FREE September 2008
“Don’t doubt that you could fall in love with a metallic slinky”
The Aluminum Show reviewed
“If I don’t run down the stairs with the theme tune to Pirates of the Caribbean playing, then something has gone wrong.” Piracy and Politics
Nudity, razor blades, foresight, swearing, possession, chavs, postage, the IRA and a dancing peanut...
...another FringeBinge for The National Student
Officers accused Of racism at Official uniOn event
The NUS is starting the new academic year clouded by allegations of racism within the union. Black students have hit out at a series of alleged racist incidents that occurred at union events over the summer. Bellavia Ribeirio-Addy, NUS Black Students’ Officer contacted the Guardian claiming these incidents were not dealt with in an acceptable way. Black students claim that the latest incident took place at an NUS training event at the University of York in August involving Kings College London Students’ Union President Chris Mullan and Nottingham education officer Craig Cox. Cox allegedly held up a poster saying “Bring Back Slavery” to ‘wind-up’ participants. It is also alleged that Mullan used racist stereotypes in a role play exercise at the same meeting. Mullan is said to have questioned whether recruiting black students from deprived neighbourhoods was a good idea, given that problems with knife and gun crime might attract ‘undesirables’. Speaking to the Guardian, Ribeirio-Addy said, “It is unacceptable that black students should have to put up with blatant racist stereotypes at NUS events. It is unacceptable that slavery can be treated as a joke,” she said. “It is unacceptable that nothing was done about this by the senior NUS NeC members present, and it was only when [I] was involved that action was taken. This only happened because a distressed black student who felt it hadn’t
BRING BACK SLAVER Y
been dealt with immediately contacted me.” “This whole process took nearly three hours, and included me having to contact the NUS president. Incidents of racism should be dealt with immediately,” she added.
by Mary Stott
important in both instances that we do not tolerate racism or a failure to deal with it; it is however also important that we do not pre-judge the outcome of any investigation.” “When these processes are complete I fully intend that the NeC be given an opportunity to discuss our processes and safeguards in relation to these issues in full.” NUS are investigating the incident alongside North Yorkshire Police who confirmed that two students were being questioned over allegations of racism at the training event. Ribeirio-Addy added that it is not the first time that “the needs and concerns of black students” had been ignored. A few months ago Vice President (Welfare) Ama Uzowuru was allegedly told by NUS Treasurer Dave Lewis that her name was not ‘mainstream’ enough to appear on NUS Extra publicity. On her NUS blog, Uzowuru also accused other NUS officers of racism for not challenging the statement as they were present at the time. It was later resolved following an apology and blog post by Dave Lewis. It is alleged that Uzowuru also came under fire for complaining via her blog, rather than using internal disciplinary processes. There have also been allegations that at an event earlier in the summer, Muslim students had to eat their dinner behind a screen, separated from other delegates, as a nonalcoholic venue had not been provided. Continued on page 2
Accused: Chris Mullan
In a statement NUS President, Wes Streeting, said, “It goes without saying that NUS takes the issues of equal opportunities and safe space very seriously and I am thus determined that the allegations are handled properly.” “A process has been underway since last week (August 20 2008) to fully investigate formal complaints received that follows our established procedures and for obvious reasons I am unwilling to make a comment about the specifics of the complaints whilst that process properly completes. Any speculation or surrounding commentary at this time is, I believe, inappropriate and counter-productive.” Streeting added, “It is
Bloc Party - Leeds Festival - Sunday August 24
One of the summer’s many music festival highlights in this months’ magazine
Let’s get it on - Features
Vote for the year’s hottest games at: thenationalstudent.co.uk/goldenjoystick for a chance to win a mouth-watering new Nokia N96 smart phone
The National Student, September 2008
The National Student welcomes all 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 58 High Street Lincoln LN5 8AH or email email@example.com or phone 0845 46 300 46 The National Student is the independent, monthy newspaper for higher education students in the UK. Published by Defender Newspapers, 58 High Street Lincoln LN5 8AH. © 2008 All content is the copyright of Defender Newspapers unless otherwise stated thenationalstudent.co.uk
Hope used in internet scam Cambridge lecturer sentenced for child porn
LiverpooL Hope University has been used as part of an internet scam targeting students in Nigeria. An estimated 15 students were sent fraudulent degree offer letters purporting to be from the institution. Applicants were then asked to pay a non-refundable acceptance fee to bogus education and scholarship agencies. Liverpool Hope was made aware of the scam when several students who had paid fees but heard nothing about their course got in touch. A spokesperson for the university warned applicants to use only officially appointed university agents. The university reminded prospective students that applications for university programmes are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), or through official university application forms, either online or paper. The fraudsters created an air of authenticity by printing the letters on paper that appeared to have the university’s official letterhead. They also appear to have been signed by actual members of university staff. on closer inspection the email address provided on the letters is wrong, and the english used is very poor. Nancy Cooke, international recruitment manager at Liverpool Hope, told the BBC: “A number of students contacted us at the office by telephone and email asking us about their admissions.” “We were trying to find them on the system, trying to help them with their inquiry, but the numbers didn’t match up, the names didn’t match up, the dates of birth didn’t match and some of the courses weren’t true either.” “Then we tried to get more information from them. A number of students sent the letter to us and we could see that it was fraudulent.” “They had paid money for the letter to someone in Nigeria.” She added, “i strongly urge applicants to select their educational consultant or agent very carefully and, if possible, contact the university directly to find out who the officially appointed agents are.” “in Nigeria we work with Global education Study Centres and infozee.” Bassey i ekanem, a student from Nigeria who applied legitimately through the university website, said, “it’s a dream come true for students to come here to the UK to study.” “Most of the scammers take advantage of this dream. They take advantage of the fact that they are desperate and really want to make their dreams come true.” The students affected are now being helped to re-apply through the correct channels. A CAMBridGe University lecturer has been given a 12-month suspended prison sentence after police found over 1,000 indecent images of children on his computers. Nicholas Hammond, 45, a specialist in modern French theatre at Gonville and Caius College, admitted making, possessing and distributing pornographic images of children during the hearing at Cambridge Crown Court. His jail term was suspended for two years by Judge Gareth Hawkesworth. Hammond now has to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and complete an internet sex offenders treatment course. He is also banned from working with children under the age of 16 and has to pay £1,000 court costs. it is unclear if Hammond was sacked by Cambridge University following his sentencing. The university issued a statement saying that Hammond was “currently discharged from his duties” and that “the position” was being reviewed.
Continued from front page Following the complaints over the discount card, the NUS agreed that all the union’s NeC members should receive compulsory equality training. ribeirio-Addy has now called for NUS events to have a clear statement against racism, and for support for black students who speak out against NUS officers who make racist comments. She is also calling for no event to be organised to the exclusion of Muslim students.
