KU Leuven

The University of Leuven is regarded as one of the oldest Catholic universities that still exist up to this day. Educational experts founded the University of Leuven in 1425. During that time, it was located on the centre of this historic town. In 1797, it was closed because of various events that transpired during the period of Napoleon Bonaparte. Eventually, the educators founded this Catholic university once more. During this period, the learning institution became a host to a vast number of controversies because of the historical involvements of the 1425 university.

It is during the year 1986 that the body of the institution decided to split the university into two parts. These are the French-Language Catholic University of Louvain and the Dutch-Language Catholic University of Louvain. The former was eventually moved to Louvain-la-Neuve, which is situated in Wallonia. Louvain-la-Neuve has since been known simply as Louvain. As early as the 15th century, this university has served as a major contributor, as far as the Catholic theology development is concerned.

During the 2014 and 2015 university-wide census, KU Leuven is already considered as the largest university that exists in Belgium as well as the Low Countries. Its student population of 55,484 people can greatly attest to this. Aside from the primary campus located in Leuven, the institution has already grown much to include the following satellite campuses: Brussels, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Aalst, Diepenbeek, Geel, Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Kulak or Kortrijk. These campuses also offer various programs in the English language.

The University of Leuven is not only widely known as an institution with a large population but also a learning place that boasts of high quality education. During the academic year 2015-2016, KU Leuven has been ranked as 35th in terms of the educational prowess and potential that it can offer. This is based from the criteria laid out by Times Higher Education. On the other hand, QS World University Rankings provided this with a rank of 82nd while Academic Ranking of World Universities gave 90th as its official ranking. To sum it all up, KU Leuven has a consistent record of being a worldwide topnotcher. It is even considered up par to the standards of Ghent University.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

The Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, or simply known as LMU, is considered as one of the oldest universities that you can easily find in Germany. This learning institution has been originally established in 1472 on Ingolstadt. Duke Ludwig IX from Bavaria-Landshut founded the university. During the early parts of 1800s, it was moved to Landshut. That time, King Maximilian I from Bavaria initiated the transfer to avoid the threats that the French posed against Ingolstadt. This king also officially named the institution as Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in 1802. The king decided to name the university as such in honor of the founder. In 1826, the university was again transferred – this time, in Munich. This is LMU’s present location as well. At present, this is sometimes regarded as the University of Munich.

The University of Munich is regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. This is also viewed as one of the best universities in Germany, particularly during the 19th century period. Recently, the university has been given the title of “elite university”. The German Universities Excellence Initiative is responsible for assigning this title.

For the record, it already received as many as 34 Nobel laureates. This also somewhat translates to the fact that this university ranks 13th worldwide if one will based the ranking on the number of laureates received. Some of the most notable people who brought these awards include Thomas Mann, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Wilhelm Röntgen, and Pope Benedict XVI. Interestingly, the Pope did not only attend the university as a student but also eventually as a professor.

LMU Munich consistently has a high ranking among the top 100 universities in the world. The international ranking surveys conducted this study to see the universities that perform well in different parts of the world. Some of the surveys conducted are the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The former survey took more than a thousand universities into consideration at a time.

Some of the other studies published in line with the surveys include the Human Resources and Labor Review and the Times Higher Education Supplement. Both of these were conducted in 2010. Among the universities that the researchers checked out under this research ventures, LMU Munich is considered as the sole listed German university among the best 5- universities. It was even ranked 38th in one instance. In 2013, this institution was ranked as the 53th among the universities in QS World University Rankings. Some of the other universities that graced these surveys as well include Free University of Berlin, Heidelberg University, Humboldt University, and TU München.

At present, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität is considered as the second among the largest universities there are in Germany, as far as total student population is concerned. The winter semester of 2013 and 2014 can attest to this. During that time, the institution had approximately 50,542 matriculated students in total. About 8,719 among these are freshmen. On the other hand, 7,403 students from the total population are international students. This is almost 15% of the total student population.

The operating budget that the university recorded in 2013 was about 571.3 million Euros. The budget for the university hospital is not yet factored in for that figure. With the university hospital included, the estimated operating budget in 2013 was about 1.5 billion Euros.

Aside from the 18 fully functional faculty rooms, this university also boasts of and maintains numerous research centres. Some of the research centres are a result of collaboration among the renowned external partners and the university. These groups are highly involved in various transdisciplinary projects and cross-faculty projects that aim to boost the quality of the diverse academic programmes in the university.

Law School – A Worthwhile Investment?

