Edinburgh Airport hosts public safety event for Counter Terrorism Awareness Week

By Marion Guichaoua

Police Scotland will be present today at Edinburgh Airport to alert the public about safety travel, as part of Counter Terrorism Awareness Week.

Police Scotland,  the British Transport Police are amongst UK forces taking part in Counter Terrorism Awareness Week which will run from Monday 24 November until Sunday 30 November 2014.

They will be present in transport hubs all across the UK to help the public understand the threat to the UK and emphasise the importance of reporting any suspicious activity.

The Police Scotland website explains that: “The aim is not to alarm the public. No one is better placed to notice someone or something out of place within a community than those who live and work in that community.”

Staff who work across transport hubs will receive training to look out for suspicious behaviour and learn what they should do if an attack should happen.

Speaking ahead of the Safer Travel Days, Superintendent Alan Crawford said: “Police Scotland Border Policing Command welcomes this opportunity to raise the awareness of Counter Terrorism across the transport hubs and wider business community in Scotland.

“Airports and seaports are vibrant transport hubs where the public work and transit on a daily basis. These ports are, in their own right, communities where there is an opportunity for us all to report suspicious activity no matter how insignificant this may seem.

“At a time of increased threat levels, and with the focus on Syria and the Middle East, it is vital that collectively we work together to protect our border.”

Police Scotland also said: “Although the threat level has recently been increased to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in the UK is “Highly Likely” there is no specific intelligence of any planned attack, however this raised threat level does mean that we all need to be vigilant.”

During Counter Terrorism Awareness Week, the focus will be on five key areas: vigilance in crowded places and transport hubs, preventing violent extremism, preventing financing of terrorist groups and ensuring the safety and security of goods and materials which could be used by terrorists.

There will be a range of activities taking place across Scotland including increased police patrols and additional training for those responsible for safety and security of buildings, businesses and neighbourhoods to help them recognise, respond to and report any suspicious activity.

Today also sees The Safer Travel Day initiative being held at airports and ports across Scotland where travelers will receive information and advice to help keep them safe.

David Wilson, Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Airport, said: “Keeping our passengers safe and secure is our number one priority and we work very closely with Police Scotland to ensure Edinburgh Airport is a safe environment for everyone.

“By supporting Counter Terrorism Week we’re playing our part in a much wider operation to ensure the safety of all passengers and employees. Events like today’s Safer Travel Day are vital to help educate people on how to spot potentially suspicious behaviour.”

“There will be high visibility police patrols throughout the airport with officers available today to talk to passengers and staff about how to spot potentially suspicious behaviour.

“Police Scotland is also working with OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator to remind everyone to be cautious of donating to charity via third parties.

“OSCR’s Head of Engagement, Judith Turbyne, said:”We are pleased to support Counter-Terrorism Awareness Week, to alert the public in making sure that they check the organisations seeking donations from them.

“As with any requests for donations, there are a number of simple checks that you can make.  You can check the Scottish Charity Register and view our guide to Safer Giving at www.oscr.org.uk.”

 

New app to help modernise the health system

By Madalina Dichiu

Care Minister, Norman Lamb announced that the health system must be “modernised” and a new online application will be developed to help young people with mental health issues.

Experts say that the current situation is a “national disgrace” and the Government should spend more money on children and young people, while also stressing the importance of contact with therapists.

The Scottish Government says that the best approach to change the system is to be able to measure the things that matter most to the people using them. They are also reviewing health visits and school nursing services to ensure staff have the right training to identify and help parents, children and young people with mental health problems.

The Government has already developed an online service to provide guidance and training on child mental health for teachers, police, health professionals and other people working with children called MindEd. The research shows that mental health services are not meeting the needs of some groups of people. Only one in six older people with depression ever discusses it with their GP.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, “For far too long mental health has been in the shadows and many people have suffered in silence as a result. It is time to turn a corner on outdated attitudes and bring mental health issues out into the open. It is time that the whole of society started providing the care and support to those with mental health conditions in the same way that they would to those with a physical condition.”

Sarah Brennan Chief Executive of YoungMinds charity said: “It is a national disgrace that while three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental illness, only 6% of the NHS mental health budget is spent on children and young people. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that if we get it right for children and young people we will greatly reduce the burden of mental health for future generations.

“YoungMinds has been warning for several years about the dangers in cutting children and young people’s mental health early intervention services. Over the last few months we have seen the consequences of these cuts with reports of children and young people with mental illnesses ending up in police cells, being transferred hundreds of miles away or placed on inappropriate adult wards because there haven’t been the beds available.

