- Date: 11.03.13
- Posted by: Admin
Nine things you wish you knew before coming to Sheffield
1. The Hills
A common complaint of all students in Sheffield is how hilly it is. One of the first facts you'll probably be told when you arrive is that, like Rome (and that's probably where the comparison stops), Sheffield is built on seven hills. Conduit road soon becomes an enemy of all with Sheffield student properties around School Road, so be prepared for daily work out.
2. The Microclimate
Quite a cool little fact is that Sheffield has its own microclimate, mainly because of the famous seven hills which place the city centre and surrounding areas in a valley. Don't be surprised then when your friends at other uni's post statuses about the scorching sun and you end up getting the brolly out. This does mean on rare occasions however Sheffield will be sunnier than other places. It also boasts a frequency of rainbows that you don't really get in other cities.
3. You can Move from Endcliffe to City Centre Accommodation for a Small Fee
If you're living in University of Sheffield accommodation in your first year rather than with student letting agents in Sheffield, and decide you want to be closer to the city centre you can move from Endcliffe to Opal for a fee of £25 if they have the room. A nice thing to know if you end up disliking the place you live.
4. The Peak District is Just a Bus Ride Away
You probably knew that the Peaks was near Sheffield when you first came to Uni but might not have realised just how close it is. Being able to get a twenty minute or so bus ride straight out into the breath-taking Peak District on a whim is probably one of the best things about Sheffield.
5. There are other Places to Work aside from the Main Libraries
One of the most frustrating thing for students is arriving at the IC and having to wait around for a free computer. Most students don't realise that there are actually a whole load of computer rooms throughout the university which can be used. Try the computer room in the Philosophy Dept in the Art's Tower, likewise Jessop West now has various computers dotted around. St George's Library and the Health Library in the Hallamshire Hospital are also really quiet. Some of the halls, like Stevenson, also have libraries which hardly anyone uses. The Elmfield Building, right next to Goodwin is also a great place to work.
6. There are Late-Night Venues Open After Clubs Close
A common complaint for students is that there's nowhere to go once the clubs have closed. Not true. The Harley is often open ‘til about four or five, The Casbah is often open late, and Dempsey's is open ‘til around six. DQ often goes on into the early hours too.
7. You don't have to buy all your Books from Blackwells
If you're looking for a really specific kind of textbook it can be a lot easier to pop into Blackwells as they are specifically stocked for Uni and Hallam students so will have it on their shelves. Amazon though is invariably cheaper than Blackwells so if you don't need your book straight away, then it can be cheaper to order online.
8. Student Loans do Run Out
It's very easy to spend your first term barely thinking about money, but you'll end up going into your over draft and this can have knock on effects for your entire student life. So keep an eye on spending or your loan will run out!
9. Restaurants on London Road
London Road has the best restaurants around in every kind of cuisine you could think of. Don't be fooled by the minimal offerings on West Street, Sheffield has loads of great restaurants. London Road is a great place to order takeaway from as well.
- Date: 01.03.13
- Posted by: Admin
Oxford Students Protest Assange Visit
There was outrage in Oxford this month as a group of students at the top university reacted with anger to the news that Julian Assange has been invited to the faculty to address the Oxford Union. The students, who pride themselves on their moral code and values, are planning demonstrations to protest against the event, which is set for the 23rd January. The Wikileaks founder has been invited to speak at the Oxford Union debating society, in an event celebrating prominent whistle-blowers. Assange is scheduled to speak via video link from the embassy of Ecuador, where he has sought sanctuary since last June from a European arrest warrant over rape allegations.
The opposition to the invitation is mainly as a result of these allegations and several students have displayed shock at an alleged sex offender, currently resisting arrest, being invited to speak at their University. Others however, are keen to allow the Wikileaks founder a platform and the union emphasised in a press release that there would be opportunity to directly question Assange. They stated that Assange was “clearly a figure who generates controversy for reasons ranging from the charges made against him in Sweden, to the perceived recklessness of some Wikileaks activities. We would therefore encourage those who disagree with him to participate in the Q&A session.”
