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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Expenses only jobs are 'officially illegal'

There have been plenty of articles recently about the pluses and minuses of unpaid internships, which are usually 'with expenses'. The recent Employment Tribunal sitting in Reading on November 20th has ruled that workers engaged on an expenses-only basis are entitled to payment at least in line with the national minimum wage. More here.

About time too! 

Employers have recently become accustomed to exploiting students and graduates who are increasingly desperate to bolster their CV with whatever experience they can get and agree to work for no pay. This discriminates against those who cannot afford to work without any income and does nothing to help students reduce their student debt.
We stopped allowing unpaid/expenses-only jobs on StudentGems.com because we did not want to encourage this exploitation. It seems as though a (small) section of the business population associate the words 'student' and 'graduate' with 'free labour.'

After all, why should a talented computer science student do some web development or web design free of charge? Bargain rates: yes; for free: no. Meaningful student jobs are not always easy to find so let's not further demotivate students who are doing their best to forge a career in difficult economic times.  

We will continue to highlight the need for students and graduates to be paid for what they do. Isn't it enough to be saving £££ by using students anyway? They are a talented bunch and deserve recognition.



Friday, 23 October 2009

Studentgems - mining the wealth of student talent




You just have to look through some of the amazing student profiles on studentgems to realise what a mine of student talent we have. The ever-deepening student talent pool of uncut diamonds offers 76,000 skills and services between them.
Recent research carried out by us, reveals that 79% of all university students work whilst studying to support themselves. Over half are juggling the hours in the day to fit in both their job and their lectures. Some students are working more than 20 hours each week. A massive 3 out of 4 students suggest that their job commitment is disruptive to their academic studies but they have no choice as 42% of students receive no financial help. It is no surprise that the majority of student jobs are working in bars and waiting on tables. Only 3% of students are actually working in jobs that relate to their courses.
Students can do so much more than pulling pints and taking orders. In fact, everything from blogging to bridal hairdressing, animation to fantasy illustration, calligraphy to catering and translations of endless languages. Then of course there is website design, logo design, garden design, interior design and jewellery design. You can even have your i-pod uploaded and be taught from a range of hi-tech tutors including Twitterers to cheerfully bring the terminally unenlightened into the twenty-first century.
We have a wealth of student talent in the UK and it is something to shout about.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Win A Behind The Scenes at Hollyoaks - National Colleges Week Is Upon Us!

As part of the Colleges Week celebration, a nationwide competition is being launched called ‘I’m running the show’. The competition is calling on students to submit a video, up to 2 minutes, of what they would do if they were ‘running the show’ for a day. Students are invited to answer the question in any way and as creatively as they’d like, from a simple speech or presentation to a song and dance routine; from an animation to a practical demonstration of the skills you are learning. Winning students will get a fantastic prize, see the list below.
Students can submit their video up until 31st October via the Colleges week website. The Competition is open to all students currently enrolled on a college course at a general or tertiary further education College, sixth form College or specialist College in England.
Prizes include an in-depth visit to the UK Parliament; the chance to go on set and meet the cast and crew of Hollyoaks; shadow Sven-Göran Eriksson; chat with an astronaut and take a tour with the British National Space Centre; go behind the scenes of a theatre; read between the lines at top magazine Top Santé; spend a day with the chief executive of BAA Airports; spend the day with the Chief Executive of the 5,000 acres of historic royal parkland exploring how they combine culture and conservation; spend a day with Sir Stuart Rose, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer.
Phew... what a prize list!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Medicine, an occupation only for the elite?

Doctors are concerned that careers in medicine will soon only be a possibility for students from wealthy backgrounds. Students embarking on their medical studies face approximately £40,000 debt upon graduation. A Southampton medical student estimates that it will take her 20 years to pay off her loan according to a BBC article and is not looking forward to the prospect. This could be made considerably worse if the government decides to remove the current cap on tuition fees, later this summer. Whilst the government says that support is available for people from the poorest backgrounds that still leaves a huge proportion of the population at a disadvantage.

In addition, due to the intensity of their studies medical students have less opportunities to work to support themselves. They have to rely on parental or grant support during their studies.

The UK could be denied some great potential doctors simply because they cannot afford to complete their studies. This would be a calamity and should not be allowed to happen.

The government needs to come up with a system which will enable all students equal opportunity to access university education and sufficiently fund the institutions. The NUS Blueprint definitely offers a viable alternative, as long as a funding system for Universities can be found in the interim.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Drink, eat, meet your future boss

University societies can be useful to you in so many ways, for meeting new people, learning new drinking games and potentially meeting your graduate employer! David Langer, a successful entrepreneur has written an excellent article explaining the value of University societies and networking. His straight forward advice can be broken down into the following stages:
  1. Choose an industry (or if you are unsure 2 or 3 industries) you are interested in working in and join the related societies at your Uni.
  2. Attend the socials, networking and careers events arranged by the society.
    At the events talk to your peers about what they want to do, talk to people in the industry and the recruiters about your options and what they do and are looking for. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TALK TO PEOPLE!
  3. Hopefully by this stage you will have decided which industry you prefer so speak to some of the people in the industry who you got along with about work experience and/or graduate opportunities. If you apply for a job and HR receive a recommendation email from someone in the company your chances will increase one hundred fold.
  4. Join the committee of the society in your 2nd or final year where you can demonstrate organisation and commitment qualities as well as working with potential employers to organise events, getting to know them and demonstrating how you would be an asset to their company.

For more information have a look at the article by clicking here.

Friday, 19 June 2009

A Drop In The Ocean

Last week Boris Johnson committed £3 million to help small businesses who have been refused a bank loan, but this a mere drop in the ocean considering the number of suitable applicants. Loans of up to £50,000 are being offered to businesses which have been unable to get necessary funding from the banks. The Federation of Small Businesses has pointed out that there are more than 700,000 small businesses in London and £3 million is simply not enough.

Boris Johnson says he appreciates the importance of small and medium businesses for the UK economy, image and employment and is doing everything he can to support them. This is clear from the interest rates on the loans of 6.8% if secured by property and 8.8% if not, the EU's lowest allowed rates. Nevertheless, the Mayor has been criticised for being slow to respond to a problem which has been around for some time now.

