How to make your university money last

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:00

With discounts and deals aplenty – plus some costs you need to swallow – budgeting students need to be on their toes to make their funds go the distance

Cash is often tight for students – and with a pint of beer setting them back three or four quid, it’s important to have a handle on the bills that have to be paid. Rent is by far the greatest expense for students, whether they choose catered, self-catered or private accommodation. In Manchester, one of the cheaper student cities, accommodation will cost just under £4,300 for the 40-week year, but catered will cost an extra £1,257. The price of most university rooms includes gas and electricity. Private accommodation, which students usually take after the first year, may be cheaper up front, but the price of utility bills, the internet and so on needs to be factored in to give a real idea of the cost. Students may also have to rent for a calendar year, rather than just the academic term.

Figures from savethestudent.org put average expenditure at £735 a month, with £365 of that spent on rent – although plusher accommodation could cost nearly double that in some cities. Typically, students spend over £100 a month on food, £64 on social, £58 on bills and £44 on travel. On top of that, there’s more than £20 a month each on books and photocopying, clothes, mobile and other expenses – even £5 a month on illegal drugs, according to respondents. London living costs an extra £1,300 a year, the National Union of Students (NUS) estimates.

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How to choose the uni – and the life – that suits you

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:30

The degrees our offspring take affect not just their uni experience, but the paths open to them afterwards

The first thing prospective students should bear in mind when it comes to applying for university is the course itself. However, this is easier said than done, as a course’s name can’t tell you everything – course structure and content can vary quite significantly between one university and the next. Some universities even include work experience or international placements. So, how do you find the right one?

“Higher education is a fantastic opportunity, but it really is about making sure the course choice is right,” says Victoria Azubuine, admissions manager at the University of Bedfordshire. “The search tools on the Ucas website make it a great place to start. Once you’ve made that choice, look at the university, to make sure that is a good fit too.”

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‘Pick a subject you love’

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:00

Students should think of university as an opportunity to broaden knowledge, debate with others and think about the kind of society they want to live in

I’m not a university boy and I always rather regretted that – I trained in drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and becoming the new chancellor of Bath Spa University is an adventure for me. I am a strong advocate for going to university – it’s a valuable way to fast-track the kind of experience that took me years to pick up.

There is value in studying – honing your knowledge – in a particular subject, but students need to graduate poised to take advantage of a fluid job market too. Things are moving so fast that students will change career maybe two or three times in their lives, so they need agility and a breadth of knowledge to move with the times.

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Leaving for university: ‘I did get homesick, but I didn’t linger on it’

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 09:00

Leaving home is a wrench – for child and parent. But Norah Lovelock and her mum used it as a catalyst to branch out

Norah Lovelock, pictured above right, is in the first year of a BSc in computer science at Sheffield Hallam University.
University is amazing; it’s changed my life. It’s really nice to be able to walk to the supermarket or go out to meet friends whenever I want to. It’s also really good to meet a wide range of people. Not being able to recognise everyone on the street is weird, but nice.

It was really hard leaving Mum and I did get homesick. Perhaps three or four times I felt bad because I missed home so much, but I didn’t linger over it. I reminded myself of why I came to university and that homesickness was, unfortunately, inevitable. It wasn’t a constant thing and it really didn’t last long, perhaps two or three weeks. I don’t drink alcohol, so I thought I might find it harder to make friends, but if you are willing to put yourself out there – to smile and chat to people – you will make friends really, really easily. Everyone in Sheffield is ridiculously friendly anyway.

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Get it right together – how parents can help pick the right university

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 08:00

It’s not an easy balance to strike – between wanting to help your child choose the best degree possible and meddling in their life. Here’s some tips for both parties

What to study and where is the first big decision that many young people have to make in their lives. It’s a choice that could shape their future career prospects, their friendship groups and their interests, so naturally they turn to their parents for advice.

Luckily, there is plenty of information for parents who want to support their children. So where to start? The course is number one. “My advice would be to encourage students to do what they love,” says computer science student Norah Lovelock, who chose the “wrong” subject and will swap to English literature next year. “They can always do other things to enhance their career prospects, such as volunteering or gaining work experience.”

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Secret Teacher: my school is an echo-chamber for leftwing views

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 07:00

Most of the parents and teachers vote Labour and don’t do enough to help students understand other points of view

I teach in a mixed comprehensive in a constituency where on 8 June over two-thirds voted Labour, where an overwhelming majority voted Labour in the most recent mayoral vote, and where Labour has been the largest party on the local council for decades. A large majority of staff at our school vote Labour.

As a Labour supporter, this thrills me; as a teacher, it makes me question whether my school is doing enough to help our students appreciate other viewpoints.

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Grenfell Tower: Pupils share 'happy memories' of lost friends

BBC - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 19:50
Avondale Park Primary School pupils share happy memories of friends lost in the Grenfell Tower fire.
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Exeter school’s uniform resolve melts after boys’ skirt protest

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 18:56

Isca academy in Devon to ditch policy that boys must wear trousers even in a heatwave after ‘box-pleat rebellion’ caught global attention

The US constitution has long guaranteed the right to bear arms – but now the schoolboys of Exeter have gone one better and won the right to bare legs.

