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NUS President Liam Burns on Student Activism as the future of campaigning ...and other opinions in our Comment section - pages 9-14




In this special features issue, Ingrida Kerusauskite and Dougal Wallace present a range of student images - page 15

As well as science, entrepreneurship and academia news, Community speaks to the editor of Forgotten Letters

The FIFA chief is again in the headlines for the wrong reasons, this time for alleging there isn’t a problem with racism in football

Careers Special

The Science of Christmas


Sepp Blatter in racism gaff

- page 31

Play brings you all the latest reviews, interviews and previews from the world of culture.

Woolf’s damaging report asks further questions of the “Libyan School of Economics”


Lord Woolf finds “shortcomings in the governance structure and management”


LSE SU General Secretary says the School “lost its way”as Interim Director calls for LSE to “move on from this unhappy chapter”

Writers Toby Youell UCL

News Editor Bassam Gergi The recently-released Woolf Report overshadowed the LSE’s announcement of a new Director of School, as problems from the last regime threatened to spill over into the next period of the School’s history. The report, commissioned following the sudden resignation of Director Sir Howard Davies over his links to Libya, was released on Wednesday 30 November. The 188-page report documents the beginnings and gradual expansion of links between the LSE and the Gaddafi government. It starts with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s first failed a2empt to a2end the institution in 2001 and proceeds all the way to Colonel Gaddafi’s lecture by video-link in December 2010. Professor Judith Rees, interim Director of the LSE, described the report as “forensic” but also admits in an interview released to alumni that “The report is very painful. It shows a catalogue of errors and misjudge-

Lord Woolf. Image courtesy of The Beaver

ments.” Rees pledged to implement the 15 policy recommendations proposed by Lord Woolf so that the new Director, Craig Calhoun, can start his tenure with a “clean slate.” And yet, the manner of the release and the refusal by the University of London to publicly publish their report has raised concerns about the extent to which it will allow the LSE to “move on from this unhappy chapter,” as said by Professor Rees. The Woolf Inquiry was launched last March to “establish the full facts of the School’s links to Libya.” Over the ensuing nine months, Lord Woolf

ULU elections under way as AGM is rescheduled. Writer Hesham Zakai Editor

Nominations for the University of London Union elections opened at the close of an Annual General Meeting (AGM) which had to be

rescheduled as it was not quorum. The AGM will now take place at 6pm on Thursday December 8. The ULU elections are held annually and will determine who the next President, Vice-President, London Student Editor and Student Trustees are for the 2012/2013 academic year.

conducted interviews and reviewed appropriate documents in order to provide possible recommendations to LSE Council “as soon as possible.” Lord Woolf submi2ed the report with his recommendations on the 17th October and according to an LSE spokesperson it was then placed “in a safe” until its publication on the 30th November. The same spokesperson explained that this date was chosen for two reasons: (1) that it allowed the University of London to complete their investigation into the authenticity of Saif’s thesis and (2) it was also the day when all ULU 2011/2012 Election Timetable Dec 1 Nominations open Jan 20 Nominations close Jan 24 Candidates’ meeting Jan 31 Official hustings Feb 2 President and Vice President extra hustings Feb 2 Voting opens at 6pm Feb 9 Voting closes at 6pm Feb 10 Results announced

All University of London students who have not chosen to opt-out of

the members of LSE’s governing Council were present. Despite the UoL Inquiry supposedly being the principal reason for delaying the release of the Woolf Report, the University of London has chosen not to publish its report, citing the Data Protection Act. The London Student asked a spokesperson for the University of London why they felt it necessary to publish the documents in tandem if one was to not be made available to the public? He responded that it “is entirely up to the LSE how they deal with the Woolf Report.” ULU are eligible to stand and vote at the ULU elections. Information will be sent out to students via their College email accounts over the coming weeks and will also be updated via the ULU website. The President, Vice-President and London Student editor positions are all sabbatical positions that last for one year, whilst the Student Trustees carry out their duties part-time alongside their studies.

As previously mentioned, the Woolf Report was released on Wednesday, November 30th at 4pm; nearly one-month-and-a-half a1er it was completed and submi2ed. This date is also notable because it coincides with the largest UK public sector strike in 30 years, accompanied by mass student protests. These events dominated that night’s news coverage. Responding to questions over the strategic nature of the release, an LSE spokesperson admi2ed that “it makes a great conspiracy theory” but was adamant that this was not the true rationale. Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary of LSE’s Students’ Union, conceded that the Press Department may be “strategic” but argued that nonetheless a broader culture change is taking place. Peters-Day emphasised the School’s Fabian heritage and explained that the LSE had merely “lost its way.” She launched her “The Only Way Is Ethics Campaign” in response to this, and she is working to convince the University to divest from questionable sources of funding and to ensure transparency by publishing donations online in future. PetersDay believes the LSE is at a fork in the road and she is optimistic about the direction the School is going in. In an interview, she told the London Student that “they’re not making any excuses at the Council.” Continued on p. 4

The AGM will take place in the Upper Hall (ULU) at 6pm on December 8



As the semester draws to a close, London Student will be holding an Open Assembly which all University of London students are invited to a*end. Students are welcome to submit motions to be discussed at the Assembly, by emailing them to Following the Assembly, there will be a Christmas party (you can a*end just one or both of the events), so please come along and bring your festive cheer!

Editorial team LONDON STUDENT Malet Street ULU WC1E 7HY 02076 642054

Editor Hesham Zakai


News Editors Hattie Williams Toby Thomas Bassam Gergi

Comment Editors Rosa Wild Tom Chambers Abubakr Al-shamahi Features Editors Amy Bowles Ingrida Kerusauskaite

LS strives to be green, which is why our paper is printed on 100% recycled paper and all copies le) over are recycled by our distributors. But you can do your bit too by recycling your copy once you're finished. For all things environmental, as well as the challenge behind the logo, see Ben Parfi's Green Column on p.21

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Community Editor Victoria Yates Science Editors Harriet Jarlett Rachel Mundy

Academia Editor Valeriya Nefyodova

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London Loves Jessica Broadbent

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Jamie Stone and Patrice Dorris with their copy of London Student at the University of London Union. Jamie and Patrice were collecting money on World Aids Day for a HIV charity called The Food Chain.



KCL to open new Russia Institute in 2013 Writer Hattie Williams News Editor King’s College London is to establish a new institute for the study of contemporary Russia in 2013 to investigate how Russia and neighbouring states operate and form links with London's Russian population. The centre will join the university’s Global Institutes: a series of departments dedicated to charting the rise of emerging cultural, economic and political powers of the twenty-first century. King’s India Institute opened in September, following the Brazil and China establishments set up in 2008. The India Institute announced last week its acceptance of a £3.5m donation from the Indian business conglomerate Avantha Group. Gautam Thapar, chairman and CEO of Avantha, said in a statement: “It is vital for India to develop new tools, strategies and outlook in its dealings with the international community.” The Russia Institute will seek similar sponsorship from Russian businesses. Dr Marat Shterin, a King’s Lecturer in Religion, Society and Politics, and one of those who helped to establish the centre, said that such partnerships would allow the College to “share our moral values and academic principles.” Specific MA and PhD programmes will be launched looking at the northern Caucasus, Siberia and the Russian Far East. These programmes are set to promote a close relationship with London's expatriate Russian population. The establishment will differ from

traditional academic approaches due to its emphasis on contemporary Russia, rather the country's history or literature. “London is now home to tens of thousands of Russians and, more generally, Russian-speaking people, many of whom are highly successful professionals in business, arts, academia, and other walks of life. The institute will be a natural intellectual home for these people and will provide a forum for exchanging views and developing new ideas and projects,” said Shterin. According to the KCL website, the mission of the new Russia Institute will be to “promote, underProfessor Keith “ I am delighted that the Hoggart College has approved the creation of a Russia Institute. With a Russia Institute in existence, the College is increasing its capabilities to provide world-leading investigative insights on how the BRIC economies, which will be cultural, economic and political powerhouses for the twenty-first century.”

take and coordinate interdisciplinary, balanced and cutting-edge studies of how Russian society functions and on the country’s place and impact in global affairs.” Students will be able to combine Russia-focused modules with other subjects like medicine and law, along with those provided in

King’s College London, Strand Campus courtyard

the university’s other global institutes. Rick Trainor, the King's College principal, said: "Although we're providing a historical perspective to these students, we're concentrating on the economy, society, politics and international relations

LSE appoints social scientist as new Director

Writer Bassam Gergi News Editor

The London School of Economics has appointed Professor Calhoun, a world-renowned social scientist and Professor at New York University to be the School’s new Director. Calhoun will take up the post on 1 September 2012, allowing time for the LSE to implement the recommendations of the Woolf Report before he assumes control. Interim Director, Professor Judith Rees, said in a video to faculty and students that it is her hope that Calhoun will be presented with “a clean slate.” The appointment comes eight months after Sir Howard Davies, former Director, resigned amidst allegations of impropriety in his relationship with the Libyan government. Peter Sutherland, Chairman of

Professor Craig Calhoun to be new Director of the LSE

LSE's Court of Governors, said: "Craig is an outstanding appointment – an intellectual completely at ease in public life whose career shows how academia is not aloof from society but embedded in it. "He is also a vastly experienced leader of academic organisations, finding new ways of drawing out their inherent strengths and bringing their expertise to bear on society. I have no doubt LSE will thrive under his leadership."

Shortly following his appointment, it was reported by The Beaver that Calhoun met with Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary of the LSE’s Students’ Union. Peters-Day is quoted as having said that Calhoun “is very interested in the student experience. He was keen to speak about the improvements that can be made and how he can help improve student satisfaction. We spoke at length on improvements that could be made to teaching and learning. He seemed very concerned about what students are worried about.” Calhoun began his student life as an anthropologist and is the author of several books. Describing his own approach to academic work, he says: "We must set high standards for ourselves, but in order to inform the public well, not to isolate ourselves from it." The appointment was made following an open competition by a selection panel which included members of LSE's faculty, student body and governors.

Photo by Paul Grundy

aspects of these countries, which in the past I think have been too little understood in the UK, in terms of the new identity and the new roles in the world that they're playing. "So for Russia, for example, during the Cold War, there was a huge

amount of attention on Russia as a superpower. There is rather less attention on the new Russia, which has a different competitive position in the world and is playing a very different role in it." Professor Keith Hoggart, VicePrincipal of External Relations at King’s, added: “I am delighted that the College has approved the creation of a Russia Institute. There are already a variety of Russian interests at King’s, which the formation of a Russia Institute should give greater prominence to, as well as providing a focal point for strengthening the College’s expertise and activities that are Russiacentred.” Hoggart continued: “With a Russia Institute in existence, the College is increasing its capabilities to provide world-leading investigative insights on how the BRIC economies, which will be cultural, economic and political powerhouses for the twenty-first century, are helping forge a new global hegemony. Along with King’s Brazil, China and India Institutes, the new Russia Institute will aid understanding in a comparative sense of how the BRIC economies are becoming ever more important on the world stage, so including Russia is critical to providing that comparative framework.” King’s location in central London will provide the new Russia Institute with unique access to the intellectual, policy and cultural resources available in the UK and in Europe, while building a dependable profile in Russia. The College is in the process of hiring a Director to lead the Institute. Other appointments will follow in 2012 ahead of the formal opening in 2013.

Foreign students feel unwelcome in UK

Writer Toby Thomas News Editor

An extensive survey has revealed that 1 in 5 overseas students believe the UK no longer welcomes them. In the wake of the findings the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), which surveyed over 5,000 students from across the world, has called on the government to review its student visa process. It is thought Home Secretary Theresa May will target students from countries outside of the European Union to reduce net migration from its current level of 252,000 to her target of below 100,000. Commenting on the survey Dominic Sco4, the chief executive of UKCISA, said: “Given the UK’s relentless focus on net migration, immigration abuse and student visas, recently played out in the media around the world, it is not surprising that even amongst those who have chosen to come this year there are concerns about whether the UK continues to be one of the most at-

tractive destinations for well qualified students.” However, new figures seen by London Student suggest that anti-migration rhetoric has failed to dampen demand at some of London’s top universities. 39% of the LSE’s undergraduates and 50% of its postgraduates for the 2011/12 academic year are from Britain or Europe. This compares to 38% of its undergraduates and 51% of its postgraduates last year. Meanwhile, a UCL spokesperson said that although no figures have yet been calculated, early indications point to a marginal increase in the numbers of non-EU students. Earlier this year, the Home Affairs select commi4ee warned the government that they stood to lose £3.6bn a year from limiting visas. The changes to the visa system, which were announced earlier this year, include tightening up the rules surrounding sponsorship and tightening up English language tests. UKCISA claims foreign students contribute over £10bn to the economy.



