FREE November 2009

Heads Up
New term, n

ew music


The heads up on new music you have to hear in this month’s

What does the NUS do for you?
NUS President Wes Streeting fills us in on what our national union does for us

Drunk friends used scalding-hot coat hangers to brand themselves in ‘group challenge’

Drunken students used scalding-hot coat hangers to brand the initials of their former halls of residence onto each other.

- page 9

Camera phone goodies up for grabs

The ‘group challenge’ by Exeter University students involved the burning of the initials into chests, arms and thighs by holding the reshaped hanger against the skin for ten seconds. The entirely male group made the plan while sober, and all took part voluntarily. Many were said to have been gritting their teeth and biting down on a wooden spoon. One of the branded men, who sought to remain nameless, said: “We are a tight group, all very close friends. There is a daredevil culture amongst us, and it wasn’t a spontaneous thing: we had talked about it before” Three of the group were taken to hospital for treatment, and all have been told they will be scarred for life. A witness said the

branded students were “shaking and gritting their teeth”. The University of Exeter’s director of communications, Stuart Franklin, said the incident was the first of its kind and was unlikely to incur any disciplinary action. He stated: “What they have done to themselves is probably punishment enough”. Although this may be the

first incident of this kind, the University of Exeter have experienced controversy over student behaviour before, with the death of 18-year-old Gavin Britton in November 2006. The teenager was found at a building site the morning after partaking in a ‘pub golf’ event where he drank so excessively it caused him to die. by Vikki Littlemore

Free digital new music sampler for every reader
27 choice cuts from acts covered in this month’s magazine including Smoke Fairies, FUNfun, Dials, Pagan Wanderer Lu, Solvor Vermeer, Cougar, Spokes and many more

- page 10

Details in this month’s magazine

The National Student, November 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@ 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


The ConservaTive Party have offered their backing to a disgraced association of student Conservatives from oxford. Following the telling of racist jokes at a drunken hustings, oxford University Conservatives association were banned from using the University’s name. however they have now been welcomed as an official branch of the party. Ben Lyons, co-chair of oxford University Labour Club commented: “oUCa 2.0 are the same people who got elected at racist hustings. They are the same people who spoke in debates on re-conquering the empire. And they are the same people who are still not allowed at Freshers Fair. This exposes the sham of David Cameron’s ‘progressive Conservative Party’ as it goes out of its way to support a bigoted Bullingdon-lite.” The association held an emergency meeting where a unanimous decision was reached to join Conservative Future, a national organisation linking Conservative groups. Marius ostrowski, a third year student at oxford University, expressed anger at the decision, stating: “The Conservative Party’s decision to back an institutionally backward and bigoted organisation, such as oUCa has consistently proved itself to be, is a serious blow to the current Tory leadership’s pretences to compassionate Conservatism and open representation of those who share Conservative ideals. He added: “The party’s refusal to seek a more suitable mouthpiece for oxford Conservatism risks alienating its supporters in the current student body, and only fuels dissatisfaction with the state of UK politics in the younger population as a whole”. In response to “complaints of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour”, oxford University Proctors decided to remove the

by Vikki Littlemore
association’s right to use ‘oxford University’ in their name. The name change has come under criticism, however, as ‘nothing more than a superficial, placatory gesture’ in which no substantial changes will be made. Michael rock, national Chairman of Conservative Future, responded by pointing out that the members of the association involved in the hustings controversy had been expelled from the party. David Barclay, JCr President of Worcester, is less than convinced, insisting that the association would require “close scrutiny to ensure that a return to the shame of the port-swilling pompousness of OUCA is never again allowed a place in Oxford’s public life.” he added, “as obama infamously warned us just a year ago, you can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.”

David Cameron’s party has offered their support to the disgraced OUCA

Student loan Student groups protest BNP fiasco continues Question Time appearance
Thousands of new and returning university students are still waiting for confirmation of loans to pay for fees and rent, despite university commencing many weeks ago. as of the end of october, over 100,000 students were still awaiting their payments from the Student Loans Company (SLC), who have struggled to cope with the record levels of applicants, which this year reached 1,091,653. universities uK which represents vice-chancellors in higher education, said that universities had responded sympathetically to the situation, and most had measures in place to help cash-strapped students. Other students have been forced to ask for extra parental help in a time of recession, after the manner of applying was changed from regional councils to directly to the SLC. Pam Tatlow, a chief executive of Million+, a think-tank set up by the universities, has criticised the Student Loans Company for failing to respond to the volume of applications: “The additional demand from students starting in 2009 can hardly be a surprise, and the SLC should have staffed up to meet the expectations of both students and universities. In response to the situation, Ralph SeymourJackson, the chief executive aCTrEss EMMa Thompson has caused controversy after she told students at Exeter University that the BNP would love the city because it is so white. she added that her adopted African son had been racially abused during his time at the university. she told the stunned audience that the far Right party’s leader Nick Griffin would ‘feel very comfortable’ in the city. The comments were made at an event that Thompson had organized to discuss racism. Thompson urged staff and students to be more tolerant towards ethnic minorities, saying: “You must understand you have a staff who want this university to be the most humane safe place it can


The National Student, November 2009


by Robert Dalling

of the SLC claims he ordered more staff to be taken on, as well as extra telephone lines opened, to deal with the rush. “We’re sorry that our customers are experiencing difficulties getting through to our customer advisers at student finance England,” the company said in a statement. “This year, we have received record numbers of applications. We have increased the number of staff by 120 in order to deal quickly with the unprecedented numbers of calls and applications.” However, SeymourJackson has come under intense criticism by NUS President Wes streeting, to the point where the NUS have called for him to resign, or be sacked: “I’m absolutely furious at the bizarre claim of the head of student finance England, Ralph Seymour-Jackson, that delays to the payment of loans to 50,000 students are ‘reasonable’. “Tell that to the students I’ve spoken to who are panicking about how to pay rent, pay bills and pay for food. He must have been speaking live from Cloud Cuckoo Land!” He added: “It’s time for Ralph Seymour-Jackson to do honourable thing and resign – or for ministers to step in and sack him. There’s a growing consensus that enough is enough” be. You’re not going to get hundreds and hundreds of black students here overnight, but what you can do is make them more comfortable.” local residents acted angrily to the comments. Stephanie Johns, 28, told the Daily Mail, “This is a classic case of reverse prejudice.” “she’s accusing us of being racists by using sweeping generalisations that racists use about ethnic minorities. It’s galling and patronising. Nick Griffin is a racist and a white supremacist who would not be welcome in Exeter at all.” John Miles, 42, added, “it’s very noble of her to adopt an African child but that doesn’t give her the right to tar us with the Nick Griffin brush.” by Chris Marple

sTudEnT aCTivisTs united against the BBC’s decision to allow the British National Party a place on Question Time recently. Protestors from groups including the socialist Worker’s Union, Fight Against Fascism, the national union of Teachers (NUT), the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and nus rallied together outside BBC offices to protest the appearance of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, on the show.

Sarah Gibbons, the Glasgow Metropolitan student union President and a board member of the NUS said: “More people are getting involved in the fight against fascism. They are taking a more active interest because it’s in their best interests.” The protests were initially peaceful, with chanting and anti-BNP leaflets being handed out. however, as it got closer to Nick Griffin’s arrival time the crowd became more

vociferous and the police presence grew. The police lines were broken several times, and there were some minor reports of violence on both the police and protestors side. After the show, a failed attempt was made to prevent the BNP leader being allowed to leave, with Griffin exiting from another exit. The BNP were asked to appear on BBC’s Question Time after winning two seats at the last European

by David Bateman
parliament elections in June. The BBC have since been criticised for allowing the far-right party a voice. BBC deputy DirectorGeneral Mark Byford insisted on BBC News that the BBC had no right to deny them a voice, only governments could advocate such a thing, as the BBC has the “responsibility of due impartiality”.

Young women use ‘spiked’ drink as excuse for excessive drinking
fEMalE sTudEnTs claim their drink has been spiked to explain embarrassing behaviour from excessive drinking, suggests a recent study. Despite there being no evidence to prove the widespread occurrence of drink-spiking, over half of the 236 students questioned in the study at Kent University said they knew someone who had had their drink spiked, and threequarters identified drinkspiking as a more serious risk factor for sexual assault than alcohol or drugs. Dr Adam Burgess, who conducted the study, concluded that this trend emerged because stories of drink-spiking are ‘exotic’ and “more convenient to guard against than the effects of alcohol itself”. he also suggested that “young women appear to be myths fuelling hysteria about drink-spiking. However, police reports have consistently undermined these misconceptions, with detective Chief Superintendent Dave Gee, who conducted a study into drink-spiking in 2005, dismissing it as nothing more than an ‘urban legend’. The NHS commented on the Kent university study, agreeing that “there are few documented cases of sexual assaults after drug-spiking” and that “vulnerability to sexual assault may be more commonly linked to the high level of alcohol consumed by many young women on nights out.” Perhaps students should be more concerned about what is already in their glass than what a stranger might be adding to it. by Joel Sharples

BNP would be ‘very comfortable’ in Exeter

displacing their anxieties about the consequences of consuming what is in the bottle on to rumours of what could be put there by someone else.”

