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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Student Loan Leaves Students £221 Short Every Month

Thousands of students will be starting university without enough money to make it through the year, experts warn.
  • The National Student Money Survey reveals two-thirds struggle to get by on the Maintenance Loan on its own
  • Parents expected to plug £221 gap – but government sums still leave students short of cash
  • Call for bigger loans to cover basic living costs
  • Jake Butler from Save the Student: “This shortfall is the most pressing issue with student loans, not the latest increases in fees and interest rate”.
As the UK’s students gear-up to go to university, Save the Student warns many may be walking into serious money problems – and it’s nothing to do with tuition fees surpassing £9,000 or the interest rate jumping to 6.1%.

The National Student Money Survey 2017 reports 84% of students suffered financial hardship last year, with 66% stating that the Maintenance Loan is not enough to live on.

The Student Loan is composed of two parts: a Tuition Loan (up to £9,250 in 2017/18) for course fees, and a Maintenance Loan for living costs.

Save the Student’s research reveals students need an average of £821 to cover monthly spending, with rent alone coming in at £394 nationally. However, the average Maintenance Loan payment (for students with a household income of £35k, studying away from home and outside London) is just £600 per month – that’s £221 too little.

The Maintenance Loan is means-tested and designed to be topped up by parents, with many caught out by calculations which expect them to chip in thousands of pounds

The Parental Contributions Calculator shows parents earning £35,000 are expected to contribute £1,211 each year*. For a household income of £50,000, the contribution rises to £3,027. Almost a third of students say parents don’t give enough financial support.

Emma has just finished her second year. She told Save the Student:
Coming from a less fortunate background, money is a massive worry for me. I don't have the option to ask parents for money, and I'm too proud to ask friends to borrow money either. My maintenance loan doesn't actually cover my rent. How am I supposed to live through university without enough money to cover rent?
Billie, who’s starting university in the North West, adds:
The government allow you the bare minimum to live on and think all parents are able to make up the difference. I think all students should be able to borrow anything up to £10,000 a year for living costs (my accommodation alone is almost £7,000!) as it's us who have to pay it back anyway!
The survey also highlights the dangers of sending students to university unprepared for financial hardship: half of all students report mental health issues due to a lack of cash, with 61% saying they can’t always afford to eat. Unsurprisingly, the majority (57%) feel Student Finance isn’t fair.

Jake Butler, Save the Student’s money expert, comments:
Whilst we’ve campaigned against the growing cost of tuition fees and the unfair way in which student loan interest is calculated, the pitiful size of the maintenance loans and the way in which they’re calculated is the major issue.

It’s quite evident that the student loan is not enough to support the average student and their day-to-day living costs, especially in the wake of grants and other financial support being stripped back. 

Parents are increasingly left to plug the gap, leaving many in a difficult position. Upping the loan available will of course mean students owe even more, but the repayment system is affordable.

Avoid a cash crisis at university: advice from Save the Student

  • Get a realistic idea of all the costs you’ll face over the year: rent, bills, books, food, transport and anything else you can think of.
  • Loans are paid in lump sum installments: it’s very important to budget so it lasts the full term.
  • Save the Student’s Parental Contributions calculator shows how much your folks are expected (by the government) to cough up. Use it to prompt an honest and upfront conversation about how much they can really give you.
  • Check you’ve got all the funding you’re entitled to, including Disabled Students’ Allowance, travel grants, childcare costs or help for care leavers if appropriate. Don’t include non-taxable income in Student Finance applications, as it could leave you with less cash than you’re owed.
  • Investigate extra sources of cash before you need them: a part-time job, council or corporate funds, state benefits or charity cash – try turn2us.org.uk.
  • Save as much as you can, either before university or as you go. If you don’t need the money immediately, ask your parents to pay top-ups into your savings instead of giving cash handouts.
  • Set up an interest-free student overdraft to get the best terms – and cheapest deal – if you have to borrow money. Don’t touch it until you need it!
  • Worried about mounting debt? Get expert, impartial advice before borrowing more to cover living costs. Try StepChange.org or nationaldebtline.org.
  • Find out how to apply for hardship (emergency) funds from your university now. It’s easier to get to grips with before you’re in a pickle.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

How to Promote Your Business Outside of Business Hours

Owning and running a business is tough work and you probably work long hours already to boost your brand awareness, finish client work and to keep your business growing.
Therefore you must ask yourself if there is a way to promote your business out of working hours?
From your traditional promotional ways to digital marketing, there are many ways for you to advertise and promote your business.

