Heavy Use of Social Media Is Linked to Mental Illness

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We live in the digital era, and in this digital era modern innovations rule. One of the most prominent modern innovations there is, is social media. Designed to be a network of global virtual platforms that allow for instantaneous and easy communication around the world, social media has more than lived up to the hype that has propelled over the years. But on the flip side of that same coin, is the dark undercurrent of social media. That decidedly negative undertone is hinged on the reality that social media has heavily impacted mental health – and not in the most positive of ways. Social media is an environment that emphasises the appeal of honest and open communication and connection, but it is also an environment that can be incredibly toxic for people to invest their energy and time into. And it all comes down to the comparative nature of social media, and how that impacts those that are struggling with themselves. This is an important issue, and finally it is getting the attention that it has always deserved. As the world hinders on the verge of a mental health crisis that borders on epidemic standard, this conversation is more important than ever.

The complication with social media is while it is intended to boost communication, it also sometimes inevitably isolates individuals from the real world and their real connections. The more energy and time that one invests in the social media landscape, the more disconnected they become with the real world around them. This is where problems often arise. Social media can be a dangerous, even fatal environment, and the reality is that there simply is not enough awareness surrounding this truth. Because of the comparative nature that has evolved over the history of social media, users can feel an inclination to mould themselves into what the social media platforms appear to find the most widely appealing aesthetic, body image, or way of communicating. This often leads to inauthentic representations of the self, which can obviously lead to some very serious health implications. The pressures of social media warrant a type of mental health strain that, quite frankly, is unparalleled to anything else.

There is a massive pressure in the landscape of social media platforms. Individuals can feel pressured to buy likes on Instagram, or try to change how they look to fit into the standard perception of what social media deems to be the most appealing aesthetic or approach. Additionally, they can spend hours and hours investing energy, time, and even money into ensuring that the representation of themselves they give out via social media, is one that puts their best [virtual] foot forward, so to speak. And while this can work for some time, it nearly always comes to a point where it becomes more of a problem than a distraction from the true self. The immense pressure to not only concede to those perceived ideals online, but to maintain those ideals over time, can be quite taxing. This is where cracks tend to appear, and if left unchecked, these cracks can bloom into dark bruises that become more and more difficult to contain. And just like bruises, it becomes obvious too often after the damage is done, that there is even a problem.

The links between mental health and social media are becoming more and more pronounced the more that studies and research focus on this topic, and the more that awareness becomes more prominent. When individuals spend so much time on their social media, they inevitably drain themselves emotionally and mentally. It can be exhausting to constantly see what is perceived as many people living the perfect life – especially if their own life does not feel even close to what their perceived ideal idols and friends live online. While it is easy enough to tell someone to remember that social media is often (if not always) a highlight reel of someone’s life, a snapshot of what really goes on, it is quite another to tell that to someone who is struggling with their mental health because of that reason. Mental health is a serious issue, and it is one that, quite frankly, is not given nearly as much attention as it should be. There is a very real sense of isolation that goes hand in hand with heavy use of social media, and it is important to pay attention to not only your own use of social media, but those close to you, and to do your best to let them know you are there if they need to reach out.

The digital era is absolutely rife with exciting innovations and revolutions that have changed life as we know it, in many different ways. One of the most globally renowned innovations of all has been, without a doubt, social media. A revolution initially created to serve as an all-new frontier of instantaneous global communication, social media has since ballooned to become so much more over time. While in many ways, social media is an immensely positive space, it can also be a place of dark undertones that can be difficult for some individuals to deal with. The comparative nature of social media today has resulted in the realisation that, for some, social media activity can have a devastating impact on their mental health. This is an issue that, up until recently, was given nowhere near the amount of attention that it warranted, but now that the world is bordering on a mental health epidemic, action is finally, at long last, being taken. Social media can have devastating effects on users, and it is important to pay close attention to the signs that people are struggling. Lives literally depend on it.

Interaction Design Foundation Paving the Way for New Frontier in Education

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When it comes to understanding the fragile state of higher education as it stands today, and the impact having access to that education can have on eager learners, Interaction Design Foundation have a distinctive lead. This is an institution that is wholeheartedly dedicated to creating a new frontier in Ivy League-level education that is not only globally accessible, but far more financially inclusive as well. Originally started back in 2002, this is a non-profit organisation that, in the years since (and still even now), has effectively created a low-cost, high-quality approach to education that transforms how individuals learn to master the art of design. Historically speaking, design school has always been one of the most coveted fields in academics, and while this is still the case, this is a company that is leading the way to a new frontier in understanding and perfecting a more wholly inclusive approach to education.