“Local services providing much needed mental health services  should not have to operate in crisis-we have to get this right for children, young people and their families who are in desperate need of support.”

The NHS argues that many issues can be managed without the help of a GP by using the variety of sources now available, whether it’s through books, local organisations or online.

The charity Mind says: “Electronic media is increasingly being utilised as a medium to deliver psychological therapies. There are significant potential advantages to using this mode of delivery, including increased reach and improved access to psychological support and treatments.

“Some children and young people find interacting with electronic media a preferable first step to help and most are more used to such interaction than older generations.”

The Scottish Government published alarming statistics about mental health problems. Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition. Only a quarter of people with a common mental health problem get treatment, mostly in the form of medication.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 9.6% of children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 years in the UK have a mental health problem.

Edinburgh ranked as the second-best student city in UK

Edinburgh has been ranked as the UK’s second-best student city this year despite the rising demand for cheaper student accommodation. The news was published by the new edition of QS ranking.

With a relatively small population compared to many of the cities in the index, the Scottish capital has a fairly large student community proportionate to its overall size. This means that it scores especially high in the “student mix” category of the index.

Notably, 38% of students at ranked universities in Edinburgh are international, lending an incredibly diverse and inclusive atmosphere for overseas students.

Carlotta Lombatto, an Italian student based in Edinburgh said:

“One of the main reasons I chose to study in Edinburgh was to improve my English level. I thought about studying in London but it is a very expensive city and I couldn’t afford living there. In Edinburgh you can find a lot of part time jobs and it’s easier to pay your fees.

“Maybe the most complicated thing in Edinburgh for an international student is renting a flat. Prices are excessive and there are so many people looking for the same thing. The deposit is very high and student accommodation is expensive.”

Manel Escuder, an international student from Spain, said: “Edinburgh is an amazing city for studying, and it is impossible not to be inspired. There are a lot of cultural events and conferences. It is a very artistic city.

“The racial diversity it’s surprisingly high. You can go to the supermarket and see so many people from different places and everybody can live together.They respect each other.”

University ranking, the mixture of international students, quality of life, rate of use and affordability in terms of standard of living are the five categories included in the criteria.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS said: “QS Best Students Cities provides a complementary tool with respect to the specific rankings of university students.

“After all, the college experience is influenced by the place and especially by the presence of international students”.

To be included in the ranking, every city must have a population of more than 250,000 and must hold at least two educational institutions that are within the QS World University rankings. There are 116 cities in the world that qualify, but only 50 have been classified.

In Edinburgh, the two institutions ranked by QS are the University of Edinburgh, which is currently 17th in the world, and Heriot- Watt-University.

 

UK charity Refuge opposes launch of Clare’s Law pilot scheme

By Charlotte Barbour

Domestic abuse campaigners yesterday called into question the effectiveness of Clare’s Law, a scheme which will be piloted across areas of Scotland today.

Domestic abuse charity Refuge expressed concerns that the Law is not enough to help protect women from violence.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, a 36-year old woman who was murdered by her abusive boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009. She was not aware of his history of violence against women.

“Clare’s Law” will be piloted in Ayrshire and Aberdeen today and will last for six months. It will allow people suffering from domestic abuse access to information on a partner’s potential violent history. If successful the scheme will then be rolled out across Scotland.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said:

“Clare’s Law sounds good on paper, but in reality it will do very little to help the hundreds of thousands of women and children who experience domestic violence in this country.

“Some people will say that if Clare’s Law saves just one life, it is worth it. But let’s be clear – two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales. Saving just one life is not enough.

“What will happen if a woman is told that her partner does have a history of violence? Will she be expected to pack her bags and leave straight away? At Refuge, we know that it isn’t that simple.

“Leaving a violent partner is an incredibly difficult step to take. It is also extremely dangerous – women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. And if women do leave, where are they supposed to go? Refuges are closing up and down the country because of huge funding cuts.

“Clare’s Law may help a few individuals but we need to help the majority of victims – not the few. The most effective way to save lives on a large scale is to improve police practice and protect the vital services run by specialist organisations like Refuge. Let’s get our priorities right.”

Lily Greenan, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, fully supports the scheme. She said:

“Clare’s Law allows people who are concerned about the behaviour of their partner now have the right to ask if they have a history of abuse.

“We are supporting it because anything that potentially helps to prevent domestic abuse against a person is worth having a go at. The levels of domestic abuse in Scotland are very high, and these can become quite extreme before people feel that they can contact the police about it.

“We see the law as a pro-active approach to try and encourage people who feel uncomfortable about what their partner is doing to quietly enquire about whether or not there is a history of domestic abuse.

