Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Hall Morrice employee Andrew Laurie, who received the Ronald Ison Medal for the candidate with the highest mark in the Taxation of Individuals paper

An Aberdeen-based accountant has emerged as the top-scoring student in a national Chartered Institute of Taxation exam.
Andrew Laurie from independent firm Hall Morrice LLP was awarded the Ronald Ison Medal for the candidate with the highest mark in the Taxation of Individuals paper – an exam that he hopes will eventually help him achieve Chartered Taxation Advisor (CTA) status.

Andrew (30) was one of over 200 candidates from around the UK to pass the exam, and did so with distinction.

He has previously passed all his CTA exams at the first attempt, and will sit his final test in May.

He joined Hall Morrice as a graduate trainee in the audit and accounts team and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CA) with the support of the firm. Director of tax Stuart Watson saw that he had a natural aptitude for the subject, and Andrew joined the tax department over three years ago.

Andrew, who is employed as a senior tax analyst with Hall Morrice, says,

“With Stuart’s encouragement, I decided to study for my CTA qualification and was delighted when the firm provided a study package to help me achieve this.

“I had hoped that I had performed well in the exam, but to learn that I had passed with the highest mark on the paper came as a real surprise. I’m very pleased as it was the result of a lot of studying, but more than that shows the effort that Hall Morrice has made in training me and mentoring me over the years.”

Students studying towards the CA qualification sit a paper which covers taxation, but at a relatively basic level compared to the knowledge required for the CTA exams. CTA is seen as the gold standard for advisors and is absolutely essential for anyone wishing to specialise at a high level in taxation.

Hall Morrice, which employs around 50 members of staff, has a long and successful track record as a training firm, and consistently develops graduates to very high levels. It has invested heavily in bespoke training programmes aimed at improving the learning process for its graduates, and the approach has seen exam pass rates soar.

Last year, the firm was shortlisted in two categories in Scotland’s Employer of the Year Awards in recognition of its efforts to develop staff and invest in young people. Hall Morrice accepts new graduates every year, and is also committed to offering placements to accountancy students.

Stuart, who has worked in taxation for over 40 years says,

“We are immensely proud of Andrew’s achievement. To perform better than any other CTA student in the country underlines not only how hard he has worked on his studies, but also the opportunities that he has had to put his learning into practice in his day to day role here at Hall Morrice.

“As the tax department is relatively small, our team has to be able to advise on a wide range of tax issues and not specialise in any one particular area. Andrew covers the whole scope of our service provision, from personal taxation and tax returns to share valuations and tax planning.

“It has always been the firm’s aim to recruit the best and in terms of technical ability, Andrew’s success in this paper has shown that he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

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Jun 032016
 

By Suzanne Kelly. Photos courtesy of Pirate Photography Aberdeen.

Egle2This year’s Gray’s School of Art Graduate Fashion Show lived up to expectations and in some areas exceeded them. The wide variety of designs on show, the craftsmanship, the wide range of inspirations all made this another memorable fashion event for the school.

Salmena Carvalho , Fashion & Textile Lecturer / Fashion Show Curator said:

“Our graduate fashion show is a great opportunity for our students to showcase their final year collections to an external audience. This year we presented a variety of work ranging from womenswear, menswear, knit, print and mixed media. It is always an exciting time for us as we are able to collaborate with other creatives for this annual event. “

It is difficult to pick out favourite pieces or designers from such a large field, but here in their own words are some of the designers, with a few comments from me.

Nicole Ferry – Corruption.

Nicole Ferry“My collection explores the current negative affairs in society and visual attributes which connect with this theme. From politics to riots, my collection aims to convey the extent of negativity in our everyday lives.

“Gray’s graduate fashion show was a complete success. Finishing my university journey on a high.

“Myself and fellow students are incredibly proud of the collections we produced and the blood, sweat and tears was definitely worth it when viewing your garments on the catwalk. “

Nicole brought us a futuristic vision in a collection which echoed social unrest and pending problems throughout – whether directly by slogans written on clothing or via clothes geared to obstruct your face, which I found food for thought in a world where surveillance and social activism are increasing.

Natalie Anderson said:

Natalie Anderson“The graduate fashion show is a great way to unveil our creations. There is a massive amount of planning and organising that our tutor Salmena undertakes in order to make it a success for us students.

