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The National Student - September 2009

The National Student - September 2009

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The National Student is the UK's independent, free, national student newspaper.

The National Student is the UK's independent, free, national student newspaper.

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Published by: The National Student on Sep 14, 2009
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FREE September 2009

inside this month’s magazine

Selected highlights from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh Comedy Festival...

could thrive on return to uni

NEWS: Swine flu
Universities are preparing for the potentially disastrous effects of Swine Flu as nearly two million students start or return to university.

most at risk from housing fraud
A third of all students living away from home are potential victims of accommodation fraud.

NEWS: Students

‘Not in our name’
A racism scandal has forced Oxford University to sever ties with its Conservative Association.

Oxford SU severs all ties with young Tories over racist jokes

by Tom Timmins


NEWS: Epic Gaza
trip ends in dismay
Six Determined students overcame hypothermia to continue their arduous cycle to war-torn Gazabefore being rejected at the p6 border.

Study Safe

ADVICE: Drugs Drugs advice from charity p12 Drugscope

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s - Leeds Festival
One of the summer’s many music festival highlights in this month’s magazine

SPORT: Dwain
‘Saying you will be punished for life if you make a mistake is a more dangerous message to kids than letting me run’


Let’s talk about sex


Following hustings to decide the group’s next president, two members of the association were suspended for telling racist jokes. Formerly called the Oxford University Conservatives Association (OUCA), the organisation has been told they must remove anything which links them to the university, including removing Oxford University from its name. At the hustings in June members were encouraged to tell the most outrageous joke they knew. Controversy erupted after Nick Gallagher, the group’s publication officer, told this ‘joke’: “What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark? Drop it nigger or I’ll shoot you!” Gallagher, or anyone at the association, was not available for comment. However, in a previous statement to the Daily Mail, he said: “This was a misunderstanding. What I said wasn’t intended in that way and it is to my regret that the Association has been dragged into this.” The university Proctors, who are responsible for enforcing discipline and sanctions at Oxford chose to remove any affiliation from the Association to the University. It is particularly damaging to the group, as they cannot recruit new members at this year’s Fresher’s Fair, a vital element to the organisation continuing their traditions. Anthony Bouthall, President at

the time of the incident, defended the organisation in the aftermath of the scandal to Oxford student newspaper Cherwell: “I cannot reiterate strongly enough that OUCA has no place for racism, and abhors and rejects all racial prejudice,” he said. Former Conservative leader Michael Howard was set to speak to the organisation, but he subsequently declined the invitation following this incident. However, the Association still retains strong links to the Conservative Party, as William Hague, Conservative MP for Richmond in Yorkshire, is its Honorary President; and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is its patron. Both Hague and Thatcher are former Conservative Party Leaders, and OUCA Presidents. The OUCA is no stranger to negative attention, as they have previously been forced to ban member Arthur Alekseev, for a Nazi salute in May 2007. In 2004, a candidate for OUCA president, Anatole Pang, was subject to a disciplinary complaint regarding an article he wrote which contained racist views. Despite these multiple controversies, the universities decision to disaffiliate themselves with the organisation is not a permanent one. The association would need to reregister for official ties with Oxford University, but they have not been barred indefinitely.

Find more news, features and opinion online at thenationalstudent.co.uk

The National Student, September 2009

The National Student welcomes contributions. The National Student works closely with student publications across the UK. We are happy to accept news, comment, features, and reviews on any subject. Contact us at: The National Student PO Box 7731 Derby DE1 0RW or email: editor@ thenationalstudent.co.uk or phone: 0845 46 300 46 The National Student is the independent, monthly newspaper for higher education students in the UK. Published by Defender Newspapers, PO Box 7731 Derby DE1 0RW © 2009 All content is the copyright of Defender Newspapers unless otherwise stated thenationalstudent.co.uk


Universities are preparing for the potentially disastrous effects of swine flu as nearly two million students start or return to university. the welfare of students is a worry which universities are taking very seriously, with each having prepared for the worst scenarios should it spread viciously. The influenza, which has claimed 1,200 deaths from 160,000 cases so far, is predicted to infect 45% of the world’s population in the near future. Considering the nature of student life at universities, where there are congregations of students in small area’s such as lecture halls, clubs and student halls, the risk of catching the epidemic is high, especially since the age grouping most susceptible to the virus is between 18-49 year olds, with 31% of that group having caught it. although there has been a considerable drop in the number of people newly diagnosed with swine flu

in the UK each week, with latest estimates telling of 11,000 new cases in england last week down from 25,000 the week before, the Government is braced for a surge in cases this autumn as children return to school and young adults to university. accurate prediction of when a second wave of swine flu will attack the country is tough, but Government officials suggest that the next surge will be upon us in September and October when schools and universities go back after the summer break. This correlates with previous findings during the 195758 Asian flu outbreak in the Us, which saw cases escalate shortly after the school year began. Universities are recognising these threats, and are already reacting in different ways, including plans to postpone Fresher’s week activities in the hope to narrow the scope of potential flu outbreak ahead of the return of classes in September. However, considering Fresher’s weeks importance as an introduction to university life and in helping students settle in, this decision may be an important one. The risk lies in individuals infected with swine flu neglecting the quarantine rules to attend, therefore spreading the influenza quickly. There is also the risk that because of worries about missing out on academic work, students may decide that they cannot miss any classes, disregarding the infection. Plans of quarantining infected students in their halls of residence has also been discussed, and institutions such as Imperial College London (where 25 of the 54 UK deaths have occurred) have already established a flu ‘buddying’ scheme, with flu packs being given out, including face masks for friends to prevent them becoming infected. sir andrew Haines, chair of the Universities UK health committee, and director of the London school of Hygiene and tropical Medicine, said: “if it continues to be a mild

by Robert Dalling
infection we don’t need to be too alarmed. But every university is planning for every scenario in the new term.”

Follow The National Student on Twitter at twitter.com/NationalStudent

Students most at risk from housing fraud
Fraudsters and ‘Ryanair housing’ targets firsttime renters
A ThIrD of all students living away from home are potential victims of accommodation fraud, recent findings have unveiled. Both the Metropolitan Police and NUS are seeking to highlight the extent of the problem, which is particularly focused on internet related crime. Through adverts placed online at free listing websites, fraudsters attempt to bait students into securing properties by giving over their bank details, before the students discover the property in question is not available or, in many cases, does not exist at all. Victims are told they must provide these details as ‘insurance’ in order to view the property. The fraudsters then disappear, and are unable to be traced because no contact details are real and their email address is from a free provider such as MSN. Students in particular are at risk of accommodation fraud, because they have little experience of renting a property. The involvement of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Operation Sterling’ Fraud Prevention Team shows the extent of the problem, as they are reacting to significant crime reports where people have fallen victim to fraud after responding to online advertisements. ‘Operation Sterling’ aims to reduce and combat economic crime, and eliminate the common thought that fraud is a victimless crime. Operation Sterling team leader DS chris Felton said: “Making a ‘holding deposit’ or paying rent without visiting a property is giving the fraudster easy pickings. It is difficult to establish whether the person advertising a property has the right to do so, especially with private lettings. Prior to placing even a small ‘holding deposit’ visit the premises and satisfy yourself that the premises exist and that the person letting it out has the right to do so.” “If you are being asked to send money up front without being certain the property exists, then you need to be very, very careful. “Think once, think twice, ask some friends, get some advice and if you’re ultimately not happy don’t send any money.” A study of internet fraud allegations by the Metropolitan Police found 24 of 75 crime reports received in a single week cited fraudulent flat lettings, meaning around three of such crimes are being committed every day. In one case, criminals fraudulently let a property at least 60 times before being caught To avoid being caught by fraudsters, NUS is advising students to consult their universities and student unions for accommodation guidance. Ben Whittaker, Vice President of Welfare for the nuS said: “There are plenty of houses out thereplenty of stock to choose from. Students are more at risk from this type of fraud because they are often in a rush to find somewhere to live before term starts. Go to your universities and your student unions. They will have approved housing lists. Even if your hall of resident’s teams can’t accommodate you they will often point you in the right direction. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.” However, it is not just potential fraudsters students should be wary of. In another growing student-targeted scam, extortionate charges for credit checks when renting private accommodation are becoming increasingly common. In some cases these checks are said to cost up to £200 per tenant, and the landlord often cites ‘administration fees’. These credit checks can be completed online for as little as £10, with some companies even offering two-for-one deals. The NUS have recognised this extortion of students, and say it has become common practice for estate agents to make ‘jacked-up’ charges for things such as references, credit checks and admin fees. “We call this Ryanair housing,” says Ben Whittaker, adding: “Competitive rents suddenly look expensive when hidden costs such as reference checks, admin and booking fees and credit checks are factored in.” The NUS is advising students to make sure estate agents provide a full list of costs upfront to avoid misleading estimates. They also encourage students who come across such hidden costs to notify their local students union, and the Office of Fair Trading, who may be able to take action if the charges differentiate to the actual cost.


