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Latest News

UCAS Condemned for Selling Students' Data

18 March 2014

Data campaigners have condemned the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) for its ‘underhand’ use of students’ data for commercial advertisers.   

UCAS received more than £12m last year in return for sending targeted advertising to subscribers. The service sells the access via its commercial arm, Ucas Media. Vodafone, O2, Microsoft and the private university accommodation provider Pure Student Living are among those who have marketed through UCAS, which offers access to over a million student email addresses and a market worth a claimed £15bn a year.   

Meanwhile, the UCAS offshoot Ucas Progress, set up two years ago to serve pupils from aged 13 looking for post-16 courses, is also collecting data. Children who sign up for Ucas Progress via their schools are encouraged by the company to agree to receive marketing by email from ‘carefully selected third parties’. 

 Emma Carr, deputy director of the privacy lobby group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘UCAS is perfectly within the law to sell on this information, but the way they are doing so, as is the situation with most data gathering organisations, is underhand. It goes far beyond what students would expect them to do with their data. Students should be explicitly asked for their permission before UCAS can sell their information on and UCAS should be open and transparent about who it is selling the data on to.’ 

University applicants are given the option of refusing mailings when they register with UCAS. However, the application form does not distinguish between commercial mailings and information from universities and potential employers. 

A UCAS spokesperson said: ‘UCAS and Ucas Media comply strictly with all applicable laws and regulations, in the way in which we handle personal data. Ucas Media has strict guidelines for the different groups that we may cover, based on the age sensitivities of our audiences. For example, Ucas Media does not accept political, alcohol or tobacco related products for marketing.’ 

UCAS's accounts say ‘the majority’ of Ucas Media's profits are gift aided to the parent company, which is a charity as well as a company. It argues that the contribution keeps down applicant fees, currently £23 per candidate.

London Children Smash World Samba Record

8 March 2014

Over 1,600 children, aged 7 to 16, from 27 London schools, have broken the world record for the largest samba band.   

The performance was the culmination of a 10-week intensive samba course with Inspire-works facilitators in preparation for the attempt. Teaching material was specially written in consultation with Trinity College London, and the children obtained a “Discover” Arts Award for taking part.   

The event, part of a partnership between the Royal Albert Hall, Street Child World Cup and Inspire-Works, will be broadcast on Blue Peter later in the month.   

 The official World Record now stands at 1638.

European Youth Summer Music in 22nd Year

8 March 2014

The 22nd European Youth Summer Music (EYSM) takes place from 3-9 August at Ardingly College in West Sussex. Run for 11-21s from all over Europe, EYSM is an orchestral course run entirely by its conductors, tutors, parents and volunteers as a charity, yet has support from trusts and companies, as well as personal donations and membership subscriptions.   

As well as working on orchestral repertoire, participants can work with the Two Composers in Residence to create their own short piece for an orchestra or chamber group. In 'Options' they can do two sessions of Chamber Music each day, or fill those sessions with Jazz, Improvisation, Big Band, World Music, Chamber Choir, Solo Vocal and more.  Everything that is concert-ready is professionally recorded.    

EYSM welcomes enquiries from 11-21s at   It also has a junior arm and welcomes enquiries from 8-11s at Bursaries are available.

Royal Marines Attempt World's Longest Drum Roll

4 March 2014

This May Bank Holiday, over 50 members of the Royal Marines Corps of Drums (COD) will attempt to break the world record for the longest continuous drum roll. Currently set at 28 hours, 19 minutes and 3 seconds, the COD will be attempting to smash the record by aiming for 64 hours. 

The World Record Attempt will be used to support the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, as part of the Royal Marines 350th anniversary. Problems that could scupper the World Record Attempt are many – as well as fatigue and problems related to technique, broken sticks and skins are also a real worry. To this end, Premier Percussion has donated a specially-designed single-snare drum for the event. This precision-made instrument has been developed with durability and robustness the most important consideration. Premier has also supplied the COD with suitable sticks. 

A representative from Guinness World Records Ltd will be in attendance during the final stages of the WRA as part of the validation process. Expert invigilators from the drumming community will also be present throughout the event, including Bob Armstrong, Craig Blundell, James Hester, Matt King and Sven Parris.   

To follow the progress of the team’s preparations visit the facebook page. To make a donation visit justgiving.

Music For All Announces Learn To Play

28 February 2014

The third national Learn To Play Day will take place on 12 April. Organised by Music For All in partnership with the Musicians Union, Take It Away, Music Teachers and MusicRadar, the event offers more than 10,000 free instrument ‘taster’ lessons for people of all ages.   

Over 100 musical instrument shops and other venues throughout the UK will host events offering anyone who would like to try an instrument the opportunity to have a free lesson.   

Full details of the event, including participating shops and local appearances, can be found on the Learn To Play website.

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