The National Student, September 2008
Debt to cancel out graduate salary gains an nUS report claims that the higher salaries earned by some graduates because they have a degree will be cancelled out by the debts they rack up at university. The £3,000 annual cap on tuition fees is expected to be lifted after a review next year. The report estimates that the average graduate is likely to end up owing more than £25,000 in tuition and maintenance fees. The debt could be £37,000 for those attending a leading university in an expensive city. “Killing in name of religion is justified” a COnTROVERSIaL report has found that almost a third of British Muslim students think killing in the name of religion is justifiable. a YouGov survey carried out for the Centre for Social Cohesion found that almost a quarter of Muslim students in the UK did not believe men and women were equal in the eyes of allah, and 25% said they had little or no respect for homosexuals. nUS has branded the report ‘disgusting’, and said it is ‘a reflection of the biases and prejudices of a right wing think tank – not the views of students across Britain’. Kingston banned from satisfaction tables THE pSYCHOLOGY department at Kingston University has been banned from the university satisfaction league tables, after their cheating was exposed by the media. The Higher Education Funding Council for England removed the department after a recording of them coercing their students to lie came to light. On the recording, Fiona Barlow-Brown, psychology director of Study, could be heard encouraging students to give higher rankings when filling in the finalyear national Student Survey in an effort to boost the university’s position. Otherwise, she said, employers would think their degree was ‘shit’. Following their reporting of the incident the BBC were inundated with emails from students at other universities who highlighted similar coercion where they are studying. next issue, The National Student will look at this and other issues with the current state of higher education. Contribute by emailing:
News in brief
York president to save pirate-persona for ‘ceremonial occasions’
Mad Cap’n Tom Scott who won the presidency at York University Students’ Union in a landslide victory has admitted it is inappropriate to remain in pirate character at all times during his time in office. Speaking to The National Student the Cap’n said, “I haven’t abandoned the pirate persona entirely - it’s being saved for ‘ceremonial occasions’. When you start running for elections, you sign a piece of paper that says that if elected, you become a trustee of the Students’ Union. One of the side effects is that I am required, legally, to act in the best interests of the Students’ Union at all times. and sadly, that doesn’t include wearing a pirate outfit when I talk to our Vice Chancellor.” Having captured campus
NUS slam fees system
nUS HaVE attacked the university funding system as unfair and unsustainable, with them warning that either raising or lifting the cap on tuition fees would make it worse. The union’s new report ‘Broke and Broken’ states that that a narrow focus on the cap during next year’s planned government review of tuition fees will not address the current failures in the system. The report states that the entire system is faulty and has many unintended negative consequences. The financial support on offer is too confusing and the system means that poorer students are exposed to greater risks when attending university. The system ensures that the richest institutions benefit most in financial terms from failing to widen participation, while those that take on more students from poor backgrounds lose out. It fails to ensure that those who enjoy the greatest financial benefit from higher education contribute more to its costs. The credit crunch’s effect on the price of food and fuel means that these rising costs could make much of the help on offer inadequate, the report warns. nUS president Wes Streeting, told the Guardian: “Market forces have already crept into our higher education system.” “More prestigious universities in the Russell Group are able to offer poorer students an average annual bursary of £1,791, but less prestigious universities in the Million+ group are only able to offer £680.” “There is clearly a market of prestige at work, with financial support being based not on how much you need it, but on where you study.” He added the situation would worsen if tuition fees were raised to £7,000, leaving students owing £40,000 on graduation. “This is a staggering amount, which in some cases will actually exceed the amount of money they can expect to gain from their degree over the course of their entire working life.” “political parties need to stop burying their heads in the sand over the issue of higher education funding. We need to have a proper debate about a viable alternative to the current system, which is creaking under the pressure of market forces. We need to alleviate that pressure, not exacerbate it by contemplating raising the fees cap.” The higher education minister, Bill Rammell, said: “The new system is working, as is demonstrated by record levels of applications and acceptances, up by 6% this
interest by dressing and talking like a pirate Scott was elected after the highest turnout in the country for a student union election. But his winning the post caused an immediate and aggressive back-lash from those felt students had not taken the vote seriously. during his campaign, Scott had stated that he felt student politics was unimportant. after the result, speaking to student newspaper Nouse then Environment and Ethics Officer Tom Langley labeled the electorate “shallow, ignorant selfish and short sighted,” and said: “I don’t think I have ever been so ashamed to be a student as I am at this time.” nadeem Kunwar, who lost the election to Scott, told Nouse: “I think it’s good
that he has realised the pirate thing won’t reflect well on the union. I’m glad that he has realised the University shouldn’t be made a laughing stock.” “He ran on a gimmick, he won. I think most people will be happy that he has dropped the act,” Kunwar added. bothered at all!” He has now changed his opinion on the importance of student politics. Talking to Nouse he said, “It’s easy to get disillusioned by student politics, because a lot of the things that go on seem so small and petty. But once you get in there and
“It’s amazing how well a pirate hat goes with a suit.”
Speaking of how people will respond to his change of pirate-stance Scott said, “Some people are going to be relieved by it, some are going to be annoyed - but I suspect most aren’t really realise that there are all these people and all these committees involved, it is a massive undertaking to run all this.” “The squabbling about who gets in power and who
has this little bit over here or that little bit over there, I’m still disillusioned with. I think everyone is. But the process itself needs to happen, there needs to be people to do it,” Scott added. despite him taking his role more seriously, Scott said the piracy will still form part of his presidency, “It’s going to be some kind of sliding scale. For the Freshers’ talk, certainly, I am going to be in full pirate mode, at least at the start. If I don’t run down the stairs of Central Hall with the theme tune to Pirates of the Caribbean playing, then something has gone wrong.” and for office work he says the pirate will still be present, “It’s amazing how well a pirate hat goes with a suit. I suspect I will be somewhere in between.”
A fees protest march in Westminster - 2003
year.” “Record numbers of students from all social classes are choosing to go into higher education and reap the benefits this brings. This is at a time when the government has abolished up-front fees, and this year two-thirds of students will benefit from a full or partial grant of up to £2,835.” “We have always stated that we will meet our commitment to have an independent review of the first three years of variable fees. I would not like to preempt the findings of this review - as this report has done.”
The National Student, September 2008
STUDENTS PLAN GREAT ESCAPES
DoDgy Dates, relatives from hell and that nightmare essay – sometimes we all need an exit strategy! that’s why the Fire Kills campaign is helping you to plan the greatest escape of all as students in england start to move back into rented digs. to mark the beginning of the academic year, the Fire Kills campaign has recruited twenty-four student Brand ambassadors (sBa) to get fellow students thinking seriously about fire safety. the theme this year is great escapes with the focus on how to prevent the trauma of losing your stuff or even your life in a fire. young people living in privately rented accommodation are at high risk of fire as many don’t have a working smoke alarm. Research shows if you don’t have a smoke alarm you are more than twice as likely to die in a fire (Fire stats 2006 ref), so it’s crucial to have one on each level of your home and test them weekly. a landlord may provide smoke alarms but it is down to you to check the batteries. smoking, drinking and late night cooking, all increase your fire risk. Did you know that cigarettes are the most frequent cause of deaths in accidental house fires and many fires start in the kitchen when electrical appliances aren’t used properly. to help more students get clued up about fire safety, the Fire Kills SBAs at 24 universities across england will be raising awareness of fire safety on campus by placing articles in student magazines and websites, as well as distributing leaflets and posters. the sBas will also be working closely with their local fire and rescue service to organise on campus events to highlight fire dangers. ama Uzowuru, the National Union for students’ (NUs) National Vice President elect for welfare, commented on her support of the campaign: “NUs is supporting the Fire Kills ‘great escape’ student brand ambassador scheme for the third year running. the campaign is a great means to drive home fire safety messages to our members, it really engages students and gets them thinking seriously about fire dangers in the home. “at this time of the year, we would remind all students that fire safety in their Uni accommodation should be a priority and if accommodation is not up to adequate safety standards, it is vital students address this by complaining to their landlord.”
