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UNDERGRADUATE PROSPECTS: WHAT NOW?

By Elliot Morgan

For third year university students, the final furlong has begun as the Easter break comes to a close. In less than a month, exams will finish and deadlines will have passed, leaving the door open for a batch of new undergraduates to enter the job market and the world of work.

But as degrees become more common & the quantity of undergraduates grows, students are finding it increasingly difficult to get into the job market in the first 12 months after university. As recently as January, official figures, published by the Telegraph stated that “20 per cent of ex-students were without work in the third quarter of 2010 – double the number when the recession started”.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8283862/Graduate-unemployment-hits-15-year-high.html)

So what options do students have if jobs are scarce? Well, I interviewed a few final year undergraduates to gauge their opinions on how they are going about life after University…

William Quirk, 21, Arts & Graphic Design student, St Martins College, London –

“I have an exhibition in August so it doesn’t give me much time through the summer to apply for jobs or internships like most other courses. I’ll probably finish, graduate and reflect for a bit on what I want to do, hopefully it won’t be too long but I’ll eventually want to get into graphics of some description. The nearer to London, the better.”

Matt Morgan, 22, Geography student, University of Derby –

“I’ve been applying since January but I’ve had a lot of rejections. It’s difficult to get a job straight away when you think of how many students are graduating on your course, not just at the uni you’re at, but all over the country. I suppose the key is to get them in early and build up your CV from the first year but I haven’t done that.”

Tom Mason, 21, Business Management student, Birmingham City University –

“In the final year it’s probably better to go for paid internships rather than work experience, as good as it is (work experience) once you’re so close to graduation, employers are more keen to see that you have been put in a more responsible role than just hanging around the office being told what’s-what.”

Sam Keith, 22, Psychology Student, University of Leeds –

“I’m from the Isle of Man, so I’ll be looking for a job & a place to live on the mainland, if possible. There’s a lot of schemes to work abroad which I’m looking into, I want to travel a bit before I go into full-time employment, while I’m still young. If I can gain some work experience or a placement whilst in, say, Australia or America, that would be class.”

Andrew Lovell, 21, International Business Student, University of Sheffield –

“Not many places are really offering full time jobs to new graduates unless you’re on a scheme, if you haven’t got amazing academic credentials or a ream of work experience it’s a lot more diffucult to go straight into a job after university. I don’t reckon I’m going to get a job anytime soon after I leave, so I’ll do some travelling and re-assess my life around christmas time.”

2/5/11

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WHY DON’T THE ENGLISH CELEBRATE ST GEORGE’S DAY?

By Elliot Morgan

In Great Britain, the Patron Saints days are occasions to raise a glass in homage to the cultures of our individual nations. Traditional food, drink, dance and songs, unique to the heritage and cultures of each country, are promoted with stalls, parades, events and decorations around a lot of towns in the majority of the home nations.

Arguably, St Patrick is the most popular Patron Saint. People young and old, not just nationally but worldwide, let their hair down and jump on the green bandwagon to enjoy a Guinness and a spot of Riverdance, whether they’re Irish or not.

So what about St Georges Day? Not the biggest roof raiser in terms of celebration but nine times out of ten, it barely registers. Why? Are the English too, well, English! Not ones to blow our own trumpets or brag about our achievements (unlike our American cousins) but surely we can swallow pride for one day and show the world why we are proud to fly the flag of St George.

ST PATRICKS DAY

  • Falls on March 17th
  • St Patrick was originally from Britain & shipped over to Ireland as a slave
  • Drinking in pubs in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day was banned by religious law until the 1970’s
  • If someone doesn’t wear green on the 17th, it’s custom to pinch them

ST GEORGES DAY

  • Falls on April 23rd
  • St George is also the patron saint of Portugal, Georgia, Palestine & Germany
  • Before St George, the patron saint of England was Edmund the Martyr, patron saint of torture & wolves
  • He is considered a Martyr in Islam as well as Christianity.

 

 I asked a handful of students their opinions on St Patrick’s and St Georges Day, which they celebrate and why….

 

Edward Hornsey, 20-year-old International Business student at Portsmouth University “I love St Patrick’s Day, everybody is buzzing for it and we all go out and get smashed, more stuff is getting advertised for St Georges Day but it’s nowhere near as huge”

Danielle Mapp, 20-year-old Politics student at Plymouth University “Sometimes I’ll celebrate St Patrick’s Day if I’m out on the same night. I’d celebrate St Georges Day if the government gave us a bank holiday for it.”