This fund will undoubtedly help many businesses across London; however it will not have the desired effect of reducing unemployment increases and bolstering the UK economy if more money is not made available as this pot runs out. Find out more from the
BBC article.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Young Take The Lead

You will be pleased to know that some government funds are being put to good use (not just employing gardeners!!!) and £32 million is funding a new National Skills Academy for Enterprise, launching in September 2009.

The government has recognised that young people are the future of small business and considering that small businesses make up 90% of the UK economy, I would say it is money well spent! They have really put their money where their mouth is with Secondary Schools having received £17,000 per year for the past two years to increase enterprise education. These schemes should go a long way to help young people, who lack industry experience which is generally required in order to gain financial backing, from banks or investors.

Young people can be excellent entrepreneurs as they will have business ideas related to their experiences and will fully understand their target market, which will usually be their peers. Where they fall down is fully utilising business opportunities which they just don't recognise. Schemes such as the National Skills Academy for Enterprise, in addition to programmes in Schools and Colleges should provide young people with the business knowledge necessary to get started and recognise opportunities as they present themselves.

Entrepreneurship has been hailed 'the new rock 'n' roll' with more young people wanting to be the next Richard Branson than wanting to be famous. An interesting and positive cultural change? The ultimate goal is the same, to be rich, but more people, it seems, are willing to work for it in a way which will benefit the UK as a whole. This can only be a good thing.

Smarta have written an excellent in-depth report on this which I completely recommend taking a look at.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

'Sorry, there were more experienced candidates'

It is the ultimate catch 22, you haven't got enough experience for the job but you can't get experience if someone doesn't give you a break and employ you! Its something a multitude of soon-to-be graduates are going through at the moment.

Universities and businesses developed an ingenious process to help tackle this, the year in industry. Students on certain courses take a year out from their studies, usually their third year, to work in a business where they can apply what they have studied. These sandwich degrees have been very popular at some Universities and are, in my opinion, brilliant. Students can 'test-out' if the job they were interested in is right for them, knowing that it is only for a fixed term. Businesses can assess how appropriate the candidate is for a permanent position, usually on a lower salary and decide whether or not to offer them a job when they graduate.

However, a
BBC Article has discovered that in this economic climate fewer businesses are willing to take on placement students and Universities are having to adapt degree courses accordingly. It seems that students studying in the construction sector have been worst hit and yet they benefit a great deal from the experience.

To make things worse, the Careers Development Officer advises looking further a field possibly nationally or internationally. I doubt that he has had to support himself for a year on the sort of salary that placement students are offered. If it was as easy as going anywhere and not having to pay rent, bills etc then there wouldn't be a problem. It infuriates me that this is the best advice the University can offer and it is not at all practical!

With opportunities becoming less available and employers less willing to take chances on inexperienced people how do you beat the catch 22? Students can increase their breadth of experience and employability by finding part-time, freelance, ad-hoc and temporary work through
Studentgems.com. This will help them earn money now and improve their prospects later. Volunteering for registered charities is also an excellent way to get experience which many HR personnel recognise.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Students Understand and Utilise

... the complaints procedures. According to a new BBC story student complaints to the University Ombudsman increased by 23% in 2008 following a 25% increase the previous year. Whilst it seems that only a small proportion of these were appropriate for the Ombudsman's attention it nevertheless indicates what the BBC has described as, 'a "cultural change" with fee-paying students wanting more value for money.'. Quite right too, I say.

A majority of complaints have been in relation to plagiarism issues and postgraduate degrees. Foreign students, who pay even higher fees than the rest of us, have complained about differences in plagiarism here and abroad, which have presumably resulted in them being penalised. Some postgraduates have complained after not receiving sufficient timely feedback as to their progress which has resulted in their major thesis not achieving the standard that they believed they were at.

I do not think it is unreasonable that as people are expected to pay more for their education they should receive a better service. The problem is that all Universities charge the same fees, Universities do not need to prove what they are investing the money in, in order to justify the fees. A majority of Universities seem to invest in fancy new buildings, to awe young people. Yet I have a personal issue with the fact that recommended texts for some of my courses are not available in the University library! Surely a much more important issue which would cost considerably less to rectify!

If I ever complain to my Mum about something breaking she always says "you get what you pay for" and that is obviously right, when it comes to market economics. So why doesn't this apply to University education? Fees should not be uncapped, but the Civil Service should assess Universities and their plans for investment and then specify how much they can charge. This would enable students to differentiate between institutions and know that the debt they will graduate with was worth while. It will also ensure that Universities have structured, sensible investment plans which students should be able to view when considering their University choices. The options are endless but something undoubtedly needs to be done.

In the mean time consumers of University education aka students will continue to demand more for their money and will increasingly complain when they are dissatisfied.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Dragon not hoarding the Gold?!!

Bannatyne Fitness recorded an £8.2 million pre-tax profit earlier this month, a £5.5 million increase on 2007, according to the Telegraph.

100% Owner and Director of the company Duncan Bannatyne did not take dividends from the company, choosing to re-invest the money in order to weather this storm saying that "I just don't need the money". Lucky for some, eh!

Bannatyne chose to reinvest the money in improving customer service and maximising profits, as opposed to expanding and over-stretching themselves. Bannatyne said, "in 2008 what we decided to do because of the banking crisis we decided to stop expanding and focus the group on maximising profits. Our turnover is up 2pc on 2008, so we are trading well."

Furthermore, Bannatyne Fitness's highest paid director received a £30,000 pay increase in 2008 despite economic conditions. Considering the success the business has had in the same period it would seem that investing in valued staff is well worth it.

So how can we follow Bannatyne's example?
  • Try not to over-stretch your business. If you do not have the means to support a sudden influx of customers then they will not last long. Instead try to maintain existing customer relationships and expand carefully, ensuring that new customers will value your business and maintain loyalty.
  • Don't take more than is necessary. Consider taking a salary cut in order to keep as much in the business as possible for long term development and profits.
  • Value your staff. You may not be able to give them a pay rise, but be open with them. Tell them you are taking a pay cut (if you are!). Maybe suggest they work from home every now and then, so they can have a lie in. Happy employees are far more productive.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Will Sugar Sweeten the Dragon's Endorsement?

Last week Theo Paphitis endorsed the new National Skills Academy for Retail saying that being a Shopkeeper taught him everything he needed to know about business. Retailers and the Government agree that now is the time to be investing in skills and ensuring that staff achieve their potential.