If you are living in privately rented accommodation this year, follow these simple tips and stay safe from fire:
• Fit smoke alarms on each level of the home and test them weekly • Never leave cooking unattended • Take extra care with cigarettes and smoking materials and never smoke in bed – when a cigarette is finished, put it out, right out! • Never leave candles or tea lights unattended and ensure that they are put in safe holders • Switch off electrical appliances when not in use, unless they’re designed to stay on – like a freezer • Check furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label • Plan and practice an escape route with your housemates/ family • If a fire starts get out, stay out and call 999
For more info visit direct.gov.uk/firekills and download a copy of the ‘Protect yourself leaflet’’
Fire and Rescue Services across England offer free Home Fire Risk Checks to students. They will visit your home and advise on the best escape route to take, check your home for fire hazards and may also install a working smoke alarm free of charge. For more information on how to protect yourself and your mates from fire visit direct.gov.uk/firekills
The National Student, September 2008
A Red Bull a day can damage health
EnErgy drinks are a popular way to keep us going through our hectic schedules, but regular consumption could damage your health. researchers have warned that drinking a can of red Bull a day can increase young people’s risk of heart attack. A group of university students were monitored drinking one can of sugarfree red Bull a day, and researchers found the drink increased the ‘stickiness’ of the blood and raised the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. scott Willoughby, lead researcher from the Cardiovascular research Centre at the royal Adelaide Hospital, explained: “One hour after they drank red Bull, (their blood systems) were no longer normal. They were abnormal like we would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease.” red Bull is banned in norway, Uruguay and denmark as a result of its health risks. F o l l o w i n g the results a spokeswoman for red Bull Australia Linda rychter said: “The study does not show effects which would go beyond drinking a normal cup of coffee.” But dr Willougby warned that it could be extremely dangerous if drank by people suffering from stress or high blood pressure. “if you have any predisposition to cardiovascular disease, i’d think twice about drinking it,” he said.
Innovative campaign targets fire safety
As THOUsAnds of students prepare to live away from home for the first time, Cheshire Fire and rescue service has launched an innovative campaign to inform students of the dangers of too much alcohol and fire. The service is working closely with local universities and colleges to promote the message ‘Before you Pull Tonight Make sure you Have Protection’. The campaign includes a specially commissioned online ‘viral marketing’ presentation which will be promoted both here and in the United States through fire officials and academic staff who already have strong links with colleagues in Cheshire. Fire crews will be using the month-long campaign to promote the protection which their free smoke alarms can provide, while education officials will be using the message to highlight the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (sTis) from having unprotected sex. The campaign was launched by University of Chester students on september 9 under the Eastgate Clock in Chester city centre [pictured above] highlighting the ‘999’ emergency number. The service’s link-up with colleagues in America was highlighted by the launch of the national Campus Fire safety Month, on Capitol Hill, Washington, on the same day. The Us launch was attended by friends and relatives of some of the 18 American students killed in fires during the 2007/8 academic year. in the Uk, smoking materials and candles have been the cause of 1,900 student injuries over the past five years, while research also shows that students put themselves at risk when they come home from a night out after drinking and prepare a midnight feast. Steve McGuirk, Chief Fire Officer at Cheshire Fire & rescue service said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues from America to highlight that while student life offers some great opportunities, young people need to be aware of obvious risks so they can stay safe.” James kirkby, Chester students’ Union President, added, “These sophisticated, yet simple messages have a cheeky edge, which should appeal to students and perfectly reinforce our own priorities for safeguarding students’ health and welfare.” students can register online for a free home safety assessment which includes the fitting of free smoke alarms if needed at cheshirefire.gov.uk or by calling 0800 389 0053.
‘WEAr A COndOM’ is the number one tip current students would pass on to this year’s freshers, a new survey has shown. More than four fifths of students polled by justeat.co.uk said if they could give one piece of advice to those starting university, it would be to practice safe sex. Matthew drury, starting his third year at Loughborough University, said, “in your freshers year, the change in lifestyle from school life can be quite dramatic, and adapting is a fun part of the uni experience. Finding yourself without responsibility can
Sensible safe sex advice... Shared
be exciting, but i’d always recommend wearing a condom, as the last thing you want when supposed to be enjoying yourself is a trip to the sTi clinic!” The second most important tip, according to students, is to pick
your lesson options carefully, chosen by 75% of respondents. The safetyconscious undergraduates also advised freshers to stay in groups or pairs while on a night out, and to find a reputable taxi company. Over six in ten students also recommended joining as many societies as you can fit in, and 60% advocated having as much fun as possible in the first year of university, and knuckling down in the last. ‘Let’s talk about sex’ - safe sex feature - page 10
Helicopter parents dive on admissions process
THE risE of the helicopter parent seems to be continuing unabated. More and more parents are continuing to hover over their student children remaining in control of every aspect of their lives. This trend has now even extended to the university application process. Those students starting university this year were the first to be allowed to use their parents to handle their admissions decisions and negotiations. in the past the admissions service had to deal directly with the student applicant. Professor Frank Furedi, social commentator and professor of sociology at the University of kent, said that parents were also now expecting to sit in on their child’s university interviews. Following pressure from pushy parents UCAs, the university admissions service, has decided to let them act as representatives for their child’s HE applications. A spokesperson for UCAs said, “This is usually because the parent feels they haven’t got all the information they need from their son or daughter and so phone back to double check and clarify points,” About one in 10 students this year are estimated to have used this option of nominating their parents to make calls on their behalf. Professor Furedi has now accused this phenomenon of “destroying the distinction between school and higher education”. “All universities now have to take the parent factor into account. On university open days you can see more parents attending than children,” he said. He added that he tells parents that they have to leave, but there are other academics who “accept that this will be a family discussion”. “There is a powerful sense of infantilism, where parents can’t let go.” A constant overinvolvement during termtime is seeing academics fielding a growing number of complaints from parents over grades awarded to students. “We have to remind parents that there is a professional relationship between academics and students,” added Professor Furedi. He is worried that should this trend continue it will turn universities into “schools for biologically mature children.” The Uk seems to be following the trend of the United states where university marketing is pitched at parents rather than students. Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Lancaster University Management school says that the high-pressure parent is a reflection of consumerist values hitting higher education. These parents are paying more, so they think they can demand more,” says Professor Cooper. Parents want to retain control of their “psychological and financial investment in their children”.