I’m a 30-year old recent law school graduate who practices law at a small-sized firm, and I’m currently paying off massive student loan debt which I borrowed to pay for my legal education. As a result, I feel I can offer some insight as to how I feel about my decision to attend law school in retrospect with the assistance of 20-20 hingsight. In particular, I will look into some factors which I know to be important now, but did not take into consideration at the time I was applying to law schools.

College graduates considering whether to go to law school face a daunting decision, but seldom do they realize it at the time. In order to fully appreciate the profound long-term ramifications of attending law school, prospective law students should be fully aware of the realities that they will face upon graduating from law school. While the law school application process has always been highly competitive, in recent years a record number of college graduates have been applying for admission at law schools. Due to the dire state of the economy, there is an unprecedented level of competition compared to earlier years, as college graduates find it exceedingly difficult to find employment. This has caused the number of applications to spike, and there are far more applicants today for the limited number of spots available at law schools than in years past. Responding to this spike in demand, across the nation many law schools have increased the size of their incoming classes, but not at a rate that accommodates the increased demand.

Preface – I’m Not Trying to Scare You Away From Attending Law School

In the paragraphs that follow, I do not mention the difficult job market facing new attorneys or the scarcity of high-paying “BigLaw” jobs for the purpose of scaring away college graduates from attending law school. If you are looking for a more depressing “doom and gloom” narrative as to the perils facing law school graduates seeking a big pay-day (or even getting a job in the first place), I refer to you to the blog posts of Elie Mystal at “Above The Law”. I do not share this “doom and gloom” perspective.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, in retrospect and with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I am now acutely aware of certain consequences of my decision to enter the legal profession. I made certain assumptions when I decided to attend law school which I imagine are shared by most law school applicants. Assumptions along the lines of “lawyers earn a lot of money”, “I’ll be able to buy a big house and raise my future family in it, which will of course be located in a great school district”, “becoming an attorney is a sure-fire way to secure gainful employment”, etc. (on the latter assumption I must add the qualification that this was a safe assumption for me because I practice law with my father, who always wanted one of his children to practice law with him). Once again, I am not trying to deter potential law students from pursuing a J.D.; however, due to the rosy disposition that is endemic among applicants, it is inevitable that this article may come across as negative. So, my intent in writing this was not that it serve as a deterrent, but instead that it might assist would-be law students in becoming “well-informed purchasers” before they make this important decision.

What Will My Job Prospects Be When I Graduate and Pass the Bar Exam?

While increased demand has induced many law schools to increase the number of spots available for their incoming classes, these schools have not done so to make the lives of applicants easier. Quite the contrary, law schools are “cash cows” for universities. I describe law schools as “cash cows” because (using easy numbers here), if the tuition at the average private law school is in the area of $35,000.00 per year, over the course of three years the law school (and hence the university) will rake in an additional $100K in revenue over a 3-year period for each additional full-time student who is not on scholarship. I’m rounding off and using easy numbers here, of course, but the incentive for law schools to increase class size is as clear as a bell: for each additional 10 students admitted, the law school (and university) stands to rake in around a cool $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) in revenue over a three-year period.

I mention the nationwide trend of law schools increasing their class size as a segue to one of the primary considerations law school applicants should be aware of. Specifically, while law schools may be taking on additional students and raking in the dough by doing so, it would be generous to describe the job market for current law school graduates as “stagnant” compared to previous decades (in fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, “stagnant” would be a very generous description). The truth is that the legal profession is definitely not immune from the economic downturn of the past few years. But this hasn’t stopped law schools from increasing enrollment and consequently pumping out more and more graduates into an already-depressed job market.

Now that I’ve outlined some of the difficulties you will face upon graduating law school, I will put the “good and gloom” aside for a moment. The depressed job market is hitting virtually every sector of the American economy, not just lawyers. In fact, while it is unquestionably true that the legal profession has also been hit hard by the economic downturn, it is a safe bet that it is currently significantly easier for a law school graduate to find gainful employment than it is for college graduates who don’t have a J.D., and the prospects for a higher starting salary are likewise significantly higher (that is, of course, once you actually find a job).

Ironically, the possible “double-dip recession” can itself serve as a factor that makes attending law school attractive right now for college graduates. When considering the alternative of sitting on your hands, unemployed or applying for jobs which don’t even require the college degree you just earned, attending law school and working towards an enhanced earning capacity doesn’t sound so bad, does it? In addition (and I sincerely hope that this is the case), 3 years from now you may find that you’ve graduated at a time when the economy has substantially recovered from its current sad state of affairs.

Will I Get a “BigLaw” Job and Rake in Over $100K the First Year After I Graudate Law School?

