The news where you weren’t

Emily Hawkins, Stephen Cole, Megan Baynes and Jessica Frank-Keyes take a look at the stories from around the UK that made headlines this summer


EU students are costing the Scottish government £27m a year, according to figures released by Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament. Strict caps on Scottish students are simultaneously making it increasingly difficult for home students to gain a place at Scottish universities.

From 2006-7 to 2014-15, the number of full time EU students at Scottish universities almost doubled, rising from 6,738 to 13,312. This is due to the SNP’s policy of free higher education for EU countries while Scotland is a member of the EU. This does not extend to English, Welsh or Northern Irish students, who pay tuition fees in Scotland of up to £9,000 a year.

The news comes to light in the wake of both Brexit and renewed calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Scottish Conservative education spokesperson Liz Smith has called on the SNP government for clarity over the status of EU students, calling Scotland’s universities: “the jewel in the crown of our education system.” EH



According to data from university admissions service Ucas, the number of Welsh students applying to study medicine has fallen by 15% in the last 5 years. This is on top of a UK wide decline and has been described as a “worrying trend” by officials. Last year 570 students from Wales applied to study medicine, down from 670 in 2012.

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, which supports Welsh medium higher education, said it showed more needs to be done to ensure peoples are encourage in their medical school applications. The number has decreased from 670 in 2015 to fewer than 110 in 2015.

Sara Whittam, who represents Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, blamed the media attention about the problems facing the health service and the increasing workload on doctors. She suggested that as a result these careers have become less appealing to potential students. Some have suggested the Welsh Government set a quote for Welsh medical schools in Wales to have places only available to Welsh students. JFK



An 18-year-old girl was found dead at the Boomtown Fair in Hampshire last month, the fourth death in five years of the music festival. The death of the teenager, named as Livvy Christopher from Buckinghamshire, has sparked new concerns about the safety of drug-taking at Boomtown and at other music festivals.

Four women have died at the Boomtown Fair, and all deaths have been drug-related.

In 2011 a 45-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack following ecstasy use; in 2013 an 18-year-old girl died after mixing ketamine and alcohol; in 2014 a 31-year-old woman took her own life at the festival, after taking MDMA. Campaigners for drug policy reform have spoken out about the need for festivals to recognise the risk many first-time drug users experience. Danny Kushlick from the think tank Transform said: “we don’t encourage it, but we try and help them keep safe.”

In response to questions over whether policies will be reformed in response to the fatalities, Boomtown have said public safety is at the heart of our event management planning. Following the latest death and a fire which destroyed 80 cars at their August event, Boomtown organisers have cancelled their December Winter Gathering. EH



The government have said they will not open an investigation into the way the police behaved during the Battle of Orgreave, to the disappointment and furore of campaigners. It had been previously reported that Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, had indicated at a meeting with campaigners that there would be some form of inquiry.

However, a senior government source told The Times: “A public inquiry like Hillsborough is something that could potentially take a very long time and be totally unwieldy in terms of cost. The source added that the government were looking into examining evidence in a way that does not involve a full-blown Hillsborough-style inquiry.”

Campaigners have claimed that South Yorkshire Police provoked a violent clash between thousands of miners and police at a coking site in 1984, following which ninety-five miners were charged. The case against the accused miners did not result in any convictions, and activists have alleged that the police lied about the origins of the violence and demanded justice throughout the decades following.

Michael Dugher, the Labour MP for Barnsley East, said that “any diluting of a full and proper independent inquiry…. would be a huge betrayal of the victims of Orgreave. He called the government’s concerns of cost a “red herring”, and said “there is no price on justice.” EH



Criminals have been paying cash-strapped foreign students in London for their bank account details to commit fraud, an investigation has found. Gangs are offering hundreds of pounds to international students to launder money, using them as “money mules”, City of London Police said.

An undercover operation found some students were willingly giving their bank account details to fraudsters for a cash pay-out but an increasing number were being targeted and having details stolen. Detective Inspector Craig Mullish said they are being “lured by the promise of big cash pay-offs” and it seems “there is no shortage of international students in London who are willing to make their bank accounts available to fraudsters.”

A maths student, named only as Amrit, sold his details to a gang after moving to London as he had not realised that the cost of living in London would be so expensive. MB


Southern Rail

Major disruption has occurred on Southern Rail over the last few months, despite recently revealed soaring profits. Co-owner Go-Ahead’s profits soared by 26.8% to £99.8m in the last year, despite ongoing travel chaos for commuting passengers.

These profits have been condemned by the RMT Union general secretary, Mike Cash who has described the company as “a money-raking disaster.”

Inevitably, this has led to calls for the nationalisation of Southern Rail, which continues to cause disruption to millions of passengers. Despite a £20m subsidy from the government, it remains unclear whether this cash injection will make a difference to Southern Rail.

RMT members are continuing to threaten strike action against Southern Rail, citing concerns over safety and job cuts following the controversial revision of hundreds of services made earlier this year which led to thousands of customer complaints. SC


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May 2022
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