The National Student, September 2008
Student Comedy Award 2008
Jack Heal has been crowned Britain’s funniest student of 2008. The 21-year-old, who has just completed a three-year maths degree at Warwick University, took the chortle Student comedy award at the edinburgh Fringe. Heal impressed the panel of comedy industry judges with his clever monologue about a short romance, filled with wordplay and dry one-liners. Twelve students competed in the final having progressed from heats held earlier in the year in 10 British cities. The comedy newcomers performed before a packed house in the University of edinburgh’s Potterow lounge (known during the Fringe as the Pleasance ace Dome) on august 12. Supporters, Fringe goers, students and established comedians were gathered to see the pick of this year’s student comedy talent compete for the cash prize and an instant leap from relative obscurity to the status of hot new act. Winner, Heal, takes the £1,000 first prize home to Pawlett in Somerset. Simon Bird, who has already starred in the e4 comedy The Inbetweeners, came a close second, after humorously trying to emotionally blackmail the judges. Previous winners include lloyd langford and Tom Deacon who were both performing professionally at the edinburgh Fringe this year; Deacon headlining avalon’s ‘comedy Zone’ and langford with his debut solo show ‘Not a lover, Not a Fighter’ at the Smirnoff Underbelly.
He’s officially Britain’s funniest student!
ompere for the evening, Stephen Grant, wasted little time before launching into the traditional lampooning of the academic choices of various members of the front row. With many acts to get through and the audience clearly chomping at the bit Grant moved the proceedings swiftly on and introduced the first of the night’s performers to face the audibly excited room. First up was Jez Sharf, a member of the Durham Revue who had progressed from the Newcastle heat. Sharf kicked things off with considerable confidence reading fictitious fan mail he’d received and a news report on his status as Student comedy award finalist from the kent Messenger. Danny McLoughlin followed, relatively subdued with some wonderfully bizarre material, discussing famine and inviting the audience to enjoy ‘Trifle Time’, shortly followed by ‘Bulemia Time’. Ian Smith was next to take the stage talking about child abuse, caring for the elderly, sex games, primary school discipline and stalking.
The shortest competitor was next, Gareth Morinan, who also boasted the evening’s longest hair. Morinan spoke about a car crash, Tesco, bee racism poetry and treated the crowd to a big drawing of a cow. Johnny Armstrong brought a series of one-liners in his set and seemed to take a certain pleasure in garnering occasional and widespread groans from the assembled hoard. Richard Stainbank was the penultimate act of the first half, dressed all in black, his routine covered dogging comedy, t-shirt slogans, child trafficking and bags for life. eventual winner Jack Heal led us into the interval with a meandering tale full misdirection and wordplay welcomed by the room with some great responses to his inventive twists and suprises. Following a short break Geordie Chris Ramsey launched the second half by talking about YouTube, paedophiles and spicy curries. Second time finalist (and fourth time entrant) Simon Bird caused quite a stir with his bold routine, throwing
out a cheeky and audacious challenge to the judges by promising to donate the prize money to domestic violence charity Refuge if he was crowned winner. Jon Brittan was the next up in this all-male final bringing material on catholicism and sex changes. He was followed by Joseph Wilson, who compares himself to art Garfunkel and Wolverine, speaking about toilets and sports commentary. Finally the people’s vote winner Paul Longley completed the line-up, humorously conceding that he got through to the final because he has the most internet friends, his set included material on his girlfriend, his tiny willy and phone sex. 2007 winner Tom Deacon proved why he’d taken last year’s title and kept the crowd amused while the judges deliberated. Video of all the finalists can be viewed on the Chortle site at: chortle.co.uk/student08 More Fringe coverage can be found in this month’s magazine section.
The National Student, September 2008
“The Handmaid’s Tale shows how patriarchy treats women as escape goats” “Control of infectious diseases is very important in case an academic breaks out” “The railways were invented to take the weight off the motorways” “The railways were invented to bring the Irish from Dublin to Liverpool where they were promptly arrested for being vagrants”
ANUK/Unipol launch new code of standards for accommodation
iN JULY The accreditation Network UK (aNUK) and Unipol student homes launched a new code of standards to ensure that student accommodation is managed to the highest possible standards. The new code, which has been created following a review and consultation process with representatives from across the education sector, aims to provide new and current students with a clear indication of the quality of student accommodation. The new code builds on an existing scheme operated by aNUK/ Unipol for the education accommodation sector and incorporates changes and improvements specifically designed to ensure that the code is relevant to universities and colleges. all universities and colleges are now able to sign up to the new code and can do so free of charge until January 2009. Further development of the new code is planned for later in 2008 which is intended to give institutions the opportunity to achieve a star rating for provision of a range of additional features of interest to both students and their parents, such as sustainability and security. ama Uzowuru, Vice President (Welfare) at NUs, said “The new code is an important step forward for students as it sets out, in one document, exactly what standards they should be expecting from their accommodation provider and tells them what action they can take if the standards are not being met.” The new code has been welcomed by the educational sector and the department for Communities and Local Government (dCLG) and it is anticipated that it will receive ‘approved’ status under the 2004 housing act by october 2008.
Student stupidity laid bare
iT is traditional that the brightest young minds make it to university, but a new list of exam blunders has shown that this is not always the case. a collection of shaming examples of academic ineptitude were entered in the ‘Truer than intended’ section of the Times Higher Education Supplement for their revived “exam howlers” competition. among the gems from this year’s undergraduate exams a literature student from Bath spa University wrote of Margaret atwood’s book: “The handmaid’s Tale shows how patriarchy treats women as escape goats.” an economics student at City University in London student who attributed Northern Rock’s downfall to the “laxative enforcement policies” and another undergraduate concerned about the spread of infectious diseases claimed, “Control of infectious diseases is very important in case an academic breaks out.” a University of
southampton student concerned by global warming wrote that: “Tackling climate change will require an unpresidented response.” a student at the University of the West of England in Bristol astonished his tutor by spelling the subject of one of his favourite topics wrong: “alchol” instead of “alcohol”. another wrote “whom” instead of “womb” in an anatomy paper, and one replaced the word “abdominal” with “abominous”. Phil Baty, deputy editor of the ThEs, said: “This is simply meant to be a fun snapshot of what students come out with when under pressure, although many of our readers would agree that academic standards of literacy have got a lot worse and there is research suggesting it as well.” other examples include a st helens College of art and design student’s interesting re-writing of transport history. asked to outline the importance of the railway in 19th-century Britain they wrote, “The railways were invented to bring the irish from dublin to Liverpool where they were promptly
arrested for being vagrants”. another answer in the same exam stated, “The railways were invented to take the weight off the motorways.” other answers from the same institution were not just wrong but down-right baffling. asked to “outline the importance of the four Noble Truths to the Buddhist faith” one student offered the mind-numbing response, “Nirvana cannot be described because there are no words in existence for doing so. Not non-existence either, it is beyond the very ideas of existing and not existing.” the video to offer this facility. Willhowlett says: “Thought i’d reupload this piece of propaganda on behalf of Jacqui smith but with the option to post comments and rate oN. You know, seeing as the video’s meant to be promoting discussion and everything.” in February The National Student reported on Government proposals to use students as guinea-pigs for the scheme and how it was their intention to effectively ‘blackmail’ students in to holding id cards. Leaked documents showed that from 2010 those applying for student loans would need a identity card to do so, and that cards will cost up to £100. The document said, “We should issue id cards to young people to assist them as they open their first bank account, take out a student loan, etc.” despite the overwhelming rejection of the scheme it is unclear if our comments will have any effect on the rolling-
Who said that young people were apathetic when it comes to politics? Given the opportunity by the Government to express our views on their controversial i.d. card proposals they felt the full force of youth opinion – the scheme was given a collective thumbs down. in a bid to get the UK’s 16-25 population on board, Labour
ID CarDS SLammED
launched a snazzy website, MyLifeMyid.org, to provide information and offer us the chance to air our opinions on their plans. it is unlikely they were prepared for the ensuing backlash. They try to engage with us only to be met with a mixture of angry, sarcastic and outright damning comments from those they are trying to convince. Browsing the comment boards of the site you’d be hard pushed to find a single positive comment with the i.d. card scheme being branded, amongst other things, ‘creepy’, ‘dirty’ and ‘illegal’. The website itself is slammed as nothing more than an “online propaganda machine”. one comment reads, “i think it’s pretty disingenuous of the government to come out and say ‘hey, yo, cool dudes! if you sign up for our hip hoppin’ id card scheme you’ll never have to carry a heavy shit passport to prove your age to some wack bartender again’ or however it is they think we talk.” it would appear that we are annoyed with the Labour government’s erosion of civil liberties. one scathing note states, “George orwell never intended 1984 to be a manual for society.”
