Tag Archives: students

18-year-old girl expelled from Fettes College

AN 18-YEAR-OLD has been expelled from Fettes College after being caught in bed with another student on a school trip.

The unnamed girl, who was on an international trip with the college at the time, was reprimanded following the event and further expelled by Headmaster Geoffrey Stanford.

The £33,000-a-year college issued the following statement:

“Fettes College regret to confirm that an 18-year-old girl broke the School Rules on an international school trip.”

The college – that has seen the likes of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, Hollywood A-lister Tilda Swinton and ex-Rangers supremo Sir David Murray through their doors – hasn’t been without controversy in recent years.

The ordeal comes just two-months after a 16-year-old student was expelled after attending chapel on ecstasy.

2009 saw four students expelled for a boozy, drug-fuelled party off campus.

The ecstasy ordeal was discovered following the strange behaviour of the student in the morning chapel service.

He was taken to hospital where it was discovered he had been taking the class A pills, some of which were found in his room.

Concerning last weeks expulsion, Fettes continued: “As a result of her actions she is no longer a pupil at Fettes college.”

Edinburgh Tesco Store denies controversial two-tiered queuing system

by Cormac Rae

Elliot James (left), 16, Boroughmuir High School student

Parents and students from Boroughmuir High School complained of a two tiered queuing system at a nearby Tesco metro store.

According to reports, private school George Watson’s student were not required to queue whilst state school Boroughmuir students were allegedly made to wait in a line.

Controversy occurred when a parent and lecturer at Edinburgh University, Neil Pollock engaged in a Twitter spat with a Tesco representative. Continue reading Edinburgh Tesco Store denies controversial two-tiered queuing system

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.


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.

Rape Campaign to Raise Awareness Among Students Over Festive Period

Universities are working in conjunction with Lothian and Borders Police to raise awareness around the increase of rapes taking place over the festive period. The campaign sees students as their “target market”, but some students are questioning why this hasn’t been an on-going campaign.

Universities work with police.

‘We Can Stop It’ aims to increase awareness about the Sexual Offence Act Scotland 2009, which defined several new offences relating to sex without consent.

Changes in the legislation included the acknowledgment that someone who is incapable through drink or drugs is considered unable to consent; the ability to consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time and male rape being legally classified as such for the very first time.

The emphasis of the campaign will be on 18-27 year olds and will focus primarily on men, hoping to provoke a change in values when it comes to rape so that men’s role in preventing rape can be brought to the forefront of peoples’ attention.

Chief Superintendent Malcom Graham, Divisional Commander for the City of Edinburgh said: “With the festive holidays fast approaching, we know that there will be significantly more young people out in bars and clubs.

“I hope that by working with educational establishments and receiving their support for the campaign we can reach our target market effectively and educate them about the key areas of change in the legislation.

“Our officers will also be in and around a number of campuses in the coming weeks speaking to students about the campaign and I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming involved to speak to them.”

Lesley Johnstone, Chair of the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership, is an advocate of the campaign and said: “Sexual abuse can have a devastating impact upon victims and their wider families, and we strongly support this initiative and the activity the police are doing at Edinburgh’s Universities.”

Students and staff at Napier University responded positively to the campaign, recognising the gravity of the issues at hand. However, some people raised concerns about why the campaign was only being run over the festive period.  Napier Student President Tom Zanelli echoed these concerns: “Rape is a disgraceful act and needs stamping out, I do agree that rape and what actually is rape is still very much unknown, so hopefully this campaign can help raise awareness and also stamp it out.

“To be honest students will always drink and I’m not convinced they will drink any more or less over the festive period, the campaign should on-going throughout the year and always targeted at students.”

Former student Robert Piper said: “A lot of them are too busy studying or going home for Christmas and everything, but yes I think it’s a good thing. They should realise that whenever they go out and have a few drinks, being social, they might let their guard down. They should still be aware of what’s going on around them and everything else that’s going on, not just for themselves but for other people as well.”