“Libyan School of Economics” Writers Toby Youell UCL

News Editor Bassam Gergi Continued from page 1

Other students and members of faculty interviewed did not seem to share Peters-Day’s sense of optimism. When asked about the problems posed by the Libya-debacle John Sidel, a Professor in the LSE International Relations Department said, “The problem is structural and deeply embedded in the culture of the School.” He went on to say that “I only hope that the Woolf Report and other ongoing discussions and initiatives at the LSE will lead to a strengthening of the integrity and independence of academic research at the School and to greater self-consciousness, self-confidence, and self-criticism in the School's dealings with external donors.” Interviewed the day after the Woolf Report was released, students on campus seemed largely unconcerned with the extent of the links between the LSE and Libya. Wee Jun Kai, student in the Economics and Management Department did not think the Inquiry would shock many people. He told the London Student that “Gaddafi is dead and the regime is gone.” In his view, being a global institution means that “sometimes you step on people’s toes.” He went on to say that, “being active [on the world stage] is better than not risking it.” Neither was he concerned about a strategic press plan to downplay the report: “if it’s true it’s a smart thing to do.” Many of his views were shared by Lola Jemibowon, student of Political Economy. She dismissed claims that the School’s reputation had been damaged by the whole

Prof. David Held

Sir Howard Davies

Prof. Mary Kaldor

Prof. Judith Rees

Saif Gaddafi

Prof. Fred Halliday

Lukas Slothuus “LSE acted as a front for British foreign policy, not as a university...We demand that LSE gives full transparency in its financial dealings.”

affair, saying that “it doesn’t [damage its reputation] too much in the long run.” Another student, Charlie, said that the impact of the report will be “pretty horrible” before going on to say that it amounts to “a slap in the face for the academic reputation of the LSE, especially as he [Saif] was rejected from Oxford.” Woolf Report Findings The Woolf Report included new revelations, confirmed some suspicions and documented much of what was already known. Lord Woolf’s central conclusion is that “there were shortcomings in the governance structure and management at the LSE.” He split the ramifications of these shortcomings into three categories, Saif’s time at LSE, donations made to LSE, incidental links between Libya and LSE. It was released that Saif origi-

nally applied to study at Oxford in 2002. His application was rejected because “his prior degree did not meet the requisite standard.” After subsequently being rejected by three LSE departments (Management, Government and Development), Saif was admitted into the Philosophy Department. To accomplish this he sought assistance from Professor Edward McClennen in order to construct his application. McClennen then left the LSE to take up a job on Libya’s International Committee where he advised on constitutional reform. He describes the enrolment of Saif as “a very risky gamble.” Even though Saif received the passing marks of 51 and 54 for his governance modules (the only modules he took outside of the Philosophy Department), his Master’s thesis was awarded a mark of 71. The higher thesis mark was the subject of some suspicion. Professor Mary Kaldor commented in 2003 that “although they reflect his ideas, I suspect he has had a lot of help.” According to the Woolf Report, “Saif received a degree of assistance with his academic work far beyond that which would be avail-

Birkbeck renews call for deferral on White paper reforms

Writer Hattie Williams News Editor Birkbeck University’s academic board has called for the government to suspend its higher education reforms. Last week, academics at the University of London College voted in favour of the motion to stop plans specified in this summer’s White Paper on higher education.

The motion, saying that the plans could impose “great and irreversible damage to higher education in the UK”, passed with an overwhelmingly majority. The outcome follows similar votes from academic boards at the universities of Oxford, Leeds and Bath. On November 16, the universities declared they had no confidence in David Willetts as universities and science minister. The University of Cambridge vote ended in a draw.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, welcomed the results of the vote earlier this year. She said: “The government’s plans for higher education have been a complete mess from day one.” “The delayed White Paper finally came out after universities had set their fees for 2012 and has caused complete chaos.” A spokesman for Birkbeck said: “The College acknowledges the strong feelings of the Birkbeck ac-

able to most students... Some of the assistance Saif received remained concealed from those who taught him.” At the time of writing his thesis Saif was supposedly very busy with other affairs. In one instance, he had to meet a Head of State the day before an exam so he decided to take one of his tutors, Professor Philipp Dorstewitz with him on his private jet. In the first week of December 2008, six weeks after graduating and over seven months before his graduation ceremony, Saif was asked to donate to the LSE. The agreement was signed the day after his graduation ceremony to avoid the unwritten rule that money cannot be taken from current students. The money was donated through the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Fund, a foundation which according to Lord Woolf was “undoubtedly Saif's alter ego.” Prior to the agreement between the two parties, there was much wrangling in the LSE Council as well as in the Development Committee over the probity of the gift. Saif was asked to prove that the money originated from the private sector rather than the Libyan state. Initially it was claimed that BP, British Gas and Shell donated money. This turned out to be and after the fact it was said that the money came from three undisclosed companies in Scotland, Italy and Turkey. The Council was initially hesitant to accept the money, but after Sir Howard Davies bumped into Saif Gaddafi at Davos in early 2009, Davies sent a memo to Fiona Kirk asking to move the process along quicker. Lord Woolf criticizes the LSE for not doing the necessary checks at this point. His report faults the Council for appointing Professor David Held to serve as the arbitra-

Lord Woolf

“The true source of the money which the LSE agreed to accept has never been established.”

ademic community that echo academic sentiment across the sector. It also recognises the government’s clear intention to create a level playing field for part-time students.” He added that Birkbeck, as a parttime college, had petitioned successfully for the government to address the discriminatory funding of part-time students. In 2012, part-time students will be eligible for government loans for the first time, and will not need to pay their fees in advance as they do now. “Much has been achieved, but much remains to be done”, the spokesman concluded.

tor on the evidence to be considered in accepting the donation. Held had a direct conflict of interest as he was co-Director of the Global Governance Centre which would receive the donation, in addition to the fact that he was “friend” to Saif as well as board member of Gaddafi’s Foundation. Lord Woolf concludes: “The true source of the money which the LSE agreed to accept has never been established... there is a risk that the money was to come from payments made by private companies operating in Libya seeking to gain Saif’s favour and influence the award of contracts in Libya.” One of the newest revelations is that Held was asked to leave the Board of Gaddafi’s Foundation in October 2009; however he remained on in an “advisory role”. Held was criticized by Lord Woolf as creating an “unfortunate perception.” Additional criticism was levelled at Held for possibly linking Saif’s PhD grade to Saif’s willingness to meet a business associate. In an email to Saif, Held writes, “I have been monitoring closely the progress of your PhD. [The examiner] and I have had several discussions about it and I look forward to a positive resolution. In the meantime I am writing about a very important connection I would like to make for you.” The individual who Woolf refers to as “AB” then agreed to donate £1.39m to Held’s Centre for Global Governance over five years. AB was then awarded business in Libya. The LSE also began to run a program called LSE Enterprise which was designed to train Libya’s future elite. Although no negative accusations are made, Woolf does say that indirectly, the orders which LSE-E obtained £2.2 million were dependent on Saif’s presence at the LSE. The LSE Student’s Union held a meeting on the Thursday after the release to discuss with students their feelings and opinions on where the future should lead. Lukas Slothuus, Community and Welfare Officer, said in a statement that “LSE acted as a front for British foreign policy, not as a university. It was concerned mainly with upholding and forging close relations with the Gaddafi family rather than the proper running of the university. We demand that LSE gives full transparency in its financial dealings.” The LSE Student’s Union held a meeting on the Thursday after the release of the report to discuss with students their feelings and opinions on where the future should lead. Lukas Slothuus, Community and Welfare Officer, said in a statement that “LSE acted as a front for British foreign policy, not as a university. It was concerned mainly with upholding and forging close relations with the Gaddafi family rather than the proper running of the university. c” Echoing the sentiments of the student leaders, the Woolf Report concluded, “The errors...exceed those that should have occurred in an institution of LSE’s distinction.”



Heavy turnout at SOAS to protest public sector cuts Writer Portia Roelofs

The entrance to SOAS was picketed on Wednesday November 30 by staff and students striking over pensions and public sector cuts. The strike lasted from the early morning till 5pm, growing to over 100 supporters. Dave Allen, who manned Socialist Worker stall outside the School, arrived at 8:30 to sell newspapers and talk to students. “It's been really good,” he said, “It's built up over the hours. Very few people have crossed the picket, just a handful, especially since the band arrived.” The SOAS Samba Band played on the steps to the Main Building, as students enjoyed food donated from shops in the surrounding area. Tesco flapjacks, Pret a Manger sandwiches and a whole chocolate fudge cake were offered for free, on a makeshi4 table cloth of Socialist Worker newspapers. Lectures and classes were cancelled, and the library operated a limited service, with all the staff desks closed. Special arrangements were made so that students who chose not to come in were not penalised for late submission of work or overdue library books. Arash Sedighi, a Teaching Assistant in the Politics Department, said: “Our pension plans are going crazy.”

Rahul Rao is a lecturer in Politics at SOAS, and was part of the strike. He said: “When things are good it’s not disseminated through the whole of society. And now, private sector bonuses haven't fallen at all. It was the private sector decisions that caused this deficit. “As recently as November 2008, the Tories were promising to match Labour spending pound for pound. Back then the deficit was 3% of GDP, now it's 11%. The big thing that happened between then and now is the banking crisis. “It's a mistake to think we're all in this together. We should be talking about responsibility – who's responsible for what?” Tamson Pietsh, a History lecturer at Brunel agreed: “We're seeing the wholesale disassembly of the welfare state, and this is part of it.” Maintaining the SOAS atmosphere, someone had relocated two beanbags from the JCR to the bo5om of the steps. The day before, a group of students erected the Tent City University on the grass next to the Brunei building. An email announcement stated the action was in solidarity with the public sector strike. Although largely about pensions, the day did not exclude the young. Albert, a 13-year-old schoolboy, came to the march with his father, a carpenter, in solidarity with SOAS staff. “It's good”, said the schoolboy when asked what he thought of the

Protest identification under scrutiny following arrests Writer Portia Roelofs

A plain clothed officer

strike. His father said: “It's easy, isn't it? The public got £70bn in cuts and the bankers got £70bn bonuses. That's all you need to know, to know you should strike. I'm not public sector and I've not got a pension, but everyone should be here. It's like Thatcherism again, a systematic a5ack on the working class.” Following speeches from various supporters, including the Student Union Co-President Ariana Tassinari, many of those present moved onto Malet Street for the start of the national march. The strike ended at 5pm, when normal access was resumed.

At 3:30pm on Wednesday 30 November, a young man was arrested in Trafalgar Square a4er police – including officers in plainclothes – stopped and searched four men and one woman who had been on the TUC demonstration. One of the men searched expressed anger at the way the police conducted the searches: “They took personal details from ours IDs. I asked them not to look at mine, but they took it straight away.” Two passersby, who had been Legal Observers for the Union march, advised the protesters that they were not legally required to give their name and address during the stop and search. In the past, organisers of environmental and anti-war protests in London have instructed people coming on demonstrations not to bring any identifying documents, in case they are stopped and searched. Police have the power to stop and search anyone, but must give the objective of the proposed search and the grounds on which they suspect the individual to have commi5ed a crime. The arresting officer, who was in plain clothes, wearing a woolly hat, a sports anorak and Ipod earphones, declined

to comment on what crime the young man was under suspicion of committing. The man was taken to Marylebone police station. The issue of plain clothes police officers caused controversy in 2009 when Commander Bob Broadhurst told the House of Commons Home Affairs Commi5ee that no plainclothes officers were deployed during the G20 protests in London, a statement that the Metropolitan Police later retracted, describing it as “not accurate”.

Two uniformed officers search a protester in Trafalgar Square

MP and scientist at Goldsmiths undertake ‘life-swap’ Writer Hattie Williams News Editor

MP Joan Ruddock will be trading the power of politics for the science of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London. The project is part of a unique “pairing” scheme run by the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science which boasts the world's most eminent scientists. The Royal Society's MP-Scientist pairing scheme endeavors to unite parliamentarians with some of the UK’s best scientists. Ruddock, Labour MP for Lewisham since 1987 and an Honorary Fellow of Goldsmiths, will be pairing up with Dr Alice Jones from Goldsmiths Department of Psychology. Her research covers neuropsychological and neuro-

Photo by Flickr User: lewishamdreamer

MP Joan Ruddock (above) will be ‘swapping lives’ with Dr Alice Jones in the next fews weeks

science investigations of antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents, including callous-unemo-

tional traits and early psychopathic behaviour. According to the Goldsmith’s website, “It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. Over 180 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it launched in 2001.” Dr Jones and other scientists on the scheme convened at the Houses of Parliament for “Westminster Week” to gain a perspective of life as a politician. The week outlined how Parliament and government engages with scientists to inform policy. Dr Jones noted that there was a lot of “active discussion” with the politicians and civil servants about research and funding.

Photo courtesy of LSE

Dr Alice “ I finished the week Jones feeling inspired, fired (pictured above) up and full of admiration for the scientists, MPs and civil servants that I spent time with...”

She said: “I finished the week feeling inspired, fired up and full of admiration for the scientists, MPs and civil servants that I had spent

time with. It is reassuring to discover that many MPs are actively interested in science and research, and that they are willing and able to enter into dialogue with scientists.” Joan Ruddock's return visit to Goldsmiths is currently being organised. In addition to tours of Goldsmiths College, the MP will visit some of the local primary schools at which Dr Jones is currently working. Her research focuses on bullying and working with schools to investigate how children understand other people's thoughts and feelings. She is also involved in several studies investigating the social inclusion of children and adolescents with developmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorders, in mainstream education.

