Student Band Competition

Over the past five weeks, the i’s student brand ambassadors have held charity gigs at campuses nationwide, to raise money for the i Elephant Appeal. Each band that played submitted a song for consideration in this competition, and we have shortlisted the top five below.

The act with the highest number of votes at 5pm on Thursday 1 May 2014, will win an 8 hour recording session at Bowerman Studios.

Watch the videos of the bands and cast your vote by clicking here.


One of the shortlisted bands

After uni: What to do if you don’t know what to do



With third-year students getting closer and closer to leaving university, that nagging question keeps cropping up: “what are you going to do when you graduate?”

For the lucky few studying vocational courses it’s not such an issue, but for those studying anything else it can be difficult knowing where to go once you graduate and what you really want to do. So here’s a list of reasons why it’s ok not to know what career you want to go into as soon as you graduate.

You have time to take a breather. If you didn’t take a gap year then it’s likely you’ve been in education for around 17 years. Now you finally have some free time to travel and cross some things off your bucket list.

Instead of jumping into a graduate job that you’re uncertain about, try out a few different internships or do some volunteering to help you make up your mind. Many places are even beginning to offer paid work experience…

You’re still young and have plenty of time to make a decision. Many people decide to change their career paths at a much later date in their lives or after working for one company for several years start doing freelance work or switch to another company.

If you really don’t want to leave university, you don’t have to. Apply to do an MA if there’s a subject that you’re passionate about. This could help with your career prospects in the future and also means that you get another year to enjoy being a student.

And, if your family will have you, you can move back home and indulge in free rent and food while you apply for jobs. You’ll have time to take up something new, whether it’s a musical instrument or a sport, and make some new friends at the same time.

Birmingham students brave poor diet and worse hygiene to camp out in university library for charity for a week and counting

Three students from Birmingham have set up permanent camp in the university’s library to raise money and awareness for Nightline.

David Franklin, Sam Jones and James Phillips have chosen to lock themselves in the library during deadline week. The students stress that university can be challenging for lots of different reasons and everyone needs support at times. They’re raising money for Birmingham Nightline, a telephone support service run by students, for students. Nightline offers confidential, non-judgmental advice from 6pm – 8am every night of term.

The students have set themselves some ground rules; they’re not allowed to leave the library at any time, they must spend the majority of their time working and they must be respectful of others studying around them. They said that the lock in will be “a battle of physical endurance, of mental strength and of supreme procrastination, but above all, it will be a battle to maintain personal hygiene.”

They’ve now raised over £1,000, which was their original target, after being in the library for seven days. Since starting their campaign, the students have been contacted by people who have experienced mental health difficulties. They said “we came into this wanting to raise money and awareness, we didn’t think we’d actually be directly helping people. People have come up to us saying they’ve had mental health difficulty and never spoken to anyone and our campaign has made them speak to someone for the first time.”

If you would like to sponsor Franklin, Jones and Phillips by donating to Nightline, please visit this website.Image

Student City guide: Birmingham

What’s the big draw?

Birmingham sometimes gets a bad rep despite being the UK’s second city. Some cynics have even argued that the best thing to come out of Birmingham is the train to London, but this is definitely not the case! The city centre is full of shops, restaurants, clubs and music venues, while Birmingham’s cultural diversity is reflected in the arts, it’s the base of the UK’s first South Asian Music Performance and Dance company, SAMPAD, and there are annual festivals of jazz, comedy, poetry, film and literature.

What’s the nightlife like?

Symphony and Town Hall are great places to catch some live music and comedy. Bands and artists such as Fairport Convention, PJ Harvey and Laura Marling have performed here. The Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham is also host to some major events that are open to the general public, including a comedy night with The Noise Next Door and Matt Richardson, and Black Voices, an a capella group who performed during Black History Month. Some of the best places to go for an alternative night out include Snobs, which plays everything from indie hits to motown classics, and the Rainbow Warehouse, where Groove Armada, Fourtet, Gentlemen’s Dub Club and other acts have performed.


What can you do in the day?

At the Birmingham University campus, you can find the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which holds various exhibitions of traditional and contemporary art as well as classical music concerts. Just outside the centre of town, in Digbeth, there are a variety of vintage and retro shops such as Urban Village and Mr Bird’s Emporium in the Custard Factory. The Custard Factory is known as Birmingham’s creative quarter, as it also has a theatre and the Dome Club, where you can watch films in 360 degrees. The new library is also definitely worth a visit, it has everything from Feel Good Fiction sessions to yoga classes!

Where’s the best place for non-millionaires to live?

Selly Oak is where the majority of students live in Birmingham, as it’s cheap and only a five-minute walk to campus. There are many different pubs scattered across the Bristol Road, like the Bristol Pear that often hold open mic nights and comedy stand ups organised by students. There’s also an Aldi and a variety of fast food outlets, including Chick Inn and Rooster House. For booze, Drinks To Go is famous for its friendly owner who dishes out lollipops to customers. What more do you want?

Birmingham University agrees to pay all staff the Living Wage

The University of Birmingham has announced that staff will now all be paid the Living Wage.