Those protesting have been quick to refute claims that they are appearing to be against free speech, with one student stating that the invitation “sends the message that rape is no big deal,” and that Assange needs to find “another place” to exercise his right to free speech. Whether Assange will still want to speak at the event now remains unclear. Whilst his work on Wikileaks will be lauded and rightly honoured at such an event, it is likely he will be subjected to a thorough cross examination about his charges by a fired up student body.
Whether Assange speaks or not, this recent story highlights the ethics of some students who would continue to place the morality of someone’s personal life over any achievement. It is their right to protest and it looks like protest they will. What is clear is that the spotlight will be on the event later this month as to how it unfolds.
- Date: 26.02.13
- Posted by: Admin
Will the Drop in Postgraduates limit Britain?
According to results published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of UK students entering postgraduate study plunged by 8 per cent last year. This amounted to almost “16,000 fewer British students starting postgraduate courses at UK universities in 2011-12 compared with the previous academic year.” Whilst the fall was largely caused by lower first year enrolments by students, first year enrolments from non EU postgraduate students also fell. There is no doubt that the main contributing factor to this fall is the rise in Student fees, and the question now is whether a drop in people seeking to enter higher education will limit Britain when it comes to competing at the very top on a global scale.
There are two points to consider here. The first is whether dwindling numbers of postgraduates will directly alter Britain’s capacity to produce the very best archaeologists, scientists, researchers and other such professions. This is open to debate; after all, only a small number of people who complete PHD’s in their chosen subject go on to find work in their field. Competition is fierce and jobs are few. Most don’t have the financial backing to do their own research and contrary to what the government would have you believe, the current unemployment figure is peppered with highly qualified, skilled academics who can’t find work. The second point however, is whether a reduced number of studiers will have a knock on effect on the funding of these professions. The bottom line is that fewer applicants equates to less places, which, in essence, means less competition and therefore less funding. Funding is vital to post graduate degrees because it enables people to continue studying to a higher level, and therefore gives them the best chance to reach the top of their field. Government cuts have already been made at Universities everywhere. Globally, it’s hard to see how a reduction in applicants and funding won’t result in Britain producing less people who can take their place amongst the world’s elite. Ultimately, it is these people who then act as role models to the generations beneath them and encourage them into higher education in the first place.
The confirmation of a decline in postgraduate study follows a letter by several university vice chancellors calling for the government to address the current lack of support for students looking to further their education. The leaders called for a funding model to be put in place to assist those students who were put off by the high cost of courses. Short term, it may not seem to amount to much that there are less people applying for postgraduate courses, but long term, this is a step backwards for the UK and for Higher Education in general.
- Date: 21.02.13
- Posted by: Admin
The ultimate guide to getting a first as an English Literature student
Did you know that you can get a first without giving up your life to the god of study? Of course, work will be necessary, but there are countless ways you can enable yourself to get that enviable first without losing all your friends. Here’s our step by step guide to getting firsts consistently:
The first three weeks are the most important:
You should keep up with your weekly reading but you shouldn’t try and “learn” every text you study. Pay proper attention in the first three weeks, don’t see this time as easing in, see these weeks as the hard part. The first three weeks of your term should be when you’re working hardest. Firstly, you’ll have some motivation from starting something afresh and secondly it’s the most valuable time to work hard.
Choose your focus:
Why? Because it immediately narrows your focus. This is good because:
- Academics love getting specific
- It’s more efficient (and arguably less) work
After three weeks you should have a feel for your module and an insight into the main “themes” of the module. Hopefully you’ll find one of them compelling. Now you should hone in on this theme or line of thought for the rest of the module. Look for it in texts, do critical reading around it and get increasingly specific. This won’t be a narrowing (on the contrary, the deeper you look the more it should expand) but it does mean you have enough focus so you won’t feel overwhelmed
Academics love depth and they love chatting about it
If you can show you’re developing your own “thesis” through the module about a single idea your tutors are going to love it. Remember that ultimately it’s your degree and independent thought is exactly what tutors want to read. As long as you’re not talking rubbish (contrary to popular belief English Lit tutors absolutely hate fluffy nonsense) you’ll impress. The point is that you can produce 2:1 standard work but if you show consistency throughout the module in developing your own thought your tutor, in some instances, is more likely to give you a first.
