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Monday, 14 September 2015

Banks get top marks for student satisfaction

1 in 3 students score their bank at least 9 out of 10 for satisfaction
  • NatWest top of the class, but Santander most popular
  • Majority stick with their existing bank when they go to university
A third of UK students are extremely satisfied with their bank, according to a new survey by money advice site – yet many risk missing out on better deals.
The survey of 1,097 students reveals the most popular banks in which to stash cash at university, along with how highly they were rated.

Top 5 banks for overall student satisfaction:

  1. NatWest (6.7)
  2. Santander (6.65)
  3. RBS (6.64)
  4. The Co-operative Bank (6.47)
  5. Halifax (6.2)
Santander, Save the Student’s best value student account this year, is also by far the most popular bank among students: 23% of those surveyed bank there. Second and third are NatWest (16%) and Lloyds (13%).
Only 1 in 5 are currently looking to switch their account, so it appears banks are successfully wooing – and winning – the student buck, especially through new technology. Third-year Savannah Turner comments, “You now get a contactless card which makes you feel like a wizard when you're buying a McDonald’s!”.
Not all students are so pleased with their bank, however. “It can be hard to get advice, especially as most banks have premium rate phone numbers and most students can only call from mobiles,” 4th-year Becky adds.

Top 5 reasons for choosing an account

  1. Already banked here (54%)
  2. 0% overdraft (41%)
  3. Friends or family bank here (36%)
  4. Freebies or discounts (33%)
  5. Online or smartphone access (28%)
With the average student short £265 a month after the Maintenance Loan, banks play a very important role in bridging the gap.

Savannah also says, “It's hard to manage money because I'm really poor and Student Finance do everything physically possible to be difficult, but the overdraft is a beautiful thing.”

An interest-free overdraft is a huge privilege only available to students, but a third of those surveyed don’t even have a ‘student account’ – meaning they miss out on cost-free borrowing.

On the other hand it could indicate financial discipline. Postgrad Emma explains: “I opted out of the student account because I didn't want to allow myself to go overdrawn.”

Jess adds: “I chose my own overdraft limit of £200. I went overdrawn quite a few times but I think the higher the overdraft limit the more I would've gone in to it. Two of my housemates had £2.5k overdrafts and used them to go to America!”

Owen Burek, Editor-in-Chief at Save the Student:

“It’s actually a very nice surprise to hear most students are happy with their bank, but loyalty also comes with a risk of missing out on better deals – namely getting the highest possible interest-free overdraft.

If you’re lucky enough not to need the cash, still take what you can and stick it in a tax-free ISA to earn interest on it!

Just one key warning: many students get stung after graduating with sudden demands for repayments or additional charges, so make sure you’re well aware of the conditions before signing up for an overdraft.”

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Need to Retake Your A Levels? Choose Boarding College Study

Now that teenagers across Britain have finished their A level exams all that's left is for them to open those dreaded brown envelopes on results day in August.

A huge amount of pressure is placed on young people to do well during their studies and A Level period is arguably the most stressful of all, with future university study hanging in the balance.

Many students find themselves in a mind-set where their results seem to determine their entire future. What they are not told is that second chances are always available should they need them. It's never too late to try again.

The notion that a student's future should rest upon how they perform during one period of study is
both widely exaggerated and a potentially dangerous idea to put into a young person's head.

There are always going to be a few students who don't achieve the results they desire, and this could very well be because of circumstances beyond their control. Their study time could have been affected by a personal circumstance like a family issue, or it might just be that a school environment was too distracting for them to fully concentrate and as a result they didn't perform as well as they could of.

No matter what the reason for failing A Levels, enrolling in an A Level retake programme can be the simple solution to the problem.

The advantages of A Level Retakes

Retaking A Levels can make all the difference to a student's future. When an employer sees that a student has passed their A Levels on a second attempt it immediately reveals a certain level of academic capability.

When making an application for a university place or a job, retaking A Levels shows that a candidate is determined to succeed and has a strong work ethic towards reaching their goals. The value of such persistence can also set a student apart from their peers.