The National Student, September 2009


by Rob Dalling
with degree’s not holding as much credence as in previous years because of the economic climate. Finding employment, however, is not the primary worry of most students, despite unemployment levels reaching a 14-year high of 2.5million. Students immediate focus is more concerned with the dilemma of how to continue their studies while coping with mounting debts, which have hit record levels according to a survey by Push. co.uk. Students beginning university this year should expect, on average, debts of £23,500 by the time they finish university, according to the study. Sally hunt, general secretary of the University and college union, which represents academics, said: “It is criminal that generations of students will be saddled with thousands of pounds of debt. For all the talk of widening participation the sad reality is that students and their families are facing ever higher financial barriers to going to university.” Facing such high levels of debt, students are being forced to turn to external sources for funding, and even multiple external sources in many cases. The ‘bank of mum and dad’ is a vital source for 70% of students, but the majority need the extra support provided by loans, with 60% taking this option. Astute financial planning is now as vital an element to a students’ life as studying for exams, if they wish to enter the saturated job market without debts which equal the average Briton’s annual salary. equifax, a leading credit provider, believes budgeting is pivotal for students prospects. neil Munroe, external Affairs Director for the company, said: “In the midst of the economic downturn we are now experiencing, it is vital that students keep a keen eye on their financial situation, especially as their parents may not be able to bail them out. “Students and their parents can easily run the risk of misjudging what they can afford when it comes to funding student life.” he added: “Young people need to be more financially savvy than ever before, but this doesn’t mean they have to miss out on going to university.” considering it is increasingly clear a degree is no guarantee of a job post-study, it would not be surprising if many young adults feel the consequences of gaining a degree are simply too great to risk, and opt for a clearer route to employment via gaining a job direct from school, or even an apprenticeship. The National Student will be examining how effectively Labour believe they have dealt with universities in an interview with David Blunkett next month.


The currenT generation of young adults will be consigned to years of debt, unemployment and bleak prospects, new statistics suggest. The recession’s most profound effect has been on the financial and vocational

prospects of 18-24 year olds, with 835,000 people in the ‘neet’ bracket - meaning those ‘not in education, employment or training’. According to the Department of children, Schools and education, those who are out of work, school or training in this age

group have cause to worry, as it is a “major predictor of later unemployment, low income, teenage motherhood, depression and poor physical health”. An ever increasing number of graduates are falling into this bracket post-university,

by David Bateman

The National Student, September 2009


DaviD Cameron recently met two young student entrepreuners to discuss their bespoke tailoring business. The enterprising duo recognised a need for consumers to have a costeffective solution to finding good quality tailoring, which is generally expensive. Hence, “aptus” was born. Based in Chipping norton, the student business is within the Conservative Party Leader’s constituency of Witney. The young entrepreneurs, alex edwards and richard Demczak, met mr.Cameron to discuss their company, the challenges facing it and what lies in the future for the fledgling business. Alex said of mr.Cameron: “He seemed to be very genuine, and the whole meeting did not seem to be a Pr stunt. it was great that he was able to meet us despite his busy diary and commitments, we really appreciated that. We showed him some of her work, and discovered my home is a mere half mile from his.” Edwards is in his final year of a business administration degree at Bath University, and has high hopes for the company’s future. His degree has undoubtedly served him well in establishing the business, although is also indebted to the support he has received from their universities and oxford Business enterprise, who ensured it was possible to run a successful company with little start-up costs for the pair. He had this advice for prospective entreprenuers: “Communication has been vital to our successespecially when dealing with customers and suppliers, who we have set up invaluable business relationships with. also, you have to be mindful at all times of possible opportunities- networking, and seeking new contacts is a must. it helps if you love what you do, as being passionate about your work gives you the drive to succeed. it’s not all about making profit.” edwards and his business partner, richard Demczak, a law graduate at oxford Brookes, have considerable



David Cameron meets Alex Edwards and Richard Demczak

aims for the future. To date their success can be largely attributed to word-of-mouth, however, they are looking to build on this further by taking their service to

a wider range of people. Potential customers can look at their products online, at tailored-suits.co.uk, and the pair plan to tour the country to promote their business,

and inspire others with similar ambitions to aim high. alex added: “We are definitely thinking about expanding, and we have

been working on new product lines for this year. When the time is right, i wouldnt rule out going on Dragons Den!”

Top Tax Tips
1. Tax and National Insurance is deducted from students’ earnings in the same way as with other workers. However, everybody can earn a certain amount tax-free each tax year - the Personal Allowance which is currently £6,475. 2. If students earn less than the Personal Allowance and have paid some tax, they can claim a refund. Use the tax refund calculator to help work this out: http://apps. facebook.com/uktaxrefundcalc/ 3. Students should receive a P45 form on leaving a job which should be given to their next employer. If working on 5 April, they will be given a P60 which summarises earnings and tax and National Insurance deductions. 4. Students are only entitled to one Personal Allowance in any tax year (April to April), even if they have more than one job. 5. The P38(s) is the form for students who only work during the holidays and expect to earn less than the Personal Allowance. Students should ask their employer if they think this applies to them. 6. Tax codes are found on payslips, P45s or P60s. Most students will either see a 3 digit number followed by a letter (e.g. 647L) or just the two letters, BR (Basic Rate). 647L means that your full Personal Allowance of £6,475 is taken into account when you are paid. 7. Employers deduct National Insurance contributions from students’ earnings whenever they earn more than £110 per week. Unless an employer has incorrectly deducted National Insurance contributions, students cannot obtain a refund.

by David Bateman

Did you know that students are required to pay tax in exactly the same way as other UK employees not in education? If not, you’re not alone: when quizzed, 67% of students didn’t know this either.

8. Students should tell their employer their NINO, received at the age of 16, when starting work and quote it when contacting HMRC. Using it correctly will make sure that National Insurance contributions are recorded against the student’s name and will help to prevent identity theft. 9. Foreign students should apply for a NINO by calling the Jobcentre Plus NINO allocation service helpline on 0845 600 0643. 10. Students with their own businesses need to register with HMRC within 3 months. Tax is payable on profit made in excess of the Personal Allowance - a Self Assessment tax return will enable you to calculate this. 11. Students should make sure they notify HMRC if they change their address.



The National Student, September 2009


Law student is wrongfully dismissed over her prosthetic arm
a laW student with a prosthetic arm has successful sued clothing retailer abercrombie & Fitch over their treatment of her disability. an employment tribunal decided the global chain were guilty of not adjusting to riam dean’s circumstances at their london branch, and she was awarded £9,000 in compensation to recognise the violation of her dignity and loss of her confidence. She was prevented from working on the shop floor by the manager because her prosthetic arm contradicted the company’s notoriously strict ‘look policy’. dean had been granted special permission to wear a cardigan which concealed the prosthetic arm, but the company later rescinded their decision, forcing her to work out of sight in the stock room. She began working there on June 11, but felt compelled to quit after only five shifts on July 4. the tribunal found that dean was “unlawfully harassed for a reason that related to her disability” and the firm had “failed to comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate Miss dean’s disability”. although, they said claims of direct disability discrimination were “not well founded”. She said of her experience working there: “it made me feel like she had picked up on my most personal, sensitive and deeply buried insecurities. Her words pierced right through the armour of twenty years of building up personal confidence and that I am much more than a girl with only one arm. i never let my disability get in the way of living a fulfilled life. I do not want special treatment”. dean followed her manager’s wishes and finished her shift, before taking the issue up with the company’s management, who responded that she had been “erroneously placed on the shop floor”. the tribunal concluded that dean felt humiliated

by Vikki Littlemore
and had suffered a ‘loss of confidence’. She was awarded £7,800 for injury of her feelings, £1,077.37 for loss of earnings and £137.75 for wrongful dismissal. Her mother, May dean, said her daughter was “very, very pleased with the outcome”, and that they had messed with the wrong person, as riam is a law student. close family friend elizabeth Gaston thought this was just, as riam was “deeply affected by the incident...she seemed broken by it.” This is not the first time the company have been criticised for their ‘look policy’, as they are notorious for exclusively recruiting young and attractive shop assistants. they set out their rigorous ‘look policy’ in a 45-page handbook, which stipulates every detail from acceptable hairstyles to fingernail length. These aesthetic strictures are enforced by a specially appointed ‘visual team’.

Riam Dean

Preferential treatment for state school pupils?
Private school pupils need better grades to overcome unis prejudice
Privately educated students have to score better grades than their state school counterparts to be considered their equal, recent studies suggest. it has been claimed that some universities discount grades of an equal standing if they are from those in private education, in an attempt to increase the numbers of places they award to applicants from state schools. Staff at Oxford university told researchers that when assessing the grades of candidates, they assumed those who were privately educated should score a* grades, and therefore mark them down if they score “only” an a. an interviewee said he felt it was part of his job to “compensate for the failures of civil society” by tempering the privileges of private schooling. the research, which was funded by Oxford and two governing bodies, will be published next year to investigate claims of “social engineering”, sparked by last months’ a-level results. an example of alleged predjudice is at Bury grammar school for girls, where two pupils were rejected by all their chosen universities despite possessing six and five A’s respectively. One of the girls, Philippa Scott, was rejected by cambridge, durham, Bristol, Warwick and university college london (ucl), despite scoring six as at a-level. “i don’t really know what else they wanted,” she said. Scott, who applied to study english, only received an explanation from durham, who said her personal statement may have let her down. anna Zimdars, who is carrying out the research, questioned 23 tutors in 2005-6 and concluded “broad consensus” towards “discounting weight” against private school applicants. the study accused individual universities of bending the entry requirements depending on what kind of school the applicant attended. a separate study conducted by Zimdars supports this view. it found that for an equal chance of a first-class degree, a privately educated student at Oxford would need eight a*s grades compared with six a*s and two a’s for those from state schools.