What to make this even more likely?
Go in and see you tutor. Some tutors will even give you a fantastic original idea they’re thinking about. If they’re engrossed enough in it and you produce an essay which gives them food for thought, you’re far more likely to get a great mark. If you expand upon (or even just write back to them) their thought track they’re going to love it, especially if you give them a great idea for their work.
You can’t get a first without doing work. This doesn’t mean sacrificing your social life but it does mean scheduling in time each week. If you set aside at least one day a week to do “extra” work. This is work beyond your seminar reading and prep which focuses on your particular tract for the module.
- Date: 16.02.13
- Posted by: Admin
The Best Art Galleries in Sheffield
If you fancy yourself as a bit of culture vulture but aren’t sure where to start in Sheffield then take a look at our guide to the best art galleries in Sheffield so you can get your culture fix! Sheffield has some fantastic smaller art galleries, but recent funding cuts to Sheffield Museum mean that our art scene is under threat despite having the most artist’s studios outside London. A lot of the smaller galleries are funded by donations so it’s really important that those who care about burgeoning culture here in the steel city are in the know about what’s out there!
Currently under threat of closure due to lack of funding S1 artspace provides studio space for over 20 Sheffield based artists, presenting an annual programme of contemporary exhibitions, screenings and events. It was founded in 1995 by artists seeking to create a sustainable studio environment in Sheffield and it’s recently provided space for art students from Sheffield Hallam. In the past the studio has provided space for well-known graphic designers Designers Republic, alongside the award-winning artist Haroon Mirza.
Bank street arts
Bank street arts is a self-funded cross-disciplinary Arts Centre. It’s only four years old and it provides an exciting home for a wide range of creative individuals and organisations creating some of the best new art, writing and culture from Sheffield and beyond. Since it is self-funded it has a pretty unique opportunity to pretty much do whatever it wants, and this kind of freedom allows creativity to flourish. In 2011 it hosted 65 different exhibitions involving over 1750 participants. On their website they say, “At Bank Street Arts, nothing is set in stone (even walls have been known to move) and every day is different.”
The site gallery is another small arts space which has had some fantastic exhibitions on in the past. It originally began as a photography gallery in Walkley in 1978. Site often has digital and multimedia work exhibited as well as photography. Think video, projection and installations against more traditional artworks. The site gallery often puts on talks to complement its programme.
Located above the Sheffield Central Library, Graves is a slightly bigger gallery. It has a few permanent exhibitions which are worth a look and temporary exhibitions which showcase everything from Turner to Lenoard Beautmont. Graves is a part of MuseumSheffield so has suffered under the £800,000 arts council cuts to funding for the city.
Stuff to keep an eye on:
Though funding cuts have hit the city hard Sheffield is the kind of place where grassroots creativity will always blossom. If you want to check out some of the newest incarnations of artistic flair (it could all change in a few months!) then take a look at The audacious art experiment or Prism to make a start.
- Date: 13.02.13
- Posted by: Admin
Travel or work over summer?
Exam season is over, Christmas has been and gone and before you know it the summer will be here. So what should you do with your extraordinarily long stint off? Go and mooch in your parents’ house for a few months, stay in Sheffield and do that mooching up here? A lot of students use the summer break to either go travelling or build up a bit of cash via work. So which option is better?
University breaks are likely to the longest periods of time off you have in your life (we’re not counting potential unemployment as ‘time-off’ here) and for that reason you should plan to make the most of them. If you’re a student you’ll already know how easy it is to lose days to pointless activities, and if you don’t plan properly for the summer it can pass you by all too easily. One way to make sure you get the most out of this precious gift of time is to go travelling. You’ll have a long enough stint to really explore your destination of choice, or you can work for the first part of summer and go away for a few weeks at the end. The only drawback of travelling is that it does cost, and even if you plan to work whilst your away, 1. If you have enough money to get by you probably won’t get a job 2. Even if you do you won’t come back with any money. Whatever good intention you have and however low the cost of living in your chosen destination travelling normally takes you over your estimated budget. It’s all too easy to pay a bit extra to put your flight back or take up a diving course on a whim; it all adds up.
