Thursday, 10 June 2010

Not Another Tuition Fee Increase!

I am riled to find the Conservative government are planning such a huge increase to tuition fees in the near future.

The problem still stands, if they wish to address it, that students from the past three years who have graduated-with decent degrees, still have not been able to secure graduate roles. Myself included. And it is not due to a lack of perseverance, quite the contrary.

I recently worked in an office environment. One day I overheard a conversation between colleagues about graduates apparently saying 'there are no jobs'. Their argument consisted of their belief that there were plenty of jobs out there for graduates, which is in some respects true, but that graduates were too lazy to look for them. The problem, I believe, is that there is not the kind of job a graduate seeks to gain which is available, or rather the majority of graduate roles are based in the expensive location of central London.

I found their outlook quite ignorant in the fact they were saying graduates were lazy job hunters. As a prime example myself, there I was working in their office as a temp-helping them do their menial tasks whilst gaining an understanding of the business, within a company that does actually run a graduate scheme. Perhaps an opportunity some graduates would love to hold. But I don't particularly want to work in engineering-and I probably wouldn't meet the selection with my Cultural Studies degree. But still, I was working, whilst holding onto the prospect of eventually finding a graduate career.

I believe the main reason it has been so hard is actually due to the costs the employer faces to train up new graduates with the skills and experience which are needed for their entry level role.

Therefore, I do not believe it is viable to ask students to pay even more for an education which may not secure them the vital skills for them to enter the realm of employability. They may as well avoid the debt of a student and tuition fee loan and use the 3-4 years they would have spent studying in the workplace gaining experience. We may have the knowledge, but no one will support us to help us gain the skills!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Show Me the Value of my Degree, Please.

Last year, 2008, I graduated with a 2.1 in Media and Cultural Studies from a top 20 UK university. I was part of the last year of students to be paying tuition fees of £1,200, before the rise to just over £3000 for 2006 entry and onwards. Watching the
News this morning, I was surprised to be greeted by the fact that tuition fees are being suggested by universities, to rise to over £5000 in coming years.

Perhaps it is money well spent if you’re guaranteed a quality form of employment within the first 12 months after graduating? Yet having graduated over six months ago with a respectable degree, I still find myself on a continuing quest for employment.

I’m not alone either. Amongst many others, a friend who studied Marketing and Advertising and received a first degree, as well as gaining work experience from a well renowned advertising agency, is also still unemployed.

With the promise of a degree as a stepping stone to our chosen careers, we now only seem to only be employable to those ‘student job’ employers such as bars, supermarkets and call centres. As a result of the constant influx of rejection letters from graduate employers, for unpaid work experience as well as full time employment, I now find myself questioning, where is the value of our degrees?

Obviously, we are in the midst of a recession, but surely the government or our universities should be doing something to help graduates out in times like these, especially with the growing amount of student debt that each of us hold? Should it not be an incentive to universities for them to ensure that recent graduates set an example to their current and prospective students and find decent employment quickly, showing them why they should subject themselves to tremendous amounts of debt to complete a degree, justifying the increase in tuition fees?

So here I am, a fully qualified graduate, on New Deal Job Seekers Allowance, learning how to use a computer in a Job Centre Plus Training Centre. The government are paying for me to be unemployed and to train me for employment, whilst charging interest for the extent of my oh so ‘valuable’ education. Ironic, huh? Cheers.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Affluenza and the Recession

To describe affluenza you are describing something somewhat similar to the common flu virus. As a highly transmittable social illness, resulting in symptoms of exhaustion, lack and depression, it is easy to see why many people feel in dire need of a cure. Yet unlike the common flu virus, the cure afflueza’s subject seeks is not through prescribed medication, but through consumption.

However, by seeking refuge in consumption, the symptoms of affluenza are magnified. The subject is led to desire to consume more and more in a continuous vicious cycle, as a result sinking deeper and deeper into debt.

Let me explain in relation to fashion. Obviously, fashion is not a necessity of our lives, it is something which we desire, but can live without. Capitalism has installed our need for these desires through consumption. For instance, if we see our favourite celebrity or favourite designer promoting a specific item then we are more likely to desire this item. It’s all about keeping up with our peers. When this gets out of had and affects our day to day lives, then this is affluenza.