The National Skills Academy for Retail provides top quality training for everyone in the industry, whether you are looking to enter Retail, progress your career in Retail or want to train your staff in Retail. The main interface of the National Skills Academy for Retail is their retail skills shops located in shopping centres across the UK. For a list of the locations click
here. A Retail Ambassador Programme has also been created where people go to educational institutions and encourage students to consider a career in retail. For more information on this scheme click here.

The Academy has been created with significant input from stores such as Boots, House of Fraser and John Lewis. Therefore, you are sure to be learning skills employers’ value that will help increase productivity and undoubtedly sales.

The
‘Just Browsing’ section of the website is clear, concise and certainly answers all your immediate questions about the scheme and what you can gain from it, either as an employee or an employer. I definitely recommend taking a look, it will not take up much of your time and if you think you could benefit from the scheme, which most people can, then it will be 100% worth it.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Top Choice Teaching

Well in one sense some of the government's problems will be getting easier over the next few years. The top Graduate Career choice in 2009 has been teaching, for the first time ever, which should sort out the teacher shortage the UK has been facing. However, I would say that is a small consolation for the rest of this years graduates.

26% of the 16,000 students interviewed by High Fliers have chosen to undertake further study in order to improve their employability and delay entering the depressed UK job market. But what about those who cannot afford the extortionate tuition fees and find money to live?

Students with definite job offers, following the application process October to February, have dropped by 1/3 compared to last year, despite the number of applications having risen considerably. Furthermore, 36% of students due to graduate this year do not expect to find a graduate job and 48% expect to be made redundant within their first year of work. What ever the actual state of the market, students are not optimistic. In addition, for the first time in 14 years the expected starting salary for a graduate has fallen.

So just to clarify, the liklihood of finding the ideal job is lower than last year, if a graduate job is found the salary will be lower than last year and the average student debt is approximately £5,000 higher than last year.

For more information go to the High Fliers Website.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

'The Aldi Affect'

According to a very interesting article on Smarta Aldi seems to have got it right when it comes to an economic down turn. It is a simple case of cutting unnecessary costs without compromising on quality. At Aldi they bulk buy their products and only sell one brand of each product. This reduces their costs, but not their range or quality of products. Whilst small businesses obviously will not necessarily be able to bulk buy to the same extent it may be worth considering reducing variety but offering one or two very good quality products or services.

SMEs should also look for other ways to cut their costs without damaging the quality of their service. Shop around for energy suppliers, marketing agencies and temp agencies. Make sure that you have the best possible deal for all of these and see how much you could save. There are also the little things which all add up. Turn off all plug points (that do not have to be left on) at the end of every day. A power surge extension lead uses electricity just to keep on its warning light, it all adds up.

I recently bought an Original Source shower gel which instead of being in a bottle, was in flimsy plastic packaging. All over the packaging it said they had used 75% less plastic by making this change. The bottle/packaging only goes in the bin when you are finished anyway and I knew that the shower gel was still the same good quality, so I bought it. This change attracted customers in two ways; using less plastic is better for the environment which is what Original Source emphasised and it cut their costs which is why I bought it; on special offer. Recent studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy a ‘green’ product than a non-environmentally friendly one. So communicate to customers how you are helping the environment and why it makes your product better than competitors. Fancy packaging may attract new customers, if the price is right but unless the product is of good quality they will not become regular customers.

Obviously the purpose of all this cost cutting is to reduce your prices, not just increase your profit margin. Communicate with consumers, put a note on your packaging or in your advert saying that you cut costs to reduce prices and the product is still as good as ever.
This will reassure them and should make them appreciate your efforts, increasing brand loyalty in the long term.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Cut Costs, Not Quality

Many Small Businesses are turning the recession to their advantage. According to Direct Line for Business more than 25% of their businesses are confident their business will expand throughout 2009. The hard-working attitude and refusal to give in to circumstances is driving small business owners to come up with new, innovative ideas to stay afloat. These include; picking up business from failed competitors, diversifying in terms of products and services offered and identifying new cost-saving schemes.

An Estate Agent in Hertfordshire has felt the pinch, but outlasted 5 competitors so far. One way of saving money which they found was;

'We have surrendered the lease on our old offices and we have managed to negotiate a new lease in a more central office in Bishop's Stortford, which is rent-free for the first 18 months. In return for the rent-free period we only have to redecorate the office and maintain it.'

This should save them around £1,200 a month. An excellent way to reduce costs and hopefully the new office location will attract new customers.

Taking the time to look for opportunities such as these can be very worth while as in the long run it can save you a lot of money. Another great way to reduce costs is to employ student freelancers for specific jobs, as opposed to those from agencies who are significantly more expensive and do not necessarily provide a better service. Have a look on www.studentgems.com to see the types of jobs students can complete for you.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

University finances are heading for a toxic time

You'd expect the Government to be looking at ways to prevent the worst effects of the recession from damaging our world-class institutions. Instead, it is demanding that universities do more to help the Government out of the economic mess it played a significant part in creating. The Higher Education minister, David Lammy, even told universities to "focus your minds on what else your institutions can contribute."

It seems that universities are due to go through a much tougher time than the Government cares to admit, which will result in some unappealing decisions being made.
One of the biggest problems universities have had to deal with is the larger than expected pay deal for staff. Universities were contracted in 2006 to match the salary rises in 2008-2009. These rises, and the reccession have lead to a "ticking time bomb" situation, where universities must choose to put more money in to staff pensions, or cut back further.

Many universities rely on equity for a return as part of their income to find their financial plan, and will find that both dividends and income are down. Not only would this impact on the quality of teaching and research, but it also exposes one of the Govenment's main devices to combat the recession - to bring forward capital projects - as a pipe dream.

It is also to be expected that partnerships with businesses and charities will slow or cease to exist. This could mean less collaborative degree funding, fewer research projects funded by charities and business. and a reduction in the use of facilities for events and conferences - income streams that universities rely on.

One vice-chancellor has said: "He [John Denham] doesn't understand how universities are run or financed." This is worrying, as John Denham is the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The Government must review this quickly and thoroughly to ensure tha all potential effects are accounted for, and put together an effective plan to help universities though this 'toxic period'.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Think Big, Start Small

More and more people in the North East of England have decided to do exactly that. Business Link in the North East helped set up 4,000 new businesses last year, a phenomenal rise. There are believed to be several reasons for this trend which include the decline in traditional forms of employment in heavy industry in the North East which tended to be ‘jobs for life’ and the decline in any other available jobs.

