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Education

Local universities explain clearing

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AS THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) braces itself for a busy period of applications, it has offered advice to students who may find themselves in the Clearing process after getting their results on Thursday (Aug 18).

Melanie Jones, Executive Schools and Colleges Marketing Officer at UWTSD, said: “Students should get some advice from their tutors about the options available to them and look up the institutions with vacancies in their chosen subject. They can do this via the UCAS website, the media or individual institution websites. Students can also talk to Clearing line advisors to find a course that’s suitable for them.

“Using the unique Clearing number (located on the welcome and choices pages of the UCAS Track website) and personal ID number, students can contact each institution directly, where trained staff will be on hand to advise them about any vacancies that may be available on each specific programme. In some cases, they are able to make an offer straight away.

“One of the best ways to find out about an institution is to visit its campus. Many places will hold a Clearing Open Day, which offers a great opportunity to judge if the course and the place are the right choice.

“Once a student has made a choice and accepted a provisional offer, the next step is to apply electronically through the UCAS Track system at www.ucas.com and confirmation of their place should come directly from the institution shortly after.”

Amy Parker, who secured her university place at UWTSD through Clearing and has graduated with a BA in Religious Studies from Lampeter, said: “My A Level results didn’t go my way. My Head of Sixth Form and I rang UWTSD and they confirmed they had a place for me. I burst out crying with tears of relief and happiness and so did my dad. Not getting the results you wanted or expected is not the end of the world and everything happens for a reason. I have enjoyed the best three years of my life.”

A list of course vacancies at UWTSD can be found at www. uwtsd.ac.uk/clearing and potential students who would like to discuss the options available to them can speak to the UWTSD admissions team on 0300 323 1828.

FROM HIGHER EDUCATION TO HIRED

92% of UWTSD’s undergraduates were in employment and/or further study six months after graduating – source: DLHE 2014/15. Recent graduates are now employed at businesses including Jaguar Land Rover, Fujitsu, Sky News, Morganstone, Virgin Media, Welsh Water, Hewlett Packard and the British Army.

UWTSD takes an applied, employment-focused approach, which includes practical work experience, opportunities for work placements, innovative student-led approaches to learning and cutting edge ‘masterclasses’ delivered by leading professionals and academics. All of the university’s courses are designed to instil in graduates the attributes desired by employers, e.g. innovation, creativity, an enterprising mindset and responsiveness to unexpected events or tasks.

Fritha Costain, who graduated from Lampeter with a BA in Archaeology, is now General Manager for National Trust Scotland. She said: “Going to Lampeter was an amazing experience. Studying archaeology was fabulous and it provided the foundation of my interest in heritage today. The small size of the university meant that I had opportunities to do as much as I wanted to – I trained as a DJ and was vice-chair of RAG – roles that I would never have been brave enough to take on in a bigger university. Most of all though, I had lots of fun and met some wonderful people.”

Stefanie Turner, is a Master of Arts Creative Writing graduate from UWTSD’s Lampeter campus, who will be teaching English as a Foreign Language in South Korea. She said: “I will be moving to South Korea in August to start teaching there. Studying at UWTSD has taught me that I’m capable of anything, so I’m going to do just that.”

Lowri Bevan has graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the BA New Media Production course at UWTSD Carmarthen. Lowri will be setting up her own business, Digi Designs, which will be a creative marketing and advertising agency focusing on native and artistic advertising for businesses and sectors across Wales. Lowri said: “Completing the entrepreneurship module made me realise I am now capable of building my very own business and it has opened my eyes to the amount of support Wales has to offer for young aspiring entrepreneurs like myself.”

Reham Ismail Saeed Al- Shaibani graduated with a first class BSc (Hons) in Business Information Technology. She said: “My course was totally employment focused. The lecturers gave me the help and advice I needed throughout.”

