‘A degree isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’

May 25, 2009

Increasingly, I’ll agree with the title of this post.  I maintain that GCSEs were the toughest exams I went through, getting easier at A-Level and then just plain ridiculous at third level education

Example 1. In my first year, needing just 40% to pass the module (which counts for nothing towards the final degree) I get a potential 10% for attendance and participation in seminars

Example 2. In my second year, a proposed three hour exam was reformatted into a one hour class test.  With a seen question.  And you were allowed to bring an A4 page of notes in with you.

Example 3. In my final year, during my final exam, I look up wondering what the mumbling noise is.  It’s the invigilator.  With his back turned to a room full of students.  On his phone


University of Ulster drops 16 places in University Guide

May 12, 2009

The Guardian’s University guide lists UU in 75th place, out of the 117 Universities listed.  Queen’s drops three places to 49th.  Queen’s have particularly underperformed.  With an average entry tariff of 353 points there is no university with a higher tariff below them, while several universities with lower entry requirements are above them, such as Heriot Watt (22nd, with an average entry tarriff of 346)

% satisfied with teaching – % satisfied with feedback – Student/Staff Ratio – Career prospect – Avg. Entry Tariff

Queens – 85 – 58 – 16.0 – 76 – 353

UU – 76 – 60 – 17.9 – 63 – 269


Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (2005). “Decency, Morals, God”

April 27, 2009

Last night I watched Sophie Scholl – The Final Days, and would encourage you to watch at least part of the film, this fascinating clip below.

Sophie Scholl and her brother have been arrested for their involvement in the White Rose movement, distributing leaflets criticising the Nazi regime and Hitler.

After thorough interrogation their guilt is proven, and here (2mins 3os in) we see a conversation between Scholl and Investigator Mohr, who treats her in this as intellectual equal, dealing with issues of morality, conscience and God.

The White Rose movement holds high significance, showing clearly that there was opposition to the Nazis from within Germany, thought painfully highlighting its infrequency and lack of strength.

I was in Cologne a few years ago where the actions of the White Rose movement are now celebrated annually.

Article on Sophie Scholl from the Catholic Herald can be found here


Student Fees – Where’s the value?

April 2, 2009

Where does £3,125 of tuition fees per year go, if you study at the University of Ulster?

Extra lecturers, or even pay rises to attract the top ones?
No, staff face pay reductions of up to £5000 per year, as the Vice Chancellor received a 25% pay increase to take him up to £212,000 per year (that’s slightly more than the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and nearly 20 grand more than Gordon Brown gets) (source)

Free printing?
No, students pay 5p per sheet which is the same as, for example, Bennett’s 1 hour photo charge. A service, or profiteering?

No, apparently the money that students pay to the University, is not reinvested back into them. Rather it pays for extortionate and rarely used equipment such as the ‘Bod Pod’.
And surveys which reveal the jaw dropping results released today, that sisters make people happy”

Wow. If that’s not value, I don’t know what is


UniStats.com – Exposing the University of Ulster?

March 5, 2009

As a dissatisfied student at the University of Ulster, I’m out to bash it, so the statistics I’ve selected below are completely to back up my point of view. However, for those of you who want to investigate for yourself, a full range can be found at Unistats.com. I have compared results with Queens and Stirling (it lets you compare any three universities in one sitting)

– 7% of UU graduates, 6 months after graduation, are sales assistants or retail cashiers. 5% are assumed to be unemployed. 3 years well spent, won’t you agree? For History graduates at UU, one in five will work in sales/retail.
– 70% of UU students get employment with a job related to their degree. At Queens this is 81%
– Only 25% of History students go into a graduate job, that is a job related to the degree they studied. For history graduates at Queens, this is 30%, Aberdeen 40%, Birmingham 51%
-14% of UU students leave with no award. Significantly higher than at Queens where this is 4%, Stirling 5%
– As many as 76% find their course at UU intellectually stimulating. Queens 86%, Stirling 84%

Student Activism on the Rise?

February 20, 2009
I posted a few months ago about a Student protest on the issue of top up fees. In Monday’s Times, Hugo Rifkind writes an article on Student Activism which is worth a read.


Protesting, Lobbying – Is it worth it?

December 3, 2008

Yesterday I wrote of the student protest that took place on our campus against higher education fees, and the buzz that that generated.

Today, I still owe this University more money than I have, to have the pleasure of studying here. I’m in the Library at the minute and I’m surrounded by stressed first years with essay deadlines, international students embracing Skype and Youtube-induced cackles of laughter.

So nothing’s changed? Right? Minimal local press coverage. No statement of defiance from the University of Authorities. No word from Reg Empey, backing down from his proposal to increase fees by £80. Hardly the follow up to the radicalisation of discontent I talked of yesterday.

So what was the point? I mean, is it worth it at all to stage a protest? To write a letter to a local authority, an MP, a newspaper? Is anyone listening?

Let me tell you about some of my stories. Hardly shake-the-earth’s-foundations successes but worth telling you about nonetheless

As talk of a new Anthem for the Northern Ireland team whipped the media and the fans into a frenzy a few months ago, I wrote to one of the officials at the Irish Football Association. I got a meeting, and a chance to air my views. I also got an email response from the Chair of the Alliance Party

An email to the same Party’s Culture spokesperson on the ongoing issue of a National Stadium received a response attempting to justify his comments

A petition we ran to make our campus ‘Fairtrade’ received over 500 signatories, led to it becoming one of the main issues for Student Elections, and the New Site VP has been following this up with meetings with the Vice Chancellor to attempt to implement this policy

And there are loads of bigger stories, where a letter writing campaign, or a take to the streets has caused those in charge to change their ways. Politicians know they get elected by the people, so it is in their best interests to pander to their fancies.

If you are passionate about change, seek it. If you can’t do it, lobby someone who can