There has recently been a perceived rise in the use of ‘date rape’ drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB, with newspaper articles, soap opera story-lines and urban

The National Student, November 2009



Medical students ‘tweeting to much’
‘TweeTs’ and status updates by medical students often breach patient confidentiality, according to research in the the Journal of the american Medical association (aMa). 78 Deans of medical schools in the US were questioned, with 60% reporting finding inappropriate content posted online. In addition, 13% found direct violations of patient confidentiality agreements, despite the importance of professionalism in the field of medicine. A spokesman for the British Medical Association commented on the issue: “Patient confidentiality is paramount and medical students and doctors obviously need to be very careful about any information they post online. You must make sure that your conduct at all times justifies your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession.” Considering the vast numbers of employers who now use the internet as a means of ‘screening’ job applicants, UK medical students would be advised to exercise more caution than their American colleagues before posting incriminating information on Facebook or Twitter. At the moment, the UK’s General Medical Council, does not have guidance that covers medics’ blogging.

by Joel Sharples

Toying with the future
a graduaTe has become so ‘fed up with rejection’ from employers that he sought to take matters into his own hands - in the process creating his own company, studentToys. Freddie Williams graduated in June 2008 with a 2:1 Honours degree in Politics from the University of Nottingham. He misguidedly thought that employers would be phoning him up, but after a year of pub-work and skiing in Canada using all the savings he had, he soon realised the perilious job market which faces graduates in the current economic climate. He spoke of the situation: “When I was leaving for Canada, I was a little smug and thought, ‘thank god I’m not applying for a job just now’. I presumed the job market would have picked up again by the time I was back. As I soon discovered, I wasn’t quite right.” After months of of “seemingly applying to every job in the country, and having not even received an interview, he started to get concerned. Forced to return to his job at the local pub to pay rent, Freddie was

MaYoMo: Next-generation ‘Social News Network’ wants students
MAYoMo HAs announced its full public launch, describing itself as a powerful new video-centric social network for mobile citizen journalists and “the most inspired alternative source for global, multimedia news content”. The site is particularly interested in attracting student journalists as users and creators. “Unlike other sources of world news,” says MaYoMo, which stands for ‘Map Your Moments’, the site “delivers independent, global news content with Web 2.0 convenience and flexibility. It is designed for both journalists and independently minded, socially and globally aware readers around the world who need a new, socially-connected, real-time platform for global news reporting – and conversation about that news.” access to all content on the MaYoMo website is free. Anyone can quickly create an account and start contributing content and uploading photos, video, and other media assets – from a variety of devices, including video-enabled phones. Contributors who have met certain criteria can create their own “channels” and generate income from them. To show its commitment to becoming a credible source in “the new era of internet journalism”, MaYoMo has also launched a programme with journalism schools in the us and other countries. It aims to promote itself as an ideal forum for students to apply their skills and become published writers on the global stage. For more, visit

“thoroughly fed up” at receiving a continous stream of rejetion letters. Dismayed but not deterred, Freddie set up The company aims to tap in to the student market by building a “single student shop that sells all the things that students buy”. Initially, he has opted to begin with products aimed at “big kids”, such as three men waterbomb catapults, and fancy dress outfits. Despite a maxed out overdraft, little knowledge of how to create a web-page and another job to juggle, Freddie has managed to get the company up and running successfully. Having made his dream of owning his own company a reality, Freddie said he contacted The National Student, “partly to inspire people that they can beat the doom and gloom of the global recession and depressed jobs markets, and partly to see if your readers feel a giant elephant costume at a bargain price is what has been missing from their lives.”

He’s mucus-green, persistent and intent on world domination, but the most important aspect of the University of Chester’s new, innovative public health character is that ‘Viral Man’ is proving such a hit with staff and students that he has taken on a life of his own. As the personification of Swine Flu, students, dressed in a striped jumper and gloves covered in spikes and wearing a wild wig and green face paint, are spreading key messages about the importance of good respiratory and hand hygiene, how the virus affects sufferers and where to seek treatment. Follow Viral Man at

Working in jobs which are generally thought of very negatively is not a bad thing just after graduating. The experience of having to make ends meet and rub shoulders with those you take for granted is no bad thing, and it certainly did me the world of good - David Blunket - page 12

THe UNIversITY of sheffield is setting a new trend by launching a new mobile application that will give students access to university information on their phone. Forthcoming events, maps and personal timetables will be among the information available as well as a friend locator to help them meet up with other students, access to library records and faculty, staff members or student contacts in the University directory, news alerts and important information. CampusM™ will be free to download and will firstly available on the iPhone and iPod

touch, becoming compatible with other mobile phones by the end of the year. It is produced by oMbiel, and aims to “greatly enhance the student experience.” Dr Christine sexton, Director of the University of sheffield’s Corporate Information and Computing services, said: “With over 24,000 students and almost 6,000 staff, students are living increasingly mobile lives, needing information and services on the move at anytime. CampusM™ will ultimately save students time, keep them better informed and make communicating with staff and other students a lot easier.” by Vikki Littlemore


The National Student, November 2009


2009 grADuATeS lacked the adequate forethought in planning their careers to avoid the perils of a competitive job market and global recession. As the number of unemployed 2009 graduates looks set to hit 30,000 only six months after graduating, the Higher education Careers Services unit (HeCSu) reveals almost two-thirds of graduates did not visit their university careers service at all. less than half attended organised events, despite the importance of career planning in the early stages of university life. HeCSu surveyed nearly 50,000 students, and found that the lack of jobs available to students is perhaps because of their own lack of preparation rather than the job market. Jane Artess, director of research at HeCSu who commissioned the research, said: “It’s concerning to hear that despite the importance

by David Bateman
of early career planning being extensively reported and the wide availability of resources, the majority of students lack a longterm perspective. We can now see those same students entering the workplace; immensely underprepared for a job hunt during a recession.” shortly after the publishing of these figures, the Bright Futures society- active at over 35 uK universitiesheld a conference between employers and students which was attended by companies such as Barclays, KPMg and Nestle. The event largely emphasised that a 2.1 degree from a reputable university no longer guarantees a job, with Helen eastern of Barclaycard commenting that “It is about them being able to bring a practical edge back to their studies”. guest speaker at the event was a former

society member, John Dore, who is Marketing & Communications Manager for HsBC Private Bank. He highlighted the value of any opportunity for a student to be more than ‘just a CV’. Despite this, it appears 2009 graduates did not do as much as they could to

stave off unemployment. Kate Purcell from the Institute for employment research at the university of Warwick said: “The study found those who had entered university with clear career objectives were sometimes less clear about the detail of how

they might develop their careers. Those who had progressed to university as ‘the normal thing to do’ without a great deal of thought about future employment were most likely to say their views on their future careers were no clearer.” “The fact is, despite the

efforts made by higher education institutions to encourage students to consider options and explore sources of information and guidance from the outset of their studies, the majority had made little effort to investigate the resources available to them. “

Student banned from college for not removing veil
A MusliM student has been banned from Burnley College for refusing to remove her burkha. Officials barred local resident shawana Bilqes from enrolling, after requesting she remove her veil to help prevent identity fraud. Bilqes refused, and was informed via letter that she would not be permitted to continue her course unless she ceased wearing the garment while on campus. Despite offering a compromise, the college remained adament she must remove the garment before enrolling. The college’s principal, John smith, defended the decision: “We do require all students of Burnley College to have their faces visible when at the college. All members of the college community should be identifiable at all times when in the college. Where individuals are able to comply with these reasonable requirements, which apply to all students equally, we would be very pleased to admit them to Burnley

by Nawin Santikam
College. Where individuals decline to comply, then I am afraid that we cannot accommodate them.” He added that veils impede staff-student communication which is necessary to “maintain the highest standards of teaching and learning”. Bilqes was willing to compromise with the college officials, telling Sky News that she would be willing to take the garment off so as her identity could be established, however, her request was denied and she was told she ‘couldn’t wear it anywhere on the premises’. Since being told she would not be admitted if she wore her burkha, Bilqes has been forced to seek higher education elsewhere. The floor length garment, known as a burkha, covers everything but the wearer’s eyes. It has caused similar controversy in France, where it was banned from state schools in 2004 by President sarkozy, who has since sought to have it banned throughout France.