World Rights 06


Hesham Zakai Editor Prisoners of Conscience

Fi3y years ago, two Portuguese students held their glasses alo3 and toasted to freedom. Their act of defiance was met with a punishment no less draconian than is to be expected from an authoritarian regime like António de Oliveira Salazar’s Estado Novo: their cheer to freedom led them – ironically – to imprisonment. But from small acts of bravery and defiance do mountains of resistance and solidarity grow: reading about the story, an enraged Peter Benenson wrote an article titled ‘The Forgo4en Prisoners’ in the Observer. The article, in which he coined the term ‘Prisoner of Conscience’, marked the inception of an ‘Appeal for Amnesty, 1961’campaign – a year-long campaign that would receive overwhelming public support and, consequently, metamorphose into Amnesty International, one of the world’s leading human rights organisations today. In his article, Benenson defines a Prisoner of Conscience as: “Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence.” December 10 is Human Rights Day, celebrated right across the world. It is a day when the unequivocal enunciation of human rights reverberates around the globe. In this Christmas issue of London Student, we have taken the decision to change our World News feature to a World Rights feature, and profile individuals, largely young people, who have suffered or are facing human rights abuses. The option is there for readers to write to them – although Amnesty stress that messages should be free of political comment, and simply expressions of support. Freedom of Expression is a fundamental human right, but unfortunately many people are punished for exercising that right – some of them to tragic effect. We hope that you will take the time to read these prisoner profiles, and raise a glass to their courage and freedom.




1) Christi Cheramie


Christi Cheramie, now 33, was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 1994, when she was just 16. She pleaded guility to second-degree murder for being present during the stabbing of her adult boyfriend’s great aunt. She pleaded guilty before her trial in adult court began, fearing the possibility of the death penalty. Her guilty plea prevents her from directly appealing her conviction or sentence. The closest relatives of the victim have said they feel Christi deserves a second chance. Imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole on a person aged just 16 at the time of the crime is a violation of international law. The USA is believed to be the only country in the world to impose such a sentence on children. You can send a card to: Christi Cheramie, c/o Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, 1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113, USA.

2) The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó


The people of San José de Apartadó founded their Peace Community in order to assert their right not to be drawn into Colombia’s armed conflict. But because they refuse to take sides, all warring sides treat them as their enemies. Since the Community’s creation in 1997, more than 170 of its members and other locals have been killed or subjected to enforced disappearance, while others have been threatened or sexually assaulted. Despite the constant danger they are in, and repeated orders from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Colombian authorities have failed to take effective action to protect them.

You can send a card to: Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, AA 243 de Apartadó, Antioquia, Colombia.

World Writes 07


7) Natalia Estemirova RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Human rights activist Natalia was abducted from outside her home in Chechnya by armed men on July 15 2009. Her body was found a few hours later in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia; she had been shot. Since 2000, Natalia had worked for the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the North Caucasus. Her courageous work saw her tragically killed and despite statements from officials that her murder would be solved, there are still no reliable signs that those responsible will be brought to justice.



You can send a card to Natalia’s family and friends: Memorial Human Rights Centre, Malyi Karetnyi Pereulok 12, Moscow 127051, Russia. But please do not send a religious message. Please also note that Christmas cards count as religious messages, so please do not send those either.

5 6

4) Jabbar Savalan


3) Jean-Claude Roger Mbede CAMEROON

Jean-Claude, 31 and a student, was arrested on March 2 on suspicion of practicing homosexuality which is a crime in Cameroon. On April 28, a court in Yaounde found him guilty of homosexuality and a:empted homosexuality, and sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment. Delays in the appeal process have resulted in Jean-Claude serving his sentence in the harsh conditions of overcrowded, insanitary Kondengui central prison. Because of his real or perceived sexuality, Jean-Claude is at risk of homophobic a:acks and ill treatment by fellow inmates or prison authorities. His case highlights a longstanding pa:ern of arrests, detentions and trials of gay men and lesbian women in Cameroon.

You can send a card to: Alternatives Cameroun, 2178, Boulevard de la Liberte-Akwa, BP 12767 Douala, Cameroun.

Youth activist Jabbar Savalan is being persecuted by the Azerbaijani authorities because of messages he posted on Facebook. Jabbar, 20, was sentenced on May 4 2011 to two and a half years in prison on drugs charges. Amnesty International believes the charges are fabricated and that the real reason for the conviction was to punish him for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. On February 4 Jabbar had posted calls for protests against the government. The next evening he was arrested on his way home from a meeting of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party. A8er the trial, Jabbar’s lawyer, Anar Gasimov, was threatened by a police officer. You can send a support message to: Jabbar Savalan, Detention Centre No. 10, Muzaffar Narimanov Street, Narimanov District, Baku City, Azerbaijan. But please do not send a religious message. Please also note that Christmas cards count as religious messages, so please do not send those either.

5) Fatima Hussein Badi YEMEN

Fatima Hussein Badi and her brother Abdullah were sentenced to death in February 2001 for the murder of Fatima’s husband. Fatima was reportedly questioned by the police for more than five hours during the night, without a lawyer. Abdullah apparently only confessed to the murder in order to save Fatima from being raped. During a number of their trial hearings, Fatima and Abdullah had no legal representation and were prevented from speaking in court. In September 2003, the Supreme Court reduced Fatima’s sentence to four years’ imprisonment but following a review a8er an intervention by President Saleh, this decision was overturned. Abdullah was executed in 2005 and Fatima remains at imminent risk of execution.

You can send a card via Fatima’s lawyer: Mrs Nasser, PO Box 16020, Hadda, Sana’a, Republic of Yemen.

6) Ragihar Manoharan SRI LANKA

20-year-old Ragihar Manoharan was one of five Tamil students shot dead by Sri Lankan security forces in the north-eastern town of Trincomalee on January 2 2006. That evening, Ragihar had met with fellow students on Trincomalee’s seafront. As they cha:ed, someone in a passing autorickshaw threw a grenade which exploded, injuring at least 3 of the group. When the security forces arrived, they beat the students with rifle bu:s before taking them into a van and shooting five of them dead. A commission was established to investigate the incident but its report, delivered directly to the President, has never been published. No one has been brought to justice for the murder of Ragihar and his companions. You can send a card to Ragihar’s family: Dr K Manoharan and his family, c/o Sri Lanka Team, Amnesty International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, London, WC1X 0DW.



Mayoral Elections

Ken speaks about cuts, capitalism and the 99% Writers Hesham Zakai Editor

“Make sure they know how to register!”

Toby Thomas News Editor

Ken Livingstone wants students to vote. A7er a well-received speech at the University of London Union in which he decried the modern state of capitalism, lamented declining journalism standards and borrowed Occupy LSX rhetoric in accusing his incumbent rival Boris Johnson of standing for “the top 1% in society”, the Labour Mayoral candidate proudly told London Student that he enjoys a 2 to 1 lead over Johnson amongst voters under 25. Almost cautioning himself against his own optimism, however, he went on to speak of young voters’ failure to turn out – of those under 25 it’s o7en only a third that do. He’s looking to change this. On hearing the London Student’s readership figures as we start the interview, he spurts: “Make sure they’re all on the electoral register!” The man dubbed ‘Red Ken’ by the tabloids is hopeful that the widespread student protests during Boris Johnson’s turbulent Mayoral term will translate into greater student representation at the ballot box: “Students have seen the police used to try and deter protest. I mean the corraling of those school students on Westminster Bridge until about 2 in the morning [during last year’s student demonstration] - that's completely unacceptable, and you can be absolutely certain that the Commissioner of the police is meeting with the Mayor and talking about “Students have seen the police used to try and deter protest. I mean the corraling of those school students on Westminster Bridge until about 2 in the morning [during last year’s student demonstration] - that's completely unacceptable.”

Ken and his runningmate Val Shawcross

how do we handle these demonstrations, and everything Boris has said about every demonstration has been hostile.” It had been rumoured that Livingstone was planning to introduce an eye-catching element into his campaign in the form of a London-based replacement for the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which was controversially scrapped by the government last year. But, for the moment at least, he is erring on the side of caution. “None of this is easy. We'd need to get money in from the borough councils; we might find the best way of doing it is to cut the price of travel for students, something like that. Because the cost of travel, even with the student discount, is still pre8y horrendous…We don’t want to give an absolute promise that we can recreate a London-wide EMA because we don't know until we get in and we see the state of the books,” he said. Unlike Johnson, Livingstone claims, he is the candidate for the “99%” and has set out policies to reflect this: his campaign centres on two key issues – a 5% initial cut in tube and bus fares followed by a fare freeze, and the reversal of reductions to the police budget. He insisted he could deliver on fares.

“None of this is easy... Because the cost of travel, even with the student discount, is still pretty horrendous.”

When he was last Mayor he made a similar promise, which, he reluctantly conceded to London Student, was partly broken. However, he argues his fare increases were small fry compared to those overseen by Boris Johnson. “The Independent in the run up to the 2008 election did an analysis which said that in the 8 years I was Mayor, in real terms a7er inflation, bus fares had been cut by 9% and tube fares had gone up by 1.4% this over 8 years. Compare that with Johnson’s record: 22% increase in monthly and annual season tickets and 54% increase in buses. Under Boris, fares were a stealth tax.” The source of Livingstone’s funding for his ‘Fare Deal’ – a Transport for London (TfL) operating surplus worth £728m last year - has come under scrutiny. Daniel Moyland, a key Johnson aide and Deputy Chairman of TfL said in September that the operating surplus was “illusory”. Livingstone remains defiant, although he concedes that at just £206m in the first half of 2011, this year’s surplus looks to be consider-

No Confidence: UCL students deal blow to Grant

Writer Hesham Zakai Editor

UCL students voted to No Confidence their Provost, Malcolm Grant, by approximately 2-to-1 at an impassioned meeting in the Darwin Lecture Theatre on December 1. The meeting was called a7er Union Council voted for a motion which resolved “To call a Members' Meeting in November 2011 to put the question "Does UCLU have confidence in Malcolm

Grant as President and Provost of UCL?"” At the meeting, 160 students voted to No Confidence Grant, compared with 86 who said they did have confidence in him. There were 28 abstentions. There had been growing concern at UCL about Grant’s ability to handle both his UCL duties and his new responsibilities as Chair of the new NHS commissioning board. At the same Members’ Meeting, students voted overwhelmingly against a policy which could have seen the Union’s policy in support of the Palestinian Right

to Education campaign overturned. UCLstudent Layth Hanbali said: “In the past, such motions have passed easily through students' unions. The fact this one was so firmly rejected gives us an idea of the change in opinion that has happened on campus in the last two years. “The students' overwhelming support for the Right to Education campaign and rejection of this motion raise the spirit of Palestinians on campus, the Friends of Palestine society and other human rights campaigners at UCL.”

ably lower than last year’s. “What you will not be able to get is Boris Johnson to get TfL’s finance officer to appear before the [London] Assembly and say that this can’t be done – because it can. And professional officers can’t be forced to lie. You’ve got over £200m si8ing there in the coffers at TfL. This is madness at a time when people are really struggling. This [Livingstone’s ‘Fare Deal’] is giving half of it back to them; there’ll still be half of it si8ing there – a good safety margin and cushion.” His anger over Boris Johnson’s support for the AC Grayling’s New College of the Humanities seems to have cooled since the Labour Party conference. Asked whether he would lean on the University of

Ken speaking with London voters

“I’ll be concentrating on what we can do for the mass of students actually. I mean my biggest education disagreement with Boris is he wants to introduce Latin [into schools] whereas I want the kids to learn Mandarin.”

London to prevent the New College from integrating with them, he says: “Lean on? I’ve no power whatsoever in all of this... with the passing of Boris many of these things will fade. “I’ll be concentrating on what we can do for the mass of students actually. I mean my biggest education disagreement with Boris is he wants to introduce Latin [into schools] whereas I want the kids to learn Mandarin.” In an interview punctuated with wistful reminiscences of a bygone era, Livingstone says that the education system must become more future-orientated and acclimatise to a world that’s witnessing the balance of power shi7 from the United States to China, as well as an increasingly prosperous Brazil. In terms of economic power, Livingstone says, “China will overtake the US as early as 2016 and by no later than 2020. “If you’re only going to learn one

language, I think it should be Mandarin or Portuguese Brazilian.” Nonetheless, Livingstone is keen to stress the importance of history and giving today’s pupils “a much more detailed understanding of our past”. For him, New Labour is now also a project that can be consigned to the realm of history. “There was an outpouring of national joy, wasn’t there, when Ed Miliband went into Labour Party HQ and removed the word ‘New’ from just before ‘Labour’; he took it down, he personally took it down. He made absolutely clear in his acceptance speech his break with Blair.” Ken Livingstone has known Ed Miliband since the Labour leader was 12 years old, due to his friend-

ship with his father Ralph. He has taken pride in seeing him climb through the ranks and sees him as a “genuine Labour leader...a socialist”. He describes him as the first Labour leader, since the late John Smith, that he has been “personally comfortable with”. Yet as we spoke, Miliband was under criticism for his refusal to support the public sector strike on Wednesday 30 November. Livingstone’s defence that Miliband would “say something favourable” in the days following the interview proved prophetic. Miliband’s initial reticence on the issue was symptomatic of a Labour leader “under massive pressure always from the old Blairites that still lurk around inside the House of Commons”, according to Livingstone. The bo8om line for Ken is that the public sector strike has his “full support”, as does Ed Miliband: “I really, really look forward to being Mayor of London and Ed Miliband being Prime Minister so we could do so much together.” There was an acute symmetry in Livingstone’s interview: he ended in precisely the way he began, reiterating his desire that students should vote, and imploring London Student to inform students as to how: “Make sure they know how to register!”


The Egyptian military controls more than just the government - the economy too Ayya Harraz - page 10

I.B. has now spread beyond private schools Julia Sekula - page 11


Should Hizb ul-Tahrir be given a platform at campus? The Great Debate - page 12

The government is wrong to reject the Robin Hood tax Paul Haydon - page 14

‘My tram experience’ woman should be prosecuted Nabila Pathan - page 14

LSE Gaddaffi funding scandal was inevitable when universities are starved for investment

‘My tram experience’ (p. 14) Photo by Flickr user 12°C)

Bassam Gergi News Editor

“How can universities

continue to ensure their academic integrity while pursuing financial security?”