It is affluenza which our capitalist western society desires, and through adverts, magazines and other media, it helps to sustain. What I ask is with the collapse of our economy in the recession, what affect will this have on affluenza and consumption?

Obviously we have already seen some affects, the decline of businesses and the fall of profits, people are resisting their battles with affluenza because they have to in order to survive, or are they?

Could it be that capitalism can control our consumption so significantly through clever advertising and the media coverage of the recession enough to slow down or even stop our feelings of lack and dissatisfaction?

Day after day we see stories on the news about the closing of businesses and high unemployment levels in our country. Interest rates are being cut and high street sales are never ending. Yes, we may be kept informed, but we are also scared to spend, scared to consume.

Before the recession capitalism fed its population consumption, people were given more credit than ever before, with 100% mortgages and credit cards galore. Just as in severe cases of affluenza, we now find our selves in debt, and so does capitalism. So does this mean capitalism has become victim of affluenza itself? Quite possibly, in my opinion, greed and desire got the better of the economy and now it has to pay the price.

Please note this is all completely my opinion/random thoughts!
Random Image taken from

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Introducing, Sweet Pea Green.

For those whom may be interested, I have recently started a fashion blog on, Sweet Pea Green.

I'm hopefully going to keep this blog going, but as it's a place for expressing random thoughts I'm likely to be posting more regularly on Sweet Pea Green due to its focused genre.

So yes, please read and enjoy!

P.S. Hope you've all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you a happy New Year!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

When does the Virtual Reality become Actual Reality?

When does virtual reality become reality? When do the two cross over? Should there be actual consequences to the actions that we take within the virtual?

Having read the Vice Magazine article, 'Second Life Ruins The Lives Of A Married Couple With No Life' I began to question the idea of virtual reality. Surely, as suggested by the phrase 'virtual reality', is cannot be condemned as real?

The Vice Magazine article tells the story of a happily married couple, Amy and David Pollard, filing for divorce after wife, Amy Pollard, discovered that her husband David was 'having sex' with strangers over online phenomenon, Second Life.

For those whom aren't familiar with Second Life, it is a virtual reality online community, much in the same vain as Habbo Hotel, yet it echoes the allusions of reality as opposed to a cartoon. As the official Second life website describes,

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents....From the moment you enter the World you'll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you've explored a bit, perhaps you'll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business...You'll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents.... Welcome to the Second Life world. We look forward to seeing you inworld.

Therefore, Second Life is the key to another 'world' so to speak, a virtual online world, which, like the world we live in today, is controlled and developed by humans-its users.

However, when I searched Second Life on Google, Second Life is described in the summary as a game, rather than an online community, or a virtual world. I feel this use of the word 'game' is vital in the understanding and the distinction of community from our real world.

The word 'game' gives connotations of no-strings fun, a leisure activity and non-serious enjoyment. We've all played a game at some point and perhaps taken it too seriously to which people have replied 'relax, it’s only a game!’

Perhaps it is unfair to brand such as Second Life as games?

As the Vice article exemplifies, together with other similar controversial events which have been reported to have taken place on the Internet, this 'game' can, and may, have some serious consequences.

It is obvious that the more the boundaries between virtual and reality become closer, the meanings and results of our actions within these so called games become more and more serious.

For instants, a simple game of solitaire bares no consequences onto our actual existence, yet having cyber sex on Second Life with cyber strangers, for this couple alone, has resulted in the divorce of their own marriage in real life.

Online Persona

As shown by the image above, both Amy and David Pollard bare little resemblance to their Second Life counterparts.

The Internet naturally gives existence to the re-invention of the self and false persona. It is this 'second' lease of life which attracts users to online communities to Second Life and Habbo Hotel.

With the protection of time and space in front of them, the users of Second Life can build a completely different identity from their own in reality. Men can 'become' women and women can 'become' men. A false sense of security and perhaps this distance from reality, and its laws, makes fantasies and desires seem obtainable.