“Obviously it is not a replacement for a criminal investigation if what is happening to them is already definable as abuse but it may be helpful to some people to have that information in advance.”

According to the Scottish government website, the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse last year reached 60,080, a rise of almost a third in a decade.

Half of all incidents recorded in 2012-13 led to the recording of a crime or an offence, and of these, 78 per cent were reported to the procurator fiscal.

Factors which may increase women’s vulnerability to some types of violence include age, disability and poverty.

Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, believes that had his daughter been able to access information on Appleton’s criminal history it may have saved her life.

Loans company insists students can pay debts

By Madalina Dichiu

THE Student Loan company today insisted graduates are clearing their debts after a report claimed an increasing number were unable to meet their repayments.

Figures published by The Student Loans Company (SLC) show that students can afford paying back their loans, even if current reports argue the opposite.

Concerns were raised after a study made by The Higher Education Commission found that the system fails to help students repay their debt.

The Commission says that student debt will increase to more than £330 billion by 2044.

It said: “The Commission fundamentally questions any system that charges higher education at a rate where the average graduate will not be able to pay it back.”

The Student Loans Company argues that there is an “increase in the average repayment amount [which] is caused by income growth in the years after leaving higher education. In the tax years from 2005‐06 up to and including 2011‐12 the income threshold was pegged at £15,000.

“Hence, it reduced in real terms so any increase in earnings in real terms would lead to increased repayments. In tax year 2012‐13 the income threshold was increased to £15,795 leading to a drop in the average repayment amount.”

According to a report published yesterday by The National Union of Students the proportion of graduates failing to pay back student loans is increasing at such a rate that the Treasury is approaching the point at which it will get zero financial reward from the government’s policy of tripling tuition fees to £9,000 a year.

The report named “A Roadmap to Free Education” argues that higher education could be funded by collective public investment through progressive taxation, with an increase on tax of the richest in society.

Megan Dunn, NUS Vice President (Higher Education), said: “Not only is a publicly funded education system achievable, it’s also necessary in the current economic and political climate. Our roadmap seriously challenges those who want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the current broken system can be fixed with tweaks and tinkering. The clear fact is that the current system we have is completely unsustainable.

“The Government’s own figures show that the prospect of a huge black hole looming over the budget is very real. It’s time the government started taking this issue seriously and committed to a new deal for students.”

She added: “We are told that we can’t tax the rich because they are the ‘wealth creators’ but we know that the real wealth creators of our society are the teachers and lecturers who are building up the knowledge and the skills of our country. We should be investing in them rather than protecting those who have driven the economy to its knees.

“Forcing debt onto students as a way of funding universities is an experiment that has failed not just students, but our country. Politicians need to recognise that we will only achieve a sustainable higher education funding system if we abandon the discredited regime of sky-high fees and debts altogether.”

The “roadmap” is based on a more contextualised and long-term view of what higher education is for, who the main beneficiaries are, and what balance of contribution these beneficiaries should make in order to allow the sector to function most effectively.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the government would “look closely at the findings from the commission.

“The UK enjoys a world-renowned reputation for the quality of its universities, which we have protected and enhanced through our reforms.”

Scottish drinks industry backs drink-drive limit proposals

By Lauren Beehan

The Scottish drinks industry has welcomed the reduction in the drink-driving limit, which will be voted on by the Scottish Parliament today.

Under the new laws, the maximum blood alcohol level for drivers will be reduced from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml, meaning that a single pint of beer could put them over the limit from December 5th.

Representatives from the drinks industry have encouraged customers to be aware of the new limit and to make their plans accordingly.

Neil Williams of the British Beer & Pub Association said: “It is vital that everyone in Scotland knows about the change, as the pub is at the heart of all our Christmas celebrations. Enjoy the pub during the holiday season, but be prepared, such as having a designated driver, so you can get in the party spirit knowing you can have a safe journey home.”

Industry think-tank, the Portman Group, also supports the changes, saying that that drink producers have a role to play in the campaign against drink-driving.

A spokesperson from the group said that producers will focus now on “running responsible drink driving campaigns and education programmes to encourage people to nominate a designated driver and to never drink and drive.”

The Scottish government has launched an awareness campaign to inform drivers of both the change to the limit and the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Don’t Risk It campaign includes advertisements on television, radio and online videos, as well as interactive social media with games showing the influence of alcohol on reaction speeds.

Advertisements will also be shown in northern England, where the limit remains at 80mg per 100ml, to ensure that drivers who cross the border are aware of the different laws.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who proposed the change, said: “With the approval of Parliament, the new drink drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.