STuDeNTS ACrOSS the uK converged on blood donation centres to protest the National Blood Service policy of banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The current policy has been denounced as discrimination, and an archaic practice. Scott Cuthbertson, the NuS LgBT officer who is co-ordinating the event, said: “It is time that the National Blood Service changed its homophobic policy and lifted its ban on gay and bisexual men. Other countries have already changed their policies sending a clear message that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unacceptable; it is time for NBS to do the same. The LgBT community is very diverse, and a blanket ban against all gay and bisexual men is no longer appropriate.” NuS LgBT priority campaign this year is ‘Donation not Discrimination’, and is aimed at ensuring a policy review takes place. They joined students and other campaign to protest the policy, which issues a lifetime ban on donations from gay and bisexual men, regardless of their current lifestyle and therefore the suitability of their blood. Claire Anderson, NuS LgBT Officer, at the London protest, said: “This policy is really frustrating because lots of healthy gay and bisexual students want to give blood but can’t because of the ban.” “It’s not someone’s sexual identity that makes them high risk, but their sexual practices. Heterosexual people who engage in high-risk behaviour are not banned, but deferred for a limited time; a blanket ban perpetuates the myth that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease, and does not treat donors equally and on the basis of actual risk.” by David Bateman

The National Student, November 2009

A University of Bath student became the first eco-ironman by completing one of the world’s hardest triathlons on a bamboo bike. Wearing a limestone-based rubber wetsuit and running shoes made from recycled fibres, 27-year-old Londoner, Jon Alexander, swapped his usual training clothes for eco-friendly ones for ‘Challenge Barcelona’. In a bid to raise awareness of our ‘carbon footprints’, Jon sought to train, travel and compete in the most ecofriendly way possible. He finished in 11 hours and 32 minutes, which was 14 minutes faster than the fastest time at the original Ironman event in 1978. However, Jon’s greatest achievement was in lowering his carbon footprint to a level at least 80% lower than his fellow participants. Jon said: “I’ve proved that with a little imagination, we can make things better all round. To me, this proves the point that we as athletes really need to think about what we’re doing. All humans depend on the natural environment to thrive - but we should have good reason to be more conscious of that fact. And to do something about it.”


Huge opposition to tuition fees rise
THE GOvERnMEnT has a major problem on their hands according to a recent poll - despite their insistance tuition fees will have to rise, a meagre 5% of 18-24 year olds support the move. The poll conducted by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) found that 85% of those polled directly opposed a rise in tuition fees from their present level of £3,225 per year. The average student debt, currently estimated to be £23,500, would rise to over £30,000 should the Government continue with plans to raise the limit. The reasoning behind such a move is that students will be able to re-pay the fees because of the rewarding and well-paid job they receive post-university. However, in the current climate this does not appear to be as easy. Students who received loans to help with tuition fees in the 2008-2009 session represented 1.7% of the UK electorate, and this figure is set to rise for this year. While this figure appears relatively low, the UCU also identified 20


by Robert Dalling

Alexander raised £2,165 for the Wilderness Foundation UK by completing the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 26 mile run on October 4. To reduce his carbon footprint, Jon made many changes to reduce his environmental impact, such as ordering organic vegetable ingredients, using organic sports nutrition products, and travelling to Barcelona by train using Eurostar. Dan Lewer, co-founder of Government accredited offsetting firm Carbon Retirement, said that Jon’s lower carbon footprint “is largely due to the greener travel choices he made, and his choice of a soy-protein vegetarian versus meat-protein diet”. Currently studying part-time for his MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice, Jon acknowledges his course as an inspiration to take on the challenge. However, the super-fit 27-year-old now aims to encourage more people to adopt his eco-friendly approach. His next major challenge is the Jurassic Coast Challenge, where he will complete the run using a barefoot Eco Athlete: Jon Alexander is giving running shoe. Jon’s blog is available a eco-friendly edge to competting at: by Olivia Heath

key constituencies where the ‘top-up fees generation’ accounts for a “substantial proportion” of the electorateusually between 21-33%. 10 of those 20 constituencies are held by Labour and five of those have a majority of less than 6,000. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, spoke on the situation: “Today’s poll shows that the country, and in particular the topup fees generation, will not stomach further increases in the cost of going to university.” She added: “What we really need to see is some action. We will not create a better or fairer education system, where all who have talent can genuinely benefit, if we do not drastically alter the current system.” All major parties have now conceded tuition fees will have to at least remain at their current levels, and the Liberal Democrats, who have notoriously campaigned for the abolition of tuition fees, have even changed their opinions and revoked their promise. a test of the physical and mental endurance of each athlete’s ability to push themselves to the limit.” He continued: “Rowing is a sport that promotes healthy living and extreme physical fitness, two attributes that will definitely be needed during this gruelling challenge. There is very little room for error, and specific training began in earnest two months ago. The 16 athletes have been selected on the back of fitness, sprint and endurance trials, because every member of the team must be able to compete at the top of their game for 15 hours straight in order to complete the challenge”. DFDS Seaways Captain, Jens Knudsen, said: “This is the first time I have had an activity like this one on board my ferry! Whether or not they are able to complete the distance in a faster time than the ship will depend upon their level of fitness and stamina.” The rowers are undertaking the challenge in an attempt to raise £10,000 in sponsorship towards the £30,000 average annual running costs of the Boat Club by David Bateman

A DFDS Seaways cruise ferry has a new competitior- a team of 16 rowers from Newcastle University Boat Club. The NUBC team will attempt to beat the ferry’s average crossing time of fifteen and a half hours in a through-thenight effort. The total distance rowed will equate to 496 kilometres, or 308 miles. John Crummie, UK Managing Director for DFDS Seaways, said: “We sail daily to Amsterdam but it is not every day that someone wants to race us! It’s a real challenge for the students to try and beat our cruise ferries; they travel at around 18 knots per hour. Of course they won’t have the waves to contend with! We are always keen to support charity, and these students have really come up with an ingenious way to raise money for their club. I wish them good luck.” The NUBC is Newcastle University’s most successful sports club, and has consistently been ranked second in the British Universities and Colleges Sports league. The race, dubbed the ‘DFDS Seaways North Sea Challenge’, will involve the team linking two rowing machines together on the deck of the cruise ferry. Beginning at 5pm on the 6 of November, teams of two will row for just over three minutes per session to ensure optimum efficiency. Andrew Curry, a spokesman for the NUBC, spoke of the task ahead: “This will be a monumental challenge,


The National Student, November 2009


A PhilosoPhy graduate took the unusual measure of advertising herself on a billboard in a desperate attempt to beat the recession and find herself employment. 22-year-old University of Greenwich graduate Gemma James was contionously receiving the same feedback from any company she applied to work for: the recession was making it tough to take on graduates. Undettered, Gemma acted on her mum’s suggestion that she put her CV on a billboard to gain more attention. Her advertisement seeks to display her resolute and determined approach to finding employment, by proclaiming: “Don’t you wish your employees were this proactive?” Within days of her CV being posted at Victoria station in London, the outdoor advertising organisation Kinetic contacted her for an interview. Despite the

by Grace Wermenbol

process ending there, Gemma is optimistic her creative and ingenuitive approach will gain favour with an employer somewhere in the near future.

Graduate Gemma James with her billboard

STUDenT DeSIGnerS, architects and engineers from across the country have the opportunity to prevent a terrorist attack- and win £2, 000 in prize money. The prestigious competition, entitled ‘Public Spaces, Safer Places’ is organised by the Home Office and is looking for student propositions on how to prevent a vehicle based terrorist attack in a crowded place, such as a student club. The competition is a response to one of the recommendations made by Home Office Security Minister Lord West, who hopes to find students willing to fulfill their role as “the future of counter terrorism”. it will allow students to demonstrate their innovation and skill in recognizing and dealing with a variety of vehicle-based attacks, as well as creating awareness of counter-terrorism among professional bodies, such as architects and designers. Lord West said:“Protecting crowded places remains one of the key challenges in counter terrorism, which is why we are undertaking initiatives like this to engage with the future architects of public spaces”. The competition closes in December 2009, and an awards ceremony will be held for the winners at the home Office in April 2010.

in An attempt to reduce ever-increasing debts, many students are resorting to the unpredictability of gambling. The charity organisation Gamcare recently released figures indicating that a third of the people they seek to help are students aged between 18 and 25. Adrian scarff from Gamcare believes that the problem lies with how accessible gambling is online. Thousands of pounds can be gambled without having to leave the comfort of your own home because of the massive rise in online gambling. Mr.Scarff said: “Young people enjoy the buzz of gambling and over a period of time they might have fun, but the house always wins.” Gamcare emphasises the need for students to know when to stop, and that gambling in moderation is the key. While students cannot be prevented from gambling, there is a need for a greater awareness of when gambling becomes dangerous. Gamcare offer student support in the form of guidance and advice to try and prevent gambling becoming a dangerous and costly addiction. The director of student services at lincoln University, Judith Carey, expressed her concern at this vastly increasing problem. She has had to deal with a number of cases of excessive gambling, and said: “Students receive their loans and then play games like poker, as they think that it is a game of skill, but can quickly get themselves into financial trouble as gambling can often get out of hand.” If you think you may have a problem with gambling, contact Gamcare at, or via their helpline on 0845 6000 133. by Neal Fantom

