Wishes CYMRU

What is The Virtual Institute About?

The establishment of the Wales Virtual Institute of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences was 'pump-primed' by the generosity of Cardiff University, but most other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Wales with an interest in its subject area have already confirmed their support for it together with the Sports Council for Wales.

The initial impetus for establishing 'The Virtual Institute' came from the widespread interest shown throughout the Principality for an 'all Wales' conference held at Cardiff University on 22nd July 2004, that covered the subject areas inherent in the title.

The meeting clearly demonstrated that there is enormous expertise among the HEIs in Wales that bears not only on sport and exercise, but also on the lifestyle and health of the entire nation. 'The Virtual Institute' thus forms part of a direct response by the HEIs to the Welsh Assembly Government's 'Health Challenge Wales' initiative. The latter is a commitment to improving the lifestyle, health and physical fitness of the nation.

The launch of 'The Virtual Institute' has been planned in two phases:

  1. this current initial launch (May 2006) in which the most important features have been put in place.
  2. Final launch in the summer of 2006, where further features will be added - including a document upload area and the facility for email alerts.

Vision and Mission:

The express purposes of 'The Virtual Institute' are:

  1. To promote increased awareness of research activities in the fields of sport, health and exercise sciences within the different higher education institutions throughout the Principality and...
  2. Foster new collaborative links between individuals and institutions in these research areas.

It seeks to provide a framework for multidisciplinary research and to create opportunities for a network of communication among researchers throughout Wales. It is hoped that this will enable Welsh academics to take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge. 'The Virtual Institute' thus seeks to become a collaborative community of academics based in Wales, that will be of international recognition. In order to attain this vision, the Virtual Institute will foster the networking opportunities that will hopefully lead to researchers working on major collaborative projects and showcase to an international audience, the cutting edge research that is being carried out in Wales.

As well as having a global audience, 'The Virtual Institute' provide direct benefits to Wales by:

  • contributing to the 'Health Challenge Wales' initiative of the Welsh Assembly Government
  • providing the opportunity for attracting more research funding for collaborative projects in Wales
  • providing information to local health professionals
  • helping Welsh HEIs attract the brightest and best researchers
  • providing a supporting framework for the training of postgraduate students.
  • providing a research support framework for national sports teams in Wales

'The Virtual Institute' also provides an excellent opportunity to raise the international profile of Wales and deliver economic, sporting and social benefits throughout the country by attracting the professional interest of those associated with the 2010 Ryder Cup and 2012 London Olympics.

'The Virtual Institute' has a management board that has initially been tasked with overseeing the development of the Institute and an Advisory Board that will monitor the content of the site and encourage the addition of new material. Every HEI with an interest in 'The Virtual Institute' is represented on the advisory board, but additional members have been recruited to ensure that all relevant subject areas are represented.

The organisational structure of 'The Virtual Institute':

Management Board Members:

There are currently 7 members of the management board whose remit is to develop, support and action the policies of 'The Virtual Institute' so as to enable it to fulfil its vision and mission. It will also approve publication of 'position statements' that represent the view of 'The Virtual Institute' as a collective body. The membership of the board will be reviewed annually. The chair of the management board acts as the Director of 'The Virtual Institute' and is Professor Mike Benjamin. The Deputy Director (and deputy chair) is Dr Nicola Phillips.

Advisory Board Members:

There are currently 28 advisory board members who will deal with new content submitted to the website via the chair of the advisory board ( Andrew Lemmey) The membership of the board will be reviewed annually. Each ' member institution' has a representative on the board who acts as a 'local representative' controlling the acceptance of membership applications from potential new members. The other members of the advisory board are all 'subject area specialists' who will collectively ensure that all areas of interest to 'The Virtual Institute' members are represented. These latter board members have the authority to publish content that needs to be approved by a subject specialist. They will be invited to do so by the chair of the advisory board. If approval of the whole board is required (for 'position statements'), this will be dealt with by the management board.

General Member:

Any academic in Wales (or associated with Wales) with a research interest in the subject areas of 'The Virtual Institute' may become a member. Their membership will be vetted by the 'local representative' (see 'advisory board' above)

Student Members:

Any student registered for a higher degree in one of the member institutions with a research interest in the subject areas of 'The Virtual Institute' may become a member. Their membership will be vetted by the 'local representative' (see 'advisory board' above).

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