Napier students reject independence

A Napier University poll has revealed that only 29.5% of its students back Scottish independence.

The survey was carried out for the University’s magazine, Buzz, as part of the Masters Journalism course. 569 students were asked the question ‘If the Independence Referendum was held tomorrow, how would you vote?’ over the course of the one day poll.  This represents a sample rate of 3% of the University’s student body.

Here we talk to Simon Pia, Lecturer on Journalism at Napier and former Scottish Labour Spin Doctor about his reaction to the result.

Napier University Independence Referendum Poll

Earlier this month Buzz Magazine asked Napier students their opinions on the issue of Scottish independence. 569 students (3.3% of the student body) were asked the question “If you were to vote on Scottish independence now, how would you vote?” Both the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns refused to comment on the results of the poll, which will be revealed later today.

Olympic Athlete Unable to Train in Edinburgh

Napier Graduate Lynsey Sharp was turned away from Meadowbank Stadium this week as result of poor ground management.

The Olympic athlete who performed well in the Olympics over the summer, progressing to the semi-final of the 800m, has complained about the lack of professional facilities in Edinburgh.

Sharp said: “The sports facilities in Edinburgh are not up to scratch. Essentially, the track was closed and I couldn’t do my session because the groundsman was on holiday this week”.

Due to the adverse weather conditions this week the Meadowbank track was frozen.  However there is equipment available to de-ice tracks. If the facility had better ground management processes in place, Sharp could have trained despite the frosty conditions.

In June of this year Sharp, who graduated with a 2:1 in Law, was a model student and athlete who successfully managed to balance her intensive study and training.

Sharp Gets Set at Graduation Picture © Edinburgh Evening News.

The Napier Union president Tom Zanelli commented on the matter:

“Well to be honest I think it’s pretty disgraceful that the weather should have any effect on training facilities at that level”.

Sharp is one of the best athletes in Scotland, if not the UK, who needs to train daily. It is extremely important for athletes to follow a specific training programme routinely, therefore for one days training to be completely ruined it can severely affect development.

In further reflection on the incident Zanelli claimed:

“It’s something that needs to be addressed before younger, talented Scottish sportspeople move away down South due to poor facilities”.

In Edinburgh and indeed Scotland this kind of occurrence is not an isolated incident. There is the common opinion amongst elite athletes that Edinburgh Council and the Government withhold funding for sport. As a result, facilities such as Meadowbank are under staffed and outdated.

However government officials claim that a huge amount of funding has been injected into Glasgow in the build-up to the 2014 commonwealth games. Therefore as an unfortunate side effect of this it is apparent that facilities in Edinburgh are falling behind.

The newly elected Edinburgh Napier University Sports president Dan Parker took a more measured approach to problems with sporting venues in the city:

“Scottish weather has a negative effect on our teams and athletes. It hampers training and competition, from October onwards venues become flooded and frozen on nearly a weekly basis”.

What is worrying about this incident and the overall issue with sport in the capital city is that our home grown talent are constantly faced with barriers whether it be our local sporting facilities struggling to cope with the adverse weather, 0r simply a lack of funding made available to elite or amateur sportsmen and women.

Sharp admitted that when she has been unable to access the appropriate training places in the past due to poor weather conditions, she has been forced to train in a walkway which used to be an old railway. A rubbish strewn and dimly lit tunnel is hardly the kind of place an Olympic athlete should be training.

One of Edinburgh Napier’s strength and conditioning coaches, and past football professional, Alex Rawcliffe described the revelation as, “pathetic”.

He went on to say, “More of an effort should be made to implement preventative methods of reducing the effects of snow, ice, rain. It would be great if Scottish sport had access to more funding however most sports persons know that if they want quality services and facilities, they have to travel great distances to get them”.

If the Scottish government has a lack of available funding for the capital’s sporting centres then it is imperative that the organisation and structure of what is available is improved immediately.

Sharp, in one of her latest Twitter posts said “It would appear that, overnight, the groundsman is back from his holiday and they have acquired equipment to de-ice the track”.

