Category Archives: Current Affairs

Do League Tables Really Matter? – UEA’s rise and fall

By Tim Jones

On the 26th of April, the Complete University Guide (CUG) realised their 2017 rankings with UEA rising two places to 12th. However, do these rankings mean anything? In my opinion, no.

When I first heard that we had achieved the title of 12th best university in the UK, I felt how I imagine every other UEA student felt. Proud. Proud that the hard work of staff and students is continually being recognised. Even when I applied to university, all that seemed to matter to my friends and I was where our university of choice was in the leagues. Nonetheless, after thinking about what these rankings mean regarding the status of the university, I began to question their importance.

There is no question that scoring high in the national rankings is a great achievement, a special mention must go to the soaring levels of student satisfaction achieved at UEA, receiving one of the highest scores for a university within the top 20. However, what the rankings don’t include is a score on prestige. I can confidently say that Red Brick and Russell Group universities, such as: Leeds, Birmingham, and Newcastle (all of which were ranked overall lower than UEA) seem to be looked upon much more favourably by employers and the public than just your ‘standard university.’ The guide even has a category that highlights this belief, the ‘graduate prospects’ category.

Looking on the Complete University Guide UEA’s graduate prospective are ranked significantly low when compared to those of more prestigious universities which have a lower overall rank. Take Sheffield for example, it ranks 31st and scores below UEA in the majority of categories, so why do they score 81.2 in graduate prospects compared to our 73.9?

The answer is that there is clearly still an uppish attitude when it comes to universities. There is the obvious elitism and advantages of going to Oxbridge which don’t need to be mentioned, but I believe the prestige of going to a Russell Group university also puts an individual at a greater advantage in terms of employment prospects.

The Times Higher Education Guide published a list of 25 universities with the best graduate employment rate for 2016. What I found was that the majority of universities above us in these rankings were on the list, however so were those who scored lower; whilst UEA was completely left out. The overall score for UEA on the Complete University Guide is 853, whilst Exeter ranks 14th, scoring 850 points, just 3 points between these two universities. However, Exeter is in joint position with Warwick (ranks 8th on the CUG) for graduate employability. The reasons for UEAs exclusion are bound to be varied, perhaps its due to the fact we specialise in more arty subjects with less traditional forms of graduate employment? More likely is the less historically renowned name of our university and the stigma that seems to be instilled, when selecting your choices, that plate glass universities are not good enough for high achieving students.

Despite all the problems with the ranking system, there is no doubt that an improved ranking will generate more interest in the university, attracting more high achieving students, as well as researchers. This influx of new blood will hopefully allow UEA to take its rightful position as a highly regarded and prestigious institution.

 

Featured image credit: N Chadwick

What is the Student Leadership Review and how will it impact me?

By Tony Allen

An important series of changes were made to the UEA Students’ Union constitution this month, regarding the leadership roles that are held by students.

Perhaps the most contentious point was the implementation of a policy to limit the number of society committee positions one individual can have to three, including one presidency. Whilst there will remain no restrictions on society memberships, the measure aims to limit the workload individuals can place on themselves and allow more students to hold committee positions.

Societies will now also require some level of gender balancing in their committee, or be required to explain themselves to the Union and gain special dispensation from Council, which is expected to be the case for certain sports clubs and other societies, for example, the Feminist society.

Proposed by Campaigns and Democracy officer Amy Rust in four parts, UEA Union Council debated each as a separate motion and passed all four of them after a long, and at times boring and bitter debate that nearly didn’t even get going.

Repeated attempts were made by some councillors to postpone discussion of the proposals, and there was a very time consuming argument regarding whether the actual byelaws being changed required a 2/3 majority of assembled councillors as opposed to the regular half of votes plus one.

So, what is the Student Leadership Review and how will it affect you?

The review’s final report aims to “improve and standardise [the Students’ Union’s] promotion of, training of, and support for the breadth of student leadership positions in the future,” and “take steps to remove barriers to involvement for students.”

The hefty document can be condensed into its four key sections and summarised as follows:

1) “Tidying up” current byelaws. This included clearing up the byelaw which had effectively banned candidates campaigning together at election times, to improve safety and encourage more people to run. This part also included a pledge to hold an annual “student leadership conference” for committee members like the one held with great success last semester.

