Random Acts of Kindness

There is another important date in February, 3 days after Valentines Day, one you may not be familiar with. On the 17th February it is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.

The definition of a random act of kindness, or RAoK as it is often abbreviated to, is a selfless act performed by kind people to either help or cheer up a random stranger, for no reason other than to make people happier.

You know those supermarket vouchers you get through the post, the ones for random products, 20p off this or 10p off that. The mouthwash you will never use, flavoured water you do not like, the spread that is not your regular one. I used to just throw those vouchers in the bin, but over the last three months I have kept them. Then as I wander around doing my usual family shopping, I put the unwanted voucher onto the top of the corresponding product. There it sits waiting for the stranger, shopping for the product they really want and finding a money off voucher right next to it. I hope this cheers them up, maybe even inspires them to create their own random acts of kindness.

At home, on the wall, we have a yellow circle of card, about the circumference of a cup. Whenever my wife, daughter or myself recognise an act of kindness one of us has done, a description of the act is written on a rectangular yellow strip and my daughter then sticks it onto the edge of the yellow circle. When 12 strips have been added to the circle we have a completed sunshine. Next as a family we decide on an activity to do. Once it was “Let’s go to space Dad” which started a trip to Leicester’s Space Centre, “I want to see the Christmas decorations at B&Q”, “Let’s bake cookies” were others. It has not only allowed for fun activities for the family, it has made us recognise the wonderful kind acts that we do for each other, that were all too easy to take for granted, not recognise and not say thank you for. The more we find we recognise them, the more we want to do.

In an age of austerity, we can often forget that kindness is free. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Imagine doing something for no other reason than to make another person happy. A search of RAoK reveals lists of ideas and I thought I would just highlight a few. Maybe you will do just one on the 17th? Maybe one on a different day, just to make a someone happy.

• Donate colouring books and crayons to the waiting room at the hospital, doctors etc.
• Write a letter to someone (teacher, parent, neighbour, etc.) who has made a difference in your life and thank them.
• Offer to watch someone’s children so they can take a break
• Tell a random parent you see that they are doing a good job
• Let someone go ahead of you at the supermarket
• Smile!
• Make goodies for your neighbours
• Let your partner sleep in, or even take them breakfast in bed
• Leave random sticky notes with fun or kind quotes on the bathroom mirror at your place of work
• Pick up some litter
• Go to a retirement home and visit anyone who looks lonely
• Leave nice comments on random blogs
• Compliment someone randomly (whether you know them or not)
• Hold the door for someone
• Draw a picture and hand it to a passer by
• Donate canned food items to the local food bank
• Drop change around a playground for children to find
• Volunteer somewhere; an animal shelter, homeless shelter, food bank

You can be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.

I would love to hear your ideas. What did you do? Did someone act kindly to you and how did it make you feel? Which ideas do you love?

Karl McCormack, Lecturer in the Staffordshire Business School

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

Happy New Two-Year! Best kept secret? Degrees that save you time and money…

Now, the thing about two-year degrees is that they are arguably the best kept secret of all time, excluding of course that exquisite and neatly wrapped Christmas gift you received from your loved one. What’s more, like Christmas, two-year degrees have been around for some time – well, not quite 2000+ years but certainly on and off since the Second World War when they were made available to armed forces personnel to assist with their transition to civilian life. So why is it that two-year degrees continue to fall under the radar of prospective students of higher education? Well, the real issue stems from the fact that few universities have risen to the challenge of providing alternative flexible pathways, such as two-year degrees, preferring the status quo of their inflexible semesterised academic calendar which for years has been the traditional means by which students have engaged in higher education.

In the good old days, before tuition fees, or even today if you are lucky enough to have sufficient financial means, the traditional semesterised academic calendar offers the luxury of three summer months of hedonism. At this point, many of you will have the words of Kylie Minogue ringing in your ears – for those who don’t, here they are…‘I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky….’ OK, so it seems like me, there are others out there who think that studying over the summer months (bar a couple of weeks of well-earned rest) is a good idea, yet there are few universities willing to offer them. The issue is that for a university to deliver two-year degrees, and other accelerated courses for that matter, requires a period of institutional transition and change management to change the out-dated and entrenched semesterised academic calendar, academic culture and supporting infrastructure. Effectively, the resistance to such change by many well-known established universities has meant that two-year degrees are offered by only a handful of forward thinking and progressive universities.

Staffordshire University is proud to have pioneered two-year degrees back in 2006 and to have continued investing in their provision ever since to accommodate the needs of students looking for something other than a traditional three-year degree, whatever their reasons. As a member of Staffordshire University’s academic team responsible for the delivery of our two-year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance degree I have witnessed students from many different walks of life who have each graduated with excellent results. For example, there have been mature students that enrol on the degree with great trepidation but then relish the experience of studying and redirecting their career. Then there are the more traditionally aged students including those who are motivated to complete their degree quickly and to progress to their chosen professional accountancy qualification – believe me, the thought of becoming a professionally qualified accountant by the age of twenty-four can unlock significant amounts of drive and motivation! Employers also recognise that two-year degree students are always motivated and ambitious too. But there is a common thread that runs through all the conversations I’ve had with two-year students about why they chose a two-year degree and that is, at the end of the day studying a two-year degree saves them an immense amount of money – according to Jo Johnson, the ex-universities minister (aka brother of Boris), approximately £25,000.

Staffordshire University is of course an established leader and expert in two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, with student satisfaction and employability being our key drivers. So when I read the criticisms contained within the Government’s 2016 White Paper that many universities still provide courses that are inflexible, based on the traditional three-year undergraduate model, with insufficient innovation and provision of two-year degrees and degree apprenticeships, I was confident that my university was in fact one of the few universities, very much at the forefront of delivering exactly the type of alternative ways of engaging in higher education that today’s society needs. I am also immensely proud of my Two-Year BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance team who achieved 100% student satisfaction in the National Student Survey of 2017 and also the university as a whole for being ranked No. 1 for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey of 2017. Reflecting on these successes, I wonder what 2018 will bring – will the best kept secret now be unwrapped? For further details of Staffordshire University’s Two-Year Accelerated Degrees please visit:- www.staffs.ac.uk/accelerated-degrees

Wishing You a Very Happy New Two-Year!

Alison Maguire MBA (Ed), ACMA, CGMA, Cert.Ed., SFHEA.
Head of Department – Accounting, Finance and Economics

School of Business, Leadership and Economics
Staffordshire University Business School
B336 Brindley Building
Leek Road
Stoke on Trent
ST4 2DF
United Kingdom
Tel: 01782 294155
www.staffs.ac.uk