Interaction Design Foundation is a company that is revolutionising what it means to have ample and fair access to design school. Using online UX design courses to provide students with top-quality information and materials, the aim of the game for this awe-inspiring company is to lower costs while raising the standards of inclusive design education to Ivy league expectations. To many people, it sounds like the ultimate paradox, and perhaps it is in some ways, but at the end of the day, the goal is humble as it is ambitious – strange as that may sound. The founders and the people behind the scenes at Interaction Design Foundation have this goal in mind, and that goal is hinged on the ability and desire to create an approach to design academics that encapsulates the high quality of the top tiers of education, while making it available to the many people through cost-effective online education foundations.

The nature of Ivy League education today is shrouded in exclusivity and expense, and it is these very barriers that Interaction Design Foundation seeks to break down for its design students. While the Ivy League is exceptional, even remarkable, in many ways, it lacks diversity in practically every way that matters, and companies like Interaction Design Foundation break effectively fill in the gaps and create a more wholesome approach to education, that does not seek to sacrifice quality on any level. That is made possible by the introduction and utilisation of online design courses. Costing a fraction of what traditional education costs to administer and bolster, these courses are more cost-effective for students to undertake as well. Members (i.e. students) have access to free design-related textbooks and mother materials, as well as comprehensive, instructor-led online courses. It is a revelation. 

While Interaction Design Foundation is an organisation dedicated to the art of design education, the hope is ultimately that it will not only continue to change the global standard for design education everywhere, but also education as a whole. Dedicated to the pursuit of quality education at inclusive levels, on every level, this is how this institution is striving – and succeeding handsomely – in making a tangible difference, and working to create a new frontier in design education (and education in general). Students the world over are now able to access cost-effective courses and course materials for a fraction of the cost of traditional education. In addition, they are also given unlimited access to professional instructors who can guide students through the material and give them all the assistance they need along the way. A marvel in modern standards in higher education, this is just the beginning. 

Interaction Design Foundation was built to kick-start and continue growing something special, that sought to change the way design students learn and absorb information. Never has there been an approach to design education that is as exciting, as inclusive, and as wholesome as that of the Interaction Design Foundation. An all-new frontier in design education, this is just the beginning for everything this company stands for, and what its constructs can teach higher education (and education in general, for that matter) about providing both learning and teaching methods and models, at high-quality and low-cost innovations. If this is just the beginning for the new era in design education, there is no telling just how big and bright it will continue to flourish and thrive into. 

Interaction Design Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was originally founded in 2002, with the goal of building a low-cost, high-quality approach to education that rivalled the Ivy Leagues, without the exclusivity and high expenses associated with Ivy League institutions. In the seventeen years (and ongoing) since, Interaction Design Foundation has famously cemented and expanded upon a reputation for itself that has come to be known all over the world, as well as boasting one of the largest UX design communities in the world. It is an accomplishment that is worth its weight in gold, and it is even still working wonders to create a new frontier in design education that not only changes academics for design students, but hopefully becomes a catalyst for educational standards everywhere in the near future.

Does Australia Have The Best Student Loan Repayment Program In The World?

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Earlier this month, the Australian Government announced drastic changes to its Hecs (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) repayment scheme that has some Aussie graduates quaking in their boots. The changes will see the repayment threshold dropped by a whopping 11 per cent, meaning any Australian graduate – or current student – earning over $45,881 a year will need to begin paying back their university debt, effective immediately. To add salt to the wound, fee-fleeing students seeking to evade the repayment scheme will now be ‘chased’ overseas, with new laws in place allowing the Australian Tax Office to pursue those debts overseas. The new rules apply not only to Hecs debt but also to Vocational Education & Training student loan (VSL) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts. As a university graduate who hasn’t paid a cent of her Hecs debt and who lives overseas, I am not unaware of the ramifications the new changes will have on my and Australia’s future graduates’ professional lives. Will it force students who until now might have breezed through university life – playing sports, drinking, earning a buck or two through cheap essay writing services or working at the local supermarket – to sit up and take their financial obligations more seriously? Or will it quite simply deter high school students from considering a higher education, as is increasingly becoming the case in countries with more burdensome repayment schemes, like the United States.

