Monthly Archives

September 2013

News in Brief – 16th September Issue

By London Student, National News, News In Brief

London Student Header

Student Loans Company makes fortune from calls

Over a million pounds in revenue was raised by the Student Loans Company (SLC) from 0845 numbers over the last five years. The numbers can charge up to 41p a minute from mobiles, leaving some students and graduates out of pocket. The SLC has attempted to justify the money made by claiming that the charges lessen the impact on public finances.

College drops burka ban after outrage

Birmingham Metropolitan College scrapped a ban on Muslim face veils last Thursday, less than twenty-four hours before a planned demonstration. The U-turn came after a petition opposing the ban received over eight thousand signatures in two days. The college said it needed to introduce the ban “to be able to confirm an individual’s identity in order to maintain safeguarding and security”.

Oxford Union cancels EDL founder’s invite

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson has had his invitation to speak at the Oxford Union cancelled after the claimed that ‘security’ costs to host him could not be covered. The Union has a reputation for inviting controversial speakers, though current president Tom Rutland welcomed the decision stating: “There is no value in inviting or hosting hate speakers in the name of ‘free speech’ when they themselves do not believe in free speech nor a free society”.

Students form credit union

Undergraduates at the University of Northampton have set up a joint initiative with the town’s Credit Union to form the first credit union for students. The new organisation, which offers financial services such as savings account and loans to students, is intended as an alternative to short-term payday loan firms.

250 lose out on York accommodation

The University of York has forced 250 undergraduate freshers to look for off-campus accommodation, after previously guaranteeing them spaces at their halls of residence. The university has offered free bus passes to the students who have branded staff as “rude” and “sarcastic”. Incoming student Abi Creak said a staff member told her to “get a mug of vodka”. She commented “how’s a mug of vodka going to help when I have no house?”.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)

London universities perform well in QS World Rankings

By London Student, University of London News

Senate House Entrance

Four London universities have been placed in the top one hundred of the 2013 QS World Rankings. The new list, released on 10th September, showed University College London and Imperial College placed in the top ten, both above the University of Oxford. UCL came in fourth place and Imperial in fifth, followed by Oxford in sixth place. The table saw King’s College, London edge into the top 20 for the first time. The London School of Economics was moved up one place to 68th in the rankings. Queen Mary moved up 32 places to 115th. Other UK universities which made the cut were the University of Cambridge, which came in 3rd place, the University of Edinburgh, in 17th place, Bristol in 30th and Manchester in 33rd.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)

University attempts to ban protest on campus

By London Student, University of London News
3Cosas Arrest

Chalker Arrest outside ULU

The University of London declared restrictions on protests on its campus, following the prosecution of a student protesting in support of outsource University workers as part of the 3Cosas campaign.

A letter sent by the University’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Cobb, to University of London Union (ULU) president Michael Chessum stated that management is “no longer willing to tolerate demonstrations” on parts of its campus, including Senate House, the administrative centre of the University.

The letter continued that if these restrictions were ignored, the university would consider protesters to be trespassing and take “necessary legal measures to prevent and prosecute such trespass”.

It also claimed that 3Cosas protests, which call for pensions, sick and holiday pay for outsourced staff on the same terms as directly employed staff, intimidated and frustrated students, staff and visitors using Senate House.

The warning was sent following police officers being called onto campus after a University of London student wrote “sick pay, holidays, pensions now” in chalk on the Senate House foundation stone.

Police arrested the student on one charge of criminal damage and two of assaulting a police officer on 16th July.

In a preliminary hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court last month, the 24-year-old denied causing criminal damage in excess of £600. She also denied assaulting an officer inside ULU and another on Malet Street.

The maximum penalty for assaulting an officer is six months’ imprisonment, whilst the maximum penalty for criminal damage in this case is three months’ imprisonment.

The student represented herself at the hearing, claiming that her legal aid had not come through in time. Outside the court demonstrators protested the charges.

Daniel Cooper, ULU’s vice- president, claimed that there were around forty demonstrators. Following the proceedings, he said: “I am disappointed the case wasn’t thrown out, but it was expected”. He also reiterated ULU’s earlier stance that “the university must issue an apology, and intervene with the authorities”.

ULU described her arrest as “a disgrace”. It added: “Chalk can be washed off – that is the whole point of chalk”.