Mother and daughter Gwenllian Davies and Ann Davies graduated with a BA Early Childhood degree in Carmarthen and have since set up their own nursery. Gwenllian said: “Running my own nursery has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and Cwtsh y Clos Nursery is a dream come true. The course at UWTSD is offered through the medium of Welsh which was brilliant.”

ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY

Last year, around 64,000 individuals across the UK found their place in university through the Clearing process – with Aberystwyth University taking more than 1,000 calls from students looking for guidance.

Aberystwyth University’s Schools and Colleges Liaison Manager, David Moyle, says there is no longer a stigma attached to seeking a place at university through Clearing.

“We appreciate that applying to university through Clearing can be a stressful time for some students, but the Clearing team at Aberystwyth University are here to make the process as easy possible by offering applicants a step by step guide to ensure they find the right course,” said Mr Moyle, who has been holding a series of training sessions for staff in the lead-up to August 18.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide advice and guidance to students. On A Level results day, we’re in by 7 o’clock in the morning and although it’s a busy day for all involved, there’s a great atmosphere amongst the whole team. We’re all there for one purpose: to ensure students get the best advice to make an informed decision. It can be an emotional day but it’s a brilliant feeling to hear the delight in a student’s voice when we are able to offer them a place to study with us.

“There are a lot of people involved in the university’s Clearing operation to ensure we offer the best service to applicants and all of the necessary logistics are in in place. We’re now looking forward to receiving calls from students interested in applying to courses at Aberystwyth University, which has just been ranked one of the ten best higher education institutes in the UK and the best in Wales for student satisfaction.”

As well as receiving calls on a special 0800 hotline, staff at Aberystwyth University can also be contacted via email, Facebook, Twitter and live web chat.

With a process such as Clearing it’s important to act fast. Hundreds of students will be in a position where they wish to apply for a course immediately following their results, and places are often limited and can fill up fast.

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Education

Examination crisis: teacher’s predicted grades to be given to students

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THE Welsh Government has announced today (Mon, Aug 17) that AS, A level, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades in Wales will now be awarded on the basis of Centre Assessment Grades.

This occurred after the outrage of students, causing protests outside the Senedd after hearing that a total of 42% of A-level grades predicted by their teachers had been lowered when the Welsh results were published last week. This was due to the decision to process these grades through an algorithm.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she took the decision to maintain confidence in the system.

Speaking on the decision, Kirsty Williams said: “Working with Qualifications Wales and WJEC we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.

“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.

“I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place.

“For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales, will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment.

“For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.

“Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK.

“However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision.

“These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.

“Other Awarding Bodies across the UK are involved in determining the approach to vocational qualifications. This continues to be the case but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A level student at the earliest opportunity.”

This was a decision welcomed by Suzy Davies, Shadow Education Minister.

Commenting on the Decision, Suzy Davies said: “This has been an exceptional time, and this news will come as a very welcome relief for the thousands of A-Level students who last week were looking at grades lower than they were predicted to receive. It will also be a relief to pupils expecting results this week as well as an acknowledgement of quite how much effort teachers put into this.

“It is reassuring that the Minister has listened to the Welsh Conservatives and other parties in the Welsh Parliament, but especially pleasing that she heard the voices of young people up and down the country.

“These students – at A, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate, and Welsh Baccalaureate level – will now have the confidence to plan their future education or career aspirations, and reach their potential.”

The Education Minister also promised an independent review of the events “following the cancellation of this year’s exams”.

Students who received higher grades than those predicted by teachers will keep them.

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Education

Swansea University appoints new governing body Chair

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Swansea University is pleased to announce that Bleddyn Phillips has been appointed as its new Chair of Council.
Mr Phillips, who joined the University’s governing body in May 2017, has been appointed Chair for a four-year term replacing Sir Roger Jones, whose term of office came to an end in September 2019.

Mr Phillips said: “It is a great honour to be appointed Swansea University’s Chair of Council. As a Welsh-speaker, with strong roots in Llanelli and Gower, and with both parents having studied at Swansea, I have long felt an affinity with the University and have been delighted to serve on the Council.