2) This was one of the most talked-about blocks of new legislation. It requires societies to “introduce a Vice President role that is gender balanced with the society President” meaning that one of the positions must be filled by someone who defines themselves as a woman or non-binary, unless they demonstrate to Union Council that this is impractical. Furthermore, “all student opportunity groups [must] elect a first year students rep” as part of its committee- in any role. The Students’ Union has also been mandated to support the Health and Social Care Society, create a strategy specifically to help academic societies and take a closer look at training for new committee members- ideally before the summer when they officially assume their roles.

3) This part concentrated on the creation of a number of “sub-committees” on issues like ethics and the environment, education, equality and diversity, and welfare, to take some power away from the central Student Officer Committee (SOC) which was seen by some as being too centralised and powerful, reporting directly to Council. Also, School Convenors will be elected to closer connect the Union and academic societies.

4) Finally, it was agreed to allow the Union’s Trustee Board to appoint members through Council rather than election to improve its diversity. The Board’s Equality and Diversity committee will similarly be changed. Also, societies will be created for liberation, plus international and mature students to better support them and hear their views.

Reflecting on the review, Amy Rust told us: “For a long time our research has shown that students think the SU is a closed and cliquey bubble- so when some students got a motion passed on opening up our structures we got to work. Given the SU’s size, scope and ambition, we decided we should expand the number of leadership roles available to students and form leadership committees/boards for different types of student and SU functions. “In the future this will mean far more opportunities for students to get involved – from being on one of the boards that looks after the LCR or the Advice Centre, though to getting more involved in campaigns around education or student welfare and wellbeing. This is all about people who want to get stuff done being able to take up a position without having to get too heavily involved in student politics “There are also changes coming that will see far more first years involved in the SU, and we’ll be taking steps to improve equality – for example this is a University with a majority of women but 70% of our society Presidents are men, and the changes will mean that student groups involve more students from a range of backgrounds in leadership roles”

Elsewhere in the meeting, new chair Jack Lewis was elected unopposed. He coped well with something of a baptism of fire for his first Union Council in the hotseat and should be credited for not allowing the persistent arguments over majorities required to pass legislation and Trustee Board reviews to take over the entire meeting.

Seven new society constitutions were approved including Big C Cancer and UEA Movement for Justice, before the Aerial Aerobics Society’s amended constitution was also ratified.

The length of debate over the Leadership Review meant that only two of the eight ordinary motions were discussed. Both passed: a motion to pledge to diversify union staff and another to push for free contraception on campus, backed up by a hilarious (if slightly rushed) speech from Jo Swo better suited to a Carry On film than Union Council, which lightened proceedings no end.

It has been decided that the motions which did not beat the 10:30pm cut off point, like Nightline’s search for a new home and the Music Society’s dearth of space in which to store their equipment, will be debated first at the next meeting, this Thursday.

 

Photo courtesy of Samuel Seller at https://unsplash.com/@samuelzeller

One Day Without Us Protest: A Protester’s View.

By David Winlo

On Monday evening, a group of people gathered in Anglia Square, off Magdalen Street, for a protest march through Norwich. This was part of the nationwide campaign ‘One Day Without Us’, which aims to highlight the contribution migrants make daily in the UK, as well as defending their rights and status in the country. As well as marching, there were banners and signs, and enthusiastic chanting throughout.

The chanting in particular garnered quite a response at several points during the march. A bus driver honked in rhythm with one chant, whilst other onlookers cheered and clapped for others, giving us protesters a great feeling of support. This was particularly welcome as the earlier stages of the march were not always met so warmly. At the end of the march we stopped near the marketplace, where, after some final chants, one of those leading the protest explained the importance of the protest to the onlookers.

Brexit has the potential to hurt many things: the economy, trade and other foreign relations, UK-based science, the environment, and, of course, the ability of students to put Marmite on their toast. But most importantly, after a campaign fought so unfairly and so heavily on misinformation and the human weakness of fear of ‘those who are different from us,’ it will hurt all migrants and refugees. The hate that saw a Romanian food shop in Norwich get its windows smashed and petrol-bombs thrown at it is widespread, even if it doesn’t always lead to such extreme action, it is a big problem and needs to be responded to, and dealt with, wherever it is found.

It is not too late to support migrants and refugees and make your voice heard where it isn’t already. Keep looking out for more protests to join, donate to organisations like the UN Refugee Agency and Amnesty International, support the migrants you know personally and sign e-petitions – they can work, with a good case and enough backing.