The National Student, November 2009



Four STudeNTS at the university of the Free State in South Africa are facing criminal prosecution after an allegedly “racist” video emerged on the internet in February last year. However, university Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen has declared that the four will not be internally disciplined by the university, and would be allowed to return to their studies as a “gesture of racial reconciliation”. The video, reportedly shot in September 2007, shows four white male students subjecting five black workers - four women and one man - to a mock initiation ritual. The video begins with the students ordering the workers to dance and participate in a drinking contest. Next, they are taken out to a sporting field where the students are heard laughing hysterically as they are made to race and perform rugby drills. Between each segment of the video, the students are seen sitting next to a sign reading “intergrasie” (integration) while they take it in turns to be interviewed; repeatedly referring to the women as “difebe” (whores). However, it is the final ritual which has caused the most controversy. It appears to show one of the students urinating on meat before serving it to the workers. The workers are made to kneel on the floor before being forced to eat the meat in a “fear factor” competition which caused several of them to gag and vomit. The four men, r.C. Malherbe, Schalk Van der Merwe, Johnny roberts and danie Grobler, labelled by South African Media as the “reitz four”, were residents of the reitz Men’s residence at the university of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus. The video appears to have been produced in response to the university’s integration policy initiated in 2007, which aimed to reintegrate the traditionally white reitz residence. The video ended with the statement “op die einde van die dag is dit wat ons regtig van integrasie dink!” (This is what we think of integration!). It emerged following unrest and student riots over the university’s integration programme, and was reportedly distributed by the ex-girlfriend of one of the four. Following its publication on the internet in February, the men were charged with Crimen Injuria; the serious unlawful or intentional impairment of a person’s dignity. The incident has raised serious questions over how successful the changing of public attitudes from Apartheid to present day has been. State prosecutor Ben Mulutsi has asked the Bloemfontein regional Court to postpone the trial to allow the prosecution more time to prepare its case. The trial is now scheduled to begin in February 2010. All four men have been released with a warning till the trial begins. by Nawin Santikarn

Getting your teeth into all things dental


A THIrd year student has tragically been found dead in his room at Oxford university. 21-year-old Toby rundle from Williton, Somerset was studying Classics and English at Oxford University’s Lady Margaret Hall, and had dreams of one day becoming a food writer working in San Francisco, a city he had visited during a gap year in 2007. rundle, who had grabbed Media attention previously by funding his university degree through the £7,200 sale of a Harry Potter book - one of only 500 hardback published copies of JK rowling’s ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’- was discovered by a fellow student hanging in his college room on Thursday, following a night on the town drinking. The university, still in a state of shock, spoke on how “deeply saddened” everyone was by his death. Dr Frances Lannon, principal of Lady Margaret Hall, said: “We were deeply saddened by the death of Toby rundle, a third-year undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall. She continued: “Toby was well liked by everyone in college. He was a lively, communicative and popular student. our condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.” rAPSS, (response and Prevention to Student Suicide) a uK research project which looks specifically at the prevention of student suicide within higher education, last published statistics on student suicide in 2007, which revealed a number of 267 deaths of students aged between 20 and 24. Chris rundle, Toby’s father and the farming editor at the Western daily Press newspaper, had driven his son back to Oxford last Sunday in time to start his final year, and said he had been looking to the future and appeared to be without problems. He said: “No one has a clue: not his principal, his tutor or his friends. I took him out to lunch with his best mate and they said, ‘We know we have a tough year ahead but — what the hell — it is only one year’”. “He was looking forward to it and I had an e-mail from him on Tuesday saying everything was ace — we had no inkling that he was unhappy.” An educated young man, rundle had achieved three straight As at A-levels in history, Latin and English to win a place at Oxford. rundle owned his own set of kitchen knives and was passionate about food and writing. He had started writing articles for the newspaper where his father worked at just 15 and had ambitions to become “the next Giles Coren”. Thames Valley police confirmed that the death was not being treated as suspicious. by Rob Dalling

f you’ve just started college or university and moved away from home, then it’s a good idea to get registered with a local dentist. That way you won’t have to keep travelling back home if you need dental help. Most dentists provide both NHS and private care. And if you’ve been avoiding the dentist because you’re worried about getting a jawdropping bill, you’re not alone. When consumer champion Which? asked people why they had not been to the dentist in the last two years, cost was one of the main reasons. But did you know that if you are a student under 19 and in full-time education you won’t have to pay anything towards dental costs on the NHS? The same applies if you are pregnant or a mother who has had a baby in the last 12 months. To find out the full criteria for accessing free dental treatment check out the Which? dentistry webpage at www.which. A regular trip to the dentist keeps potential problems at bay as well as spotting them before they become worse. Complaints such as passion killing bad breath or bleeding gums can be resolved with advice or treatment from your dentist. If you’re among those who haven’t sat in the dentist’s chair for a while and need a quick fix to restore your kissability status – or if you just want to know how to take care of your teeth - then follow our top tips to keep you

going until your next trip to the dentist: - Don’t scrimp on your tooth brushing time. Three minutes, twice daily is the minimum for a healthy, fresh smelling mouth
- A giant sized toothpaste portion doesn’t mean cleaner teeth. Stick to pea-sized amounts on a brush with soft to medium bristles and a brush head small enough to reach your back teeth - Floss, floss, floss! A once daily must to help keep bad breath and gum disease at bay, especially as your toothbrush won’t reach all the gaps between your teeth - If your toothbrush is looking worn out, give it the boot. You’re not getting any real cleaning action so bin it and treat yourself to a new one! - Stop smoking and cut back on the wine, coffee and tea to avoid those unattractive teeth stains During your check up expect your dentist to: - Examine your teeth, gums and mouth - Ask about your general health and any problems you’ve had since your last visit - Ask about your oral care routine and your diet - Discuss the timing of your next visit by Miranda Watson, Which? health campaigner

Dental jargon buster
What is a bridge? A bridge is a replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. It is usually made from precious metal or porcelain. Unlike dentures, which are removed, it is fixed in your mouth. What is a crown? A cap which completely covers the natural tooth and is made of metal and/or porcelain. It can be used to make a tooth look better or where one has become broken, decayed or damaged. What are dentures? These replace lost or missing teeth, and can be ‘full’ (replacing all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw) or ‘partial’ (replacing a small number of teeth). They are custom-made in metal or plastic from impressions of your gums. What is a filling? A small piece of metal or resin that your dentist can use to replace the missing enamel on a tooth which has decayed. What is Fluoride? A mineral which occurs naturally in water and some foods. It has proven benefits to the health of teeth including reducing tooth decay - and in some areas is added to local water supplies for this reason. What is root canal treatment? Root canal treatment is needed when the blood or nerve supply to a tooth becomes infected. It prevents the spread of infection to the tooth and jaw. What is tartar? Tartar is plaque which has hardened. It can only be removed by a dentist, usually by carrying out a ‘scale and polish’ where the tartar is scraped away and the teeth polished if needed. If plaque and tartar build up near the gums, the bacteria can cause gum disease. What is a veneer? A thin layer of porcelain or other material which fits over the front of a tooth to improve its shape, colour and position.


The National Student, November 2009


NUS: What does it do for you?
US may be one of the largest and most respected student organisations in the world but I’m often asked by students what it is NUS actually does apart from offering a discount card. I can assure you that NUS makes a big impact on students’ lives. We have fought hard over the past 18 months, successfully campaigning to double the disabled students allowance, playing a key part in preventing the reduction in the abortion limit from 24 to 22 weeks, fighting against proposals to prevent students from living in certain communities and releasing a groundbreaking piece of research into the experiences of student parents. Crucially, we have also reformed the national union, making it more accessible to the majority of students, and allowing you more opportunity to play an active role in shaping our policies. We are now in a much stronger position to campaign on behalf of students and students’ unions. We also represent you on a national platform. As President of NUS I regularly attend meetings with MPs and policy makers. We have a seat at the table with the Students Loans Company, where we assiduously defend the rights of students. We secured a National Student Survey (NSS), which gives university applicants more information than ever before about the institutions that they are applying to. We lobbied for the creation of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) to ensure that students have an independent place of appeal outside of their own institution – and NUS now sit on their board. The reality is that governments of all colours pay attention to NUS, and unless students have a place in the national union they are, in effect, voiceless. We can all argue about how best to make the case for student finance, improved housing, higher standards of teaching; but that’s a debate that you and other students across the country can do within NUS. Last year, the then Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell was asked his view on NUS, he said: “what can I say…if NUS didn’t exist, the lives of politicians would be whole lot easier.” We are working effectively for you but we cannot be complacent. We need your support in order to overcome the major challenges that we face. Soon, we will have a huge fight on our hands: to rescue our higher education system from being corrupted by market forces and to prevent a future where the most esteemed universities are only accessible to the very rich. The forthcoming review of higher education funding will be our first chance since 2004 to fight the unsustainable top-up fees system, and we must be prepared for the battle that lies ahead. We are working hard to ensure that the cap on tuition fees is not lifted and that a fairer and less complicated system of student support and fees is implemented. That is why, in June, we launched our proposals for an alternative means of funding higher education, which would make course costs free at the point of use for all students. Graduates would then contribute towards the higher education system according to how much they earn – meaning that those who use their degree to earn lower wages in the public sector would not have to pay as much as those who use their degree to secure big salaries in the City. Such a system may not be perfect, but it proves that there is another way of increasing funding for