Jess Shuck, 20-year-old Environmental Studies student at Leeds University “I generally go for a drink on St Paddy’s Day and would do if people went out on St Georges Day too. Basically any excuse for booze!”

Aaron Morphew, 21-year-old Accounting student at Nottingham University “I only celebrate St Patrick’s Day mainly because of the fact it is so commercialised, why St Georges Day doesn’t get the same hype, I have no idea.”

Jessica Hughes, 20-year-old Psychology student at Liverpool University “I’ve celebrated St Patrick’s Day for the past 3 years because being at uni in Liverpool it’s one of the best nights out all year. I’ve decided to celebrate St Georges this year because If I can pretend to be Irish for one night and have an ace time, celebrating being English should be amazing.”

Dale Greenwood, 21-year-old English Language student at Bristol University “I’d love St Georges Day to be more hyped up, It’s a shame that we don’t take as much pride in being English as the Irish do.”

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It seems that despite a lot of support from English students, connotations of racism, nationalism and negative stereotypes prevents us from celebrating St George’s Day.

This year, on 23rd April, if you’re English (or not!) raise a glass of ale, put that Ginsters Pasty in the oven and take the day to be proud of the English Rose, if the other home nations can have a party for their days & do it well, let’s be really English about our day & beat them all hands down!

27/11/2011

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LIB DEMS LAMBASTED AS CLEGG COMES TO CITY HALL

“Nick Clegg, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” and “Cleggy, Cleggy, Cleggy, Out, Out, Out” were some of the chants ringing around Barkers Pool this weekend, as people from all over South Yorkshire voiced their opinions about their local MP and Deputy Prime Minister as the Liberal Democrat Party Conference was held at Sheffield City Hall.

A large scale Police operation, reportedly costing around two million pounds, saw metal barricades erected and roads closed off all around City Hall with over one hundred officers deployed around the city centre, in response to the Metropolitan polices lack of preperation during the London protests a few months ago.

Hundreds of protesters turned out to put leaverage on the Lib Dems, who initially promised to scrap tuition fees and avoid heavy public sector cuts but have since U-turned in the Tory coalition government. Protesters included students, union representatives, charity organisations and supporters of other political parties.

As supporters of the Lib Dems passed the crowds, they were met with a barrage of taunts such as “shame on you” and “is this what democracy looks like?” but despite the frustration of protestors, violence was kept to a bare minimum with only one arrest being made over the entire weekend. PC Caroline Cooper of the South Yorkshire Police said “It’s been calm. Besides the arrest yesterday [Friday] there’s been no trouble.”

In the space of one year, Clegg has gone from being a student favourite and one of the most likeable politicians in many years, excelling in his public image during the televised debates, to having people young and old calling for his head just 10 months into his job as Deputy PM.

Luke Barrett, 19, from Sheffield is a student at University of Sheffield who voted for the Lib Dems in the 2010 general election, he was with a group of young protesters at the barriers voicing his opinions to the Lib Dems through a megaphone. I asked him why he was there and what he hopes the efforts of the protest would do for them.

The high profile event which saw the Liberal Democrats have their first party conference since the general election, attracted groups from other political parties hoping to gain some supporters looking for alternatives to what Nick Clegg branded as “The Alternative” party, in the Lib Dems.

Sean Webster and Jean Booth are both Green Party activists and were at City Hall looking to capitalise on the negative attention of the Conference in a bid to enlist more people to join the Greens. Mr Webster said “At the end of the day the Lib Dems are exactly like Labour and the Conservatives, they offer no substantial change which we can all see and benfit from, Mr Clegg has a lot to answer for in his home town but today we’ve had a lot of support, a fair few have signed up, people are just getting fed up of the lies.”

Ms Booth said “We [The Greens] are a party which offers genuine change from the mainstream parties, were recruiting more and more people every year, especially youngsters. It’s time someone else had a go instead of the constant let downs of the main parties.”