a Youtube video featuring home secretary, Jacqui smith, was also launched to compliment the site. interestingly enough for a video aimed at causing debate on the issue the Youtube page states that “adding comments has been disabled for this video.” This was probably a wise move as comments on the video on the MyLifeMyid.org are none to complimentary. “Err.. this site is a really bad attempt to try and pass these cards thro. good luck jaqui although, i realise you dont need it, cause these cards will get pushed through anyway. Umm.. whats the next step jaqui, bribery?” reads one. another quips, “Fascism called, it wants its policies back.” despite the Youtube comment block it couldn’t keep our opinions down. one intrepid YouTuber has re-uploaded
out of the cards next year. speaking to the Times a Home Office’s spokesman was noticeably ambiguous on this question. “We want to know what people in this age group think of the National identity scheme, and their reactions to what services could be included with it,” he said. “The website will run for 12 weeks (until mid-october), and the feedback we get will be assessed, and the findings will help us shape how we rollout the voluntary enrolment system for id cards.” however, one of the site’s users already knows the score: “if they get a large negative reply [the Government will say that] ‘online figures do not necessarily represent the greater population’s opinion.’ if they get a large positive reply [the conclusion will be:] ‘We have received positive feedback from the population.’ Thats politics for ya!” he wrote. by ola ogogu
What do NUS do for us?
NUS President Wes Streeting answers the question constantly on our lips - what exactly is it our national union does for us?
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. Earlier this year, when Bill Rammell, the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, was asked his view on NUS he said: “What can I say…if NUS didn’t exist, the lives of politicians would be a 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. In just a few months, 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. Next year’s 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 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 student’s lives. We have fought hard over the past 18 months, successfully campaigning to maintain council tax exemption for students, double the disabled student’s allowance, and helped to rein in unscrupulous landlords by backing a new national tenancy deposit scheme. We’ve also run a successful campaign to convince HSBC to back down over their plans to end interest-free student overdrafts. This campaign alone saved students an estimated £22 million. 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 Student Loans Company, where we assiduously defend the rights of students. In the last few years we have fully supported the continuation of the National Student Survey (NSS), which now 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
The National Student, September 2008
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. One key value that is close to our heart and central to our work is equality. We believe there should be equality of opportunity for everyone to participate fully in a society that celebrates diversity. There is much more that we, and students’ unions, need to do to become more representative and relevant to more nontraditional students, such as part-time and mature students. However, we are 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 outlets, 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 two 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: nus.org.uk
The National Student, September 2008
Let’s talk about sex
than condoms) protect from STIs - they don’t! • One in ten believed condoms should be stored in a warm place (they may perish if you do this) • And seven respondents claimed they thought condoms could be washed and re-used! It sounds funny, but the risk of serious health complications is no laughing matter. Recent figures from the Health Protection Agency show that young people (aged 16 to 24 years), are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While just The good news is that there are steps you can take when it comes to your sex life so that you and your partner are as safe as possible - and that way you can concentrate on the pleasure. The easiest and most effective precaution to take against most STIs and HIV is to use a condom. Of all the ways you can lower the risks you take in your sex life using condoms is the most effective. Condoms have one of the highest success rates at stopping unwanted pregnancies and preventing many sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. No other type of contraception is as good at the pack. If they break or come off it’s usually because of a mistake made when they were used. If you follow the guidelines the chances of them failing are very low. Other forms of birth control offer little protection against sexually transmitted infections – but condoms do. Some people use condoms together with other birth control methods for added contraceptive protection and to protect against infections. Condoms sold in the UK should carry either the kite mark or the CE symbol one or both of these symbols means the condom is of a good enough quality to use. The wrapper carries a ‘best before’ date so a condom shouldn’t be used after this. As well as using condoms to ensure that the sex you have is fun as well as safe, it’s worth knowing that if you go to your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic you can get a free sexual health check up. You might be able get this service from your doctor (GP) but GUM clinics will protect your confidentiality (you can even remain anonymous, although if you do give your name this information won’t be passed onto anyone else). Having regular check ups means that you’ll have a clear picture of your sexual health. It’s also a good idea to get checked out if you notice anything unusual about your sexual health. STIs vary in their symptoms but a visit to your local GUM clinic might be something to consider if you experience any itching, swelling or redness around your vagina or penis, unusual discharge from your vagina or penis, or pains in your lower abdomen. Most STIs can be cured with no lasting effect to your health if they are dealt with early enough and if you follow the medication instructions. If you feel as if your symptoms seem trivial or embarrassing, then you could call a sexual health helpline like THT Direct, and get some initial advice over the phone. It’s free and completely confidential so no-one needs to know that you’ve called. If you are concerned about your sexual health then Terrence Higgins Trust is here to support you. The people at our helpline, THT Direct, can offer support and advice - and we’ll call you back if you need to call from your own mobile or a call box. Just dial 0845 1221 200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org THT Direct is open Monday - Friday from 10.00am – 10.00pm and Saturday - Sunday from 12.00 noon – 6.00pm Or visit tht.org.uk
any people think that students are clued up when it comes to safer sex. But the reality is that university students are no smarter than many other young people when it comes to sexual health. They are just as likely to believe myths about condoms and seem to have gotten more of their sex education in the playground than the classroom. Last year Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the National Union of Students (NUS) carried out a survey which seemed to confirm this. It showed that many students heading off to university are completely clueless about condoms. More than 2,200 university students answered twenty questions about condoms, from how to store them to how to put them on. Some worrying results included: • Over a third of students thought latex condoms had holes in them large enough to allow HIV to pass through • More than one in ten didn’t know how to put a condom on properly • 16% thought that using two condoms at once was safer than using just one – it’s not! • Almost a quarter of students believed that other forms of contraception (other
Confused about condoms!
