18 December 2013

Prosthetic leg mistaken for Paedo, Student budget shortfall, Gender Segregation…

Osborne admits student budget shortfall

George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne has admitted this week that the budget for higher education is facing a huge multi-billion pound shortfall.

Osborne had planned to lift the cap on student admissions and ‘plug the gap’ in costs by selling off the student loan book, but now admits that it won’t be enough to cover it.

Our take: So in summary, a terrible idea, that everyone knew was a terrible idea, has been proven to be… a terrible idea. Good job all round! Ministers knew the money wasn’t there, but went ahead with the announcement last week anyway, it’s truly shocking what this government is getting away with.

Controversy over sex segregation guidelines on campus

Gender Segregation

Universities UK has come under fire in the past week for its controversial guidelines endorsing gender segregation. The guidelines, that have been met with a huge public backlash, stated that it was acceptable for gender segregation to happen at public meetings on campus.

The Prime Minister has also weighed on the situation, claiming that Universities UK should reconsider its position.

Our take: Call us cynical, but are you perhaps trying to point the student news agenda somewhere else Dave? Obviously, we’re not in favour of gender segregation or any kind of segregation for that matter, but this isn’t anywhere near as big a story as the budget shortfall but it seems to be getting as much, if not more attention.

Scottish Universities have the cheapest cost of living

Scottish Universities

New research has shown that Higher Education institutions in Scotland have the lowest cost of living compared to the rest of Great Britain.

The paper, published by Ukash an online payment provider, has found that it can cost twice as much to study in London as it does in Edinburgh.

Our take: Clearly, if you want a cheap time at University, get to Scotland! With institutions in England almost unanimously charging £9000 a year, and the number of unpaid loans expected to rise in the coming years, it’s almost like a series of terrible policy decisions have been made to destroy higher education in the country.

Car insurance premiums too high

Student Car Insurance

The Competition Commission has found that car insurance premiums are too expensive for drivers across the board, following up a referral from the Office of Fair Trading that the market is unfair for motorists.

The complicated, chain nature of the claims system is bumping up insurance premiums for everyone, costing the public an estimate figure between £100m and 200m each year.

Our take: Another thing that’s not helping the cost of living for students. Running a car on a student budget is difficult enough, without insurance companies boosting up the price because of an inefficient system. Surely we should have some kind of elected representative to fight for consumer rights and act in our best interest for this kind of thing?

Prosthetic leg causes paedophile panic

Prosthetic Leg Paedophile

A class of school children were evacuated from a swimming pool after a prosthetic leg was mistaken for a paedophile.

The children found the leg in the changing room and upon alerting the staff, all sixty pupils had to leave the pool.

Our take: While not strictly a student story, we couldn’t resist this one. It’s like Brass Eye, the most biting satire of the modern era, made into real life. On the less funny side, it’s more than a little alarming that we’re all so paranoid that our first thought is “Oh my god, that’s a Paedophile!” rather than “has someone lost their prosthetic leg.

Student embarks on unique plan to pay off loan

Sponsor the shirt

As part of an innovative money-making project, a student at the University of St Andrews is pledging to wear the same shirt every day for the whole of 2014 and is offering out every space on that shirt as advertising space.

We just hope he plans to clean it…

Our take: We’re always happy to support new and inventive ways to students who are looking for a bit of help to pay of their loan. However, there is always the danger of too many students following the same path and not succeeding. If you want to buy a space on the shirt just email Chris [email protected]

State of the Machin: On more of the year’s best stuff

Best of 2013

You know the drill by now, making this preamble is quite superfluous, but I’m doing it anyway. Here are some of my favourite things to happen to Pop Culture in 2013 broken down into either incredibly broad or annoyingly specific categories.

Videogame of the Year: GTA 5

I don’t have a massive amount of money to spend of video games, but one I knew I definitely wouldn’t be missing was GTA. So much so that I went to the midnight launch for the title and took the following day off work just to maximise my playtime on the game.

In hindsight, the story was a bit lacking especially the ending, but that only seemed to matter after completing the game, everything up to that point was a pure adrenaline rush.

Honourable mentions go to Divinity: Dragon Commander, which I enjoyed but was my no means clever enough to play and Papers, Please, which I thought was great but I lacked the patience/time to play it properly.

Best Playstation-era game recently re-released on Steam: Final Fantasy 8

I loved this game in 2000, and it turns out I still love it in 2013. Only released on Steam last week, Final Fantasy 8 is just brilliant, there are prison escapes, epic battles, ridiculous plot holes and some truly cringe-worthy dialogue. It’s JRPG heaven.

I’ve already sunk some serious hours into this game and am looking forward to dedicating a lot more over the Winter break.

Best Album/Live Band: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

An unprecedented double header for The National in the prestigious State of the Machin end of year awards. Trouble Will Find Me is an album that finds the band at their creative prime, packed with intriguing and memorable lyrics and some truly excellent arrangements.

The National take all the standard ‘rules’ of Indie music and turn them on their head, making something beautiful in the process.

If the album was good, the live performance was even better. The set ripped through the bands six album back catalogue, leaving no record unrepresented and nobody not weeping by the set closer, a stripped back acoustic version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.

One of my few regrets of 2013 is that I didn’t have the funds to fly out to St Louis to catch them and Wilco at LouFest.

Best Cultural Phenomenon: Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

George RR Martin took over my life in a big way this year. It started with the TV show, but after that I was hooked. I just had to read all six books to find out what happened next.

And then watch too many videos on YouTube speculating what happens next.

And then get intospend my life savings on the Living Card Game. A Song of Ice and Fire is a disease, but it’s one I’m very glad I caught.

Best Online Content Management System: WordPress

This is something I feel very passionate about, and probably the biggest influence on my life in 2013. WordPress currently powers about 20% of the internet, and there are more people with a blog powered by it than there are Spanish speakers on the planet.

Not bad figures for a program that has only just turned ten. I owe pretty much all my employment history to it and can’t wait to see where the project goes next.

ps. Save the Student is actually run on WordPress too…

Best Song: Blurred Lines/Get Lucky

For all my talk about wanting to write for the NME, I’ve barely listened to much ‘new music’ this year. I think it might be because I’ve reached an age where I like what I like and am comfortable with that, rather than being embarrassed about it and constantly have to find new music.

Or I was too busy concentrating on other things and missed most of the good music this year.

However, both of these songs managed to break through my ‘no new music’ bubble and get thoroughly stuck in my head. As misogynistic as the lyrics/video certainly are for Blurred Lines, there’s no denying that it’s an incredibly catchy piece of pop music. And full marks to Daft Punk for successfully making Disco cool again.

And that’s it for this years State of the Machin! Have an awesome Christmas and New Year… See you in 2014!

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