Over 500 Liberal Democrat Party members attended over the course of the weekend but all those I asked refused to comment. Nick Clegg recieved a standing ovation on Sunday night when he ended the Conference with his speech, the reception however, would have been much different had it been an outdoor affair. Despite the rowdiness of those rallying outside, the public safety was not compromised and the protest was altogether a peaceful one. Just ask this guy.

 

 

 

 

 

14/03/2011
 

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‘APPY FEET’ A RED HERRING?

By Elliot Morgan

Remember last year when the latest barmy beauty treatment took Meadowhall by storm? The ‘Appy Feet Fish Foot Spa’, a method popular in the Far East, was introduced to South Yorkshire in March 2010 and locals and students flocked in their thousands to try out this new age beauty phenomenon sweeping the west. Recently however, there have been concerns raised by UK health experts about its safety after reports suggest the creatures could spread infections from person to person.

A spokeswoman from Appy Feet referred me to their website, which says “These fish cannot transfer any diseases to humans. You will pre-rinse your feet before the treatment and have your own dedicated foot bath. We employ a state of the art filtration system to ensure utmost safety for our customers and of course for our workers. The water is sterilized 5 times an hour minimum, ensuring the utmost hygiene.”

But the Health Protection Agency has begun an investigation into the Garra Rufa fish treatment after worried environmental officers flagged an issue up about the fish potentially being harmful should they pass on infection from an open wound to other customers. As of yet the HPA are “currently unaware of any cases of infection associated with the fish spa pedicures in the UK”. This form of therapy, however, has been banned in some states of the USA after people have fallen ill with diseases passed on through the same fish cleaning the feet of multiple people.

 

George May, a second year Philosophy student at Sheffield University, was at Meadowhall with friends when it opened and tried it out. “It was fine. Didn’t seem dangerous at the time and it was fairly relaxing. We were unaware of any risks as we didn’t know there could be any.”

Is this precaution a legitimate reason to halt all fish feeding frenzies? Or are we just too cautious to adopt old medical practices more familiar to non-western cultures for the sake of health and safety?

If you think ‘doctor fish’ eating your dead skin is bizarre, let me introduce you to some of the more unorthodox beauty treatments from the four corners of the globe….

SNAIL SLIMEOh yes. From ancient medical folk law of South America, the slimy coating of the common garden snail. Supposedly contains antioxidants which is good for cell function, wrinkle reduction and accelerated tissue repair. If you don’t mind rummaging through your plant pots and rubbing them into your face to look 10 years younger of course. To not discriminate, slugs are equally as effective.

BULL SPERM What better way to get luscious locks than massaging your scalp with man juice of the bovine variety. Combined with an Iranian plant, Katera Root, this very alternative hair conditioning method provides hair with a protective protein mask, giving you a glossy finish. Originating in Scotland using the body fluids of the Aberdeen Organic Bull, the converted have labelled this “Viagra for the hair”. If only you could batter it too.

PLACENTA Not Latin for anything. That stuff Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall baked in a pie and ate once after his friend gave birth. The nutrient rich afterbirth gives off the benefits of hormones and stimulates cell growth, combating wrinkles and the aging process. If you don’t like putting it on your face, put it in your mouth instead! The Japanese eat pig placenta for the same effects, but quicker. Yum.

BUTTER – Don’t worry, it gets worse. In Ethiopia, women trying to look good post-prenancy have an unusual method for tidying up their downstairs. Basically covering themselves head-to-toe in butter and hanging out in a small room filled with smoke, for 45 minutes ladies squat over the epicentre of the smoke hole until all the butter melts from….within…apparently it tightens the muscles in ‘that region’. It’s different.

PIG FOOT DIET – Contains a high amount of Colligan, an anti-wrinkle agent in most beauty products. So instead of massaging trotters into your face, just do as the Chinese do and chow down! Although you may look younger, don’t be surprised if you look slightly larger after bingeing on one of the fattiest diets going. Who needs regular exercise and a healthy diet for muscle tone and youthful skin?!

BIRD DROPPINGS – Nothing says ‘healthy glow’ like having the poo of a bird wiped on and around your face. Popular in Japan, geishas used this method to wipe off heavy make up and give them a fresh-faced shine. The poo itself isn’t in its purest form but grinded into a powder to maximise the amino acids which soften the skin, so don’t go off to Trafalgar square with a bowl and bag of wet wipes, unless you can afford the £110 per bag price tag.