“A persistent minority of people are still getting behind the wheel after drinking – that is unacceptable, it is putting lives at risk and it must stop. Our advice is simple, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all. Alcohol at any level impairs driving.

“This new law will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and hopefully reduce drink drive arrests and prosecutions, as we have already seen in the Republic of Ireland, where drivers adjusted their behaviour to take account of the lower limit.”

A similar reduction was implemented in the Republic of Ireland in 2011, where drink-driving convictions fell by 3,000 in the space of two years.

Alcohol is a factor in 1 in 10 fatal road accidents in Scotland, with drink-driving causing over 400 accidents each year.

There were 4,730 people convicted of drink-driving in Scotland between March 2012 and March 2013, the last full year for which statistics are available.

Michael McDonnell, Director of Road Safety Scotland, said: “It’s almost 50 years since the current limit was introduced and that we still lose an average of 20 lives a year is a disgrace.

“Evidence from across the world demonstrates that the best results in tackling drink-driving are achieved by lowering the limit, or increasing enforcement, or both. We know, too, that a combination of high-profile enforcement, coupled with a heavyweight media campaign is the most efficient use of resources, and we are working closely with the Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that people know about the change to the limit and have no excuse.

“It’s not about catching more drink-drivers, but about preventing people from doing it in the first place. Ultimately, most of us have too much to lose, so it’s just not worth the risk.”

Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, Head of Roads Policing for Police Scotland warned that people should not drink at all if they intend to get behind the wheel.

He said: “An average of 20 die on Scotland’s roads each year and last year a further 90 were seriously injured and 340 slightly injured as a result of drink driving related collisions.

“The new lower limit will reduce those numbers and the evidence from across Europe where the lower limit applies suggests we will see reductions in drink driving and blood alcohol counts.

“However even at the new limit you are three times more likely to die in a crash than if you had taken no alcohol. It is clear, when it comes to drinking and driving, that the simple ‘the best advice is none’ message is the right one.

“On the lead up to 5 December, police patrols will positively engage with as many road users as possible to provide real-time education to those who may be putting themselves and others at risk, influence behaviour in the future and prevent collisions on Scotland’s roads.”

 

 

 

First Tree Planted in War Centenary Wood

By Paul Malik

The first of 50,000 trees was planted today on the Dreghorn Military Estate, Pentland,  to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Margaret Murison, whose grandfather and great-uncle both fell on the same day during the Battle of Ypres, planted an oak tree with pupils from Currie Primary School to mark the opening of the new wood.

The wood is part of a national initiative set up by the Woodland Trust that aims to “create a living memorial of the conflict”.

The Woodland Trust said: “Over the next four years more than 50,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan will be planted on land that has been used by army personnel for training for more than a century on the MOD training estate at Dreghorn.”

Rory Syme, a spokesman for the Woodland Trust, said the tress selected for the wood were “native” to Britain and that their crimson autumnal foliage would create an “amazing memorial”.

Poppy seeds are to be sown in the area also, to create a vivid red hue across the Pentland Hills.

The area will still be an active army training ground and the MOD will inform the public as to when the woods are not accessible.

The First World War claimed the lives of more than one million British Soldiers. The first Battle of Ypres alone killed more than 55,000 British service personnel.

Holiday Cuts at Christmas Holiday Planned for Schools

By Jordan Hooks

Plans have been proposed to cut Christmas holidays to one-and-a-half weeks while giving students an extra week off in the summer. This would extend the summer break to last seven weeks.

An exact reason for the holiday calendar changes is unclear and has only been cited from an education source as “calendar reasons.”

The proposed changes have created quite a stir, especially for working parents.

For working parents, extra-long summers creates problems finding additional support because they have already arranged childcare for a set amount of time over the summer breaks.

Tory education chief Cllr Jason Rust said: “I’m surprised they would be looking to shorten the Christmas holiday as an additional week to the summer break could create further issues for working parents and employers.”

The consultation period will run until March 28.

Deportation threatened headteacher handed lifeline by Home Office

by Alasdair Crews

Ae Primary School

Ae Primary School; Credit: Dumfries and Galloway Council

The Home Office has lifted a deportation threat on an American-born headteacher working in Dunfriesshire who had his request for permanent residency turned down.

David MacIsaac, who has lived and worked in Scotland for almost 10 years, was told his application had been turned down in a letter from the Home Office, which said that they considered his four-year marriage to a Scottish woman “a sham”.

Mr MacIsaac will now start the application process again after his lawyer and the Home Office agreed a new framework for re-applying.

