Student section writer
Alex is currently studying for a Masters of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. During his time as a student, he has been widely involved in both student politics and activism within the Green Party; he has been involved with campaigns against university service centralisation and the prevent agenda. His academic main interest is the interaction of legal theory and minority rights.
Recent years, have seen a spate of referenda within students’ unions on whether they should continue their affiliation to NUS. One of the union’s most prominent critics, Tom Harwood, is running for NUS president this year. With all this going on, I feel like it’s a good time to throw my hat into the ring.
New postgraduate loans have made extended higher education more accessible. While the situation is far from perfect, and access to further higher education remains restricted for many, new possibilities have been opened up. However, if students are to make the best of these opportunities, they need guidance.
(16.03.17) – Insult & Injury – The Student Lettings Ripoff
The problem is even more pronounced for postgraduates, who oftentimes find themselves moving into a new area where they know no-one, and looking for accommodation without the support of friends and housemates at their side. This can result in them being forced to live with people they do not know and can often see them having to find accommodation at the last second, limiting their choices. In addition to this, the inadequate level at which postgraduate student loans are set leaves many postgrads unable to afford ever rising rent costs. This can, of course, have dramatic consequences for their ability to effectively complete their studies.
(28.02.17) – We Need To Talk About Perfectionism
Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.
(14.02.17) – Poverty Loans: The Forgotten Fight?
Disclaimer: in what follows I am not suggesting that tuition fees are acceptable, nor that we should stop campaigning against further fee rises and for their complete abolition. But I think that we should put as much effort into campaigning on another, more pressing issue, which is often sidelined in the discourse around the marketisation of education. We need a maintenance loan settlement which works for all students and, crucially, higher postgraduate loans, to truly improve access to education.
(31.01.17) – The NSS: A Missed Opportunity for Solidarity
So, it’s that time of year again. The time of year where university finalists are asked to submit to the NSS (National Student Survey) and evaluate their university experience. This seems harmless enough. Indeed, the ability to criticise your institution in a way that might improve the experience of others can be portrayed as being positively progressive. However, this year, the data has a far more sinister usage. Because this year, NSS data is to be used in order to make decisions on whether or not to allow certain institutions to raise their fees. This change is coming about through the implementation of the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), and Tory reforms to higher education more generally.