“It was great to see it all set up and everything taking place.

“Everything is done with precision from the picking of the models to deciding the music for each individual catwalk collection.

“The running of the show went smoothly and was a great achievement for all involved. “

Natalie made several stunning pieces; a luxurious black coat with very interesting textures in the nape of the fabric was far more stunning than any real fur piece could ever be.

It was both echoing dramatic costumes of the past (I thought of a full-length portrait by Holbein of Christina of Denmark) and pointing to the future with its clean lines, flow and interesting textures.

April Hay commented on her work:

april hay“My collection is the result of a relationship I built between textile design and mineralogy.

“I believe very strongly that design and science go hand in hand and hope my work sets an example of how a cross disciplinary project could work between them.

“Working with The National Museum of Scotland enabled me to materialise a body of visual and mental research into mineral specimens whilst the facilities at Gray’s School of Art were used to create the garments and textile pieces.

“Photography, photoshop manipulation and digital print are the techniques used in my collection. “

Lisa Campbell helped organise the show; I’d seen the progress of her stunning work when I was taking an introductory course at Gray’s. The striking use of origami principles mixed with Op Art has created stunning, unique fashions.

Lisa CampbellShe says:

“The Fashion Show weekend was an exhilarating experience and I can’t quite believe that it’s all over.

“There was a huge buzz of excitement during both shows, seeing everyones collections finally come together and all the hard work finally paying off.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback following the fashion show.

“As a member of the fashion show committee it is particularly rewarding to see all the elements that I have helped organise come together to showcase the work of the class.”

Egle Mazeikaite had a very elegant and extremely feminine collection; Egle explained:

“The starting point for this collection was femininity and ways of expressing it through contemporary fashion. The focus is on the concept of envelopes being an enclosing structure which contains something personal – in this case the idea of femininity.

“Using the conceptual aspects of an envelope (such as triangular overlapping shapes and the shiny strip representing the glue strip which secures an envelope and conceals its contents) the pieces in my final year collection enclose a personal message, trying to find the balance between the feminine and masculine, containing the delicacy of colour in an enclosing structure and expressing the nature of a modern woman.

“My work is feminine and carries a personal message, encouraging the wearer to be empathetic and vulnerable in order to be in touch with her femininity.”

While I wish there were space for every artist and designer’s work here; finally we have Mhairi Buchanan who explained her work:

mhairi buchanan“Decomposition and Decay, my Fashion and Textile collection has been inspired by the decay of florals. Beauty is highly desirable in this day and age.

“I feel that we are too quick to discard items because they could be a little past their sell by date. My collection is digital images of dying flowers, that have been manipulated into arrangements to revive them, and make them beautiful again.

“With this in mind, I have created textiles that are embroidered with layers of digitally printed flowers. The skirts and tops have been designed with the idea that they can be worn at any occasion. Although they may look like ball gown attire, they are versatile and could be used as separates for any event.”

It’s quite a challenge for next year’s graduating class to equal this work; and we’ll see what they do, and where these talented designers will go – great things are expected of them all.

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Jan 102014
 

Three Aberdeen students studying at Robert Gordon University are hoping to make the cut and compete in the 19th Annual Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race, Scotland’s equivalent of the Oxford Cambridge boat race, in March. With thanks to Jennifer Kelly, Tricker PR.

COMPRESSED Christie DuffAberdeen students Christie Duff (19), Iona Riley (21) and Lewis McCue (18) are all eager to be a part of the 19th Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race.

The event will see the University of Aberdeen go head to head with the Robert Gordon University on Saturday 1st March.

Despite having career ambitions outside of sport, the three hopefuls would all love to take their rowing careers to the next level having attended the World Championships and even trialled for the Great British rowing team in 2013.

Christie, who studies Architecture, says:

“2013 was a fantastic year for me. Being able to witness such significant UK rowing events will stay with me for many years to come.  

“I first started rowing in secondary school after spending my youth doing gymnastics and trampolining.  These sports gave me a solid foundation and understanding that strict, controlled training often secures great results.  

“My proudest achievement in rowing so far is winning at the Henley Royal Regatta, and I would love to be selected to compete in the 2014 Boat Race team.”