Mr MacIsaac has been working as headteacher for Ae Primary School for five years, having discovered a shortage of headteachers in rural communities in Scotland during a holiday to the country.

When the decision by the immigration authorities was brought down, Mr MacIsaac and his wife Susan were devastated. Their misery was compounded by the fact that Susan was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is due to begin a course of treatment in Edinburgh.

The Home Office decision caused widespread condemnation from all corners of the Scottish political spectrum and various Parliamentary figures have welcomed the Home Office decision.

In a statement, MSP for South Scotland, Joan McAlpine said:

“This is a victory for common sense and I’m extremely pleased the Home Office has dropped its threat to deport Mr MacIsaac.

“The meeting with Scotland’s education secretary clearly sent a strong signal to the Home Office that its harassment of Mr MacIsaac was wrong.

“The Home Office should be ashamed that its archaic system brought about this highly stressful and unsettling situation.

“I hope Home Office officials learn from this situation and address the serious concerns it has raised about this barbaric Westminster system.”

Mr MacIsaac said: “Sue and I are both delighted and we have been overwhelmed by the cross-party support and the numerous letters and e-mails we have received”.

Student Radio Awards 2013

by Alex Watson

With nominations announced at the start of October, there is now just over a week left before the Student Radio Awards 2013 take place.  The annual awards ceremony celebrates the efforts of hardworking student radio stations and presenters across Britain.  This year, the event will be held at the indigO2 in London on Thursday 7th November.

The Student Radio Awards are supported by several high profile organisations, including various BBC radio stations, Global Radio and the British Council.  Dreamed up in 1995 by former Student Radio Association chair, Nick Wallis, the awards have been backed by BBC Radio 1 from the start.  Dubbed by Wallis as an ‘extraordinary talent-sourcing behemoth’, the awards boast some extremely successful previous participants.

Greg James (formerly of University of East Anglia’s Livewire) is one of the awards’ most famous alumni.  The ultimate inspiration for budding broadcasters – James won Best Male Presenter at the Student Radio Awards in 2005, and was presenting on Radio 1 just two years later.  The 27 year old presenter has never been afraid to dream big, admitting in an interview last year, ‘I always thought I could end up here [at Radio 1] if I worked hard enough’.

Greg James 2

Greg James went from the Student Radio Awards to BBC Radio 1 in just two years

The nominees for 2013’s Student Radio Awards are primarily from English universities.  Just two Scottish stations are in the running – Edinburgh University’s Fresh Air and Monster FM in Inverness.  Xpress Radio in Cardiff solely represents Wales this year.  University Radio Nottingham swept the board last year, although there were other strong contenders.

Fly FM (Nottingham Trent University) and University Radio York will go head to head this time around for certain awards.  However, nominations for categories such as Best Male and Best Female are evenly spread, leaving room for newcomers and lesser known stations to bag a prize.

Media Mondays – Catriona Shearer – 04.02.2013

By: Lauren Elliott

NapiersCatShearerCatriona Shearer, who studied at Napier 10 years ago, came back again to tell her life story and revisit tales of her experiences here.
She tells of how she climbed the ladder from being a student at Napier to working as a presenter for the BBC. We find out how she managed to get her work experience at BBC Radio5 Live and what work she does on a daily basis.
Catriona gives a very warm speech and provides plenty of inspiration and advice for student journalists who are just starting out. This talk is well worth a listen.

Listen Here:

New record label launched at Jewel and Esk College

Staff and students at Jewel and Esk College have launched a new record label, Feast Records. Utilizing the college’s impressive array of recording equipment the label is aimed at promoting “new young musical talent in Scotland”.

An event will be held to celebrate the new label on the 30th of March at Edinburgh’s Electric. The launch will be ticketed at £5 on the door and will feature young Edinburgh bands such as Maydays, The Nature Boys and Fridgemaster. Feast’s upcoming website will also feature gig and album reviews, studio sessions and up and coming bands.

This record label comes as the latest in a line of recent small independent labels to be launched in the capital such as Song by Toad, Offbeat, Alextronic and Pure Synthesis.

Feast records can be found here on facebook.

Jewel and Esk College website can be found here.

Time to slow down and save lives

Image

Gillespie's and Sciennes primary school pupils release balloons as part of an advert campaign for "Just give me a minute".

A new campaign has been launched today by school pupils in south Edinburgh.

“Just give me a minute” highlights the small amount of time lost to a driver if they travel at 20mph rather than 30mph.  The speed difference will save lives according to experts.