Computer Security and Forensics student Jake Gregg said: “Most of the students are going home at Christmas, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do this during term time when there’s more students here. Some students understand the issues, but others maybe need their awareness raised.”

Financial Advisor Zara Lochrie: “I think if there’s enough promotion and awareness is raised enough then I don’t think this campaign will be overlooked, I think it’s something that’s quite prominent just now. If students are aware of it and if there’s enough awareness around the university then it will definitely take off I’d say.

“I’d say students would be the perfect target audience, especially over Christmas with all the Christmas parties and things like that, but student and staff alike over the Christmas period where everyone’s drinking a little bit more. I think it’s a good time to get in there when it’s relevant to them.”

Placements Administrator Lindsay Morgan: “I guess this is a good time for the campaign, because it’s the time when everyone’s drinking and partying. I wasn’t aware of that legislation change so I dare say there are a lot of students out there who aren’t aware of the change either.

“A lot of students will have gone home already, but then there’s local students too, and students still keep in touch with all the things going on at university so it may not be too late.”

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.

“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.

National news in brief

Expenses MPs to be tried

Three ex-Labour MPs involved in the expenses scandal, including Jim Devine of Livingston, have lost their final legal challenge to facing criminal trials. They had claimed they should not be tried as they were protected by Parliamentary privilege. Nigel Pleming QC, who represented Jim Devine, said had told the Supreme Court it was not “an attempt to take them above or outside the law”.

Cameron demands prosecution for violent students

David Cameron has called for the violent student protesters who attacked Conservative headquarters on Monday to be prosecuted with “the full force of the law”, while NUS Scotland President Liam Burns warned that the issues behind the protest must not be forgotten.

Child cancer death rates fall 60%

Cancer kills 60% less children than in the late 1960s, according to research from Cancer Research UK. Nearly eight out of every ten children now survive past the five-year mark with cancer, compared to less than three out of ten in 1966-70.

Harry Potter premieres in London

The red carpet premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One took place at London’s Leicester Square last night. The film adapts the first half of the final Harry Potter book, with the final part to be released in the summer of 2011.

Facebook sobriety test released

BNP Paribas Masters
Andy Murray has reaching the quarters in Paris

The Queen can heave a sigh of relief this week as, after the creation of the British Monarchy Facebook account, The Social Media Sobriety Test was launched to help users avoid posting drunk messages. The tool allows people to block themselves from using sites like Facebook if they fail a series of coordination tests.

Murray reaches French quarter-finals

Andy Murray progressed to the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris last night. Murray struggled through the early stages of the match, and was given a warning for throwing a ball in anger at one point, before defeating Marin Cilic 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-3.

City nightclub announces move away from glass following customer feedback

by Zac Baker

Edinburgh evening venue The Hive last night announced plans for the coming weeks to replace glasses with hardened plastic cups when serving drinks.

The move comes after customer feedback indicated they would favour the change.

The Hive has proved the value of customer feedback.

Announced via the club’s Facebook page, they said “Over 60% [of customers] voted in favour of plastic at the last poll we took, so we’re basing our decision on that and the feedback we’re receiving.”

Over the last 2 months, The Hive has been welcoming customer feedback in a bid to improve the standard of their popular club nights, and the news has gone down well with frequent visitors.

Kerry Wynne, a student living in the city, said, “I think it is a great idea, the dance floor is always covered in glass, me and my friends are always trying and failing to dodge it.”, while Chloe Cameron-Stevenson continued the injuries theme, simply saying,  “It’s about time, I’m forever cutting myself because of those things [glasses].”

In fact, a number of people agreed with the sentiments of Kerry and Chloe, and were pleased with the prospect of a safer environment within the establishment.

The Hive couldn’t give an exact time period for the transition, but said that it “shouldn’t take too long”.

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. Continue reading Archbishop calls for peace in Mexico’s drugs war

Over ground crossing sparks concern for students safety

By Lauren Codling

Concerns have been sparked after a local man was attacked near the Napier Sighthill Campus in a nearby over ground crossing, on the morning of Thursday the 4th November.