Applied Sport and Exercise Science student Iona also began with another sport, in her case netball, before turning her hand to rowing.

A Silver Medal winner at the World Under 23 Rowing Championships, she says:

“When I was in Primary 7 my teacher took the class down to the river to try rowing.  I was hooked from there and have been on the water ever since.

“To encourage other young enthusiasts, I coach at every available opportunity.  It can be difficult to balance studying with coaching but it’s just so rewarding that I can’t give it up.”

For Sports Science student Lewis, there is a history of rowing in his family. He says:

“My grandfather rowed for Oxford in the Boat Race, so it would be fantastic to carry on the family tradition and represent Robert Gordon University in the Aberdeen Boat Race.  Sometimes it’s difficult to keep university work and rowing both up to scratch, but it’s all about learning that balancing act.”

COMPRESSED Iona RileyThe final crews will be selected in early 2014 by each team president – Robert Gordon University Boat Club’s (RGUBC) Gillian Paterson and Aberdeen University Boat Club’s (AUBC) Lauren Cammaert – who will look at performance, ability and determination of potential team members when making their decisions.

To prepare for the March race, both clubs have already undergone months of gruelling training, including 6a.m. starts on the river.

Each of the 16 rowers will take just under 300 strokes in the course of the 3.5km race and, along with the crew coxes, will push their physical and mental endurance to the limit.  The race stretches along the River Dee in Aberdeen, from the Bridge of Dee to the Aberdeen Boat Club and in 2013 (RGUBC) won the race against (AUBC) by two and a half lengths in a time of 8 minutes and 18 seconds.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, comments:

“The University boat club presidents have a difficult job ahead of them, with a number of talented individuals in both clubs vying to compete in what is Scotland’s oldest and possibly most fiercely competitive boat race.

“Aberdeen Asset Management continues to show its dedication to fostering young talent, and we hope that the 2014 Boat Race will inspire more future athletes to take up rowing.”

You can follow the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Universities’ Boat Race on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AAMBoatRace or on Twitter at  @2014BoatRace.

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Nov 222012
 

Aberdeen students protest in London over education funding and youth unemployment. With thanks to Xander Brouwer. 

Aberdeen students joined over a thousand others from Scotland and tens of thousands from across the UK on the National Union of Students’ demonstration in London on Wednesday. They made the 24-hour, thousand-mile round trip to campaign against the impact of government policy and its lack of opportunities for students and graduates.

Anne-Claire Deseilligny, President of Aberdeen University Students’ Association, said:

“Today, many students will make the long journey from Aberdeen to march with others from across the UK and make a stand against disastrous decisions by the Westminster government, decisions felt right across the UK.

“While Holyrood can do more in many areas, you don’t have to look far to see that some of the biggest impacts being felt by students can be traced back to Westminster.  

“There is a crisis in youth unemployment, huge fees for RUK students, colleges losing their ability to recruit international students and the continued attempts to turn UK education into a market. All these are problems created by Westminster and need, ultimately, to be fixed by Westminster.

“We’ll be marching beside students from across the UK to make the point to the Westminster government that students and young people deserve better. They need to urgently reconsider their discredited austerity measures or risk consigning a generation to the scrapheap.

“They need to recognise that education and employment are the solution to a better economy, not something to put up barriers to, or shut people out of.”   

 For more information see: http://www.demo2012.org.uk/

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Mar 292012
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

THE OBSIDIAN ISLE – Gayle Chong Kwan

The Obsidian Isle is a significant new body of work from Venice Biennale exhibitor Gayle Chong Kwan. The installation of large-format photographs & sculptures documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country’s lost and destroyed buildings and places.
The Obsidian Isle explores ideas of collective history, national identity, landscape, and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories.

Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012 

KIN – Gray’s pre-degree show

KIN is an exhibition by Gray’s School of Art’s BA Hons printmaking students.
The exhibition gives an exciting insight into a great variety of different approaches to print and printmaking and showcases a diverse range of works made in preparation for the students’ degree show later in the year. So come along to support the students and see the artistic talents of tomorrow.

Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012

BIG JESSIE – Donald Urquhart

Drag queen turned draughtsman, Donald Urquhart presents Big Jessie, a selection of bold, new hand printed works in his distinctive cartoon-like black ink style, created at Peacock Visual Arts.