A 20mph speed limit along residential streets from Arthurs Seat to Blackford Hill has had the support of 70% of local people and will cost £100,000. Casualties have been reduced by 30-50% when the scheme has been introduced in other parts of the city road.

The change has also been an attempt to improve cycling safety where three fatalities have taken place over the last few months.

The campaign will continue to be promoted through adverts on radio, buses and bus shelters.

 

Trystan Davies reports:

Final colleges facing ban revealed

John Henderson, CEO of Scotland’s colleges, talked about the colleges’ situation and their future.

Government funding for Highland and Moray Colleges

A grant of £1.95million has been given to colleges in the Highlands and Moray to help tackle youth unemployment.

The funding is to be split between Moray College, North Highland College and Inverness College, which form part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The money, which comes from the European Social Fund, is the latest round of such funding, following the £5.3million announced in February to help aid economic growth. It will go towards funding training programmes and full time places in order to boost employability for young people in the area.

On a visit to Inverness College, the Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance said that not having training or education “can be highly damaging to the life chances of Scotland’s young people and can seriusly dent their ambitions.”

She stated that the Scottish Government has “guaranteed every 16-19-year-old a place in education or training” and that the funding will “build on that activity and help us nurture the potential of our young people, provide routes into work and harness their ability and creativity to contribute towards future economic growth.”

The December 2011 figures show that at the numbers of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Highlands, Moray, Argyll and Bute grew towards the end of last year, and was up to 7,500 by the start of 2012.

Students hold further protests over fees

Edinburgh University was the scene of student protests yesterday. Those involved are demanding that the university reverse its decision to implement £9000 fees for non-Scottish students.

 The march was organised by the EUSA and the Edinburgh University Anti-Cuts Coalition, and took place yesterday at 12.30pm. Students marched from Holyrood along the Royal Mile to the Scotland Office on Melville Street, with police closing Lothian Road in order to allow the protestors through.

Around 150 people are believed to have attended. The Anti-Cuts Coalition told Napier News that students were also “coming in on buses from Aberdeen, St Andrews and Glasgow” in order to take part.

Following the demonstration, a number of students took to the George Square Lecture Theatre at around 9pm, and proceeded to occupy part of the building, with reports emerging that there were around 27 people present.

The Anti-Cuts Coalition announced on Twitter that they would be leaving the building before lectures were due to start today, meaning that there would be no need for the University to alter classrooms or timetables.

A number of similar demonstrations and occupations took place all over the UK yesterday. Occupations took place at York, Birmingham, Goldsmiths and Warwick universities.

Several speeches were made at the end of the Edinburgh march, from Robin Parker, the president of NUS Scotland, and Matt McPherson, the president of the EUSA.

Mr Parker said, “Ultimately these fees are the responsibility of the regressive educational policies of the Westminster Government, and the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP’s who went back on their promises have to take ultimate responsibility.”

“Students from the rest of the UK will potentially be paying more than £36,000 for a degree in Scotland from next year. This is more than the maximum allowed in England, if you take the huge numbers from down south who attend Edinburgh and St Andrews into account.”

“And unlike in other parts of the UK, there are no requirements in Scotland for institutions to have a minimum bursary level for poorer students, and no independent regulation to ensure transparency for students about what additional support is on offer.”
However, Edinburgh University have claimed that they are introducing the most generous bursary package available to English, Welsh and Northern Irish students who come to study in Scotland.
Professor Mary Bownes has previously announced that, “From the total resources available to the University, we intend to create a bursary scheme of £6.7 million for RUK students. We are also planning to use investment income to fund a significant number of new access and accommodation bursaries a year for Scottish-domiciled students.”
The Anti-Cuts Coalition announced to Napier News that they are “planning a feeder march from Edinburgh University to the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC)” on November 30, in order to show solidarity with public sector workers. The STUC protest is due to begin at the Usher Hall.

Thousands of students protest against Spanish education cuts

by Natalia Rodríguez Domínguez

Just three days before the Spanish General Elections, thousands of students and teaching staff from  Spanish Universities have taken to the streets
in order to protest against education cuts, difficult working conditions and educational reform which is to be implemented by the government in 2015.

Spanish students have chosen the International Student’s Day,  which is 17th November, as the perfect date to call for a day of protests and teaching strikes across Spain. In Madrid, hundreds of students have been occupying teaching rooms at the five main public Universities since the 14th November.

This movement has been organised by several student groups which have encouraged action against the increasing state cuts in public education and the expected increase of fees which will take effect in 2015. All across the main Spanish cities, students have skipped classes today to show their indignation.

