Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Bad at blogging.


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Concrete: UEA to defer Syrian students’ fees

The University has said that it will be deferring fees “where possible” for Syrian students that are struggling financially, but it will not waive fees altogether despite a petition of almost 300 signatures.

SyriaSyrians protest Assad’s regime in Times Square, NYC last March. Photo: Flickr / asterix611.

Pro-vice-chancellor Prof. Nigel Norris met with representatives of the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) and Syrian students to discuss the matter last Friday (22/3). The students have been assured that they will not be automatically expelled if they are unable to pay.

A statement from the University said: “All cases will be looked at individually and fee deferrals agreed where possible. A member of staff from the Dean of Students’ office is meeting each of the affected students individually and discussing appropriate options and support with them.”

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Concrete: Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Home Run is asking students to remove any letting agency billboards from outside their houses during the Easter period.

Police warn of potential thefts over Easter

Photo: Albert Bridge

Norfolk Constabulary have warned the Union of UEA Students that previous years have seen an increased number of break-ins during the Easter holidays.

The Union’s Student Support Services manager Jo Spiro said: “Billboards with ‘Student Properties – Rooms to Let’ are an easy way for opportunistic thieves to decide which house might be easy to break into and where they might find multiple laptops and TVs.

“If your house will be empty over Easter ask your landlord or agent if you can temporarily remove the billboard.”

For more advice and information go to ueastudent.com/housing.


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Concrete: Chief executive resigns from Union

The Union’s chief executive Derek Bowden has announced that he will be resigning from his position in order to start a new job at Essex County Cricket Club.

In a statement released on 4 February, the Union stated: “The Trustee Board would like to thank Derek for his hard work during his 18 months in charge, particularly with regard to the reduction in the organisation’s budget deficit.

“The date of Derek’s departure will be confirmed once a successful handover to an interim Chief Executive can be arranged.

Bowden will be taking up the post of chief executive at Essex County Cricket Club early in the season, which officially begins on 10 April.

Speaking to essexcricket.org.uk, he said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the team at Essex and working with them to create the success that Essex Cricket deserves.”

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Concrete: University refuses to fly Pride flag

The Union of UEA students has said that it feels “great disappointment” over a decision by UEA not to fly the Pride flag in February to mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month.

In an open letter of response to the University’s decision, LGBT+ officer Richard Laverick said the Union felt that flying the flag “would send a clear message to LGBT+ students, staff and visitors, that they are most welcome and can expect to be treated equally and respectfully on campus. Furthermore it would strengthen its commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of its students, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. Finally it would signal to all people its unwavering stance against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

In the Union’s LGBT+ student experience survey last year, 83% said they wanted the University to fly the flag. Other institutions to do so in previous years include the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich City Council, Norwich Castle, East Anglian NHS Trust, The Co-Operative, Wadham College (Oxford University) and the University of Reading.

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Concrete: First buses want your complaints

The 25/25A bus services were late 15% of the time from October to December 2012, and as often as 40% on 14 December, the final day of UEA’s Autumn term.

Chelsea de Silva, regional PR & marketing manager for the South East and Midlands, cited several reasons for the delays when speaking to Concrete in December. Most of the problems related to the “teething time” following the system change in September. “One of the biggest issues we’ve had, not just on the blue services but on all of them, is drivers understanding 1) the routes 2) the new ticket machines, which were brought in August/September … at the moment it’s just taking time for our drivers, some of whom have been with us 25-35 years, to go from one system to another. And it just so happened that that came in at the same time as the network revision. So that, tied in with the learning of the routes, meant there were massive gaps in between buses of late running.” Additional training for drivers has been provided.

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Concrete: UEA accommodation

Looking for a place to live can be stressful, but it was especially difficult for one Japanese student transferring from Into this summer.

“[UEA] said they can see I have already applied for a room, but they said I have to wait. But other students had already got a room,” said Katy*. Despite believing she had correctly applied for accommodation, she was simply told to wait whenever she got in touch with the University to ask about its progress.

With national visa delays from the UKBA meaning she could not even reach the UK, Katy called on friends for help. However, confidentiality rules meant they were also unable to find out any information regarding the status of her application.

Once term began, Katy had to stay at a friend’s house when she finally reached Norwich, and find a house with strangers through Home Run. Despite an accommodation guarantee for all international students, she was never officially rejected from UEA accommodation to her knowledge, meaning living arrangements were left until the last moment. Following the experience, she admitted: “My image of UEA has changed.”

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Concrete: First years to receive Higher Education Achievement Report

Students starting UEA this year will be the first to graduate with a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear) alongside their degree qualification.

The Hear takes many different aspects of students’ time at UEA into account. This includes a breakdown of all modules taken across the degree, including retakes, but will also acknowledge awards, extracurricular activities and sports achievements which have been verified by the University.

The report will be an electronic document which follows a standard format across all of the 109 universities who have already signed up to adopt the system.

Students will be able to view the report throughout their degree, with a view to encourage them to stay motivated and start thinking about employability as soon as possible. In a blog post for the Guardian, University of Leicester professor Bob Burgess, chair of the steering group introducing the Hear, said: “At a time when students have just started to pay higher fees, the Hear is a clear example of how universities can provide greater value. For employers, it offers the chance to see in more detail what students have achieved at university and make comparisons between job applicants.”

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