Tag Archives: university

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.


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.”

Napier Craighouse Campus sold for residences

by Jane Bretin

Edinburgh Napier University has just announced the sale of their historic Craighouse campus to be converted into new homes.

The sale of the campus is part of a “long-term plan and is unrelated to education cuts” according to communications officer, Patrick McFall of Napier University.  The site was acquired by the university in 1994 and is home to the School of Arts and Creative Industries as well as the School of Health and Social Science. Both these disciplines will relocate their headquarters to either Merchiston or Sighthill campuses that offer a “better, more modern workspace” for staff and students.

The building, which was established in the 12th century, was bought by Craighouse Partnership. It will undergo redevelopment and be converted into private residences. It will continue to host private events until 2012 and will serve as university grounds until mid-2013.

Copyright FluFlixFlex

The buildings are also well-known for their original use as a mental asylum and its quirky architecture. According to the university’s website, it was home to the man who introduced skyscrapers to Japan.

The proceeds from the sale will be reinvested into the development of the university.

Scots universities at risk of closure

by Neal Wallace

Proposed spending cuts mean universities and colleges across Scotland may be forced to close or face huge job losses, MSPs were warned yesterday.

Mark Batho, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), which allocates funding to higher education institutions, warned that the higher education sector faces cuts of 16 per cent, around £250m. This means compromises will have to be made in order to save colleges and universities, include ceasing numerous courses or laying off staff.

Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said he was “very, very concerned” at the proposed cuts, adding: “That would lead straight to the sort of circumstances of significant job losses, significant loss of provision, significant loss of quality and, frankly, a bizarre situation where Scotland, potentially along with England, would be retreating from investment in higher education.”

Scotland must find a "uniquely Scottish solution" to funding. (Photo by cna)

The news comes in the wake of last month’s Browne review, which recommended lifting the cap on tuition fees in England. This would give English universities the opportunity to charge up to £9000 a year. The highest charging institutions would then pool their money into a central pot, used to encourage poorer students to attend university.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Eduction Secretary Michael Russell have both ruled out bringing in tuition fees for Scottish students. Salmond has reiterated on a number of occasions that they must find a “uniquely Scottish solution” to the funding crisis.

Russell added: “Scotland has its own education system, its own needs, demands and strengths”, and confirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to funding higher education.

A report in the Sunday Times last week suggested that English students looking to escape the fee hike by applying to Scottish universities may be charged the same as they would south of the border. This is seen as an attempt to stop Scottish universities being swamped by English applicants.

Universities Scotland has said the only solution to the funding crisis was to have a graduate contribution from the highest earning alumni, meaning they pay more for their education. The move has not been ruled out by the Scottish Government.

Staff strikes loom at University of Dundee

With the University of Dundee planning to cut up almost two hundred jobs, staff are now planning to move forward with strike action.

The Dundee University and College union (DUCU) voted last week in favour of a strike ballot which, if succesful, would lead to lecturers and professors striking. This would mean that some classes and lectures would have to be canceled.

An official statement from the University of Dundee was not given, and the DUCU could not be reached for comment.

David Cubbitt, a student at the University of Dundee who has raised concerns over the potential strikes, said: “I am a hard working student, and this strike may lead to some of my classes being canceled, which I don’t think is fair.” However, he also added that he sympathized with the frustrations of the union: “I am disappointed the university is planning to cut jobs, as I feel many of the board members at the university earn too much money already, and their wages would be a better place to start cuts with!”

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



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

Fountain Park celebrate anniversary

By Kenny Simpson


Fountain Park is ‘thriving’ after opening ten years ago due to offering credit crunch suffering Edinburgers’ an alternate to costly nights out, according to a business guru.

The leisure park has become one of Edinburgh’s most popular hotspots with an average daily attendance figure of 10,000 people.

Fountain Park being constructed in 1998

Napier business guru Robert Wilkinson said, “While it is always great to see businesses doing well during the recession, we are talking about large organisations here. There are still many small companies going out of business every day in Britain. Fountain Park has the luxury of providing people with a cheap alternate to going on a big night out and that is why it continues to thrive in these hard times.”


While the majority of the businesses are now settled and successfully beating the recession, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing as long-serving cinema employee Alan Stevens, 28, remembers.

Fountain Park as it looks today (Picture courtesy of http://www.fountainparkcentre.co.uk)

He said, “I have been here since the cinema was owned by Virgin and have seen many businesses come and go in that time. There used to be a huge nightclub on the corner we’d all go to and an Italian restaurant that closed after a few months. As much as I miss that club, it’s cool that Circus opened a casino and Nandos have a restaurant now.”

The retail complex currently boasts a 13 screen cinema, bowling, casino, gym, bingo, pubs and restaurants.

Cineworld Cinemas Operations Manager, Mark Smith said, “The cinema has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years and we have achieved an excellent financial profit in our review of this year. In fact this is Cineworld Edinburgh’s first year ever that we have managed over a million admits.”

The popularity of Fountain Park and in particular the Cineworld cinema has led to hosting the prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival which attracts people from all over the world into the capital. The crowning glory of Fountain Park’s history came two years ago when film stars Keira Knightly and Sienna Miller walked down the red carpet for the world premier of ‘The Edge of Love’

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.