Until now, Aussie students have enjoyed a relatively stress-free repayment scheme. Two years ago, the repayment threshold was $56,000, and in 2018 it was lowered again to $52,000. Today the repayment amount is capped at $135,000 a year, with those earning this figure or above only required to pay 10 per cent of their earnings annually, and repayment amounts for those earning around $75,000 equated to just $3,375 a year or $65 a week. Still not bad, eh?

It’s no wonder the Tax Office is kicking itself into gear at last – Australia is renowned for running one of the most generous student loan programs in the world. Premised on an income-contingent loan approach which saves people earning lower salaries from needing to begin repayments, in cases of extreme financial hardship Australia’s scheme allows the deferment of repayment obligations altogether and at the same time saves students from accruing any interest on repayments. While it can’t quite compete with its Nordic counterparts, which charge little or no tuition fees in countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway, Australia’s higher education repayment scheme ranks among the most generous in the world.

It trumps the United States by a long shot, where concerns about the rising cost of higher education and the $1.4 trillion stacked up in student debt across the country have garnered global attention. Earlier this week, Californian Senator Kamala Harris unveiled a proposed program for student loan debt forgiveness which would forgive debts for Pell Grant recipients in particular who start a business that “operates for three years in disadvantaged communities”. Could it pave the way for a more humane and understanding approach to the handling of student loans across the country? Let’s hope so because enough is, quite frankly, enough. We can’t have an entire generation of starters under financial distress before they have even begun because of the inability of the U.S. government and its educational institutions to balance a budget. That being said, we have seen multiple attempts by the government to address the student debt crisis: a $1.6 trillion plan recently announced by Bernie Sanders to forgive all student loans, a $640 billion loan forgiveness scheme for public school teachers, the list goes on…

In fact there already exists a loan repayment program in the States that forgives the student debt of those who can prove a decade of service working in government or nonprofit jobs. But the public service loan program, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2007, has to date been a whopping failure. In the 18 months following the signing of this bill, 99.3 per cent of those U.S. citizens who applied for the benefit were rejected. Wait… what?

We all look to Sweden for answers, since it is often regarded as boasting one of the best student loan repayment schemes in the world. But its students actually end up borrowing money for college just as often as those in the States, graduating with around $20,000 in debt on average. It is in Germany, where the expected cost of an undergraduate degree is a mere $2,160, where we arguably see the best model for higher education. But does it teach its students the right values? That of obligation, financial responsibility and the ability to budget? Your guess is as good as mine. 

Perhaps no country has developed the right model yet. Perhaps things need to get worse before they get better. Whatever the case, I just hope Australia figures it all out before my own kids are enrolling at university and that we never find ourselves experiencing a crisis as crippling as the student debt crisis in the U.S. 

Nursing One of the Most Valuable Degrees in the World

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When one considers all the degrees and qualifications on offer around the world, across varying fields, there are many avenues to consider before making a decision. These avenues include (but are not limited to) passion, love, natural inclination, and importance to the world. On and on the list goes. There are some degrees that encompass all (or at the very least, most of) these ideals. Nursing, for example, is one of the most valuable degrees in all the world. Not only do individuals who become nurses head into one of the most rewarding careers there is, but they also do some of the most important work there is. In this way (and so many others) it is not at all difficult to understand exactly how and why nursing has come to be fondly considered one of the most valuable degrees in the world. For individuals who take on this branch of study, there is the realisation that they are working towards a career that is both challenging and rewarding. Nursing students are driven to succeed, and they are willing to endure the challenging aspects of the degree to enter a career field that is more rewarding than most (if not all) others.

Whether it is looking at the latest and greatest official nurse practitioner program guides, or completing one’s first or last practical course in the field, nursing education teaches nursing students a lot, not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. Nursing students are required to take on active and consistent practicals throughout their academic journey, in addition to their regular course loads. It is during these practicals that nursing students are faced with their most challenging moments. This is the first time they administer a needle, the first time they read a patient’s chart, the first time they come face to face with the reality of life as a nurse. It is a humbling and rewarding experience, and it often spurs on the passion for the job even more, forging strong inclinations into stronger bonds for the career field and the patients that need the help of the nurses.

