Students are under the kosh again, as Osborne’s “earn or learn” Budget promises become a reality. Last week, Parliament voted to scrap student maintenance grants in favour of a loan system which will come into effect from September 2016. We lead this issue looking into the implications for Exeter students – over 3000 are in their first or second year benefitting from the means-tested grants.
While the Tories are quick to claim that loans will provide more cash-in-hand for those hardest up, we’re of the opinion this move represents yet another attack on poorer students. It is entirely regressive and will further decrease social mobility at what is an already elitist institution, thoughts echoed by our very own Vice-Chancellor. Nearly all of the students we spoke to were concerned about the long-term impacts of such a change. There is no doubt that people from low-income backgrounds will be put off from even applying to uni with the prospect of over £50k worth of debt dumped upon them. For a personal perspective, see the Comment piece to the right.
Equally as scandalous (lol jk) in our eyes is the shocking revelation that the University spent a whopping £5,780 last year on BISCUITS. Whilst many students frequently struggle to make ends meet, it appears as though the University have been lavishing guests with everything from custard creams to chocolate chips. In what could be the biggest scandal since last year’s ‘puppy-gate’, this frivolous spending really does take the biscuit.
But where do the University get this money from? Well they’re certainly making enough from parking charges. An FOI revealed that the remuneration received from parking in last academic year was just shy of £350,000. It’s claimed that this money is reinvested in sustainable alternatives to car travel, but our investigation revealed a worrying discrepancy in the amount raked in compared to the amount reinvested on average each year. For the full facts and figures, see page 3 of news.
News also cover Floella Benjamin’s final stint as Exeter’s Chancellor (page 6). Had we ever heard of her before we came here? Of course not but how will her loveable hugs and inspirational tweets be replaced? To quote Floella on the social media site: “My duty as Chancellor of Exeter Uni was to make a difference to others, felt job done when a graduate told me I brought hope back into his life.” Comment have come up with a few of their own Floella replacements – cast your eye over to page 9 and you, too, will find yourself wanting Emma Bunton (yes, really) congratulating you this year.
It’s almost that time of year again. Brace yourselves for a week of cringey campaigns, colourful costumes and crummy cinematography. Sabbatical elections are the pinnacle of the Students’ Guild’s year and an advert for everything great (or dreadful, depending on your perspective) about student democracy. In celebration of this popularity contest (sorry, election) so we’ve put together a special 12 page pullout featuring manifestos and interviews with every candidate standing this year. Essential reading for all you Guildies out there.
Elsewhere in the paper, we’ve got highlights in the form of an excellent insight into height discrimination in both its varieties (Features pages 12-13), and a celebration of 25 years of live music at one of Exeter’s best underground venues the Cavern (Music pages 20-21). Finally, a quick reminder that ahead of Valentine’s Day we’re running a survey into (S)exeter’s sexual habits – it’s totally anonymous so remember to head online and tell us all your dirty little secrets.