The pros of travelling? Well, you’re travelling. We can roll out the old clichés and say that travelling is genuinely a brilliant experience. It probably won’t “enrich” you as much as you’re told, but it’s one way to have a shed load of fun.
If you can get your Sheffield student accommodation over summer (most student housing in Sheffield is available from 1st of July and most contracts end 30th June) then staying in Sheffield to work isn’t a bad idea. The end of university comes up quick, and once you graduate your bank will be asking for your overdraft (or might start charging you for it) and your student loan will automatically put you in debt. You might not be able to find work straight away so having a little bit of cash saved away is certainly a good idea. The summer is the perfect opportunity to work off your overdraft each year and save a bit up for next year. If you don’t have financial help from anywhere and are already working your way through uni getting extra shifts and working as much as you can will really pay-off in the long run. Of course, you still need a break so why not try and get full time work for most of the holiday and plan a cheap holiday just before you head back to uni.
Staying in Sheffield and working will let you see a different side of the city when the students are gone. You’ll have the opportunity to explore new areas of Sheffield you might not know about (there are so many cool things in Sheffield students don’t know about) and learn more about local events which you might have missed inside the student bubble.
So there are pros and cons of both working and travelling over summer. One way to get the best of both worlds is to combine working and travelling across the holiday months.
- Date: 26.01.13
- Posted by: Admin
The Meadowhall Urban Myth and Five things you don’t know about Sheffield
If you’re a student in Sheffield you’ll probably know a few staple facts about the steel city like it’s built on seven hills like Rome or it has more trees per person than any other city in Europe. But do you know the following five things about our city?
1) The Meadowhall Urban Myth
Did you know that Meadowhall was originally designed to be converted into a prison if it failed as a shopping centre? Well, it’s a rumour which goes around Sheffield every now and again with enough clamour both denying and purporting the idea to make it intriguing. Minimal research gives no evidence of the prison plan, but digging a little further may come up with something. Could you imagine the design of Meadowhall been made into a prison? It certainly gives new meaning to the nickname “Meadowhell” anyway!
2) Sheffield FC is the World’s Oldest Football Club
Yep! England honed football into the sport we know it today and Sheffield was the place where this happened first. Sheffield FC imposed the first set of standard laws and rules for the game and played a key role in the formation of FA – you could argue that Sheffield, in some sense, invented football as we know it today.
3) The Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire
If you’re into politics you’re probably aware of Sheffield’s left leaning but you might not know that Sheffield got the nickname of the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire in 1980s because of its fiercely held commitment to socialism and left-wing politics even in the height of Thatcherism. The council took confrontational steps against Westminster naming South Yorkshire a nuclear-free zone and a demilitarized zone, signing a peace treaty with Donetsk in Ukraine which was on the other side of the Iron curtain and flying a red flag outside Sheffield Town Hall on May Day. Of course the miners’ strike was a hugely important part of Sheffield history.
4) Bertie Bassett buried in Sheffield?
Rumour has it Bertie Bassett was more than a liquorice man and actually existed as a real life Victorian. Apparently his grave can be found in the graveyard off Ecclesall Road. It would make some sense since the confectioners of liquorice all-sorts started out in Sheffield. The graveyard has lots of other interesting people from history buried there like Francis Dickinson, who was in the charge of the light brigade so is well worth a visit to find out more.
5) Gas street lamps
Sheffield’s hills are well known to any residents and it is because of the many hills found in Sheffield that it ended up garnering a whole bunch of gas lamps too. Lamps were installed at places where sewer gases were likely to collect such as at the top of hills. It’s said that 84 of these lamps were erected in Sheffield between 1914 and 1935 which is the largest number in any British town or city. Today, there’s estimated to be around 22 remaining lamps in Sheffield with a handful of them still burning. One of them is in the student area of Broomhill on the corner of Westbourne road and Ashdell road.
- Date: 21.01.13
- Posted by: Admin
Was Leeds Student newspaper right to publish an interview with Nick Griffin?