Nursing education is pivoted towards a life of helping other people. Whether they be addicts, pregnant women, people recovering from disease, or the elderly (or any many of individuals in between, for that matter), nurses are the people who support, encourage, assist, and empower them to take back their health and wellness as much as they can. It takes an incredibly special person to be a nurse, to the point where it is difficult, if not near impossible, to successfully make it through the academic journey if you are not entirely and without reservation dedicated to the cause. Their education is the first taste of their career trajectory that nursing students get, and it can often be a rude awakening that proves to be nothing short of sobering. The students that persevere enter the workforce conditioned to a point, and ready to tackle a career that will test and strengthen them, in every way.

nurse plays a crucial role in the comfort, recovery, rehabilitation, and overall support of their patients. When considering why they want to pursue nursing education, and then a career in nursing, the patient care aspect should always be one of the top priorities, the most important reasons behind the decision to throw everything into the career that helps the world and saves and preserves lives. In every way, nursing education is one of the most valuable academic pathways there is, and there is perhaps no degree more priceless than that of nursing. There is an immense load to bear when it comes to studying and then working in nursing, but that load is made much easier to carry with the knowledge and understanding that this is a pathway in life that give sand gives to other people, never necessarily expecting a whole lot (if anything) in return.

Nursing is without a doubt one of the most valuable degrees an individual can possibly obtain. In nursing, there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and reward for doing a job that genuinely changes peoples’ lives for the better, in addition to the knowledge that everything you are doing at work, or working towards in the classroom, will be for the greater good. Nursing education presents individuals who undertake it with a unique chance to wear multiple hats, all at once, throughout their average work day. There is immeasurable value in a career in nursing, and the education that paves the way to make that career possible is priceless in and of itself. Never has there been an academic or professional choice more innovative, life-changing, and genuinely valuable than nursing, and it is difficult to imagine a time where there will be one more impressive.

Better Education is the Key to Our Digital Defense Problem

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The past several years have brought many changes to the educational and political landscape, but none are potentially so severe and world-changing as the comeback of internet espionage and digital warfare.

The vulnerabilities faced in today’s cybersecurity

Just within the past five years, cyber-attacks have had a massive impact on international and local affairs, including everything from independent hackers demanding ransoms from entire cities for the return of their municipal data to governments attacking other governments, spreading propaganda, and stealing political information through the use of phishing attacks and the like. It’s an uncomfortable truth but increasing amounts of almost cold-war style proxy battles are being fought in the digital realm, and many are beginning to agree that the solution lies within the hands of higher education institutions.

Education rushing to fill the gap calling for professionals

Many are already beginning to respond to the growing need for trained and educated cyber security professionals, offering cyber security courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many experts and educational professionals are arguing that the only way to bolster national security in the digital realm is to focus more intensely on training and education, starting from the youngest ages possible.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, experts are talking about a proverbial “army of cyber kids,” thanks to a newly formed national program that intends to find and recruit young talent for the purpose of training these kids to be cyber security experts. Children are recruited around the ages of 14 to 18, then trained in a series of programs and educated about the possibilities of future employment in the field of cyber security. The aim is to build up a force of educated young people who can enter the field and bolster the industry, which at the moment is lacking in both quality and quantity of workers. 

The criticism faced by academic institutions

The focus on education has its detractors, however. Despite the fact that the number of jobs in the cyber security industry with no employees to fill them is expected to reach close to 2 million within the next few years, critics of the proposed expansions in the educational system to cater to cyber security needs point out that the overwhelming majority of current cyber security experts are, in fact, self taught. However, whether this is a result of a lack of opportunities for formal schooling in the discipline or for some other reason are still unclear. In any case, even the most fervent opposition presented by these critics is rather timid when all things are considered, and even they admit that a stronger focus on educational curricula focusing on cyber security would be beneficial for everyone.

Security risks start from the education system

In the meantime, the arguments for strengthening and funding a dedicated cyber security curriculum, along with attacks on various entities both public and private, have been increasing. Ironically, the education sector itself is a particularly vulnerable target for aspiring hackers looking for treasure troves of data to sell on the open market. The reasons are fairly simple: universities and colleges tend to have fairly relaxed cyber security protocols compared with similar targets like government institutions and hospitals, and universities store an incredible amount of data about their students, from social security numbers to home addresses, phone numbers, payment information, and even medical records obtained through the university clinics that are so common on today’s campuses. In 2014 alone, almost one million individual records were stolen from hacked university databases.

