Tom King, BA Politics
London Student risks closure after the University of London (UoL) turned down a bid to continue funding the paper earlier this week.
The University’s Collegiate Council rejected an application for £54,000 to allow the paper to continue printing for the next academic year while alternative funding sources could be established. The move follows the decision to remove funding from ULU from next month, but the Union had hoped to be able to persuade Vice-Chancellors to maintain funding for London Student.
‘widely read and highly visible’
The review of ULU, chaired by SOAS Director Paul Webley, made no mention of the future of London Student but acknowledged that it “appear[ed] to be widely read and highly visible”. Speaking to The SOAS Spirit last year, Webley said he expected student activities which “are genuinely and distinctively…pan-London things” to continue to receive support from UoL after ULU’s closure, but didn’t specifically reference the paper.
ULU has published a paper since the 1920s; with London Student, which was founded in 1979, preceded by Sennet, which dates back to at least 1954.
Responding to the decision, ULU President Michael Chessum said “The University of London is engaged in an act of vandalism against organisations and activities that have taken students decades to build up. It costs peanuts to fund London Student, and it is profoundly sad that Vice Chancellors will not put forward funding for a vital source of community, news and scrutiny – but then of course, why would they?”
Over the past year, the paper has given extensive coverage to the campaign to prevent ULU’s closure, to the dispute between UoL and cleaning staff and revealed widespread staff opposition to University plans to partner with business to deliver services.
Oscar Webb, London Student Editor, said “London Student has been a necessary and valuable asset to the University for the past 60 years. As we’ve seen recently with the examples of the Garden Halls and some of the special collections, the current management at UoL seem intent on selling-off this legacy.”
‘not in the remit of the university’
The University said “With the closure of ULU, funding ceased last year. The university does not fund the London Student because of this, as the funding came from ULU. Therefore, the future of the London Student is in the hands of the student body. If the students can find the funding and the time then the publication can continue, but that is not in the remit of the university.”