Britain’s heatwave this week sparked open rebellion at Isca academy in Devon, with boys wearing skirts in protest at rules that insisted male pupils wear long trousers even as temperatures soared into the mid-30s.

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Exeter’s schoolboys in skirts follow a proud tradition of breaking the rules | Anne Perkins

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 18:28

Those who think education is all about discipline are missing the point. Defying authority is part of growing up

Devising ways to assert autonomy is at the heart of the condition of being human. It is a powerful and necessary instinct and the more that it involves subverting authority, the more beguiling the challenge. From that point of view, the 30 boys at Isca community school in Exeter who were told shorts weren’t part of the uniform and decided to turn up for school on Thursday in skirts instead were merely on a rite of passage. They were – as the school wisely appears to have realised – on the journey to becoming good citizens.

The skirts, in the bold pleated tartan of the girls’ uniform, suited them so well you wonder why the school didn’t immediately adopt them as a hot-day option. Obviously the merit of skirts as a men’s fashion item (see Burberry spring/summer 2001) was not the point of the boys’ polite demonstration so much as the fact that they were not supposed to be wearing them at all.

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Chris Binns obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 18:05

My partner, Chris Binns, who has died aged 74, was an inspiring lecturer with wide cultural and intellectual interests, and a warm-hearted man with a great sense of humour.

He was born in Chard, Somerset, son of Max Binns, a journalist, and his wife, Margaret (nee Perris). He attended Devonport high school for boys in Plymouth. After a disrupted childhood due to the early death of his father, Chris read classics at Oxford. From there, a travelling scholarship enabled him to visit Greece, and thus began his lifelong love of the country and its landscape.

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Stop censoring student journalists - we're trying to hold universities to account

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 18:04

Student journalists are just doing their job when they investigate university and student union matters. They shouldn’t be censored

Student journalism is often – and rightly – applauded for the work it does at universities across the country. Many of the bylines that now sit atop newsprint began their days in student newsrooms, chasing stories across campus. Jeremy Paxman began his career as the editor of Cambridge’s Varsity and William Lewis, former editor of the Telegraph, began his career at Bristol’s Epigram.

But what is not discussed are the restrictions often placed upon student journalists, who can find themselves facing censorship from the very institutions they are supposed to hold to account.

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School holidays row: Isle of Wight man loses legal fight over daughter's absence

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 17:48

Jon Platt’s legal battle over his daughter’s term-time holiday ends in disappointment – and bill of £140,000 to taxpayer

A father who took his child out of school for a holiday during term time, sparking a long-running legal fight, has been found guilty of failing to secure her regular attendance.

Jon Platt’s campaign had previously gone all the way from Isle of Wight magistrates court to defeat at the supreme court, at a cost of nearly £140,000 to the public purse, and his latest disappointment came in a hearing back at the same magistrates court on Friday.

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Schools go green to support Grenfell fire victims

BBC - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 16:23
Pupils in schools across England go green to show their support for the Grenfell fire victims.
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Letter: Robin Murray obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 15:03

I first met the economist Robin Murray in 1988, when he gave invaluable assistance to an Open Space documentary I was producing for BBC2 about the coercive, exploitative and low-quality nature of the Employment Training scheme being run by Margaret Thatcher’s government. Entitled ET Isn’t Working, the film was made with the Brighton Unemployed Centre, near where he lived, and focused on the inequities of the system from the point of view of unemployed people themselves.

Robin helped strengthen the intellectual underpinnings of the film, not in some desiccated theoretical way, but fully engaging with the lives of the people involved. He was friendly and purposeful with an invitingly warm, kindly smile. I was told by those going to the centre, who he had supported for some time, that he was “a good bloke”. “You’ll like him,” they said, and indeed I did.

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Ofsted to punish schools pushing exam targets over learning, says chief

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 13:50

Amanda Spielman says some schools should be ashamed of ‘badges and stickers’ tactics to bolster league table standing

Ofsted will closely monitor schools that chase meaningless “badges and stickers” and turn themselves into exam factories rather than offering a well-rounded education, the chief inspector of schools in England has said.

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, said school leaders should be ashamed of some of the tactics used to bolster their league table standings. They include primary pupils sitting mock tests for more than two years, and entering secondary students for qualifications requiring just two days of study to pass.

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Learning and performance: how to help students get in the zone

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 12:15

When students see school as a place to show off what they already know rather than to focus on what they don’t, it can hinder learning

Most parents, teachers, and schools encourage students to perform as best as they can, but it turns out that a focus on performance can hinder learning, improvement, and, ironically, performance.

Take Cirque du Soleil, a team that knows how to perform well. On stage, they exhibit beautiful acrobatic feats, often performed flawlessly. However, what we see is a brief slice of their day in which they focus on the skills they have already mastered and try to minimise mistakes – their performance zone.

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