The boarding college experience

There are many different places for a student to retake their A Levels, and one of the most popular places to do so in recent years is to enrol in a boarding college.

A boarding college environment is not the same as a school or traditional college as boarding colleges provides an experience similar to that of university study where students live in campus halls.

This experience is ideal for students hoping to attend university after their A Levels because it's ideal for preparing for university life, which will ultimately give them an advantage of other university students who will be new to the lifestyle. Experiencing a university aesthetic early can also allow a student to decide whether this lifestyle is right for them while they study.

It should be noted that boarding colleges are very different to boarding schools. There are no strict regiments and there is a generally relaxed approach to studying which requires students to be self-disciplined in regards to attending classes, much like a university does.

Boarding colleges also boast an excellent range of amenities that benefit both a student's studies while allowing them to socialise with their peers. This can include facilities like cinemas, gyms, sports grounds, and art studios.

Study new subjects

Arguably the best parts of undertaking a course in A Level retakes is the chance to study new subjects different to those studied on the first A Level attempt .This is valuable because it not only allows a student to get a better idea of what their academic strengths are in preparation for the course they study at university, but it also allows them to avoid the issue of studying subjects they previously struggled with.

International students

One great benefit of boarding college study is the opportunity to mix with students from all over the globe, as these institutions attract students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

Retaking A Levels can be the best decision a student ever makes. The disappointment of failing can be turned into an amazing experience that will give direction to a student's life and provide them with some truly memorable experiences.

Boarding colleges are recruiting now for September 2015 study.

The Many Benefits of Part-time Catering Work For Students

There are plenty of part-time job options available to students in need of extra money, but the most flexible, well-paid of all these is working within the catering industry. Regardless of whether a student is self-employed or is working as a member of a team, they will be guaranteed a good wage with plenty of benefits.

With accommodation and tuition fees higher than ever it's no secret that a student-loan is barely enough to allow students an experience of university that will let them take care of their living expenses while enjoying the social side of university life.

The flexible nature of catering roles can be arranged so they don't interfere with study time. Catering
jobs can also be arranged at short notice, allowing a student to comfortably fit their work around studying.

Skills beyond the catering industry

Working a part-time catering job provides numerous skills that can translate to many different areas of customer service, preparing them for a career in positions that involve direct interaction with the public, such as marketing and human resources careers.

Having this experience is also an instrumental way to help a graduate stand out from their peers once they enter the working world. A background in catering shows self-discipline and responsibility, especially as they handled such duties while still at university.

Learn valuable responsibilities

Another great benefit of working within the catering sector is the exposure to different event types. These different occasions require a worker to cater their demeanour in opposing professional attitudes. For example, catering at a wedding will require a jovial professionalism completely at odds with the necessary conduct of serving at a funeral.

The ability to adapt behaviour to the different tones of various occasions shows that a candidate has the skills to work in a variety of environments, thereby demonstrating greater ability for client interaction.

Climbing the industry ladder
A career in catering may sound pretty standard, but there are opportunities available that reach far beyond basic waiting roles should a graduate wish to climb the career ladder within the industry.

Many employees who start off as part-time waiting assistants later progress into high level employment roles, such as executive and managerial roles. This wealth of opportunity can give a graduate numerous directions in which to explore their career.

Other benefits available

In addition to boasting career benefits within the catering industry, part-time catering work has opportunities of other kinds too. Students will regularly find themselves working alongside other students in the same position as them, helping them to establish long-lasting friendships that evolve as they learn and work together.

Having catering experience is also brilliant if a student plans to spend a gap year travelling and wants to work during their travels, as catering jobs are a valuable means of finding temporary work.

Even if a student chooses not to further their career in catering, there are skills they can gain from the industry that will enhance their lives forever. This includes gaining knowledge of how to professionally serve various kinds of food, learning how to mix cocktails, and understanding the best way to organise parties.

The benefit of joining a catering agency

Finding part-time catering work is not difficult when a student joins a catering agency. These organisations appreciate the individual needs of staff and know how to arrange a candidate's work schedule so that it fits around their studies while leaving plenty of time for a private life.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

University rugby clubs: The path to professional rugby?