• Over a third of students
thought latex condoms had holes in them large enough to allow HIV to pass through
• More than one in ten
didn’t know how to put a condom on properly
•16% thought that using
Recent figures from the Health Protection Agency show that young people (aged 16 to 24 years), are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted
two condoms at once was safer than using just one – it’s not! •Almost a quarter of students believed that other forms of contraception (other than condoms) protect from STIs - they don’t! •One in ten believed condoms should be stored in a warm place (they may perish if you do this)
one in eight of the population are aged 16 to 24 years old, this age group accounts for around half of all newly diagnosed STIs in the UK - 65% of all chlamydia diagnoses, 55% of all genital warts and 50% of gonorrhoea infections diagnosed in GUM clinics last year.
both of these things. Condoms have no serious side effects, don’t need medical staff to administer and are relatively cheap and easy to get hold of. Condoms are made to strict standards, with a very low failure rate when used correctly. Instructions on how to use them come inside
• And seven respondents
claimed they thought condoms could be washed and re-used!
oing to college or university is about having your world opened up to a range of new experiences. For some of you, drugs may be among those new experiences, others won’t want anything to do with them. But for those who do, it’s important to be sure about what you’re doing. The four most commonly used drugs in the UK are alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. This article provides some information on each of these drugs and their effects. If you want to know about any other drug, you will find further information on the DrugScope website (www. drugscope.org.uk). Alcohol Drinking and having fun at university may seem at times one and the same thing. This may be the first time you’ve got drunk so badly, so often, and so readily. Alcohol depresses your nervous system within 5 to 10 minutes, making you feel relaxed and less inhibited. Larger doses get you drunk, causing disorientation, slurred speech, exaggerated moods and nausea. Too much alcohol and you may fall unconscious, even vomiting in your sleep, which can be fatal. Your mood when drinking will change how alcohol affects you. Last night’s booze can leave you over the drink drive limit, even the morning after. Amounts needed to get you drunk vary depending on your size, gender, metabolism, whether you’ve eaten and how used you are to alcohol. You may, because of your religion or personal preference, not like drinking or getting drunk and the focus on drink for socialising at uni can cause frustration and isolation. There are other ways, luckily, of meeting people through, for example, many of the clubs and activities groups. Cannabis Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK. Its effects will depend on how you are feeling before you take it, the environment you’re in, and the strength of what you take. More powerful varieties, referred to as skunk can cause paranoia and mild hallucinations. When smoking cannabis, the effects are usually felt fairly quickly. Physical effects include bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and mental health. If you have already experienced mental health problems, using cannabis may make them return or worsen. Cocaine Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug with very strong effects on both body and mind. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise on the drug. You may feel a strong urge to drink or smoke, but probably won’t want to eat or sleep. The effects last from 30 minutes to an hour. Cocaine increases your confidence and makes you more talkative. You may think everyone loves you Ecstasy
The National Student, September 2008
Drug safety – the basics
Here are some practical guidelines that apply to all drugs, legal or illegal. • The effects of drugs can vary according to where you are, who you’re with, how you’re feeling at the time and how physically fit you are. • There’s no way to predict accurately how a combination of drugs will affect any individual. The best advice is not to mix any drugs - and that includes alcohol or prescription drugs. • If you do take more than one drug a night, remember what you have taken, when, and allow time for the effects to kick in and wear off. • If using drugs it’s not a good idea to be on your own - being with friends can help you to deal with the effects. • It’s best to avoid drugs if you’re feeling depressed or anxious - they could make you feel worse. Be especially careful if you’re taking prescribed drugs. • Try not to buy from strangers. Drugs are not quality controlled so you never know what’s in them. • Many drugs make you feel more confident sexually but always try to practise safer sex for obvious health reasons - risk of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy. • If you are pregnant, you may experience effects rom drugs you don’t anticipate. It could also affect your baby, especially if you are breast feeding. • If you are injecting drugs, never inject alone. Always use clean needles and equipment and don’t share equipment. • Remember that if you are caught with an illegal drug by the police, you may be prosecuted and this will result in you having a criminal record - something many employers are very wary of. Remember – you can always call the DrugScope information service on 020 7520 7550 (Mon – Fri, 10am – 1pm) or email email@example.com if you have any drug-related questions. There’s also plenty of information on the DrugScope website at drugscope.org.uk
health resulting in a range of conditions from mild depression and anxiety to the extremes of cocaine psychosis with symptoms similar to schizophrenia. Cocaine overdose leads to confusion and dizziness. Someone experiencing an overdose may have difficulty regulating their breathing. Call an ambulance immediately if you suspect someone has overdosed on cocaine.
slow reflexes. You may feel relaxed and happy, possibly losing inhibitions, becoming giggly and hungry (the munchies). But another common effect is to feel anxious, paranoid and out of place - for example, in a particular situation where you don’t feel very confident. Mixing cannabis and alcohol can often lead to nausea and vomiting. There is evidence that smoking cannabis regularly can adversely affect your
and thinks you’re great. But you might also get irritable or aggressive. The higher the dose, the more pleasurable the feelings but the greater the risk of negative effects. What goes up must come down. Cocaine makes your body work faster and use up its resources quicker. When coke wears off, you come down, feeling exhausted and hungry. Your ability to concentrate will be affected, making studying difficult. You will probably feel anxious or panicky, depressed or even paranoid. Regular cocaine use is linked to several physical problems including heart conditions. Snorting cocaine powder can damage the nasal passages. Long term use affects your mental
Ecstasy (MDMA) speeds up your body functions and alters how you experience the world. It usually comes in the form of a tablet or capsule but is also available in powder form. You are never sure what is in the pill. Buying from someone you don’t know increases your chance of getting a bum deal and having an unwanted trip. The effects of an ecstasy tablet are as unpredictable as its contents. To make matters worse, a whole range of similar drugs are sold as E, such as MDEA, MDA and BZP. Ecstasy can leave you feeling both stimulated and relaxed and totally in tune with other people. Around 20 minutes to an hour after taking ecstasy, you are likely to feel hot and sweaty and have a dry mouth. Your heart beats faster and you lose your appetite. You may also notice a laxative effect. People often feel things more intensely. But experiences vary and some people feel anxious and even paranoid. Effects tend to be at their strongest during the first two hours, but can last for several hours. Dangers to look out for if using ecstasy include hyperventilation and overheating. To avoid dehydration, make sure you drink enough fluid (not alcohol). But don’t drink too much - taking in too much liquid while on ecstasy has led to numerous fatalities. by Andy McNicoll (Communications Officer, Drugscope) and Ruth Goldsmith (Communications Manager, Drugscope).