To be shown at The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow.

Preview Thursday 26 April |Brutti Ma Buoni,
The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow | 7pm – late
 Exhibition runs 27 April – 27 May 2012

TEMPORARY ART SCHOOL – Poets in the City Workshop + Meet-up

The Temporary Art School is a one month live project happening throughout the city of Aberdeen in March 2012. TAS was devised by a group of people living and working in both Aberdeen and Glasgow who have come together to put on classes and workshops for all which experiment with what an art school can be and continue in a long tradition of self-organised education.

This Friday Poet Gerard Rochford will be giving a new workshop on the word whether it be spoken, written or sprawled in the streets. Please bring along a poem of two which you have written you would like someone to have a look at it and if you have never written one, in Gerard’s words ‘by the end you will have.’ email atemporaryartschool@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Friday 16 March | 5-9pm

ABERDUINO – Electronic Jiggery-pokery

Aberdeen’s own electronic tinkerers and artist’s hackerspace will be running on the second or third Tuesday of every month from now on – so put the date above in your digi-diary.

Come along if you’re interested in micro-controllers, soldering irons, circuit bending, electronic jiggery-pokery and chin scratching.

Tuesday 17 April | 6.30 – 8.30pm | FREE
*Note – The event is FREE but call us on 01224 639539 to let us know if you’re coming along.

RELIEF PRINTING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Come along to try out the oldest form of printmaking. No experience necessary.

Saturday 7 + Sunday 8 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

ETCHING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience necessary.

Saturday 21 + Sunday 22 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

GET ANIMATED AT PEACOCK

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Well book onto our animation workshops to find out.

Throughout April, July, August & October | 10 – 4pm | age 10 + | £35 

Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place on any of our courses.

Mar 152012
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

THE OBSIDIAN ISLE – Gayle Chong Kwan

The Obsidian Isle is a significant new body of work from Venice Biennale exhibitor Gayle Chong Kwan. The installation of large-format photographs & sculptures documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country’s lost and destroyed buildings and places.
The Obsidian Isle explores ideas of collective history, national identity, landscape, and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories.

 Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
 Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012 

Event – Gayle Chong Kwan in Conversation

Gayle Chong Kwan in conversation with Dr Dominic Patterson, a lecturer in modern and contemporary art and theory at the University of Glasgow. To reserve your place please email sarah@peacockvisualarts.co.uk or call 01224 639539.

Saturday 24 March | PVA | 3 – 4pm | FREE  

KIN – Gray’s pre-degree show

KIN is an exhibition by Gray’s School of Art’s BA Hons printmaking students.
The exhibition gives an exciting insight into a great variety of different approaches to print and printmaking and showcases a diverse range of works made in preparation for the students’ degree show later in the year. So come along to support the students and see the artistic talents of tomorrow.

Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012

TEMPORARY ART SCHOOL – Poets in the City Workshop + Meet-up

The Temporary Art School is a one month live project happening throughout the city of Aberdeen in March 2012. TAS was devised by a group of people living and working in both Aberdeen and Glasgow who have come together to put on classes and workshops for all which experiment with what an art school can be and continue in a long tradition of self-organised education.

This Friday Poet Gerard Rochford will be giving a new workshop on the word whether it be spoken, written or sprawled in the streets. Please bring along a poem of two which you have written you would like someone to have a look at it and if you have never written one, in Gerard’s words ‘by the end you will have.’ email atemporaryartschool@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Friday 16 March | 5-9pm

ABERDUINO – Electronic Jiggery-pokery

Aberdeen’s own electronic tinkerers and artist’s hackerspace will be running on the second or third Tuesday of every month from now on – so put the date above in your digi-diary.

Come along if you’re interested in micro-controllers, soldering irons, circuit bending, electronic jiggery-pokery and chin scratching.

Tuesday 17 April | 6.30 – 8.30pm | FREE
*Note – The event is FREE but call us on 01224 639539 to let us know if you’re coming along.

RELIEF PRINTING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Come along to try out the oldest form of printmaking. No experience necessary.

Saturday 7 + Sunday 8 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

ETCHING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience necessary.

Saturday 21 + Sunday 22 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

GET ANIMATED AT PEACOCK

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Well book onto our animation workshops to find out.

