Blog Archives

Student finance shenanigans

just an update on my student life, will get to why the title in a mo. this year i was doing whats called the Professional Pathway (PP) scheme with Uni which meant i did a uni equivalent of a modern apprenticeship – work 4 days study 1 etc. i have to admit initially it was a great thing but it came with its own challenges the biggest of which was time management and particularly with the switch between, work and studies and back again.

one of my biggest problems this year was that because my job involves a lot of first line support there would quite often be urgent issues coming in on a tuesday which was my day when i attended lectures, Tuesday being the offices busiest day never helped either. this often left me the dilemna of do i focus on fixing the work issues or switch off and focus on the lecture material. i have to admit here i let work take the priority more than not, in some situations it was entirely approriate but other times it really could have waited until later that day or the following day, i have been lucky that it didn’t affect me too much

my second issue for which is one of the primary reasons why i am not going to do PP next year (i will be returning back into full time studies in october) was that PP students were still expected to meet the same deadlines as full time students, i raised this issue several times with no resolution but to put it into perspective so that it doesnt sound like a small thing, full time students in second year this year were only attending university 3 days out of 5 a week, this mean if we just rule out a day at uni as busy and only take week days into consideration full time students had 2 free days a week in which they could do personal studies and coursework (now i will admit that i would likely have spent it working part time to combat some of the student loans etc and many students do) a PP student on the other hand spends 1 day at university attending lectures and the other 4 days working by basic maths it works out that full time students have 2 days per week extra time in which to do the work set, when you set the same deadlines that full time students found hard to meet then you can understand how much harder it is for PP students.

this wasnt the main reason i decided to return to full time studies though, the other was that i felt the organisation of the PP course was utterly shambolic, there were times when i asked for help and got nothing, there were several times where said i was unable to do something or meet a deadline due to work related changes meaning i couldnt do my original project proposal and effectively had to start again (1 week before the first deadline was due) i got nothing but an ok, submit an extenuating circumstances form and let us know when you had a proposal, the lecturer ignored my question asking about other alternatives if i couldnt find a new project proposal, let alone my questions about the further deadlines. as a result i was basically ignored, missed the deadlines and was as good as screwed. this was all at a time when i wasnt motivated about uni which did not help at all so it ended up that i will fail the main module from this term. the options for me were to quit uni altogether (i dont want to give up again) repeat the year (if this year was anything to go by it wouldnt solve the problem) or go back into fulltime education, the choice was a logical one to make.

so that leads me on to the post title, because i wont be working fulltime (i may only have odd freelance work and i have to support myself) i need to apply for student loans, went through the process fine no bother and get to the end and am told i can have the maintenance loan but not the tuition fees loan (approx £3300 for 2010/2011) upon querying it i have since found out that students only get full support for the years of there degree plus an extra year (to account for repeats), this shouldnt be a problem for me because my degree was a 3 year one and i had only just completed my second year (it was part time so i have to effectively restart the second year to do the missed modules) so i should be on my 3rd year of support out of a max of 4, i have since been told that they took my first attempt at uni into account as well so i have technically already studied for 3 years. no problems i should get the 4th year of support….

not exactly, the 4th year is always reserved for the final year of studies. which leaves me in a sticky situation and begs the question that i am sure many people who have gotten into similar situations as myself have no doubt asked. if the fees loan is reseved for the final year so i cant get the loan for this current years studies, how do they expect me to even reach my final year?

so at this moment in time i have no idea how things are going to turn out. Student Finance have clear rules and will not deviate from them. i have to work out how to effectively come up with £3000 to pay for uni tuition fees to get through this year, i have savings but if i used that i would be clearing them out and would have no saftey buffer if things really did hit the fan (besides i was saving that money for future rainy days/buying a house deposit/getting married? – ok being presumptous on that one but a man can plan cant he?). i am praying that i get most of my deposit back from the old flat so that i can at least have a safety margin again of something, and i am praying that i get a lot of freelance work that i can do in my spare time to help fund things

i have to admit that i am pretty annoyed at this although in reality its just the rules of the situation so i have nothing to be annoyed about except myself, i am just pretty annoyed that the rules werent clear in the first place. but oh well life moves on, i can only pray that God reveals the correct solution to the problem because he has already made it clear that it is the right path to be on so i am quietly confident that it will all come good.

wow long post, but glad to get it off my chest.

Worship and Praise, CU Style

Odd title I know!