My Opinion

Obviously Amy Pollard was becoming suspicious of her husband's unhealthy amount of time on the Internet-specifically on Second Life. But to go as far as hiring a online private investigator to examine her husband's movements online, I feel that's going a bit too far.

Speaking completely hypothetically, if I found that my husband was having cyber sex online with online strangers I'd probably accept it, like it or not. Having cyber sex online with someone is far less significant than him going out and having sex with prostitutes and the likes. Cyber sex supplies no physical act of having sex, apart from perhaps that of which is enacted upon the self.

Second Life however, may aid the development of a desire into the real-and not just adultery, but murder and paedophilia too. It is when this transition becomes apparent that there is a real cause for concern, as it does actually directly affect your real life.

Maybe the divorce of Amy and David shows just how seriously some people take the game of Second Life and how closely it co-insides and effects real life?

And perhaps Amy and David Pollard were actually living their reality through Second Life?

N/B Both images are taken from the Vice Magazine article

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Shiny, Shiny Things

My attention was stolen this weekend, not men in fur coats...but sequins! And even more amazing, sequin bow ties!

I was sat around on the usual Sunday night this weekend with nothing to do and my imagination ran away with me. I was trying to create a smart, but flashy, attention seeking outfit for the opening of a new club I was considering attending.

I came across these beauties on Topshop's website (

Given that the knickers are featured as part of Topshop's ‘Circus’ collection, images of ring masters came into my mind, ring masters with matching black sequin bow ties. This thought, I love. So I am now on the quest to either find somewhere that's selling black sequin bow ties (that isn’t a joke shop), or to create my own!

Urban Outfitters may have had them in a few months back, but I missed the boat-sad times, obviously. Now all they are stocking is boring polka dot bow ties, and even they are in the sale! Still, I'd imagine they'd still look pretty swish paired with a black and white over-sized checked shirt!

Something I'd really like to query is why we never see sequins in summer, and if we do, it’s kept very very minimal or related to ethnical fashions. But why never the full on sequin shorts?

Sequins do have their day though. They were last 'in' when I was in my first year of University (2005). I bought a silver sequin bolero from the 915 (children's) section of New Look and wore it for out Christmas ball. Today it’s sat in a bag in my bottom draw with half of the sequins missing. Still, I'm sure I could get some more wear out of it this time around!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Fur Coats for Men-Hot or Not?

Browsing through the latest fashions for men in the autumn/winter addition of GQ Style, I came across an interesting trend, fur coats for men.

Fur coats are definitely big this winter for women. They've taken over the high street stores in force, leading to the donning by the average woman as well as the style-conscious indie queens!

But fur coats for men? Hmm...I'm intrigued!

Predominately seen on the catwalks of the big fashion houses such as Gucci, Armani and Dolce and Gabbana; fur coats are definitely making a coming!

Men whom wear fur coats are generally imagined to be gangster, bling, bling P-Diddy types, or drag queens, or perhaps even James Bond villains. But to think I may be about to see the average guy walk past in the centre of Leeds or Manchester all wrapped up in his fur coat is quite ground breaking! In fact, I'm unsure if I even known a guy who'd even dare to before now, I wonder how much difference this will make?

To see the fur coat forcast to supposedly gain 'cool' factor for the fashionable men of Britain, I'm thinking this should be interesting.

Just picture this...the dudeish British cool guy (I say British because I don't really have a clue what’s classed as 'cool' in other countries or continents!) wearing his skinny jeans, winkle pickers, checked shirt and perhaps even sporting some Ray Bans-all wrapped up in that oh so chic fur coat. Marvellous.

Although I may sound like I'm mocking this image, I'm actually finding it quite provocative! There's nothing more attractive or exciting than seeing a man who is daring enough than to try out something so new and so, well, fashion taboo in a way I suppose-kind of like 80s Lycra leotards are for women.

As of yet I have yet to see a fur coat to be warn by a man in public, I suppose there is still time though and winter is still approaching!

UPDATE!: This winter I've seen H&M stocking fur coats in the men's department.