StudentS WitH disabilities are not being adequately catered for at university, a study by the Muscular dystrophy campaign suggests. a nationwide network of 16-30-year-olds, named trailblazers, carried out extensive undercover research to provide the information for a guidebook for students with disabilities. trailblazers is part of the Muscular dystrophy campaign, who hope to eradicate social injustices for those living with dehabilitating conditions. While researching the guidebook, they discovered some disturbing facts about university life for disabled students. despite the Government stating on their website that they “ensure buildings and facilities are accessible”, the research found that one in ten disabled students will not have accessible accommodation or dining facilities, which are part of mainstream university life. although all eight universities surveyed had accessible accommodation in their halls of residence for the majority of students needing assistance, none could say that every building’s had at least one accessible toilet with a hoist. Five of the eight also had no disabled union group or society, which is a vital part of student interaction. One of the researchers; lauren West, 18, from cardiff, said: “universities need to understand how to make it easier for disabled students to have the same great experience as any other student - attending university is one of the biggest decisions anyone makes. i knew that because of my disability, i would have less choice and it would take longer, and a lot more planning for me to decide on the right university. that doesn’t even include the extra struggle to get all of the care arrangements in place”. the study also concluded that 33% of campus transport is not accessible to disabled students, and one in ten universities admit they do not have good links with local care agencies and support services. Phillip Butcher, of the Muscular dystrophy campaign, said: “every student has the right to make their choices of university based on academic and social concerns rather than because of the practical facilities available. it is vital to ensure all students have access to the same opportunities”. in response to the results of the investigation, a spokeswoman for the assembly government said, “the assembly government regards it as critically important that our educational institutions fully respond to the needs of all learners including disabled learners.” She added: “the assembly government will nevertheless seriously consider the findings of the report in formulating its new higher education strategy, action plan and targets for the sector. the newly-appointed disability equality expert advisory Group, chaired by Social Justice Minister dr Brian Gibbons will also be examining this issue”. twenty three year old trailblazer Joe Manning, said; “i think the question of integration is key – you don’t just want a university that is accessible, you want one where you are integrated into the university life.” by Vikki Littlemore

by Keith Kirk

The National Student, September 2009



Selfless fund-raising cyclists reach their destination, only to fall at the final hurdle

six deterMined students overcame hypothermia and being chased by wild hounds to complete their ardous cycle to war-torn Gaza- only to be rejected at the border. the team, who call themselves Pathways to Palestine, covered the mammoth 6,000km distance to raise money for the provision of neo-natal care and medical resources for burn victims in Gaza, the much publicised Palestinian area which was subject to assault by the israeli army. the area’s medical infrastructure has been heavily over-burdened since the conflict. the initiative for the cycle, which is equivalent to nearly two tour de France’s, came from 21-year-old town planning student eoghan Ó Quinn, a type-1 diabetic. After he learned of the restrictions on medical supplies reaching Gaza, he was keen to help

by David Bateman

out. He said “As a diabetic, i am completely dependent on constant access to medicine, i wouldn’t be able to survive in the circumstances people in Gaza experience. i wanted to use my fortunate circumstances to help those cut off from the outside world. “We aimed to make people realise how close this conflict actually is. the journey has been a learning experience for the whole team, for me as a diabetic monitoring blood sugar levels under high intensity. every single mile has been worth it.” Other members of the team include John Maher, 30, a medical student; eoghan’s brother and Law student, Gearóid Ó Cuinn, 29; and 21year-old ronan sheehan, a pharmacy student. three of the team are from Glasgow Caledonian university, with

A student has realised the dreams of many renowned astrologers by discovering his own planet. david Anderson, of Keele university came across the planet during Keele’s ‘WAsP south’ search. to his disbelief, he found the 17th new planet, coined, ‘WAsP17’, 1,000 light years away in a “retrograde orbit”, being the first to orbit the wrong way around its host star - in opposition to the expected orbiting of the same direction that the star spins. the likely explanation is that WAsP-17 was involved in a near collision with another planet early in its history. speaking on the situation, he said: “newly formed solar systems can be violent places. Our own moon is thought to have been created when a Mars-sized planet collided with the recently formed earth and threw up a cloud of debris that turned into the moon. A near collision during the early, violent stage of this planetary system could well have caused a gravitational slingshot, flinging WASP-17 into its backwards orbit.” Keele’s WAsP-south team search for planets through the use of cameras that monitor hundreds of thousands of stars, searching for small dips in their light when a planet transits in front of them. the camera array is sited at the south African Astronomical Observatory, taking advantage of the clear south African skies. Professor Keith Mason, Chief executive of the science and technology Facilities Council, which funded the research, gave david and the team much deserved praise for their accolades, saying: “this is a fascinating new find and another triumph for the WAsP team. not only are they locating these far flung and mysterious planets but revealing more about how planetary systems, such as our own solar system, formed and evolved. the WAsP team has proved once again why this project is currently the World’s most successful project searching for transiting exoplanets.” by Robert Dalling the others coming from nottingham university, robert Gordon university and a university in ireland. the students began their journey in ireland on June 22, and culminated their 16-country cycle at Gaza’s border on Friday August 7. the district was bombarded by israel in a controversial air assault, with both sides claiming the higher ground in a conflict which has cost over 1,300 lives since January. the israelis claim to be justified in targeting an area which they say has launched regular mortar attacks against their country; whereas the Palestinians believe the israeli’s military actions and blockade of the Gaza strip makes them morally correct. the dispute has been at the centre of Middle eastern politics for quite some time, and will not be resolved quickly or easily, if at all. the students worked with health care charity MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) in an attempt to alleviate the situation as best they could. even the teams support vehicle, driven by english and irish students 23-year-old John Lyttle and 21-yearold tom Watt, was to be donated to a rehabilitation hospital that was partially destroyed in the January offensive. However, they were forced to find a buyer for the vehicle in a mere 45 minutes, as the egyptian border patrol blocked the van’s passage. Cyclist ronan sheehan said of the journey: “We have overcome hypothermia in France, several falls, some on busy highways where we narrowly avoided being hit by cars. We survived being chased by wild hounds in central turkey. it’s been tough, but epic. to fall at the last hurdle is disappointing.” “When we arrived we were shell shocked at the state of affairs. At rafah crossing we saw families excluded and isolated from their loved ones.” While travelling, they received support from around the world, including a formal motion of commendation passed by the scottish Parliament, and a reception in the irish Parliament hosted by irish MPs and senators. Whilst in israel, they met with a sPsC (the scottish Palestine solidarity Campaign) delegation, and had the honour of meeting the serbian state secretary Marko Karadzic, part of the Ministry of Human and Minority rights, while passing through the Balkan country. their meeting was shown across the area by public broadcaster radio television serbia, the country’s equivalent to the BBC. However, their most memorable moment was with local Palestinians, which eoghan commented on: “the team were all agree that the most interesting country so far has been syria. After a twelve hour wait at border control, definately not our most favourite place, we were all drained and run down from the heat. Arriving into damascus we were all taken back at an event held in our honour for helping the Palestinan population.” “the event was great, with more than 800 people attending it. Overall it was a fantastic experience. there has been so many experiences over the 45 days. Arriving into Bulgeria in and being entertained by young kids singing songs to us while we slept under a tree and local families everywhere showing emotion for what we were planning on doing really stand out. Personally i found this really motivational and it made me realise the good that we were doing.” the inspirational team were unable to cross the Gaza border, despite their invitation from the unrWA (united nations relief and Works Agency). their cause has gained publicity across the world, evidenced by an American company contacting them regarding the possibility of doing a documentary on their journey. despite not reaching Gaza, they even managed to touch lives there, including one 14year-old boy who emailed the team in broken english to ask if he could come back to ireland with them, to ‘escape the nightmare’. For more information, visit pathwaystopalestine.com.

The National Student, September 2009



STUdENTS WHo think they are saving valuable socialising time by typing assignments and essays are deluding themselves, a survey suggests. A study by student-type.com, who train people in touch-typing, reveals that UK students lose three hundred and thirty million hours as a result of their poor typing abilities. While this conjures up humorous images of students aimlessly stabbing at their keyboards, the reality is an alarming amount of lost time. It is claimed that the average student types around twenty words per minute, in stark contrast to an elite typist who would is capable of producing around four times this amount. Such a vast disparity in typing speed loses the amateur typist around seventy nights of their students lives. Considering university life is widely acknowledged to be the most care-free and enjoyable section of adult life, it is disheartening for fun-loving students that

Advice from

by Tara McLaughlin

such a quantity of their time is lost to the avoidable situation of not being able to type swiftly. However, for those techno-phobes who struggle to type fluidly, help is at hand. A unique course by student-type.com, in collaboration with oncampus, aims to introduce the world of touch typing to students. Sue Westwood from student-type.com said: “Many professionals now recognise the importance of typing. Sadly though, the UK lags behind the likes of the USA where it is a standard part of the school curriculum.” Costing just under £30, the programme from student-type includes colour coding of fingers for faster learning, and retro games to encourage practice. So if you feel like you are missing out on precious pub time, you may want to sacrifice the price of a few pints and invest in a touch typing course.


