#SBSStudents: Finance for all? An insight into the world of money, power, and poverty

By Anna Hinds, BA Accounting and Financial Management Student

Last week was a real eye-opener into the true world of finance for both the first and second-year students at the University of Suffolk. The true identity of finance was revealed in the form of two field trips for the second-year students, one of which we were accompanied by the enthusiastic first-years, who rekindled our excitement for the subject that we are studying.

The week started off with the second-year students paying a visit to the Ipswich Citizen’s Advice Bureau, a UK charity specialising in advice and support for people in all kinds of difficulty, from debt to bills to unemployment and benefit support. A detailed and informative workshop was delivered to us by Nelleke, who quite clearly explained to us the role of the CAB; their aims as a business; and what they help their clients to achieve. It was also made explicitly clear that they are non-judgemental and confidential, which is of particular importance to their clients, so that they feel confident and have no shame in asking for help when it is needed. The CAB is a free advice service (a charity), which is indirectly funded by taxpayers to provide a free service to the user. The two main aims of the organisation are to: give help to people advice for any problems that they face; and to seek change and influence decision makers. In a modern society where we are continually fighting for equality, should a charity organisation have to beg those in government etc. to change the laws to make things fairer for those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy? I wonder.

PHOTOS: Left to right: students at a CAB workshop; students at the ICAEW listening to Martin’s presentation; on the City of London tour, taking in the scenery and architecture.

We were also given a task on debt to complete, which highlighted serious consequences to us that we were unaware of – including the fact that a £1,000 fine is incurred for not paying a TV licence. Leaflets and budgeting programmes were also received which is used for clients to help maintain their money; this was particularly useful for us as well.

The second field trip, despite starting out on a dull, cold, and wet journey into Liverpool Street Station, was soon turned around with the awe-inspiring buildings and architecture of the City of London as we embarked on our tour of the square mile, giving us a brief, but informative overview of the City’s history and quirky facts too. The guide was the talented historian Marilyn Greene, who used to work for the Victoria & Albert Museum and is a professional historian. The huge sky scrapers and modern yet historic feel of the city oozed out the feelings of wealth, power, and knowledge, making us students feel somewhat medicore in comparison. Our trip to the City was further extended by a visit to the ICAEW, where they kindly provided us with lunch and refreshments, before delivering presentations to us, one of which by Dominic Sheehy explained what it entails to embark on our journey to becoming a fully-fledged ICAEW Chartered Accountant. This was followed by another presentation by Martin Martinoff, which even though it may have been less formal, definitely left food for thought, and much room for discussion and debate about the culture and ethics of modern day finance, including: what is our goal? Why do we want to be accountants? Is there room for accountants in the future?

The day ended with a brief but relaxing meditation session with Professor Atul Shah, the organiser of the whole experience, which enabled us to reflect on our journeys in life, ranging from our school memories, up to the present day. This exercise helped us to think about our futures after graduation, and what it is that we are striving to aim for.
Overall these two field trips have given us invaluable experiences, and have undoubtedly taught us a lot. On a personal level, it has struck a huge reality check for me; the stark contrast between organisations such as the CAB and big central banks in the City, where it is extremely clear that more than ever before, the contrast and gap between the rich and the poor in this country is huge – and what can we do about it? Will we ever see the time when a bank opens its doors to teach the financially illiterate how to understand mortgages, APR rates, and even the basics of finance, or will we have to keep relying on small charity organisations such as the CAB to pick up the pieces that these larger organisations have created and dumped onto society?

For more information on our Accounting and Finance degrees, please see our website.

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#SBSResearch: Students as Partners

In 2017, a team at the University of Suffolk delved into the HEFCE Catalyst Call A funded project PlacementPAL(Peer Assisted Learning): a digital app to scaffold students’ learning and knowledgeable action in work. Through this project, two courses were used as pilots for the development of a mobile web application designed to support students out in work-based contexts as part of their degree programmes.

UCS Question mark (18)
(C) University of Suffolk

Through this work, Dr Suzanne Nolan has explored the developing and growing trend of using students as partners in learning and work within higher education. She has been conducting research as part of the PlacementPAL project, as well as taking this further by conducting focus groups and interviews with academic staff, in order to gain an insight into how current higher education professionals view students as partners, and how we can create better learning and teaching environments.

According to Healy et al (2014)

Partnership is essentially a process of engagement, not a product. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome in itself. All partnership is student engagement, but no all student engagement is partnership.

This has certainly been true of the research Dr Nolan has conducted thus far. Initial research suggests that higher education institutions still have a long way to go to embed a culture of communication and development alongside students within their organisations. Clearer understanding may be needed in the definitions of students-as-partners, and the impact (both positive and negative) on students and staff.