The Woolf Report has its fair share of scapegoats and villains. These individuals and departments have received much criticism and scrutiny since the scandal broke, and rightly so. To treat the Libya-LSE debacle as an isolated incident, however, would be a mistake. Professor David Held, “close friend” of Saif, did not act alone. Neither was Sir Howard Davies or the School’s Council led astray. They pursued a purposeful policy of engagement with entrenched governments and private institutions. Modern universities are engaged in this same pursuit across Britain as they a2empt to survive a Government that has starved higher education of funding. The threat of the high-risk embrace of the Libyan regime was made apparent to the LSE high command from the outset of their dealings. The late Professor Fred Halliday, once the LSE’s foremost expert on the Arab world, made the case in meetings, emails and finally a memo that accepting the money was an egregious mistake. Yet as the report documents, Professor Held and Sir Davies sought to isolate and dismiss his concerns. In one of the more startling entries, Held and Davies supposedly told the Council that Halliday

was “rubbished” and falsely claimed he was mentally “not well.” This brutal behavior cannot merely be dismissed as an error in judgment. It stemmed from an unbridled opportunism that placed securing international funding as the utmost priority for the institution. Concerns over academic integrity and institutional values were perceived as outdated, part of a parochial view of universities. The world was moving too fast for the LSE to listen to Halliday, and they have paid a dear price for their brazenness. Instead of scapegoating, the LSE and Britain needs to confront a larger question: how can universities continue to ensure their academic integrity while pursuing financial security? At present, British Universities have no alternative but to compete internationally. Starved of proper funding at home, the UK government has gone so far as to actively encourage universities to fundraise on an unprecedented international plane and scale. Lord Woolf compares this new paradigm and operation as similar “to that of a global company.” The risk of this businesscentric approach is that our educational establishments are forced to expand their directive

beyond that of the public good. They must now compete alongside private interests, and over time their scope has grown and morphed almost entirely unchecked. A1er all, tighter funding and greater financial strain creates a fierce urgency to secure outside monies. Professor Held and Sir Davies were not in control of this funding game; they were mere players who were seduced by the sparkle of Libyan gold. It would have been naïve to expect them to behave with greater probity than the rest of society, especially since the people who run our universities tend to hold views and values identical to those in power. If they were relying on their Government to set an example, then they would have seen Blair entering a Libyan tent in 2007 to sign a half-a-million pound deal on behalf of BP. With him was Peter Sutherland, the Chairman of BP, who went on to become the Chairman of the LSE Council. The truth is that we expect universities to hold true to public values and act independently of the society around them. We expect universities to balance contradictory forces and to remain true despite financial hardship. We expect academics to work tirelessly around those with

power while never being seduced by it. Perhaps we expect too much. The Woolf Report and much of the ensuing coverage have focused on the individuals involved. Everyone wants to know who is to blame. There is a need for a wider responsibility at the LSE and beyond. Professor Held, despite his shortcomings, was trying to fund a Centre that pursued “democracy” and “human rights.” These are noble ideals that deserve the type of a2ention he was able to bring to them. But pure intentions were corrupted with dirty money. What Fred Halliday tried to jumpstart in his opposition to the Gaddafi donation is a larger discussion over the future of university funding. All signs indicate that the magnitude of international funding will continue to grow. The LSE and other institutions will be confronted with similar ethical challenges. If we are to avoid the same mistakes then there is need for a coherent set of policies to deal with these new ethical risks. If the Government really expects universities to appropriate a corporate approach to funding, then the time has come to regulate them as such.



Agree? Disagree? Your views:

Anna McIvor KCL

“So why give the cynics what they want when they will simply scorn it anyway?”

Ayya Harraz SOAS

“Let’s not forget that the main incentive behind the Arab uprisings were the mass poverty that had stricken Middle Eastern society.”

For Occupy London,vagueness is an asset

A3er six weeks of Occupy London, campaigners have released a policy statement outlining a specific agenda for what they believe would change the economic world for the be4er. To say that those who complained of their vague objectives for se4ing up the camp in the first place will finally be satisfied would be optimistic. It’s more likely that the proposals, including an end to tax havens and legal reforms to make individual executives responsible for the consequences of their decisions, will get nods of approval from those who had already approved, and a shrug of the shoulders from those who had already shrugged off the last six weeks as a real beginning to improvements in the corporate system. So why give the cynics what they want when they will simply scorn it anyway? A particular purpose is no bad thing, but the spirit of the Occupation itself is under threat if the agenda gets too specific on tackling the ni4y gri4y of the economic world. For weeks criticism of the Occupy London movement has centred on its inability to offer concrete plans for any real change. These criticisms have been met with the same response: that’s not the point. If spe-

cific proposals are brought forward, the movement not only becomes single-minded, but it invites criticism. They will never please everyone, and are bound to neglect certain areas in order to appear concise and tangible. It is to the detriment of an otherwise far reaching objective: that of social awareness. The movement may first and foremost be directed at the economic world, but only because this economic world dictates so much of what happens in other sectors of society, and because it is so indicative of the capitalist mentality that continues to grow in western culture. The tents at St Pauls should represent everyone from the small business owner to the unemployed youth. It is said that our generation will be the first to have a less privileged lifestyle than that of the generation before us. Yet slowly we are coming to the realisation that we could resent the baby-boomers of the past, or we could pity them. Ours is the politically aware, and more importantly the socially aware generation. The economic system may not have changed much in one year, but the people certainly have. More young people than ever are expressing an interest in politics and protesting is

no longer limited to hippies. It is not cool to care about what’s going on during these demonstrations around the world, it’s normal. Even those of us who are not directly involved in the movement are aware of it and approve of it. For young people graduating today, what seemed most frustrating was the lack of understanding around us regarding the threat of unemployment. Even the most qualified of our peers are struggling to find a job in an area that they find stimulating and relevant to their course of study. Yet this year it has been brought to the forefront of public discourse: now there is no doubt that this is a real problem, that this is our plight. The problems won’t go away and new ones will surely arise for the next generation, but importance lies in the development of a social conscience so that at the very least we will be able to relate to having a problem, and sympathetic to the act of solving it. The Occupation represents everyone and should continue to do so. Its objectives were not too vague; they were simply all-encompassing, not born of one single event but of a collective conscience. Let’s keep it that way.

The economy of Egypt is a breadth away from collapsing and paving the way to a failed state. As we are witnessing with the EU, operating under a free market and an open economy does not necessarily correlate with a free society. As the West struggles through debt and the economic crisis, Egyptians may consider looking for a different economic model, Laissez faire or Laissez passer? Lets not forget that the main incentive behind the Arab uprisings were the mass poverty that had stricken Middle Eastern society. During the first three months since the start the Egyptian revolution more than US$8.6 billion in bank deposits le3 Egypt, according to the Bank for International Se4lements. A strong and vibrant economy in Egypt can allow for greater education and economic independence. What Egypt needs to do is uproot the militarized economy and focus on improving a free but local market through allocation of sources. Although, Nasser brought about some agrarian reform, industrialization introduced minimum wage and improved the working conditions of labour workers. But what he focused on was nationalizing the Suez Canal and much of the industrial, financial, and commercial sectors of the economy. Yet, Nasser still made the military his priority and spent more than what he had on it. Which evidently prevented real economic progress.

Military expenditures began to absorb about 25 percent of Egypt's gross national product according to American Museum of Natural History. Sadat opened up its market and economy and also its doors to more aid, loans and debt. Sadat encouraged private investment in Egypt and carried out agreements with the IMF. However, the economy suffered further from a boyco4 by Arab nations that were against Egypt’s separate peace with Israel, which, resulted in its expulsion from the Arab League. Mubarak’s further pursuit of a free economy led Egypt to its largest ever divide between the elite and the poor, the middle class was quite nearly obliterated. With the encouragement of the US and the IMF, Mubarak focused on denationalization in 1991 and the IMF with Public Law 203 aimed to eliminate all state enterprises and national sovereignty in the economic sphere. According to the NYT, Amr ElShobaki, a political scientist at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, “privatization was a way for the friends of the rich and powerful to grow more rich and powerful. Even the government acknowledges that the economic changes have had li4le impact on average lives.” This brought the working class to its knees and pushed the economy to a downward spiral. Egypt does not want to see a repeat of this.

Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak shared one thing in common; creating a government and economy for and by the military. Military expenditure alone has drained the wealth of Egypt and has made it rely on aid and loans. CNN states that the Egyptian military is one of the world's largest recipients of U.S. military aid. Washington agreed to a $13 billion, 10-year aid package to Egypt in 2007. U.S. aid made up for 25% of Egypt's defense spending in 2008. This is excluding the money it takes from Egypt, what it receives from Saudi Arabia and earned foreign exchange from exports of domestically manufactured military equipment, according to The Military Balance. Egypt’s economy can thrive and most importantly also stand debt free based solely on its natural resources. So, the solution to this may not be easy but it does exist. By demilitarising the economy and now with the exodus of foreign investors this may be an opportunity for local businesses to gain their piece of the economic pie. Should Egypt not take this into account as it begins to look into reforming its economy and finally ending the poverty that was leading Egypt to becoming a failed state?

Egyptian democracy cannot succeed if the economy stays under military control

We must support Palestinian statehood

Julian Jones UCL

Omar Zaki’s piece, ‘Dark side to Palestine member bid’, at best has pessimistic undertones, and at worst expresses sentiments which undermine the Palestine’s state’s legitimacy and enhance the credibility of Zionism. He affirms that ‘Palestine is not yet a state’, but by whose measure is this? Whether a state relies on imperialist recognition of its legitimacy is surely irrelevant to what the wider international community expresses, and more importantly to what the people of the particular state themselves feel. A people’s sovereignty can and should only be determined by a shared culture, history, language and geography which manisfests itself in the form of a nation-state, the ultimate expression of democracy, and by extension, independence and internationalism. The nation state does not undermine mutual co-operation between the peoples of a nation, in fact it is this idea which underpins the notion of internationalism. To return to the argument, Palestine can be said to have all the necessary characteristics and the USA’s influence in the UN does not in any way change this. Thus, the British people must stand side by side with the Palestinians as internationalists. US, British or EU imperialist policy should not be able to hold hostage the UN for politically motivated purposes by witholding what are essentially trickle-down sops for under-developed countries, which in practice o3en have the effect of exarcebating already tense situations in which ‘the livelihoods of millions (are) at risk’, as Mr Zaki himself puts it. A genuine anti-imperialist has to uphold the courageous principle that there cannot be economic independence before or without political independence, a key slogan which all national liberation movements adopted throughout the 20th Century. An integral part of achieving political independence is full membership at the UN, regardless of how flawed the organisation may be. The Palestinian cause can therefore be no different. Indeed, following Mr Zaki’s logic to its conclusion, the majority of Africa wouldn’t have gained its independence and would still be under colonial rule. We must understand that imperialism’s basic interests donnot freely concede political power to people struggling for selfdetermination. Furthermore, a majority of UN member states, including Palesinian liberation movements recognise the need for a two-state solution based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The UN, but not the dominant forces within it, thus has consistently been at the core of the Palestinian right to self-determination and the Middle East peace-process, and as such there is no reason for Palestine to be excluded from its bodies and affiliated organs. Anti-imperialists must remain firm, clearly stating that Palestine and Western Sahara, for example, are indeed states and any negotiation in exchange for trickle-down handouts is quite frankly a betrayal of the oppressed people in Palestine or whichever state is at stake.



Julia Sekula SOAS

“The IB has now spread beyond the walls of private colleges to public schools where underprivileged children are fighting for the best accreditations

Mike Reda Birkbeck

“I’m waiting in hope that the movement’s aims will be taken seriously”

I.B: A-Level Above A sad state of affairs will have been reached when education becomes a luck-of-the-draw privilege for the few, and nowhere has this resonated more than amongst the students of London universities. However, whilst the raising of tuition fees presents an economic hurdle to students everywhere, a far more subtle discrimination has been at play in recent years - that of the dejected and rejected IB student. “Hard work pays off” – or so the saying goes. In recent years, this has proved to be another Santa Claus fallacy to International Baccalaureate students across the globe. When it comes to university admissions, IB students generally lose out. Why? Nationalistic ignorance. Be it London, Oxford, Boston or New York, the IB is outrageously underrated. Naive 16 year olds are lead to believe that through choosing IB, they are selecting a worldly education internationally recognized for excellence and breadth. False – well, mostly false. The International Baccalaureate prides itself on its unique form of education. Students are asked to take six subjects, specialize in three and

undertake compulsory hours of ‘activity’, ’creativity’, and ‘service’ that all run up to a final cumulative exam of two years work to become holistic learners. Indeed, most students do go above and beyond expectations and become well-rounded, open minded learners. However, this plays li5le to no role when British universities clearly prefer students who have completed the traditional A-level. In 2007, the Independent Newspaper revealed that “a common IB score of 30 gives a candidate 419 Ucas tariff points against just 360 for three As at Alevel. A top score is equivalent to more than six As at A-level.” Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities should not be asking international students for 41 IB points, but for 30 or 34 – the equivalent of what is required of their A-level counterparts. Despite world class institutions claiming their impartiality in the admissions process, their actions dramatically undermine these assertions. In the United States, the IB is almost insignificant and is assimilated with the far easier AP program. Thus, IB students are asked to

pull rabbits out of their ears for a perfect score whilst AP students lounge on the veranda of teenage distractions -perhaps why People Magazine and reality TV are so popular- a3er a strenuous one hour paper. Ultimately, British universities prefer British systems as the Americans prefer theirs and the sun continues to rise on widespread inequality every day. Many will read this article and disregard my words as elitist disgruntlement. This may have been true 20 years ago, but the IB has now spread beyond the walls of private colleges to public schools where underprivileged children are fighting for the best accreditations. They chose IB, succeed in IB and are ultimately failed by IB. I am not sure what uprising will prompt Universities to finally gauge the strength of the individual IB student. Credit is due where it has been earned, and I would like to believe that unfairness and nepotism will be replaced with a strictly meritocratic system to give the most hardworking and achieving students an equal chance of success.