Choosing a student bank account
Another thing to consider is what happens if you overspend and go over your overdraft limit. Unfortunately, you’ll get hit with a charge but how big a charge depends on who you bank with. For example, NatWest will charge you up to £38 a pop, which over the course of a year adds up to quite a few tins of baked beans. If you think you’re likely to flirt with your overdraft limit on a regular basis then it’s advisable to go with one of the banks that charge less when you slip into an unauthorised overdraft. As with overdrafts and fees, some banks are better than others when it comes to customer service. We run regular satisfaction surveys for current accounts and the big name banks often finish near the bottom of the pile. Although there are some good online accounts out there from the likes of SMILE, having a branch is always useful as a student as it’s easier to plead for an overdraft extension face to face. At the end of your course the difference between the choosing the right or wrong account could add up to hundreds of pounds so choose carefully, not on the basis of a shiny new iPod.

University contacts vital to employment opportunities
U N I v E R S I T Y CoNTACTS could be more important than a degree in the current economic climate. A survey found that 67% of students believe the networking they did at university while making friends was equally, or more important, than their degree when they sought employment. 50% of those asked by the student accommodation provider Unite said that a friend made while at university had introduced them to a potential employer, or even set up a job interview. one in three students owe their employment directly to someone they met while studying. Nathan Goddard, sales and marketing director for Unite, said: “In the current climate, a degree alone doesn’t always guarantee you a job – it’s also the people you meet and the friends you make along the way that could help you get ahead.” “our research reveals that people who go to university in Bristol make strong social networks which help set them up for life; whether it be work, lasting friendships or even marriage.” Graduate Jo Kelly from Widnes in Cheshire said she was instrumental in helping friends make connections leading to employment. She said: “I’ve acted as a contact for people and helped them to find jobs and these contacts have been other students more than anyone else”. She added: “My degree was in a design area, where jobs are found largely through contacts”. The survey suggests that effective networking is in fact more beneficial to employment opportunities than academic qualifications. The accreditation accompanying a reference or personal introduction appears to be as valuable to an employer as an applicant’s Cv. Leeds graduate Emma Curtis believes a reference from her university lecturer enabled her to progress from being a supply teacher to her current role, which is a permanent teaching post. The personal recommendation is what she believes gave her the edge, when coupled with her qualifications. Considering the ever increasing number of those attending a higher education institution, her qualifications were no doubt similar to many other applicants. She said; ‘the comments in the reference letter give employers a more intimate picture of the applicant as a person and provide more detail than simply listing experience and qualifications, the basic boxes ticked by the majority of applicants’.

ost banks offer you free stuff for opening a student account with them but try to look past that when you’re choosing who to bank with as it’s likely you’ll be with them for a while. A new iPod, student railcard or some nice, hard cash is very tempting in the short-term but when choosing a bank account it’s the financial features you need to consider. Let’s be frank, even if you start the year with the best intentions, you’re going to need an overdraft at some point (some of you sooner rather than later). The good news is that banks offer free overdrafts with their student accounts. However, some are more generous than others in this respect. For example, Bank of Ireland offers just £400 for first years while Royal Bank of Scotland will let you go up to £2,750 over-drawn and Halifax, £3,000. You’re unlikely to get offered the maximum overdraft in your first year. You’ll be credit checked and then offered an overdraft limit. Be careful not to hit your limit on the RBS and Halifax accounts in your first year though as, unlike other accounts, they don’t offer larger overdraft facilities in your second and third years.

Best Student Stand-Up Crowned
JoE LYCETT was judged to be 2009’s funniest student at the Chortle Student Comedy Award final in August. The event, which took place in Edinburgh during the third week of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh Comedy Festival saw student’s selected from university heats held all over the UK competing for the £1,000 prize. Iain Stirling took the £250 prize for second place. The other contenders were Mat Ewins, Gabriel Ebulue, Tom Rosenthal, Nicola Bolsover, Sam Gore, Laura Lexx, Max dickens, dominic Cross, Laurie Blake and Will Scambler. Last year’s winner Jack Heal, as is traditional, returned to present the crowd with another of his very welcome gag-packed monologues. Previous competitors in the competition have gone on to enjoy successful careers in standup. Past winners of the award include Lloyd

Joe Lycett

by Vikki Littlemore

Langford and Tom deacon. Langford took his second solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe this year whilst deacon presented a solo hour for the first time. Deacon is now a regular face on BBC Switch presenting The 5:19 Show. video of the competition including footage of every competitor’s set can be found on YouTube.

The National Student, September 2009


Study Safe
oing to university or college involves a range of fresh experiences. For some of you, drugs might be among them, others won’t want anything to do with them. The latest government stats suggest that the vast majority (around 80%) of 16 to 24 year olds didn’t use drugs in the previous year. However, for those of you who do come across drugs, legal or illegal, it’s important to know what you’re doing and realise the risks attached.


Drug advice from Drugscope

gender, metabolism, whether you’ve eaten and your tolerance to alcohol.

Drinking and having fun at college might seem at times one and the same thing. This may be the first time you’ve got drunk so badly, so often and so readily. Alcohol depresses your nervous system within 5 to 10 minutes, making you feel relaxed and less inhibited. Larger doses get you drunk, causing disorientation, slurred speech, exaggerated moods and nausea. Too much alcohol and you may fall unconscious, even vomiting in your sleep, which can be fatal. Your mood when drinking will change how alcohol affects you. Last night’s booze can leave you over the drink drive limit, even the morning after. Amounts needed to get you drunk vary depending on your size,

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK. Its effects will depend on how you are feeling before you take it, the environment you’re in, and the strength of what you take. More powerful varieties, often referred to as skunk, can cause paranoia and mild hallucinations. Physical effects of cannabis include bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and slow reflexes. You may feel relaxed and happy, possibly losing inhibitions, becoming giggly and hungry (the munchies). But another common effect is to feel anxious, paranoid and out of place. Mixing cannabis and alcohol can often lead to nausea and vomiting. There is evidence that smoking cannabis can adversely affect your mental health. If you have already experienced mental health problems, using cannabis may make them return or worsen. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant with strong effects on both body and mind. Using the drug can put your heart under strain and combining the drug with alcohol increases the risks. You may feel a


strong urge to drink or smoke, but probably won’t want to eat or sleep. The effects last from 30 minutes to an hour. Cocaine can increase your confidence and makes you more talkative. But you might also get irritable or aggressive. What goes up must come down. When coke wears off, you can be left feeling tired and hungry. Your ability to concentrate will be affected, making studying difficult. You may feel anxious or panicky, depressed or even paranoid. Regular cocaine use is linked to several physical problems including heart conditions. Snorting cocaine powder can damage the nasal passages. Long term use can affect your mental health resulting in a range of conditions from mild depression and anxiety to the extremes of cocaine psychosis with symptoms similar to schizophrenia. Cocaine overdose leads to confusion and dizziness. Someone experiencing an overdose may have difficulty regulating their breathing. Call an ambulance immediately if you suspect someone has overdosed on cocaine.


Ecstasy (MDMA) speeds up your body functions and alters how you experience the world. It usually comes in the form

of a tablet or capsule. You are never sure what is in the pill. The effects of an ecstasy tablet can be as unpredictable as its contents. To make matters worse, a whole range of similar drugs are sold as E, such as MDEA, MDA and BZP. Ecstasy can leave you feeling both stimulated and relaxed and totally in tune with other people. Around 20 minutes to an hour after taking ecstasy, you are likely to feel hot and sweaty and have a dry mouth. Your heart beats faster and you lose your appetite. You may also notice a laxative effect. People often feel things more intensely. But experiences vary and some people feel anxious and even paranoid. Dangers to look out for if using ecstasy include hyperventilation and overheating. To avoid dehydration, make sure you drink enough fluid (not alcohol). But don’t drink too much - taking in too much liquid while on ecstasy has led to a number of fatalities.

Using ketamine can damage your bladder and kidneys and taking high doses can cause serious breathing problems, unconsciousness or heart failure. Ketamine is particularly dangerous when used alongside depressant drugs, including alcohol. Longerterm effects are harder to pinpoint but may include flashbacks, difficulties remembering and in some cases people might experience a psychotic episode. Ketamine’s numbing effect means users can run the risk of serious injury without even realising they’ve been hurt. Many ketamine-related deaths are thought to have been due to accidents occurring while users have been disorientated by the drug’s effects.
Legal Highs


Ketamine or ‘Special K’ is an anaesthetic with an unusual combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It distorts your sense of perception, leading you to hallucinate or have an ‘out of body’ experience.