The value of data continues to fuel the hacking problem

Student information isn’t the only thing of value that can be obtained through hacks like these. The Equifax breach comes immediately to mind, whereby millions of Americans’ personal information was stolen and is likely still floating around, being sold back and forth. Universities are a massive target, however, and the more money there is in the university system, the more potential hackers stand to gain. Universities field millions of hacking attempts on a weekly basis, and potential targets (other than confidential student information) could range from test and homework answers to potentially sensitive research information.

Since the revelations that Russia had interfered in an election in the United States by providing hacked emails to a pseudo-journalism outlet called wikileaks, cyber security has become a much bigger focus of educational spending and discussions, while politicians grill the leaders of the tech industry on what they see as their role in the defense (or lack thereof) of critical institutions and demographics in the population. The hacked emails were obtained via phishing attacks that exploited human, rather than technical, weaknesses, impersonating official correspondence and tricking the target into clicking a link leading to malicious code.

It’s for that reason that many experts are targeting people who do not intend to be experts in the field, trying to form a base of general educational curricula that can be delivered as more of a life skill or as part of a continuing education program than a higher-level graduate or undergraduate degree focus.

The Rise of Online Tutoring And How It’s Bringing Tuition To The Mass Market

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The increasing usage of digital media has opened up multiple avenues for expanding the education sector’s reach. At a time where nearly most connected users shop, order groceries, book tickets and even consult doctors online, the education space has not taken a backseat. An increasing number of users are starting to bank on online tutoring services, be it english tutoring, subject-based tutoring or skill-based tutoring. The benefits of technology and online connectivity are trickling down to some of the most remote places, enabling them access to high-quality education. This removes the friction that borders and lack of infrastructure bring with it. Today, parents and students can access the best of educational resources through various platforms, ones that provide ample benefits including self-assessment tools, studying at the student’s own pace, access to tutors across the globe and the ability to tap into a supportive peer network. Better yet, most of these platforms come packed with inexpensive subscription options, free trials and sometimes even provide access to free resources.

This has helped provide multiple options to parents who are looking for better ways to improve their children’s score, particularly for students who are seeking a group study environment or for those who are lagging behind in their academics. A popular choice is to try out economical and creative methods of teaching their kids – mostly enabled through online tutoring services.

Personal attention is pivotal

More often than not, personal attention can play a huge role in transforming the way a student learns and approaches the subject. In a classroom setting, the kids to teacher ratio can be much higher, which does not give the teacher ample room to provide individual attention to each student’s needs and correct their learning gaps. With personalized online tutoring, it’s a different ballgame. Students have their time completely allotted to a single tutor, helping them gain a better understanding of the subject and cater to their issues surrounding the subject.

Enhanced study tools and methodologies  

One of the bigger advantages that come with online tutoring is the access to top-notch teaching methodologies. With technology, tutors are focusing more on providing advanced methods of teaching – stepping way ahead of the current traditional system followed in schools. Instead of resorting to rote learning, online tutoring methodologies can help them access concept-based learning. This carries huge perks for the student – better understanding of the subject, greater retention and it opens a world of opportunities for them. It helps them approach problems creatively, frame an effective solution and master the topic through highly productive methods.

Growth has not remained elusive in the market, either. According to market data, the annual rate of students who will be enrolled across online tutoring services is expected to more than double in the next couple of years and is forecasted to be worth a significant $120.67 billion by 2021.

Impact of Industry 4.0 on Education

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Industry 4.0 is a term that stands for the fourth industrial revolution. According to the explanation provided by the World Economic Forum, this is the logical step that builds on the third industrial revolution, also known as the digital revolution. In this stage, the lines between the biological, digital, and physical aspects of life are blurred.

This is an era characterized by automation of all kinds of tasks, artificial intelligence in all spheres of living, robots, and endless possibilities that technology opens up for us. What does it mean for the educational system? Is there a phenomenon that we could call education 4.0?

Yes; the educational industry is already being influenced by cognitive and cloud computing, IoT, and other trends imposed by the industry 4.0.

These are only few of the changes that this industrial revolution directly impacts:

  1. Students Have Technology-Driven Expectations

Do you know what influences the expectations of students? – The expectations of future job markets. Clearly, future workers will be expected to be not only knowledgeable in their industries, but trained in emerging technologies as well.