SNAKE VENOM – Extracted from Vipers, this strange method has similar effects to that of Botox, but in a ‘safer’ cream form for those needle phobes in Brazil, Mexico and North America. Similar tests have been run for the cosmetic effects of spider and scorpion poison but so far, nobody insane enough to try has come up trumps over the snake. Go snake!

02/03/11

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STUDENT MYTHS, BUSTED!

By Elliot Morgan

Students. We have a few stereotypes. A lot in fact. But are they justified? Are we really at the bottom of societies opinion food chain? Or are we mis-represented and tarred with the same brush?

Students….ARE MESSY

Yes & No. In the time I’ve been at university I’ve lived with both extremes, the obsessive clean freak who sits opposite you, watching you eat a Spaghetti Bolognese with Mr Muscle and a cloth on stand by & the one who sees a 2 minute dishwashing task in the same context as scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s really up to you to decide whether the pizza box in the corner should be disposed of before the mould walks it out the room, or whether it will make a great extension to your bedside table. Mixed gender flats tend to be cleaner than single sex and an online poll for The Mirror revealed in 2009 that male students, on average, washed their clothes once a fortnight & wore boxers and socks for four days before changing or cleaning. Girls are not without fault, female undergraduates only washed their bras on average 6 times a year. Nice!

Truth in the Tale?….. 5/10

Students….ARE LAZY

Yes. In the sense that given the oppourtunity for a lie-in, it’s grasped with both hands. If you’re in university at 1pm and hungover, why on earth would you get up at 8am?! This is perhaps the most complained about aspect about us but nine times out of ten, everyone would kill for an extra five minutes, whether you’re 21 or 61. Not to be confused with a lazy attitude towards work, almost every University with a volunteering scheme is flourishing in the UK. We have to get some value for our debt!

Truth in the Tale?….. 7/10

Students….DRINK

Simply, yes. It’s no secret that our generation is partial to a few dozen flaming sambucas before bed these days, students make up for over half of Britain’s young binge drinkers and all together we as a nation are the 3rd biggest binge drinkers in Europe, behind Finland and Ireland. Don’t blame us though. Bars, nightclubs and pubs have all sorts of tempting offers which just need to be taken advantage of. Pound for Pints, 2-for-1 on cocktails, 50p shots, £3.50 bottles of wine, £5 pitchers, if prices were like this on a weekend, you’d see Mum and Dad stumbling in on a Saturday night covered in vomit agreeing how amazing a student night out is!

Truth in the Tale?….. 10/10

Students….SPEND

I’m not being sexist but Topshop & River Island would have crashed and burnt years ago without the thousands of girls hurling the wads of money at them on loan day. The money is swiped out of the bank and onto a till so fast it irons the creases out of Charles Darwins face. Truth be told, there’s always a round of drinks in there somewhere and lads aren’t too much better, however, no matter how “broke” we claim we are, we’ve generally got enough for the weekly shop and the odd beer. Contrary to popular belief, overall students are good with their money. On average, UK students spend £19 on alcohol a week and £28 on food shopping. Could be worse!

Truth in the Tale?…… 7/10

Students….ALWAYS WATCH DAYTIME TELEVISION

The Jeremy Kyle Show and Countdown are regular features in my house, but generally I find this myth to be untrue. Even for students, the mind numbing dross on the box during the day is enough to make us do work for something fun to do! I mean, Cash in the Attic? Really? You couldn’t fit in another auctioneering program in the daytime schedule if you tried. A rule of thumb is, after Deal or No deal, it’s safe to take a seat, but before, unless you have an unhealthy obsession with antiques, property developing or Balamory, No. Just No.

Truth in the Tale?….. 2/10

17/02/2011

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TUITION FEES vs GRADUATE TAX. WHICH IS BETTER?
By Elliot Morgan

It’s no secret that those wanting to progress to university as of this year will have to pay more money than those gone before. There has been a lot of noise made about the state of university funding, student finances and higher education repayments over the past few months, but how many of us know what the score really is?