If you have experienced any hate or abuse because of where you’re from, you can contact the Norwich Nightline on 01603 597158, UEA security on 01603 456161 and of course you should tell your friends if you feel comfortable.

The protest has shown me that UEA and Norwich are welcoming places, and there will always be a friendly person to listen to you should you need it.

Image Courtesy of Natalie Froome

Brexit means Brexit Talk

By Tony Allen

The Queen might have visited UEA last Friday, but the previous week the Thomas Paine Study Centre played host to political royalty as four speakers were invited to UEA as part of the Spring Public Lecture Series to give their responses to the question: “Brexit means Brexit, but what does that mean?”

The format of the free public lecture was that the four speakers each gave a short speech relating to their choice of Brexit-related theme, before a Q-and-A session with the audience and a drinks reception afterwards.

A plethora of respected political names had been invited to UEA for the event, the latest in a series of similar events. They included Prof John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde, Dr Jo Hunt from the University of Cardiff, Prof Michael Keating of the University of Aberdeen and UEA’s own Dr Nikos Skoutaris.

First to present was Prof Keating who discussed one of the most contentious and important conundrums of the referendum result: the debate over the Irish border.

The border is a matter of particular interest to me as it seems to embody the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Much has been written about this but, in short, there is no way to control migration into (or out of) the UK, a pet fixation of many Brexiteers, if there remains no physical land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This is because EU migrants could enter the Republic, who of course did not vote on the EU, then travel to the North and take the short ferry to England. However, considering the relative recent successes of the peace process, a wall could prove catastrophic for the area, not to mention for those living near the border who regularly spend time on both sides.

Prof Keating discussed the Good Friday Agreement and Sewel convention, which state that the UK government needs to gain consent from devolved legislatures if they make certain changes that affect them. Prof Keating forecasted that a “constitutional crisis” would ensue if devolved administrations are not consulted on the terms of Brexit, something that it has since been confirmed would not be a necessity in the recent Supreme Court ruling.

Next, Dr Hunt gave a Welsh perspective. Despite a majority in Wales voting to leave the EU, the position of the Welsh Assembly as a devolved legislature was discussed. Dr Hunt examined the updating of the Government of Wales Act, soon expected to receive Royal Ascent, which changes the nature of Welsh government from being able to legislate on any issue they have not been told is Westminster’s prerogative (like in Northern Ireland and Scotland) to only being responsible for specifically delegated policy areas.

The dichotomy between Wales’ net benefit from EU subsidies and the nation’s referendum result was not something lost on Dr Hunt.

Prof Curtice was next to talk, using a presentation of electoral statistics, his area of expertise, to illustrate his argument that Brexit will not necessarily lead to a second independence referendum in Scotland, but could well do in the future. He made the interesting observation that although ‘Leave’ would gain support from those wishing to remain in the EU with Scotland as an independent member, some previous ‘Leave’ voters would switch sides to ‘Remain’ from 2014 because they believe that the union is a lesser evil than re-entering the EU. He noted that neither side could be confident of victory, so until the impact of Brexit is felt more clearly, there was no way a referendum would be called.

Prof Curtice also explored ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ a white paper which outlined the, albeit unlikely, preferences of the Scottish government for Brexit, which included freedom of movement being maintained, and Scotland at least being allowed to remain in the single market.

Finally, Dr Skoutaris gave a legal perspective from his position in the Norwich Law School. He elaborated more on the Irish question and pointed out that, when analysed in detail, the legal obstacles which stand in the way of Brexit are highly complex and by no means certain.

Afterwards, the academics answered questions about their Brexit predictions from interested members of the public, which is more than can be said so far for Theresa May. These included queries on the sway held by the other EU states, and whether the panel believed the devolved assemblies were being listened to in the formulation of Britain’s negotiation tactics. The final question asked whether there was any possibility of the UK not leaving, to which Prof Curtice replied that the public have not yet changed their minds enough. He noted, however, that another referendum was not impossible, reminding those in attendance that the recent vote was actually the second, after the previous ‘remain’ majority in 1975.

I think the final words of Prof Keating’s opening speech summed up the evening well: despite his eminence and expertise, even he has “no idea what the outcome is likely to be”. The path of Brexit is hardly any clearer than the morning after the referendum. The fact is that despite the bluster of certain politicians and May’s bullishness, still no one knows what is going to happen. The UK voted for uncertainty and more than seven months on with Article 50 still not having been triggered, that’s exactly what we’re getting.