The personnel in charge of procedures must be more urgent with their response to adverse weather conditions, otherwise our best athletes will continue to be at a disadvantage.

Peter Pan brings Christmas cheer to Sick Kids

Edinburgh’s sick children got a dose of Christmas cheer yesterday when 100 free copies of children’s classic, Peter and Wendy, were delivered to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.The much loved tale about the boy who never grew up celebrates its publishing centenary this year.And to mark the milestone MSc Publishing students from Edinburgh Napier University have produced a new edition of J.M. Barrie’s magical tale.

The book has been published with the permission of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, who Barrie gave his Peter Pan works copyright to in 1929.

Avril Gray, Programme Leader for Postgraduate Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The new book will be delivered to children’s hospitals across the UK to bring the magic of Peter Pan to children at a time when they often feel sad or afraid.

“It’s a beautiful edition of a well-loved children’s classic and this donation of 100 copies is a very fitting finale to the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Peter and Wendy first being published.”

Janice MacKenzie, Chief Nurse, Royal Hospital for Sick Children said: “We are delighted to be the first hospital to benefit from this lovely gift.

“The excitement of Peter and Wendy, pirates and fairies is sure to produce smiles across the hospital, particularly at this time of year when being in hospital is even harder to bear.”

The centenary edition of Peter and Wendy has been published by Merchiston Publishing – the imprint of the Scottish Centre for the Book based at Edinburgh Napier University.

The University now offers two masters in publishing – MSc Magazine Publishing and MSc Publishing. This year MSc Publishing became the first and only publishing course in the UK to be accredited by the Periodicals Training Council.

2.30p.m. Bulletin

by Katy Docherty, Jen McClure and Tony Garner

Tony Garner in the radio studio

read by Jen McClure and Tony Garner

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Archbishop calls for peace in Mexico’s drugs war

by Katy Docherty

A Mexican Archbishop today called for a cease to country’s bloody battle against drug cartels. His plea comes at the funeral of the latest 18 victims to be caught up in gang violence.

Mexican families mourn their dead in Morelia Cathedral. Source: El Universal

The bodies of the 18 were discovered in a mass grave outside the holiday resort of Acapulco. The funeral took place today in the city of Morelia.

The Archbishop of Morelia told mourners that  he hoped these deaths “may act as a seed to produce a different Mexico – a brotherly, fair and just one.”

The motive for the deaths is not clear. The victims were a group of mechanics who alledgedly saved up to go on holiday together. They disappeared on 30th September, shortly after leaving their home town of Morelia.

The Mayor of Morelia called upon citizens to rally together in the face of tragedy, adding “crime will not break our spirits”.

Police discovered the mass grave after two unidentified men declared in an online video they had been ordered to kill and bury the tourists. The bodies of the two men were found alongside the murdered holiday-makers. [Read more...]

Education Minister Promises No Tuition Fees in Scotland

By Ryan C. Gavan

Tuition fees are ruled out but a graduate tax might be implemented

Mike Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education in Scotland, has promised not to introduce tuition fees north of the border.

This comes after the recent Browne Review into higher education funding in England and Wales.  This is rasing concerns about the future of University funding in Scotland. In a statement about the subject, Russel said ” one measure has been ruled out, tuition fees.”

There is much worry that spending cuts could lead to changes in University funding in Scotland. Russell stated, ” the Scottish Government plans to publish a Green Paper by the end of the year.”  This will include a wide consultation process involving student groups, universities and government.

This will be welcome news to student groups. Callum Leslie, of Liberal Youth Scotland, said ” bringing in tuition fees would be a regressive step for Scotland.” 

Anne Ballanger, of the Scottish Secondary Teacher Association, stated “tuition fees may prove an impossible task for some prospective students.” She believes that if they were introduced student levels would fall.

Measures such as a graduate tax  have not been ruled out. This would be in line with future earnings. The more a graduate was paid in the future, the more they would pay back. This policy proposal is causing great debate in England and Wales.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, recently made a number of U-turns on the possibility of a graduate tax. He defended the policy initially, only to argue it was unworkable. He stated ” it fails both the tests of fairness and deficit reduction.”

