3 April 2014

Tuition Fee Drop?, Uni Dropouts, Selfie Degree, Payday Loan Regulation…

Labour plan on £3k reduction in tuition fees

Labour fee reductionOnce again, the student vote is being targeted in an election campaign. This time it’s Labour leader Ed Miliband (re-)announcing plans to slash the cost of tuition fees by £3,000 a year, in an attempt to win over students and their concerned parents.

The change in fees is expected to cost £1.7bn but Labour maintain that this will be a cost saving in the long run, as fewer loans will go unpaid.

Our take: Nick Clegg take two, anyone? It has got to the point now where it’s hard to believe anything any politician says before an election, never mind what they plan to announce in the near future. It’s also worth noting that unless the repayment conditions were changed that this drop in fees would only benefit the wealthy anyway.

Crackdown on payday lenders comes into force

Payday loans regulationNew, stricter, regulations on payday loan companies came into force on the 1st of April.

The industry is now regulated by the Financial Conduit Authority (FCA) rather than the Office of Fair Trading, and the FCA has issued a strong statement saying it will ‘take out’ rogue companies who are not following the new rules.

Our take: It’s about time someone did something about payday loan companies,  their entire business model and advertising is dangerous and exploitative. But is it really necessary to have so many quasi independent bodies, organisations and bureaucracy to stop companies acting immorally?

26,000 students ‘dropping out’ of uni

College Drop OutResearch by the Higher Education Statistics Agency has revealed that 1 in 15 (6.7%) of undergraduates drop out of university in their first year.

The survey also found that 18.5% of students do not finish the course they started, and instead either drop out, change course or even change university in the process. The statistics have raised concerns that school leavers are being pushed onto inappropriate degree courses.

Our take: While these figures are damning, especially to the one institution with a 1 in 5 drop rate, it’s worth noting that they are actually down when compared with the year before. So it’s not all bad news, and with the latest figures being from 2011/12, we wouldn’t be surprised if the post tuition fee bump sees this drop considerably.

Birmingham students camp in library for charity

Birm NightlineA group of students at Birmingham are camping in the university’s library to raise money for the telephone support service Nightline.

The three students have not left the library in a week and have already raised £1000 for the charity.

Our take: That’s some serious dedication, although they must be getting desperate for a proper shower by now. For most of us, seven minutes in the library is pushing it, if you’re impressed by their efforts, why not throw a donation their way?

Greek uni launches Selfie degree course

Greek Uni Selfie CourseThe – fittingly titled – University of Narcissi in Greece is launching a new sociology course based on the ‘selfie’ phenomenon.

The course will explore how the pictures create a projected persona and why the concept of a selfie appeals to so many people.

Our take: We must admit, we’re a little disappointed that this actually seems like a serious sociological study, rather than vain people getting together to chat about the best way to hold a camera or exactly what the right angle is to tilt your head at. That course is coming though, and when it does, we’ll be first on the sign up list! More interesting courses here.

State of the Machin: On not buying a next gen console

No to nextgenI’ve been toying with the idea of buying a Playstation 3 for about as long as I’ve been writing these columns. In fact I’ve been tempted to buy the George Foreman grill console for so long that it has actually been replaced by a newer, more expensive console while I was still waiting to jump on the right deal.

Last week, however, I saw the release of the Final Fantasy X HD remake, and I am nothing if not a sucker for a good JRPG or a bit of nostalgia. This game ticks both of those boxes. With payday right around the corner, it took a serious amount of budget related resolve not to buy a PS3 purely to play the remake.

The only thing that stopped me, was a trip back home where I stumbled on a very dusty Playstation 2, which lo and behold, still had the original Final Fantasy X in it from my last wave of nostalgia. From here, everything made sense, rather than dropping a fairly serious amount of cash on a console that was already becoming obsolete, I would instead spend no cash and play on the greatest games console ever made.

And that sounds like a hyperbole, but it really isn’t. Every controller since the PS2 has basically been a variation on the DualShock 2, which doesn’t need gimmicks like a trackpad or motion controls. The back catalogue of games for the PS2 is immense, and the added bonus of backwards compatibility (remember that, games industry?) with the PS1 just makes it even deeper.

So the bottom line is, if you’re considering, buying an Xbone or PS4, don’t bother. You’ve already got a PS2 at home, play that instead.

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