In the North East there is a great deal of optimism for the future of the regional economy. Despite the fact that not all the new businesses will be a success some will grow to become employers. The increase in the variety and number of businesses in the region should also help to attract more established businesses to the region. This will also help drive the economy and create jobs.

If you have an idea which is innovative or does not exist in your region why not give it a go? Now is the best time to try and you can find someone to design your website and logo, do copywriting and build up customer relationships on
www.studentgems.com at a fraction of the cost of market prices.

Small businesses entering the market helps increase competition, driving down prices and improving product quality and can create employment opportunities. In the short term they will help the economy recover which in the long term will benefit everyone. So, if you want to save the economy, set up a small business!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Pupils 'should study Twitter'

"Technological advances were driving a pace of change that would have been "unimaginable" when the national curriculum was created 20 years ago"-Sir Jim Rose, former chief of England's schools watchdog, Ofsted.

It has been claimed that the ICT skill that pupils at secondary schools are taught, are now suitable for primary school pupils. There is a view that pupils should learn how to blog and use internet sites like Twitter and Wikipedia.
Given the importance of online networking, and ICT in businesses, it is understandable that these skills should be taught alongside the basic computer skills.

The Guardian said the draft review requires primary school children to be familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication.
Certain skills are to be taught almost side by side- such as spelling and using a spellchecker, and typing as well as handwriting. I hope that the introduction of spellcheckers at a young age, and online resources, will not discourage a generation from reading and result in an apathetic attitude towards learning.
But I do certainly agree that learning to be highly computer literate from a young age can only enhance the potential of online networking, and the quality of research that these pupils can achieve.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Say one thing, do another...

"This summer, universities across England will axe hundreds of courses, mostly those aimed at people from the local area, and those that retrain people for a new career. Manchester University's courses for the public, which have 1,000 students every term, will close their doors, as will Reading University's public programmes. Other universities will stop teaching courses that largely have a non-traditional intake - older students who may already have a qualification in another subject."

"It is the result of a decision by ministers in 2007 to refuse funding for anyone who already has a qualification of equal status, referred to as ELQ (equivalent and lower qualification) students. It means, for example, that anyone with a first degree (BA) who wants to take a BA in another subject will have to pay full fees - making this a luxury for the very rich only."


Given the recession, the Government were all for re-educating the unemployed, and helping them attain degrees...thus making them more employable. Well it seems that some of the decisions on the funding of these courses, and more importantly to stop running some courses that have a largely 'non-traditional' intake, will actually make it harder for the unemployed to be retrained. It will be more expensive for the potential students, and universities are being deterred from taking on 'non-traditional' students.
I fail to see how the Governments decisions, and the Governments aims are compatible. Hmph.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

BBC: Students at home 'to cut costs'

According to a survey by the UK Youth Parliament 36% of young people said the recession will affect their University choices. Many will opt for Universities which enable them to live at home in order to reduce their living expenses as they believe they will not be able to find part-time jobs.

This could be disastrous for the UK economy in the long term as students choose institutions which may not bring out their potential and courses which cost them less, meaning they are not acquiring the skills needed in the UK which they may have otherwise chosen.

Furthermore, the experience of living away from home is very valuable for students. They learn how to manage finances, pay rent, bills and so on, cook, wash their clothes and clean (at least a little!) for themselves. I have found University to be an excellent way of learning how to live on my own and support myself, but still having my parents to fall back on if I really need their support. It is like a buffer zone between being reliant on your parents and becoming fully self reliant. If more students are choosing not to move away from home they are depriving themselves of this excellent life experience.

These concerns are being further compounded by the fears of rising tuition fees which would further add to student debt, with graduate recruitment prospects not looking good. The survey also found that 95% of young people were opposed to the lifting of the £3000 per year cap.

Choosing whether or not to attend University is a big enough decision on its own, without having all these extra elements for 16 year olds to have to take into consideration!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Twitter Fun

Given the rise in awareness and popularity of Twitter, it was inevitable that someone would poke fun.

To watch a hilarious cartoon about Twitter, follow this link:
http://current.com/items/89891774/supernews_twouble_with_twitters.htm

Whilst quite ridiculous, it does point out some important things, such as making sure your Tweets are heard.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Who wants to win 6 weeks at the Guardian?

(And £1650!!!)

Student Media Awards 2009- "As well as choosing individual and category winners, our esteemed panel of judges will pick out one overall winner who displays particularly outstanding talent and promise. That person will undertake an extended six-week work placement at the Guardian and receive a subsistence allowance of £1,650."

The Guardian Student Media Awards have sought out the very best student writers, designers, broadcasters, editors and photographers for over 30 years.And this year one of those people could be you.
If you are an editor, writer, photographer, designer, run a website, or fit into any of the other categories then apply for your chance to get media work experience.

The closing date for applications is Friday 3 July 2009.Closing date for Student Website of the Year entries is Monday 1 June 2009.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

On A Lighter Note...

I wish that was a lovely pun, saved for a musical orientated post. Ah well.

At the weekend, a program called "Important Things With Demetri Martin" was recommended to me. And on viewing I can see why. I won't turn this blog into a review, but I thoroughly enjoyed the comical take on words such as 'Power', and 'Cool'...and what these words can mean to us.

More news in relation to student fees, there have been calls for free degrees for people made jobless in the recession.

Million+, which represents new universities across the UK, says allowing some people to enrol on higher education courses for free would cost the government £400m, but would bring in revenue of £523m.
That sounds rather impressive. However, if students leaving university this year will struggle to gain employment, how will those made unemployed benefit from a degree? Unless they replace the current crop of Uni leavers. Which just hinders students chances of getting a job when we leave university, and after getting a degree that we pay for!

Free degrees would obviously benefit many, but they are always going to be at someones expense. And it seems once again it would be fee paying students.

Degrees don't create more jobs!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Obviously Not!

In response to Jeff's blog ...

Yesterday students from across England, led by the National Union of Students, lobbied MPs not to remove the cap on University top-up fees. David Blunkett, former Education Secretary, was also there and said, "it would at this time of global financial downturn be unacceptable to lift the cap and have a free-for-all across universities." Personally, I think 'unacceptable' is a bit light, I would have gone for disastrous, but then he is a politician!