Don’t consider the student paper to be small-fry. Most weeks news about the latest society or student accommodation don’t exactly indicate the average student rag as particularly combustible, but a recent case from the Oxford University student paper The Cherwell caused massive outcry and made it into the Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph. Nearer home, Sheffield University’s ‘Forge Press’ made a stir when it published a controversial piece criticising Sheffield student Accommodation and Campus Services and now it’s Leeds’ turn to cause a furore. The student paper ‘Leeds Student’ received demands from the NUS to remove an interview with Nick Griffin from the website with the argument that “fascists” should not be given a platform to air their views. In a piece for The Guardian, Lucy Snow, editor of Leeds Student defends her decision to publish, but was she right?
What’s the problem?
Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, accused of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and vitriolic rhetoric has long been a source of controversy in the media. His famous appearance on Question Time was met with similar questions as to whether the BBC should be giving someone, whose views are considered to be fascist by many, the platform to speak. The risk of airing the views of Nick Griffin, as The Guardian pointed out during the Question Time scandal, is that we ‘normalise’ his point of view. The BNP certainly viewed Question Time as a great opportunity for them saying,
“Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common sense solutions to Britain’s nightmare situation to the public at large in such prominent fashion ... I am relishing this opportunity, and I know that ... the ordinary members, supporters and voters of the BNP will be in the studio with me as I take on the corrupt, treacherous swine destroying our beautiful island nation.”
The NUS, in an open letter, demanded the removal of the Leeds Student interview saying they were “appalled by the decision.. to publish”. In a passionate letter the NUS claimed the BNP stand for the elimination of democracy and so a defence to air their views because we live in a democratic society with freedom of speech doesn’t apply. The open letter continues,
“In publishing this interview the ‘Leeds Student’ risks giving legitimacy to a fascist organisation, and boosts the BNP’s attempts to join the political mainstream when we should be isolating them.”
In a blog by ‘The Tab’ another Leeds publication, former editor of Leeds Student argues that the paper were wrong to publish the article as it amounted to “trolling”. In light of the fact that the BNP have experienced a huge decrease in support since 2009 the relevance of such an interview at this time could be questioned, and it’s argued that this interview was designed more for the controversy it created rather than to probe extremist ideology at a timely moment.
Like the BBC who decided to go ahead with Nick Griffin’s appearance, Leeds Student has left the interview with Nick Griffin up on their website. In a lucid defence of the decision Lucy Snow tells The Guardian that shying away from the likes of Griffin patronises students and that “without being given a stage on which he(Griffin) can display his lunacy, Griffin is an elected politician with just as much authority as any other MEP.” Snow concludes,
“Griffin is a politician in a country which has free speech, it is essential that his views and policies are exposed for what they are. Leeds Student merely gave Griffin enough rope to hang himself.”
So what do you think? Does an interview with Nick Griffin expose ludicrous fascism or does it normalise his point of view? Do you think Leeds Students motivations for publishing the interview were entirely honest, or were they trying to get a reaction?
- Date: 16.01.13
- Posted by: Admin
Academics Band Together To Fight Higher Education Reforms
Last month leading academics from around the country came together to defend British universities and access to higher education in light of the government funding cuts and introduction of higher fees. The Council for the Defence of British Universities brings together 66 founding members including some better known academics such as Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough with aim of advancing university education for the public benefit.
Why it’s been set up
Recent cuts to funding and changes to the fees system seem the immediately catalyst as to why the CDBU has been set up, but threats to the nature of higher education have been building up over the past few decades. With increasing bureaucracy, restrictive management and the publication of the Browne Review universities are being pushed towards financial orientation rather than academic orientation. Universities are being judged according to what short-term, pragmatic results they can produce rather than what academic value they can produce. The CDBU has been set up solely to defend academic values and “the institutional arrangements best suited to fostering them”.
