Student press – issue 221

Since the Government’s announcement of increasing tuition fees, students have been feeling a little strapped for cash. The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) said the number of calls received from students had “at least doubled”. Not being an open supporter of prostitution, I decided to look at the alternatives.

The Huffington Post spoke to Charlie (name changed), a 23-year-old student from Nottingham University who worked as an elf in Hamleys over the Christmas period. Charlie describes the £6-an-hour job as “horrible, unbearable even.

“[We had] breakfast with Father Christmas, lunch with Father Christmas, tea with Father Christmas…you get my drift.”

But it gets worse: “No one’s allowed to say what tricks or performances they have planned in case elves from competing stores find out and steal our ideas.”

Charlie also shared stories from her darkest days in the elf trade: “I think I sung ‘Jingle Bells’ for four days straight…”

Students have also turned to gambling and volunteering for medical experiments. Rhian, a student at Swansea University, travelled to Mexico last year to take part in a medical drugs trial for diarrhoea tablets, for which she was paid more than £1,000.

Asked about her experience, Rhian said: “It was an easy way to get hold of a lot of money – which I desperately needed to pay for my rent. I’d never consider prostitution though, no matter how hard-up I was…It’s not safe and it would definitely ruin any future career prospects.”

With safety being so high on Rhian’s list of priorities, you wonder if she ever considered why the drug testing was taking place in Mexico (we’ve all heard of The Elephant Man).

It doesn’t get an awful lot better after graduation. Cat Reilly, a graduate from Birmingham University, has launched legal action against the government after she was allegedly “forced” to stack shelves in Poundland without pay, which is against the European Convention on Human Rights (slave labour, not working at Poundland).

She was told she would not be eligible for her £53-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance unless she accepted the placement with Poundland. On a side note, Birmingham has a higher graduate prospects rating than York.
It seems the alternatives aren’t a lot better…