Uni Application Record, Grad Jobs up 10%, Neknomination Student Craze…
UCAS receives record number of uni applications
UCAS have revealed that the number of applicants to UK universities has risen by 4% and that the proportion of 18 year-olds is at a record high.
As late as December the numbers were still down, but a surge of last minute applications, mainly from women and those in London, have shown there's still an appetite for Higher Education.
Our take: It's great to see that people still have faith that getting a degree is a worthwhile endeavour, and especially good to see that those from the poorest areas are now twice as likely to apply for university than they were ten years ago. What fee increase?
Graduate vacancies up 10%
The job market for graduates in 2014 is looking very promising.
A poll by the Association of Graduate Recruiters of over 200 employers predicts a 10% rise in the number of vacancies for graduates, with a huge 23,000 jobs available.
Our take: We thought it was positive enough news when the number of jobs rose by 4.3% last year, another (even bigger) rise on top of that is just fantastic. The growth is even higher in some sectors, such as IT and telecoms (40%), public services (20%) and banking and financial services (16%). Jobs all round!
New SLC Chairman to get £50k/year
Chris Brodie, a former executive at an investment banking company, has been named the new chairman of the student loans company.
Brodie will be paid £50,000 per year in his non-executive role at the company, which means attending a total of eleven meetings and participating in Board committees.
Our take: As outrageous salaries for executives go, this doesn't seem too excessive. But you have to ask, what does a non-executive chairman actually do to justify earning £50k? In other news, Chris Brodie is also Chairman of the University of Sussex, where things have been going great recently.
MPs claim energy companies are 'ripping off' cash payers
Over 200 MPs have signed a motion in the House of Commons for an enquiry into energy firms from the regulator OfGem.
The move has come after government figures have revealed that those paying by cash or cheque are typically charged £114 more than those who pay via direct debit or other automated payments.
Energy companies have defended themselves by claiming that the higher price is justified by higher processing costs.
Our take: You can see why MPs are annoyed at other people ripping off the British public, that is after all their territory. In all seriousness though direct debits, especially for students sharing household bills, aren't always possible to set up and energy companies are just taking advantage of those who can't fight back.
Course on Beyonce offered at US University
A course called 'Politicising Beyonce' is being offered at Rutgers University by the Department of Women's and Gender studies.
The class' lecturer claims that he will use Beyonce's career to explore race, gender and sexual politics. Students will be analysing her music videos, lyrics and being encouraged to think about how media is consumed.
Our take: We think just about everyone would take this as an elective, right? If it's watching Beyonce videos all day, we're in! Although this is pretty transparently a PR move to generate a buzz around an other wise fairly standard class. Worked though, didn't it?
State of the Machin: On 'Neknomination'
One of the stories I didn't cover in the main news this week is the 'Neknomination' internet drinking craze that is 'sweeping the nation'. I didn't think I could do the story justice with the regular story space and there's a few interesting avenues to explore with it.
First off, it's obviously terrible that two deaths have been linked with this drinking game. For the families of the deceased it's an absolute tragedy. Lets not forget that.
For those of you unaware of what a Neknomination is, it involves filming yourself drinking a large amount of alcohol and doing some form of dare, then you nominate a friend to make similar video.
According to reports, despite the deaths and obvious risks, students and young people are still putting their lives in danger.
This is a typical media storm in a teacup (binge drinking and Internet videos, it's a Daily Mail double header). Every story denouncing the latest scourge on youth just spreads, whatever it's trying to decry to more young people (usually drugs).
The reality is that most young people aren't doing this at all, a tiny minority are and, as I mentioned before, more will be as a result of the outcry.
It's not all outrage though, articles trying to intellectualise and analyse (including this one) the trend are just as bad . The best way to stop a trend is to stop talking about a trend, and stop being surprised when teenagers do the opposite of what they're told.
Also, and this might make me seem old, but do you really need a game to drink alcohol? If you want to drink, just have a drink. I can semi understand the social bonding element to it, but surely you'd bond better by just talking instead of enforcing arbitrary rules to see who'll be pushed the furthest by peer pressure?