26 February 2014

Amazon bundle prime & streaming, Clegg tries to dispel “myths”, OFT take on unis…

Nick Clegg wants students to ‘ignore tuition fee myths’

Nick Clegg SadLiberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has told students that they should ignore the myths about tuition fees, and despite what they’ve heard, they can afford to attend university.

Clegg also repeated his apology for his post election U-turn on tuition fees while speaking at a school in London.

Our take: It seems that the general election nonsense generators have been fired up early. Next Clegg will be asking us to ignore all the other things his party didn’t do for the young people who (deputy) elected him. It’s hard to see the Liberal Democrat party recovering from it’s role in coalition in time for the election or even for a long time after it.

Amazon bundles LoveFilm streaming for Prime Customers

Amazon Prime MergedStarting today, Amazon have merged their Prime package, which gives free next day delivery on millions of items with its LoveFilm instant streaming service.

People who sign up will also have access to 500,000 ebooks to borrow for their Kindle. It is not all good news however, as the price for Prime Instant Video (the new package) is £79 per year, £30 more than it cost just yesterday.

Our take: This is a big play by Amazon, combining its services into one package is a risky move, especially as many people would prefer just to have one of either Prime of LoveFilm. The competitive pricing of the package (just £9 more than Netflix and £30 cheaper than NowTV) makes it look like a decent deal all round.

Uni transforms lab into pub to study drinking habits

Studying alcohol drinkingLondon South Bank university has spent £20,000 changing one of its laboratories into a pub for psychology students and academics to study student drinking habits and the effect alcohol has on the brain.

The pub environment has been a hit, with the lure of alcohol already increasing students’ interest in taking part in the psychological study.

Our take: While we’re not entirely sure why these psychology researchers couldn’t just go to a pub or out in the city centre any night of the week to see how alcohol effects people, we’re always up for a new pub opening, even if it’s filled with creepy hidden cameras and microphones.

OFT considering a full investigation into unis

OFT investigateThe Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is considering a full investigation into British universities to uncover anti competitive practices and make sure students are getting value for their money.

The news comes as a follow up to last week’s story about the OFT outlawing an unfair rule over unpaid library fees and other non tuition related debts.  Current practices like only being able to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge, or just having five choices on UCAS are likely to come under scrutiny.

Our take: We’re very much looking forward to the OFTs initial report which is due out next month.  If the watchdog judges it necessary, a full investigation is likely to result in widespread changes across the board in higher education. It really is about time that someone (other than us) put students’ interests first.

180 unions unite over rising costs for foreign students

unions foreign studentsStudent unions across the UK have signed a joint open letter to their universities and the government urging them to fix the cost for international students for the entirety of their course.

The campaign was launched after a study revealed that 175,000 international students said their fees increased dramatically throughout their time at university.

Our take: Who knew that there were that many student unions in the first place? Although we did, obviously, we’re a student website. Not content with just ripping off UK students it seems that our higher education institutions are exploiting people anywhere and everywhere they can. It’s great to see some action being taken.

State of the Machin: On Prince

Prince GigsThis weekend I was one of the lucky few in Manchester who got see Prince, twice. For £35. After missing the announcement/release of the tickets on the Brit Awards last Wednesday I had given up on seeing the Purple One.

Queuing outside venues for 24 hours isn’t really possible when you have a full time job, but while I was out on Friday night I saw the rumours on Twitter for the ‘second show’ at the Academy that night. I immediately downed my pint and headed straight to the venue to get my ticket.

After waiting outside in the rain for an hour, we finally got let in, with the tickets at a reduced price of £35. At this point Prince was still playing the encore for his first show and we were treated about half an hour’s worth of amazing music.

Then things took a turn for the worse when they moved more security in, turned the house lights on and told us that Prince had left building.

The 150 of us who had got in late had been promised a second show, but Prince had decided to just play a longer set instead.

Musical genius often goes hand in hand with contrariness. Although I was a little disappointed that there was no second show, but still thought I’d got value for money for my ticket, I generally went home happy.

However, the next day, I woke up to find that others had kicked up a lot more of a fuss about the second show and that anyone with late entry tickets would also gain a ticket for the Saturday night show as well. A tasty bonus.  After a nervous day of phoning the venue, then waiting for them to phone back and confirm the details it was finally time for Prince.

Playing a massive 39 songs over about 3 and half hours, the man never stopped. The stripped down 3rd Eye Girl band, just three other and Prince made plenty of noise in the relatively small 2000 capacity Academy and drifted seamlessly between rock, funk and pitch perfect pop songs.

The highlight of the set was a 20 minute section of Prince on the piano, jamming around with a medley of some of his softer hits.

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