The man has been identified as Mark Shaw, 30. Shaw was walking to work when he was attacked by two individuals who went on to steal his wallet and phone, before striking him with a hammer and leaving him for dead. The incident has sparked major concern within the Sighthill area and there has been a serious debate concerning the structure of over ground crossings. The public is now wondering whether or not they should continue to be built when many of them have such dangerous reputations.

However, an outcry to shut down the over ground crossing has been ignored as the council announce that a new crossing will be built close to the Sighthill Campus of Edinburgh Napier University. This new structure would mean that students would be passing through it everyday en route to compulsory classes.

Due to recent events that have occurred within the area, specifically within other over ground crossings where there has been a recent increase regarding violent crimes, there has been obvious anxiety from students that perhaps this would not be the best idea. Jenni Small, a 20 year old student, walks through Sighthill everyday as she makes her way to university.  She explains that she does “tend to avoid the over ground crossing. My friend was harassed by some boys when she walked there alone so it does worry me sometimes. I definitely wouldn’t walk there alone. If a crossing is made next to the Campus, I’d make sure I was with friends when I walked through.”

Sighthill has gained a reputation as crime has become more frequent around the area – there have been several incidents this year, including an assault carried out on a young girl when she was making her way through the passing, at the end of August. A police spokesman today said “the random crimes that have occurred this week within Sighthill has definitely caused some concern throughout the community.”

As the recent events continue to cause distress, students have been told to be cautious in the area as they make their way to the newly opened campus.


Foreign Office Minister assures viewers armed services “won’t wear onions”

By Ryan C. Gavan
Jeremy Browne MP
Jeremy Browne made the comment on the TV programme Question Time

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne told the Question Time audience in London this week  “soldiers won’t be required to speak French or wear onions round their necks or stripy t-shirts or ride bicycles” during the debate on the new joint France-UK military agreement.

He was questioned by an audience member of whether anything “will be British anymore.” Then was branded a “racist” by a heckler.

Browne will not comment on the issue, only directing questions to the Foreign Office.
A  spokesperson said “Mr. Browne was speaking during a wider and lively discussion” continuing “his comments should be seen in this context”. Following, he was just “allying concerns” and was “not meaning to cause offence.”

The French Embassy has “no comment” on the matter, despite the stereotypical descriptions.

Lise Morel,  who teaches French in the UK, was “gobsmacked” by the “clichés of the French”. She believes that it is “extremely offensive in that context in particular.”

“I am surprised such a public person would have the gall of actually saying that publically” Morel says. It is causing her to start “reconsidering getting her British nationality if members of the Government can speak about the French this way”.

Mathieu Cagna, also a French national, said it was “not bad”, putting it down to the British humour.

Dr. Lynn Bennie, a senior lecturer in Politics at the University of Aberdeen thinks “it is inappropriate language if anything else” continuing, “when politicians make these kinds of statements it does not do their reputations any good.”

This is an embarrassment to the Government is stressing the strong relationship with France at the moment. Prime Minister David Cameron was seen shaking hands with Nicolas Sarkozy over the deal. Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister was seen speaking French at the talks.

The “Declaration on Defence Security Cooperation”, as it is known, is proposing shared military capabilities in an effort for both countries to save money. It will call for the sharing of aircraft carriers and British troops under French command.  There will also be a sharing of nuclear test facilities.

Both countries are under increasing pressure to find savings and this is one solution. It is being hailed as a “new chapter” in defence. It is a controversial partnership due to the past disagreements over conflicts as recent as the war in Iraq.

Browne followed with a comment “not to believe everything you read in the papers.”

Fee Hike to Hit Scottish Universities

By Nicola Dick

Government plans for English Universities to charge £9000 for tuition fees by 2012 could have an impact on Scottish students according to Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore. She believes that in doing so, there will be less spaces for Scottish students due to the attraction of lower fees:

“I’m concerned that young people in England will increasingly want to study in Scotland. This could squeeze out otherwise bright and able Scottish students. I’m also worried that the sky-high costs will put off Scottish students from studying in England.”

