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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.