University of Cambridge, England
Students have expressed fears that plans to introduce unpaid political internships would hinder access into elite professions
Cambridge MP Julian Huppurt has decided to offer unpaid internships for periods of up to six months. Many students feel that those with the most comfortable financial situation will now continue to be unduly favoured as a result of Huppurt’s proposal, due to the difficulty for many students in supporting themselves financially while on unpaid internships.
He has stated that this would be in place until an official parliamentary internship scheme is implemented, whereby a fund would be available to allow MPs to pay interns working in their office. Huppurt believes this is the most reasonable alternative that would still allow students to experience political life first hand.
Lobby groups such as Interns Aware and Cambridge Defend Education have expressed concerns, saying that the scheme violates the National Minimum Wage Act and contributes to the normalisation of unpaid labour.
Huppurt, a Liberal Democrat, has also reportedly come under criticism from students recently for his decision to vote for the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.
Georgetown University, Washington DC
Campus organisations and student leaders have demanded the opportunity to contest new spending reforms.
In an open letter to Georgetown University Student Activities Commission (SAC), students claim that the proposed reforms stifle their creativity and unfairly distribute funds.
While students say that they merely aimed to voice their concerns and did not set out to cause controversy, SAC Commissioner, Ruiyong Chen, claims that writing an open letter was not an appropriate way to express their dissatisfaction.
It is understood that the International Relations Club were the driving force behind the move. They are understood to have signed the letter alongside a number of other SAC-funded student organisations, including three former SAC Commissioners.
SAC Advisor in the Centre for Student Programmes, Bill McCoy, said that it was irresponsible on the part of the students to have waited so late in the year to come forward on the matter.
Chen has reportedly outlined her aim to introduce a procedure whereby more formal feedback can be heard before spending reforms are implemented in the future. However, it is unlikely that any changes will be made before the controversial guidelines are released. At a recent meeting, Chen said that SAC would reply with their own letter.
University of British Columbia, Canada
An article published by a national current affairs magazine has caused controversy after suggesting that US universities should limit the number of Asian students enrolling.
In November 2010, McClean Magazine published an article entitled ‘Too Asian?’ which suggested that Asian students have been choosing to study at Canadian universities due to an admissions limit in US universities. It also suggested that this influx left fewer university places for local Canadian students to avail of.
The article was widely criticised by students, but McClean defended it saying that the title was a direct quote from the National Association for College Admission Counselling. However, they issued a formal apology and changed the article title to ‘The Enrolment Controversy’.
Students in UBC have had mixed reactions to the original article, with one creating their own video in response entitled, ‘UBC’s Way Too Asian’, which has gained almost 10,000 hits in a month.