Gilmore has also expressed concerns over an introduction of tuition fees for Scottish students. She worries that if they are not, then the quality of Scottish university courses will drop.

There are more worries that this increase of English tuition fees will see a future generation of students in a high amount of debt. Those who come from a wealthy background will only be able to go to university:

“Young adults who can borrow from the ‘bank of mum and dad’ can access home ownership, and now these same people may well be the only ones who can afford to go into higher education. While the Tories and Lib Dem talk of their desire to improve social mobility, their plans announced today will only make it worse.”

Tory Business Secretary, Vince Cable, stressed the reasons for increasing English tuition fees is in order to address the massive deficit. He argued that the need to pay it down within five years, this meant going ahead with their pledge to raise fees.

Gilmore argues again that this raises the issue of cost over quality:

“If the deficit will be paid off by 2015, as the Government insist it will, then why do we need to rush through permanent changes to our university system?”

A spokesperson from Dundee University does not agree with Gilmore’s views on the rise of English tuition fees. They do not think this is the reason English students will be attracted to going to university in Scotland:

“This will inevitably draw students in with Scottish changes coming later than English ones. As well as this though, the actual quality of education and general student experience attracts people up here. I don’t think it will have too big an effect.”

Students clash with Gardaí over fees protest

by Kirsty Tobin

Irish students have been involved today, Wednesday, in clashes with Gardaí as protests in the nation’s capital took a less than peaceful turn.

Students storm Dublin in protest against the near-doubling of registration fees. Photo: Susan Ryan, 2010

An estimated 40,000 students took to the streets of Dublin to protest the raising of registration fees. The students marched, in a protest organised by the Union of Students in Ireland, from the northern end of O’Connell Street to outside the offices of the Department of Finance. Here, violence erupted between members of An Garda Síochána and protestors.

One onlooker, a recent graduate who faces emigration in the near future, describes the sudden change in the protest: “One minute people were chanting ‘no ifs, no buts, no education cuts,’ and throwing the occasional egg at the building, and then the next thing we knew, a line of six mounted Gardaí were driving their horses into the crowd. A cry of ‘sit down, sit down’ went up and forty or fifty people sat down on the road. More followed suit. The Gardaí, after a couple more attempts, retreated.”

Gardaí and protestors in lobby of Department of Finance building, Merrion Row. Photo: Susan Ryan, 2010

According to this eyewitness, a line of Gardaí in riot gear formed and, behind this line, protestors who had entered the Department of Finance were forcibly ejected. The Garda mounted unit also “rode the horses straight at the crowd. They trampled a number of students. The riot police started hitting the crowd with batons to get them to move,” the former student said.

The students present at the protest had mixed reactions to the turn the protest took. One argued that “it hindered the cause to the extent that the ‘violence’ is all that is being focused on by the media, here and abroad, but, on the other hand, shaking Fine Gael TDs’ hands, and applauding the Gardaí for their patience isn’t going to stop anything.”

Another student, who also declined to be named, claims that the escalation could be seen to have damaged the effect of the protest: “it was a peaceful protest until people, of their own accord, went against the USI and started to riot, which didn’t help our case at all.”

All of this comes in the wake of public speculation that fees are set to rise from €1500 to €2500 a year.

Ahead of next week’s student demonstrations in London against education cuts and increased tuition fees, the question becomes whether or not we can expect to see similar scenes here.

Former SSP member denies “scripting” Sheridan confession

By Katy Docherty 

Tommy Sheridan and wife Gail are being tried for perjury. Source: The Guardian

Tommy Sheridan has accused former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) member Alan McCombes of scripting tapes in which ex-SSP leader confesses to visiting sex clubs.

McCombes denied accusations that he collaborated with Sheridan’s best man George McNeilage to create the damaging video.