For most law students, this is highly unlikely. Of course, everyone who attends law school is “smart” in a sense when compared to the world at large (at least from the perspective of imagining what the scores would look like if every United States citizen over the age of 21 were to take the LSAT exam, and what percentile law school students would land in). The reality is that only a small percentage of the graduates of any law school are going to find a “BigLaw” job that pays you money hand over fist right after you graduate. For law students like me who finished ranked around the middle of their graduating class at an average school (according to US News & World Report), this is simply not going to happen.  This is the case for the vast majority of law students.

The Law School’s Website Makes it Seem Like I’ll Be On a Gravy Train With Biscuit Wheels When I Graduate, Is This Data Reliable?

In a word, NO!

As mentioned towards the beginning of this article, despite the scarcity of top-end “BigLaw” jobs and the often-crippling student loan debt faced by graduates, demand for a legal education is still at an all-time high. Furthermore, these cold, hard realities, have not deterred a record number of college graduates from applying to law school. I’ve read various different blogs and articles which attempt to explain this phenomenon, and some blame it on deceptive marketing by law schools. In that regard, I know that the website for my alma mater is certainly fudging the numbers big-time when it states the percentage of it’s alumni who are employed after graduation, or that the average graduate’s annual salary one year after graduation is something absurd like $85,000.00 a year. I know this is not the case, as does every recent graduate from every law school when looking at these misleading numbers who – by sheer force of having common sense and speaking with fellow graduates – are aware that arriving at these numbers required cooking the books in a manner which would make ENRON executives proud.

By no means am I saying a law school degree won’t enhance your earning capacity compared to the job prospects available to you if you were to attempt to enter the work-force right after college (it often multiplies it a few times over), but I am saying that if you are going to look at materials produced by law schools at all, take any information you find in those materials with a grain of salt. Actually, you’d better buy a huge bag of salt to digest those numbers with. They’re just entirely unreliable, period.

My Salary When I’m Practicing Law Will Make Paying Off My Student Loans Easy, Right?

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you won’t struggle mightily in paying off your student loans from law school. Before and during law school, I never thought about it. The numbers simply weren’t real to me at the time (I just couldn’t comprehend what $140,000.00 in debt meant to my future self, after all at the time it was years away from being real). As they say, “you gotta spend money to make money”, and that is especially so if you want to make your money as an attorney. Repaying the Federal portion of your student loans taken out for law school will generally be a bit more manageable in terms of the size of your monthly payments, but when combined with the monthly amount owed on the private portion of your student loans, you will be lucky if the total number is anything below $800.00 per month.

I am currently about 4 years into paying off my crippling student loans, and I do so at a rate of $1,050.00 (one thousand and fifty dollars per month). Only a certain percentage of the interest paid on the Federal portion of my loans is tax-deductible, so in reality it’s almost all post-tax to boot. It has been a tremendous challenge to manage my family budget while paying off these loans (I have 3 kids and my wife is a mother by day / law school by night), but we get by. The relevance of my “getting by” to the spirit of this article is that I certainly didn’t imagine myself practicing law and making a pretty nice salary only to get by. On the other hand, I do know that in another 8 or so years, when my massive monthly student loan payments are a thing of the past, almost as if by magic I will have an additional $1K per month for my family budget. For most attorneys (myself included), you will see a substantial increase in your salary over the years as you pay your loan off.

In summary, I simply didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I decided to attend law school. I was hit hardest by the realities of paying off my crippling student loans. However, I love my job and I love practicing law. As a Poli Sci major in college, I also didn’t exactly have any obvious career paths available to me. The real “pay-off” for my decision will be when my loans are paid off. In the meantime, it will be a struggle financially and “them’s be the breaks”. But I’m happy and I do see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (i.e., years down the line when my decision will finally pay off from a financial perspective).

I hoped this article offers prospective law students some insight as to the real world factors you should consider when making this big decision.



article sourced from

King’s College London

King’s College London, also known as KCL or King’s is known as a kind of public research university found in London of the United Kingdom. This is a constituent college of London’s federal university. The Duke of Wellington and King George IV found KCL in 1829. In the same year, this university also received its royal charter. Based from this fact, King’s College London is the fourth among the oldest universities in England on its own claims. However, some other student groups also laid claims to this institution as the third among the oldest universities in England. In 1836, the university turned out to be one out of the two founding colleges found in University of London.