Considering that the students who went to protest will not even be affected by the fee increase as they will have graduated, they must feel pretty strongly about it. I can't say I blame them and this is why:

A BBC News survey showed that, "two-thirds of vice-chancellors, speaking anonymously, said they needed to raise fees, suggesting levels of between £4,000 and £20,000 per year." Let’s assume that they go for a middle ground, £12,000 per year. The average student does a three year degree so without a maintenance loan or interest they will graduate with £36,000 worth of debt. That is considerably more than the annual salary of a graduate. When you add the maintenance loan, of an average £4,000 per year that is £48,000 PLUS INTEREST. There would be absolutely no incentive to go to University. A well paid graduate could earn £48,000 in two years but so could someone who did not go to University and had spent three years working their way up in a company and they would not have the debt!

Adopting this policy could have serious negative consequences on the UK skills pool. Only the very privileged will be able to pay for their fees and only those guaranteed a very high salary will be willing to take on the debt burden. Many skills can be found from other sources, through training courses, work experience or self-education and more people will be forced to take this option. However, there are specialist skills which require a University education and are vital to society; medicine, pharmacy, legal studies, psychology and so on. If students cannot afford to study then where will we find future doctors, lawyers, psychologists etc? Another knock-on effect would be that those who do study will expect, quite rightly, a higher salary. This will put greater pressure on the government to increase pay for public sector jobs, which will obviously affect the economy and so on. This really needs to be considered from 'outside the box' and hopefully by doing so MPs, Vice-Chancellors and everyone in between will realise this is NOT A GOOD IDEA. We can only hope.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Hey Students, Fancy More Debt?

Apparently, university vice-chancellors think that a £2,000 rise in university tuition fees would not deter potential students.
I have no idea where they get this impression from. Most students are uneasy with the fact that they'll leave university £18,000 in debt, let alone paying £2,000 more each year.

Rick Trainor has said, "By some means or other, more money needs to be put into teaching and learning if we are to meet rising expectations of students."

Wow.

To be honest I'm not entirely sure what my massive amount of debt is paying for at the moment. I'm pretty sure that paying more will result in the same teaching. And currently we have to buy all materials/ books etc separately anyway.

I want to know how increased tuition fees would help students. Without the fluffy words that seem to be hiding the fact that the government just want more money from us.

Read the article here and decide.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Cambridge entry level is now A*AA

The above headline stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought there may have been a typo...but it seems that it's true, A* will be available at A-Level for those who achieve over 90%.
An A grade last year was almost 26% on average across all subjects, leading prestigious institutions, such as Cambridge, to call for an easier way to distinguish between the top academic performers.
So as well as there being more stretching questions in the A-level exams, candidates who obtain the highest marks will be awarded an A* - as is already the case at GCSE level. [As cited at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7946675.stm]

Hopefully it won't devalue those who achieve high A grades before 2010, when the new grade will be drafted in.

I feel that, possibly, it's a way of maintaining high grades, whilst distinguishing between the top academic students. I wouldn't hold my breath for 'more stretching questions'.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Got a Job Which Needs Doing??

Students on Studentgems.com are now collectively offering 62,212 different skills to potential employers. They range from, dog walking to language teaching, website design to photography, copywriting to waitering. I could go on! They will freelance, work part-time on an ongoing basis, work full-time during holidays, do one-off jobs which crop up. Whatever job you need doing, there is a student out there with the skills to do it. So register now on Studentgems.com and tick those jobs off your To Do List!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Teenagers need lie-ins!

Dr Paul Kelley, of Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside has said that research showed allowing teenagers to begin lessons at 11am had a "profound impact" on learning.

How I would've loved a Head Teacher like that whilst I was at school.

This idea of allowing teenagers a lie-in would combat the zombie effect that is evident with teenagers first thing in the morning. The research also showed that, apparently, teenagers brains work 2 hours behind adults.

I concur.

The rest of this hilarious article defending the 'laziness' of teenagers can be found here.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Changes To University Admissions

This summer sees the introduction of the 'adjustment period'.
A period of 5 days after results day that allows students who have over achieved to "upgrade", and attempt to gain a place at a more prestigious university. This is seemingly suitable for those who apply to safe options based on grades, then realise that they could have been more ambitious with their applications.

There is a major flaw however. The top universities have been offering places since late last year. With the massive demand for places at the top institutions, it is unlikely that there will be any spare places remaining - particularly on popular courses. On top of this, there will now be 5,000 fewer university places than were envisaged just a few months ago. Since universities face financial penalties if they over-recruit, some will now be wishing to reduce the number of offers they had been planning to make.

Seeing as the application process already allows for students to accept a firm place and a back up, I think that students should be slightly more ambitious to begin with - and save the hassle of the ridiculous process of 'upgrading.'

Small Businesses Beat The Recession

Small and medium businesses looking to beat the recession should register on StudentGems.com. Employing students as freelancers can cut costs and help broaden your market. College and University students are being trained with the latest methods and technologies and can bring a fresh perspective to your business. This may help you to increase your appeal to the youth market, or a particular culture or in a particular industry, in which they have knowledge and experience. By taking on students for temporary work you can gauge their suitability for your business and then decide whether you want to work with them further.

It is absolutely free to register on StudentGems.com and you can post a job or search through students you think might be suitable, based upon their profiles, without paying a penny! You only start paying when you wish to contact a suitable candidate and once you have paid you can contact as many students within that period as you want. So if you have a few jobs which need doing, whether they are related directly to your business or you need someone to walk your dog once a week, you can find someone for them all and only have to pay the once!

Have a look now at: www.studentgems.com.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Spotify: The New Way To Enjoy Music

Spotify is a new free service allowing the public access to a huge library of music, simply by downloading the Spotify Music Player, and streaming the Songs/ Artists/ Playlists you want!
As expected, there is some advertising to put up with, but only about every 25 songs - which is over an hour between adverts. Alternatively, it is possible to set up an account for £10 per month, ad free.

Spotify states that it believes in "fairly compensating artists for their work." They have cleared the rights to all songs available on Spotify, making it totally legal.

The major record labels have signed up, and there are already thousands of tracks to listen to - despite being a relatively new concept.

However, some big names are not available, like Led Zeppelin and Metallica. It will be a matter of time to see if they follow suit.