McCombes denied these claims: “That is just nonsense. Neither did I hire Rory Bremner to do an impersonation, Tommy.” Continue reading Former SSP member denies “scripting” Sheridan confession

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.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this

by Kirsty Tobin

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

As unemployment levels reach levels not seen since the mid-90s, dole queues have escalated almost beyond belief

We were sold the dream of graduating into a thriving economy.  We were sold the dream of fine houses, and cars, and comfort.  We were sold a social life and an ideal.  We were sold the equivalent of the picket fence, the smiling children (one of each), and the labrador retriever sitting on the lawn.  We were sold the idea that our degrees would be worth something.  We were sold the belief that we would be set up for life.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When the early warning signs of this global recession started rearing their ugly heads nearly three years ago, our futures crumbled in front of our very eyes.  All of a sudden this perfect vision we’d been sold, the perfection we were assured was in all of our futures, was out of our grasp, replaced only with the uncertainty and fear that plagued our parents during the 1980s.  Overnight, thousands of college graduates, and prospective graduates, went from being much sought after candidates for employment to being merely possessors of what can only be described as essentially worthless pieces of paper.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Three years ago we were faced with endless possibilities.  The world was our oyster.  We had everywhere to go and nothing holding us back.  But that was then.  That was when the live register wasn’t overflowing.  That was when there were only 40,600 under-25s signing on every month.  That was before the recession, before the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), before it all went pear-shaped.  Now there is twice that number signing on.  According to the Irish Central Statistics Office’s seasonally adjusted figures, 88,663 people under 25 signed on last month.  And, according to the Irish Labour Youth’s proposals on tackling youth unemployment from early this year, “23% of those aged 20-24 are in neither full-time education nor employment”.  That’s an overwhelming number of people, graduates for the most part, who are relying solely on Social Welfare Payments for subsistence.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Thirty years ago, faced with what we are facing today, our parents’ generation graduated and then left Ireland in droves – the United Kingdom and America were lands of hope and opportunity that promised them job security and a chance at a life.  At least they had options.  This generation isn’t so lucky.  Although some countries in mainland Europe and further afield are showing shaky signs of economic recovery, there is still a long way to go before any of these countries are out of the woods.  And even further to go before they are capable of supporting foreign job seekers.  So we have become largely confined to those economically deficient Emerald shores.  We’re doomed to signing on. Despite our best efforts, despite our university educations, we are doomed to being stuck in menial jobs – a fate from which we were supposed to be protected.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

While employment rates among graduates in the UK have risen slightly on figures from last year, this can’t last.  There are already much greater unemployment rates than there were two years ago, and with recent cuts to public sector jobs, as well as a rise in the retirement age, finding jobs post-graduation is about to get a whole lot harder.  UK students are facing the very same problems that Irish students are. They’re about to graduate under a government that cares so little about them that it’s proposing 40% cuts to university teaching budgets.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Since the recession hit in full force, there has been minimal attention paid to the plight of the disillusioned student masses, and the majority of this was relating to the reintroduction of third-level fees to Irish universities.  Other than this, the focus has been on job losses and NAMA, civil-service pay-cuts and ministerial over-spending.  There has been, by and large, little notice taken of the thousands of students who are graduating every year into a market that can’t hold them, with nowhere else to go even if they could afford to get there.  Historically, students have been instrumental in effecting change.  It’s time we followed that example.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

We have been whispering about our futures.  Talking about how the recession affects the direction of our lives.  Discussing the uncertainty of the coming days and months in hushed tones.  It’s time for the tones to become less hushed.  It’s time that people realised that there is more to this recession than job losses and pay-cuts; that a younger generation is suffering, neglected and forgotten.  It’s time that we students made our voices heard.  Let the cry ring forth:

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”

Johnny Depp Pays Surprise Visit to London School

By Alicia Warner

Johnny Depp surprised children in a South London school on Wednesday when he  paid them a visit after receiving a letter from one of their pupils.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor made an appearance at Meridian Primary School dressed as the film’s character Captain Jack Sparrow and held a one-off assembly for the children.

Depp took a break from filming at the nearby 18th century Old Naval College to respond to nine-year old Beatrice Delap’s letter asking for assistance staging a “mutiny” against the teachers in the Greenwich school.

