate director David Younger said.Sara Shoemake | The Observer Younger said the study abroad program is part of an exchange agreement between Notre Dame and UEA. He said the first UEA student is currently studying on Notre Dame’s campus this semester, and the first Notre Dame student will travel to Norwich in the spring.Younger said the University began working to establish the program in the spring of 2013, after an American Studies professor at UEA contacted the chairs of the English and American Studies departments. For the next three years, Younger said, each university will send a maximum of two students to the other school per semester — two for the full year or two students for the first semester and two for the second.“If the program [is] successful and interest in the program extends beyond these two disciplines, the program could expand to other areas in the future,” Younger said.Professor of English Valerie Sayers, who headed the Department of English when the program was established, said the department took an interest in partnering with UEA because the Norwich program would give English students the opportunity to experience the literary life of the city.“[The Department of] English was particularly interested in the wonderful history of creative writing at UEA, … the richness of their literature offerings and the possibilities for students who wanted to experience England outside of London and without the full support system of Notre Dame London,” Sayers said.Annie Coleman, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of American Studies, said the Norwich program would give American Studies students the ability to work towards their degree in an English-speaking country and at a university with a strong American Studies program.“In the past it’s been Dublin, primarily, and the program in Washington, D.C., where students in American Studies have been able to take classes for the major,” Coleman said. “It’s nice that there will be another program where they can do that.”Unlike the larger London program, where Notre Dame students all live in the same building, students in Norwich will live in dormitories with UEA students, according to the NDI website. Younger said this living situation contributes to the immersive experience of the program.“Having that direct connection to student life and the university will undoubtedly enhance the study abroad experience through cultural immersion,” Younger said. “Similar to ND and many other universities, the dormitories are not simply places where students sleep at night, but also serve as gathering places for study and recreation.”Sayers said this cultural immersion will extend to life in the city.“Students will be studying, working and living outside the communities of ND students who go to London and Dublin, so it’s definitely a program for independent and creative spirits who would like to immerse themselves in a side of the U.K. they might not otherwise experience so richly,” she said.According to the NDI website, UEA’s American Studies department ranks in the top three on several lists and surveys in the U.K., and the university has “a special reputation in creative writing.”Norwich, a city of 215,000 near the English coast, is a center of arts and culture, with several music and literary festivals throughout the year, the website said. According to the UEA creative writing program’s website, Norwich is the only UNESCO City of Literature in England.Coleman said American Studies students in particular will be able to study the United States from an outside view and contribute their own perspectives to discussions in the U.K.“When you’re not in the United States, but you’re thinking about the United States, the field of American Studies allows you an interdisciplinary look at a lot of different kinds of things — politics, society, culture, art, institutions, history,” she said. “… Our students have a lot to add to the students in Norwich. Having Notre Dame students represent us and be able to engage in these conversations from different perspectives is really valuable for both ends, which is why the exchange is going to be so great.”Tags: East Anglia, Norwich, Notre Dame International, study abroad, United Kingdom read more
First, a professional trustee will help manage conflicts of interest. Trustees are compelled to act independently and be able to negotiate with the scheme sponsor on behalf of the members. There are major challenges in demonstrating this independence to their fellow employees and the Pensions Regulator (TPR). These hurdles – combined with the Companies Act 2006, which requires directors to avoid conflict of interest within their company – make it very difficult for senior management members to act as lay trustees to their scheme, underlining the need for a professional.Another key factor is the knowledge and understanding that professionals bring to a trustee board. Significant time and resources are now needed to comply with Trustee Knowledge and Understanding (TKU) requirements introduced by TPR. This will only become more onerous under the forthcoming EU legislation for IORP II. This can represent a significant challenge for lay trustees who also have the ‘day job’ of running their business. While the appointment of a competent and experienced professional trustee will not exempt other trustees from the TKU requirements, it will make it easier for them to comply.The day-to-day responsibilities of running a business can result in lay trustees delaying key decisions required in respect of their company pension scheme. The appointment of a professional trustee will, therefore, put a far greater focus on the level of pro-activity needed in terms of scheme management and decision making, particularly with regard to investment decisions in response to market movements.The reduction in management time spent in the running of the scheme increases availability of senior staff. Lay trustees would normally hold senior roles within an employer business – it would not be unusual to find finance directors, company secretaries, chief executives and MDs forming part of a trustee board. It is difficult to put a value on the time of these individuals. However, the sponsoring business is highly unlikely to benefit greatly from any increased capacity from such senior individuals.There are, of course, costs involved in appointing a professional trustee. As with the appointment of any company adviser, whether this outlay delivers value for money will be dependent on the quality of the individual. However, if you get this right, this cost can be mitigated, if not eliminated, as an experienced professional trustee should be more effective at managing other required scheme provider costs.A professional trustee can change the focus of the scheme from being adviser-led to trustee-led. The understanding of the key issues and regulatory requirements will also come to the fore, enabling negotiations to be settled more quickly and efficiently, all of which can save on adviser fees and deliver other opportunity cost savings to a company.Another concern of appointing a professional is that the company may feel it is losing control and important historical scheme knowledge by reducing or, in some cases, eliminating its representation on the trustee board. This can, however, be addressed through regular communication, backed up with the accurate and current management information combined with a properly planned and executed handover.These and other concerns highlighted above are manageable and significantly outweighed by the benefits a professional trustee can deliver. These benefits extend not only to the pension scheme but, by freeing up the burden on lay trustee directors and allowing them to put greater focus on day-to-day business management, they can also help enhance a company’s overall success.Chris Roberts is trustee representative at Dalriada Trustees A professional trustee can change the focus of a pension fund from being adviser-led to trustee-led, says Dalriada’s Chris RobertsAmong the raft of pension changes introduced in April in the UK was the requirement that multi-employer defined contribution (DC) schemes, which include ‘master trusts’, must comply with new governance standards. These schemes now require at least three trustees to be serving on their boards, with a majority of these individuals being unaffiliated with any company (including the chair) that provides advisory, administrative, investment or other services to the scheme.This is a sensible piece of legislation that should help ensure greater levels of governance across pensions scheme boards, and, for those DC schemes that do not currently benefit from the input of a professional trustee (PT), it provides the ideal platform to re-evaluate that situation.You would fully well expect me, being part of an independent trustee firm, to campaign in their favour, but the arguments go far beyond commercial interests and are much more focused on the benefits and efficiencies that can be accrued by having on-going access to professional advice. read more
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