In Barcelona, a number of teaching stuff have joined the students’ demonstrations across the city.  Some faculties also started the day under occupation by students. A group of radical protesters has demonstrated in the middle of some main roads and the city bypass. This has forced the traffic to stop for a few hours, until the demonstrators were removed.

This evening more demonstrations are expected as students and teaching staff plan to take part in localalised protests. They are demanding better quality higher education and an improvement in access to higher education regardless of family income.

Salmond:Teacher strike is “premature”

Today in parliament Alex Salmond praised Scottish teachers,
but refused to bow to impending strike action.

Teachers have responded by accusing the First Minister of ‘serving platitudes’.

Last week members of Scotland’s largest teaching union voted “overwhelmingly” to join other public sector workers in a national day of strike action on the 30th November. Salmond used first ministers questions today to praise the work of teachers.  “I bow down to no-one who doesn’t recognise the contribution of Scottish teachers to Scottish Education” he said.  But he also claimed that  any move toward strike action was ‘premature’

“I’m a  supply teacher.  Our pay has been slashed already” said Scottish teacher Donna McGlynn, “but this strike is even bigger.  It’s about pensions, it’s about the loss of McCrone time, meaning teachers will work more hours for less pay.   Alex Salmond should see that we don’t do things like this lightly.  It’s just platitudes.  He has to see the severity of what’s going on in our profession.  All these proposed changes will have a severe impact on our children’s futures, the education of generations.  It’s a pebble dropped in a pond, but I fear the ripple effect.”

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said that the 82% vote in favour of industrial action showed  “The patience of teachers and lecturers has been exhausted.  Faced with a wide ranging attack on their pensions,  on top of a two-year pay freeze, rampant inflation and education budget cuts, our members are signalling that ‘enough is enough’.”

Salmond also accused the Westminster Government of “Poisoning the atmosphere with regard to public sector workers” but vowed that they would get fairer conditions in an independent Scotland.

NUS Scotland reacts to spending review

NUS Scotland President Robin Parker "very worried" about cuts.

By Joseph Blythe

NUS Scotland have welcomed Scottish Government plans to increase funding for universities by around £75million. However they have said that they are “concerned” at proposed cuts to college funding, and warned that the government should ensure the number of places available doesn’t fall. The plans, announced yesterday by Finance Secretary John Swinney, are part of the government’s spending review, outlining the budget for the next three years.

There had been fears that austerity measures would lead to cuts in education, but Swinney was able to deliver on his party’s campaign promises of increased financial support and no tuition fees for Scottish students. He pledged a minimum income of £7000 for the poorest students, and the protection of the EMA for young students and pupils.

NUS Scotland President Robin Parker said “Taken together these proposals are a major step in right direction towards making access to education in Scotland fairer. This progress is very welcome news and testament to the hard work and campaigning by thousands of students across Scotland in the run-up to the last election.”

But he was less enthusiastic at the cuts facing the budget for colleges, saying “Colleges serve some of the most deprived communities in Scotland, offering an educational lifeline and local access to education to some of the most excluded in our society. They must make sure that no matter what, the number of places at college is at least protected and that quality is maintained.”

Non-Scottish students marching to the Parliament

by Boyana Atanasova

Students from University of Edinburgh have started an Anti Cuts Coalition as a result of the decision of the university to increase the tuition fees for all non-Scottish students (from the UK) to the highest possible levels of 9000 pounds per year, starting from 2012.

The move became possible after English universities got the go-ahead to charge up to £9,000 for tuition.

The students’ answer to these decisions are demonstrations in several institutions. They are planning to expand their actions with a major event planned for the end of November: “We are calling for a national demo at Holyrood on Tuesday 30th November. This will coincide with the tuition fees parliamentary debate in Westminster. Our plan is to meet at Bristo Square at 11:30, from where we will march to Holyrood and stage a rally outside parliament. We call on students and staff from all educational establishments, for trade unions and any coalitions or individuals who want to stand against the devastating cuts to higher education and public services to join us”, stated a message from the Anti Cuts Coalition.

The students believe that these cuts will have a huge negative effect on the next generations and will affect people from the less privileged backgrounds, which will result in broadening the gap between rich and poor.

“We’ve planned multiple wild cat 36 hour occupations in Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews aimed at maximum disruption of management and not teaching”, added a member of the Coalition.

University of Edinburgh is one of the four universities in Scotland that recently made the decision to increase their fees. Edinburgh Napier University still does not have any position on this topic and the Napier Student Association did not give its opinion on the demands of the students from the affected universities.

Homophobia in schools: the last taboo

“I’ve been stabbed because of my sexuality.”