In an interview with the BBC, Beatrice explained why she wrote not to Johnny Depp, but to Jack Sparrow.

She said: “Captain Jack Sparrow, At Meridian Primary School, we are a bunch of budding young pirates and we were having a bit of trouble mutiny-ing against the teachers, and we’d love if you could come and help.

“Beatrice Delap, aged nine, budding pirate.”

The school said the pirate character received a great reception from the year-five student and all of her peers as they “greeted Captain Sparrow with great applause and sang him their own pirate song.”

The visit left local children, and adults alike, green with envy about the personalised visit. Residents said they wished the ‘same privilege’ would happen to them with one local secondary school student exclaiming: “I want Johnny Depp at my school as well.”

Onlookers have regularly spotted Depp around the Greenwich area during the filming period and many have flocked to the South-east London borough just to watch the Pirate adventure film come to life.

The event has left the local school experiencing surges of publicity with the police remaining a persistent presence as the filming continues.

Light Drinkers During Pregnancy “Not at Risk”

by Katy Docherty

Two units or more can harm the baby

Women who enjoy a weekly glass of wine during pregnancy are not putting their child at risk according to the findings of a new study led by University College London. One glass of wine can be equal to 2 units.

This new research conflicts with the Government’s advice that women should avoid alcohol altogether whilst pregnant. This was decided in 2007 after research found that 1 in 10 women were exceeding the recommended limit. The government line will not be changed in light of this study.

Dr. Yvonne Kelly, a lead author of the study, says, “There’s now a growing body of robust evidence that there is no increase in developmental difficulties associated with light drinking during pregnancy”.

A Department of Health spokesperson says, “as a precautionary measure, our advice to pregnant women and women trying to conceive is to avoid alcohol.”

Around 11,500 5 year olds were involved in the study published by The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which says that children of mothers who drink up to 2 units of alcohol a week during pregnancy are “not at increased risk” of emotional problems or learning difficulties.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidance in 2008 admitting that although there is uncertainty over light drinking in pregnancy but that it is safe to drink after the first three months of pregnancy.

‘Scottish Government Fails to Convince in Raising Drinking Age’

Young people are being targeted in this legislation

By Ryan C. Gavan

The Scottish Government’s measures to give licensing boards the ability to raise the age of buying alcohol to combat Scotland’s binge drinking epidemic has failed. After a dramatic deliberation in a meeting of the Health and Sport  committee at Holyrood, the plan has been voted down 3-5 against in the most recent review of the Alcohol Bill after strong opposition.

The Bill, introduced by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, says, “There are clear arguments in support of raising the off-sales age,where appropriate, as part of a range of local measures to address local problems. Our proposal would have made it easier for Licensing Boards to apply a minimum age of 21 to off-sales but would not have meant that they had to do so.”

The measures stood against strong opposition from other parties. Lib Dem Health spokesman Ross Finnie MSP stated that “we could have been in the ridiculous situation where a 19-year-old army officer could not buy a bottle of wine to celebrate returning from the front line.” This shows the problems facing such legislation.

This has also been  criticised by youth groups such as the National Union for Students. In a statement put to the committee the organisation said “we do not agree that the evidence has shown that an alcohol purchase age of 21 for off-sales would reduce anti-social behaviour in our communities.”

Sturgeon comments that there is compelling evidence to raise the age of drink purchasing in off licenses saying ” We’ve considered international evidence which found that increasing the legal drinking age can have substantial effects on youth drinking and alcohol-related harm.”

The proposed amendment failed to convince the rest of the committee. Finnie now believes it is time to focus on more workable parts of the legislation. “We must now focus on the health related aspects of the Bill” continuing that it is more important to focus on “banning irresponsible promotions”.  

Other measures also failed such as the controversial proposal of minimum drink pricing. The SNP are focusing on anti-social behaviour with the upcoming Holyrood election on the horizon. They have suffered a number of recent blows including Alex Salmond’s decision not to hold a referendum on independence but rather seek greater devolution powers.