The announcement was made on 5 March via Twitter and in an email to all staff from Adam Tickell, provost and vice principal.

Tickell said: “The university and the branch executives of Unison and Unite are pleased to report that the current dispute over the 2013 pay settlement has been resolved. The branch executives of Unison and Unite will recommend to their members that no further industrial action be taken in relation to the 2013 pay settlement.”

He added: “For its part, the university has committed to matching the current rate of the Living Wage for the year from 1 August 2014; and to match the then current level for the year from 1 August 2015.”

Hollie Richardson, a second year psychology student, said “I’m happy about the staff being paid the Living Wage. It’s a good sign that the university has acted this way. Now maybe all the riots and strikes won’t need to carry on.”

The current Living Wage, which is £7.65 outside London, is still not paid at all universities across the UK.

Missing the Winter Olympics? Five of the best extreme sports societies



Now that the Winter Olympics has come to a close, it may have left some students inspired to try out some extreme sports at their own university. Here are a small number of the extreme sport societies on offer across universities in the UK.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Pretty much every university in the UK will have a popular ski and snowboarding society and Birmingham is a good example. Brumski and Board society has been running for around 30 years and has over 500 members. They hold Christmas and Easter ski trips every year and regularly take part in competitions. Daisy Tudor, a committee member, describes some of the events that Brumski partake in, “every Wednesday we go to sports night. Fancy dress is compulsory, as well as drinking. Games and music are played and everyone is welcome. It usually gets very rowdy but there are no seniors terrorising freshers like some other sports encourage. We also have special events like the Extreme Sport Ball, BUDS and Kings Finals Ball (after competitions that take place in Edinburgh and London). During these there is a strict no cutlery rule and cheesecake always ends up in people’s hair or tux jackets.”


Oxford, York, Aberdeen and Warwick are only some of the universities that offer this rather unusual sport – underwater hockey! Apparently anyone who is able to swim is able to play. It’s played in teams of six and everyone is equipped with a mask, fins, snorkel and a small wooden hockey stick.

Skydiving and BASE Jumping

The University of Lincoln offers both skydiving and BASE jumping. For those of you that don’t know, BASE jumping is where participants jump from fixed objects (buildings, antennas, spans and earth) and use a parachute to break their fall. They go on weekly trips to Skydive Hibaldstow in North Lincolnshire, which is the home to University of York Skydiving Society, and sister drop zone of Skydive Spain. The society hopes to arrange an Easter Skydiving trip to Spain.

Skateboard, Rollerblade and BMX

The Cambridge Urban Sports society brings together skaters and BMXers and meets regularly for social and sporting events. Each term they travel to PlayStation skate park in London and to the NASS urban sport festival in Bath every year.

Warwick University is home to the amusingly named ‘WUSS’ (Warwick University Skate Society) as well as a Longboarding society. Longboards are usually two or three feet longer than a normal skateboard and have a wider wheel base. The society plans to take part in the Great Parade Skate in Leamington. Instead of offering society hoodies or t-shirts, the longboarding society have chosen to let members have personalised socks…


Birmingham University’s Windsurfing society has been running for over 10 years. They are members of the Student Windsurfing Association (SWA) so they go on trips all around the country to meet up with other Windsurfing societies. These include Bude in Cornwall, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham and of course BUCS in Southampton. Susanna Mazzocca Gamba, a member of the society, says “windsurfing is a great sport as it’s enjoyable at all levels and windsurfers are all very chilled out. We recently went to a roller disco as a social, which was great fun.”

The Manchester Extreme Sports Society (MESS) organise windsurfing, rock climbling, paintballing, bungee jumping, zorbing and other events for their members. Zorbing is sport in which you are harnessed inside a giant, transparent ball and run down a slope. It’s very popular with lead singer of The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne, who loves zorbing around the crowd at their concerts, because crowdsurfing is so last year… MESS has also helped organise a charity climb up Kilimanjaro.

Student City guide: Cardiff

What’s the big draw?

The Welsh capital is a cheap and cheerful place to visit. There are often good alternative music nights and festivals like Sŵn, which has previously hosted Beirut, The Cribs and Alt J among others. Cardiff is small enough that the majority of clubs and bars are within walking distance of each other but big enough to still feel like you’re in a major city. 

What’s the night-life like? (gigs, bars, clubs)

Putting aside the standard Oceana and Revs, Cardiff is home to a series of independent clubs and bars. Clwb Ifor Bach, or the Welsh Club as it is fondly known, holds Aperture Dubstep nights on a Friday, indie music on Saturdays and a variety of gigs throughout the year. Bands that have played there include Pavement, Blood Red Shoes and Foals.

Opposite Clwb is the Full Moon Club, which opened two years ago. As well as hosting bands and regular club nights, it also does an open mic night called ‘The Electric Cwtch’. For those in search of a double and mixer for under £2, look no further than Metros. The rock metal club, also known as ‘Sweatros’, stays open until 4am and hands out free slices of buttered toast as it reaches the end of the night.

If you’re feeling slightly classier, head to Buffalo Bar or 10 Feet Tall for some 2-4-1 cocktails. The basement of 10 Feet Tall, Undertone, features the 90s Hip Hop and RnB night, Bump & Grind.

