Category Archives: standardgrades

#demo2010 – The Scottish Solution

According to BBC Reporting Scotland, students protested in Edinburgh on Thursday to send a message to Holyrood not to follow the lead of MPs in Westminster on tuition fees.

Via SSYP website

The twitter hashtag #solidarity suggested a more general motive of support in my eyes, but what do I know.  Watching the rest of the beeb’s report, I couldn’t help thinking they haven’t bothered to get the full story at either side of the border.

For one thing, they branded every one of the London protestors with a hood up as being a troublemaker. Watching the footage back that was evidently not the case – some were undoubtedly just a bit cold. It is winter, you know.  I’d have been more inclined to judge that bunch of reprobates who were all dressed in black and wearing masks whilst they smashed the windows of the Treasury.

Anyway, back to my point. Are Edinburgh students genuinely worried that the Scottish government will renege on one of the key issues of devolution and suddenly start charging people £9,000 to go to university where at the moment it’s free to Scottish students?  They only scrapped the graduate endowment when I was in fourth year, a mere three years ago.  Surely politicians are not so fickle?! *cough* Clegg *cough*.

MSPs are all swearing blind this will not happen, although nobody has been particularly forthcoming on an alternative funding model as yet.  There will be a green paper released on the subject next week, and in a chilling piece to camera on STV, president of NUS Scotland Liam Burns warned that he WOULD BE WATCHING.

But if Scottish students do continue to study for free (excepting of course their cost of living, books and actual graduation after four years), what does that mean in terms of finances for our universities?

MP for Edinburgh East Sheila Gilmore has been quoted this week as being concerned that universities, who have struggled with some fairly brutal cuts over the past few years, may take higher quotas of fee-paying students from England and abroad to try and raise some money, to the detriment of bright and able young Scots.

Taking this to the logical conclusion, we’ll still be churning out graduates, but they’ll presumably decamp back down south after graduation and the Scottish economy will see none of the benefits of their (alleged) higher earning power. Meanwhile we’ll have a larger number of unqualified natives working three or four menial jobs to try and make ends meet.
Sorry, but this smacks of scaremongering, and xenophobic scaremongering at that.  Whilst there are a lot of English students in Scotland, there would need to be an exponential surge in numbers for them to overtake the levels of Scottish students.  According to data collected by The Higher Education Statistics Agency in 2006-2007, out of 223, 532 people studying for their degrees in Scotland, 21,514 were from England, whilst there were 158 983 Scots.

However, the nationality of our students seems irrelevant given that the chance of anyone getting a decent job after graduation is fast becoming an urban myth.  The jobs market in Scotland is a barren wasteland, littered with the dead aspirations of graduates who wanted to do something interesting and found instead that it was bottom rung data entry, retail or dole.  One of my friends tells a story of how last year he attended a training session in an Edinburgh branch of Waterstones where one St Andrews graduate (who also had an MLitt from Edinburgh University) taught four other recent graduates how to lift a box.

We don’t have to start paying back our SAAS loans until we’re earning more than 15k, and I only know about three people who have got to that stage.  I graduated in 2008.  Meanwhile the new legislation from Westminster gives people till 21k before they have to start paying things back.  It could take years to get to that stage.  The way things look right now, it might never happen.
In that case, what is the point of getting a degree in the first place? You’d be as well doing your 6 months on the dole straight from school, then getting on the career ladder ASAP.  Except that when you then want to go for those middle management, 20k promotions in your late twenties or early thirties, they turn round and tell you that you do need a degree after all.  Not because you can’t do the job, particularly, but because all the other candidates have one.  It denotes a particular aptitude for handing in paperwork that you may not have as someone who came to work straight from school.

Furthermore, according to a Universities Scotland report, employment growth will continue to be concentrated at graduate level over the next few years.  Although as far as I can gather, ‘graduate level work’ almost exclusively involves moving to London and working for companies like Deloitte doing something you have no real interest in.

This is probably a product of my arts degree.  I didn’t go to university to become an historian; I went to work on the student press as part of my quest to become a journalist.  Whilst the experience has done nothing to get me work paying more than 13.5k pa; it was a valuable and worthwhile experience which taught me to think and communicate in a number of different ways.