The Occupy London movement has been camped outside St. Paul’s for six weeks now, and they’ve finally put together a solid policy statement. Until now their weakness has been their incoherency; the lack of clearly articulated and concrete goals le3 them relatively impotent and open to criticism. It’s been a case of righteous anger, badly channelled. But today they have called for three key reforms: “Globally, corporations deprive the public purse of hundreds of billions of pounds each year, leaving insufficient funds to provide people with fair living standards. We must abolish tax havens and complex tax avoidance schemes, and ensure corporations pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits. Corporate lobbying subverts our democracy. Last year corporations spent £2 billion influencing the British government. We believe exploitative corporate lobbying has no place in a democratic society. Legislation to ensure full and public transparency of all corporate lobbying activities must be put in place. This should be overseen by a credible and independent body, directly accountable to the people. The existing system of corporate sanctions allows executives and board members to avoid individual responsibility for the con-

sequences of their actions and inactions. Those directly involved in the decision-making process must be held personally liable for their role in the misdeeds of their corporations and duly charged for all criminal behaviour.” In my opinion these reforms are just, necessary and would be extremely effective in strengthening democracy and improving our economy. All three would most likely lead to a system that shares the rewards of capitalism more fairly and is more representative of the majority of the population. The damage tax havens do to our society is hard to overstate. But abolishing them is practically difficult; international consensus is necessary and even then it would be challenging to legislate effectively and we may just end up with accountants finding new loopholes. But if anything can be done, it must; we are being robbed of billions of pounds every year by people who are already rich beyond imagination. As for the regulation of lobbying: most people don’t even realise how much power and influence money currently buys in Westminster. Corporate influence through cash contributions seriously damages the Government’s accountability to the electorate. But we also need legislation to curtail the ‘revolving door’: many politicians who’ve

weakened regulation and brought in corporate-friendly policies have subsequently earned enormous sums of money as private consultants to business. The message here is pre5y clear. Since the financial crisis of 2008, not a single banker has been prosecuted for the reckless behaviour that brought our economy to its knees. There are serious issues with corporate governance in Britain- at present, financial executives aren’t serving the interests of their shareholders or British society. Executive pay bears no relation to share price or long term performance of a company, and in recent years we’ve seen both companies and the British economy itself driven into the ground by people who are rewarded for failure. Be5er legal accountability would be a concrete step towards aligning public and private incentives and forcing executives and board members to act in the interests of society. I’m waiting in hope that the movement’s aims will be taken seriously. They’re nothing new; many people have been campaigning for these reforms for years, but the protests might be the catalyst that we need to see them implemented. If this happens, it’ll be a victory for democracy and for the British people.

The thunder of change from Occupy London

The real face of Iranian students Rosa Wild Comment Editor

Last week, a student occupation caused a diplomatic storm as a group of Iranian students broke through the gates of the British embassy and occupied the building. The image of Iranian students laying seige to an embassy, burning flags and chanting “death to Britain”, is a comfortable cliche this generation of Iranians presumeably being no different to the revolutionary students who held hostages in the US embassy in the 1970s. But this is enormously distant from the reality of most Iranian students. The students who took part in the embassy occupation were “Basijis” - young men recruited to fight for the regime. A large proportion of university places are set aside for them; partially as a perk of the job, and partially to ensure the government’s standard of morality is enforced in universities. The majority of students - the vast majority of young people in Iran are not Basijis. The vast majority do not take to the streets and burn British flags many are too busy trying to get a British visa. Political commentators go crazy over the daring young middle class Tehranis who drink, party, and protest; there is a robust anti-regime student movement who risk their lives to hold protests inside their campuses or on the streets, or to dance around bonfires at new year. But they too are just one face of young Iranians. Iran has a huge diversity of opinion and lifestyle among its young people. Today the majority of the population of Iran is under 30 - and a vast number of these are unemployed and dissatisfied with the regime. As tensions escalate with Iran, we need to remember that while the government may hate us, the people are mostly young, intelligent, and ready to engage with the West. Not to be used as a political tool by neoconservatives, but to be faced as who they are. The future of Iran should be their choice - not their government’s, and not ours.




Agree? Disagree? Your views:

Should Hizb ul-Tahrir be banned from campus?

A speaker from Hizb ul-Tahrir (HT), an Islamist group that seeks to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate, recently spoke at an event at SOAS. There has been debate since as to whether the event should have been allowed to go ahead, as the NUS have a no-platform policy regarding the group, although they are not a banned organisation in the UK. Do they fall under free speech? Or is this group too dangerous to be allowed on campus?


Francesca Ambrose Goldsmiths In Britain, we pride ourselves on being a democracy with free speech to all. Yet, to maintain equal opportunities, it is argued that radical groups must be monitored to prevent harm to the minority. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political group with an Islamic point of view, one of their aims is to see the West ruled by Islamic law. Hizb ut-Tahrir has stated its aim as unification of all Muslim nations over time in one unitary Islamic state, headed by one elected person. This is considered to be a religious duty. It is vital that people should be allowed to make their views known; however, giving this political organisation a platform at universities would surely result in a suppression of democracy. Ironically, by attempting to expand into non-Muslim areas this seems to infringe on those choosing to hold no belief, or another different religious belief entirely. It certainly does not bode well that the organisation has already been banned in various countries such as Kazakhstan, for trying to ‘infiltrate the government.’ This seems to imply rather than gaining popular support they choose a select few in positions of power in the hopes of gaining power illegitimately. The BBC has commented on this technique from the group’s activities in Indonesia, “unlike many other Islamist movements here, Hizb utTahrir seems less interested in a broad mass following than a smaller more committed core of members, many of them drawn from Indonesia's educated middle classes.” The secrecy of the group adds to any underlying concerns. For example, in countries where it has been outlawed, the organisation is said to be strongly centralised. The

basic unit is a cell of five members and a leader – but only the leader knows the names of the other members of different cells. To trace each member would be near impossible. It is clear that the organisation will exist regardless of whether it is outlawed or not but giving them a platform is that much more harmful for the spread of these views. As an organisation who rejects democracy it seems unnecessary that they would have a say in political affairs of Britain – it being an opposing view to their beliefs. Hizb ut-Tahrir supports the idea that women should not be allowed in any ruling position so one would question who would represent the rights of women, should they ever gain power. Political power still lies predominantly in the hands of males, but this organisation would take Britain’s democracy further backward. In short, their aim seems to be entirely different from the definition of democracy. Britain is proud to be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society but the ideas of Hizb utTahrir cannot be absorbed into its law-making body without completely redesigning it. They refer to themselves as the ‘liberation party’ which seems to imply they offer freedom. If they offered liberation then surely they would not suppress any groups, even non-believers. Allowing them to have a platform at universities sends the message that their views agree with the democratic way of thinking, when in reality they oppose democracy altogether. Being a nation that has fought to be diverse, Hizb ut-Tahrir threatens this. Therefore, despite the fact the UK promotes freedom of speech, we must respect that sometimes everyone having this gift stops others being free. It does not seem Hizb ut-Tahrir will gain power if given a platform in universities, but the acceptance of their views disagrees with what the UK follows – being a democracy.


“It is clear that the organisation will exist regardless of whether it is outlawed or not but giving them a platform is that much more harmful for the spread of these views”

“Not only do they have no interest in the country, they also reject violent methods of achieving their aims”

Ibrahim Adaci SOAS

The controversy thrown up over Hizb ut-Tahrir is a fuss over nothing Over the last two weeks or so a storm has been brewing related to an event at SOAS where the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or HT, UK was brought in for a debate over the future of the Middle East. With a student executive meeting occurring the night before the event and also a Union General Meeting motion being prepared to ban their speakers in the future from the university, the debate over freedom of speech and who should be allowed to speak has once again taken centre stage. Should we ban these extremists from campuses or should we allow them to speak for the sake of freedom of speech? However I can’t help but feel that this is all just a great big fuss over a non-issue. Why is that? Well because they really aren’t that extreme. I personally don’t support the HT agenda and have quite a few points of contention and issues with their beliefs, but I think the agenda is heavily misunderstood by many people. The first issue to clarify is that HT are not another Al-Muhajiroun (whose latest incarnation is the ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’ group). They both believe in trying to establish a caliphate as a solution to the problems we are facing, but the key difference is whereas Al-Muhajiroun believe in enforcing it from Downing Street, HT don’t actually care about the western world. In fact you could even say they want to leave this place as soon as they get the chance to establish a caliphate where they want it, in other words the Muslim world. Now whether or not you think a caliphate is good for the Muslim world is not relevant, the fact is that this quite small group poses no threat of any kind to

Britain. Not only do they have no interest in the country, they also reject violent methods of achieving their aims. So all this group is proposing is a fundamental restructuring of the Muslim world to eliminate styles of government believed to have come from the west and return to a form which governed those regions just over a century ago. To make things really interesting, let’s compare this to the ideologies that are allowed to be preached on university campuses, particularly SOAS. I am thinking Marxist/communist ideology. These ideas are totally alien to Britain and contradict the very values this country was founded on. In fact if I am the son of a multi-millionaire banker then the discourse I hear at SOAS would in fact worry me very much since in addition to trying to harm my financial welfare, the rhetoric I hear being used could be called ‘hate speech’ or even ‘extremism’. It is a crude point to make but it is valid. How hypocritical is it for a motion to be proposed to ban speakers who harbour no ill intentions towards British or it’s people while allowing, if not encouraging, groups that want to start a class war? HT is small, insignificant and in any case pose no threat to anyone in this country, so why are we still acting like there is actually problem on campus with them? So can we stop discussing this non-issue?



Agree? Disagree? Your views:

Jen Izaakson LSE

“The tiny percentage of Muslims who have taken up Islamism are incrediblt powerless and isolated in this country. Sean Rillo Raczka ULU Vice-President

Peter Tatchell may be speaking at Pride Week at LSE – but he doesn’t speak for me Islamophobia, inside the LGBT community and outside, should always be challenged. Over 5000 people a9ended the anti-English Defense League demonstration in Tower Hamlets on September 3, organised by Unite Against Fascism and other groups. The day was a success, as white, black, LGBT, heterosexuals and people from all religious faiths a9ended to defend the Muslim community from the EDL. Taking part in the demo was Peter Tatchell, political campaigner for queer rights group OUTrage. He was carrying a placard reading “Stop EDL and Far Right Islamists”. Here I will explicate my opposition Tatchell’s placard, as well as what sort of solidarity from the gay community towards the Muslim community is needed. Conflation, distortion and racism are not new; you'll have heard about the OUTRage censorship scandal and the bollocks about Malcolm X and you may or may not be familiar with the colonialiststyle queer-rights stuff, i.e removing queers from their communities rather than working within them. This ignorance of the vast wealth of social work and care within religious communities is all pre9y standard from the humanist brigade, as is the belief that individualist, atheist, capitalist life will be an adequate replacement. I daresay

Tatchell’s placard belongs to a politics of exaggeration and, in my opinion, constitutes racism: the racism of exaggeration. Nobody's si9ing here saying political Islamism is a lovely thing that we should all write sonnets about, or that we ought to buddy up with far-right Islamists and turn a blind eye to some of their politics. However, as with, say, the racism against hip-hop musicians, the problem is not that there AREN'T any people that are objectionable. The problem is that their power, influence and objectionability is deliberately exaggerated, e.g. there are some sexist rappers, but the degree to which people go on about it would suggest that Nick Cave had never been born.

Muslims in this country are, very understandably, sick of the fact that the only Muslims who ever get represented in mainstream media are the 0.0001% far-right and violent ones, of having Islam dragged through the mud as being “responsible” for “extremism”, for

Islam even being an “extremism” itself, and sick most of all of Islam being equated with a particular strand of political Islamism. This is exactly what the EDL do: they equate Islam with Islamism. Nobody denies the EDL are racist, and yet they, like Tatchell, claim they are only against Islamism. This conflation of the two is what makes the EDLracist. Tatchell's eagerness to oppose Islamism cannot be understood as a standalone stance, even outside of an anti-EDL demo; it must be understood within the context of the Islamophobic society we live within, and it is the exaggeration of the threat that is racist.

The tiny percentage of Muslims who have taken up Islamism are incredibly powerless and isolated in this country. The exaggeration of their power and influence amounts to racist propaganda. In a very practical sense, the placard was ridiculous. Tatchell remarked on Twi9er that “he had been challenged by some Muslims”.