This may be the right time for professors to stop assigning textual projects and focus on practical assignments instead. When it comes to textual assignments, students don’t benefit from them too much. Most of them can easily buy essays. Essays and research papers remain an important aspect of education. Still, the educational system must be reinvented in another direction. Students need to develop practical skills in terms of using the technology they will encounter at their future jobs.

Let’s take doctors as an example. Medical robots are not just a sci-fi dream; they are becoming reality in that industry. They will collect and classify patient data, and they will present it to the doctor in a format that’s ready to use. A student at medical school has to keep pace with all new inventions. The school should equip them with knowledge about big data and its impact on their profession.

  1. Education Is Getting Personal

It’s only time for universities to embrace big data. It’s their opportunity to understand strengths and weaknesses of an individual’s performance. We’ve been talking about personalized education for ages. That’s why online courses gained so much traction; anyone can study what they want, at their own pace. We need to go further.

When the professor measures the student’s performance and behavior, they can finally offer a personalized learning experience for them. If an individual student is facing learning disabilities, they can find a different approach in their teaching methods. If they realize that this student is intimidated by testing, they can offer them to write blog posts at home instead of essays at school. It takes a lot of training for teachers to be able to understand and use big data, but we’re making steady steps towards such a future.

  1. IoT Is Taking Over

The Internet of Things is all about our convenience. It’s about keeping our homes safe and more effective while we’re away. What does this mean for the classroom? The applications of IoT technology are not extreme at the current point. Still, many modern schools are equipped with wireless door locks, attendance tracking systems, room temperature sensors, security cameras, 3D printers, and other smart devices.

This technology is on a rapid track of development. We should expect to see more innovative applications in close future. Of course; students go to school to learn. But convenience is an important part of the process. If smart devices can keep the classroom environment more comfortable, it will be easier for the students to stay focused.

We’ll Face Challenges, But They Are Part of the Process

Greater collaboration, greater security, and technology-driven education – that’s how the future of education looks like. We still have to work on many challenges, including the inequality issue. Everyone deserves high-quality education, but not everyone has equal access to it. Can the fourth industrial revolution affect that issue in some way?

Enrolments in abroad study continue to soar

TPHS18_097Education is one of the pillars of global society. As we grow up, we all go through the education system, tackling the challenges and hurdles that pop up along the way. In the western world, we are all students at some point, and we take the lessons we learn in the classroom and out of it with us as we get older and progress into the next stages of our lives. In education, we go through years of personal and academic transformation, and the evolution of ourselves throughout these years is something that is unparalleled. And while education is a fundamental component of so many of our lives, it is also one of the most stressful and challenging experiences that a person can go through in their lives. There is something to be said about the power of pushing oneself to expand one’s horizons academically, but there is also something profoundly important about knowing when it is too much. Sometimes, we all need a little help to get from A to B. There is nothing wrong with admitting to a need for a change of scenery, and there is something empowering about taking that need into one’s own hands and turning it into something golden.

Whether it is using GMAT practice tests to practice for upcoming examinations, or spending entire days – and sometimes even nights – in the library trying to finish assessment, it goes without saying that sometimes being a student is just straight up hard work. It can sometimes feel a little stale to be going over the same content, in the same environment, repeatedly. At some point, we have all felt this way. And while it would not come as a surprise that enrolments were dropping as people realize the levels of commitment needed to scrape through with the bare minimum, this has not happened. In fact, quite the opposite has. Enrolments in higher education are soaring around the world – literally. More and more students are taking on abroad study to get out of their routine, see the world, and experience learning and life simultaneously, somewhere entirely new.

The thrill of studying abroad is one that is easy to understand. Education is something that most of the world is fortunate enough to have experienced, and studying abroad takes the experience of academic perseverance to a whole new level. While students around the world experience education differently, there is nothing in all the world quite like uprooting your comfort zones, your very life, and travelling across the ocean to new worlds. Throwing yourself entirely out of your comfort zone is something that thrills the soul and inspires the mind. It is a feeling that more and more people are chasing as time goes on. Abroad studying is a magical experience, and there is a lot to be said for pushing the boundaries of comfort and reliability, and reimagining where your boundaries lie. This is how great minds are sharpened. This is how dream careers are forged.

