Free Education Protest In Central London-November 2015

Today I attended a demonstration calling for the abolition of tuition fees. However not as a demonstrator but as a member of my university TV crew and I must say it was quite an experience. Contrary to what many of the news outlets have attempted to portray the demo as, it was extremely peaceful despite the huge crowds of students. Yes we know that when emotions run high, things can get quite hectic and perhaps that explained the heavy media and even heavier police presence. However, it all went smoothly bar an incident where three or four people attempted to clash with police officers. Reports of being ‘kettled’ by police are also an exaggeration in the sense that the police formed a cordon to split the protest group but let them through after a group of students simply walked purposefully towards them. 

That means for the media outlets, the march was disappointing. They had to make huge headlines out of twelve people being arrested as the usual expectation of chaos did not bear fruit. That didn’t stop Sky News from describing the march as ‘scenes of chaos’ which made me laugh. My definition of scenes of chaos does not include thousands of students following the guidance of a single protest leader and even stopping for traffic lights! 

Anyway, as a cameraman, my role was to capture protest and so please have a watch of a teaser clip here:

And some interviews with protesters here:

With regards to my views on the actual protest, I feel that perhaps it is asking too much. A reduction in tuition fees would be more feasible even if the claim that education is a basic human right in today’s age is a valid one.

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

Seeking Refuge

Amongst the waves of coverage that the plight of refugees have been receiving in the media, there seems to be an issue that is being simply ignored and brushed under the carpet. Why are they migrating in the first place? The majority to have entered the EU in recent days are Syrians and whilst the world gasped in shock at the photo of a drowned toddler washed ashore, there has been no action from the governments of countries who are normally so eager to interfere in the affairs of others. Instead, European countries are beginning to worry about how the influx will affect them and it is only due to this one single photo that the widespread negative attitude to refugees has abated a little. However, I have a feeling this will not last. As the numbers increase, as surely they will, you will begin to hear mutterings of ‘no space’ or ‘no jobs.’

The issue that is being ignored is what can be done to make the native countries of refugees safer in the first place. The Syrian crisis which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people appears to be something that world leaders do not want to deal with. The evil of the Assad regime and ISIS has turned the country into a place unsafe for the people caught in the middle, those who reject the dictatorship of Assad and deny the evil of ISIS. Yet, nothing is being done to help them. On one side, you have Russia vetoing any UN decision to deal with their friend Assad, whilst on the other there is no desire to forcefully deal with ISIS. A couple of airstrikes are certainly not going to make them go away when they have managed to get their hands on a vast array of weapons and land.

So the everyday human is left stranded. Caught between no-man’s land as he desperately seeks refuge. This is why these fleeing people cannot be dismissed as migrants. Whilst their decision to head for the more economically strong countries may suggest otherwise, that they are simply economic migrants, their key decision to throw themselves and their children into flimsy little boats is because remaining behind must surely be worse. Their decision to choose Germany or other such wealthier nations is simply common sense. There they are more likely to receive help.

Another issue which has dumbfounded many is the lack of action from Arab countries to provide assistance for Syrian refugees. Surely they should be the first to provide help? No one is really willing to take responsibility and by that I mean each country’s government. The individual citizen is compassionate, welcoming and it has been beautiful to see people going out of their way to help those refugees who have no one else to turn to. However these are temporary solutions and the only end to the crisis is for the root cause of the refugees fleeing to be dealt with. Otherwise the domino effect of crisis upon crisis will soon spiral out of control.

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

The First of September

Today is as good a day to make a comeback as any, I guess. The skies are a dismal grey, the grounds are a glistening black and the walls are wet, brown and dull.

 A typical post summer day in London then, which means for once I am looking forward to getting back to university in order the escape the monotonous dull routine of awakening, eating, drinking and sleeping. (With a few extra activities in between of course but when you have an elongated ‘summer’ break then every day blends into the other until you begin to lose track.)

In hindsight, I should have tried to get a summer job, even if it was for a couple of weeks but I thought I would let myself relax and that is exactly what I did. However, there is only so much relaxing a person can do before the brain searches for something to take its thoughts off lounging around and the seemingly never-ending rain. (As I type, Londoners have just been blessed with hailstones.)

It hasn’t been all bad though! There was a good stretch of weather and activity, bike riding and spray painting became the order of the day. I held a spray paint class in the local community centre which was quite fun. I practised my bike run to uni a few more times but it seems I will need to invest in a rain proof cycle jacket if I expect to ride to uni every day! Then of course there is the small matter of reading in preparation for the coming year. I would like to declare that I have done quite well this year, or at least far better than last summer. Now that the second year looms, with its heavy load of coursework as well as the fact that it actually counts towards your degree, I expect people in my classes to be taking the set reading more seriously. I mean in the first year there was a general sense of lackadaisical lethargy but maybe that had something to do with the compulsory ancient literature modules that we had to endure.

Until Next Time 

A Worried Student


The Calm Before The Storm


In Action!

The Government Has Failed Students – Again

Over the past few days I have been doing some preparatory reading for my 2nd year at university; but today I didn’t feel like reading. In fact I didn’t feel like even thinking about university and I certainly avoided the news sites I frequently visit.

This was after I awoke to discover that the government has decided to abolish student maintenance grants from 2016. In reality this should not have come as a shock as it is just what we students have come to expect from those in charge. However, it hurt. For someone who’s budgeted tightly to ensure university remains a possibility, it was difficult to be faced with a sudden £3300 hole.

The maintenance grant was cut simply because the Department of Business were told they needed to make over 2bn pounds worth of cuts so they saw the grants as an easy target. No consultation, no analysing the impact of their decision. Instead they spewed out the rhetoric that was used to justify tuition fee increases: “students don’t care about debt, they just need enough money to get through university.”