The Browne review is facing questions over its independence. It is reported that it was available to ministers to view long before the publication date. 

 Graduate unemployment is at its highest levels for 17 years at 8.9%, recent figures show.

App learning

By Joel Sked

Lectures to hand

Studying at university has taken a step further into the digital age thanks to the latest smartphone innovation introduced by the University of Edinburgh.

With requests from students to allow them to view timetables and course information from their phone the university came up with the application which should work on Apple’s iPhones, Blackberry, Nokia’s and HTC phones.

The £80,000 Mobile Campus App project is set to be introduced in January and last for a minimum of three years.

It is an idea that was originally introduced by the University of Dundee, labelled the Dundee Connect app. It allows students to search for e-mail addresses of university staff, view library card records and locate campus maps amongst other add-ons. The application from the Edinburgh University goes one further and gives students information about their course with updates about assignments or timetable changes.

Despite reservations about students deciding against going to classes and staying in bed to ‘study’ on their phone Edinburgh students believe it will be a useful application as long as information is up-to-date.

Student Matthew Dickie, 21, said: “It seems a good idea in principle but it’s entirely dependent on it being interactively updated frequently as out of date information can be problematic.”

MA in Business Studies student Murray Hughes feels it will make the university much more accessible. He said: “It has the makings of a good idea. Students don’t check their e-mail everyday and are more likely to use an interactive app. It helps students like me who travel from outwith Edinburgh make sure we are not coming into  university only to learn the class has been cancelled or moved.”

The success of the new application will be watched closely by other universities including Edinburgh Napier.

Neil Austin, Head of Customer Service for Student Affairs, at Edinburgh Napier is keen to speak to those involved in the application at Edinburgh University. Especially after UCAS have been promoting an application for student recruitment.

He told Edinburgh Napier News: “We haven’t actually heard about the app but any innovation that can help our students is something that interests us and are keen to look into.

“We will have to research the the cost and accessibility to see how many students would use it. By 2013 more people will be using the internet on their phone than on their PC. It is certainly the way forward.”

Prof Alexander McCall Smith Visits Edinburgh Napier University

On 25 March, the Edinburgh based writer, Prof Alexander McCall Smith, the author of over sixty books (including the the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, 44 Scotland Street series), stopped between his travels around the world to come and give a talk and do a Q/A session with the Year 2 and Year 3 students doing the Creative Writing modules on the English degreee at Edinburgh Napier University. Dr Bashabi Fraser, the Module Leader, has had a stream of email messages from students and staff since then, saying how enthralled they were by the session. The students were both inspired and mesmerised and took away free signed copies of McCall Smith’s books which will probably be cherished keepsakes to be shown off in the future as a reminder of what was, a riveting experience.

Interview with Kenny MacAskill MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill popped into the radio studio to speak with our reporters about the Lockerbie bomber, the new plans to tackle organised crime in Scotland, and how the Cashback for Communities scheme is helping youngsters around Edinburgh and Fife.

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Exchange Program

2009 was the year of homecoming, and 2010 is the year of outgoing for some university students.

Our reporters, Jingjiao Liu and Chenyu Cui, speak to Suzanne Smith, Faculty Administrator at Edinburgh Napier University, about exchange programs currently on offer to students.

They also speak to some international students about their experiences.

1.30 News Bulletin

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Language Bulletin Listen Here:


Students protest censorship

A protest poster

Students at Edinburgh Napier University are to hold a series of protests this week over the removal of a student newspaper from all campuses.

The protests will be held every day this week, both on campus and at the Scottish Parliament.

The row centres over issues of press censorship and began after independent student newspaper The Journal published an article detailing dissent, and a possible vote of no confidence against the current president Kasia Bylinska, at the Napier Student’s Association.

Current NSA president, Kasia Bylinska

Current NSA President, Kasia Bylinska

The article stated that allegations of six counts of  unconstitutional behaviour had been made against Ms Bylinska and that eight programme representatives had signed a motion for an emergency meeting to enact a vote of no confidence in the president.

The NSA responded by removing all copies of the publication from the university, which has prompted accusations of press censorship by members of the student body.