This pupil is one of thousands of victims of homophobic bullying in schools across the UK. Almost two thirds of young people, in the gay community, experience bullying in secondary schools. The charitable organisation Stonewall, which lends support to the gay community, found that homophobic bullying, after taunting because of weight, is the most frequent form of abuse in secondary schools. It is three times more prevalent than bullying due to religion or ethnicity. Unfortunately, a culture of homophobia exists in many school environments and this creates problems for young people trying to come to terms with their sexuality.

Previous poster campaign by Stonewall. Image courtesy of Stonewall.org.uk

[Read more…]

Morningside public library to close for renovations

Morningside Library Closing for Refurb Credit: Blythe Harkins

By Celeste Carrigan

Morningside public library is closing for eight months for renovations. The refurbishment will involve the creating of a new level in the library as well as a new cafe.

The library will see improved community and study areas with much-needed public toilets.

A book van will be in operation opposite the library during its closure on Falcon Road west.

Tune into Edinburgh Napier News TV Bulletin at 3pm to find out more on this story.

“Reclaim Your Voice”, once again to fight for education.

By Giulia Mattei

Reclaim Your Voice Logo

Yesterday morning, Tuesday the 22nd of March, students from all over Scotland gathered together in Edinburgh with the aim of taking part in the demonstration organised by the Scottish campaign “Reclaim Your Voice”.

Margaret Smith, Scottish Lib Dem education spokesperson and MSP for Edinburgh West, was invited to the rally to speak to the crowd. “”We are the party in government who scrapped Labour’s tuition fees while Tony Blair and the Labour party were increasing tuition fees down south, so I don’t need any lectures from the chap in front of me.” she said while people booed at her.

Oliver, 19 year old protester, comments on her speech by saying “I don’t even understand why she came her, I wouldn’t have had the guts to show up probably”.

The campaign’s website posted a slogan to encourage people to take part in the demonstration, it says : “For the first time in the history of the Scottish Parliament, we face budget cuts. The threat of tuition fees returning to Scotland has never been more real and we know that student support in Scotland is in deep crisis.”

Student leaders, lecturers, trade unionists and parents marched on Holyrood outside the Scottish Parliament before the elections on the 5th of May, to express their disapproval of cut-backs and tuition fees. People felt like it was the right time to step up once again and fight for the future of Scotland’s students, which explains why hundred of them showed up to protest.

Protesters urged the parties to rule out tuition fees, increase financial support for students, and protect university and college places, the three commitments demanded by Reclaim Your Voice.

If people were not impressed by Margaret Smith’s talk, they were definitely inspired by by what Liam Burns said. “In the rest of the UK, students were betrayed with huge cuts to colleges and universities and the trebling of tuition fees.” said the President of NUS Scotland, during his speech ahead of the march “We must come together with one voice to make sure that this never happens here in Scotland.” he added while the crowd applauded him.

Iron Age gold hoard to finally be on display at The National Museum of Scotland

by Emily Glass

National Museums Scotland have finally secured a set of four Iron Age gold neck ornaments after raising funds for two years.

The treasure was found by David Booth  in 2009 in his first outing with his metal detector whilst at work. Chief Game Warden at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, Booth unearthed the trove which was lying a mere six inches below the surface of a field.

The neck ornaments, or torcs, date between the 1st and 3rd Century BC and will be on display in the National Collections at The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.

Mr Booth will receive a reward payment of £462,000 which was set-up by the Queen’s and Lord Treasure’s Remembrancer after he reported his remarkable find to the Treasure Trove Unit.

The treasure has been cited by Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop as being the most important Iron Age find in Scotland’s history. She described the importance of the hoard’s display in The National Museum of Scotland: “I congratulate the National Museum of Scotland on its successful fundraising campaign to ensure that it remains here and will be on free display for the general public.”

International Students Struggle with Student Accounts

graduatefinance.comBy Eva Deckers

International students in the UK are having a hard time finding student bank accounts.

While UK residents can opt for special offers to come with their students accounts, international students are left with no options but to save their money and hope for the best.

So far only Santander, the Spanish bank, provides international students in the UK with special services. With the promise of receiving at least £50 a month, a student can get up to 3.00 AER/2.96% gross (variable) on balances up to £500 a month.

However, these can only be acquired after the students have been living in the UK for over 3months. Olivia Rastoin, 20, a French student at Edinburgh Napier University says “the most annoying thing is that I can’t get an overdraft, which can be hard when living a student life”. She adds that “having a larger interest rate and free bonuses like rail cards would be very welcome but just aren’t available for overseas students like me.” [Read more…]

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