Being overseas for a semester or two and studying somewhere new, creates an innate sense of zest for life. Students not only get to learn in new and exhilarating environments, but they meet people they never would have otherwise. Studying abroad is a great way for students to build a global network of friends and industry professionals, that can prove to be immensely beneficial as life goes on. We have all heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know”, and there is nothing that rings truer when it comes to professional progression. Students who study abroad make connections that they would otherwise have perhaps never crossed paths with, and these connections can go on to become key instigators in future job offers and entrepreneurship collaborations (among many other things). The best part about abroad education is that students expand their horizons on every possible level, and they become more well-rounded people because of their unique academic experiences.

A privilege to the end, having the opportunity to study is something that many of us take for granted. It is also something that many of us underestimate the challenge in. With so much continuous stress and strain, it would be easy to assume that enrolments in higher education are dropping around the world. Understandable, however quite the opposite is true. Enrolments in higher education are growing every year, and while population growth is obviously partially responsible, it is abroad study that is the key driver for the surge in enrolments worldwide. Studying abroad is gaining more traction as a viable and popular academic method of education. And really, when students can see the world while simultaneously reaching new expanses of academic excellence, why shouldn’t abroad study be gaining more popularity? And even now, it continues to flourish. This boom is far from over, not by a long shot.

The Risks Inherent In Practising Law: Is It All Worth It?

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It’s among the most ambitious and inspiring of responses to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A lawyer.”

The appeal of fame, fortune and early retirement is incredibly tempting to many a young person, but how often do they properly consider the possible ramifications of such a career choice? Practicing law at the highest level is undeniably fraught with risk, and many an esteemed lawyer has met their death because of their career choice.

This week, esteemed Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr received death threats and calls for his resignation from the distinguished American University, simply for agreeing to act as criminal defense attorney for the disdained American producer Harvey Weinstein, who faces allegations of sexual abuse following complaints from at least six women. Despite having previously overturned hundreds of wrongful convictions and having garnered widespread praise for becoming the first African American in history to be appointed as Harvard University’s law faculty dean, his accomplishments to date have all but been forgotten in the wake of his decision to uphold the most basic premise of law: that even people accused of the very worst crimes deserve a robust defense.

He is not the first lawyer to suffer public humiliation and attacks for doing so.

There were the lawyers who defended the War on Terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, who were dubbed “The Al Qaeda seven” and questioned in a New York post article about their underlying values – and whether or not they were shared with the enemy.

There was Michael Ratner, a civil liberties lawyer who represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as well as Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Bosnian Serb leader convicted of genocide and war crimes charges by the United Nations Radovan Karadzic, and numerous prisoners being detained for terrorism-related charges, and who as a result was consistently branded a traitor and threatened by his fiercest critics.

And there was the condemnation of every lawyer to have ever represented a serial killer, despite knowing of their guilt. A member of Ted Bundy’s defense team once famously described him as “the very definition of heartless evil”, but continued to defend him nonetheless, earning him an equally horrific reputation.

The risks inherent in practicing law and defending controversial clients are sorely undervalued by those aspiring to craft a future in law – and we aren’t paying enough attention to the issue. At the other end of the scale, we have lawyers like Amal Clooney who will risk their very life to uphold values held to be true to them.

Speaking to US Magazine a few years ago, the high-profile human rights lawyer admitted her decision to take ISIS to court for genocide was understandably fraught with risk, but that she was prepared to take on those risks. After meeting ISIS survivor and activist Nadia Murad, who escaped captivity from the terrorist group after being tortured and raped for many months, Amal admitted she could not deny the girl justice.

She justified her representation of Nadia as the only means of addressing the inhumanity and brutality of the terrorist group.  “I think one of the ways to take action that way is to expose their brutality and corruption, and partly you can do that through trial,” Amal said.

Amal now faces threats and uncertainty over her safety as a result of her decision to defend the damaged young Iraqi girl, begging the question of whether lawyers are truly operating in among the most dangerous of fields. Wang Fu is another human rights lawyer who faces persecution in her own country for representing clients including members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, and Ilham Tohti – a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur and critic of the Chinese government, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2009.

What is the safest means of practicing law in this day and age? Working as a family lawyer?  A law professor? Working as a military or estate law attorney? How can one work to defend justice without treading on the wrong toes? Is it even possible?

Even an environmental lawyer faces a high level of risk. In 2017, the Philippine lawyer who was renowned for investigating crimes against the environment was ambushed and shot dead in broad daylight. I repeat, in broad daylight. The death of Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green pushed the Philippines to the ranking of second most dangerous country in the world for environmental campaigners after Brazil.