Readers who’ve been to music festivals will probably have seen ‘legal highs’ on sale. These are substances which attempt to mimic the effects of illegal drugs, but are not currently controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act. Prominent examples include Spice – a chemically manufactured cannabis alternative, the stimulant drugs BZP and mephedrone, both of which attempt to mimic the effects of ecstasy, and the sedative GBL -

an industrial chemical used in nail varnish and plastics manufacturing. The thing to remember with these substances is that just because they are legal, doesn’t mean they are safe. That might sound corny, but one of the issues with a lot of legal highs products is the lack of information or research available on their effects – short or long-term. Manufacturers of legal highs ensure they are marked “not for human consumption” or “plant feeder”. This is to avoid them being controlled under food, medicines or drugs laws but it also means they are not subject to the same testing as medicines or the same monitoring as illegal drugs. BZP and GBL have both recently been implicated in the deaths of two young people and the government is looking at making them both illegal. Recent evidence has also suggested people can become physically dependent on GBL. Remember, if you feel you need more info on drugs you can always call the FRANK helpline on 0800 77 66 00. There’s also plenty of information on the DrugScope website at drugscope.org.uk. by Andrew McNicoll Communications Officer at DrugScope


The National Student, September 2009



o you’ve just started university, or perhaps you’re leaving your ‘fresher’ days behind you ready for a new year. Whether you’re a first year, or heading towards your finals, the chances are you’ll be meeting plenty of new people, enjoying a hectic social life, as well as fitting in the odd lecture or two. For many people, going to university will be the first time that they’re away from home, living independently and doing their own thing, and that includes possibly going out and exploring their sexuality. It can be a really exciting time, but there’s another thing that a lot of university students can have in common which relates to sex, and that’s sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 16 to 24 year olds accounted for half of all newly diagnosed sexually

Lets’s talk about sex
transmitted infections (STIs) in 2007, though they make up only one-eighth of the population. You might read this and think that probably doesn’t include university students. But the fact is that sexual health is as much as an issue for students as for teenagers. This might cause a bit of a stir, but it’s less surprising than you might think. Sex is one area of life where age can bring not wisdom but complacency. University students are just as susceptible to STIs as any teen. If you cast your mind back to the sort of sex education you had at school, the chances are it might have covered the biology of sex. But how many people can say that their teacher talked to them about how to use a condom, negotiating safer sex with a new partner, let alone the emotional side of sex and relationships? As a result many students might not have all the facts when it comes to condoms. When THT and the NUS surveyed over 2,200 university students we found that over a third thought latex condoms had holes in them large enough to allow HIV to pass through (they don’t). More than one in ten didn’t know how to put a condom on properly and 16% thought that using two condoms at once was safer than using just one – it’s not. All of our questions were about condoms, from how to store them to how to put them on. Other worrying results included: • almost a quarter of students believe that other forms of contraception (other than condoms) protect from STIs (they don’t) • one in ten believed condoms should be stored in a warm place (they may perish if you do this) • and seven respondents claimed they thought condoms could be washed and re-used! So it seems that a lot of us might not be armed with all the facts when it comes to using condoms. There’s lots of places you can get information on condoms, from how to use them correctly to how to store them. Try visiting www.tht. org.uk for some quick and easy facts and tips. There are other reasons why STI rates are so high amongst young people. Let’s face it, on the major factors is that it’s often easier to have sex than to talk about it! Sex with a new partner can easily be unplanned, unexpected and all too often undiscussed. So what can we do to tackle this? Here are some simple and easy tips on how to look after your sexual health: 1. Carry a condom with you – then you’re prepared if the heat of the moment arises. Condoms remain the only form of contraception that protects against HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancy. 2. Get a sexual health check-up. Some STIs like chlamydia don’t have any symptoms so you may not be aware that you have an infection. These days it’s quick and easy to get tested and a check-up is confidential and free from your local GUM. To find out where to get tested call THT Direct on 0845 1221 200. 3. Seek contraceptive advice from your nurse

or doctor. There are lots of different types of contraception available so it might be worth finding out which is best for you and your circumstances. 4. Don’t feel pressured into having sex without a condom. Using, or asking a new partner to use a condom, should be seen as a sign that you respect your own health and theirs. 5. Find out more about safer sex by getting online, there’s lots of information out there, try visiting tht. org.uk This advice isn’t intended to spoil your fun – quite the opposite. It’s not much fun getting an STI so being savvy about how to protect your sexual health is a must. by Lucy Hanford, Press Officer at the Terence Higgins Trust

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The National Student, September 2009

A Traveller’s Tale
Last summer we received an email from writer Nathan Millward - he was about to embark on a romantic, epic and frankly insane journey back from Australia to the UK on a postal moped. For almost a year we have followed the highs and lows of his adventures around the globe.




Here Nathan updates us on what has been going on over the summer as he continues this ongoing saga...
home from work and saw me sat in her seat. ’What are YOU doing here?’ she asked. What could I say but ‘I’ve come back for you.’ We got back together that week. For the next nine months it was tough. I had to work cash in hand while we investigated all sorts For a while I’d wanted to ride a moped around the world and now was my chance. In two days I packed and planned as best I could and in the remaining 14 days immigration had granted me I rode a 105cc old postman’s bike called Dorothy from one side of Australia to the other. From Darwin I caught the boat to East Timor the day my visa expired, rode up through Indonesia across Malaysia and into Thailand. While I was doing all this, Lady Number Seven was making plans to meet me somewhere six months later so we could perhaps get married and even settle down. And that’s where, if you were reading this column last academic year, the story was suspended for summer. Three months on the saga resumes at 20,000 feet in the air. Me and Dorothy are on an aeroplane bound for Kathmandu for no other reason than Burma being too militant to let us ride through. Outside the sky is thunder. A menacing blueblack abyss struck electric by lightening that gives me and my red lady the willies. I sit marvelling at it all. Just thinking. Wondering. Who’s really in charge of all this? The lightening, the plane, the clouds, the ground. Why does it all work and how does a metal tube made by a man named Boeing still stay in the sky? This planet of ours really baffles me. And for once, up in this electric sky, I realise that. Then we land, now in Kathmandu. It’s here that trekking groups prepare for Everest and local kids sniff glue. On the corner they stand fluttering like blades of grass in a breeze; stoned, high, trying to sell stuff to send you off the same way. It might just be me but Kathmandu - Nepal in general - just didn’t seam settled, the people always on edge, waiting for another riot in the street after the Maoists recently put on the government shoe. Me though, I made friends with some French folk who flamed my interest in hiking and said wouldn’t it be cool to plod the Himalayas. I said yes and off we went, the four of us to the source of a meandering 14 day walk that would take us around a mountain the map calls Annapurna. How marvellous I thought. A new adventure, one giving Dorothy a well earned break and chance for me to use muscles other than the one in my throttle wrist. It sounded so easy, just a stroll. But after two days I was completely buggered, leaving a note and an empty bed the next morning to say ‘sorry guys, I‘ve headed back.’ Surrendering; in the company of the French, I‘ll never live it down. But I realised in those two days that my challenge wasn‘t to climb a hill or ruin a perfectly good pair of Converse trainers in the process. No, it was to ride my Dorothy home, across the half of the world to where my lady was waiting. I had no energy nor desire to embark on challenges secondary to that. The mountain could wait. My place was back on the bike, heading west. Only we didn’t get very far. Diahorrea in this part of the world is as common as a cold and for the next week it kept my bottom glued to the hotel loo. Fortunately it was one where you could sit not squat so at least my legs were allowed a full recovery and with nothing else to do I sat and read a book; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a document I liked very much until the bit about the author’s bike just being just an assembly of metal and bolts. I said this cannot be. My Dorothy is alive, like you and I. She has a soul, a mood, a manner. To compare her to a can opener is to ignore her very essence, to forget what it is that she’s achieving on this global adventure. When we met she was retired, her life’s work already completed. Now look at her; 3,000 metres up a mountain on an adventure around the world and still going strong. That, I believe, is where the author of this book got it wrong. Bike’s do breathe. But in India‘s napalm traffic my Dorothy very nearly stopped. As I arrived in the holy city of Varanasi the mercury already boiling at 46. And that, to someone leaving all their fluids in a Nepalese toilet bowl, wasn’t much fun. Nor was the hassle from people trying to sell you all sorts of things. Postcards, tea, drugs, clothes… wood to help the bodies burn down by the river, boat cruises along it to watch the face of the deceased melt more closely. Everything here was for sale, 24 hours a day, seven sodding days of the week. I had a massage from one man who said he‘d do it for 20 rupees. When he finished he demanded 250. I said ‘fuck you’ and flicked him the 20. I’m not normally like that, but it was these tricks and treachery that would make my blood boil from the day I arrived to the day I left almost two months later. I never intended on staying that long, just a few weeks to pick up visas then on through Pakistan, Iran and into Turkey. That’s when the Iranian postelection riots kicked off and their government stopped issuing British people visas. Something about us meddling throughout their history.

he story starts two years ago when I went speed-dating and fell in love. I should have known better but she was lucky Number Seven and somehow everything just clicked. We got on great, dated, even held hands. Then my Australian visa expired and I thought it wise to return home to England, alone, no choice but to move on.

Only six months later I still hadn’t quite managed that, I missed her too much. So one day I quit my job in London and booked a flight back to Sydney the very next week. I didn’t tell her I was coming, I thought a surprise was better instead. And that’s exactly what she got when she boarded the ferry

of visa options to help our relationship stick; we even mentioned marriage. In the end though it was no good. Immigration were adamant I had to leave Australia and there was nothing we could do. It was a situation so familiar, though this time things were different, this time we had a plan.