One of the more popular buzzwords in the middle of this national revolutionary episode is “tuition fees”, according to coalition government policies and reviews, this will be replaced by a “graduate tax” as of 2012, a supposedly fairer, progressive system which will benefit students and ease the pressure on the current state of Britains economy. Still confused? Allow me to break it down…

In the red corner…..TUITION FEES

This is familiar to all of those who have been at university since loans were introduced in 1997, including students currently at university. The main features of which are;

    • A capped amount of money of up to £3,290 a year, which goes straight from the Government to the University.
    • Students recieve thousands of pounds in direct government funding for all courses
    • Graduates currently pay back 9% of their salary after they begin earning over £15,000 per year. A higher rate of payment but for an overall lower amount of money. After 30 years the loan is wiped out if not repayed.

 

In the blue corner…..GRADUATE TAX

The new system being implemented through a review by Vince Cable (Business Secretary) and Lord Browne. The main features of which are;

  • Tuition fee cap will rise to £6,000 a year, in some exceptional cases as much as £9,000 a year
  • Direct funding will be wiped out for almost all courses & responsibility for payment will go directly to students.
  • Maintenance Loans will still be provided but will slashed by almost half & Maintenance Grants will rise slightly for poorer students.
  • Graduates earning over £21,000 a year will start paying back just 3% of the loans off their salary but you pay back more money, if you earn more money. After 30 years the loan is wiped out.

 

The main argument FOR these changes is to ensure, in the long term, those who wish to pursue higher education from financially less priviledged backgrounds, are able to do so, as technically, those who benefit the most from their degree, will have to pay more back.

This will work as Universities looking to charge the maximum fee of £9,000, will be obligated to recruit students who are entitled to the most amount of student loan. Under the new scheme, student loans will go into an independent fund, to be distributed equally between all Universities, rather than individual Universities benefitting from the loans it recieves directly from their own students, under the current set up.

Top institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford will almost certainly charge the maximum amount. So expect to see more of your “average joes” decending on the Bullingdon club in the coming years.

However, sceptics of this change claim that the Graduate Tax Scheme would be unfair on those who do better at university as they would start earning more earlier, therefore they will have to pay back more earlier and as a result would be charged more for their education, subsidising others.

A spokeswoman from UniversitiesUK, an organisation which represents the views of over 100 Universities nationwide, said “The new system has no up front fees and a significantly improved package of support for postgraduates, part time students and those from less privelidged backgrounds. Nobody liked tuition or top up fees being introduced, but as you can see, quality education and a degree pays for itself if the work is put in.”

“We are and have always been opposed to education budget cuts but the reality is that we need to deliver the high education standards that students demand in the current situation, nobody likes being told to take on more debt but this is the reality and we need to look forward, not behind.”

So, there it is. Like it or not, in the short-term, university education will cost more and students will need to think carefully about whether they are prepared to take onboard the responsibilty of paying back more than triple the amount of money that students pay now. Is it worth it? You decide. But for now, I think this poster sums it all up…..

16/02/2011

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CLEGG FACES THE MASSES

Deputy PM Nick Clegg finally confronted a handful of frustrated students on Wednesday in a television interview for the BBC about the increase in University tuition fees.

The Liberal Democrat leader has kept a low profile after the hike in tuition fees and scrapping of the EMA allowance scheme prompted nationwide protests in which the Conservative Party Headquarters was vandalised, 17 people were injured and almost 100 arrests were made.

Sheffield students protest

Over 2,000 students from Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield, along with College and school children marched on town hall in Mr Cleggs home constituency.

More than anything, it was the sense of betrayal which angered students after Nick Clegg promised to abolish tuition fees all together if elected, a promise which he didn’t follow-up on, albeit in a coalition government.

Clegg was branded ‘stupid’, ‘mad’ and ‘malicious’ by one student during the interview but responded with promises that the new system, although bleak in the short-term, would be fairer on those with poorer backgrounds deciding to go into higher education in future years.

“In these very difficult circumstances creating and helping to create a system which over the years I think will be shown to be a much fairer one than the one we inherited.”

Back in May 2010, Nick Clegg was extremely popular amongst young voters, especially after his success in the live televised debates in which he shone as a beacon for real change and gained his campaign catchphrase “I agree with Nick” courtesy of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

How the tide has turned

Clegg refused to apologise, stating that the benefits of the coalitions compromise would be seen in the coming years but scrapping tuition fees altogether in the current economic climate was impossible as there is ‘simply no money’.

(Quotes courtesy of the BBC)

13/02/2011

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