During the later parts of the 20th century, King’s eventually grew through various mergers like Chelsea College of Science and technology, the Psychiatry Institute, Queen Elizabeth College, St. Thomas’ Hospitals, Guy’s United Medical and Dental Schools, and Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. During this time, this university is considered as the largest centre of post graduate and graduate biomedical research and medical teaching in Europe by a significant number of students. In this light, KCL is also considered as one of the best multidisciplinary research universities worldwide.

At the moment, KCL has around five campuses. The main campus is located on Strand in Central London. Aside from this, there are three other King’s campuses located on Thames. These are Waterloo, St. Thomas’, and Guy’s. There is also another campus in south London. Specifically, the campus is found in Denmark Hill. At present, the college has about 5,948 staff and around 28,730 students.

King’s College London has a total income of approximately £684.2 million during 2014 and 2015. Out of the total funds, £210.8 million came from research contracts and grants. In addition to these, KCL has the fifth among the largest endowments of universities across United Kingdom. It is also regarded as the largest university in London.

The academic activities of King’s are further organized to 9 faculties. These are further classified into various research divisions, centres, and departments. Furthermore, this is home to about six research council centres specializing in the medical field. This is also one of the founding members of King’s Health Partners in the academic health sciences centre, MedCity, and Francis Crick Institute. This is also a member of various academic groups like the Russell Group, the European University Association, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The university is typically considered as a portion of the golden triangle of the elite English universities.

King’s College London is famous for the skillful staff and alumni. The line-up includes 12 Nobel laureate recipients. This institution is the alma mater of various intergovernmental, governmental, and state organisations as well. For the record, there are about 16 members of the House of Lords and 19 members of the House of Commons who graduated from this college. Also, the academics and alumni of this university have greatly contributed to a lot of major advances and discoveries in various fields. Some of these fields include the discovery of Higgs Boson elementary particle, Hepatitis C, and the DNA structure. Research conducted in this institution also led to the rise of technologies like the mobile phones, television, radio, and radar. An Emmy winning director and 3 Grammy winners, and 2 Oscar’s winners also attended this university.

KCL highly performs in terms of international rankings. According to the Times Higher Education in 2014, this university was ranked as the sixth for their research power. They are also ranked 7th for their GPA. The results are based on the Research Excellence Framework.


London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

The London School of Economics, also known as London School of Economics and Political Science or simply LSE, is considered as a public research university. This is situated in London, England. The government regards the university as a constituent college under London’s federal university. The Fabian Society members founded this institution in 1895. Some of the members include George Bernard Shaw, Graham Wallas, Beatrice Webb, First Baron Passfield, and Sidney Webb.

In 1900, LSE joined University of London to help further improve the status of society. It was two years later that they first issued the degrees to their students. Despite its current name, this institution conducts research and teaching across a wide range of social sciences and legal studies in at least 26 institutes or departments. Some of these institutes and departments include international history, public affairs, human geography, media, statistics, and mathematics. This is also recognized as a part of various leading social science universities not just in its immediate area but also among the social science institutions in the world.

LSE is currently situated in Central London. This is located along the boundary found between Holborn and Covent Garden. Historically, the general area is also known as the Clare Market. It houses more than 3,000 staff and 10,600 students. It also has a total income of approximately £299.6 million in 2014 and 2015. Out of this given fund, £27.1 million came from the research grants.

Among the student body of LSE, about 150 nationalities are represented. In line with this, the institution boasts of the highest percentages of international students out of all of the British universities out there. Specifically, there 70 percent of the international students in the area is attending this university. In relation to this, it is ranked as the second among the international universities, as far as proportion of international students is concerned. Currently, this is organized to 25 research centres and many constituent academic departments. LSE also forms a major part of academic golden triangle for greatly research intensive English universities.

Among the national top universities, this institution has been consistently ranked as one of the best. This is also applicable in the international setting. According to a recent Research Excellence Framework published just a couple of years ago, LSE has the highest known proportion of world class research among all of the British universities. This year, the QS World University Rankings placed the university as the 8th among the world’s best learning institutions. This is applicable for 12 out of 14 subjects. Additionally, the university’s graduates are undoubtedly the most employed by most of the international employers. They currently rank as one of the top five universities for the last five years.

This university has already produced numerous notable alumni in various fields like politics, philosophy, economics, media, literature, business, history, and law. About 45 current and past prime ministers and presidents have taught or attended the university as a student. Furthermore, around 46 members of the House of Lords and about 28 members of the House of Commons are just some of these people. Approximately 26 percent or 12 out of 46 Nobel Prize recipients in Economics are awarded to LSE former staff, current staff, and alumni. Out of the European universities, this has produced the most number of billionaires. This is according to the 2014 global census for the dollar billionaires.