The National Student, September 2009

China via 4,700 metres Karakorum Highway. The last suggestion sounded real swell, but with China insisting motorcyclists have tour guides and it was going to cost far too much. One man solved this problem by suggesting I try and smuggle Dorothy over the Chinese border by hiring the Han Solo I’d find drinking at the Indian arm of Moss Islay. It sounded quite romantic, me and Dorothy crawling barb-wired borders below the strafe of Chinese search lights, but to do that would take bollocks far bigger than mine, and with little time to fertilise them, I bit the bullet, made a phonecall home and borrowed the $2200 I’d been quoted for a seven day guided trip though China. I know that’s a fat stash of cash and yes, flying to Turkey or sailing to Egypt would have been cheaper, but this is an overland trip,

ride, especially given the Frenchman yet to reappear having been kidnapped here last month. But perception, it’s a dangerous thing, because with my own eyes I realised Pakistan is a great place, with friendly people living in cities far more developed than I ever imagined. The first night we arrived safely in Lahore with the help of several spectators guided who poured us tea and ran a comb through my hair before sending us on our way. Of course Pakistani hospitality isn’t all like that, with some villages, especially in the north, quite open in their loathing of outsiders. One man almost smashed the Coke bottle through his own counter in an attempt to demonstrate just how unwelcome I was in his shop. For me though Nepal, India and Pakistan were the countries that the trip

ver wondered how to do your bit to save the planet and keep your malnourished piggy bank happy at the same time? Whether your idea of going green is remembering to recycle your cache of old wine bottles, munching on Fairtrade chocolates, or even growing your own veggies, there are loads of practical solutions to inspire students everywhere to perk up their green credentials - even during the dreaded credit crunch. “Every little thing we do for the environment makes a difference,” says Kate Aydin, sustainable development officer at the University of Oxford and author of How to Save the Planet on a Student Budget (Oneworld Publications, priced £6.99). “Many small actions add up to one big one, especially as there are about two million university students in the UK.” In fact, in a recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Christian Aid, a staggering 90% of adults in the UK have taken steps to reduce their own carbon emissions – so why not stamp on your carbon footprint and join them? DOMESTIC GODS AND GODDESSES “Even if you’re living in a student flat share, it’s easy to make your home a lot greener with very little effort,” says Aydin. “Just changing two or three ingrained habits it could make massive impact - just imagine the positive impact on the UK’s water quality for example, if everyone switched to an environmentally friendly washing powder or washing up liquid such as Ecover.” If you’re lucky enough to have a garden - no matter how small, poky and filled with drunken souvenirs - another great way to help the environment is to start home composting, according to Aydin. “You can get some great value 330 litre bins from www.blackwall.co.uk, which will reduce your household waste, help your garden to bloom with organic fertiliser, and also cut the time you spend cleaning out your bins in the house so they don’t pong! “Another way to boost your green credentials is to stop leaving your household appliances on stand-by, but I appreciate that it can be a pain as it often involves crawling around under tables and behind appliances looking for the right plug sockets,” she smiles. “To make things dead easy and to save on your electricity bills, just buy a cheap extension lead so that you can turn everything off with one swift flick when you’re popping out for the evening, going on holiday, or just off to bed. “Finally, if you are buying anything whatsoever made with or from wood for the garden or your home, check that it carries the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark so you’re not contributing to global forest destruction.” LOTIONS AND POTIONS “It may come as a surprise, but many of the toxic ingredients in your shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, bath oil and makeup are absorbed into our bodies through our skin,” Aydin explains. “World-wide, litres of these products are washed down plugholes and into the sewers every day, and some of the chemicals in these products can’t completely be taken out during the sewage filtering process and so eventually get into our drinking water and marine environment. “In fact, there is some evidence that many of the ingredients found in cosmetics and body cleansers are particularly carcinogenic, and I’d definitely advise avoiding paraben, triclosn, and phthalates if possible.” Of course, you could always go off and Google every single ingredient in every single product yourself but, rather than trying to work out exactly what’s in your mascara, lippie or shower gel, it’s much quicker and easier to identify which companies produce toxin-free make-up and only buy those, Aydin recommends. “Kingfisher, Dr Hauschka, Neal’s Yard, Aubrey Organics, Weleda, Aveda, Borlind, Lavera, Elysambre, Nvey, Natural Collection, Green People, and Essential Care are all good places to start and are all organic, natural and cruelty-free,” she says. “Obviously, these products are little more expensive than some supermarket brands but you don’t have to buy them all at once - just replace the stuff in your make-up bag and bathroom a bit at a time YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT “For those of you who want to look after your body as well as the environment, there are lots of different kinds of fresh fish to choose from, which are delilcious and great value for money at the same time,” Aydin suggests. “Whether salmon tuna, lemon sole or king prawns are your bag, just make sure that the fish you buy at home, from a take-away, or in a restaurant carries the sustainable fish label, MSC (Marine Stewardship Council).” When the sun eventually shines on the summer and you need to quench your thirst fast, Aydin advises against buying loads of individual plastic bottles of mineral water, and instead investing in a ‘bottle for life’. “They’re very lightweight aluminim, come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and cost about £18 each, so you’ll more than make your money back in about a month if you regualrly drink bottled water,” she points out. “Just making a plastic bottle actually uses between seven and 11 times more water than the actual water contained in it, so using a bottle for life helps you to maintain your green credentials as well as saving cash in the long run.” Finally, whether you’re planning a house party or just a chilled evening in front of the telly, the best environmental option when buying wine is to find an organic version produced as near as possible to the point of purchase. “Increasing numbers of English and Welsh farners are growing wines – have a look at www.englishwineproducers.com, and visit www.ethicalwine.com to check the wine’s carbon footprint. “Organic vineyards use natural methods of disease control and maximise crop yields without damaging the environment, and you can usually pick up a decent bottle of French organic wine for about £5 at your local supermarket these days,” she smiles.

Either way it meant we were stuck. To pass through Iran now the only slim chance we had was to enter Pakistan and give it one last shot at the Iranian embassy in Islamabad. They may have had a different view to their colleagues in Delhi and waved us both through, but it was huge gamble. If they said no, me and Dorothy would have been stuck in Pakistan, no visa to carry on nor any choice but to go back. With the Taliban still taking ground in the north and bombs going off in the south, Pakistan really wasn’t the place to linger. We had to come up with plan Two. Posting my predicament online came up with all sorts of alternatives. I could get a boat from Pakistan all the way to Egypt, put Dorothy on another plane and fly from Delhi to either Turkey to the west or Kyrgyzstan to the north, or, many suggested, ride up through Pakistan into

this is Sydney to England by moped, and while over Burma we didn’t have a choice, now we do. And so there we go; Plan Two. Rolling up to the Pakistan border I wished I was religious, at least then I’d have someone to say a little prayer to; someone on my shoulder to have a little word with and say ‘please look after me‘. Instead it was just me and Dorothy, alone, with only a pocket knife and 7bhp to keep the bullets off our back. I don‘t mind confessing we were scared. I‘d sent my internet login codes to a friend with instructions to send news of demise, wrote a rather apocalyptic group email to everyone else and was genuinely fearing that this was mine and Dot‘s last

really came alive. It was a hard slog, one with difficult decisions to be made and all sorts of scoundrels that stood in the way. But it also included the moment when we stood back and went ’holy fuck’, we’re really doing this, we’re really riding this show all the way to England. And that made me and Dorothy proud. For while we still have many miles to journey, we also have many more to look back on and say what a blast, what a ball. We set off from Sydney with nothing; no plan, no clue, no idea, and here we are, having stitched enough of our random rags together to somehow make it this far. Next stop China. Hope to see you there.


Follow all of Nathan’s epic saga online at

by Emma Pomfret, Christian Aid

The National Student, September 2009



Dwain Chambers discusses his drug-using past, Usain Bolt and what lies ahead with David Bateman
pinions are rarely polarised by drug cheats. They are vilified. Their reputation is in tatters. Their life is in turmoil. Sympathy is rarely given, especially in Britain where dignified sportsmanship is still a prevalent and valued attitude. Losing a life’s work is a world-shattering experience. The repercussions, however, do not stop with being banned and stripped of your achievements and dignity. Your future is bleak: Your colleagues have turned on you; sponsors have deserted you; those who once trusted you have lost their faith. Dwain Chambers has been there, done that, and come out the other side. The former 100 metres Junior World Record holder became the latest in a long line of “drug cheats” to disgrace the sprinting world in 2002, when he was caught with the powerful steroid THG in his system. His fall from grace forced him to the brink both mentally and financially, as former friends including double Olympic gold-medal winner Kelly Holmes turned on Britain’s number one sprinter for the despicable, yet seemingly common act of steroid abuse in a shameless effort to further his already prosperous career. To his credit, he held his hands up. Following his conviction, he has been one of the few to admit guilt and accept the charges placed upon him. However, despite accepting his punishment Chambers said this of the experience: “It was difficult to grasp, I knew I’d lost it all and blown it away. I wasn’t comfortable with how I was treated, nobody would be... it was tough to deal with, like trying to swallow a house. Everyone had something to say, and I just had to suck it up and take the punches.” After a short tenure in the NFL and Rugby League, he has undergone a resurgence in the sprinting world, culminating in a sixth placed finish in the 100 metres at this year’s World Championships in Berlin. Always seeking to be the very best, Chambers said of his performance: “I felt mixed emotions. On the one hand, as an athlete you want to do the best you believe you can. But I don’t want to make excusesbased on the circumstances it was good. I don’t doubt for a second that I can break Linford Christie’s British record, but to do that I have to get the right level of competition that will really push me.” The winner of the championships’ 100 metres was a former training partner of Chambers’s, who wrote his own page in the history books with a remarkable World Record of 9.58 seconds. Regarding Usain Bolt, Chambers said: “I really don’t know what he is capable of. A few years ago I said someone could run 9.65...now anything’s possible, there are no limitations. When I trained with him a few years ago he wasn’t running near those times, so it was easier to get to grips with his pace. I wasn’t fortunate enough to race him before, so it was hard to prepare. A race is like an exam, and the training is your revision. I revised hard, but unfortunately the level of competition was at a different level to what I’d prepared for. Usain has done remarkable things, and he’s as much a character now as he was back then.” However, Chambers does not consider Bolt his toughest opponent: “For outright competition, Maurice was the toughest. Usain is very competitive, but Maurice was on a different level in terms of getting inside your head and beating you before the race had begun. It was like warfare. For Usain, there is no competition to psyche out, its him versus the clock, which is fun for him I suppose.” Athletes in Chambers’ situation are often asked for their insight into how common drug use is in sprinting, with the view being they are qualified to comment because of their previous involvement. Despite the slight inadequacies of this claim, the temptation to question Chambers on how prevelant drugs are in sprinting was simply too great. In particular, could there be a chance that Usain Bolt, the sport’s biggest marketing feature in decades, falls into the “drug cheat” category himself? Chambers answer was not quite conclusive: “I hope not. I hope he’s being looked after and advised right, because it would ruin the sport. As for the bigger picture, If you’d asked six years ago I would have given you a different answer. I hope the drug problem in sprinting is on the mend, and I believe it is too. Although the guidelines on what is illegal and what isn’t are still complex, the drug testing has become more stringent and heavy punishments are the right way of preventing people from opting for the drug