If Muslims turned up to Gay Pride with an “End homophobia and LGBT separatism” placard, even as a vehement anti-separatist, I’d find it inappropriate and problematic. If you’re against racism or homophobia and want to show solidarity, it’s towards ALL of the particular group you’re there to support, not to say,

There are those with reactionary views who are Muslim, Jewish, black, female or gay, but when anyone in a marginalised/minority group is a9acked for their skin colour, or religion, or sexuality, or gender, they should be defended on that particular basis. Cable Street was wholly in defence of the East End Jews in the 1930s, not just ‘most’ of them. If we want to see sexual freedom, the stamping out of homophobia and transphobia in our schools and workplaces, and LGBT people walking safely on the streets, we must a9ack the propagators, not scapegoat oppressed Muslims. Islam is not a threat to LGBT liberation in this country. On the Unite Against Facism demonstration in Luton earlier this year, LGBT activists marched in solidarity with 2,000 local Muslims with a “LGBT against the Nazis” banner. Last year in Egypt we saw Christians and Muslims transcend religious division as they fought for revolution. Christians linked together to defend praying Muslims against water-cannon fire during the uprising. If we all come together to fight against division, we can defeat the threat of the far-right and fight for a new type of society.

Students striking at the heart of the issue

Millions of workers across the UK went on strike on Wednesday 30th November, including lecturers and support staff across the University of London (and a huge range of other public sector and local government employees, from paramedics in Glasgow to teachers in Plymouth). The dispute was officially about changes to pensions (making workers pay more and work longer), and the strike of course was very important in defending decent pensions for all, but they were also a clear warning to the government over its chilling plans for the public sector and beyond.

Many students have also shown a rejection of the ideologically driven ‘austerity agenda’of deep cuts across the public sector and the privatisation of our NHS, and indeed universities, over the last year, and were enthusiastic supporters of the N30 strikes (including ULU, where we had a fully supportive policy). Thousands of students up and down the country joined staff on the picket lines, showing tangible solidarity, as well as encouraging others students to stand up for a be9er future. A8er all, our lecturers were not striking on a whim; they had to go through a lengthy process even to be legally allowed to withdraw their labour under draconian anti-union legislation, not to mention loosing pay.

“The picket lines across the University of London were hugely supported by students, and persuaded many staff and students to not break the strike - some even joined us!”

you're all also familiar with the concept of abjection-imperialism, specifically in this case queer imperialism, i.e. claiming “The Other” needs to sort itself out. Tatchell's always been big on this; one giveaway was that the other side of that placard, which read “Muslims and Gays Unite”, conveniently discounting “Muslim Gays”.

“I’ll show solidarity to you, except those whose views I disagree with and anyone who doesn’t sign up to all 10 Points of my “Liberation Now” program wri9en in my bedroom last night during X-Factor”.

The pickets lines across the university of London (I visited 8 UoL Colleges some with multiple pickets, and several other picket lines on the day) were very solid, were hugely supported by students, and persuaded many staff and students to not break the strike, some even joined us! A8er the morning picket lines, over two thousand students, staff and union branches marched from ULU to the

huge Trade Union organised march from Lincolns Inn Field. As thousands of us streamed down Kingsway, we were meet by other feeder marches; teachers, council workers and nurses.

Joining the main march, many tens of thousands of people strong, I was struck by the number of young people marching, students and young workers, plus families with their children. Those nearing retirement told me they were striking and marching for the next generation, those who will be saddled by huge university debts, who may receive no pension at all, who deserve and NHS free for all.

It was a great show of collective strength and diversity, but the day wasn’t over and it was back to Bloomsbury to join the Birkbeck picket line into the evening (Birkbeck lectures start from 6pm), where we had a huge number of students and staff pu9ing the case and talking to students. The relatively small number of students entering the building was a measure of the success of the strike, certainly fewer students came to class than the last two strikes I a9ended at Birkbeck. Across the university this was repeated, from persuading cars not to enter Queen Mary, to singing ‘I’d rather get a third than be a scab’ outside SOAS, it was a successful and action packed day. At Senate House, the University’s Chancellor PrincessAnn presided over Foundation Day, a swanky annual do, whilst cleaners and students protested outside, demanding immediate implementation of the London Living Wage for our lowest paid cleaning staff. Inside the Vice Chancellor and heads of the Colleges enjoyed wine and canapés,

I’m sure also enjoyed their six figure salaries too, whilst staff who don’t even have a pension demand a small wage increase to help them simply survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Across the university too there were student occupations, Royal Holloway, Goldsmiths and SOAS all have buildings occupied, which welcome other students to go and visit and bring their ideas.

The background to all this must be remembered, the Higher Education White Paper, which will privatises our universities, creates a full market, will allow universities to go bust, and will lead to slashing of courses and less opportunity for working class people to a9end university, not to mention impending 9K fees and massive loans that cost far more for those who go on to earn lower wages.

But more generally this was a strike about the very future of our country (which education is of course a key part), do we want business running the health service, or our universities privatised? Do we want to see the poorest in society suffer from swingeing cuts to benefits and public services, whilst the rich get richer and the grotesque inequality of our society continues to grow? Make no mistake, these cuts are a death sentence for many losing their jobs, homes and benefits, to those on understaffed NHS wards or unable to get the drugs they need.

That’s why the resistance has only just begun, and only by mobilising tens of millions against this repugnant government of out of touch millionaires can we bring about its end. How, when we are likely entering another recession, can the

government seriously tell us that their cuts are working? It’s plain to see that ‘the deficit’ is simply an excuse to create the state which Thatcherite Tories have always dreamed of, where the poor are in their place and the private wealth of the City reigns supreme, making money from every aspect of Government (or what’s le8 of it).

These people are the extremists, not the public servants Jeremy Clarkson would execute for striking for our children’s future. As more jobs are lost and services closed, we are spending billions on nuclear weapons and wars.

Where is the far taxation on the rich? Why are the vulnerable being targeted not protected? Why is the City and international finance immune from making any contribution to society? Because the government is not for public services, protecting the vulnerable or making sure everyone contributes, it’s about protecting and enriching the ruling elite which much of the Cabinet is part of. The response to all this must be more and protracted strikes, student occupations, civil disobedience throughout society in response to cuts, mass marches across the country and linking up disparate protests movements, as only united can we win.

The Occupy movement, the pensioners protecting their libraries and disabled activists to name but a few need to seize common cause, uniting against the government and the exploitative interests that it works for. Lets name the date for the next strikes now, let’s get planning our next massive march, and locally we can all start protesting more, occupying more, raising up our voices more and never giving in.


Paul Haydon UCL

“Imagine a minute tax on banks which could raise billions of pounds a year, allowing us to turn round the NHS, improve education, and tackle global poverty and climate change”

Nabila Pathan SOAS

“Even freedom of speech has its limitations when it turns abusive”


Agree? Disagree? Your views:

The government shouldn’t ignore the Robin Hood Tax

Imagine a minute tax on banks which could raise billions of pounds a year, allowing us to turn round the NHS, improve education, and tackle global poverty and climate change. It sounds too good to be true. Yet this is exactly what advocates of the ‘Robin Hood Tax’ claim would be possible, if only our governments could get together and agree to do something about the significantly under-taxed financial sector. The basic idea is quite simple: take a tiny cut, say around 0.05%, of every financial transaction made by investment banks and hedge funds on stocks, bonds and derivatives. This would not only raise an estimated £250 billion a year globally, it would also help prevent the sort of risky and speculative high-frequency trading which helped cause the financial crisis in the first place. It seems like a political no-brainer. Tax the greedy bankers who ruined our economies, recover taxpayers money spent on the bailouts, and in the process save the world. Who on earth could oppose such a policy? George Osborne, apparently, who recently suggested at an EU finance summit that we should “just put this idea to bed.” Osborne has described the proposed EU-wide tax as a “bullet aimed at the heart of London,” portraying it as a plot hatched in Brussels to undermine the UK economy. Admi6edly, London’s position as Europe’s largest financial centre means the British financial sector would stand to pay the most tax, accounting for around 70% of the total revenue collected in Europe. Yet Germany and France, who both back the tax, have made it clear that the tax would be collected at a national level. This

means that we would also gain the most by far in terms of government income- around £20 billion. Incidentally, that’s the same figure Osborne recently pledged to guarantee in loans to small companies in order to help kickstart the economy. The other main criticism of the proposal is that many banks would simply relocate to other global financial centres in order to avoid the tax. All three main parties in the UK have therefore claimed that the tax is unworkable unless it is applied on a global scale, with Osborne claiming that anything less would amount to ‘economic suicide’ for the UK. However, it is important to note the British government already imposes a form of financial transaction tax in the form of a stamp duty of 0.5% on all share purchases. Despite this, the London Stock Market remains one of the most successful in the world. The city’s strategic position in the heart of Europe, large pool of skilled labour, well-developed infrastructure, lack of corruption and trustworthy legal system, and its status as a world-class centre of education and culture all combine to make it a highly desirable place to do business. This is complemented by a very low corporation tax, and perhaps most importantly the security provided by the implicit guarantee that banks will be bailed out by the taxpayer if they fail. All these factors combine to suggest that the claim that banks will simply leave if the Robin Hood tax goes ahead are greatly exaggerated. Significantly, this is not the first time the finance sector has made use of scare tactics in an effort to intimidate the government. HSBC and Standard

Transporting racism It’s 2011 and racism is live and kicking. When The #mytramexperience youtube video went viral at the start of this week, several other videos (‘Welcome to London’ and ‘My Train Expereince’ ) have come to light highlighting just how racist bile is being transported around the heart of our multicultural capital. The fact that this youtube video does not represent a standalone incident means we live in worrying times. For those of us drawn to London Universities with the lure of diversity, watching home feed a5er home feed showcasing this video was a disheartening experience especially as a London student. For me, my education thrives through the plurality of voices and backgrounds of my peers. Imagine the threatening spiel “go back home where you came from” or the “speak some

fucking English” every time you step into the network system that connects you from your home to your university becoming the norm and you the target of hatred. When news broke that the offending foul mouthed mother on the tram was arrested, I was thrilled that the power of new media through the uproar on Twi6er and Facebook mobilized the justice system into action. But there has been the emergence of voices condemning the arrest as the wrong way to deal with such an incident. One view is that she did not pose any physical harm because she was a woman and was carrying a child on her lap. How about the psychological impact Sunny? Just because she did not inflict any visible scars does not mean we should overlook the invisible. Whilst many of us understand the

Chartered threatened to relocate in 2010 when the government imposed a bank levy tax. Yet the threat never materialised, and both banks still have their headquarters in London. The banks and their supporters in the media have also repeatedly used the example of Sweden as proof of why a financial transaction tax is doomed to failure. Sweden imposed a similar tax during the 1990s and trading volumes fell dramatically. Yet this was in essence a problem of design, the tax was linked to Swedish brokerages meaning it was easy to circumvent by relocation. The Swedish example has thus been consistently wheeled out as a straw-man to discredit the current proposal, conveniently ignoring the fact that better-designed transaction taxes have been successfully used in a variety of countries such as Brazil, Argentina, India and Colombia. These past experiences have not only shown us that such a tax is possible, but importantly that they can be designed in such a way that they are cheap to implement and difficult to avoid through relocation. Perhaps this then explains why the financial sector is so mobilised against it. The final argument made against the tax is that it will hit the everyday consumer, either through its impact on pension funds or on liquidity and economic growth. The truth is the proposed tax would force us to rethink the highly flawed nature of our current economic model. We have to ask ourselves: do we really want pension funds to be constantly being traded on highly volatile and speculative markets? The Robin Hood Tax would encourage a more long-term and re-

severity of how racism of any form can offend, we neglect how a tirade of swearing added to the mix can actually humiliate and degrade those at the receiving end. The power of language should never be underestimated. When workplace and education institutions enforce policies against the use of such offensive language, why should the London transport system, a service we pay to take us safely from one location to another be any different? I’m an advocate of the public space for debates and conversation including uncomfortable topics because that’s the core of a democracy. But the tram incident cannot be equated to a public space. Her so-called ‘freedom of speech’ was a verbal violent assault on innocent bystanders. And those that fear the use of the

sponsible investment model for pensions as this would only necessitate a one-off payment. Similarly, do we really want economic growth to be based on financial speculation, bringing few benefits to the real economy whilst serving to enrich a small minority? The tax would reduce the sort of irresponsible practices which have brought nothing but economic ruin to our society. Right now the campaign for the Robin Hood Tax is gaining momentum. 65% of the British public would support the introduction of a financial transaction tax, along with nearly twothirds of Europeans. And this is not just a populist measure. Bill Clinton, George Soros, and Nobel Prize-winning economists Josef Stiglitz and Paul Krugman all support the tax. In light of this the government’s position that the tax will only work if it is applied on a global level seems like a convenient copout, as it is highly unlikely there will ever be a unanimous agreement on this issue. This is why the EU’s proposal is significant, as it could help to lead the way by example, particularly if it succeeds in raising the predicted revenue. Of course, this is not to say that implementing the tax would be easy; there would undeniably be problems particularly in the early stages. Yet the British government’s categorical refusal to take part shows how fearful it remains of the influential financial lobby. If it was serious about transforming the British economy, reducing our overreliance on finance and restoring the place of manufacturing and entrepreneurship, this tax would provide the perfect means to do so.

Public Order Act for her prosecution because they disagree with it’s use in the past or for future instances and thus it’s overall threat to freedom of speech, let’s not divert from the particulars of this context. Even freedom of speech has it’s limitations when it turns abusive and threatening. And quite frankly that’s a separate debate so let’s not get side-tracked from the path of justice because of our wider political agendas. As a Postgraduate student of the social sciences, I am aware how my political views and thoughts can o5en move to the realms of abstractness and o5en criticize the things that are black and white. But it takes incidencts like this, where I like to keep things real. She was a repugnant woman who would have offended and degraded me if I was present in that carriage. I hope she will be prosecuted for her visicious a6ack against plurality.