Whatever happens, it is clear that the value of owning music has deteriorated with the accessibility that the internet offers. Recent years have shown a decrease in album buying. Consumers want cheap music, anytime anywhere. This could be the way to sustain income through recorded music!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Universities Fail To Close The Class Divide

The Government reportedly gave Universities £392 million, with the aim of increasing the number of students from a working class background. But there has only been a 2 point percentage increase in the past 5 years.

I was half shocked and half amused to see this quote:
The Commons public accounts committee says it is "dismayed" the government seems to have little idea what they have done with the money.

Many factors are discussed (the article is here) to explain this issue- from teachers not encouraging university due to an 'outdated view', to parents and children viewing certain universities as 'not for us'.

A report suggests that many students are not aware of financial assisstance they may be eligible for, such as bursaries.

I would disagree in many cases however. Financially university can be a struggle for anyone. Choosing to go to University was a massive step for me, especially knowing that I would end up in huge amounts of debt. Parts of me much preferred the idea of getting a job straight away, just to avoid the debt. I'm not from a working class backgound, but I don't wish to gain financial help from my parents to see me through (nor do they wish to give me a huge amount of money I'd imagine).

I think that the Governments' concern with discrimination has led them slightly away from the true problem. There may be an under-representation of students from working class backgrounds. But the truth is, students from all backgrounds can feel the financial strain of higher education. There cannot be an assumption that students will gain financial assistance from anywhere other than their loans. Until the Government addresses the problems and concerns linked with student fees for all students, many people may look at alternatives to higher education.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

What a Negative RPI Means to Students Past and Present.

RPI, CPI, MPI … I could write 500 words and still be listing the many Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs) used in the financial sector! However at the moment the RPI should be of interest to anyone who has taken out a student loan from the Student Loans Company since 1998. “The Retail Price Index is an important domestic indicator of inflation in the United Kingdom (UK). It measures the average change from month to month in the prices of goods and services purchased in the UK.” (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/glossary/economic_terms.asp) Now, in a recent report the Bank of England predicted that, “RPI inflation is likely to turn temporarily negative in the next few months.” (Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Inflation Report, February 2009, 34) This will generally be good for all consumers as it will mean prices have fallen. However, for anyone with a student loan it is extra good news.

When a majority of students apply to University they apply for a loan from the Student Loans Company, whether it is a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan, an income assessed loan, a non-income assessed loan or any combination of the above. It is just what you do. I remember being under the impression that you did not pay interest on your student loan until you had finished studying. I couldn’t tell you who told me that or why I believed them, but I did. Boy was I in for a rude awakening when I got my first statement through at the beginning of my second year at Uni. The interest on student loans is admittedly lower than those on commercial loans. However, over Spring and Summer 2008 the rate was as high as an extortionate 4.8%!! Whilst it has dropped with the fall in the base rate and is now at 2% they were making a lot of money out of us for a while. On the Student Loans Company website it states that, “this interest rate is based on the annual March Retail Price Index (RPI) or the highest base rate of a number of major banks plus 1%; whichever is lower.” (
http://www.slc.co.uk/statistics/facts%20and%20%20figures/index.html#interest) I would like to draw your attention to the last three words of that statement, “whichever is lower”. The Student Loans Company acknowledges that the RPI is usually lower and as a result bases their interest rate on it. NOWHERE does it mention what will happen if the RPI becomes negative, probably because this has never happened in the history of Student Loans. This could be a good or a bad thing. By not mentioning the phenomenon at all, to date, the Student Loans Company could add another clause to their Terms and Conditions capping the rate at 0% if they feel it is necessary. If they do not then an interest rate of -0.5% until March 2010 could certainly help out students when it comes to making the repayments!! The Student Loans Company will start paying off your loan for you, by paying you 0.5% interest! That’s nearly as much as the average ISA is paying at the moment!

We will have to wait and see what happens and we don’t have to do that for long! With forecasters saying that things are going to get a lot worse, certainly worse than the recession in the early 1990s, before they get better this little break from the building of more debt will certainly help to boost the economy when students graduate in the next few years and have more disposable income. Since there are no qualms about sticking to the RPI when it sky rockets I do not see why the Student Loans Company should be able to change the rules when things are in the borrowers’ favour for a change. But when has banking ever been fair?

To read the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Inflation Report in full and get a fuller picture of the UK economy go to:
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/inflationreport/ir09feb.pdf.

Monday, 23 February 2009

A Slight Rant About The State Of My Finances

I stumbled upon a University Rankings Table, provided by the Guardian.

1. OxfordGuardian score/100: 100
2. CambridgeGuardian score/100: 92.9
3. London School of EconomicsGuardian score/100: 84.4
4. WarwickGuardian score/100: 81.6
5. St Andrews

The full table can be found here.

I was also mildly happy to see that the student loans interest rate for Income Contingent Loans has been reduced to 2.0%. I'm only mildly happy though, as being a student I believe that our loans shouldn't be racking up interest whilst we aren't earning enough to repay the debts. This view became particularly clear for me last year when I was shocked to discover I had to pay for my dental check ups and prescriptions etc., as the government view my loan as income- and so I 'earned' enough to pay for treatment. It seems sometimes as though everything is aimed at taking our money! Even when it's not ours forever.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Facebook Crumbles After Huge Complaints

At close of business on Tuesday Facebook announced a retraction of their new Terms of Service which suffered from widespread criticism. They finally folded after a group of privacy experts threatened to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Facebook are now saying they will revise the Terms of Use in conjunction with the thoughts of Facebook users. I think that if they are going to make changes as significant they should at least give users a warning so they can delete their account before being told that doing so will not prevent Facebook having the rights to their information.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

"We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."

Facebook have sneakily changed their Terms of Service (TOS) without many users knowledge.

Facebook's TOS used to mean that when an account was closed, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would immediately expire. But due to a change in the TOS, any content uploaded can be used by Facebook in any way they please, forever- even if an account is closed. Not only can Facebook use this content, but they can sublicence it (meaning that any third party, deemed fit, could use this content).

The actual changes to the TOS are noted at the consumerist.com

A clause in the TOS states that Facebook "reserve the right to change any aspect or feature of the Facebook Service at any time without notice." Which allows this change, without the consent and knoowledge of Facebook users.