Throughout April, July, August & October | 10 – 4pm | age 10 + | £35 

Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place on any of our courses.

Feb 212012
 

With an armful of flyers promoting various pro ‘Retain Union Terrace Gardens’ groups, Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly headed to the first of two ‘pizza parties’ thrown by the secretive ‘Vote For The City Gardens Project’ group.   Suzanne was  unable to give away more than four flyers – because less than a half dozen students turned  up to hear the pro CGP message.

If the promise of free food to students isn’t enough to lure more than 5 or 6 people, things are looking bleak for the VFTCGP, and bleaker still for PR agency, BIG Partnership.
VftCGP, on their official Facebook page, announced last week there would be two ‘free pizza!’ events thrown for students; a free pizza dinner was theirs and all they had to do was show up to hear a pro-City Garden Project lecturer – Paul Robertson.
At first most FB readers assumed this was a spoof thrown by the ‘Retain UTG’ groups – but no, this was actually someone’s idea of a vote-winner.

We all know the proverb about the incompetent who can’t even arrange a drinking session in a brewery; but I was unprepared for what must be the biggest non-event in history.

The Facebook invitations simply read:

“Free Pizza And Information Night! Come join us for free pizza and a chat with Paul Robertson about the City Garden Project on Monday 20th February, between 6pm and 7pm at the RGU: Union”.

Thinking back to my RGU course days, I thought a.  how insulted I would be at someone blatantly trying to buy my opinion – with pizza no less, and b.  how often I could have found a free meal very handy indeed.  This event would be packed.  The invites were also sent to staff and students.  I thought of a massive collective of outsiders and RGU students and staff competing for quickly-disappearing ‘American Hots’ and ‘Hawaiians’ before a slick presentation from BIG.

BIG must be making a huge amount of money from the referendum – it is doing some if not all of the official City Gardens Project group’s PR, as well as work for the ‘Vote for the City Gardens Project’ group.  This last group, VftCGP is allowed to spend and write whatever it wants without any external controls.

They were behind the A3 glossy colour brochure filled with ‘concept’ drawings in lurid pastel colours (or ‘vibrant and dynamic’ colours – depending on your outlook); these brochures were delivered not only to city voters, but also to shire non-voters.   Perhaps this was the first sign of many mistakes and gaffes to come?

I arrived late; it was 5:50pm.  Had I missed the free pizza? 

Would I get through the crowds?  Would I be admitted?  I went to the RGU Union reception desk, and was told the event was really only for RGU students.

“How many are already signed in?”  I asked.

“You’re the first one.”  came the reply.

It was explained that I needed to be signed in by a RGU Union member.  A tumbleweed rolled by.

Eventually a man arrived who explained he’d received the invitation which said nothing about it being only for students.  Is it possible that BIG didn’t get all the little details right – like who should be allowed in?  It seemed so.  The reception desk got in touch with someone – presumably the organisers and we were allowed to attend the event.  It was almost 6pm.

  A sea of empty chairs and a few sofas greeted our eyes.  We were the first two arrivals.

My friend and I went to the designated area.  The song by The Specials, ‘Ghost Town’ went through my mind.  Two students played pool further off.  A man tended the food/drink area. Three BIG PR  professionals (who looked like students to me) were fumbling with a screen, a laptop and a projector.

There was me and my new friend, who if possible was even more against the concept of building ramps over UTG than I was.

A sea of empty chairs and a few sofas greeted our eyes.  We were the first two arrivals. We sat in the back of 8 or 9 rows; the chairs of which had all been covered with a copy of The Granite Web newspaper, and a fetching postcard of the concept drawing captioned “Wish You Were Here?”.  It crossed my mind the organisers must have wished people were here, too.   But no one was.

My new friend explained to me his position against the CGP.  He had attended a meeting in the days of the consultation; Sir Ian Wood had addressed a group of Health & Social Sciences faculty and staff at the Garthdee campus.  My friend said:-

“I was there all that time ago, and Sir Ian Wood told a group of about 24 of us that if the consultation showed that people didn’t want the gardens developed, then he would walk away.  He walked away all right – and came back.” 

My new friend was not happy.

“I know people have their own opinions about what should happen to Union Terrace Gardens,” he said; “but I object to PR people muddying the waters.  Instead of corporate BS we need facts and honest debate.”