Diary from Spain

Taym Saleh’s sends us another missive from Madrid.

Society Spotlight

Amy Bowles sheds some light on Queen Mary’s equality societies - QM Equality and Women in the Arts.

Careers Q&A

Have any questions relating to your chosen career? Or perhaps you haven’t chosen a career! Get clued up with our careers Q&A with an expert advisor

Careers Special Continued

More useful resources and links to help you take the right steps.

Diary in Madrid: fear of freedom - page 15


Taym Saleh

It has indeed been quite some time since the last of these diary entries was written, and in the interim I have settled into the pace of a normal student’s life. I go to classes, and when I am not in classes, I feel anxious about not doing enough work, but not anxious enough to be spurred. The obvious difference, of course, and that everything happens in Spanish. From the beginning of September, when I first arrived, there were language classes offered to Erasmus students to get their Spanish up to speed. For me, at least, almost no matter how important, worthy, or interesting the subject matter of a class is, once it has begun I sit at a desk quietly grinding forward through one second after another until the class ends. In those two weeks of language lessons, I realised that they are the same the world over: the same fill-the-gap-in-thesentence exercises; the same stilted oral exchanges; the same reverential emphasis on the subjunctive. That fortnight’s preliminary period passed quickly, and now much time has elapsed since normality commenced. At the outset, the language barrier seemed and proved rather daunting. It was not so much a problem of incomprehension, but rather one of concentration. I could on the whole make out what was being said, but doing so required a complete devotion to the task, uninterrupted for the whole two hours of the lesson. Any daydreaming was punished with a complete loss of the teacher ’s narrative thread, and I would have to wait for another paragraph or topic to crop up before I could reassert a fresh grasp on the lecture. This se-

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verely impedes the taking down of notes, since effort spent looking down at a piece of paper, considering how to summarise what is being said, and actually executing the task is easily enough to lose the verbal trail. On one occasion, even glancing at a student who arrived late for a few seconds killed the flow. But the nature of university education, and, I suspect, the relaxed attitude that most people here seem to take towards this kind of thing ensures that there is no real punishment for falling below par, for the time being at least. Indeed, being an Erasmus student marks one out in a rather gentle, benign way – a teacher is likely to look on one with mild indulgence, and

It’s always difficult when you have to make your own timetable. Photographs: Danie van der Merwe

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to listen with a sympathetic ear to any question or doubt over a task to be done or a lesson to be understood. For all that I do miss the clarity and peace of mind that firm organisation gives. I remember that in King’s at the start of each year each student would receive a timetable, detailing in various different colours and various different little boxes where each class was taking place and when. Each module’s first class would involve the outlining of coursewide and week-by-week reading lists, and the declaration of pieces of work required and their deadlines. In Madrid, being Erasmus students, we were given nearly complete liberty to choose our

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subjects, but they left us to trawl their website to find the timetables, and piece together the schedules and potential clashes ourselves. An outlining of the details for each module is entirely at the individual teacher ’s discretion, and many of them choose to remain rather discrete about them. Else, when they are asked about by a concerned student, they seem a little peaked, dart their eyes around the room, and promise to attend to the matter next week. The inevitable result of course is that when the work deadlines are given out they are not very far away and do not find students very well prepared. I suppose too much freedom is not a good thing.

Students Studying Abroad

Katarzyna Lasinska and Kate Devine give us a glimpse of Erasmus life in Turin and Strasbourg - page 20

Society Spotlight: QMEquality WRITER

Amy Bowles Features Editor

Queen Mary’s QM Equality society began last year as a group set up by the university’s Women’s Officer to strive for gender equality not only at QM, but internationally. The group is gaining members and attention this year due to their well-attended debates, including October ’s ‘Lapdancing: A choice or Exploitation?’ and ‘What is Feminism?’ this November. The group is run by Wanda Canton, and meets weekly on a Wednesday. It is also involved in promoting a Queen Mary presence at equality events and protests such as the Slutwalk and last week’s Reclaim the Night walk. QMEquality works closely with Queen Mary’s LGBT society, as well as the Women in the Arts society. Women in the Arts was set up five years ago by three Queen Mary English students, and now offers students career advice specialised within the Arts department. Women in the Arts invites successful women to deliver speeches and advice about their various competitive industries and help members onto the first step of the career ladder by organising work placements in fields such as journalism, publishing, and marketing. Both QM Equality and Women in the Arts are open to join, and are happy to welcome all genders. For information on QMEquality, and for more information on QM’s Women in the Arts society email:




Every issue, we open up our centre spread to submissions from photographers in a new competition called ‘The Lyric Pic’.

The idea is to shoot an image that you associate with one of your favourite lyrics. For example, you may choose to take a pastoral picture of forests to accompany Bob Dylan’s ‘upon four-legged forest clouds the cowboy angel rides’ lyric. Send your submissions to:

The best submissions will feature in the paper throughout the year.


INSTITUTION: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY - LONDON CAMERA SETTINGS: Olympus SP-800UZ Exposure:50 8.9 mm Aperture: f/3.5 ISO speed: 1/400

LYRIC: Ah, peace like a river ran through the city - Paul Simon LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER: This photo was taken in Chepstow Castle in Wales. The dramatic cliff side created a worldly view of the winding murky river.






Did you ask something about careers? Well, here’s what you needed to know. Careers Advisor Saiyada Smith

Interview Alireza S.Nejad

I don’t know why, but I have seen many students that are too shy to their college career advisor simple questions. So, London Student asked their student readers to send in their questions regarding job applications and careers advice. We had a chance to interview Ms Saiyada Smith, a careers advisor at Lonodn University Graduate Club, and so asked your all-important questions. Here are the answers and we hope that you will find them useful.

There are many networks and companies for job applications. I don’t know what would the best way to make a proper job application. Is it better to become a member of grad-club at my college? Or send my documents to careers companies? Or apply individually? I often find if you have been focusing on a particular application after a while you become “blind” to mistakes, so getting feedback is a very useful activity. I would encourage you to join your university’s GradClub scheme. That way, you can obtain feedback on applications from an expert career professional. You may want to read up on Completing Job Applications to help you further: (

I am willing to continue my education. Can the grad-club help me in terms of writing a proper personal statement or PhD proposal? Absolutely! All our Careers Consultants have experience in supporting students with writing personal statements for further study. If you are considering a PhD, we can give you feedback on how to convey your motivation for the PhD and can provide you with practical guidance on structuring your research proposal.

I graduated last year. Am I still eligible to apply for graduate schemes? More than likely, but it is always good to do your research before spending time and energy on applications. Look at the careers section on the employer’s website, which will hopefully set out the eligibility criteria. If in doubt, contact their recruitment team.

How could I search and explore the available job opportunities? Do I need to gain job search skills? Instead of blindly sending out CVs to every employer in your field,

target companies and positions that are right for you and tailor your applications accordingly. Yes, this is a job in itself, but landing the right job is worth it in the end. You can download resources which you may find useful from the London University Graduate Club website.

How can I improve my numerical skills? Numerical tests form part of many recruitment processes. The level of the test will depend on the job and how important the skills are to it. If you feel you are weak at mathematics, then it is worth spending time improving them. It may just be that you have forgotten some GCSE maths over the years! Most graduate recruiters have practice numerical tests on their website.

How can I answer verbal test questions properly? There are lots of ways to improve your communication skills. Like with other skills, the more you do the easier it gets. Become an active reader and, in particular, read complicated text that you may not be familiar with. Get into the habit of extracting the main points and summarising their meaning. Psychometric Success provides the chance to try numerical, verbal, abstract, spatial and mechanical tests and looks at the rationale behind each type of test

How can I write a proper CV? ‘Do’s 1. Always tailor your CV to the job description so that it highlights the aspects of your experience relevant to the job which you are applying for. CVs formulated with a specific role in mind are almost always more successful than those written for any generic position. 2. Concentrate on your achievements and not just your responsibilities or duties. This means listing what you have done such as: meeting sales targets, launching a product or awards won. 3. Always triple check spelling and grammar! ‘Don’t’s 1. Clutter up your CV with chunky paragraphs, put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Make your

CV accessible to a busy reader! 2. Assume you know best. Always get a second opinion. 3. Don’t put negative information on your CV. The How to Write a CV information on our website contains lots more useful tips.

How do I make my application impressive enough for an employer in the first place? Convey a clear motivation for the job. Give the employer the impression that you have researched the role, sector and the organisation. Make your answer personal and avoid copying and pasting bits from their website. For example, if the employer is investing in developing communities, explain why this initiative fits in with your individual values.

My academic background is not impressive but I have done so much during my study and I have got some good work experience. Should I still be confident to apply for a job when my degree does not meet the minimum entry level of that placement? Always try and get in touch with the employer, as they will be able to explain just how strict their application criteria is. Remember, your academic grades make up half of who you are. Focus on selling your work experience. Present the skills you have gained and how these would be relevant to the employer.

Is there any limitation regarding the number of words or pages of my CV? Basically, I am a skilled person and I cannot write all of my achievements and interests on one page. The general rule is no more than two pages however for some sectors, such as banking and management consulting, some employers ask for one page CVs. If you have lots of varied experience, be selective and pick the achievements that are most suited to the position you are applying for. You may also want to focus on some of your most recent activities and avoid going back to your school days. How can I write a proper cover letter?

The cover letter puts flesh on the bare bones of a CV. Aim to answer three main questions: • Why sre you interested in the job? • What relevant skills make you suited to the role? • Why you are interested in that particular employer? Again, there are lots more tips under Application Letters on our website. Does spell checking matter? Absolutely!

How can I minimise my grammar mistakes? Get a careers consultant, friend or trusted colleague to proof read your applications.

What are the key elements of answering a job application’s questions? E.g. “Why are you interested in applying to our company?” Or, “describe your last notable achievement.” My top tip for answering application questions is to actually answer the question asked! Don’t include information for the sake of it. If an employer asks why you are interested in their company, do your research. Write down what makes this employer unique to its competitors. Consider the organisation’s values and culture. If you can, try and talk to current employees so you can get a unique perspective. When answering questions about achievements, try and consider why the employer might be asking this question. This question is very much about the employer trying to get an idea of what motivates you and what you value. Achievements aren’t just about awards and prizes, but can come from your work experience and extra-curricular activities too. Is it good if I call an employer to ask about the status of my application? Because sometimes it is ambiguous how long I should wait for their final decision. Yes, it is absolutely fine to follow up, but don’t become a pest!

Is it acceptable if I apply for different companies at the same time? E.g. for 5 banking firms. It is fine to do so, however remember you may want to focus on one application at a time. Job hunting isn’t about the quantity of applications you send, but about the quality. Your applications may yield better results if you spend time working on a few select applications.

Find out more information and regular updates on our website:

Your colleges’ careers service team The Careers Group University of London

The UoL Careers Group provides many updated leaflets explaining how to write CVs, the procedure for international and disabled students, and other useful guidance. Job Online, Job Alret, and Grad Club are the three main services that UoL Careers Group offers students.

JobOnline/JobAlert Log in to My Careers Service (via your college careers service site) to receive the latest vacancies, graduate recruitment programmes, internships and postgraduate study opportunities to your inbox. Ensure the JobAlert box is ticked so you can start to receive vacancies and careers information that is tailored to you.

Search their online jobs board JobOnline for the latest in graduate vacancies, internships and part-time opportunities from across a wide variety of sectors: GradClub Continue using your college careers service for up to two years a4er graduation and receive reduced rates on individual careers discussion and practice interviews. You also get free unlimited access to 15 – 20 minute discussions with a careers adviser at your college and free unlimited access to the Careers Library at Stewart House.


University College London Careers Group

UCL students: for graduate vacancies and internships, careers information, or details of how you can talk to a careers professional or meet top employers, visit your carres group’s new website at To be the first to hear about careers events for UCL students and to receive job vacancies that match your preferences, sign up to UCL Alert at


Goldsmiths Careers Group Goldsmiths Careers


Your colleges’ careers service team

C2 Career Consultancy SI Careers Service



Your 8 essential careers resources

C2 and SICS provides the careers service for the following colleges at The University of London: •Birkbeck •Heythrop College •Institute of Education •London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine •Institute of Cancer Research •Marine Biological Station, Millport •Royal Veterinary College •School of Pharmacy •St. Georges •School of Advanced Study •University of London Institute in Paris @C2careers

SOAS Careers Group


King’s College London Careers Group


LSE Careers Group


Queen Mary UoL Careers Group


Royal Holloway UoL Careers Group


14 February 2012

15 March 2012

1-The Careers Service Guide 2012 helps you in terms of finding out more about 77 employers in different sectors such as Bloomberg, PwC, FDI Consulting, HSBC Bank plc. It also gives you advice on how to get work via the careers service by demonstrating very interesting experinces from former students at the University of London. Download a copy of this guide from The Careers Group, UoL’s website at:

2- The Finalist Directory is something that you cannot miss. It provides alomost everything that you might need to know before a job application. It gives you tips for writing a personal statement, interview skills, and information about entrepreneurship, franchising and freelancing. You can also find out more about postgraduate study. Download a copy of this guide from The Careers Group, UoL’s website at: or ask your collge’s careers service.

3-How to find and apply for UNADVERTISED JOBS is another essitial guide which can be very useful for you because sometimes the job you want may not be advertised as frequently as you would like. In fact you may have never seen an advert for that elusive role. You can increase your chances of finding employment by approaching organisations directly for work. You can grab a copy of this 4 page leaflet from your college’s careers service or the UoL Careers Group’s website.