route.” The drug problem may be disappearing quickly in athletics, but the treatment of ‘drug cheats’ is remaining the same. Careers are tarnished the moment drug allegations are confirmed, as Ben Johnson can testify. The Canadian sprinter had a World Record and Olympic gold rescinded after testing positive for doping, and lost all credibility as an athlete. His claim, that ‘it was okay to use drugs because everyone else is doing it’ is a recurring excuse amongst drug-using athletes to justify cheating. Chambers said of this excuse: “I believed the same as Ben at one stage too...but that mindset is what distracts you, it turns you to drugs. The minute you start thinking like that, you aren’t running your own game. You are focussing on others instead. If I hadn’t taken drugs, I’d still be frustrated by losing and I wouldn’t be where I wanted to be. It was fun, but it didn’t work.” The need for success is what forces many down the dangerous route to drug use, as they simply cannot comprehend that their rivals are clean. While

that attitude cannot be condoned, it surely can be understood. Determination to be the best is something everyone can relate to, but where the ordinary person draws the line (at cheating), Chambers was prepared to push that barrier to realise his goals. But will the general public ever be able to look beyond the steroid-using past and see anything other than a drug cheat? Chambers spoke of how people are reacting to him: “Attitudes have changed in many ways. People see what I’m trying to do now, they see that I’m doing the best I can as a clean athlete. It would be nice if more people could come round to this view, but that’s what I have to do [change opinions]. I have three kids now, and I’ve got to think about them. The new UK Athletics coach, Charles van Commenee has made a difference and opened some doors for menot all of them though. I’ve got back into the team, and that was all that mattered to me.” Chambers inclusion in the UK team has caused a large amount of controversy, especially


The National Student, September 2009

considering his drug-usage cost three fellow Team GB sprinters olympic relay gold at the 2004 Athens games. Darren Campbell in particular, a long standing rival of Chambers, made his feelings clear that he firmly believed Dwain deserved to be no part of the team. Of losing his team-mates Olympic gold, a prize most athletes can only dream of, he said: “That was one of the hardest parts- I hadn’t just ruined my own career but others too. At the time i wasn’t really thinking about the implications for others. I had to make amends, both for myself and others, and the 2006 European Championships gold was a big deal to me in terms of trying to repay them, because i have no other way to. Darren and myself are on hand-shaking terms if nothing else. I would probably have reacted the same if I was in his shoes.” Considering performances such as those in winning the european Championship relay gold; his impressive times and silver medal position at this year’s World 60metres Indoors; and his position as arguably the uK’s number one sprinter, Chambers can hardly be blamed for attempting to over-turn the decision that prevents him from competing at the olympics. However, the inclusion of a former drug cheat at all, regardless of who he would be preventing from competing, sends out a dangerous message to young aspiring athletes that using drugs is acceptable. It is hardly surprising that Chambers does not hold this view: “It doesn’t necessarily country has such a rule, but the uK’s enforcement of it represents the popular opinion in this country that drug cheats do not deserve a second chance. With the olympics returning to London for the first time in 64 years in 2012, Chambers hoped to be able to finish his days where Chambers claimed he could challenge former World Record holder Maurice Greene has been replaced with a more reasoned approach. As he put it, he has a “PhD in life experience”. Now a father of three who has faced financial difficulty, he is as determined as ever, but far more realistic and mature about his future goals. Whatever your feelings are of drug cheats, it is difficult not to warm to the man. He has a presence bigger than his 13 stone frame, but a jovial, laid-back nature to complement it. However, he cannot escape his past. in the bolt era, he seems destined to be remembered as the British drug cheat. After lining up alongside Bolt, such a figure of innocence and hope, Chambers reflects on his past: “I brought the sport a lot of negative attention, brought it into disrepute. But it’s happened. I have to live with my punishment. I’m trying to make it betterto show people what I can do as a clean athlete. It’s a crusade, but I can only do what I can, nothin special... hopefully i can help so people are better informed than I was. UK Athletics has a bright future with or without me, especially with 2012 approaching. there’s no one else to really blame here. I made my decision and I have to live with it.”

‘If I hadn’t taken drugs, I’d still be frustrated by losing and wouldn’t be where I wanted to be’
send out a bad message. I think it’s more dangerous to send a message to the youth that if you make a mistake you will be punished for it for the rest of your life. if someone steals something, they go to prison and come out reformed. Mistakes are how we learn, what defines us as individuals is how we come back from those mistakes.” After an ardous court battle, he was unable to change the minds of those concerned, and remains banned from the Olympics because of britain’s rule that those who fail a doping test cannot compete. not every career in his home country: “I’d have loved to have been at beijing, but last year I had a different mindset. I wanted to compete. Now, I’m taking it a year at a time. If I’m thinking of something thats two or three years away, that’s not realistic to me. I have long-term dreams, but I don’t want to put me or the sport through that again. It doesn’t need it, and I certainly don’t. I’m ok with it, the decision has been made and as far as I’m concerned it’s final. There will be no fight from me, if something happens, so be it.” The bravado of his younger

University storm to the top of BUCS table for 29th year running

Loughborough still on top

Loughborough university sat triumphantly at the top of the university sporting tree again in 2008/2009. the publication of the universities & Colleges Sport final standings confirmed Loughborough as the dominant force in university sport for the 29th year running and over 2383 points clear of its nearest rival; the university of bath. During 2008/09,

143 higher education institutions entered BUCS sporting leagues and competitions, all competing for points across 50 sports. Despite Loughborough’s achievements, arguably the biggest success story that of the university of Cambridge who re-entered the top 10 after a three year absence, moving from 14th to 9th place. Leeds Met Carnegie also improved on its 7th place in 2008 with a four place rise to

third this year. There was disappointment for the university of birmingham who slipped out of the top 3 and for Durham University who dropped from 4th to 6th. Karen rothery, Chief executive at british universities & Colleges Sport said: “Many congratulations to all the athletes whose hard work during last season has helped win points for their university. We know that

playing for your institution can bring huge benefits and the BUCS overall points table is a significant indication of where sport can be played at the highest level.” “With the publication of the table we must also recognise the hundreds of staff, elected officers, volunteers and coaches who ensure sport runs smoothly on campus, therefore contributing to the success of their teams

and athletes.” rich smith, Loughborough Students Athletic Union President was obviously happy to comment on the final standings: ‘We are delighted to have continued our proud sporting tradition and finished top of the overall national student leagues for the 29th consecutive year.’ Like Rothery, Smith was keen to pay tribute to all aspects of his university’s

sporting success; “To win the elite buCs league table by such a margin shows our strength in depth across so many sports. it’s a testament to all our committed students who balance training and playing sport alongside demanding degrees, as well as the coaches and support staff who have played an integral role in helping us achieve this success.” by Tom Clarke

The National Student, September 2009

Sport Editor Tom Clarke reports on the efforts of Team GB’s athletes at the World University Games
For twelve days in July, the world University Games in Belgrade, Serbia played host to 7,320 athletes who were representing 142 countries from across the globe. As well as competing for medals, these young athletes had the opportunity to gain priceless experience of a multi-sport competition and understanding of other competing cultures. Of the fifteen sports on show, 196 athletes from Great Britain competed for medals in eleven sports, eventually finishing 18th overall in the medal table, sandwiched between Germany and Switzerland. The final medal tally was a respectable seven with three Gold, one Silver and three Bronze. Along with the double gold medal success of Beth tweddle, team GB’s other top spot came courtesy of Stephanie Proud who won the women’s 200m women’s 200m Backstroke of 2.10.32, won by Japan’s Miki Nakao, had been in place for 10 years. Proud, who was the born in Durham and swims as part of the loughborough University Club, was the world Schools Champion in 2002 in both the 100m and 200m Backstroke. Proud was chased all the way by American Kristen Heiss and Japan’s tomoyo Fukuda who finished in the Silver and Bronze medal positions respectively. Proud was delighted to have picked up a third gold for team GB: “I am really pleased to have won a Gold medal at the world University Games as the standard of competition is very high, coupled with the fact that I haven’t been to an international meet in a while.” this was the second world University Games for Proud, who went to Bangkok in 2007, but this Silver medal in the Men’s Doubles tennis Final before Inglot later teamed up with Sam Murray (Northwestern) for a semifinal in the Mixed Doubles, and although they lost out to Kim and Kim of Korea, they did return with a Bronze medal. Jones and Inglot won six matches on their way to the final of the Men’s Doubles, including victories over the third seeds from the Ukraine (in the first round) and the sixth seeds from Australia (in the Quarter Final), before losing out to second seeds lee & Yi from Chinese taipei who won the Gold medal in a hard fought 6-4, 7-6 victory. “It is great to win Silver at the world University Games and it has been a great experience. the opposition in the finals were very tough and the humidity of the day made it hard, but I cannot be disappointed with a silver