Following the hearing, the student was granted bail and will face trial on 17th October at Tottenham Magistrates’ Court.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)

Queen Mary Students' Union overrules members on sports team merger

By London Student, University of London News

Queen Mary Students’ Union’s Board of Trustees has overruled a vote at its Annual Members’ Meeting to keep the sports teams of the college and its medical school separate.

Members voted in favour of Queen Mary and Barts and The London continuing to compete separately in British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) competitions in February. However, the trustees decided in June that the two will compete as a “single entity” under the name “Queen Mary (Barts and The London Medics)” from 2013/14 onwards.

Their decision follows a BUCS review which decided to prevent medical students competing for both their medical school and parent university.

Keeping the teams at Queen Mary separate would make fielding women’s rugby and basketball teams impossible according to Kayah Abdulmajed, the incoming Mile End sports officer. In the context of the union’s Diversity and Equality Policy, the trustees ruled that this would be unacceptable.

But Andrew Smith, the outgoing vice-president of the Barts and The London Student Association (BLSA), called for a delay on overriding the members’ vote until a “more objective review” took place.

He said keeping the teams separate “preserves the identity and heritage of both institutions.”

Sarah Sawar, the incoming union president, disagreed and supported the trustees’ decision. She said: “We have individuality across the campuses and that is something special, but that does not mean that we are separate.”

Michael Woods, president of Queen Mary’s men’s rugby, told QMessenger: “We fail to understand why BUCS have felt the need to enforce change when we feel there was no problem with the previous system”.

Eleanor Matthews, president of Queen Mary’s women’s rugby, voiced support for the trustees’ decision. She told the newspaper that “the other option would have completely devastated mine and several other sports club.”

Ivy Lim, from Queen Mary’s women’s basketball team, shared this view. She said that had the teams remained separate, “in terms of club development, our good work from the past three years would’ve been in jeopardy”.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)

Struggle for ULU legacy

By London Student, University of London News

Representatives from London’s students’ unions are at odds with the National Union of Students (NUS) over what should replace the University of London Union (ULU).

Following a University of London Council vote to shut ULU in May, sabbatical officers from unions in London met in July and founded the London Union of Students (LUS). It elected an eleven-member executive committee, with two of those members from unions outside the University of London.

The intention of the LUS’s founders is that, in the likely absence of ULU, it will be a union in the full-blooded sense, with democratically elected full-time officers.

ULU’s press release announcing the new union also said: “It is possible that LUS could lay claim as successor to ULU’s headquarters on Malet Street”.

The NUS held a rival meeting this month, proposing NUS London – an organisation that would be “democratic in nature” but lack full-time officers.

The proposal, made at a meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC), also made no mention of ULU’s headquarters.

A London union source described the NUS’s proposal as “watered down”, suggesting the NUS was reluctant to support a full union because it would be dominated by the left.

Michael Chessum, president of ULU and a member of the LUS’s executive committee, pointed out areas where he disagreed with the NUS plan.

He said: “The relationship between the new pan-London structure and ULU and its building is not yet formally established… There is also not yet a consensus on exactly what kind of presence full-time elected officers should have in the new structure”.

The proposed NUS London body claims to be “politically autonomous” and will act as “a legitimate voice” for London’s students. There will be an attempt to merge the two proposals when the NEC votes on an amendment tomorrow.

Adrian Polglase & James Burley, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)

Funding fears for Australian research

By International News, London Student

It is feared that humanities and social sciences in Australia could lose significant funding following the recent change of federal government.

The Liberal-National Coalition led by former Rhodes scholar Tony Abbott, who recently won the country’s general election, said it would carry out an audit of what it described as “increasingly ridiculous research grants” funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Coalition figures gave four examples of “ridiculous projects, including a Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology study looking into how public art could allow people to adapt to climate change and an ARC project examining the meaning of “I” through the study of 18th and 19th century German existentialists.

The coalition proposed to “reprioritise” A$103m (£60m) of ARC funding to where it is “really needed”. They have also declined to reverse Labor’s A$2.3bn (£1.3bn) cut to higher education.

Academics in the humanities faculty at the University of Adelaide were warned via email not to speak to the media about the cuts.

The email, sent by two heads of school and an executive dean, warned that there was a “very real potential to undermine the faculty’s capacity to attract new students” if the media highlighted the cuts. It continued by saying lower enrolments would “make matters worse”.

The Australian reported that the university denied there would be any course cuts and that in fact new courses would be introduced.

However, several academics claimed proposals for new courses had been declined and that there appeared to be a clear “climate of cutting” in the faculty.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)