It was approximately 10 minutes after 6.  It was three people fumbling with technology, and my friend and I at the back.  Had any PR professionals come over to introduce themselves?  Welcome us?  Offer out any pizza?  No.

But what was this?  Two male students showed up.  They looked at eachother, then at the empty seats.  They sat in the front row.  As they didn’t seem to have been made welcome by the professional BIG team, I wandered over.

“I can’t buy you any pizza,” I explained; “and I can’t afford any print or radio commercials.  However, I’d like to offer you some literature just so you can see the other side to the coin.”

“I’m a social work student, and I’m not in favour of this plan.” one of them said.  He spoke about money, and seemed to know quite a bit about this nebulous scheme.

They took my literature.  One of the PR bods – a woman with dark hair, watched this little exchange between the student and I, and looked for all the world as if cold water had been poured on her.  It  kind of had.

It was 6.15 now.  There had been no welcome to the visitors.  There was no presentation ready to roll. 

There was a Lady Gaga video playing over the pool table which made as much architectural sense as the Granite Web newspapers thay lay unread and unwanted on the empty chairs.  And – there was no pizza.

What was that?  Three more people had arrived.  I repeated the procedure and gave them flyers too.  It seemed that was all they were going to get.

“Does anyone know how to work presentations?” one of the BIG  crew asked.  Answer came there none.

My friend admitted to me he knew all the ins and outs, as did I.  But by now things were getting poignant, and moved by pity for the fumbling threesome, I simply had to leave.

I made my farewells to my new friend, who promised to call me if anything exciting happened, if the numbers swelled, or if the pizza showed up.  I do not expect to hear from him.

“I went to that fly-through thing at the art gallery.  I really don’t know what decade they were trying to capture.”

I thanked him and headed off.  Just as I turned to leave, it seemed the three-man crew managed to power up the projector.  A yawn of excitement emanated from the four or five remaining hungry students.  Perhaps I’ve missed the public relations event of the year.  Well, there is always tomorrow at Aberdeen University at 6.30 pm.  Then again, I think I’l lbe washing my hair.

As I turned to leave, more than 15 minutes after the advertised start time, I think one of the three began to speak.  The film ‘Withnail and I’ came to mind.  At  the end of this film the unequalled Richard E Grant gives a rendition of Hamlet’s famed soliliquoy to a collection of animals at the Regents’ Park zoo.  He is brilliant, but there was no one there to appreciate his message.

Poor BIG.  Poor paying clients of BIG.  Richard E might have had no audience, but at least he had something important, heartfelt and honest to say.

Picture Credit: Renee Slater

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 162011
 

On Wednesday 14th December, Aberdeen College Students Association staged a protest outside the Loch Street entrance of Aberdeen College’s Gallowgate centre  as a fight back against education cuts.  As it stands there will be a reduction of 20% in college budgets in Scotland over the next three years.  Patrick Neville reports.

The damage caused by these reductions will result in catastrophic cut backs that will directly affect colleges. These cuts have a high probability of affecting student financial support, staff jobs and classroom resources and for some colleges may cause course closures and forced mergers. If it is financial support that is affected then students from poorer backgrounds will face another barrier to progress through education and will be segregated from the rest of the students.

College education must be a priority in the budget. Colleges in Scotland serve as a medium for people of all ages and backgrounds to access further education.

With less access to college education, hopes for people to successfully be able to find future employment or develop the skills necessary for their lives are at serious risk.

Lani Baird, President of Aberdeen College Students’ Association, said:

 “The level of cuts the Government are suggesting that colleges should endure is absolutely outrageous. The damage caused by these reductions could result in catastrophic cut backs resulting in a cut to student support, staff jobs and classroom resources. For some colleges these cuts could result in course closures and forced mergers. If there were efficiency savings to be made at Aberdeen College they have been made, if there was fat to be trimmed it’s been done.

“If financial support is affected, the poorest students will be the worst hit and risk becoming alienated from education. When there is less access to college education for our community, the hopes for people to find employment or develop the skills necessary to improve their lives are put at serious risk. This further cutback will have a damaging impact on students in the North East and the Scottish Government need to take their head out of the sand and do something about it.