Who told you that! What they don’t realise is that this grant which was reserved for the poorer students was a lifeline. Many used it to pay for their rent, bills, books and technology whilst others used it to pay their fees. As you are aware,  I am amongst that group hence my devastation.

The government answer is to replace it with a loan which means that should a normal student choose to make use of it, they would leave university with over £60,000 debt! (Tuition fees, maintenence loan, additional maintenance loan.) Yes you read that right. There is already a maintenance loan available so transforming the grant into a loan makes no sense. Except of course for the government’s pockets.

The fact is I could hardly bring myself to write this post because I am sick of how students and young adults are being treated. We are constantly being told that cuts have to be made for the greater good yet it is always us who seem to have it worst. Wednesday’s budget announced tax cuts for the richest whilst restricting the new living wage to only over 25s. Is it any wonder that up and down the country young adults view the government in only disgust?

Later in the day I received an email urging me to sign a petition to persuade the government to change their decision. I signed it knowing that it is a lost cause. The powers that be make these decisions without taking into consideration their impact. As long as it makes sense financially then they are happy but the human aspect is lost on them. They are cold, ruthless and it seems they want to join the United States in becoming the worldbtarget for jokes about ridiculous student debt.

The UK government like it has been doing throughout my teenage years, has failed its students and failed its future.

Until Next Time

A Worried Student


Oh No, Reading Lists!

When first year university students are given their reading lists –  I mean after searching their uni website themselves to find them – we don’t really pay much attention to them. 

“Ha, read in advance? Mate they said first year is a breeze so forget that!” 

This leads to the inevitable first semester of each module where we all realise that we should have done at least some of the reading. Despite the odd fact that you can get away with not reading the set texts in the first year of your English degree, I certainly would not recommend it if you wish to make the most of your year – and your £9000+ tuition fees!

Admittedly, I was a bit lackadaisical in my first year when it came to reading but I am determined to not make the same mistakes. Last week I ordered a few books from the much loved/hated site Amazon. For a person who is not used to buying books, it was a bit of a should I?/shouldn’t I? moment when it came to actually ordering them. I decided I must go ahead and out went £35 from my account. A small sum for many, a large sum for students!

Of course, I also managed to get a few e-book versions but these were only of the more famous and popular texts. One of my modules that I will be studying is called Palestinian and Israeli Literature which has led me to discover a few great works.

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape –  Raja Shehadeh

When my reading list made me order this book, I had no idea that this book would be so great. I Shehadeh-Palestinianmean, any title with the word ‘walks’ in it conjures up ideas of a geography textbook but Shehadeh has written a marvellous piece on the vanishing landscape of his country. The narrative combines the description of the hills of Ramallah with his attempts to preserve the land of the Palestinians. The result is you get the sense of a man who enjoys the great outdoors and his pain and frustration with the occupation that forces him to abstain from enjoying them. A welcoming human perspective of the Palestinian struggle. 

Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

Such is the life of an English student that you end up reading utterly different types of texts due to 2952your different modules. Titus Andronicus is a terribly bloody play in which people drop dead and gruesome acts are committed on nearly every page. It tells the tale of a Roman army general who on his return from war does not take up the role of emperor despite the people wanting him to. This turns out to be a terrible choice because the person he nominates in place of him turns against him. One of the more livelier plays of Shakespeare, if you find it on your reading list then there is no need to sink into despair. 

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

I Don’t Want To Get Bored Of Reading

Well Hello!

As a university student, not becoming lost in the overwhelming reading lists is a constant challenge. Then ontop of all that, maintaining your personal love for reading is even more challenging. So when asked me to write a blog post for them, I knew what I should write about.

Check out my post here:

This year, I have already begun my reading for next year. Which meant for the first time ever, I spent a lot of money on buying some books online. Well I say a lot, it was £30 but for a person who usually gets every book from the library, it certainly felt like a lot! I guess it has made me appreciate the fact that growing up, I had great libraries within walking distances.

Coming up next, posts about the latest things I have been reading!

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

Interviewing The Past

I bumped into a person the other day who made my mind wander about the past. He was a lifelong friend of my maternal granddad and he remembered him fondly with the words, “he was the best person. I miss him a lot.” This frank admission made me hope that I would live such a life that people would remember me in the same way.

What this meeting also got me thinking about was my granddad’s childhood. I want to know how it was, what school he went to and how his father managed to save up enough money to pay the ship’s fare to England. I want to know whether England matched his expectations or whether life was more difficult than he imagined. I want to about all these things but I can’t ask him. I was far too young to think of these questions when he was still alive. 

Now I have an idea. Perhaps it is time to do a bit of family research. Perhaps I could interview a few of his friends, they were an extremely close-knit group after all. They were all the best of friends whilst their wives were too. His friend told me how every week they would meet as couples and whilst the menfolk talked, my grandma would chat away to his wife, freeing whatever worries were on her chest.

As he remembered this, he gave the following advice: “Always have a smile on your face, be friendly with everyone and give in charity.”

My granddad is not the only person I would have liked to interview. My paternal grandma passed away at the old age of 85. She had many stories to tell but I never acted on my impulse to write them down when we went ‘back home’ for a holiday, although we were quite busy with two weddings! What this meant was that I missed out on the opportunity to discover the history of my family as she was one of the only people who had the complete history of how life was for our family sixty or so years ago. The struggle they went though was immense but it is amazing what they managed to accomplish.

I guess I need to find out another way to learn about the fascinating history of my family. Which family member would you most like to interview? IF they are still alive, then I suggest you seize the moment otherwise you may end up regretting it, like me.

Also, have you interviewed a family member and what has been the most interesting thing you discovered?

Until Next Time

A Worried Student