Rik Carranza, who ran against Ms Bylinska in last year’s election, said: “This action taken by the NSA is disgusting and shares more in common with censorship in China than creating an equal playing field for election candidates which the elections committee is trying to justify.

“I am a proud member of the student union movement and have been for many years now and let me tell you, I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech in my time in NUS. The NSA has infringed basic human rights and they should not be allowed to continue”, he continued.

Edinburgh Napier University said: ” The University does not condone the decision of the NSA to remove copies of The Journal from its campuses.”

Shirley-Anne Sommerville, MSP

The campaign has earned support from SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville. She said: “Freedom of the press is integral to any democratic society. The Journal is a valued resource in the city, keeping students up to date with student issues and wider current affairs – it is a respected paper and provides valuable experience and employment to…… those interested in the field of journalism. I hope that this current dispute is concluded as soon as possible.”

The protesters are also hoping to gain enough signatures on a petition for an emergency meeting for a vote of no confidence in Kasia Bylinska. This would over-ride the need for programme representatives to lend their support. The petition currently has over 200 signatures after just a few hours of campaigning.

Christopher Pilkington with campaign material

Christopher Pilkington with campaign material

Christopher Pilkington, one of the most active members of the protest and a programme representative for the Business Management with Marketing course, said: The idea of a university – a place that is intended to shape young minds – being actively censored is intolerable.

“We cannot be brought up to accept a censored press, particularly when the organisation doing the censoring is refusing to be held accountable to the students it claims to represent.”

Following the publication last week, all copies of The Journal have been removed from Napier campuses. The NSA have yet to issue a statement regarding the reasons for the removal and have so far declined to comment on the Journalgate protests.

Kenneth Dale-Risk, Law lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University said he did not believe the original Journal article to be defamatory stating that it was “an article of fact.”

Protesting students outside the NSA building at 12 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh

_________________________________________________________________

Protests:

Wed: 11 – 5 at Craighouse

Thursday: 11 – 5 at the Scottish Parliament

Friday: 4 onwards sit-in at Craighouse Campus

Follow the row on Twitter – just search #journalgate

Journal Gate

by Wendy Wan

Students have been protesting at Edinburgh Napier University following  allegations that copies of the newspaper were removed from the Napier campuses, and possibly destroyed after an article was published in The Journal, detailing a vote of no confidence against Kasia Bylinska, president of Napier Student Association.

Deputy editor of  The Journal Nick Eardley says, “students have a right to read articles which comment on the elections.”  He states that the article published was a “perfectly legitimate and balanced article.”

He added that Bylinska “was given the chance to comment on the allegations that were made.”

The story is now escalating with rumours that MSPs are now getting involved.

Edinburgh Napier University reportedly had no knowledge of the incident.

Animal testing could be replaced by lab-grown cells

by Linn Dupont

stemcells_180Today is the official launch of the Centre for Nano Safety at Edinburgh’s Napier University. Scientists in Scotland are presenting their work on a way to use laboratory-grown cells as a future replacement for animal testing. The study is called InLiveTox and is a collaboration between the Scottish team and teams in Italy and Switzerland.

The emphasis of the study lies is to further investigate the effects of nanoparticles. Cells that are being created in the laboratory are extremely tiny substances that are thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a hair. Such substances are increasingly being used in drugs, electronics, tennis rackets, paint, car polish and sun screen.

Professor Vicki Stone leads the unit at Edinburgh’s Napier University. Stone explains that their role is to determine the baseline toxicity of certain particles in each cell type both individually and then in combination. If the project continues to succeed, it could mean that we have a very valuable substitute which could lead to a alternative to the use of animals in future tests.

“It’s all very new, but if we have high hopes on the InLiveTox mainly when it comes to replacing animal testing on dietary products, cosmetics and medicine. The success of such a project could be a huge step for mankind”, says Stone.

Stone’s teams  goal is to generate systems of different cells working together before they are combined for further tests by European laboratories.

