All entries for January 2011

January 25, 2011

Get rid of the vending machine in the WBS Teaching Centre

I am really pissed off. This the second time, I have been ripped off by the vending machine in the WBS Teaching Centre. I put the coin in nothing happened and I couldn't get it out as well.

Also noticed that there were a lot of coins inside which means that I am not the only one who got ripped off. The owners are lucky that it is in a University and inside the WBS teaching centre or it would have been in a bad condition else where.

What made me made mad was the fact that there was no contact information on the machines. At least the ones in the past had a number you could call and they would tell you that you could get your money back from the reception in Rootes Building.

I hope they get rid of the machines soon.

Updated (2:45pm): I finally found the number to call on the University website and someone is coming along.

2nd Update: (4:02pm): No one came and I left as I had a class to take. Came back and can see the coins are still there.

The case of the open gate

This event happened a couple of days back and I forgot to blog about this. Only recalled it today.

Anyway, one day as usual I drove to car park 7 and I noticed that the gate was open and drove in - slowly. Looked at my rear mirror it was still open. Didn't think much about it as this happens sometimes. Was quite happy as this meant that I could use my £3 parking fare for a cup of coffee and with left over money for a muffin.

Anyway, I found a spot, parked my car and came down the stairs and when I reached the ground floor I noticed something strange - the gates were closed. 

I pressed the button at the gate and called up security.  I gave my details and explained what had happened. The guy at the other end told me that it was impossible as he had checked and during that time the gate was functioning normally - there was no way that it could have been open.

However, the fact was that it had been open when I went in, there was no car in front of mine (at least I didn't notice one) and it was still open when I looked back. 

I still have no explanation of what happened that day but the story ended well and I got to park for free that a day. 

January 10, 2011

Confusing immigration statistics

updated: 11 January 2011

Like many other countries today, immigration is a very sensitive issue here in the UK. Apparently a lot of people seem to agree that there are too many immigrants in the UK and people are now openly saying it out loud.

However, what makes it very confusing are the numbers quoted by various organisations and individuals. I am not going to quote who said what but identify some issues and some questions for researchers to look at.

First of all, which numbers should be quoted? Do you look at the estimate migrant flows (International Passenger Survey, IPS) or the the foreign resident population (Annual Population Survey, APS). I think that it is essential to look at both and deeper.

According to Migration Watch UK, the net immigration in 2009 "was 196,000. 3 million immigrants have arrived since 1997". What they failed to mention was that "among those classed as immigrants to the UK in 2009, many were actually Britons returning from overseas." (Source: BBC). Plus the net increase might also be due to the fact that fewer British people are moving overseas.

As the UK is part of the EU, it can't do much about people from other EU states moving into the UK so the focus in on the citizens from non-EU countries who are now subject to much tougher rules. The question is why does most immigration numbers quoted always include all foreigners without differentiating between EU + non-EU foreigners? Is it to beef up the numbers?

Next issue relates to students. 362,015 student visas were issued between June 2009 and June 2010. This number is of course included in the total number of immigrants but I would like to argue that most students are not long term migrants but are instead customers of British education planing to stay in the UK for only between 1 to 5 years (sometimes a bit more for some who continue from undergraduate to post graduate studies). I think it would not be wrong to consider them as long term tourists. 

Another issue is the number of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, the numbers are altogether very hazy. I have no idea whether they are being included in the net immigration statistics at all.

To get a better picture, I recommend that all organisations and individuals quoting statistics about the net immigration into the UK should always include

1. the EU and Non-EU numbers.

2. the number of Britons returning from overseas

3. the number of students (EU and Non-EU again).

4. Clarify whether the number includes refugees and illegal immigrants.

This would give a better idea of the net immigration into this country and help make better policy decisions.

January 06, 2011

Cycling on a budget

Today was the first time I cycled to the campus this year. I stopped cycling in November when it got too cold and I have totally lost shape. I used to do the approx. 5 miles in about 30 minutes. Today it took me 50 minutes.

I started cycling late last year due a number of reasons. First of all, the journey to campus in the mornings was a terrible experience with all the traffic jams. After reaching campus, I would then have to go round and round all the car parks looking for a parking space. Sometimes it could take me more than half an hour to find a parking space. Public transport is no better - there is no direct bus and I would have to change 2 buses in order to reach campus, taking nearly and hour to reach the University from my house in Radford.

Finally with the rise in petrol prices and the prohibitive parking rates and the fact that I no longer have a scholarship means that I can't afford to come to campus by car anymore.

So cycling was becoming a very attractive option. Plus, it would be a great workout and hopefully I could regain back the pecs I lost a couple of years ago.

I didn't have a really large budget and to be honest I was quite naive to think that cycling was the cheaper option. Maybe it is in the long run but the initial outlay is quite high. I mean, all the good bikes I liked cost a few hundred pounds. You then need to think about a helmet, lights, cycling pants, security locks, etc. and they are not cheap.

In the end I decided to buy a used bike and went on to eBay. I was lucky and won a great ladies bike for just £16/ - I don't really care but to my daughter's dissapointment, I decided to take off the pink stickers. I invested a bit on a new chain after the old chain broke twice. The old saddle was terrible and after a bit of searching, I bought a new WTB saddle over eBay for just £12 including postage.


As a student, I don't think you should spend that much on a bike.

There are loads of bargains on eBay and you might be able to get a good one as I did for less than £50. However, be ready to upgrade some parts.  Later on I also found out about Action 21, a charity that promotes environmental, social and economically sustainable projects in and around Warwick. They sell recycled bikes which have been thoroughly checked by trained mechanics with prices starting at just £30. They sell bikes each Friday at 10am at Action 21's Re-Useful Centre: 5 Ramsey Road, Sydenham, CV31 1PL.

If you a bit of a mechanic, you can ask around for some of the old bikes rusting in the backyards of a number of houses. Some may actually give it to you for free. That could be a great DIY project. Moreover, classic bikes with flaking paints are now in fashion after a few celebrities were seen riding them. The bad news is that this has resulted in a hike in the prices of old bikes. What used to be available for a couple of pounds on eBay now go for around £50 and more for a rusting old Raleigh  - it's ridiculous. 

Of course if you have the cash, you can go out a buy a top of the range, carbon fibre road bike with top of the range spec. but I would make sure I kept it in my room when I am not riding it. I would be sad if someone stole my bike (it happens even in our campus) but not as sad as I would be if I lost one that cost me around a thousand pounds.

January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

Wishing all visitors to my blog a very happy and Prosperous New Year. 


Dilip Mutum

This blog records some of the thoughts and experiences of Dilip Mutum at the University of Warwick. He has been blogging since 2003 and this is but one of his many blogs.

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