There is also a need for organisational support in developing this culture from all levels of management. With the adoption of the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), there are increasing pressures on higher education institutions to hear and respond to the student voice. Engaging with students as partners in learning and teaching would be a effective way of doing this.

This work is part of ongoing research. If you work in higher education, and would like to learn more, or contribute to this research, please contact Dr Suzanne Nolan: s.nolan@uos.ac.uk

Dr Suzanne Nolan is the Lecturer in Employment Development at the Suffolk Business School, and is course leader for the Chartered Degree Management Apprenticeship (BA (Hons) Business Management Professional). If you would like more information on this course, please visit the website.

Honorary Graduate: Robin Windsor

At the Suffolk Business School and Department of Arts and Humanities Graduation ceremony on 17 October, 2017, Robin Windsor became the first person to be awarded the Degree of Doctor of the University – especially exciting as this was the first award conferred from the University of Suffolk as an independent institution. Dr Suzanne Nolan was honoured to give the oration speech.

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Dr Suzanne Nolan and Robin Windsor. Photo by D. Gill.

Vice-Chancellor, the Senate of the University has resolved that the Degree of Doctor of the University be conferred upon Robin Windsor.

Dance has long been important to the culture of Ipswich, and the University of Suffolk. DanceEast began as Suffolk Dance in 1983, and the Ipswich School of Dance has been running since 1948. The University has supported dancing professionally in one capacity or another for a number of years, through a range of programmes.

Perhaps best known for his appearance on the BBC’s ever popular Strictly Come Dancing between 2010 and 2015, Robin has already achieved a huge amount competitively and professionally throughout his career.

Robin was born in Ipswich, and grew up within walking distance of where the University of Suffolk would be built almost three decades later. His father was a dance teacher at a local dance school and at the age of three, Robin was given his first lesson. His passion for ballroom was ignited. He has always loved moving to music, and he recalls how he felt he had ‘found his niche’, something that he was passionate about and drove him to succeed. Robin has always spoken of the importance of passion and love for what you do in finding a career – whether it be dancing or banking.

At the age of fifteen, Robin moved to London to make his dream of becoming a professional dancer a reality, and he worked as a competitive dancer until he was nineteen. His dedication saw him regularly train until midnight and rise again at 6am for work, and this regime saw him win numerous Championships both nationally and internationally.

From there, Robin was cast in the hugely popular Burn the Floor, touring across the world and leading to his appearance on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre in 2009. It became the first fulfilment of a lifelong dream to appear on the stage. His abilities were once again recognised when he joined the professional dancers on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2010. Enjoying five years on the series, Robin remembers all of his celebrity partners fondly, and remains good friends with them, in particular crediting Lisa Riley as an inspiration to women and those taking a chance on something new, and succeeding.

Chief among his personal achievements, Robin is immensely proud to have stared on Broadway, in the West End, and danced on Strictly Come Dancing all in the same year. Seeing his name in lights in London’s glittering West End, when asked to return to headline Burn the Floor, was another childhood dream achieved.

Robin is a keen teacher, and thanks to his successes, he was able to start his own branded dance lessons with beginners’ ballroom in 2015. Like many of us, he is passionate about passing his experience onto the next generation and inspiring them to develop and grow. His advice is always the same – dancing is just ‘walking in a pattern’ – and Robin is particularly keen to encourage boys of all ages to dance, to help them find their passion and achieve their potential. He maintains that dancing still doesn’t feel like a job – it is part of who he is, and something he enjoys so very much.

Achieving such success has allowed Robin to engage with charities that are close to his heart, and it is for his philanthropic work in particular that we recognise him today. He has appeared in Cosmopolitan to raise awareness for male cancer, and has worked with Make a Difference Trust, Wood Green Animal Shelter and Cats Protection. In 2016, he worked with Hearts in Harmony, a charity that combines passion for music, art and culture to help fight heart disease in children and adults. He has also supported the Greater Manchester Police campaign against domestic violence, and supports The Stonewall Charity campaigning for gay, lesbian and bisexual equality. Robin has long acknowledged that while so much progress has been made in recent years towards equal rights, we still have a long way to go, and he avidly works towards that better future.

Earlier this year, Robin also supported Inspire Suffolk, a local charity, also supported by the university that helps young people to overcome challenges and take positive steps into work and training. He kindly acted as one of the celebrity judges for the 2017 Strictly Inspire Suffolk fundraiser, which rose over £10,000.

Robin’s hard work, dedication, and compassion are an inspiration to us all. From Ipswich, his courage and ability has taken him across the world, and he has faced challenges with kindness and perseverance.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Robin Windsor.