Image from https://twitter.com/politics_uea

The Brexit Plan: What it Means for Students

By Lewis Martin

Today Theresa May announced her plan for how Brexit, the catchy name for the UK leaving the European Union, will look after the two years of negotiation is finished and Article 50 has finally been triggered.

Whilst the plan does not reveal a lot of information concerning the workings of Brexit, as it is subject to the deal that is agreed, if any, for trading and working with the EU, it has given a lot of hints of what we can expect to happen for both UK and EU students at the end of it.

For UK students, not a lot will change initially as they will not be overly affected by the changes that have been proposed. The area that will face the biggest change for UK students is that of those taking part in Erasmus schemes. When we leave the single market, freedom of movement will come to an end as and when the deal is finalised between the UK and the EU, leading to visas being reintroduced for the first time in our lifetime. This in turn will place restrictions upon the ability for UK students to live and study abroad if they wished to, as they will require various permits which, more than likely, will come at a cost. This, on top of the living and travel expenses to go to EU countries, will force many students to reconsider, if not cancel, their dreams to study abroad and visit countries they have never previously had the opportunity to visit. Besides this, UK students may come off unscathed.

Now when we look at our EU student counterparts we see the major issues of the proposed deal come to light. Despite pleas from various groups, Theresa May has refused to guarantee the rights of EU migrants that have already settled in the UK, including EU students. This means that, unless an agreement can be made, there will be no certainty that they will be able to continue living in the country once their studies have finished, that funding will still be available and what will happen once their studies have finished. For international students from outside the EU there is already restrictions in place for their visas, once they graduate they need to earn a minimum of £20,800 in order to be able to stay in the UK on a tier 2 working visa. The only other option they have is to hope that they qualify for permanent residence. This is the one way to definitely be able to stay in the UK but it comes with an £85 fee plus a 80 page form to fill out that has been described as purposefully confusing. The form itself requires a lot of evidence about time spent in the UK.

If EU students’ rights can’t be guaranteed then this will likely be the policy set out by the government, thus forcing many of them to leave the country that they have called home after their studies and potentially even before that.

With all this in mind, we can start to see the shaping of a deal that could see the end of some options available to those in higher education, be it UK students or EU students. Although we cannot be certain of how the next two years will shape out, we can be almost sure that, for our EU students counterparts, it will not be easy.

Image: “Home Secretary Theresa May” by U.S. Embassy London is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Votes at 16

By Tony Allen

At the Union Council meeting on the 23/11/16, a motion was carried which gained a great deal less attention than that about poppy sales on campus. It was Motion 2008: The fight for Votes at 16. Proposed by Cameron Mellowes of UEA Labour and seconded by the SU’s Campaigns and Democracy officer Amy Rust, an overwhelming majority of 75% of councillors in attendance voted to enshrine into Union policy our support for lowering the minimum voting age in UK elections from 18 to 16.

I was delighted, in my first Union Council meeting, to be able to contribute to such a significant step in the right direction. However, of course this is only the start of the hard work. The SU has been going through a tough few weeks publicity-wise, but this is truly something to smile about. Here is why I feel so strongly about the campaign and look forward to participating in any way I can:

My personal experience of electoral injustice at the age of seventeen informs my view heavily. On Friday 8th May 2015, they day after the General Election, I clearly remember sitting in my A Level politics classroom before my teacher arrived for the morning’s lesson. My class watched BBC News on our projector screen, rapt, as Ed Balls lost his seat. But by then we already knew that the Conservatives were waltzing away with a Parliamentary majority- some were delighted, others distraught.

Whatever the result of the election, it would have rung hollow for me. I was bitterly disappointed with it, but more deeply with my helpless inability to have been able to register my opinion. What could have been a brilliantly encouraging introduction to the world of politics outside the textbook for our class turned out to be little more than a damp squib.

When we next get the chance to vote in a General Election, most of us will be in full time employment (or not, as the case may unfortunately be). Mr Smith’s politics lessons, and the passion they engendered, will be a distant memory.

I hate the thought that some people who might have started the habit of a lifetime by voting when inspired by our fierce common-room debates might not bother five years on.