This totally caught me unawares last week while at my universities Christian Union (CU) meeting, I may have to go into a little background here so please bear with me 🙂

At City University, we have a somewhat unique challenge that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few other universities in London with the same challenge, that is that the student population is majority asian and international student (at least that is my personal view and assessment) and that Christians are in the distinct minority compared to Islam (again this is my personal opinion and I don’t know why this seems to be the case) so we have always struggled with getting reasonable numbers to attend.

Until this year (been at uni in some form or another for 3 years already – long story for another day!) attendance generally dropped off after the first week of term to a dedicated core of about 8 (often less) also I personally found worship and prayer to be a bit “lifeless” and lacking the presence of God almost bordering on the edge of mute sometimes. Now I want to be clear here I do not want to discredit the musicians that led us, their skill is amazing and God given and I can’t do it, at least not play an instrument anyway. I think the biggest challenge a CU faces is pleasing everyone as everyone will come from a slightly different denominational background from Non-Charismatic (such as most Anglican churches) to Charismatic (such as Pentecostal or Newfrontiers) – I think I need to dig out a reference to charismatic and non charismatic here and post it. Each different church background do things in different ways although there tends to be some cross over, from traditional old hymns to more modern contemporary christian music (CCM – and I hate that term), the challenge is striking the balance that meets everyones needs, allows everyone to connect with God on there own level, something which I have found to be a problem previously, not because the musicians we had couldn’t do it, but because our previous leadership had either:

  1. Been closed to seeing that everyones needs were met in this way
  2. The previous members were all generally from the same background
  3. That it had just been the way that it was done before them
Now I don’t know how long the CU at City has been going, but i know that this problem must go back more than 4 or 5 years, until this year this is! With attendance staying above average (currently averaging about 15-20) and, I don’t know whether this is a bad thing or a good thing or what but that we dont actually have a proper musician to currently play for us and the person that leads us is what I can only describe as a bit “radical” in a good christian way!
Because we don’t have a proper musician we have to rely on things like YouTube and CD’s which means that the more traditional stuff is not as readily available, most of the stuff freely and easily accessible tends to be more uplifting/upbeat/CCM in style, because we have a slightly “radical” person leading us in worship we get an “interesting” choice of song occasionally, this week it wasnt so much an interesting choice of song, it was a great song choice, just a totally different style to what I expected (I am a friend of God – but very very gospel’y)
This whole style and is seeming to be the key to worship for us as a CU, I don’t want to discount musicians here because I think we need someone more than ever, but it seems to me that more current songs and more alternative styles seem to meet people more and people are not afraid of trying a new style as long as it’s singable.
While singing the last song this week (I am a friend of God – the gospel version) I got totally hit by the fact that I was probably singing louder than anyone else, normally this happens and I very quickly “quieten down” in embarressment slightly, this week I didn’t at all, I just stuck with it totally unashamed (or normally cringing) that I was probably going flat on all the higher notes or just plain out of tune for the most part, I couldn’t hear properly so I didn’t care. It totally struck me again that worship is not about singing the perfect notes in perfect harmony with the music and others and not just belting it out, it’s about the heart and just going to God and giving it all to Him it’s about forgetting where you are and what your doing (within reason – sound engineers and words projection!) and saying to God,
“I am here Lord, meet with me and show me Your Glory.”

It doesn’t matter if your singing is embarrassingly bad, it’s about the heart and wanting to show God how much you adore Him, I am all for doing things with excellence but sometimes it takes little events like these to humble us that getting the sound mix pitch perfect and words displayed in perfect time is not the be all and end all of worship they are only accessories to worship that aid people to worship, for me I love to worship God by doing sound engineering well or other technical things well at church it’s my skill and my passion, where playing an instrument definaltely isn’t!
It totally summed it all up, when Jeff our speaker for the evening at CU started by saying,
“I have never felt the presence of God in a CU meeting like that”

In my heart I was crying out “YES YES YES” I have never personally felt the presence of God like that in a CU meeting before or any Student sort of meeting outside of my church circle before. I pray only that it’s not a one off, I pray that it grows. I pray that it only gets larger and pulls more people in, I pray that people walking along the corridor will hear and feel it and be challenged to enter the room, I pray that those who dont know Jesus will experience it will want more and feel convicted of their sin and want to know Him. I am expecting great things of God this year at uni!
Will you pray with me for these things?
P.S. Woohooo first non geek article in a while, I promise for an update soon! (honest!)