Radio
Advertising on the radio is a great way to get heard to a wide audience. With a catchy advert you’ll get listeners remembering not only your catchy tune, or slogan but your business name and what you offer.

Newspaper
Newspaper advertising is also still big in this digital age. Whether you choose to go to print with your advert or to appear on their digital version, you’ll be able to reach thousands of readers, who will become aware of your business.

Social media
Alongside traditional advertising you can use social media marketing, which over the past five to ten years has grown massively in popularity for use of businesses.
You can create new profiles for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, making sure all profile pictures match across all platforms and the same goes for cover photos also, so your followers can see that it is really you.

The great aspect of social media is that it’s free to promote your business.
You can use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, so you can schedule your social posts to go out at various times of the day and on specific days of the week you want.

You’ll be able to track via Twitter analytics and Facebook Insights to see how many people your social post has reached, as well as what the engagement rate is; comments, likes, shares and when your followers are online, so you can schedule your posts when your followers will see it.
If you link back to your website (which ideally you should be doing in some of your posts) via utms, you can track how many people have clicked on the link back to your website and what they have read on your site, plus so much more through Google Analytics.
This will help you to understanding what your followers, customers and future customers are liking on your social profiles which will help you to determine what sort of social posts you should include in your schedule.

Of course social media marketing can be boosted via paid social adverts too.
These are great at helping you to target your customers more specifically, from gender, to location, age range and interests. This can be done for both Facebook and Twitter. This is a fantastic way to help directly get under the noses of those people who you specifically want to become your customers.

PPC
If you use PPC (pay per click) for your online marketing then you can target adverts on Google and input how long you want the advert to run.
When someone types into the Google search bar a term that relates to your business, your ad will show up within the first few searches. 

Uniforms
Having a customised work uniform will also help promote your business when you are out and about, even if just travelling to and from work.
By having your business logo and/or name on your work top or coat, will catch the eye of passers by who will potentially clock your name and logo and further research it later if it is something of interest to them.
For personalised work wear companies such as the Embroidered Printed and Clothing Company have many years experience of bringing your clothing design to life and producing hundreds of work uniforms to your specifications.

The wonders of the internet means when you are sleeping, your business can still be busy working hard for you, getting itself out in front of your existing clients and future clients too.


Long gone are the 9-5 hour days when it comes to promoting your business. Welcome to the 24/7 world of business marketing!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Important Skills Students need to Learn at University to Face the Corporate Struggle

Time is changing rapidly and students at university need to learn certain skills that will keep them in demand and give them an advantage during interviews. For a teacher or lecturer, it has now become a tough task to prepare students for the challenging world outside. The picture outside is changing rapidly, so students need to be prepared and learn things practically. Be it the gadget or social media, every field has its own challenges and required a certain skill-set that makes the student stand out from the crowd. Universities are using modern teaching methods and techno savvy to inform students about the real challenging world outside and what skills corporate business looks for while hiring new employees.

Here are some important skills which students should be considering:
Quick Learner:
In today's competitive world, it is important for employers to hire employees who have the ability to learn and act fast. Quick learners usually have their own competitive edge and carry a broad skill set. This certainly boosts the efficiency and minimises the duration of the work involved.

Leadership:
Leadership skills are important and employers are on hunt of people who are ready to lead. A student with excellent leadership qualities has a higher chance of getting the job. Educators need to train their students how to lead and excel. With the help of case studies and practical exercises, educators can teach students how to attain leadership and what makes it important.