The global political landscape is in a period of unprecedented upheaval and most British born UEA students will have had the chance to participate by voting in the EU referendum. But we can’t forget about votes at 16 just because it wouldn’t make a difference to us any more.

That is why I was so glad that the Union Council motion passed with such a resoundingly positive vote. Even when you look at the 24% who didn’t back the motion (rounded to the nearest %), only 10% voted outright against, with 14% abstaining.

The recent NUS demonstration, attended by UEA students, has thrown the spotlight on cuts and fee rises made by the government. It’s a tragedy that many of the new intake of freshers didn’t get the chance to have their say in the election of this government who are imposing austerity on them and could continue to do so unabated for the rest of our undergraduate careers.

And you wonder why young people have a reputation for political passivity and disenfranchisement.

Scottish 16-and-17-year-olds were granted the vote in their independence referendum, by all accounts with great success. So, I’m sure they were as perplexed in 2016 as we were envious of them in 2014 that every under-18 was denied a vote on the EU. The final referendum result would probably not have changed had the franchise been extended to 16-and-17-year-olds. However, it would have gained more legitimacy in my eyes.

The flippant arguments made after the EU referendum for an upper age limit for voting are of course completely absurd. But isn’t normalised age discrimination a key excuse for failing to listen to the well-reasoned arguments of young people to extend the franchise? These things have got to work both ways.

Thankfully for the sake of sensible debate, not all arguments against extending the vote are so condescending as Julia Hartley-Brewer’s infamous diatribe in the Daily Telegraph. Dr Andrew Mycock has argued reasonably that education must be improved first.

But that would be so easy to do. Even a sixteen-year-old could probably make a good fist of suggesting how.

General Studies at A Level needed not to be scrapped, as it has been in the latest cull of so-called ‘soft’ subjects (not so, but that’s another article), but instead to be reformed to make it exciting, accessible, and more weighted towards real-life politics. Form time activities in schools need to be changed to concentrate on providing an objective, rounded political education. It’s not about ramming politics down students’ throats- we have compulsory education for a reason.

I don’t buy for one second the arguments that it would be too difficult/expensive/time consuming (delete as appropriate) to revolutionise political education in schools. Improving and standardising what’s already in place with regards to citizenship education will go a long way towards ensuring young people are equipped to use their votes.

If only our elected representatives had to appeal to voters in the traditional Sixth Form age range, then they might put more time and effort into exploring such beneficial, student-focused education reforms…

In essence, my support for votes at 16 can be boiled down to the fact that life nowadays for young people is just not the same as it was in 1969, when the most recent Representation of the People Act lowered the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.

Education is perhaps the single biggest example which cements my optimism in the ability of 16 and 17-year-olds to vote wisely and respect our democratic institution.

Arguably the biggest responsibility on teenage shoulders now is that of attaining those all-important A*-C grades in Maths and English GCSEs- necessary not only for many careers, but also for regular entry into UEA.

Aside from those GCSEs being hugely important to the individual student, the careers of teachers and school staff are on the line and effectively decided by a group of 16-year-olds and their independent decisions on whether to engage and revise. Why are our MPs’ careers any more sacrosanct than those of their fellow public servants in the classroom?

At fifteen or sixteen we choose A Levels, or other post-16 routes, that will effectively rule us in or out of particular careers. We decide where our next steps should be, and have a chance to move away from the safe confines of secondary school and pave the way for our futures. So why would we be any less able, interested or willing to decide on the future of our country too?

Image from NUS votes at 16 campaign

Where Do You Start With Jeremy Corbyn

By Tony Allen 

Unsuitable to be a leader, or just the tonic that British politics needs right now? Future Prime Minister, or the man who could drag Labour into oblivion? The reality is, no-one will know until the next election. but here’s why I believe he is the man to lead both Labour and Britain to a better future

First and (perhaps) foremost, people can identify with Corbyn. Of course he’s not perfect. But he’s served his time in the Labour Party and has a wealth of experience to draw upon. He knows what it’s like to be a party member and little-known backbencher both in government and opposition, knowledge that could be crucial in the period up to the next election, and could well also make him a better Prime Minister. His whipping power would consequently be extremely useful in forming a stable government and party from the grass roots up.

