University of Sheffield sends 2,013 students and alumni into space

  • World's highest advertisement promotes the University of Sheffield's "Go Higher" campaign, inviting students to upgrade to Sheffield in the Clearing round
  • Billboard, together with a microchip featuring the names of students and alumni, reaches an altitude of 37.6 kilometres

Stardate: 05.08.2013: "Advertising space: the final frontier." The University of Sheffield has sent a billboard into space advertising its "Go Higher" campaign aimed at attracting high quality UCAS applications from students during this year's Clearing process.

New undergraduate admissions rules introduced last year have relaxed student recruitment quotas for Universities. Students who achieve better than expected results also have the opportunity to "upgrade" to a better course or institution during the annual Clearing round.

The campaign is a direct appeal to students to set their sights higher and apply for a place at the University. A memory card on board the balloon assisted spacecraft carried the names of more than 2,000 University of Sheffield students, prospective students, alumni and academics. Students that took the "voyage" into space and others are being encouraged to Tweet about it, using the #gohigher hashtag with a link to the pre-registration page for Clearing at

The ad rose into the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of 37.6 kilometres before the balloon carrying it deflated and the craft descended with a parachute into the Pennines.

Gavin Douglas, Head of Student Recruitment, Admissions and International Relations at the University of Sheffield, said: "We have launched hundreds of thousands of people into the academic, professional, political and artistic stratosphere over the years and this campaign is a direct appeal to students who have set their sights higher."

The University, in parallel, has issued a list of achievements of its students and academics based around the Go Higher theme. A Red Arrows pilot, the project architect on the Shard, several Nobel prizewinners, an Astronaut, Olympic medal winners, a Cabinet minister and a world-class soprano are amongst the high fliers that have emerged from the University of Sheffield.

The University consistently ranks highly in UK and international league tables.Gavin Douglas added: "We have a brilliant track record of developing men and women of steel who reach great heights in their careers, whatever their chosen field. Our message to students this year is choose the University of Sheffield and Go Higher."

Students can browse courses online and pre-register their interest for Clearing places at the University from today at a dedicated Go Higher web page.

Last year the Government relaxed student number controls, giving universities the freedom to offer places to unlimited numbers of high-achieving candidates (defined as those achieving AAB grades or higher), while placing a cap on the number of others they could recruit. This year the threshold for "high-achieving" candidates has now been lowered to ABB.

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Go Higher examples – outstanding achievements by University of Sheffield alumni, staff and students

Steve Morris graduated with a BEng Aerospace Engineering degree in 2003 and is now one of nine 'Red Arrows' pilot. They are the fast jet pilots from frontline Royal Air Force squadrons. Once he has finished his three-year tour with the Team he will return to his Royal Air Force duties.

William Matthews studied Architecture, graduating in 1994. He has spent over 12 years working on Europe’s Tallest Building – The Shard. William was the project architect, supervising the final elements.

Professor Wainwright from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology has published on his search for microbes in the stratosphere. Samples of air removed from the stratosphere, at an altitude of 41 km, were previously found to contain viable, but non-cultureable bacteria (cocci and rods). Wainwright’s experiments aimed at growing these, together with any other organisms, present in the samples.

Mary Rose Cook graduated with an MEng in Software Engineering in 2004. She became known for her open-source software projects and online games, such as Empty Black, and she was headhunted by the famous New York incubator for programmers, Hacker School.

Mechanical Engineering has gone higher in numbers of female academic staff. From just one female in 1998 to 11/50 academics now. This is probably the department with the highest number of female mechanical engineering staff in the UK.

Richard Lamb studied Chinese Studies in 2000. He is the Asia Pacific Regional Sales Manager for Manchester United. In the past year alone he has successfully negotiated and closed deals in China, Japan, Taiwan & S.E. Asia with iconic global and local brands, and closed the first regional partnerships for Manchester United in China - Wahaha and China Construction Bank.

Niels Footman studied East Asian Studies in 2001 and ended up helping produce Korean Air's inflight magazine. He’s been a copy editor at the business desk of the International Herald Tribune and has managed the LG-One PR account in Korea.

Amy Studdart completed a degree in East Asian Studies in 2008. She is now the Asia Program Associate for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Her main responsibility is to help set the agenda for the Stockholm China Forum and edit the paper series.

Tom Nixon studied Chinese Studies in 2010, and he is now a Social and Online Media Analyst at Spectrum Consulting in London.

Professor Sir Hans Krebs et al's Nobel Prize winning discovery about metabolic pathways many years ago are still of key importance in biology and medicine.

Olympic Gold winner Jessica Ennis- Hill, CBE, studied Psychology, graduating in 2007 and receiving an Honorary degree in 2010. She is the current Olympic heptathlon champion, holding the current British national record for the heptathlon, the indoor pentathlon, the high jump and the 100 metre hurdles.

Former student Becky Kirby has worked in many roles within the Cabinet Office. Recently, she was Deputy Head of the Olympic and Paralympic’s Legacy Unit whereby she was supporting Lord Seb Coe as the Prime Minister’s Legacy Ambassador. Accomplishments include delivering £13bn of inward investment to the UK as a direct result of the games, having the strategic oversight of Ministerial trade visits and supporting the Prime Minister in delivering the Olympic legacy through the Cabinet Committee.

Elizabeth Watts is a British Soprano. She studied archaeology, graduating with a first class honours. She went on to study music at the Royal College of Music and won the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2006. She represented England in 2007 at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and was chosen as BBC 3's New Generation Artist from 2007-2009. She has made appearances singing in Boston and San Francisco Opera Houses.

Professor Matthew Flinders worked with the Houses of Parliament to establish the first ever University module to be formally accredited and co-taught by the Houses of Parliament. Seminars were delivered every Friday with MPs, former ministers and senior parliamentary staff coming up to the University of Sheffield to teach each week. This has now been rolled-out nationally based on the Sheffield pilot and from Sept. 2013. 14 Universities will offer the module. The initiative has gone national with a number of Australian universities and state parliaments establishing the module based on what was developed in Sheffield.

Elise Andrew is a influential blogger who studied Biology, graduating in 2012. She runs the Facebook page 'I F****** Love Science' which has amassed 6.1 million likes in a year, an endeavour which has had her called "the Neil deGrasse Tyson of Facebook".

Postgraduate Sonal Choudhary won a place on Al Gore’s "Climate Leadership" course.

Bryony Page, a current undergraduate, won her first international gold medal for the UK at the Trampoline World Cup in Bulgaria last year. After missing out on London 2012 due to an injury she is now fully recovered and on the road to the Olympics in Rio 2016.

Department of Politics' Alumni Rt Hon David Blunkett MP went higher in politics. Mr. Blunkett went from Local Councillor, leader of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield MP, Shadow Minister to Home Secretary.

Nicola Cooper graduated with an MEng in Software Engineering in 2005. She became the Manager at IBM, holding sole responsibility for the Royal Dutch Shell portfolio. She was voted Young IT Professional of the Year in 2011 by the British Computer Society, and became the "face of IBM" for recruitment. Since then she has left to be an Associate Director at Ernst & Young.

The current Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, Vanessa Lawrence, is a graduate of the Department of Geography. Vanessa is a great supporter of the University and was awarded an honorary degree a few years ago. Her god-daughter Jocelyn Moore has also recently graduated from the department. As well as winning a dept. prize, Jocelyn is also one of seven Sheffield students selected to act as helpers at a prestige UN conference being held in Cambridge to discuss the role of geographical information and techniques in tackling global problems.


For further information please contact:

Shemina Davis
Media Relations Manager
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 5339