Digital Literacy:
The corporate world is going digital and students need to be highly digitally skilled to meet the demand of current corporate world. Digital literacy in the corporate world is often the first and important step on the ladder for a new employee. From social media to IT, students should be trained about different strategies. There are many software packages that help to train people and are often available at an affordable price with vouchers from Bydiscountcodes.

Communication Skills:
The most important part for a student is to have good communication skills to communicate ideas in an effective manner. However, there are certain barriers involved in communication, which educators need to address and work upon. A good communicator can help in reflecting the strategies and presenting the idea for the betterment of the company. In terms of communication, students need to understand potential language barriers, active listening and engaging in a conversation.  There are many self-help books that will help to hone communication skills.

Willingness to Take Responsibility:
The corporate world is demanding and employers expect you to take responsibility, even if it doesn't meet the requirement profile. Educators need to train students on how to take up the responsibility and work smartly. In many situations, the jobs are challenging and require creativity and tenacity.

Other skills a student should acquire are:
·         Analytical Approach
·         Creative Thinking
·         Problem Solving
·         Collaborative Working

Conclusion:
For educators and students, university education is the most important part of life where students should be groomed well to face the corporate world with the right skills to take their career to a high level.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Half of University students suffer mental health issues because of money problems

The National Student Money Survey 2017 also reveals gender gap in mental health and money skills among UK university students.
  • HALF of all students experience mental health issues because of money worries - and it particularly affects female students
  • Female students also more likely to skip meals when money is tight: 63% say lack of cash takes a toll on diet, compared to 55% of males
  • Just a third of those who turn to their uni find it easy to get financial support or advice.
UK students are shockingly unequipped to handle their money and mental well being when starting university, a report by Save the Student has revealed.

The National Student Money Survey – conducted each year by the student money site – finds students are being loaded up with loans, high living costs and big financial decisions without the knowledge and support they need to cope.

Just 1 in 4 students feel they were taught enough about money before starting university, with a worrying 50% saying they’ve since experienced mental health issues because of a lack of cash.

Jenna, a 2nd-year student at Loughborough University, admits she was clueless about money – to the extent that she didn’t even know her bank card would be blocked if she used the wrong pin too many times. She told Save the Student she became anxious about staying on budget:
I would skip meals so I didn't have to spend any money. When things then got to my lowest and I lost all motivation to live I began spending excessively to try and make myself feel better. This didn't work and I ended up having multiple suicide attempts and taking anti-depressants. When I finally started recovering I then had to work 2 jobs to try and make my way out of the debt I had created in that crisis period.”

With the survey pegging student spending at £821 a month (£31 up on 2016 results), the gap between living costs and the Maintenance Loan has widened. This can leave the average student short by around £221 every month.

Ruby gave up a part-time job in her second year at the University of Lincoln, just before her Student Finance was reduced. She’s one of the 55% of students who say the Maintenance Loan isn’t enough to live on:
“I went from receiving a decent amount of money from the government to the minimum which didn't even cover my rent as my mother had received a promotion … I spent most of my time on my own in my room. I couldn't sleep and whenever I did, it was only for a couple of hours at a time. I just felt tired all the time. I would be constantly panicking about money. I started missing a lot of lectures and seminars.”

Although the majority of students (83%) track their spending, budgeting isn’t enough to offset the problems of low income. Sasha, who studied at the University of Derby, says she ran short of money when Student Finance lost her paperwork and her loan was delayed:
When it came I hadn't eaten in 3 weeks except for what I could take from the cafe I worked at (with permission). I lost about 3 stone due to worry and lack of food. At one point I thought of going to a food bank but was too ashamed.”

When things go wrong, most students turn to their families: 83% of students say they’d ask their parents for cash in an emergency. But of those who ask their university, only around a third (37%) find it easy to get help. Sasha adds:
I didn't really have anyone I could ask for help personally as my mum is on a low wage as it is and was struggling herself. I didn't want to ask the bank for a loan/overdraft as I didn't think I would be accepted and didn't want to get into more debt.”

