11 September 2013

Six British unis in world top 20, New plastic banknotes, Student lives on yacht, Burkas banned…

Six British Universities Make World Top 20

Cambridge UniversityAccording to the QS World University Rankings, this year there are two more universities from the UK which have breached the top 20.

The addition of Edinburgh and King’s College London makes the total six. The four other top British universities holding their status are Cambridge, Oxford, UCL and Imperial.

Our Take: In a list dominated by US universities, this is great news for our much smaller island. This could be a sign of things to come, as higher tuition fees have a rare positive side-effect of increasing the competitiveness of UK universities on a global stage, to attract the best students and academics.

Plastic Banknotes by 2016

plastic-banknote-ukThe Bank of England has announced its plan to roll out plastic banknotes by 2016.

The new notes will survive accidentally being left in the washing machine, and will last longer than the current currency, which on average survive less than a year before becoming unfit.

Our Take: About time too! Australia and many other countries have had this right for years, and we’re totally on board with this plan at home! It’s just practical, isn’t it? Paper notes just never seem to last, maybe if they’re plastic they’ll stick around in our wallets for longer. And no more wasted, forgotten fivers in the back pocket of your jeans.

Student Bought £800 Yacht to Save on Rent

joe-pearce-yachtAberystwyth student Joe Pearce figured it’d make more financial sense for him to buy a boat to live on whilst studying for his Masters.

So far he’s saved £5,600. Read our feature story on Joe’s money saving adventure here.

Our Take: Joe should be an inspiration to all of us! But whilst it’s a great and bold idea, it’s not always going to be a practical solution in every university city. And moreover, is this a sign of things to come? With the cost of university always on the rise, we wonder if such drastic decisions will become increasingly popular as the student purse is squeezed tighter.

Oxford Uni Drops Wealth Test

oxforduniOxford University has abandoned its controversial policy that meant that post-grad students had to prove upfront that they could afford tuition fees.

The test now only requires that potential students can prove they have the resources for the first years worth of fees.

Our Take: It’s no surprise that this decision has come in the same week that Oxford lost its case against the Salford student who claimed that the University was discriminating against the poor. We only hope that this poisonous policy has been reversed before too much damage was done to one of the UK’s – and the world’s – finest higher education institutes.

Burka Banned at Birmingham College

burka-studentsFace-covering religious veils have been banned on the campus of Birmingham Metropolitan College for ‘security’ reasons.

The ban has raised controversy among both staff and students at the college, who claim the decision is discriminatory.

Our Take: We value freedom of expression, and religious expression is part of that. A college or university is there to educate its students, not dictate what they should or should not wear, especially not in a religious context. This kind of attitude breeds intolerance and ignorance, two of the tenets of racism. We need to put a stop to these kinds of extreme measures.

State of the Machin: On hosting your own website

This weekend I finally went self-hosted. Outside of the web design community, that might not mean much, but basically I went from a free WordPress.com website (which was great, if severely limited) to my own domain http://jackmach.in.

I’m mainly using the site as a blogging platform at the moment, but there’s a huge amount of potential within the WordPress framework to do pretty much whatever I want with it. And the .in name hack is a neat little trick, I wanted to register ja.ck, but as I’ve neither lived nor owned a business on the Cook Islands in the past 5 years  it’s unlikely I’ll get to register that.

Anyway, controlling your social media and web output can be the difference between getting and not getting a job, and it’s always worth having some experience with a Content Management Systems like WordPress for your CV. Save the Student have a great article about setting up your own website, which you should definitely check out.

Learning general web design, running social media and picking up SEO tricks will benefit you in pretty much any professional field you enter, and having a personal investment in these things will also help you keep passionate about a project.

The WordPress community is also a great project to get involved with, usergroups in various cities tend to meet on a monthly basis and larger events like WordCamp happen once or twice a year. These events are great opportunities to network and learn new skills that are always valuable on a CV.

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