This does not seem right, and while the reality of these changes may just be Facebooks owners trying to cover their own backs, it does allow for some scary possibilities.

Careful what you put up on Facebook!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Pop!Casts

In a lecture this morning I was introduced to poptech.org

This website provides a 'network of remarkable people, extraordinary conferences, powerful ideas & innovative projects that are changing the world.'

Having not had much time to search the site, I cannot confirm whether I'd go as far as to suggest changing the world, but the conference we were shown today certainly was different!

Benjamin Zander is a man of great enthusiasm, and a strong belief in human potential. I recommend his pop!cast to anyone who is stuck with negative thoughts about their capabilities. And I think the website as a whole would be beneficial to anyone, within business or as an individual.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Studentgems on TV!

The BBC Working Lunch programme yesterday aired an interview with the Studentgems management and Chris Bamford, a second year Cybernetics student at the University of Reading. Chris was talking about his work experience and employment prospects. Chris was interviewed on the programme after successfully helping design a new cash free vending machine system, as a freelance project, which he found through Studentgems.com.

Like most students Chris has found working essential to help him support his studies. He registered on Studentgems.com hoping to find paid work which would also look good on his CV and he succeeded! In the interview he explains about how initially he only had a relatively small, simple task to complete. Due to the good quality of his work and attitude they asked him to become more involved in the project to the point where he, in his own words, “basically ended up doing pretty much the entire thing!” He goes on to say how valuable the experience has been for him. He was able to gain a real insight into the corporate world, far more so, he says, than friends who have completed internships for big multinationals.


His employer discussed how pleased they were with Chris’s work and professional manner. In addition to being vital in the development of the end product, he successfully participated in and presented to corporate meetings with the management team and investors. Per Hovland, Managing Director of the company describes Chris’s achievements as those of, “the perfect type of student that we need now”, one who knows their subject and can communicate their skills and what they are working on in potentially intimidating situations.

Overall, I would say that any work experience will be beneficial to students and that it is paid should be a given. This is something that Studentgems.com is working hard to achieve, as Sue one of the Company's founders explains in the interview. Chris is the perfect example of a student with the necessary skills to complete a job which needed someone who was aware of the latest developments in their field and willing to take on, what was initially only a small job. Studentgems.com is the place where students can search for jobs and companies can search for students, enabling more profitable partnerships such as this one to form. Students from every discipline can find work through the site doing jobs ranging from dog walking (not exactly work experience I know, but paid nonetheless) to telesales to photography.

You can watch the programme on the BBC iplayer, or go to this page:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00hq3h8/Working_Lunch_11_02_2009/ to view this particular episode, which will be available until 18th February 2009.

Do you want the edge?

The media, the Government and everyone in between keeps saying things like, “well in the current economic climate …” and “we are in a recession you know” and unfortunately this is only the beginning! According to a UK Government paper GDP figures show that we officially went into a recession in the fourth quarter of 2008. If the last recession is anything to go by we’ve got at least another year of this, if not more. So what does that mean to Britain’s youth? Those of you who had a part-time job in Woolworths have already felt the harsh short-term affects of people spending less money and many other retailers are cutting back on staff. Plus, restaurants and pubs are not getting as much business and so are cutting back on staff too.

The immediate adverse consequences of the recession as I see them are; it will be more difficult to find a part-time job doing what you are used to. You will almost definitely get rejected for the credit-card you applied for, but then maybe that’s not such a bad thing! Interest rates for your savings accounts have plummeted.

The immediate positive consequences are; student loan interest rates have dropped, for the first time ever (!!) which will help out quite a lot when you start having to pay it off. Gas and electricity prices are going down. In addition to everywhere doing lots of special offers there are quite a few student discounts floating around, make the most of them. Due to the fact that firms are cutting down on the number of full-time staff you may be able to find part-time or fixed contract work which will give you much better experience than stocking the pick’n’mix at Woolies ever did.

A really good website I found solves the problem of work now and employability later is
www.studentgems.com. They focus on helping students find paid work experience to improve their CVs and help fund your studies. When you register you have to select the skills you have from a drop down list. This really makes you think about skills you have which employers are interested in. For example, if your only job so far has been waitressing then it can be hard to get a work experience placement with your CV. By listing your skills you can include report writing, presentations and computer literacy as you will have experience in all these things from College and University. You can then apply to jobs posted on the site, or potential employers can search through the students registered and contact you to offer you a job. I got a job through the website and recommend it 100%.

I’m afraid that here comes the bad news, the long term negative consequences of the recession on students. As those students graduating in 2009 will have already found out companies are closing or significantly reducing the size of their graduate schemes, making finding a job extremely difficult. Between 2007 and 2008 the number of graduate jobs available fell by 6.7%. This has fallen by a further 0.3% in 2009 and is expected to keep falling. I’m afraid that this will continue to be the case over the next few years as businesses slowly rebuild their customer base, so competition for jobs is greatly increasing.

I am not a Government official, a University administrator or someone who thinks they know everything because they lived through the last recession, but for what it is worth my advice is simple:

  • Find a savings account with a good fixed interest rate (web-savers are usually good if you want to be able to move money around a lot) and clear out your ISA because the interest rate has dropped hugely.
  • Don’t worry about your student loan or try to pay it off quickly, at the moment the interest rates are so low you would be much better off clearing your student overdraft and getting a high interest savings account.
  • Make the most of being a student, get an NUS Extra card and join websites such as www.studentbeans.com where you can get student discount vouchers and information.
  • Give yourself an edge. When you are applying for jobs you don’t want to have to skip through the ’Work Experience’ section of the application form. Apply now for summer placements, if they only offer voluntary ones in your industry then do it for a week. IT WILL HELP. Try to get industry relevant work experience; if you want to be a building surveyor work as a brick layer for a few weeks, if you want to be an accountant get a temp job doing data-entry or something, in an accountancy firm, it will help.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Transfer to Durham?

Graduates from Durham University are being offered £2,000 to stay on and research rather than try to find their first job during the recession!

It has been clear for a while that there would be intense competition for jobs among graduates this year, due to the lack of available jobs during the ‘credit-crunch’. This has lead to the possibility of more students applying for post-graduate courses.

The University will award 102 scholarships of £2,000. This will apparently be available for most Masters Courses.

Prof Forster stated, "It's also about keeping the brightest and best at Durham and in the North East, but we want our graduates to go on and get the best jobs wherever they are."