Whilst university rugby players don’t always have the best reputations, playing in college games can lead to being talented spotted. This isn't surprising given the wealth of training support and specialised programmes which university clubs offer those who are good enough to be selected. As some of the best rugby players in history got their break on the university team, perhaps this is a good way to transfer from amateur to professional rugby.

A good way to get noticed

Creative Cmmons Licence
Whilst most players will maintain a lifelong interest in the sport after playing at university, checking Coral for the latest fixtures that they can perhaps place a bet (or two) on, a lucky few will use their time with the University club to gain exposure. Professional rugby conditioning Coach Ben Wilson offers invaluable advice for those wanting to become a professional rugby player. Amateur clubs, for Wilson, are brilliant places to get noticed once you are over 20 years old as they offer the opportunity for players to “excel at the lower levels and then be invited to train with the professional teams and thus go on to win a contract”. Of course, Wilson is quick to point out that this will require dedication to the game through a rigorous training and fitness programme but if you are good enough university clubs are a perfect spot to be scouted.

Will Greenwood’s history with Durham University Rugby Club

Will Greenwood, Charlie Hodgson and Will Carling (among others) have all played with Durham University’s rugby club; unsurprisingly, the standard of players picked is very high but once selected the club offers access to “some of Britain’s finest and most experienced coaches” as well as weekly specialist clinics for players. In an interview, Will remembered his days with the club at Durham with fondness saying “We had a small group of players who really made the most out of ourselves. We never had any floodlights, so we used to pull all the cars up to the touchline and turn the headlights on to train.”

Joe Ansbro shone under the varsity match spotlight

After making his debut with the Cambridge University rugby senior team against an Australian University’s team back in 2005, Ansbro found himself well on the way to his professional rugby career with the likes of London Irish and Northampton Saints. For Ansbro, it isn’t just the talent and potential to succeed which is important for success but also the ability to play under pressure, and the varsity match can provide an excellent initial introduction to the sensation of participating in a big match for the players, speaking back in 2013 Ansbro stated that players should “never underestimate the Varsity Match.” And whilst an unfortunate injury caused a premature retirement from the game, Ansbro still remains involved and interested in rugby.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Is it too late for a career change?

You might assume that once you’re past your first flush of youth, you’re too long in the tooth to alter the course of your career.  However, this simply isn’t the case. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s never too late for a career change.

Retraining may be easier than you think

For a start, retraining might be much easier than you think. Even if you have financial or family commitments that mean you can’t return to full-time study at school, college or university, there are other options out there. For example, distance learning gives you the chance to study at a time and place that suits you, and there’s no shortage of these courses on offer either. If you’re interested in completing GCSEs, IGCSEs or A levels, you can visit websites like to check out your options. There are also a variety of degree-level or vocational training courses available.

By opting for a distance learning programme, you should be able to fit your studies around your
existing schedule, minimising any disruptions to your life and earnings.

Take inspiration from the stars

It does require courage to take the plunge and embark on a new career path, but there are lots of examples to follow. Cartoon legend Walt Disney is one of those who dramatically changed his work. He once held a position at a newspaper, but things didn’t go quite to plan while he was there and he eventually found himself fired from his role. Amazingly, according to his editor, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.

Another celeb to have changed direction is comedian and TV personality Ellen Degeneres. Before making it big on screen, she once worked as a paralegal. She also tried her hand at waitressing and was even an oyster shucker.

Seek some sage advice

Before changing your career, it’s wise to seek advice from people who know what they’re talking about and who can provide you with useful guidance. If you know someone who’s been through a major career change, chat to them. The will probably be happy to share their experiences and they should have some words of wisdom for you to bear in mind. You can also find plenty of information and advice online, and you might benefit from speaking to a professional careers advisor.

The benefits of starting a new chapter

There’s no getting around the fact that starting a new chapter in your career can be a daunting prospect. However, by making the effort to change your working life, you could dramatically increase your job satisfaction and you might find you’re much happier and more fulfilled overall as a result. It’s certainly well worth investigating your options.