Student news round-up: Breathalysers in Birmingham, Newcastle bomb-scare student jailed and financial aid for asylum seekers


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The Independent Online

Birmingham student union to use breathalysers

Students attempting to enter the union nightclub in Birmingham could be subject to a breathalyser test as part of a new initiative to reduce violent crime.

Redbrick reports that the Guild of Students, along with other shops and pubs in the area, has signed up to the West Midlands Police scheme following successful trials elsewhere in the country.

Frankie Greenwell, the Guild's vice-president for welfare, explained that for the first few weeks the breathalyser test will be optional, with students able to use it to see how well they can measure their alcohol intake. Door staff will then have access to the tests as an "objective means by which security staff can assess the level of intoxication".

The tests "are not there to ban fun or to stop you from coming in", he said.

An eight-week trial period in other areas saw a 32 per cent reduction in violent crime and a 66 per cent drop in the number of callouts related to people being drunk and disorderly.

Newcastle bomb scare student jailed

The former Newcastle student from Russia who made explosives in his bedroom has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Vladimir Aust pleaded guilty to manufacturing hexamethylene triperoxidediamine (HMTD), a controlled substance, after purchasing the ingredients on Amazon. HMTD, which can explode if it is dropped or exposed to sunlight, was used in the 2005 London bombings. Mr Aust had mixed the chemicals in his bedroom as well as in communal areas.

The court heard that he had accessed online advice from al-Qaeda on how to build explosive devices.

The university contacted the local Counter Terrorism Unit after staff discovered a wooden board with knives sticking out of it in Mr Aust's room. The hall of residence, students' union and nearby bus station were subsequently evacuated though he was never charged under anti-terrorism provisions.

LSE pledges financial aid for asylum seekers

The London School of Economics has launched two awards worth £20,000 apiece for asylum seeker students who have been offered places to study there, according to the Beaver.

Each award consist of a partial fee waiver, to reduce the £16,000 fees LSE charges to overseas students, and an £11,000 maintenance grant for living expenses.

Catherine Baldwin, LSE's director of recruitment and admissions, explained: "Asylum seekers do not qualify for home fee status, nor are they entitled to government grants and loans. Most asylum seekers do not have permission to work. We hope that these LSE awards make our degree programmes more accessible to some of the brightest and best students from around the world."

Blind man "overwhelmed" by student offers of support

A blind man from London says he feels "fantastic" after he was inundated by students offering to read to him.

East London Lines reports how Andrew Bailey, 34, posted a handwritten advert in a Goldsmiths University corridor when his regular reader could no longer provide the service.

More than 1,000 people retweeted the poster after a photo was uploaded to Twitter. It said: "I miss reading immensely and would greatly appreciate somebody to come to my house and read to me."

Mr Bailey suffers from a neurological disorder that caused him to lose eyesight 15 years ago. He said he had "lost count of the number of responses" and that he was "overwhelmed" by the offers.

Professor gives CPR during lecture

A Liverpool professor had to give CPR to another member of staff who suddenly became ill during a lecture, according to The Liverpool Tab.

Student witnesses said the lecturer, Robin Holt, was "a bit shaken" and that subsequent classes were delayed because of the emergency.

The university said: "Emergency services were called to the University campus this afternoon in response to a member of staff who became suddenly ill.

"The patient is receiving treatment in hospital and family members have been notified."