Major cash injection to benefit Scottish students

courtesy of Read My Day

By Ross Doyle

The Scottish parliament have announced they will invest £30 million into helping student support.

They will also introduce various other changes to the current student loans system that will see a rise in financial backing to help struggling students through the current financial climate.

SNP cabinet secretary for education Fiona Hyslop announced the plans on front of parliament which will be in place in time for the next academic year beginning in September 2010.

The new plans will potentially help up to 75,000 students, which is two thirds of all students across Scotland, and will help with the current annual rise of student intake of around 5.5%

There will be an increase in the maximum loan rising to £5,852 for the academic year which will apply to every student who qualified for the income assessed loan regardless of age.

There will also be up to £1,000 grant available for independent students.

NUS Scotland have been working closely with the SNP to help improve student support, with the NUS president Liam Burns claiming, “this is great news for students” helping to “get more money into student pockets.”

The amount has been questioned though by some members of parliament for not being sufficient enough to make a significant impact and that more has to be done to help with the problem. The Scottish Liberal Democrats stated, “hardship is the most important problem students face now.”

The possible re-introduction of the graduate endowment fee was also discussed although this was quickly ruled out.

Students in England facing 100% increase in tuition fees

Students protest against an increase in tuition fees (courtesy of nus.org.uk)
Students protest against an increase in tuition fees (courtesy of nus.org.uk)

by Anna Fenton

The Conservatives have said they will increase tuition fees to £7,000 if they take power at the next general election, which has to be held by next June. That will see tuition fees for undergraduates studying in England and Wales more than double. The fees are currently capped at £3,300 in England and Wales, with no tuition fees for Scottish students in Scotland.

Peter Mandelson has already suggested that Labour will allow universities to charge more than  if re-elected. Nigel Griffiths, Edinburgh South MP indicated that there has been pressure from some universities to raise fees. He said: “Raising fees will pay for more lecturers and decrease tutorial size”. He indicated that the Conservatives’ figure of £7,000 might be acceptable. Only the Liberal Democrats will scrap those tuition fees that remain in the UK.

Fred Mackintosh, Liberal Democrat challenger for Edinburgh South said: “I look around Edinburgh South and I see people return from university with no job and a bank balance tens of thousands of pounds in the red. What sort of message is that?”

“Labour and now the Tories are showing their true colours.  They just want to saddle young people with staggering amounts of debt on graduation…The people of Edinburgh South can vote for party which will condemn a generation of youngsters to greater indebtedness or for the Liberal Democrats who will make education free again, giving young people the best possible start in life.”

The National Union of Students has estimated that the average cost of attending university now stands at more that £42,000. The average student will have accumulated more that £20,000 of debt by the end of their university career.

“Fresh Radicalism” required by G20

by Andrew Moir

Over thirty thousand people turned out on Saturday to protest the G20 summit. Students played an important part in the protest and some believe that they have a responsibility to shape the world.

The G20 is the gathering of the leaders of the world’s most influential countries including the UK, the United States, Japan and Russia. They are meeting in London to discuss how to combat the global economic downturn. The Put People First march on Saturday was the first of many themed events in the run-up to the summit. Other issues include poverty, jobs and climate change. Protests will be held across the world’s capitals but the focus will be in London.

put people first
put people first

Mick Napier, chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign believes that people are protesting to protect their futures. “We need to think about where the world is going for our own self-interest our own collective self-interest.” He believes that students are the key to this success and the new problems faced by the world require a perspective that most politicians will not have.

“Students are always important as harbingers of a fresh radicalism, of a fresh readiness to look at major problems that confront the world. I mean 29,000 or 30,000 children died last night of hunger and lack of availability of clean water or the most essential medical care. This holocaust of 30,000 every 24 hours is expected to grow. You just can’t go on like that forever, something’s going to break”

Students have proved active in 2009 with lecture theatres being occupied across the country to protest the situation in Gaza demanding links to the region and funding for their cause.