Seven heaven for Great Britain in Belgrade
singles draw, was part of the team GBr squad who travelled to Bangkok in 2007. Despite his double medal winning success, Inglot had mixed views on how his games had progressed: “I am a little disappointed to lose in both matches but to get Silver and Bronze medals after defeating some tough opponents en route is very satisfying.” He was however quick to point out the importance of his team-mates in his success: “Jones and Murray played excellent and I couldn’t have done it without them, I am thrilled for the whole tennis team. I would like to thank the whole team GBr for their support at these Games.” Gemma Gibbons (University of Bath) secured a Bronze medal for Great Britain in the Judo competition. Gibbons defeated Kyong Sol from Korea and Nataliya Smal from Ukraine en-route to the semi finals of the U70kg category. Gibbons lost in the semi-final to eventual silver medallist Purevjargal lkhamdegd from Mongolia before claiming bronze in the repecharge against linda Bolder from the Netherlands. Gibbons has now made her mark on the international university sport scene after dominating the domestic scene for over three years. She was the BUSA (now BUCS) Champion in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and finished 7th at the world University Games 2007 in Bangkok. Gibbons is ranked 2nd in the UK and finished 5th at the 2008 U23 European Championships. “I was disappointed to lose in the semi-final but I am delighted to leave Belgrade with a Bronze medal. It is a great honour to represent Great Britain and to win a medal is a great feeling,” said Gibbons. The final Bronze medal was somewhat of a landmark achievement with Great Britain defeating France 4-1 in the women’s Football thirdfourth place play-off to seal the Bronze; the first ever



Backstroke Final. the University of Florida student smashed the Games record, which she had already broken in the semi-final, and her own personal best, to capture the Gold medal in a time of 2:08.91 at the outdoor tasmajdan Sports Center. the world University Games record for the

is the first time she will return home with a medal. She was unable to compete in the 200m Backstroke two years ago due to illness and thankfully she was able to make amends in Belgrade. Max Jones (New Mexico) and Dominic Inglot (University of virginia) secure Great Britain’s only

medal’ commented Jones after the final. only two hours after winning the Silver medal Inglot paired with Murray for their Semi Final Mixed Doubles match with the Korea’s Kim and Kim, but lost out in a third set tie break 4:6, 6:3, 0-1 (3). Murray, who lost out in the third round of the women’s

medal for a Great Britain women’s football squad at a world University Games. early goals for Jodie taylor (oregon State University) and Kelly Jones (liverpool John Moores) settled any potential nerves for the team and they went onto dominate the game. the goal of the game came in the 56th minute when, after France failed to clear, Gwennan Harris (UwIC) volleyed a shot from outside the area which found the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Great Britain made the game safe in the 69th minute when taylor scored her second of the game, and sixth of the Games, before France scored a consolation goal late on. the full time whistle brought an end to the tournament for GBr and the most successful finish for a Great Britain football team since the Men’s team won Bronze in Sheffield in 1991. “we are delighted to win a Bronze medal and it is testament to how far the players have come over such a short space of time. the players and staff have all been magnificent and have shown that if you are prepared to be diligent with preparation for games and recovery between and after games you give yourself a good opportunity to be successful. It has been an amazing feeling for us all to be a part of a multi-

sports event.” said Andy Spence, Head Coach for the women’s Football Squad. Despite not winning medals, it is important to mention the achievements of the Men’s football team who narrowly missed out on a Bronze medal, the notable performances of twins Carol and Helen Galashan in the diving competition and the impressive 6th place finish for the women’s basketball team. whilst medals are important to highlight success and are the ultimate goal for any athlete, the experience of these Games will arguably go a lot further for the athletes involved. “these Games are an essential part of the multi sport pathway for athletes aspiring to compete at the olympic Games. the Belgrade Games, and the experience of the world University Games 2011 in Shenzen, China, offer two unique stepping stone for future olympians to prepare themselves to compete at the highest level of elite sporting competition, the olympic Games.” said Jan Paterson, Head of Delegation for team GBr. Certainly, after this years result in Belgrade, team GB will be hoping to push on over the coming months to ensure they bring home even more medals in two years time.


The National Student, September 2009

There was much success for the Brits in Belgrade but arguably the most triumphant member of the team was Beth Tweddle who claimed double gold in gymnastics. The triumphant University of Liverpool student and Liverpool John Moore’s University graduate showed her confidence throughout both the Uneven Bar and Floor competitions and proved a valuable asset to Team GB, who took a team of ten gymnasts, all looking for the multi-sport experience in the build up to London 2012. Tweddle, who after missing out narrowly on a medal at last year’s Olympics had considered her future in the sport, but after a change of heart she decided to compete within the Uneven Bar and Floor finals to great results. She qualified for both events with two top scores, before proving herself unmatched by her competitors, wowing the judges and capturing two gold medals. No stranger to competing on a world stage, Tweddle made her international debut at the 2001 world Gymnastics Championships. Now, only eight years on and two gold medals later, she is considered Great Britain’s most successful gymnast. Through scoring 15.750 on the uneven bars, Tweddle captured the Gold medal ahead of Korea’s Yong hwa ha’s score of 15.575 and China’s Yuyuan Jiang’s score of 15.200. The Floor competition saw her being pushed all the way by the Chinese pairing of Yuyuan Jiang and Ning, but she proved supreme, forcing the Chinese pair to take home silver and bronze respectively. Tweddle was understandably delighted with her performance; “I am delighted to win two Gold medals at the world University Games. said the seven-time British Champion. “The feeling of winning medals for your Country is amazing and something I am very proud of. Being at University has enabled me to train in some of the best facilities in the country, and competing at the world University Games is an invaluable experience as I prepare for London 2012”. whilst the Olympics will certainly prove a step up from these games, this taste of success is sure to make her hungry for more gold medals when she heads to London in three years time. by Robert Dalling

Tweddle flies the flag for

British success

Why does no-one know about the World University Games?
Ben Whitelaw asks why there has been little attention paid to the success of British students in Belgrade
in serbia, who were able to watch over 7,000 athletes compete for 204 gold medals in 13 sports. The Games are actually the world’s third largest sports event, behind the Olympics and the asian Games, although you wouldn’t know it by the paltry coverage it got on these shores. Unknown to the vast majority, Great Britain returned with seven medals, three gold, and a credible 18th position in the medal table. Beth Tweddle, the Olympic gymnast and Liverpool John Moores graduate, broke the Chinese dominance by winning two gold medals in the floor and uneven bars whaT a summer of sport we have enjoyed these past few months. The ashes have been captivating, the world Championships astounding and Le Tour de France fabulous. Yet, worlds away from the records set in Berlin and the drama of the cricket, unbeknownst to many, another major sport tournament was being played out, albeit with far less coverage. The 2009 world Universiade Games descended upon Belgrade, and departed two weeks later without so much as a mention in the media. The Universiade, the primary international multisports event for students in higher education, thrilled local audiences and stephanie Proud brought home gold after her victory in the pool. GB women’s football team secured their first ever Universiade medal by beating France for the bronze medal. what a shame then that such success has gone relatively unnoticed and without praise. radio Five Live’s sports and Olympics News Correspondent Gordon Farquar congratulated the football teams on their success on his blog but, even then, used the Universiade to discuss the eternal debate of playing sport under the title of Great Britain, rather than the separate countries that form the United Kingdom. It is obviously unlikely that that the Universiade would make prime time news report but nothing has been mentioned at all on the BBC website and only the British Universities and Colleges sports (BUCs) posted regular updates on their website. But why does the Universiade not generate the interest it should amongst the British media and the public? One would think that, in the run up to the Olympics in London, journalists would swarm around any young Olympic hopefuls, including Carol and helen Galashan, the twin synchro divers who came fourth in Belgrade, and tennis player Dominic Inglot, who won silver and a bronze as part of two doubles teams. The likes of ariane Friedrich (high jump) and Nelson avora (long jump) have demonstrated in the recent past how important the Universiade is as a means of acquiring some experience and form ahead of the major competitions. Both secured gold in Belgrade before going on to earn a medal at the world Championships just a month later in Berlin. still though, Britain’s young, educated athletes are overlooked and, at a time when the British media are hyping up every potential 2012 medal winner across the country, they fail to recognise that the Universiade is an important launch pad for athletes looking to participate in 2012 and therefore a great indication of those who may peak in three years time. The result is that the recent Universiade received about as much coverage as The red Lion summer soccer Tournament and BBQ. It just doesn’t make sense. The only prescription is for the Universiade to come to British shores once again and to emulate the effects of the Commonwealth Games in 2005, to bring athletics to the minds of the public and to showcase the young talent that the country’s universities have to offer. The last time the Games came to Sheffield in 1991, Britain produced their best performance for some time as they came eighth with an impressive 13 medals. That experience could be said to have inspired a generation of athletics, a golden decade built on university graduates. Until the world Universiade Games comes to Britain again, I believe it will continue to be an irrelevant event that noone on is even aware of on these shores.

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