The CDBU set out their aims on their website as follows:
· “To defend and enhance the character of British universities as places where students can develop their capacities to the full, where research and scholarship are pursued at the highest level, and where intellectual activity can be freely conducted without regard to its immediate economic benefit
· To urge that university education, both undergraduate and graduate, be accessible to all students who can benefit from it
· To maintain the principle that teaching and research are indispensable activities for a university and that one is not pursued at the expense of the other
· To ensure that universities, while responding to the needs of students and of society in general, should retain ultimate control of the content of the courses taught and the methods of instruction employed. As well as often providing vocational training, university education should equip graduates with the mental skills and intellectual flexibility necessary to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy. It should develop the powers of the mind, enlarge knowledge and understanding, and enable graduates to lead fuller and more rewarding lives
· To emphasise that, as well as often having vital social and economic applications and being subject to accountability, academic research seeks to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the physical world, of human nature and of all forms of human activity
· To ensure that methods employed to assess the quality of university research do not encourage premature or unnecessary publication or inhibit the production of major works of research that require a long period of gestation
· To safeguard the freedom of academics to teach and to pursue research and inquiry in the directions appropriate to the needs of their subject
· To maintain the principle of institutional autonomy, to encourage academic self-government and to ensure that the function of managerial and administrative staff is that of facilitating teaching and research
· To ensure that British universities continue to transmit and reinterpret the world’s cultural and intellectual inheritance, to encourage international exchange and to engage in the independent thought and criticism necessary for the flourishing of any democratic society.”
What can students do?
Anyone can become a member of CDBU and that means all students, undergrad or postgrad, can join. There’s no fixed subscription fee but since the organisation is just starting out and CDBU is not-for-profit all its funding comes from members and supporters so they need as much money as members are willing to donate. To find out more about becoming a supporter or a member have a look at their join us webpage. In the current context of higher education and with the government audaciously ignoring student protests and public outcry to cuts and fees the CDBU is an essential body for UK higher education to defend education and knowledge, and the more backers it gets the more power it will have. So if you care about your education at university then spread the word to your peers!
- Date: 11.01.13
- Posted by: Admin
Train Your Brain For Revision
Christmas is just around the corner and though we hate to say it, after that it’s exams. To get to university, students have been through endless stages of exams, but you’d be surprised by how many still aren’t sure how to revise. There are lots of different techniques out there you can try but starting with an insight into how your brain actually takes in new information will form a good basis for developing the right approach for you.
How does your brain take in information?
The part of your brain which takes in and stores new information is your hippocampus. Storing new information means making new pathways in your brain between neurons. Every new bit of information forms a new pattern in your brain and it’s the function of the hippocampus to retrieve this pattern so you can remember the information. Too much new information makes this a harder job for the hippocampus which is why we can’t always remember things. Here are a few tips then to work in harmony with how you brain functions to improve your revision.
Work in harmony with your emotions
We’re designed to remember emotionally charged events, the more positive the emotion, the better we’ll remember it. Although it’s hard to make yourself feel passionately elated about revision if you can try and associate certain information with a positive visual, auditory or emotional experience from your past you’ll be more likely to remember it. Stress is a real barrier to memory because it takes up a lot of brain energy so try and keep anxiety at a low.
Spaced repetition is a theory whereby you try and remember information just at the time you might forget it. So initially you try and recall the information after about fifteen minutes, then an hour, then every few hours gradually spacing it out to days and number of days. Repetition is absolutely key to go over the established pathways and patterns created in the brain and spaced repetition will strengthen the patterns over time.
The boring advice and why it’s worth following it:
Sleep, regular breaks, fully focussing. These are three things you hear all the time when given advice about revision but why are they actually important? Sleep is the time when your brain consolidates memories, backing up short term patterns and creating long-term memories; your brain organises your memory during this time letting go of irrelevant information and going over the important stuff.
Revising is an intense process where you brain is trying to take in a lot of information at once. This means it very easily gets overworked and stops being able to remember things. In order to revise efficiently you need to take regular breaks so that very new, tentative patterns in your brain don’t get mixed up with other new patterns.
Distractions take up brain power. You might prefer to revise with music, which is fine if it works for you, but if it has lyrics in it part of your brain will be dedicated to listening in. Getting rid of these distractions will make it easier to concentrate and make it easier for your brain to remember things.
So when you’re planning your revision take into account what you’re putting your brain through – and good luck in your exams!