The chance to gain a Post Graduate Degree, with a scholarship is great, and being encouraged to further our academic knowledge is also positive. But what is being missed is that it will result in more debt due to living costs, and monthly fees. The thought that this is OK because of the worth of a Post Graduate Degree is also misguided, as its worth will diminish with the more people that gain one.

In my opinion, this is not a solution, it merely avoids the problem.

Maybe I'm wrong? I'd love feedback as the credit crunch is a problem for all.

Monday, 9 February 2009

This year is going well...

The Grammys, a night I usually pay little attention to. But…

I am VERY happy to discover that Blink-182 have, in Travis Barker’s words, “decided…to play music together again.”

New album, new tour!

I actually cannot wait!

"To put it simply, we’re back. We mean, really back.”

They better be…

So the Grammys do have their uses.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

University Shuts Down

When I arrived at work today I was amazed to find the BCUC campus, where studentgems is based, closed. Apparently due to the snow all three campuses were closed and would soon be locked up for the day (at 9.45!!).

Admittedly there was a lot of snow and I could understand them being short staffed or having to cancel some lectures as people couldn't get into work, but closing all facilities to people who wished to use them is outrageous!

I do not understand why facilities are being closed when there are enough people there to run them, particularly not-for-profit organisations such as Universities who wouldn't lose any money by staying open as on any other Thursday.

Needless to say I was not happy. This was made considerably worse when it took me 1 hour 15 minutes to get down Amersham Road / Hill to get home!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Google is 'white bread for the mind'

An article in the Times Online last month really hit home, and as I have an essay due this week I have been reminded of the warnings it gave.
Most students immediately head for Google when starting assignments. Some just want some inspiration, or an idea to start those crucial first few sentences. But far too many (including me) rely on online information, sometimes without knowing whether this information is correct.
Already at university we are warned against sources such as Wikipedia, as anybody can change the information.

“Google offers easy answers to difficult questions. But students do not
know how to tell if they come from serious, refereed work or are merely
composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments."

This focus on students however is slightly misguided, as I'm sure that in all walks of life the importance of instant online information is growing.

It's a great shame that we cannot trust everything posted on the Internet. Whilst this is unlikely to change, we must learn to discern useful sources from those that are untrustworthy.
Or even better, I might try to read more books!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Facebook plans to profit from private data

The wonders of snow. I had the joy of a free morning, with no lectures.

It seems amazing that Britain encounters some snow, and schools and universities close, buses stop running and so forth. How inconvenient. It's times like these that we can be thankful for the internet.

An article in the Telegragh yesterday reported on how facebook plans to exploit the vast amount of personal data it holds on over 150m users.
Information from marital status to preferences will be available to multinational companies, allowing them to selectively target members to research the appeal of new products.
This exploitation comes as a result of facebook struggling to gain money from advertising, and I feel it is understandable that a networking site with the size and potential of facebook should want to capitalise financially. However, is it immoral to allow companies access to target people based on their personal information? Or is it a clever financial move by facebooks' founder Mark Zuckerberg, which doesn't actually affect our privacy?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

'Universities try new grading plan'

Browsing the internet a few days ago I came across an interesting article about the proposed idea to try new grading plans in universities- firstly to be tested in 18 institutions around the country from September 2009. The thinking behind this change is to give further insight into students performance in individual modules and assignments.

The article stated that 'there have been concerns that too many students were being awarded a 2:1 degree - and that employers did not have enough information from degree levels to distinguish between job applicants.'

The theory of the new grading system seems to be fair enough, but I wonder whether it will jeopardise students who may have an 'off day' and appear weak in a particular subject area, or students who are consistent but fail to show a particular strength?

I know personally I have certain modules that I am stronger at, and hope that similar students under the new system will not appear 'erratic'. We shall see...

The pilot scheme will run along side the current grading system, and the current grades could be supplemented by additional information about students' results and coursework.


The trial subjects are English, biology, accounting and creative arts.

The institutions are University of Leicester; Goldsmiths, University of London; University of St Andrews; University of Manchester; Newcastle University; University College London; University of Aberystwyth; University of Northumbria; University of Wales Institute, Cardiff; University of Derby; University of Northampton; University of Gloucestershire; University of Greenwich; Keele University; University of Ulster; University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury; York St John University; and Newman University College.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Student Jobs Crisis

On Tuesday the BBC published an article entitled; 'Downturn hits students' finances' and boy are they right! Despite the common misconception that students are lazy bums who live off the system the BBC said that;

'An HSBC and National Union of Students survey in November found 45% of students that work admit that they had to sacrifice their grades in order to do so. It also found that a third of students work more than 17 hours a week, and 3% have to work more than 33 hours.'
With a maintenance loan which won’t even cover my rent I have to work in order to live, before thinking about all the other stuff. Textbooks aren’t cheap and neither is gas and electricity! Obviously students go out drinking and have a good time as well, that’s part of being young and with student discounts available this does not take up a large proportion of student income at all.

A majority of students who started University in 2006 and all those who have joined since have been subject to top-up fees of around £3000 per year and those of us who are set to graduate this June will have earned ourselves around £20,000 worth of debt, no graduate job and a potentially lower grade than we could have achieved because we have had to work in order to pay rent and buy food.

The BBC article focuses on the fall in the number of jobs available to students as retailers go bust and restaurants and bars are losing business which is a very real problem at the moment.

Studentgems.com offers a solution to the problems of work now and employability later. The site enables students to search for part-time or fixed contract work which may be work experience for a future career or an easy job to help pay the rent now. Each student lists the skills they have so potential employers can register and search for students with the skills to fit the job they need doing. So far students have listed skills from hairdressing to bookkeeping and all that goes in between! The site is ideal for companies who only need staff for one-off or ad-hoc work or want a fresh, young-person’s perspective. Students are being trained with the latest technology about latest developments in their industry and because they are not yet fully qualified companies can make a saving on the price of the job. Students can get work in the holidays or on a part-time basis to help fund their studies and improve their CV and by doing work relevant to their studies they should be able to earn a better wage than pulling a pint at the SU Bar.

The BBC article concludes that, ‘Mr Gilder said: "It's grades and student welfare suffering - that can't be healthy."’ And Mr Gilder is absolutely right but until the Government or the Universities help to do something about it there is still studentgems.com.