University Of Cambridge

Cambridge University has been established from various types of institutions. Some of these include at least 31 constituent colleges and more than 100 academic departments. All of these have been organized to 6 schools. One of the university departments, the Cambridge University Press, is regarded as the oldest publishing house in the world. This is also considered as the second among the largest university presses worldwide.

As for the museums and other interesting places to visit, this university currently operates 8 scientific museums and cultural ones. One of these is Cambridge’s botanical garden, the Fitzwilliam Museum. The libraries of Cambridge can store as much as 15 million books at an instance. Out of the total number of books in this university, about 8 million of these are currently in the care of Cambridge University Library. This is considered as the institution’s legal deposit library. For the entire expanse of its history, this university has already been featured in artistic works and literature by the likes of C. P. Snow, E. M. Forster, and Geoffrey Chaucer.

By around the 31st day of July 2015, Cambridge University has already earned a total income skyrocketing to £1.64 billion. £397 million of the total funds came from research contracts and research grants. The central colleges and universities have an endowment combination of about £5.89 billion. This is, by far, the largest among the costs in the universities outside United States.

This university is closely linked with the high technology business cluster development known as the Silicon Fen. Cambridge is also a part of various associations. It forms part of Golden Triangle of the Cambridge University Health Partners and the leading English universities. The former is considered as a type of academic health science centre.

Japanese Food Is Not Just Sushi!

Believe it or not, I still encounter people who think that Japanese food is nothing but sushi places or “raw fish.” Or, they know there are more dishes than just rice with fresh fish, but they still hesitate to visit Japan because everything else “is also made with seafood.”

Well, Japanese food is not just uncooked seafood. And for that matter neither is it only seafood too. While not as varied as say, Chinese cuisine, Japan does have an amazing array of dishes for a relatively small country. At the same time, the Japanese have also integrated many “foreign” dishes into its cuisine, thanks to it being a crossroad of the east and west for well over a century. To put it in another way, it’s extremely unlikely a visitor to Japan would starve. Actually, I think most tourists in Japan get fat.

Here are 10 types of Japanese food to try while in Japan! With Japanese culture popular worldwide, a lot of these could also be found outside of Japan. The first of two hubs on this topic, this list introduces the more well-known dishes

1. Noodles (麺類)

There are three types of Japanese noodles. The thickest being Udon (うどん), followed by Soba (そば), and finally Ramen (ラーメン). An institution especially in the case of Ramen, there are many ways of eating Japanese noodles. You could have it cold, mixed, dipped, stir-fried, with curry, with thin soup, or with thick bone-flavoured broth. Different toppings are available too, giving rise to even more variations. Best of all, Japanese noodles are sold affordably, with the cheapest typically 300/400 Yen per bowl at standing cafes in train stations. Do be aware of long queues at popular noodle outlets though.

2. Takoyaki (たこ焼き)

An Osaka signature, Takoyaki are wheat batter balls cooked in a special pan, each containing a slice of octopus. They are brushed with sweet sauce during cooking and once done, garnished with bonito, seaweed flakes and ginger.

More of a snack, Takoyaki could still be a meal in itself since they are always sold in packs. Nowadays, there are also tens of varieties from using different fillings (pork, cheese etc), or from different cooking styles (brushed with Chinese sesame oil, etc). Found all over Japan, and an assured sight at outdoor festivities, this is a quick, delicious bite while enjoying the sights of Japan. It is also very popular in Izakayas, the Japanese version of small pubs.

3. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

Okonomiyaki translates roughly to “grill as you like it.” Think of it as a savoury pancake made with wheat-based batter, and filled with cabbages, pickles, meat or seafood.

There are two ways to enjoy Okonomiyaki. You could buy a ready-made one at roadside stalls or supermarkets. Or you could go to an Okonomiyaki restaurant. In the case of the latter, you are given the batter and ingredients and you cook it yourself over a hot plate, thus making it an ideal dining experience when with friends. For first timers, it might get a bit confusing in an Okonomiyaki restaurant. Some menus items have names that do not explain themselves. Just ask for help if that happens. Japanese restaurants are legendary for their immaculate customer service.

4. Don (丼)

Don, or donburi, are rice bowls with toppings. These toppings could be sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, fried stuffs, or egg-battered meats. For additional flavour, the topping is usually simmered together with the rice.

Donburi is Japanese food for the masses. Quite the same way Ramen is. There are fast food chains famous for Donburi, and all Japanese family restaurants have at least a few Donburi items on the menu. Among all the variations, Oyakodon (親子丼, battered chicken and egg topping) and Gyudon (牛丼, sliced beef and onions topping) are the commonest. Typically served in large Japanese bowls, eating Donburi is a classic oriental experience. It is also a quick, cheap and convenient way to fill up.