I suppose the main reason I wanted to write in support of Corbyn is this: I am an ordinary, lay person in terms of politics. Beyond studying the subject at A Level and making use of Charles Clarke’s public lectures at UEA, like much of the active electorate I am interested but no expert. I personally feel more sympathetic towards Corbyn as a leader than anyone else in modern politics. This trend is repeated up and down the country. A sixty-seven year old man is whipping up a fervour among many people (especially the young) in Britain, so why not give him a chance?

Anyone with even a passing interest in current affairs will remember the emotion around Corbyn’s election as party leader. I myself was halfway through Sixth Form and I felt real hope after watching the results as they were announced live on TV. Labour members had not just elected a new leader, they had voted for a change in their party and a new movement.

Many people who hadn’t been for a long time were genuinely excited about politics and after the great participatory event that was the EU referendum, they could be again.

As for the criticisms of the £3 registered supporters who got Corbyn elected? Well, I see their voices as being just as valid as any regular member of the Labour Party. After all, if Labour are to be the party of the working people, they need to allow as many people as possible a say in policymaking. I can’t help but think that some critics of the Labour leadership electoral system have lost sight of what it means to be socialist at a time when Labour needs to reinvent itself, regroup and assert its position in the British political spectrum. And no-one has a mandate to lead the party like Corbyn does.

Our MP Clive Lewis is a major supporter of Corbyn, and it is unsung heroes in the party like him who hold the key to Labour’s future success, not the loud figures like Chuka Umunna seemingly interested primarily in their own interests. Corbyn loyalists withstood the tense moments when resignations were ten-a-penny from his shadow cabinet. Having remained resolute throughout that, those who remain are now perfectly equipped for taking the fight to a more obvious adversary.

Admittedly, polling isn’t always great in terms of Corbyn’s personal popularity. However, if you’d have listened to the pollsters, the Conservatives would have been nowhere near a majority in 2015 and the UK would have voted by an overwhelming majority to remain in the EU.

Image: “Jeremy Corbyn” by Garry King is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Stop The Hate Campaign

By Khalea Robertson

On Friday 4th November, UEA’s Migrant Solidarity Campaign, in conjunction with People and Planet’s Undoing Borders campaign, will be carrying out a day of action protesting the inflammatory and discriminatory reporting of the Daily Express, particularly in relation to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The campaign targets Specsavers, a major advertiser in the Daily Express.

Why the Daily Express?

Here are some sample headlines from the newspaper:

* How Mass Migration May Kill Off Core British Traditions Such as Christmas

* Migrants Take All New Jobs in Britain (N.B. ‘all’ was emboldened by the Daily Express, not me)

* We Must Stop the Migrant Invasion

* 12 000 Asylum Seekers Vanish… and that’s just the ones the Home Office knows about

What is the problem with these headlines? They are either flat out wrong or have wildly and deliberately misconstrued or exaggerated facts. Take for instance the last headline. It was based off a report from the Home Office which stated that one in six asylum seekers (amounting to a little less than 12 000 people) do not show up for their first interview (N.B. ‘first’ was emboldened by me, not the Daily Express). This figure, however, includes asylum seekers that attended later meetings, as was clarified in an article by the Huffington Post which also included this quote from the Policy Director of the charity Refugee Council:

“There are many legitimate reasons why people may miss appointments with the Home Office; they may never have actually been informed about the appointment in the first place, they may not have been able to arrange childcare or they simply may not have had the bus fare to get there.”

The Daily Express is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation which requires that its members “take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” and “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”. They must then be taken to task for failing to meet these standards.

 Why Specsavers?

In September, public backlash prompted Specsavers to withdraw a front page advertisement from the Daily Express. The advert, which featured the slogan “Just what you’ve been waiting to hear”, was placed directly underneath an article warning of “roaming gangs of migrants” (the words ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ are never used in the article) at the migrant and refugee camp in Calais known as ‘the Jungle’.

Specsavers’ retraction opened the door to calls for the company to completely stop any kind of promotion in the newspaper in order to divest irresponsible media of crucial advertising money.

Therefore, on the day of action, the Migrant Solidarity Campaign stands with the Undoing Borders Campaign to demand that Specsavers stop being #BlindToHate and remove itself from the #DailyHateExpress.

Take Aways from the First Presidential Debate

By Khalea Robertson

Takeaways from the 1st US Presidential Debate

Last Monday’s debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump didn’t offer any new information on the candidates’ policies (or lack thereof), respective pedigree (see previous parenthesis) or personalities (or, to use a buzzword, ‘temperament’). So, at risk of sounding like your parents during an argument, let’s reiterate what has already been extensively covered.