Ten years ago, thousands of lawyers donning black suits and ties took to the streets of Pakistan to protest the suspension of the constitution. Over 600 were arrested as a result, but it once again demonstrated the absolute willpower and determination of those working in the field of law to uphold the most basic principles of law theory. That for modern society to continue to evolve and thrive it must uphold the very foundations of the legal institutions upon which it is founded. The law must come first – before all else.

A Battle of the Ages: Traditional Education Versus Online Learning

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Education is an important rite of passage. That is a fact that has not, and does not, change. Whether everyone gets access to this rite of passage is another matter, but at the heart of it all what education is all about is giving people the chance to better themselves academically and intellectually. An ancient industry at this point, education has successfully seen through generation after generation of eager students while maintaining its position as a worthwhile, relevant sector. This ideology has not necessarily changed, but the world around which education is moulded has. As such, what this means is that traditional education, while still successful and influential, is not a viable form of learning that is going to be appropriate for all students. With this in mind, online courses has been developed and introduced over recent years, and while there are plenty of people who will say that online education spells the end for traditional brick and mortar academic institutions, that is simply not the case. Instead, online education provides students with certain qualities of life and access points that traditional education does not – the same can be said for what traditional education is able to provide. So, what is the difference between the two? Which is better?

The short answer is that it depends on what kind of attributes any given student responds to. There will always be those who are of the opinion that education should be kept wholly traditional, just as there will always be people who believe that education should wholeheartedly evolve to mature with the shift of the modern world. When it comes down to it, though, all that really matters is that every single individual who wants to be a student has an option before them that caters to their specific requirements and preferences. With this in mind, both traditional and modern online education have a place. The two each have their own benefits and their own downfalls, and in the end every student should do their research before picking which education format to follow through with. Since the moment that online education came to fruition, there has been debate about whether it actually offers anything of value that is not already available through traditional modes of education. They are each different, so it is only right that they each get their time to shine.

Traditional brick and mortar education systems have a leg up on the modern online learning platforms. First and foremost, they have been around a lot longer and have the established reputation of single handedly getting through generation after generation of global students into the workforce successfully. Keep in mind, however, that this achievement was made possible in a different world than the one that exists today. Traditional education provides students with a structure that appeals greatly to some individuals as students. In enrolling in traditionally-inclined institutions, students are given a set program that they must follow. Included in this program is set class times that are compulsory and non-negotiable, a set learning process, and in-person feedback and questions and answers. In short, traditional education allows students an experience that thrives and is most successful when applied wholly and with their education as their top priority. Students who opt for traditional education experiences are often and most likely to be individuals who put their academic progression first, and can fit in the rest of their lives comfortably around that.

Students that commit to their studies via online education are given an innate sense of flexibility that is not possible through traditional education. Traditional brick and mortar colleges or universities do not allow for this flexibility, but online education means that students are able to log on, study, and log out whenever they have the time to. Students are now able to study on their own terms, in their own time, without having to adhere to what is, for some, impossible geographical limitations. Individuals that would not have been able to study if they had to make the trip into campus every other day are now able to commit to an entire degree, knowing that they have the flexibility and the power to alter and shift their schoolwork in around the rest of their lives, not the other way around. When the modern student is busier than ever, this is nothing but a good thing, for the most part. As technological advancement and digitalisation increasingly changed the world, they too changed the education industry. As a result, what has occurred is a steadfast realisation that there are students that prefer the traditional education models, and there are those who prefer to opt for the modern learning methods. There is more than enough room – and demand – for both forms of education to thrive.

Throughout human history, education has successfully helped to mould generation after generation of eager young minds into intelligent, well-rounded human beings and professionals. Over time, however, the world that these students have grown up in has changed, and the generations that have followed them – and will follow them – through the education systems around the world have evolved as well. The inevitable result of this personal and societal evolution is that traditional education methods and models are no longer entirely successful; while they still appeal to some students, there are others that demand a more modern approach to learning. If the question is which form of education is better overall, then the answer is neither. However, if the question is which is better for a particular student, then it realistically comes down to the student in question. For some students, the structure and in-person approach of traditional education is perfect. For others, the flexibility and accountability of online learning is the way to go. Ultimately, both forms of education have their place – and will continue to do so – in the modern – and future – education sector.