5. Curry Rice (カレーライス)

According to documentaries, curry was incorporated into the Japanese Navy food menu after the Meiji Restoration. It quickly became popular with the nation. Till today, curry is served every Friday in the Japanese armed forces.

Japanese curry is different from its Indian parent. It tends to be (much) less spicy, as well as sweeter, thus making it suitable for kids. Like other types of Japanese food, curry is usually served with rice or noodles too. You could also add on an omelette or fried meats. Lastly, some restaurants offer the option of varying the spiciness level. You could have it blazingly hot, or just mildly flavourful.

written by Cedric Yong

Understanding the Economic Impact of the Housing Market

How important is the housing market to the economy? The collapse of the housing bubble revealed a human tragedy beyond families losing their homes. Empty houses create blight in formerly vibrant neighborhoods. This also inhibits mobility and career prospects in an already tight job market.

  • Decent shelter is a basic human need. An economy that cannot sustain a viable housing market that provides affordable shelter for all of its citizens is an economy in trouble.

    In the past, the strength of the housing market fueled American job growth. By contrast, the continued depressed sales climate of the post housing bubble era has had a detrimental impact on employment. The ongoing foreclosure crisis has been matched by stubbornly high unemployment rates. The two are closely bound to one another, even beyond the obvious connection of job loss making it difficult or impossible for families and individuals to keep up with their mortgages

    The problem can be especially acute for young families who relocated far from the city center to find single-family detached houses they could afford. Many of these families have been unpleasantly surprised by the impact that paying for automobile maintenance, parking and gas, not to mention the time spent commuting to and from work, has had on the affordability of their homes and on their overall quality of life. Add a job loss to the picture, and the prospect of being literally stranded in one’s own home becomes a real possibility if the budget won’t stretch far enough to continue to use the car for anything but basic necessities, if that.

     People who would be willing to relocate either locally or long distance for improved career prospects often cannot do so. If they own a home, they may be unable to sell, or may be trapped in an “underwater mortgage,” a house whose value has shrunk below the price they’re paying for it. There are also roadblocks to would-be buyers. In the economic environment that followed the collapse of the housing bubble, credit has tightened and remains restricted, especially for would-be buyers with marginal or poor credit or for those who cannot raise a 20 percent down payment
  • Housing, Building and Real Estate

    New House Construction With Romantic Flourishes and Details, Curved Windows, Dormers, Eagle Wind Vane, North Matthews Beach, Sand Point Way Uplands, Seattle, Washington, USA -- Wonderlane

    Building a new home or rental complex requires an army of workers, not only contractors and construction workers, but also specialist contractors for garden window lowes, carpet layers, plumbers, electricians and other building-related skilled workers. On average, the construction of each single family home accounts for three new jobs, $90,000 in federal, state and local tax revenue, $145,000 in wage income and $86,000 in net business income, according to David Crowe, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders, quoted on the U.S. Building Digest website.

    The collapse of the housing bubble resulted initially resulted in a glut of housing stock and a precipitous fall in housing prices. Prices have begun to recover, but in fits and starts. In October 2010, housing prices fell actually 1.3 percent, in 20 metropolitan areas nationwide, according to AOL News, quoting figures from the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index. Despite the “correction” in home prices, demand remains weak. Although there has been some recovery, especially in the “starter” home market, it’s unlikely that demand or new home construction will ever return to the levels reached at the height of the housing boom, at least partially an affect of tight credit and continued weak job growth.

    This is bad news for workers in the building trades, many of whom considered themselves recession proof, secure in the belief that there would always be a market for their work, because people would always need basic housing-related work done, such as roof repair or replacement plumbing.

    What they didn’t count on was the protracted recession that forced families to put off essential work along with extravagant home improvement projects such as outfitting an entirely new kitchen, according to Mark Crovelli, a writer in the building trades.

    No one understands how important the housing market is for a healthy economy better than those professionals who match properties with buyers. Real estate agents increasingly face the necessity of branching into related work such as property management or handling rental properties in order to survive professionally and financially. Like others in finance-related industries, real estate agents must maintain high credit ratings or risk being disqualified for future positions.

    Housing, Transportation and Mobility

    Silicon Valley Highway 101 Traffic Hell -- Richard Masoner

    Housing and transportation relate to each other in ways that are both obvious and hidden. Transportation is the second largest household expense for most families, exceeded only by costs directly involved with housing. When the two expenses are added together, a threshold of 45 percent of total household income can be considered to be “affordable,” according to the H+T Affordability Index, developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Many families spend far more than that — only 40 percent of all American communities are affordable to working American families under the H+T Affordability Index guidelines.