What can you do in the day? (cafes, restaurants, shops and facilities)

Now that Cardiff City Football Club is in the Premiership, sports fans may enjoy going to watch their matches at Ninian Park football ground. The Millennium Stadium in the city centre is also worth a visit, though it can get unbearably crowded when the rugby is on.

There are lots of little arcades in the city with independent stores and restaurants, such as Restaurant Minuet in Castle Arcade, which used to be owned by the cheery Marcello who sang along to opera CDs while preparing your Penne all’Arrabiata. In Morgan Arcade, you can find Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world, where you can purchase tickets for concerts in the city.

For shopping, check out the Cardiff Fashion Quarter in Womanby Street, home to twenty independent traders of vintage clothes and handmade gifts. In Cathays, Milgi Lounge is the perfect place to go for lunch with friends. It has vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, and cutesy, kitsch indoor decorations. You can also rent out the yurt in the heated garden for private parties.


Where’s the best place for to live?

Roath is about a fifteen minute walk from the centre of town and even has a park with a lake that you can go boating in. Although there are a lot of large family houses on one side of it, the other side, next to Cathays, is full of students and has variety of pubs, shops and cafes.

It’s better to give: A student guide to secret Santa

Secret Santa is the best way for friends to give each other gifts without busting through the overdraft.


It’s that time of the year again, and being a student, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to scrape together enough money to get presents for your friends and family. Luckily, at uni everyone seems to agree that Secret Santa is the perfect solution.

You could pick names out of a hat, but then you may find that you pick yourself and have to choose again and if at that point there are only two names left in the hat and you know who’s choosing after you, you’ve ruined the surprise. A lot of people are pretty awful about keeping who they have a secret and it doesn’t make matters better if you accidently order your housemate’s present to their name instead of your own!

To avoid situations like these, follow this list of handy tips before you do your own Secret Santa:

  • Don’t order online – unless you do it weeks in advance, but it’s unlikely your friends will be thinking about Christmas presents that early on. Even if you ask for next day delivery (bad move, it costs extra!) you may find that your postman delivers the parcel at 7:30am when nobody’s awake, so you have to wait and pick it up from the post office anyway.
  • Set a budget – it’s never fun when you’ve made a massive effort and spent £15 on a friend and then your present is a pair of novelty sunglasses, but sometimes it can be just as bad when people go over the spending limit. If you’ve stuck to the £10 that everyone decided on and then all your friends spend £20, they’ll make you feel embarrassed and you’ll end up looking stingy.
  • Choose a theme – a cute idea is to find personal gifts that remind you of your friends. For someone who loves travelling, you could buy a map to stick on their wall where they can scratch away the places they’ve been or, if it’s in your budget, buy tickets to a gig of a band they like.
  • Don’t ruin it by telling everyone who you have and asking who they have – this is easier said than done. Even if you do end up telling each other who you have, try to resist the temptation of showing your friends what you’ve bought as it spoils the surprise! If you start telling each other who you have, you can probably work out who is buying your present by a process of elimination, or if there’s only person that when you ask them who they have won’t tell you…
  • Use a website like instead of picking names out of a hat – you type in the names and email addresses of the participants and it messages you the name of the person whose gift you’ll be buying. This solves the problem of picking your own name out of a hat.
  • Put on a Christmas playlist and decorate your table with tinsel and candles to get in the Christmas spirit (keep the tinsel a good distance away from the candles) and make Christmas dinner with your housemates or friends from home (or both!) Swap presents after you’ve eaten your main course. That way, the food won’t go cold and you give your stomach a break before devouring the mince pies and Christmas pudding. If you’ve managed to keep it a secret for this long, try to guess who bought your present.

Now you’re all set to have the best early Christmas day at uni!

Birmingham University campus occupied once more by student activists


A group of student demonstrators have occupied a room in one of the main buildings on the University of Birmingham’s campus, and are calling for “free and democratic education in Birmingham and the UK”.

The group, called Defend Education Birmingham, began their protest last night in the Senate Chambers in the Aston Webb building. They barricaded themselves in the Dome Room, equipped with a table of food to keep them going through the night.

In a statement, the protesters hit out at university management, for allegedly decreasing students’ power and representation.

“Defend Education believes that staff and students should have more power in every level of university decision making. Currently a small class of senior managers benefit disproportionately from the fees and work of staff and students. They have total unaccountable power to harm our interests within the university and lobby against our interests outside it.”

The group has published a list of their demands online. They want the university to campaign against increased fees, to guarantee all staff, including casuals, the Living Wage, and to decrease the pay disparity between the highest and lowest paid employees. The full statement is available here.

The occupation is ongoing, and a spokesman for the group told The Independent that they have “no plans to leave”.

“We’re trying to assert control over a situation where students feel they have no power. The response has been amazing. Security are not letting anyone else in but we know more people want to join.”

In a statement, the university said it respects “the rights of students to protest peacefully and within the law”.

“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community and we are concerned where any protest poses a potential hazard to protesters or bystanders, or causes unwarranted disruptions to study or work, or damage to property.”