As a result, I do think that people ought to have the option to go and on a personal level I’m open to the idea of a graduate contribution to facilitate this.  Who can really argue against putting something back into a system that enabled you to go as far as you could intellectually and financially?

I don’t know what our ‘Scottish Solution’ to the problem of Higher Education is going to be, but I do think that a graduate contribution of some kind makes sense.  Just as long as the Scottish Government don’t present it in the same cack-handed way as Clegg and the coalition, because that makes people angry.  And people put their hoods up when they’re angry.

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Filed under adulthood, Edinburgh, government, graduate, limitlesspotential, scotland, standardgrades, university, vocationaltraining

Jobless Students

Mr Jobless Graduate was texting me at my temp job earlier today to register his disgust at the way the press have covered the London student protests.  Prior to hearing from him, all I’d read was part of a statement from the head of the MET describing  the trouble makers as “a small but significant” minority, although the attack on the royals had filtered through my caffeine deprived senses to a certain extent.

“What are they saying,” I texted back, looking through old biology papers to see if the diagram I needed to do had been drawn before.  It had not.

“Mainly banging on about the desecration of war memorials and attacks on the royal family.  Nothing about the people stuck on the bridge.”

It transpired that one of Mr JG’s friends, currently studying in London, had gone along to the protest at 3pm but on seeing the violence he decided to leave.  He was prevented from doing so, detained on Westminster Bridge for over four hours without access to food, water, or the other accoutrements to which he has become accustomed.

read the rest of this post here.

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Filed under adolescence, adulthood, antics, Edinburgh, government, graduate, noise, standardgrades, unemployment, university, vocationaltraining

Adulthood

I wrote a thing about the dangers of going clubbing as someone over 17.  It appears  heavily edited here in Brikolage, alongside some other lovely words and pictures on the subject of adulthood.  Alternatively you can read my original version below.  Or do both.  I won’t judge.

Twenty-somethings!  Want to check how adult you are?  Why not try a trip to Antics?

For those of you not in the know, Antics is a club night held at The Hive in Edinburgh every Tuesday.  They play only ‘alternative anthems’, which translates as the Kerrang! TV playlist circa ten years back, with the odd rock classic or arbitrary Pendulum track chucked in.

Antics is frequented by a heady cocktail of kids who look like extras from a Harry Potter movie, and dodgy looking guys who are nearing middle age faster than they’d care to admit (I look after Mother and work in the local supermarket; it’s a big responsibility for a thirty-four year old!). Then there’s the middle tier of 22-25 year olds, and this is where the confusion starts to creep in.

At 25, you remember these ‘anthems’ from the first time round.  You were only doing standard grades, that was barely any time ago!  However, at 22, you probably just missed the nu-metal phase, and it’s possible that along with Cho Chang and the rest of these kids you genuinely think that ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ is retro.

It isn’t.

Anyway, you’ve got to the Cowgate, you’ve shown ID and pointedly ignored the withering glances of the bouncers on entry.  Once there, make a beeline for the front of the dance floor, preferably wearing glo-sticks your much more inebriated mate produced on leaving the flat.  Then, wait to see if they instantly increase the volume of dry ice to mask your embarrassingly elderly face, before retreating to the bar to take advantage of the liver destroying drinks deals.

Stand around awkwardly for a while, watching the 17-year-old in the ‘Pop Punk Is Not Dead’ shirt strawpedo a pitcher of tennents whilst thinking ‘Oh, but it is mate. It is.’

Read Gropey McFeelyouup the riot act because you’re sober enough to work out which of the creepy old men it was who grabbed you from behind.  If you are not yet an adult, you’re more like to elbow the nearest person instead, who will probably be one of your friends, or failing that a total hottie.  Like, how embarrassing.

If you think that the best song of the night is ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ from The Blues Brothers, you might just be a proper grown up.  But now Blink 182 are on, and as the only adult present it’s up to you to teach these naive kids how to pogo.  Good luck.

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Filed under adulthood, antics, brikolage, clubbing, cowgate, Edinburgh, graduate, harrypotter, kerrang, pogo, standardgrades, thehive