“I want to acknowledge the contribution made to the University by Sir Roger Jones over almost 14 years and I very much look forward to working with, and serving, the University as it celebrates its centenary in 2020 and beyond.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said “It will be a privilege to work with Bleddyn as we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to beginning our second century in 2020.”

Mr Phillips is a lawyer by profession, a former commercial director at oil companies BP and Total, and later Global Head of the Oil and Gas practice at the international law firm, Clifford Chance LLP. He is Director of Llanelli Scarlets RFC and was a trustee of the Wales Millennium Centre from 2012-2018.

The Council is the University’s governing body, which approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, long-term academic and business plans, key performance indicators and overall standards. The Council assures that the University discharges its duties in accordance with the Welsh Quality Assessment Framework.

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Education

Experts attack Welsh Government’s proposed smacking ban plan

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PROMINENT academics have criticised the Welsh Government’s bill to criminalise parental smacking during a public debate at Swansea University.

Tonight, experts from the fields of sociology and criminology and parenting studies poured scorn on the plan during an Academy of Ideas debate on state intervention in the family.

A panel of three academics discussed the merits or otherwise of the smacking legislation, which is due to be debated by AMs for a third time in January next year.

Dr Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University and outspoken critic of the Scottish smacking Bill, said: “No longer treated like citizens, as adults who have an opinion and a basic level of autonomy to raise our children, we have culture change imposed from on high – we are made ‘aware’ by the new authoritarians holding the stick above us.

“The smacking act is a disgrace. It is a form of brutality that undermines parents, weakens the meaning of freedom, and will go on to destroy many loving families who dare to think and act differently to the modern elitists.”

Dr Waiton added: “The brutality of the smacking act will mean that a light smack on the hand or bottom of a child will be a criminal offence. Hard smacking is already illegal, but to the middle-class anti-smacking zealots that was not enough. Children, they argue, need equal protection from assault. The very language they use is alien to the millions of parents who occasionally smack rather than assault their children.

“Parents know that smacking a child is a form of discipline often done out of love and concern rather than something that is abusive and criminal.”

Criticising the way politicians at the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have engaged with parents on the smacking legislation, he said: “The new elite think a lot about consultation and inclusion. The reality is a process run by a small section of society, politicians and professionals, who exist in their own bubble and are distant and disconnected from ordinary people.”

Ellie Lee, Professor of Parenting Research at the University of Kent also spoke out on the Welsh Government’s plans.

“Within the context of an authoritative child rearing relationship, aversive discipline including smacking is well accepted by the young child, effective in managing short-term misbehaviour and has no documented harmful long-term effects.”

She added: “It should be the concern of professionals who work with parents to respectfully offer them alternative disciplinary strategies rather than to condemn parents for using methods consonant with their own, but not the counsellors beliefs and values.”

The Professor accused the Welsh Government of using the “full force of the criminal law to attack people who disagree on the comparative merits of using smacking rather than something like timeout”, saying it is a “bureaucratic imposition on parents”.

Only one academic – Dr Gideon Calder, Associate Professor in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University – spoke in favour of Government interventions like the smacking ban.

Dr Calder argued that intervention is justifiable in some instances and said something like the smacking ban is not necessarily authoritarian. He said: “the point of the legislation is to safeguard children from potentially harmful interactions.”

Commenting on the debate, Jamie Gillies, spokesman for the Be Reasonable Wales campaign, said:

“The criticism levelled at the Government’s smacking plans tonight by experts in the fields of sociology, criminology and parenting studies should be a wakeup call to Ministers.

“Experts are not convinced that the plan to outlaw parental smacking is viable, needful or helpful in terms of improving child protection.

“I hope AMs hear the concerns of these academics as well as their constituents and scrap the smacking ban bill when it’s voted on in January.”

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