Strathclyde University nursing student Rob Mcmillan believes in the power of students. “Politics is a crucial part of my university life, even if just at union level. It makes you feel part of the place. You have a say in how things are run. It gives you a voice and opens up your eyes to the potentials of the real world. And isn’t that what going to university is all about?”

Not all students share this sentiment. Kirstin McEwan studies at the University of Glasgow. “I just don’t have the time. I worked hard to get here and now I’m going to make the most of it. I have to work to pay rent. Living is my priority.” This does not mean she has opted out of the political process. “I voted. My rights lie with the elected leaders and at the G20 they’re far more likely to make a difference than anyone standing outside with placards.”

However Mr Napier believes politician may be forced to listen to public opinion. “There’s certainly a mood of resentment and anger that wasn’t there before and I think it makes them tread carefully and I think they have to be careful of an aroused public opinion and if the people at the G20 protests show that that’s beginning to be aroused it can only be a good thing.”

The extent to which the world leaders will listen and the full consequences of the protests will only be known when the summit begins on Thursday.

Veritas releases 100th issue

The 100th issue
The 100th issue

By Paul McCormack

Napier University’s student newspaper, Veritas, will release its 100th issue today ahead of the announcement that Editor-in-chief, Allan Berry has resigned.

The news has prompted the Veritas team to consider re-shaping the conventional management practice to a system where four editors have an equal say in the papers decision making process.

Demian Hobby, Calum D. Liddle, Catie Guitart and Rowan Lear are the four people who will be aiming to take the newspaper forward in this ambitious new proposal.

Editor, Catie Guitart, said: “This semi non-hierarchical arrangement will allow more checks and balances to the dictatorship an editor can sometimes foster. Horizontal decision-making means more voices are heard and taken into account, with the end result being a newspaper that is democratic in its coverage.”

This significant change in management will mark an important week for the newspaper after the milestone of 100 issues was reached today.

The new structure will see Veritas operate under a different outlook as they try to alter the image and content of the paper.

Catie Guitart said, “We are trying to cater for every aspect of a Napier student, rather than condescend to the stereotype of a ‘student’.”

A meeting will commence next Tuesday to confirm these amendments as Veritas looks toward their next 100 issues.

The credit crunch for students

 By Edmund Brown

scottish-parliamentThe credit crunch has affected all social groups and students are no exception. Young people going to university today can expect to leave with a debt of around £26,000 with the majority of this owed in overdraft and credit card facilities given to them by the now under pressure banks.

Banks are therefore going to reform who they give money to after the government rescued them with handouts and as a result students are going to be affected by this more than most. If the banks do not give the same amount of money as they have done in the past, students will need to work more hours in part time jobs to survive. This will result in pressures from universities as students course work will suffer. The number of students who will drop out of courses will increase and surely result in universities reputation being in doubt. I put this to a Scottish Government spokesman who disagreed saying “ There will always be some students who are unable to complete their course but we do not foresee any significant change in these numbers. There is currently a very healthy demand for college places and we envisage that will continue.”

 Students also borrow money from The Student Loans Company which gets paid back through their wages after finishing their courses. The repayment plan, however, only gets paid back when the student earns £15,000 or more. Statistics that have been released show that a third of the students who have had student loans have never paid anything back as a result of not earning enough money. It will therefore have a knock on effect for future students in years to come as government money will run out. The spokesman for the government said; “The financial implications are that these debts remain outstanding for longer with a greater likelihood of the debt not being paid back at all, resulting in greater costs to the government. The Scottish Government’s funding is of course not limitless and any additional costs can result in less resources being available in the future.”

This contradicts previous information given by the same spokesman who advised that the Scottish Government have provisionally put money aside to give students grants whilst at university instead of the current loans system. These grants will be given to part time students at first before being fully implemented in 2011. The Scottish Government did say they support the need for young people to experience further education regardless of the financial cost. They stated; “The Scottish Government believes that access to higher education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.”

There is still a high level of uncertainly when deciding whether to go to university as financial worries are at the forefront of the minds of these families. Whether the government can ease that worry, we will have to wait and see.