So what exactly does our national union do for us? NUS President Wes Streeting answers the question we all want answering..
universities so that they can remain globally competitive, without raising fees and pricing poorer students out of certain universities and courses. With your help, over the next year we can make it impossible for MPs and universities to deny that there is an alternative to fees. Having said all this, NUS is not just a campaigning organisation. We have a bank of dedicated and professional staff who work alongside the committed and passionate elected officers to deliver for you and your students’ union. NUS provides tailor made information, advice, training and support to your local union that could not be found elsewhere. We are the leading provider of independent advice and offer individual students a wide range of information on a number of issues such as finance, housing and health. Most of you will have heard of our best known benefit, the NUS Extra Card. NUS Extra is the student passport to discounts at a number of retail outlet, cinemas and tourist attractions. However, you may not realise that the Extra card doesn’t just save you money; we have invested over £2 million in the past 2 years from the sale of the cards directly into students’ unions to help provide advice, support and training for students like you. I hope that this gives you an insight in the important work we are doing. Students need an organisation that defends, extends and promotes their rights. That is why being a member of NUS matters so much and will make a difference to your everyday life. Get involved with your students’ union this year and let’s fight together for improved rights for students across the UK. If you would like to find out more information about the work we do why not check out our website at www.nus.

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The other side of the street
With the number of homeless people reaching 109,000 – a figure which can only rise with the recession – Ashley Scrace spent an eye-opening night on the streets of Hastings to discover the lifestyle of those forgotten few who sleep rough.
some food” Settling down next to me for the night, he laid out his mat for the kind donations of passers-by. In his lap were a collection of coins. He had gathered pieces of shrapnel but nothing more – twenty-pence maybe. What is twenty pence nowadays? Penny sweets are hard to come by. Chewing gum is double the price. Apparently nothing is of such miniscule value. When confronted about his position an answer of inaudible mumbling strained from his mouth – along with a pungent smell of methylated spirit. A name was caught. “They call me Desperate Dan”. Fitting, that. Across the road a flock of Seagulls swooped down to the beach, searching for scraps by the sea. Dan looked up, almost in awe, but more in jealousy. The Gulls had got something – either a measly piece of food or some rubbish. Either way, something. Dan looked distressed as the Gulls looked towards him – the real street scavengers belittling the timid amateur. I asked to stay with him for a while, but my request was quashed. Sleepily eyed and seemingly frightened, Dan pointed me in the direction of another homeless person who, he claimed, would be more than happy to talk to anyone. He went by the name of Ben. Slumped outside the local Wetherspoons sat a man. He appeared to be sleeping, with his small Jack Russell taking guard. He stirred, feeling my presence from twenty-feet away. “Hello, son.” One eye opened. The other was missing. Ben revealed he was 44-years-old and has been homeless for ten years. With no other company – except comrade Dan and his dog, Fluke, Ben explained the loneliness such a position holds. “I read. I’ve read all of James Herbert. That’s why the Dog got its name.” Reciting various lines from Herbert, he explained the allusions between the books and his life. Telling me about his life, he ventured on to how he’d ended up a man of the street. After marrying his wife in the eighties, a string of violent assaults led to his arrest and imprisonment in the infamous Strangeways prison, Manchester. “It was an interesting time. As you probably know, the riots were around then.” Actually, I didn’t know – I was just too young. In April 1990 the prisoners at Strangeways, notably Paul Taylor, began rioting in protest against their appalling living conditions. Starting in the Chapel the gangs rioted through the prison, tossing furniture over, hitting guards and even making it to the roof. A recorded conversation in the Chapel between here is little that we appreciate more than a good night out. The flickering lights and the music pulsating from nearby bars. For us being out on the streets in the dead of night usually means socialising or a walk back to our nice warm homes. Yet there are some who are out every night of the week. Not spending money, not warming inside a pub, but outside sitting with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The forgotten people of the street: the homeless. A recent programme on the BBC attempted to show what living on the streets is like by getting the rich and famous to spend a night on the tiles – the concrete ones. Wanting to experience this for myself, I entered town with a very different agenda to usual. Sitting on the cold concrete I intended to observe the streets around me. Hunched over in a brace position, in my dirtiest clothes, I sat and watched the world waiting for some human contact. It did not take long for someone to approach – coincidentally another homeless man. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties, wearing worn jeans and a printed t-shirt which had faded over the years. Unshaven, and, from the smell, unwashed, he leant over and stuttered a few words. “How is it going?” he asked. Here came the complicated part - explaining in the nicest possible way that I was not really homeless but acting for advantageous reasons of my own. The man understood my situation but was reluctant to talk – possibly due to my covert behaviour before. But he provided some truths colder than the concrete. “It’s tough out here. People don’t give much” The question naturally followed: what are you saving for exactly? “I just want enough for


The National Student, November 2009


across the pavement. “Oi, piss on this fucking cock!” Just as it was reaching the important climactic event, Ben’s tales of horrible humanity were realised. “Why don’t you get a job?” they shouted. “If I could, would I be here?” came Ben’s response. Good point. He may be homeless, but he’s not stupid. Measuring homelessness is difficult due to the varied definitions of what homelessness is, who is counted as homeless and

“Why don’t you get a job?” they shouted. “If I could, would I be here?” came Ben’s response.
Reverend Noel Procter and Paul Taylor revealed the anger of the mob and their reasons for rioting. Approximately £55 million of damage was caused, with over 140 people injured in the riot. But Ben was adamant the media coverage was false. He stated none of the reported brutalities happened at all – from the hands of the prisoners or the guards. Some more controversial claims seeped out, interspersed with sips of his water. “It was all wrong really.” The water bottle tipped back. “The vicar got us riled anyway.” A couple of girls approached us, staggering the changing situations of the individuals concerned. Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (2005) estimated that there are 10,500 rough sleepers in the UK at any one time. A further 100,000 are only in temporary accommodation to cope with their predicament. Yet figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggest otherwise. They estimate that there are 75,000 people living on the streets of the UK who are youths, yet alone the others who are above 24-years-old. In 2007/08 the Department for Communities and Local

Government sought to gather statistics as to the reasons for homelessness. Whether it is due to personal reasons which defy belief, or due to circumstance, the breakdown of the family seems to be the main reason those unfortunate souls end up on the street. Out of those studied, 36% of homeless people lived their dangerous life due to parents, relatives and friends inability to accommodate them any longer. Problems with rent and mortgage payments were other factors, proving problematic for 6% of those studied. But by far the most startling reason for homelessness is the 18% which makes up the ‘other’ reasons. There are a myriad of reasons listed: family breakdown; abandonment; relationship trouble and so on. So what makes up the ‘other’? Ben looked up. He appeared to have had a job in a factory, cutting sheets of steel. When imprisonment came, the job obviously went. It was during the imprisonment when his personal situation took a turn for the worse. “My wife left. I had no house or anything and most of my family is gone. So I originally came down here with my brother as he helped me out.” Details all went blurry here, but somehow he ended up on the streets. And the past has been littered with sleeping rough, being beaten up and asking for spare change. “It’s easier to end up here than you think. I mean, I’ve been inside for years.

I don’t want sympathy. It was all my own fault. When I came out, all I had was gone though.” With the current economic climate, it is only predicted to get worse. With 2.3 million people unemployed and only 425,000 jobs on offer the chances of ending up homeless – via spending or just misfortune – are much higher. Yet statistics released in June 2009 from the Government revealed that homelessness is decreasing. The statistics showed a 15% fall in people declaring themselves homeless to the local councils in England between January and March compared with the same period in 2008 and a 26% fall in the number accepted as homeless on the whole. Who is right and who is wrong? Ben did not comment on the numbers, but he did comment on the experience. “It’s horrible. Really bad. Why, I don’t know. I mean you get some nice people, but others not so much. “People piss on you, steal your shoes, try and burn you. My glass eye was even nicked. Now I’m waiting on the NHS for a new one.” But what does he aspire to do? “A house would be good.” But Ben shocked me with his humbleness. “Nothing really though. I love the smell in the morning. I like waking up and looking up at stars. I feel freedom, y’know, not those prison walls.” There was an uneasy silence. “My violent past is behind me. I did it my way. I would kill for some Sinatra, though.”