1    What’s the plan?

‘You don’t have a plan!’ One could be forgiven for thinking that was an accusation levelled at a certain ‘Republican’. But it was in fact aimed the other way. At the Democrat who concisely highlighted some key points of her strategy for economic stability and job creation supported by pesky things such as facts, figures and expert projections.

Meanwhile, across the divide, there stood a man who ripped into major deals and agreements negotiated within the last two or so decades with little regard for their actual contents or results or participants in their creation (because if not Clinton, who?). What he rarely provided though, was any solution for the multiplicity of problems perceived. However, as a self-proclaimed business success there was one issue Trump could dance his way around.

2    Show me the money!

Trump’s plan for the economy boils down to providing the wealthy with incentives to expand their businesses and create jobs domestically. Nothing surprising there, it’s typical conservative economics. Also not surprising is the way Trump displayed pride in how he has managed to avoid paying federal taxes, wished to exploit a collapse of the housing sector and actively searches for loopholes in the constitution in his business dealings. (Actual Trump quote – ‘I take advantage of the laws of the nation’.)

When it came to questions about his personal finances, the businessman showed incredible skill in saying a lot without ever answering the question. I think he’s trying to appeal to college students.

3    Battle of the stock phrases

Race and ethnicity. The ambiguity of the candidates’ responses reflected the complex nature of the issue. In that they did not offer plans as much as clichés. Clinton repeated the desire to ‘restore trust between communities and police’. Trump managed to use the phrase ‘law and order’ five times in two minutes.

This segment seemed to go off the rails. Clinton exploited Trump’s bleak depiction of ethnic minorities in the inner cities as an opportunity to pander to black voters. Trump countered that he had ‘developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community’ (there is precisely zero evidence of this). He then talked about a nightclub he owned in South Florida. Clinton described American Muslims as being “on the frontlines” of the fight against IS and shoved responsibility of providing information unto them as if they hold weekly nationwide Skype conferences to suss out potential threats.

Trump was unprepared and disruptive and the only time Clinton’s outward confidence dimmed in the slightest was concerning email-gate.  Pretty much as expected then.

Image: “American Flag” by Denise Krebs licensed under CC BY 2.0

Results day – What’s Next?

By Lewis Martin

Woo! Its results day and all those weeks of anxiety over how well you’ve done are now over. Now it’s time to look forward to the future and that future is UEA.

It is understandable that you may be anxious about what the future holds for you in the build up to your arrival, or just about what’s happening if you didn’t get the grades you expected. Well, this article will help guide you through what to do.

First things first, don’t be scared of clearing or contacting the university. If you haven’t got the grades that you wanted or needed, then don’t panic. Clearing can be your best friend in terms of getting into a university place either at UEA or at another university that may have places on the course you wanted or a similar one. Also don’t be afraid to contact the university if you have any worries about the grades or the course that you’re going into. they will be willing to help you in the build up to the start of the academic year and get your school to answer any questions that you may have before you arrive.

Don’t be scared if you’re offered something different from what you applied for. Although its rare, if you didn’t get the grades for the course you wanted some of the schools do have access to what is called a Foundation Year. Having studied one in the last year it is a perfect way to learn a huge cross section of disciplines within the Arts and Humanities as well as adjusting you to university life in a social and academic sense. It will also allow you to see what each area of each school teaches and might even convince you to change your course (I changed from History to Politics and International Relations) after having studied the range of topics and subjects that are open to you.

When you know you’re coming to UEA, join the group pages and chats for your course and flat mates. Every single subject and school will have a group page and probably an unofficial group chat made. These are the best places to meet the people you’re going to be sharing the next 3/4 years with on your course and also make friends early on. These can be found by either posting what course you’re doing on the main fresher’s page, or something less intimidating is to have a search through the posts posted on it and then just leave a comment on it. you can repeat the above for your housing.

Editors note:

Whatever happens on results day, remember that you always have plenty of options. If you’re coming to UEA that’s brilliant and you’re going to have an incredible time, if you missed out on the grades, it’s always worth calling the university and discussing your options. Good luck!