Laboratory-grown cells

Student Nurses to Receive Frontline Vaccines

By Amy Sutherland

fight_flu_08

Courtesy of NHS

Nursing and midwifery students at Edinburgh Napier University have been informed by email that they are entitled to receive the vaccination against the H1N1 virus if they wish.

The NHS Board for Lothian and Borders has agreed to allow nursing students to attend one of several sessions arranged in the area to receive their jabs.

The email also confirmed that students who have been allocated a placement outwith the Lothian and Borders area are still eligible to participate in any of the organised sessions.

At present, it is only those currently on placement that are given this opportunity and those beginning their placements in January will be contacted nearer the time.

Given that media coverage over the last few months has questioned the number of healthcare workers choosing to have the vaccine, it is unknown how many students will go ahead and take up this opportunity.

Christine Pollock, Director of Undergraduate Studies at Napier University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care said it was “hard to estimate” how many would opt to get the vaccine and that their willingness may be “dependent on a number of factors.”  She emphasised the need for students to consider their options and take advice from the Scottish Government about accessing vaccinations for both pandemic flu and also seasonal flu.

One midwifery student admitted she felt wary of the vaccine given the way it has been “fast-tracked” but felt it was best to go ahead and receive the jab.  Another student, not currently on placement, commented that she was glad to have another couple of months to decide.

The union UNISON and Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson have already called for the vaccination of healthcare workers amid fears that patients’ health could be put at risk and the NHS left seriously short-staffed if the vaccine is shunned.


Loan delays still causing problems

By:Fiona Gardner & Lauren Redpath

Loan delays still causing problems

The Student Loans Company (SLC) is being blamed for 175,000 students in the UK still waiting to receive their student loans.

Freshers are the hardest hit with just 72% of applications processed, compared with 78% last year, this information was gained by the BBC through the Freedom of Information Act.

The BBC found that the delay was due to problems with the scanning equipment which led to the hold-up meaning that the company has had to go back to the manual process of documents.

At Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus, many students reported that they are affected by this problem.

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Margaret Dalgleish, Student Funding Advisor at Edinburgh Napier University, says they are experiencing more phone calls than usual about delays with the SLC. She says that students are being told a range of varying amounts of time they will have to wait.

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This comes after NUS Scotland reported that 70% of students work over the 10 hour a week advised time and more than half Scottish students, are having to resort to high cost debt such as credit cards.

Grand Theft Auto creator comes to Napier

BY BRIONNY LEIPER

A state of the art computer game facility was opened at Edinburgh Napier University on Monday October 5th.

The University’s School of Computing welcomed former student Brian Baglow, a producer of the popular ‘Grand Theft Auto’ game, to officially open the new game design lab.

Picture courtesy of www.gametrailers.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.gametrailers.com

The lab will provide resources for students on the university’s new Bsc in Interactive Entertainment. With 24 networked computers and Xbox 360s, a 50-inch plasma television, projection screens and software for robotics development, the degree will help future games programmers hone their skills.

Sally Smith, Head of the School of Computing said: “students will be able to design and develop their own games in a state of the art environment.”

The degree will also teach students how to bring networking and programming together and how to work across various gaming platforms.

In the UK, the games industry was worth an estimated 4 billion GBP in 2008 according to a report by ELSPA. Over 20 million games were sold for the Nintendo Wii, a quarter of the UK’s game sales. Xbox 360 sales were up by 51% last year and PlayStation 3 software made around 334 million GBP. The platform’s popularity has grown after many retailers dropped their prices in the wake of the worldwide recession.

Graduation Day Makes History

Graduation Day145

L to R: Louise Aitken, Lizzie McNiven, Valerie Hamill, Rebecca Mackenzie - Smith

BA Journalism students had extra cause to celebrate when they graduated this week. History was made when forty students attended a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre. Not only were they the first Journalism students to graduate under the new title of Edinburgh Napier University, but they were also the first to leave with Broadcast Journalism Training Council accreditation.

Amongst those celebrating was Rebecca Mackenzie – Smith. She graduated with First Class Honours having specialised in broadcast news in her fourth year. Listen to the interview to find out what Rebecca thought about the course and where she will soon be working!

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