More features online at

The National Student, November 2009





Former Education Secretary David Blunkett talks about what New Labour have done for universities, the problem of tuition fees and the value of a degree with David Bateman.
this appears an effective policy - it enhances the skills and knowledge of the population at an early age, thereby increasing the quality of Britain’s work-force. However, this could be seen as shortsighted, as a degree alone better job, students must be prepared to finish their studies with an average debt of £23,500. When these points are analysed, and considering we have a vast shortage of youngsters undertaking apprenticeships, why is of young adults has to result in a large cohort getting to universities. When I first started as Education Secretary, what got me was that it was those who expected their children to attend university, that small percentage, who had the presumption that it would lead to a dilution of quality. It is a rational based on knowing your kids will get to university, basically those who sent their children to independent schools. If you asked the large percentage of the population who didn’t automatically expect their children to go to university, I’m sure they would see the value in achieving the 50% attendance goal.” Undoubtedly it is beneficial that a larger and more diverse group attends university each year, and Blunkett’s response makes a good point about broadening universities outlook. But, in reality are universities actually achieving this diversification? A study published in The Times found that pupils from independent schools are five times as likely to get to one of the top ten universities in the UK. This suggests the state-school system is flawed, and a widening gap between social classes where the elite’s children attend elite universities. Blunkett commented on the issue: “Firstly, we are only now seeing the generation of four-yearolds from 1998 (when we changed the system) reach GCSE level, and it takes time for these changes to show themselves as state school pupils had been historically failed by the system before we came into power. “Secondly, it is a question

tudents are set to be a major factor in the looming General Election of 2010, with issues such as tuition fees, student loans, and university places likely to play a major part in who steps into power. With that in mind, does Labour’s performance with regards to education, and universities in particular, mean they will get the student vote, or lose it? At what looks likely to be the end of New Labour’s 12-year reign, if current opinion polls prove accurate, I spoke to Tony Blair’s first Education Secretary, David Blunkett about how successfully Labour have dealt with university issues. At the forefront of New Labour’s policies for universities is the lofty target of getting 50% of school leavers into university. At face value

‘All the investment and effort put into raising teaching standards and aspirations of young adults has to result in a large cohort getting to universities.’
is no longer a guarantee of employment, because so many people now obtain them. Also, considering there is often no guarantee of a achieving the 50% target important? Blunkett said: “All the investment and effort put into raising teaching standards and aspirations


Labour’s controversial tuition fees policies have come under fierce opposition from students

Blunkett claims that university graduates still have much better prospects in the jobs market

of straight ambition. We had to change the aspiration and expectations of families so it became the norm for their children to attend university, whereas previously the norm had been leaving school at 16. Career advice in certain areas was very poor, and there is a definite transformation in ambition when the knowledge was provided, but that also takes time to show itself.” Attempting to have more state school pupils attending university cannot be criticised, but the means of obtaining this still appear to have devalued degrees to the point where they are not as powerful a tool for finding a job as they once were, despite Blunkett’s

insistence that they remain pivotal. This is shown by a recent finding published in This is Money, which says one in four graduates is still jobless or not in full-time employment three years after leaving university. From these statistics, it seems clear that there is an issue of whether a degree is worth £23,500 pounds to most university students. Have we not reached a point where a university degree is no longer value for money for at least 20% of students? “A degree would not be good value if what are perceived as poor and lowranking jobs were the only ones available.” Blunkett added: “However, that is not the


The National Student, November 2009

that over 40% of graduates have resorted to bar work or stacking shelves at some stage after their degree. When that is considered, is it right that students could be asked to pay even higher tuition fees, when many are already struggling to find work befitting their education is unrealistic. It is now about how can we make it fairer. We need to find more imaginative ways for students to pay. In an ideal world, that would be in the form of a graduate tax, but ten years ago that was seen as totally unacceptable. One formula I’d advocate, although it will not help student-related vote, and that this could be a deciding factor in the next election? “By massively expanding university enrollment, we have expanded the student constituency which includes their families. It would be an awful irony if the student vote, after we had made it so much larger, then went against us. In marginal constituencies in particular, it will make a differnece, and that really would be a cruel twist. But we shouldn’t get the student vote because we have got the students therewe should get it because we do things right for this country- economically and socially. Universities get a huge proportion from the taxpayer as a whole, and the amount raised from tuition fees pales in comparison to this.” Had they won power instead of New Labour, would the Conservatives have performed better for universities? “Compare what was happening in the ten years before we came to power, to the ten years after 1997: you will see an absolute contrast in priority, in investment, in quality, and in expansion. The only worry is we aren’t selling hard enough what we have done, and what we are prepared to do. We need to speak more directly to youngsters. Many people wouldn’t be in the position they are in if we hadn’t invested in transforming educational opportunities, and if you are looking at who will continue to perform best for universities, the answer is this government.” The only questions remaining are whether the student vote will prove decisive, and who will benefit because of it.

‘I think it is right students have to contribute more, but I am against simply lifting the fees cap- it would be a freefor-all.’
that will allow them to re-pay the vast amount of debt they already face? Blunkett stood by the benefits of a degree: “I’d like to make it clear that a degree is certainly still worthwhile. While I was Education Secretary it was clear many students were not getting the job they expected immediately- it often took more than 18 months for the benefits of their education to come into play. When you are competing for jobs in a world where soft skills and higher education is key, which we are, then if you don’t have the degree you are going to be even further disadvantaged. Many young adults appear happy to borrow for a car, but not for their education.” Although this is certainly true, it seems to point to the fact that a degree is something you simply require in the modern world, rather than being something of real merit which makes you stand out. Blunkett continued in regards to tuition fees: “I think it is right students have to contribute more, but I am against simply lifting the fees cap- it would be a free-for-all. I would be in favour of finding alternative methods of students funding their studies: a modest formula for gradual increase in line with inflation, and other ways like research, looking to future employers and money-making partnerships with the private sector.” He continued: “We are at a stage now where we can never go back to not paying- that immediately, is increasing the baby bond and using it as a major contributor for payment. It would then be a substantial nest egg which could be replied upon and could transform feelings to tuition feesyet the opposition is currently talking about doing it away. I’d also be in favour of non-monetary payback, involving giving back to the community by substantial v o l u n t a r y work.” W h i l e politicians from most parties agree tuition fees will probably rise, a mammoth 85% of youngsters oppose that probable rise, according to the Universities and College U n i o n . Therefore, is there not a worry that Labour will lose a large part of t h e


case for the vast majority of graduates. Working in jobs which are generally thought of very negatively is not a bad thing just after graduating. The experience of having to make ends meet and rub shoulders with those you take for granted is no bad thing, and it certainly did me the world of good. Learning should be a lifelong thing, which doesn’t end when you obtain your degree. I knew when I graduated I needed to do a post-graduate to be a tutor- you have to accept a degree is a stepping stone and find the right in-house training for whatever job you are seeking. In South Korea recently, they held a convention for adult learning which half-filled

a football stadium, with 20,000 turning up. If we could achieve something along those lines, I’d be very happy.” It is true that a degree remains a qualification for life, and most students now accept that they must go above and beyond merely passing their exams to get the job they desire. Yet, would this qualification for life still be worthwhile if it involved paying an even larger some to achieve it? In a year when the NUS have said £19 million less was spent on universities, politicians have made clear a rise in tuition fees is not far from being inevitable. While this rise is being contemplated, The Higher Education Statistics Agency recently discovered

The National Student, November 2009

A Traveller’s Tale



For the last six months, Nathan Millward and his trusty moped steed named Dorothy have been blazing a dangerous trail on the road from Sydney to London. We catch up with them Kazakhstan.
Chinese. They look different, their culture is different, their language is different. These people are originally from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia. Only now they’re ruled by China and find themselves strangers in their own land. It’s the silent Tibet that few people know about. Anyway, the Uighurs were fired up recently when rumours of some of their people being attacked and raped went around. In retaliation they rioted, hacking to death various innocent ‘Han’ people - those we stereotypically think of as Chinese - and generally misbehaved. As a result the army were called in, the situation momentarily calmed, then the Hans did the same to the Uighurs as they’d had done to them. The province went into meltdown. And this being the Chinese government wishing to have their image squeaky clean, they did everything they could to prevent the wider world hearing too much about it. Hence the lockdown on internet and international phonecalls. And that’s not all. Entering China I had my laptop, USB sticks and digital camera taken away to be examined for anything they didn’t like the look of. In anticipation of that I deleted all my porn. Which wasn’t wise as in my tent on a night I get lonely and like to have something to look at. Though that’s perhaps why I’m partially blind.