    These dire figures are mitigated somewhat in compact, sustainable communities with ample access to public transportation, which is not the case in poor neighborhoods in many urban areas, where residents are stranded in areas lacking basic services such as grocery stores and banks. Well-paid jobs require skills many do not have. Those who are qualified must often navigate awkward commutes with multiple transfers, if the companies are accessible by public transportation at all.

    In many communities, suburban sprawl results in commuting times measured in hours. This is by design. The suburbs were intended to be a haven from the ills of the city, including poverty. Wear and tear on a car and the headaches associated with long commutes were accepted as part of the trade off.

    Any headache involved with driving to work becomes a chronic migraine when there is little or no money coming into the household due to job loss. Not only do many suburbs have little or no public transportation, safety net programs are often scant or non existent. Moreover, more than one-third of nonprofit agencies have cut staff in recent years due to reduced grant funding; 20 percent have cut services. At the same time, suburban poverty rates increased 37.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, to 13.7 million, contrasted with 12.1 million poor people living in cities, according to The Economist, quoting reports from the Brookings Institution

  • Continued plummeting house prices have left some people trapped in an area, decreasing their ability to move to find a better living and increasing their cost of living. People who would otherwise move to attempt to find work are stuck because they own houses they can’t sell or that are worth less than their mortgages. The housing crisis has caused a decrease in the step-up housing market, which perpetuates the housing surplus and further depresses prices. The phenomenon of underwater mortgages, homes worth less than what the homeowners owe, also illustrates the importance of the housing market to the economy. As of 2009, 17 percent of all foreclosures were strategic — the homeowner deliberately planned a strategy to walk away from the mortgage. A whole industry has evolved to provide guidance through the process. At the other extreme, modern day Hoovervilles — tent cities of homeless people adversely affected by the recession and the housing crisis — have sprung up in urban areas across the country. They are increasingly tolerated, as shelter beds are full with long waiting lists.

    Moreover, many suburban residents, as well as homeowners nationwide, are often hampered by moving because they are stuck with houses they cannot sell or which are worth less than the mortgages they are carrying. The problem is compounded because areas with declining housing market value are often also plagued with high unemployment rates, according to The Economist.

    The housing slump and lack of job opportunity both contributed in a nationwide decline in mobility to 35.2 million between March 2007 and March 2008. This represents a figure lower than at any time since 1962, when 120 million fewer people lived in the United States, according to The New York Times. If the trend continues, the result could be a structural shift in the employment picture that prevents workers from relocating to areas with plentiful jobs where they can fully utilize their skills, leading to an increase in chronic unemployment and underemployment, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

    Foreclosures, Underwater Mortgages and Tent Cities

    Foreclosure, Financial Crisis and Homelessness -- Andrew CiscelAs of 2011, foreclosure rates were beginning to show a downward trend, reaching a 36-month low in February 2011 of some 225,101 U.S. properties. This figure represented a 14 percent decrease from January 2011 and a year on year decrease of 27 percent from February 2010, according to RealityTrac. Nonetheless, 1 of every 577 housing units in the United States is involved in some stage of foreclosure. Many foreclosures are the result of underwater mortgages. In 2009, nearly 23 percent of homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, according to CNN Money.

    Underwater mortgages illustrate how important the housing market is to the economy. Homeowners trapped by underwater mortgages often find it impossible to refinance their homes and are more prone to foreclosure. Even homeowners who would otherwise be in the market to trade their present homes for larger living spaces are often tied down by underwater mortgages. In 2009, the percentage of move-up buyers dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent of the market, according to USA Today, quoting figures from the National Association of Realtors. Without move-up home buyers, the oversupply of larger, more expensive homes will continue to drive down home prices across the board, further slowing the recovery of the housing market.

    Some homeowners stuck with underwater mortgages who are unable or unwilling to sell their homes through a short sale have decided to solve their dilemma through a strategic default on their mortgages — simply walking away, even when they can afford to continue making payments. In 2008, 17 percent of all mortgage defaults were strategic, according to NPR, quoting figures by Experian-Oliver Wyman. Homeowners who decide to undergo a strategic default are often guided through the process by companies such as

    At the other extreme are people at the very end of their financial rope — pushed out by foreclosures into homelessness. Tent cities began proliferating around urban areas along with the increase in foreclosures. These modern-day Hoovervilles are increasingly tolerated by cities hard hit by the housing crisis and high unemployment. With shelter beds at a premium before the recession began, many cities see no other way to absorb growing numbers of newly-homeless households, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    This is the reality of how the housing bubble has affected the economy. Time will tell whether the dropping prices will encourage more buyers and more growth in this important industry, setting us back on the road to recovery.


