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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 188

Date:- 19 February 2005

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START PREPARING now, 1st year university students tell 6th formers. Last year's intake for university is advising the now 6th formers to hone basic survival skills like, cooking, cleaning and managing on a limited budget before they have to fly he nest and go to university. 

93% of students cited the above skills that they wished they had learnt before going to university and the most important one to them was cooking.

All this has come out from new research released this week by ucascard, an initiative from UCAS, the University and Colleges Admissions Service, designed to give new higher education students access to a wealth of information about higher education. The survey was performed online and 1st year students at university were polled about how prepared they were for their life away from home, and what advice they would give to the new set of students planning on going to university in September this year.

The research also suggests that various social skills, like approaching people, making new friends and getting along with people from different backgrounds, should be developed in readiness for living away from home.

31% of those polled did not feel confident that they would eat well on a budget, although 90% did feel confident that they could cook a decent basic meal. 59% said they were not confident that they could manage their bills and 65% said they were not confident enough to manage their own budget or finances. 

Commenting on these findings, Ben Firth, at ucascard, suggest that forward planning is the key to making a good start at university and that prospective students start preparing now:- "Fending for yourself for the first time is not easy and time invested now could save a lot of heartache later," he said.

"Some prospective students might find it useful cooking on a limited food budget before they leave home. This would help them to understand the importance of making nutritious choices when doing the weekly shop and also pick up a few tips on managing budgets from friends and family." 

31% said that they weren't confident that they could was and care for their own clothes:- "Shrunken jumpers or a red article in the white wash are expensive mistakes, so a few practice runs with the washing machine at home, or a 'facility visit' to the local laundrette with some old clothes wouldn't go amiss." Warned Ben.

78% said that any spare money is spent on socialising, whilst 34% said that they weren't confident enough to approach people they didn't know and in forming new friendships.

When asked what is the single most important piece of advice you would give to new students, 1st years had this to say:- "Appreciate time with your family and friends; work harder at your studies; and think harder about your course choices".

The ucascard has been introduced to provide bite size information on most matters relating to planning for higher education, including sourcing course details, and planning applications. In addition, the ucascard provides 16-18 year olds with money off discounts from major retailers, copies of the UCAS "You Can" publication and links to key information about higher education from UCAS, as well as from universities and colleges.

"Preparing for university should be an exciting and rewarding process. Work together with your friends and family to ensure that you leave home armed with all the skills and confidence you need to arrive at university with a head start,"
concluded Ben.

For further information about ucascard and how to apply for one, year 12/S5 (or equivalent) students can visit


EVEN when severe winter weather is expected, almost half of road users would continue to make their journey despite the forecast and as few as a third would carry a 'winter weather kit' to see them through a journey, according to new research published by the Highways Agency.

In severe weather, delaying a journey by a few hours can make the difference between a completed trip and a difficult drive in poor conditions, says the Agency, which manages the country's motorways and all purpose trunk roads.

However, nearly 50% of those questioned in the survey said they would not delay a journey because of severe weather warnings. Over a fifth of those questioned said they would not check for weather warnings before setting out and 10% said they would not listen for warnings on the radio when driving.

Ginny Clarke, Chief Highways Engineer, said:- "This research was done because we need to understand better the factors which influence drivers using our roads during severe weather - in winter and at other times. We will use this research to develop our plans for driver education and information programmes.

This year the Highways Agency has been working hard to be better prepared for winter. We have built up a new relationship with the Met Office and have a team of forecasters based in our National Traffic Control Centre to ensure we can give road users the best possible warnings and information when they have to travel in poor conditions.

We also want road users to be better prepared, to carry the right equipment and to take note of the information we and the Met Office are providing, so that they can make better decisions on whether they need to travel when the weather is bad."

The survey found that most road users are aware that they should make extra preparations for a journey in severe winter weather, but not all are heeding advice to carry a 'winter kit', such as warm clothes, food, water, boots, de-icer, a torch and spade. When questioned, less than half said they would take warm clothes and less than a third would take food and drink for the journey.

When asked about preparing their vehicle for a journey in Winter over 40% said they would not check their water or oil levels and 30% would not check they had sufficient anti-freeze.

Local young scientists compete at top national science fair

STUDENTS from the North West will be competing at the prestigious national BA CREST Science Fair, to be held at the Royal Society, London, on 28 February for one of a number of prizes, including the chance to attend international science fairs in the US and Moscow. The fair showcases science and technology projects from student's aged 11 to 19 across the UK. 

Students from the following schools in the North West will take part:-

Bolton School Boys' Division, Heaton;  Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Blackburn; Tytherington High School, Macclesfield, Beech House School, Rochdale; Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Lancaster; Birkenhead School, Birkenhead; Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby;  Carmel College, St Helens and  St Mary's College, Crosby;

"We hear much about the declining numbers of students opting for science at A-level and university, but very little about the achievements of young people. 
Every year at the science fair we see many outstanding and innovative projects and we want to celebrate this work. By recognising the creativity and innovation behind these projects, we can encourage young people to pursue a career in science." says Professor Robert Winston, President of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science).

At the fair, budding scientists will present their projects to a panel of judges including scientists, educators and science journalists, and will have the opportunity to win trips to prestigious international science fairs across the globe, receive cash prizes and be crowned Young Scientist of the Year.

The BA CREST Science Fair is organised by the BA. The BA would like to thank AstraZeneca, the Research Councils and QinetiQ for their sponsorship of the event and the Royal Society for its support with the event.

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