ell hello there, how marvellous that you could join us this fine Kazak morning. The mood in the camp is good, me and Dorothy are doing just fine. Last night we slept in a hedge and tomorrow we cross into Russia, it couldn’t be going any better. This is Kazakhstan after all, a place where drunken policeman harass you for ‘souvenirs’ and the person who pumps your petrol carries a Kalashnikov. But it’s alright, we’ve actually quite enjoyed plodding across this ploughed-field of a place. It’s just massive, thousand of miles across and nothing in the middle but small villages and fields. It’s like riding across the Australian outback all over again. Just flat empty land with a million places to pitch your tent and a smile on the face of the locals that says everyone’s welcome. But in the distance we’ve travelled since our last report in Pakistan, not every where’s been quite like that. Take China for example, the place we entered from Pakistan. There’d been a real old shit-storm kicked up in the weeks proceeding our entry there. People fighting, 200 killed, military manning the streets and no internet or international telephone calls to even ring mum and tell her not to panic. I’m not going to pretend I know exactly what it’s all about, but from what I can see it goes a little something like this. In southern province of Xianxiang live the Uighurs. Now, the Uighurs aren’t your typical chicken chow mien

But in China I didn’t need any porn, I had Abdul for amusement instead. Abdul was the local guide I had to employ to escort me through China. Don’t ask me why, it’s some dumb-arse Chinese rule that makes riding through the country an expensive pain in the arse. To make matters worse, Abdul was a real bungling half-wit, with a car that kept breaking down and an electric scooter which made him think he’d gone back to the future. Having come all this way with me and Dorothy dealing with the challenges alone, it was so frustrating to have this man sat on my shoulder every minute of the seven days I was there, in China, where at 11pm every night a woman would ring my hotel room and ask if I wanted ‘massage’. Without porn I nearly buckled, but just when yes was on the tip of my lips I’d remind myself that at the end of this magnificent adventure I have a magnificent women who I hope will still be waiting at the finish. Hence my stiff shoulders. So that was China; a country sadly too frightened to expose itself in fear of not looking good naked. I just wish the Government of the Chinese people would relax, chill out a bit, because the folk I met, be they Han or Uighurs - were all wonderfully friendly and helpful. I even had the pleasure of visiting a Chinese hospital for an X-ray and thought it all much neater than the NHS. Chaotic, but

quicker. And that was that, my trip in China over. Abdul escorted me to the border with Kyrgyzstan and said goodbye. Pottering through no-mans land I had no clue what to expect from Kygryzstan. I’d only heard the name for the first time three weeks ago when Iran’s refusal to give me a visa had me plotting

last thing she needed was more torturous terrain. But that’s exactly what she got. Granted, the mountains and hills of Kyrgyzstan aren’t as sharp and steep as that we’d just passed, but it was tough in it’s own unique way. The roads for a start were terrible. Just rock and dirt and steep and long. Then there’s the killer dogs. You’d see them at a distance lurking around the ‘yurts’ - huge sheepskin tents - where their masters lived.

had a relay of dangerous dogs chasing me all the way from the border to Bishkek, the capital 500 miles away. It was here I had to apply for Kazakhstan and Russian visas so I could progress to the next step. Sadly, it was also the place I had to get Dorothy repaired. For a while she’d been leaking oil and it was now doing it rather badly. I acquired about parts in the local shops and market halls, but it wasn’t any good. Kyrgyzstan is a country of cars - largely expensive ones - not motorbikes, so while I was waiting two weeks for the visas to come through I had a man in Australia send me the stuff I needed. While I waited I stayed in a little family run guesthouse behind a huge metal gate. It was cosy and the other guests were sweet, but the brother of the owner was a drunk and the baby one of them had had liked to drown cats. He was only two or something, but still, he was an absolute little bastard. In the end I didn’t get to see as much of Kyrgyzstan as I would have liked, but I would say this; if you’re looking for a place to walk, or climb, or relax way off the beaten track then I really would recommend it. The people are amazing, their culture awesome. I won’t say quite the same thing about Kazakhstan because there’s really not much there. Only me, sleeping in a hedge, waiting to cross the Russian border in the morning.

To make matters worse, Abdul was a real bungling half-wit, with a car that kept breaking down and an electric scooter which made him think he’d gone back to the future.
a new course through the ‘Stans’, for slang, or Central Asia for proper. The main man at the border gave me some clue as to what to expect. Bristled haired and fat, he had a full set of gold teeth and pretended to shoot with an imaginary machine gun as I approached. He was pleasant in a ’don’t fuck with me,’ kinda way, and after the thoroughness of the Chinese border procedure it was nice to enter a place where things were a little more sloppy. No one inspected my bike, no one cared if I carried porn or not. It was my kinda country. Sadly it wasn’t Dot’s. It’s fair to say the old girl never was built for this type of treatment, and having barely survived her flogging over the Himalayas, the Then they’d see you. I’ve never thought what it would feel like to be a rabbit chased by a hare, but I guess this must be it. The dog barks, then it trots, then it gallops at a pace to match to Dot’s as it snarls and farts and gives every hint it’s about to eat you. So full throttle I give her, throttle to the stop at 40mph along the terrible terrain as the bitch bounds on to the road right beside us, snapping at our heels for more than a mile until it runs out of puff while in my pants I’ve just done another poo. People say to stop and hit aggressive dogs with a stick. But you’d have to have balls as big as bricks to even consider that. And God knows what they put in the local Pedigree Chum as I


The National Student, November 2009


Ainslie dreaming of fourth gold on British waters
nife-edge decisions, adrenaline rushes, extreme weather, bitter rivalries, heartstopping races. These things are all in a day’s work for Ben Ainslie. The British sailor has won four Olympic medals including successive gold’s in the last three Olympic Games, making him not only a British hero, but quite simply our greatest Olympic sailor ever. In addition to his three Olympic gold’s and one silver, Ben has won eight World and European Championships during his illustrious career to date, been crowned ISAF World Sailor of the Year twice, and won British Yachtsman of the Year four times. In an exclusive interview for The National Student, Ben reveals the truth behind his remarkable achievements and his plans to bid for a fourth gold, on home waters, at the London Olympics in 2012. Ainslie, now a CBE, revealed he came to love sailing at an early age, “I was about eight when my family moved to Cornwall. It’s a great place for a kid to grow up, especially if you love the water because you’re by the sea. I was lucky, because we lived on the edge of a creek, off an estuary, so it was very easy to get down to the water and go out sailing whenever I wanted to.” What started as a hobby, quickly turned into a way of life, and by the age of 16 he was already Laser Radial World Champion. At 19-years-old Ainslie, an ambitious and ferocious competitor, won his first Olympic medal, a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Games. Looking rather relaxed, the Olympic legend revealed, “I think in many ways winning a silver medal was very good for me because it gave me the determination to go out four years later and work that much harder to go one step better- so it wasn’t all bad, although it was pretty frustrating at the time.” Four years later, he achieved every athlete’s dream, winning an Olympic gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Ben reveals just how ruthless he is on it, admitting to fierce rivalries, above all with the Brazilian, Robert Scheidt, the man who robbed him of gold in his first Olympics in Atlanta. With a broad smile emblazoned across his face, Ben remarked, “It was one of those classic rivalries that had gone from ’96. In the four years leading up to Sydney, we were competing against each other in various events which either he or I would win. It came down to the final race in Sydney and I basically had to take him out, so it was some pretty aggressive tactics.” What Ben did, to beat the Brazilian in Sydney, has been questioned in some quarters and regarded as unsporting by certain critics. Looking a little bemused, Ben explained, “It was a little bit frustrating at the time. There were a few sporting commentators who didn’t know anything about sailing who were questioning the fairness of it, but actually within the history of sailing it wasn’t that new and certainly I didn’t break any rules. It was just very aggressive sailing. But sometimes in any sport, that’s what you need to win.” Asked where this ruthless streak comes from Ben was unable to explain, “I don’t know. Like in all sports you have to be ruthless at certain points to get a result and to win.” After the Sydney Olympics, Ainslie, who is an Honorary Doctor of Sport, at Southampton University, changed focus and spent fourteen months with the One World Challenge America’s Cup campaign. In 2004, he competed in the Athens Olympics and again won gold in the larger Finn class, only to return to the Cup, competing with the Emirates Team New Zealand as an after guard member and ‘B-boat’ helmsman. His most recent win was gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He commented, ‘The gold in Beijing was very special because it was my third consecutive gold which meant a lot.’ So has Ainslie dared to imagine what it would be like to be coming home for the gold medal, on home water, in Weymouth with the union flags flying? After a brief laugh, Ben said, “It’s a scary thought. Winning a gold medal on home waters, where I
Christophe Launay