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    Photo Credits:

written by: Audrey F. Henderson

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham, also simply known as Nottingham, is regarded as a public research learning institution. It was founded in 1881. During that time, it was named as the University College Nottingham. In 1948, it was awarded with a Royal Charter. The main campus and the teaching hospital are situated along the outskirts of Nottingham City. The entire location also includes some smaller campuses and other sites located in Lincoln, Derbyshire, Derby, and Nottinghamshire. It even has campuses in other countries. Some of the other locations include Ningbo, China and Semenyih, Malaysia.
The University is organised to give different constituent faculties. Within all of these groups are more than fifty research centres, institutes, departments, and schools. Most of the university’s income during 2014 and 2015 came from research contracts and grants.
This University is an achiever in terms of multiple areas of scrutiny. For one, there are numerous subjects that are unique to this university that have been ranked high consistently. Most of these subjects came from the fields of pharmacy, law, and economics. In the United Kingdom, this learning institution ranks fifth, as far as the number of students is concerned. It is not merely in population that they dominate the learning field. As for the students’ grade proportions, they rank 15th. In other words, a significant number of students who attend classes in this university have achieved grades of AAB+ at A-level or even better.
There are various other factors that make Nottingham one of the 12 elite universities in England. The 2014 surveys expressed that this university is considered as one of the most targeted institutions, as far as the top employers of the United Kingdom are concerned. On the other hand, the university was ranked 13th in 2012 because of the massive number of its alumni listed as the CEOs of Fortune Global 500. Aside from these, it was ranked second with Oxford during the Summer Olympics of 2012 as among the British medal winners. In terms of entrepreneurship, it was the 9th largest group to produce the professionals.
Sustainability is also a good aspect of Nottingham as it ranked high in 2011 and 2014. At the moment, the University of Nottingham is a member of various groups like the Sutton Trust Summer programme, Universitas 21, Russell Group, Universities UK, European University Association, Virgo Consortium, and Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg

Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg, also known as the Heidelberg University or simply Heidelberg, is currently a type of public research university. It was founded in 1386. Thus, this may be considered as the oldest university located in contemporary Germany. In fact, it may as well be considered as one of the oldest universities found in Central Europe. This is also the third learning institution that the Holy Roman Empire established back then. As early as 1899, this university has been viewed as a coeducational institution.

At present, this learning ground already has at least twelve faculties and various programmes for postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate levels for as much as 100 disciplines. Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg is a German Excellence University. It is also a founding member of Coimbra Group and League of European Research Universities. The main medium of communication in this university is the German language.

Rupert I, Elector Palatine is the one responsible for establishing the university. It was established when Heidelberg was still the capital in Electoral Palatinate. This consequently served as the centre for law experts and theologians from different parts of the Holy Roman Empire. When the Thirty Years’ War eventually declined, so did the matriculation rates in this university. This eventually led to a financial crisis. Until the early parts of the 19th century, Heidelberg University struggled in terms of intellectual and fiscal aspects.

After that, this university served as one of the role models for implementing graduate schools situated in American universities. However, in the process, this learning institution lost a significant number of dissident professors. It was even marked as one of the NSDAP universities during Nazi era. This was around the years 1933 to 1945. In the 1970s, after the Second World War, it has undergone a wide range denazification. During this period, this also served as one of the most important scenes, as far as the students’’ left wing protests in Germany are concerned.

As soon as the crisis has cleared, the Heidelberg faculty introduced numerous scientific disciplines. Some of these include modern sociology, environmental physics, psychiatric genetics, psychopharmacology, and modern scientific psychiatry.

This university highly focuses on research. Because of this, the learning institution has been closely linked to at least 56 Nobel Prize laureates. Aside from that, it is ranked consistently as one of the top overall universities in Europe. It is even regarded as an international venue for educational doctoral students. Every year, the successfully completed doctorates shoot up to as many as 1,000 per year. More than 1/3 of these doctoral students come from other countries. International students who came from around 130 countries comprise approximately 20 percent of the whole student body.

Heidelberg University has two different campuses. One of these is located in Old Town. On the other hand, the second one is situated in Neuenheimer Feld quarter. The latter is located on the city outskirts. There are various notable people who graduated from this university. Some of these include eleven foreign and domestic Heads of Government or State.