“We are calling on all North East MSPs to protect our colleges and the future of thousands of students. Colleges in Scotland serve as a medium for people of all ages to access education that helps enable them to work. MSPs must make protecting college education a priority in the budget.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland has begun spearheading a campaign on the matter titled “Our Future Our Fight” which is open to the Scottish public to participate in. A petition has been set up at http://www.ourfutureourfight.org/ which enables Scottish residents to sign their name in support of protecting college education. By signing the petition, a letter will be sent out on the senders behalf to their regional MP’s and MSP’s with additional room to add your own comments on the matter.

Please note that if you sign the petition, you should expect to receive an email back from your representatives.

Oct 212011
 

Former RGU Principal Dr David Kennedy, whose background is in the sciences has believed for a long time that we are destroying the world around us. In another extract from his conversation with Voice’s Suzanne Kelly he talks of his horror at what we are destroying in the name of progress.

Dr Kennedy and I discussed where the world may be heading, and I mentioned Albert Einstein, who said:

“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Dr Kennedy Continues:

“Emily Spence of Massachusetts  http://smirkingchimp.com/author/emily_spence and I corresponded on a number of issues: global warming, environment, overpopulation. The sad thing is the only sustainable communities we know of are the primitive ones we have destroyed. People on some of the remote Philippine islands lived entirely sustainably. They met their needs until the outside world impinged on and destroyed their way of life.

“However, we want more and it doesn’t matter how much we get, we still want more. It comes from the pleasure centres of the brain. Gambling and winning gives you a kick and so you go on. How can a man like Bill Gates, whose wealth could feed his family for generations, still want more? This causes me to despair. There is a weakness in the human brain or perhaps it is how nature defends itself and we may be on the way to destroying ourselves.

“How quickly is it all going to come? People talk about planning and planning horizons. The Romans had the idea of looking at things after every 5 years. As a manager in education I had to plan ahead as to what we needed, what courses we would offer, how many students would there be, and what resources would be needed. I took the areas I knew most about, and looked at 10-yearly intervals. At the time I did this, the changes in education were colossal and totally unpredictable. In the 70s there were ten colleges of higher education in Scotland, and they were like sacred cows. Scotland was proud of having had the highest literacy rate in the world.

“On coming to the 80s, dramatic changes were occurring in education. For a start, demographics – the birth rate. In the 1980s the number of colleges of education began to shrink. Some closed; some merged. In the 90s, most had disappeared, Northern College of Education here in Aberdeen being the last survivor. Now there are none.

“The same was true in nursing. I came to the conclusion that you might be able to guess what would happen in five years, but accurately forecasting for ten years ahead was absolutely impossible. The rate of change in technology is so incredible only a fool would predict what things will look like ten years from now.”

Dr Kennedy has a track record of concern for the environment and ecology. Apart from protesting over Trump’s honorary degree award, what are some of the issues that concern him most, locally and further afield?

“I’m very interested in what happens internationally. Governments swither over the issue of global warming. Scientists tell them that it is real; big business tells them it is a myth, and governments sit and fiddle while the earth warms and climates change dramatically.”

“As you might have guessed, I am a strong environmentalist with a long and deep concern about what we are doing to the biosphere on which all life depends. Biologists have known for decades about the acidification of the oceans and consequential damage to coral reefs and the communities that live on them.

“Likewise, we are poisoning the land by excessive use of chemicals, the production of which depends heavily on fossil fuel energy. With a rapidly rising population, human life will soon find it difficult to feed itself. Hence one of my concerns is about the short-sighted use of good farmland for house building.

“Just as disastrous is the pollution of the atmosphere with harmful radiation from nuclear power stations, by depleted uranium and gases emitted when burning fossil fuels, while at the same time tropical rainforests that absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen are being destroyed. Lack of rainfall in the Amazon basin, because of climate change, could result in its eventual desertification and the release of trillions of tons of carbon dioxide presently bound up as wood cellulose.”

In future extracts from this interview, we will carry Dr Kennedy’s views on how personal standards and values have had far-reaching consequences. No interview with this former university principal would be complete without establishing his views on education. That too will feature in Voice soon.