dr ugscope.or g.uk
Find more information on drugs at:
A Traveller’s Tale
Melbourne, where the next morning I board the tram without paying. Three dollars is better in my pocket than theirs I reason. I sit there all smug, cocky even, imagining the happy face of my bank manager when I wire him the $3,500. And then all that joy is blown to smithereens when a stout women dressed in civvies flips open her notebook and introduces herself as Transport Police. Fuck. “Sorry officer, I do not have a ticket...” “I’m sorry, she wasn’t very cooperative,” the Officer splutters as she comes off the phone embarrassed. Everyone on the tram is now watching. Silent, absorbed, sniggering slightly until the Officer regains her composure and swings her retaliatory blow; “If your girlfriend’s not going to cooperate and you can’t give us another address then we’ll just let the police deal with you.” Shit. Thanks babe. Her: “I just need to take down some details, what’s your name and where do you live?” Me: “My name’s Nathan Millward and I don’t really have an address.” Her: “You must live somewhere, what’s your address?” Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have one. I’m a traveller Desperately grovelling, I trawl through the whole sorry saga of abandoning the girl six months prior and now being back, homeless, to give it another go. In front of a packed tram of commuters I try desperately to chisel some warmth into the Officer’s heart. Finally, after ten minutes she concedes. on the gamble that the Wrecking Ball would take me back, she has, and now I’ve risked it all for a silly crime that could sour any application for a permanent visa. What a fool. What a plonker. At least there’s the $3,500 to cheer me up I reason… At the hospital I’m given forms to scribble signatures on and pots to wee in. The place isn’t how I imagined it to be. I was expecting monkeys in spacesuits and hollowed out backpackers carrying their kidneys in jars. But no, the research facility’s all white-walled and clinical, looking every inch like a regular hospital and operating, as I soon learn, with equal incompetence... Dr: “Ohhh... wait a minute Mr Millward... you haven’t given us a Melbourne address” Me: “No, I don’t have one. die you
The National Student, September 2008
o cut a long story short, I’m in Sydney for a girl I abandoned six months ago when my working holiday visa ran out. At the time I just thought to hell with it all, I’m going home to London. Only I never moved on, regretting the decision to leave the moment I stepped off the plane at Heathrow. And so five months later, determined to put things right, I quit my job in England and flew out to Sydney win her back. Of this she had no clue, no idea I was in town to surprise her. Only she beat me to it, spotting me on the ferry the morning I arrived. “What the hell are you doing back?” she blurted as she came bounding towards me like a wrecking ball. “I’m here for you,” I pleaded before she flattened me with her handbag. She had every right to be pissed off, remember it was me who abandoned her six months earlier. But that was then and this is now, a month or so later and the relationship’s back on track. We’re girlfriend and boyfriend again and the Wrecking Ball’s even doing my laundry. The real problem now though is cash, or the lack of it. With tables for two and bills for the gentleman the bank balance is on its knees coughing blood. Get a job people tell me, and I would if my temporary tourist visa would allow it. Begging, borrowing, busking... I’d considered it all, until one day, flicking through a backpackers guide, my eyes are caught by an advert for medical research. “Healthy volunteers wanted,” it reads. “We pay cash.” I’m curious... “It’s eleven days trialling a new cholesterol drug,”
the doctor at the medical facility tells me over the phone. “You’d have to be in Melbourne next week,” he continues. “Melbourne, that’s 500 miles away, I’m not sure if it’s worth me coming,” I respond. He leaves me to chew it over for a minute, pondering if it’s worth the journey, until finally he adds, “You will be reimbursed $3,500 (£1,750) for your time.” I stop chewing. “Book me in. The sooner the better.” A week later I board the overnight train to Melbourne. It’s cheaper than flying I reason and the less time spent in the sky the better. I’m not good with heights you see. And so, with eleven hours to kill I flick through the leaflets they’ve sent me on the trial. ‘Risk of death, drug never tested on humans’, reads the top line. My eyes widen, my bottom tenses, I reason it just a precaution, the same as you sign for falling out of aeroplanes and such like, but still, dead at 25 on a cold surgical slab in Melbourne is not how I want it to end, not when things are going so well with the Wrecking Ball. But to be honest death is the least of my problems right now. On a tourist visa I can only stay three months. To stay longer I need to find an Australian company to sponsor me. If I don’t do that I’ll have no choice but head back to England, the relationship in tatters and this journey of redemption a waste of everyone’s time. Damn this eleven hour train ride. Damn you arseholes in immigration. This worry keeps me awake all the way to
‘Risk of death, drug never tested on humans’, reads the top line. My eyes widen, my bottom tenses, I reason it just a precaution, the same as you sign for falling out of aeroplanes and such like, but still, dead at 25 on a cold surgical slab in Melbourne is not how I want it to end.’
you see. On a tourist visa.” Her: “Okay, but where are you living in Melbourne?” Me: “I don’t live in Melbourne, I’ve come down on the train to test cholesterol tablets.” Her: “I see, so where do you live in Sydney?” Me: Mostly at the girlfriend’s, but also at the hostel. When she wants her peace and quiet you understand.” Her: “Sure, but what’s her address?” Me: “Balmain, Sydney, but I don’t remember the street or number.” (I genuinely couldn’t) Her: “I don’t believe you. Unless you tell me the truth I’m calling the police.” Me: “Alright, I’ll call her and find out.” The Wrecking Ball answers and I explain, jotting down the address and feeding it to the moody Officer. “I would like to speak to her to confirm the details myself,” she barks. I pass her the phone and stand well back. Bad move lady. The girlfriend’s a real firecracker. A straight shooting son of a gun who doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s what I love about her. And judging by the Officer’s sudden silence I assume the girlfriend’s given her a blast from both barrels. “The letter’s going to your girlfriend’s; you can sort it out with her.” And about the punishment, I plead with watery eyes. “I don’t know, the magistrate will deal with you.” And with that I limp from the tram and flop down on a bench, a broken man. How could I have been such an idiot? I’ve come all this way, sacrificed a job in England I’ve travelled down from Sydney for this.”… Dr: “Oh, well sorry you have to live in Melbourne to take part.” Me: “WHAT? I explained I was coming from Sydney to the doctor last week. He said it was fine.” Dr: “Sorry sir, but it’s our policy... for safety reasons you understand.” Me: “Oh fuck off and
Alright, I didn’t really say that, but how I felt like it. Boy was I angry. Livid. RAGING. But being English that mattered not one jot. “Oh it’s not a problem, these things happen,” I forced through gritted teeth. They even wheeled out the doctor responsible for me to confront, to slug with angry words if I so wished. But no, that’s not the English way; “Don’t worry about it; it’s not your fault... just one of those things,” I whimpered like a wet paper bag. But damn right it was his fault, he knew it, I knew it. But there was no changing the outcome now. No point us both having a shit day. And so with that I stumble from the hospital, volcanic and swearing. What a day. I’ve travelled all this way, spent all this money and upset the transport police for nothing. And don’t even get me started on this stupid visa issue. Eleven hours on a train back to Sydney isn’t what I need right now, I’m flying. It’s dark and wet when I touch down in Sydney that evening, the sky is as angry as my mood. Outside the airport I fall into the passenger seat of the Wrecking Ball’s car and start spitting feathers at the day I’ve just had; the train, the tram, the toss-pots at the research clinic. Driving through the rain she humours me sweetly, successfully, until just one block from home she turns and levels me with the day’s final blow... “Hey I’ve had an idea about your visa; what if we got married?” With that I faint. by Nathan Millward
Continued next month...