James Davies talks to the greatest British Olympic sailor, Ben Ainslie

grew up, learned to sail and trained, would be a pretty surreal feeling and something very special.’ It’s no secret that the British Olympic Association are targeting a number of key sports for medals with rowing, cycling and sailing top of the list. It has been argued that these are all fairly exclusive sports, as you have to have a certain amount of backing behind you in order to compete. This argument however doesn’t stand up with the Olympian, “I think there’s always a bit of a misconception. All Olympic sports at the top level are elite, but if you go down to the grass roots in sailing, I think it’s one of the highest participation sports in the UK. The big thing is to encourage the youngsters

to get involved and make them realise it’s not that hard at the grass roots to get into a sport. It’s then up to you to take it as far as you want.’ and Ainslie admits he is fortunate to have such a strong team to support him, ‘My success has been a result of a number of different things. Obviously a huge amount of hard work, which you need in any sport, but I’m also really fortunate to be supported by great people such as coaches and sponsors. It’s amazing, with individual sports you only see one person out there competing, but the team normally behind these people is huge so I’m very fortunate with the support I get.” Having expressed his desire to race at the next Games in London, what

advice would the triple gold medallist give to those who wish to follow in his footsteps and, if possible, emulate all he has achieved? “The key is to enjoy it and to get involved. Sailing I think has come a long way in the last ten years. The likes of Ellen MacCarthur have really brought sailing into the living room and she’s really helped promote the sport, but it’s still got a long way to go.” Another gold in three years time would certainly helped promote sailing even further and judging by his track record you wouldn’t bet against Ainslie making it four golds from four games. Close to the Wind, Published by Yellow Jersey, priced £18.99

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The National Student, November 2009



British duo seal success with fourth place finish

the eNGLiSh Masters Beach Volleyball competition was held in Blackpool in mid September and the event proved to be very successful for Great Britain’s number one pairing, Lucy Boulton

and Denise Johns. The duo, who had seized the National Championships the previous weekend, made it to the semi-finals of the Masters. Unfortunately Boulton and Johns could not make the final, losing out in

their semi to Czech duo Lenka hajeckova and Sona Novakova. the British pair then missed out on a Bronze medal, being defeated by Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria, but their fourth place finish was

still the best result for a British pairing in the history of the Beach Volleyball european Championships. Johns attributed some of their success to the venue of the Masters, “the english Masters is a great event

where all the participants feel comfortable. especially us, because we are being supported by our fans so well, that gives us an extra boost.” this fourth place result shows the progression of British Volleyball in

the lead up to the 2012 Olympics and Boulton and Johns, and all the other members of the British volleyball team, will be looking to continue this improvement when the english Masters returns to Blackpool in 2010.

Loughborough and Hartpury get perfect preparation for BUCS Championships
With the regional heats of the BUCS Futsal Championships beginning this month, Loughborough and hartpury have already showed their ability after respectable performances at the FA National Futsal Grand Finals in Swindon on the weekend of October 24. Both teams had qualified for the National Finals by finishing runners up in their respective National Leagues, sealing their place in the top six teams in the country. the two sides were drawn in the same group as each other, along with tournament favourites helvecia, current national champions and FA Futsal Cup winners. Only the group winners qualified for the final meaning that both university teams had a tough task ahead of them if they wanted a chance of being be crowned national champions. the group started with Loughborough taking on helvecia, a repeat of the FA Futsal Cup final in July. Loughborough put in an impressive performance and were unlucky to be defeated 7-5, but were left to rue the numerous missed chances which had fallen their way. Loughborough had a chance to put things right when they faced their student counterparts from hartpury. With a rivalry going back to the 2008 university Futsal championship final the sides were keen to defeat each other to retain their title hopes and in the end Loughborough managed to maintain the good form they had shown against helvecia to edge a close encounter 5-4. A depleted hartpury side then lost 8-4 to helvecia, whose experience saw them advance to the final ahead of the two university sides. the reigning national champions sealed their second hartpury and Loughborough indicate the potential for university futsal clubs to succeed at national level.” “For both teams to be competitive against the national champions highlights that university Futsal is going from strength to strength. the increase in team entries for the BUCS Futsal Championships further symbolises the growing popularity of Futsal in the higher education sector.” After these performances it will be interesting to see whether the football powerhouses of Loughborough and hartpury will reign supreme in the BUCS competition or if new futsal champions will be found. Be sure to check out The National Student in the coming months for all the latest on the Championships.

consecutive title, defeating tranmere Victoria 7-2. Loughborough coach tom Curtis was pleased with his side’s performances and recognised the difficulty of the task they had faced, ‘the lads put in an outstanding performance against favourites helvecia and came so close to beating them. We

were unlucky to be drawn in the same group as them but the performances over the weekend have given the team confidence which they will carry over to next season.’ the performance of both sides on the national stage indicates a bright future for university Futsal. 57 men’s teams and 28 women’s teams

have entered the BUCS Futsal Championships and with only 16 men’s and 8 women’s teams qualifying for the National Finals the competition will be tougher than ever before. George Carney, BUCS Football Development manager commented, “the recent achievements of


The National Student, November 2009


Swansea set the standard at Surfing Championships
On the weekend of the October 16-18, Fistral beach in Cornwall played host to the BUCS Surfing Championships. The competition, held in association with ticket to Ride Worldwide Surfing Adventures, saw an impressive 340 surfers compete for honours over Friday and Saturday. The strong turnout means that the Championships are now the second largest surf competition in the world, beaten only by the USA National Championships in terms of competitor numbers. The Championships gave students from across the country the opportunity to show of their skills and ability on the waves of the south west coast. There were both men’s and women’s individual and team competitions present competing for a total of four honours. In a tightly fought contest, Gordan Fontaine from Bournemouth University claimed top spot in the men’s individual competition and in the women’s field Beth Mason fromSwanseaUniversitysealed gold. Mason gained another top spot as part Swansea team who retained the women’s overall competition whilst the University of Plymouth were the victors in the men’s team competition. Mark Brian, Head of Sports Programmes at BUCS was obviously delighted with the success of the championships, ‘The BUCS Surfing Championships kicked off the sporting season for BUCS and this year’s event exceeded all our expectations.” “We had a record number of entries for the event and thanks to smooth organisation from the British Surfing Association we were able to get 340 surfers in the water over the three days.’ Brian recognised the good fortune the event had with regards to the weather, “Conditions were perfect with great waves and weather which really enhanced the surf festival atmosphere for the 750 spectators who came out to watch our best student surfers in Cornwall this year.” Will hayler, Co-founder of Ticket To Ride summed up the success of the championships, “All the elements came together for us this weekend. The sun shone, the waves were classic and the standard of surfing was at its highest. The whole weekend had a festival feel to it and we felt privileged to be a part of it.”

Durham dominate on the water to leave competitors adrift
LATe OCTOBeR saw some of the best University rowers in the country competing at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Rowing Small Boats Head, run in conjunction with the 1st GB Rowing Team Assessment in Boston. The event which attracted record entries saw rowers from 27 universities compete on the 5km course on the river Witham. The first two divisions were a combination of BUCS entries and GB Rowing Team trialists who competed in single sculls. For the third division, which was solely BUCS athletes, the course had to be slightly shortened taking into account the weekends weather conditions. The outstanding performers of the weekend were undoubtedly Durham University, who, once again, dominated the event taking away 10 medals including three gold, two silver and one bronze. Of the many star performances, emily Taylor shone taking gold in the Women’s Championship sculls event and also impressing in the GB Rowing Team trials. Taylor finished only a few seconds behind Debbie Flood who was returning to action following a year out after winning a silver medal at the previous two Olympics thus showing the strength and talent within the university rowing circuit. For the 2nd division, Taylor joined her partner Jessica Budgett in the Championship double sculls, where they took a bronze medal. Durham also sealed gold medal success in the lightweight men’s pairs by Alex Gillies and Ole Tietz and also in the Women’s Championship Double Sculls by erica Thompson and Mathilde Pauls. Other notable performers of the event were Imperial College who secured two golds, three silvers and a bronze. Fiona Rennie, Chair of the BUCS Rowing Sport Management Group said, “We would like to acknowledge the enthusiasm and support from the GB Rowing team staff and coaches in planning and running the event. There were a lot of smiling faces at the end of the day and we hope to see many of those faces again at the Championship and Beginner Head in February.” Many of these happy faces undoubtedly belonged to Durham and their rowers will be hoping to shine once again in next year’s event.

Beth Mason

Women’s Individual: 1st - Beth Mason Swansea University 2nd - Jaydene Kerton – Bournemouth University 3rd - Clair Smail - Swansea Metropolitan 4th - Hannah Dixon - Swansea University Men’s Individual: 1st – Gordon Fontaine – Bournemouth University

2nd – Andrew Griffin – University of Plymouth 3rd – Billy Norways – University College Falmouth 4th - Nick Reid – Bristol University Women’s team: 1st – Swansea University 2nd – University of Plymouth 3rd – Swansea Metropolitan Men’s team: 1st – University of Plymouth 2nd – University College Falmouth 3rd – Bournemouth University