While most students struggle with hardship at university, the National Student Money Survey finds male and female students report different levels of stress.
 
Overall, more female students (87%) said they worry about having enough to live on, compared to 77% of males. Women are also more dissatisfied with the financial education they’d received before university, and less likely to consider their course good value for money.

Male students are more optimistic about life after university, with 62% confident of finding a job after graduation (compared to 45% of female students), and expect £3k more from their starting salary (£23,139 vs £20,010).

The majority of students, however, remain confused and concerned about the Student Loan. Despite repayments being linked to salary affordability, 56% worry about paying it back, while only 1 in 4 know the current rate of interest being applied to their loan (which notably jumps as high as 6.1% this September).

Jake Butler, student money expert, from Save the Student says:
“The new tuition fee increases, along with pitiful maintenance loans, are putting students under a huge amount of financial and mental stress.
 
There is still a severe lack of basic financial education at school, and universities must make advice and support more accessible for students who find themselves in a difficult situation.
 
The government announced that they’re looking to increase the number of mental health specialists in the NHS, but in the case of students they should be addressing the root cause before mental health problems can take hold.”

Stephen McCartney, Chair of the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), comments:
 
“It is important to remember that many students are engaged in more than just their academic careers. While also studying full time, many are juggling employment and family responsibilities, which can add to their stress and anxieties.”


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Online Student Services: Help or Harm?

Today students exist in a completely different environment from their counterparts twenty or even ten years ago – the ubiquity of the Internet and the proliferation of various services offering their assistance to struggling students has completely changed the rules of the game. While in the past each student has been largely isolated and independent, with only his or her wits and immediate acquaintances to ask for help, today the possibilities are endless. But is that good or bad?

1. Grammar Checking Services
Grammar checking websites are exactly what it says on the tin – they are services like Grammarly, allowing you to put in any text and quickly check for grammar mistakes. While some state that such services make writing and revising texts much quicker, their opponents claim that over-reliance on crutches like this makes students negligent and creates an impression that learning grammar and spelling rules are unnecessary. There has to be some truth in both statements.

Even the best of them provide only superficial reports and point out only the most obvious mistakes (and often make mistakes of their own). They may be useful for foreign students because they explain the reasons for their corrections and can help them learn the rules quicker, but they cannot compare to a skilled proofreader or knowing the rules yourself.

2. Writing Services
Custom essay help services usually state that they sell academic paper samples you can use to better understand how to write an assignment of this or that type, but it is quite obvious that students go there to hire somebody to do their homework. One can argue about the ethics of this arrangement and the quality of education received by a student who resorts to such methods, but there are situations when it may be useful or even indispensable. For example, a student may know the subject fairly well but be atrociously bad at writing, or just at a specific narrow topic. Or writing an essay may be a mere formality you don’t want to waste time on – in other words, there are situations when using such assistance is quite legitimate.

3. Online Tutoring
Some students who find themselves lagging behind their peers resort to tutoring websites so that they can catch up with them. Although in most cases it is a completely harmless arrangement, it has its opponents – one of the reasons for this being that no one controls the quality of education received in this way. Theoretically, anybody can become a tutor and teach students something that doesn’t coincide with the approved learning program or, indeed, reality. Of course, there is a degree of control, and most respectable services of this kind don’t hire random people, but it is still more liable to foul play than regular education.

4. Language Services
Students of foreign languages are among those who benefit most from the Internet: while in the past their direct practice of the language was limited to trips abroad and pen-pals, today there are entire communities dedicated to mutual learning. You can learn a foreign language while teaching other people your own – which provides indispensable practice. However, the quality of tutoring received this way vary considerably and depends on what kind of people you encounter – and wrong learning partners may do more harm than good.

In summary, all the most popular services for students have their good and bad points; their advantages and disadvantages. It’s hard to categorically judge them entirely helpful or entirely harmful.