Oct 132011
 

As conversations go, our own Suzanne Kelly found her recent discussions with former Robert Gordon University Principal Dr David Kennedy fascinating. As always, conversations lead to discussion of inter-connected events. Here, in a further interview extract, Dr Kennedy talks frankly about how personal and societal standards, values and morality have changed and how individual actions have affected and influenced matters, perhaps unintentionally, on a much larger scale.

We had been discussing land use and EU farming bureaucracy, and how, for many farmers, European subsidies had made them rich.
See: Aberdeen Voice article  ‘Dr David Kennedy On Land Use And Farming’ )

Dr Kennedy is in no doubt that elected politicians have much to answer for, on numerous issues in addition to agricultural policy.

“It‘s a bizarre state of affairs. These are supposed to be highly-intelligent people elected to represent us. The sad truth is, as one old friend used to say, ‘they are just filling their own pooches’. And that’s absolutely true. Some investigative journalist did the work on MPs’ expenses and when her work was made public, we saw the full extent of their greed. The MPs’ expenses scandal was an absolute disgrace, but that is nothing compared to what is happening in Brussels.

“Morality is fast disappearing for some reason or another. There is a lack of integrity and it now seems that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are making money. Trump boasted on his website of brutality, toughness and greed. Are these behaviours we all really value?

“Why do humans behave in this way? Well, it’s a long story involving conditioning the human brain. This began in a scientific way early in the last century, not by Joseph Goebbels as we are encouraged to believe, but by an American named Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who could, fairly, be called the father of advertising, propaganda, and public relations. He knew how to play on the pleasure and pain centres of the brain. Goebbels was an avid pupil of Bernays.

“Brainwashing didn’t begin with the wicked Chinese, or the godless Communists, or even the evil Nazis. It began in America, where it has been perfected over the years, and we are all subjected to it. Trump is simply one example of The Big Lie. Anyone who analyses the mainstream media will readily see how words are used, not to inform, enlighten and clarify, but to mislead, confuse and confound. And it is all done to amass wealth”.

“There has been a massive cultural change. I’m 80 or so, and I look at changes such as wealth-creation, sustainability, satisfying our needs and the problem of waste. The thing is, in about the last 30 years the speed of technological change has been bewildering. Sixty years ago an Edinburgh academic, Professor CH Waddington, looking at the future, predicted that, given the rate of change in the accumulation of knowledge, it would eventually be impossible to keep up with all the changes. I think what he said has come to pass.”

Pressed for an example, Kennedy continued.

“Take micro-electronics. When I was a young man you learnt about thermionic valves and their use in radios. A few years earlier, radios were powered by accumulators that seemed to weigh a ton. Electrical engineers who were brought up on thermionic valves, then had to learn about transistors, and the technology of valves was forgotten. Transistor radios were very much smaller and easily carried around. Noise pollution increased. A new technology had to be learned, which lasted for about 10 years before being replaced by the silicon chip. Things are getting even smaller.”

There are serious issues with the UK’s higher education system – tuition fees, devalued degrees, an imbalance in the areas of tertiary learning where we can’t all be Media Studies graduates, poor employment prospects and very grim student loan burdens. What, I asked, are Dr Kennedy’s views on where these problems came from? Where does he think we are heading, and what can be done about it?

Again, the issues of personal morality and values were raised.

“I think it is fairly easy to see where the problems come from. They arise from economics. Mrs Thatcher radically changed the basis of economic life in Britain famously claiming, ‘There is no alternative’.

“This assertion has been accepted by all the major political parties and involved rolling back the state, decrying collective activities while promoting individualism, standing on one’s own two feet. Since then, we have seen the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This is another example of Trump’s mantra, ’greed is good’.

“So, education is no longer thought of as being for the greater good of society. Health is no longer thought of as a basic necessity, best provided by an all-inclusive system. Caring for the elderly through a comprehensive system of pensions paid for whilst one is healthy and working is now too great a burden.

“Instead, leave it to the individual and let the market decide what should be provided, and for whom. This is completely against the 1940s wisdom of William Beveridge and the subsequent foundation of the welfare state. And, of course, the same attitude prevails when it comes to protecting the environment – nothing must be allowed to stop the onward march of progress”.

More from this fascinating conversation will appear in future issues of Voice.

Image Credits:
 Pound Man © Chrisharvey | Dreamstime.com
Calculator and Money © Timothy Nichols | Dreamstime.com