The National Student, September 2008
14 DID YOU KNOW? - 180 of the 311 athletes competing for team GB, across 20 sports, have come through the university sector. That’s 58%. - 77 competitors won medals in Beijing; of these, 42 (55%) have come through the university system. - Out of the 19 gold medals won, 12 came from either students or graduates compared to Athens 2004 where students and graduates accounted for 3 gold medals.
Hard work at home pays off with success in Beijing
There were many highlights and successes for team GB across the Olympic fortnight but there was particular cause for celebration for Britain’s rowing team. University rowing was gaining strong vindication for all the hard work put in across the country as the Great Britain’s success at the Shuryi rowing-Canoeing Park helped underpin the Olympic medal table. Twenty university students and alumni took home five of the six Olympic medals, including two bronze, two silver and one gold - the biggest medal haul for GB rowing since 1908. There was bronze medal success for Anna Bebington (Cambridge and reading) and elise Laverick (Guildhall school of Music and Drama) in the women’s Double Sculls and in the Men’s competition Stephen rowbotham (Durham) and Matt wells (St Marys) also took home a bronze medal. The Men’s eights team won silver in Beijing, with Cont. from back-page The University of Loughborough made their presence felt in Beijing via Liam Tancock, a secondyear Sports Science student, displaying his promise in the pool. As rebecca Adlington and co. were becoming household names, Tancock was making his own impression, achieving success in the 200m backstroke final where he set a new British record time of 53.59 as he finished 6th. he added to this by
every member of the team a university graduate, and the women’s Quadruple Sculls enjoyed similar success thanks to the performance of Katherine Grainger (edinburgh), Debbie Flood (reading), Frances houghton (King’s College, London) and Annie Vernon (Cambridge). The highlight from the Shuryi was undoubtedly the achievement of the Men’s coxless fours who took gold in what was an extraordinary final. Expectation was high for the team which included Tom James a new man to the boat who graduated from Cambridge, Peter reed who studied at both the University of west england and Oxford, Andy Triggshodge a graduate from Staffordshire University and Oxford and Steve Williams an Oxford graduate. In lane four, the British team did not assume control of the race, and the Australian team to their right stormed ahead. with over half of the race complete, it looked like the team would have to settle for silver in a race reaching the final of the 200m individual medley and being part of the 4x100m medley team which finished 6th. David Davies, Silver medallist in the 10km open water race, trains at Loughborough and will be joining the university as a student next month. After his impressive display in Beijing, Davies must now be hoping that he can push on to the next level and achieve gold in four years time. So as the nation clings
which they knew they were favourites. But the successes of Sir Steve redgrave and co. haven’t only instilled recognition into British rowing; they have set the standard, and passed on a strong winning mentality to the current team. In near perfect harmony with the television commentator who screamed; ‘the British are coming, the British are coming’ the team pushed and began to swallow up the Australian’s lead. with just 100m to go the men took first place and crossed the line 6 feet in front to take the gold medal. These fantastic achievements are not only a victory for the Great British rowing team but also for those at all our universities who contribute to the continued development and improvement of British rowing. Karen rothery is the Chief Executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) and she was keen to promote the idea that these successes were greatly to the hope that the likes of Christine Ohorugu, linguistics graduate from University college London, and Chris hoy, sports science graduate from edinburgh university, can reproduce their heroics, it is reassuring to know that universities are doing their bit. Across Great Britain the higher education sector is continuing to help produce top class athletes, in all fields, who could well be the next gold medal heroes at London 2012.
helped by our universities; “Our universities have some of the best rowing facilities and clubs in europe and there’s no doubt that the support of higher education has contributed to the development and experience of our rowers in Beijing this year.” She added; “Over 90% of the GB rowing team competed for their university club and six of the medallists first took up the sport while studying. It’s clear that university allows students to take advantage of the sports on offer and rowing is one which is becoming increasingly popular; over 50 student clubs competed in BUCS competitions in 2007/08.” It is clear then that the hard work put in by students and coaches alike is paying off on a global scale and we must surely be hopeful of even more medals in four years time. rothery certainly gave us every
reason to be optimistic; “As the rowing team travel home with their bronze, silver and gold medals we’re looking forward to the next four years of rowing on a national and international stage. working closely with the Amateur rowing Association we’re already discussing how we develop the sport further on campus and increase student participation at a grass-roots level ready for London 2012 and beyond.”
- One of Britain’s star performers, double gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, competed at the BUCS 2008 Long Course Championships in Sheffield as a guest to support her Olympic training. - Six members of the successful rowing team only took up the sport at university. They all took home medals.
Sport reporters wanted
Contact Sport Editor Tom Clarke at: sport@ thenationalstudent.co.uk
Beijing Olympics 2008 special
The Road to Beijing
Read our exclusive pre-Beijing interview with Craig Pickering
SpORT RepORTeRS WanTed
We’re primed for glory with London calling
Great Britain’s surprising success at the Beijing Olympics has been widely documented over the past month. What hasn’t been as prominently publicised is how many of those athletes have trained and honed their talents at university level. in fact, some of the athletes representing team GB in Beijing last month are currently at universities across the country. simeon Williamson [pictured], a second-year sports science student at Middlesex University, was the first male chosen by the BOa to run the 100m for team GB. Williamson had showed much promise leading up to the games after winning the 100m crown at the World University Games in Bangkok in 2007 and also claiming the BUCs 60m title in the same year. However, whilst the eyes of the world were on a certain man from Jamaica, Williamson could only make the second round of the 100m, his time of 10.32 seconds not good enough to see him progress. another sprinter who was primed to make an impression at the games was Montell Douglas who graduated from Brunel University this year with a degree in sports studies. Douglas has enjoyed great athletic success in her time at university, winning ten BUCs indoor and outdoor athletics titles and just before the games began, she guaranteed herself a place in the 100m event by smashing Kathy Cook’s 27 year old 100m record. Unfortunately for Douglas she was unable to get further than the second round with a time of 11.38 seconds and there was added disappointment for the young sprinter in the 4x100m final, as a mix up between herself and team member emily Freeman meant they failed to finish the race. One current university student who is more of a household name is Craig Pickering the 100m sprinter currently studying at the University of Bath. after much coverage in the press, including an interview with The National Student in March, Pickering was ready to confirm his potential on the biggest stage. However, he hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons as he contributed to the 4x100m defending champions crashing out of the competition. a failed baton change between Pickering and Marlon Devonish saw the student setting off for the final leg too early meaning that the team were disqualified in the heats. as has been the case with many of the British athletes at Beijing, whether they experienced success or failure, the main focus will now be on achieving glory in London in four years time and this will undoubtedly be Pickering’s goal. the same can be said for alastair Brownlee, a second year sport studies student at the University of Leeds who gained valuable experience at these games and showed his promise with a 12th place finish in the final of the triathlon. Continued inside