Rise up against Fee Rises

Rise up against fee rises – why the new fee increases are worse than 2010’s

July 29, 2016

In 2010 the Coalition Government of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats raised tuition fees from £3000 a year to £9000 a year. This was the first time that fees had been raised since 1997, when the Labour government introduced fees for the very first time in England and Wales. This increase was met with a huge reaction which led to massive protests on the streets of London. However, this hasn’t been the only rise in tuition fees since the coming of successive Conservative governments.

It was announced on the last day of Parliament that tuitions fees will be allowed to rise to £9,250 per year as of 2017. Despite this being a relatively small rise compared to the 2010 rise, it has a more significant effect upon the overall landscape of fees and sets a precedent for the future.

Casting our minds back to 2010, the fee rise did have an economic argument behind it. This was mainly that no rises for 13 years previously had led to a black hole the government was funding and with the ‘need for austerity’ the funding should be covered by the student as opposed to government money. This was George Osborne’s argument when it was passed in parliament and is still the one believed by those who supported the rise.

Now, comparing it to the current rise, there has been no argument put forward by the Chancellor, Higher Education Secretary (Jo Johnson, the seemingly normal brother of Boris) or even the new Prime Minister Theresa May. What happened is that the legislation snuck through parliament unnoticed by a majority of people and was then announced on the last day when a majority of journalists had gone on holiday and the PM was away smooth talking the EU in an attempt to pick up the best deal for the UK after Brexit.

This shows that the recent rise is nothing but a money grab by the current government. It doesn’t fall in line with inflation. it was allowed due to a loophole in the contracts we all signed in order for us to be able to go get our loans.

It also has set a precedent in allowing for the current system to be exploited and the fees to continually rise without a parliamentary debate or even consultation. We have no certainty on what our fees will be and even when the rises will stop. The only thing is for certain is that this will not be the end of the issue.

I ask that if you want to fight this you not only join me and many other students in fighting the current government via protests that will no doubt be happening in Autumn with the help of the SU, but also consider joining various societies that will also be battling the rise, such as the Free Education Soc, Young Greens and UEA Labour in order to get your voice heard and get the change that is so desperately needed in our Higher Education system.

Brexit; the reality for EU students

The morning the result of the EU referendum was announced, 48% of voters woke up in utter shock – shock at the dropping pound, dropping pension funds, consequences quickly disowned by the Vote Leave campaigners.

Although everyone in Britain is affected by this, certain groups of people weren’t even allowed to participate in the vote in spite of the democracy we claim to be. Even the ones who will be affected the most by the vote, such as the EU migrants.

Since the initial announcement of the result, hate crimes have spiked. Abuse targeted at both EU migrants and non-white British citizens has been calculated to be nearly 57% higher than average.

Incidents such as posting hateful leaflets bearing slogans such as: ‘Leave the EU, No more Polish Vermin’ through letterboxes in Huntingdon, men chanting ‘OUT, OUT, OUT’ at Muslim women in Brockley, have become a new and frankly terrifying, daily routine.

In light of the economic turmoil brought upon Britain by provincial rage, everyone is already suffering. Arts funding already stands as low as it can be with consecutive cuts from the Tory government, but once EU funding is removed, it might vanish completely. Removing free movement of labour and services will also see the scientific progress fall due to the inability to easily communicate between UK scientists and Europe.

Uncertainty following EU nationals’ migrant status also hits universities. Many worry whether they will be able to do that Master’s degree without paying twice the yearly tuition fee out of their pocket, or whether their families can still stay in the country until pension age without repercussions. This anxiety has been widely felt through social media, although it has been quickly shot down by keyboard warriors with slightly too much time on their hands.

Thankfully, UEA’s Vice-Chancellor, David Richardson has eased the minds of current and prospective UEA students, stating that before the end of the Brexit negotiations there will be no change to the status of EU students who plan to/already attend the university. Until then, there will also be no change to the way Student Finance works, which means it’s still possible to take out loans for the years they will be attending.

However, despite many claims that Brexit is not a result of racist sentiments, as an immigrant I have been made to feel unsafe within the community I, just like many others, made my home. Although it’s clear that many left wing Leave voters had peaceful reasons for their vote, they have simultaneously promoted the far right, racist sentiments and legitimised the hate acts that have been happening all around the country.

This vote stopped being an ideological, detached argument when people are scared to speak their language on the streets in fear of being attacked. For the moment, all they can do is hope that the majority stops seeing them as the enemy.

Image: “Brexit” by Mick Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0