4-How To Find A Job is a 2 page leaflet that provides brief information regarding the ways that you can search available jobs and find careers advisors. Job boards and Internet recruitment sites, Company websites, Recruitment agencies, Graduate fairs, Unadvertised jobs, and Small firms as graduate employers are six diffrent subjects that have been covered for your information in this leaflet.

5-HowtowriteaCOVERINGLETTER is an essential leaflet for those job appilicants who are not aware of the differences between a covering le6er and a CV. Whereas your CV demonstrates your skills and experience, a covering le6er shows how these are relevant to the job and demonstrates enthusiasm for the particular role and organisation. Remember that your le6er is not a regurgitation of your CV; think of it as a tailormade statement for that position and employer, so you’ll write a different le6er for each organisation you apply to. All available at your college’s careers service or the UoL Careers Group’s website.

6-Students With Disabilities is a leaflet provided by The UoL Careers Group which is commi6ed to providing an excellent service to all its clients, regardless of background or disability, and is actively seeking to comply with The Equality Act 2010. If you require help accessing any of our services please ask a member of staff who will be happy to help. The Law, Specialist Equipment, How can I identify potential employers? , Organizations providing specialised advice, and Disclosing disability are five part of this leaflet that is intended to provide information and useful referral points for students with disabilities when career-planning or jobseeking. The information is not comprehensive but aims to provide a useful starting point.

7-Leaving Academia is designed for graduate students at university. Many PhD students and post-doctoral researchers in our colleges consider the option of a change of career. Here are some ideas for you to consider! Industry, Health, Publishing and the Media, Policy, Social and Market Research, and Business and Professional Services are six different part of this essential leaf let. Ask for your free copy from your college’s careers service or the UoL Careers Group’s website.

8-How can the careers service help INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS is a very useful 2 page leaflet for overseas students who want to know more about part-time and vacation work, National Insurance number, work a5er graduation in the UK, applications, CVs, and useful websites that provide information about working and studying inside and outside of the UK. Don’t miss your the chance to grab your free copy and ask your further questions from your college careers service.

Upcoming Courses at The Careers Group, University of London

Exploring Graduate Entry to Medicine

Medical careers are now open to a wider range of people than ever before. Accelerated medical courses are designed specifically to train graduates with a non-medical degree as doctors. Venue: Beveridge Hall, South Block, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU. Contact or on 020 7863 6042 to discuss

Ge/ing into International Development

International Development is a growing sector that employs a wide range of people around the globe. This one day introductory course will set out clearly how the sector is structured, the different entry roles available and the combination of qualifications, skills and experience needed to get into international development. •Learn how the development sector is structured and find out about a wide variety of jobs, graduate schemes, internships and short courses. •Participate in a lunch time careers fair and network with education providers and NGO’s. •Choose optional workshops on working in emergency relief, development consultancy, campaigning and advocacy and development fundraising Venue: Beveridge Hall, South Block, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU. 9:00am - 5:00pm Contact or on 020 7863 6042 to discuss arrangements. website: For all latest news, videos, and podcasts visit our new website


Student Diaries: the mood that Turin WRITER

Kate Devine

Turin signposting Photo: Renzo Borgatti

So, I have been Kate-the-strangeEnglish-girl for about six weeks now, it’s a fairly long time really, and I reckon I am finally settled in. I have been through the hard couple of weeks, where simply everything is difficult; the time during which you have to go to lots of hard-to-find places and sign lots of impossible-to-read documents. There is a silver lining to this: time was, upon being handed a hefty tenancy agreement to sign, I might have felt the inclination to read it. Now though, bearing in mind that the task would take me about a month and some seriously dubious Google translate usage, I am more than willing to flippantly ‘sign my life away’. I am thinking about compiling some sort of very helpful, lighthearted guide for next year’s Torino Erasmus, it will start with bullet points, something like this:


- If you can wait to get here before looking for a house, it will be nicer. I have some serious apartment envy going on, and all because I wanted to know where I was living before I arrived, a foolish attempt to placate nerves (at least this is how I feel staring into the mouldy corners of my box room as I am now).

- If you can live with Italians, DO IT! I am living with four Spanish students. They are lovely but I do not speak Spanish. Two thirds of their ‘Italian’ is actually Spanish. Enough said.

- You need ID to do everything! Italians are obsessed with your ability to hand them a document with your face on it in the most odd of circumstances. Circumstances necessitating evidence of my existence in card form include: Estate agent (understandable), university registration (also logical), buying a SIM card (odd), going to a football match (stranger still), getting my ear pierced (inexplicable).

- Don’t expect to be able to use a service at the point of usage! This may sound strange, but it is probably one of the biggest and most annoying differences between England and Italy. I knew it was famous for red tape but Christ: you have to buy your bust ticket from a tobacconist before embarking; you must then validate your ticket in a box before it is usable. You come across a free ‘Boris bike’ type thing, ‘I’ll take it for a ride’ you think – WRONG: you have to go to a central office to buy a card that enables you to use the bike. This list goes on like this indefinitely.

- The water may taste funny but it’s safe. Aware that I sound like a xenophobic Brit with this statement, but in this city it really does taste weird. - The food is AMAZING, go for aperitivo every day. Every day may, in fact, not be enough!

- Drinking wine will improve your Italian. FACT

- Have fun, and don’t worry too much about lectures. You will not understand your lecturer; you will probably feel like an idiot. My advice: take a couple of English lit classes, then at least your teacher and your classmates will speak some English (cop out I know).

The first month or so is tricky; you should not expect to suddenly become fluent. Make meeting people and having a good time the top priorities, then everything should be fine, I think, I don’t actually know, I’ve only been here for six weeks!


Strasbourg, France WRITER

Katarzyna Lasinska

Everything in France is slow – done the long way around. In England the pictures are taken and the student cards are printed off instantly, the whole process taking no more than 5 minutes. In France, it required a lot of waiting around, then about 10 seconds of talking, more waiting around, another 10 seconds, then the lady running about and that’s right – more waiting for me. On top of that, the card is sent to you by post, which of course requires more waiting. If as a hobby you enjoy spending your time standing absentmindedly for hours on end behind people with greasy hair or a bad case of B.O., then France is an excellent place for you. I highly recommend it. I came across another spot-on example of the French doing things the long way while driving around a parking lot in a shopping mall with my parents when they first dropped me off (Yes that is correct – I was driven!). It was ge5ing late and we desired nothing more than to find an exit and get out of the place. Logically, if you wish to exit a certain geographical location, you follow signs with arrows marked “Exit”; you’d be a fool not to. My father is the type of man who doesn’t like waiting around. He wants things to be done fast, professionally and efficiently, without the excess sighs and irritated drumming of the fingers on any nearby surface. That is to say, he, as do I, follows the typical American drive of instant gratification: ‘Now, in 5 minutes at the latest, or I’ll look somewhere else’. This seems to be a concept unknown to the French. For them, the longer and more complicated the issue, the be5er. Thus, you can imagine my father’s anger and dismay when he found out that in following the signs he’d actually made a round trip around the entire parking lot, only to pass his original parking space and to

continue in the opposite direction from the original arrows to the exit. My only question to the French, considering we live in a free, democratic society, is “Why?” But perhaps the worst example of complicating things lies in our halls kitchen – or, more precisely, doesn’t lie there. Our kitchen came equipped with a flashy hot pink water ke5le and two black blobs on the counter cleverly disguised as a stove. ‘Where’s the microwave?’ I thought to myself. I can understand how an oven might be impractical in halls of residence, but no microwave? “So that means no frozen foods to heat up in the microwave, not even canned soup?” I asked in a worried voice. “Non.” was the stiff reply. But how will I survive? I was at the point of seriously considering the option of buying my own microwave, but then, to my own despair, I decided that it’s not worth it. I came here to immerse myself in French culture, and not to resort to my habitual American instant gratification drive alluded to earlier. So now instead of Tesco Finest Pepperoni and Cheese Microwaveable Frozen But Still Semi Edible, Gooey and Sticky Mass Resembling a Pizza it will be a croissant or another French concoction every day before lectures from the local boulangerie. If there’s one thing I took out from my first couple of weeks in Strasbourg, it’s that if you want to know the French, you need to be like the French. And since I’m not le4 with much choice, I might as well start now. I’ll let you know how it goes. That is of course, if by the time you read this I wouldn’t have swallowed my pride and given in to the uncanny temptation of the microwave oven. Instant is instant.

Strasbourg Photo: Franscisco Attunes


COMMUNITY Our green columnist throws down the gauntlet- Do your part and please Recycle your copy once you’ve enjoyed it

Victoria Yates



ENTREPRENEURSHIP Need advice on how to finance your start-up? We’ve got it covered - page 23

Ahmad Bakhiet



This issue our Science of... column is all about Santa. Christmas has come to be known for Reindeer, mulled wine and of course, Mr. Claus. But how can Santa get from house to house in just one night? - page 25

Rachel Mundy Harriet Jarle.



Are the new wave of student immigration controls a no-win situation? We consider their impact on the minds and wallets of British education - page 26

Valeriya Nefyodova ACADEMIA EDITOR


It can be hard to control your spending at uni at the best of times but as the holidays descend Saul looks at when its a problem and how you can regain control - page 27

Saul Hillman


Green Column Writing the Book on Dyslexia The Ben Parfitt says please recycle

London Student spoke with Naomi Folb, Editor of Forgotten Letters

Writer Kirsten Dewar SOAS Kiran was born in 1991 and grew up in Milton Keynes. She is now a second year History student at SOAS and despite never writing an article for London Student, she won the first prize for Amateur Journalists at the Guardian International Development Journalism Competition with her article “The right to say ‘no’” and was published on Wednesday 23 November 2011. She entered the competition in June 2011 with her article “Challenges faced by disabled girls in the Solomon Islands” and was shortlisted amongst 400 entries and then flown to Bangladesh to work with Plan, a NGO that “works for children and their communities to help realise children’s rights”. Kiran told me that she entered the competition during her sabbatical year working as a volunteer for Transparency International in the Solomon Islands (South Pacific). Kiran’s winning article focuses on the issue of early and forced marriages in Bangladesh by In Bangladesh, telling the story early marriage of Nargis, a is illegal, yet young female 66% of girls are Bangladeshi married off forced to marry when they are at the premature still considered age of 12. She children in the highlights in her eyes of the law article that “In Bangladesh, early marriage is illegal, yet 66% of girls are married off when they are still considered children in the eyes of the law – the highest rate in south Asia and the fourth highest in the world”. The competition aims to raise awareness of crucial international issues and although this story was assigned to Kiran, she gradually started to “care a lot about it”. Following the publication of her article she has become “involved with the

campaign” and last week she “spoke in Parliament at an event Plan organised about changing the legislation on forced marriage in the UK”. Her article comes at a perfect time because “at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet-

Kiran delivers her acceptance speech. Images

ing, David Cameron identified early and forced marriage as a key issue” and last week “Scotland changed legislation making forced marriage a criminal offence”. Back in London a6er taking a year off to work in the Solomon Islands and Bangladesh, Kiran realises that SOAS has helped her to “consolidate (her) interest because it's the only place where (she) thinks you don't have to look to find the things you care about”. With her undergraduate degree in hand, Kiran hopes to be able “to tell the story of people who wouldn't normally get their voices heard. (She) would still like to work in development but hasn’t decided completely what area yet”. As a student, Kiran loves everything about London, but her favourite part of London is Bloomsbury: “I think it's so beautiful, but architecture in London is fantastic almost everywhere. And I love how you can discover new places all the

time, just by taking a different street. I don't think I could ever get bored of London”. Kiran insists that the Guardian has not offered her a job but with the quality of her research, writing and her wonderfully kind personality,

they would be foolish to miss out on her skills. She is a rare writer whose work is a clear result of her love of writing and her passion for development. London Student is on the watch for this up and coming talent and will hopefully make use of her in future issues. To be continued…

Kiran Flynn

“It is easy to write these girls off as victims of religious, cultural or traditional extremism, but early marriage is just as much a result of poverty, gender inequality, and even increased financial pressure caused by natural disasters or climate change.”

See Kiran’s full article and those of the other finalists at

Writer Ben Parfitt UCL

I tend to leave most of these columns Combine the mass of London Stuon a slight cli7anger. It's never indent’s delivered to campuses across tentional - just a reflection on the London with the bunch of competing topic in hand. By their very nature, students rags doing the rounds. UCL environmental issues are tricky to has Pi Newspaper, Pi Magazine and tackle. For much of the history of huThe Cheese Grater. Royal Holloway mankind, men and women the has The Orbital and The Founder. world-over have pondered all manQueen Mary has QMessenger and ner of green conundrums with li8le Cub Magazine. You get the idea. resolve. I would be fooling no one in There’s a shit load of paper carpeting claiming to have found the elusive campuses across London. antidote to the great trouble of our Ethics and Environment (E&E) Oftime. Instead, this humble column ficers are beginning to get a bit sniffy. tends to present some facts interAt Royal Holloway for example, Ed woven with opinion and topped off Resek, E&E big man, has already with a wavering whiff of irony. taken his concerns to the resident I think I've been aiming to high, fostudent journos. How did they recusing on the 'big' issues - climate spond? They dedicated their whole change, global water back page to the green footprints, the World warrior and encourBank. I always seek to aged their readers to bring a local twist to do the right thing. Emthe fore. I o6en begin blazoned across the with a cheeky Uniback in the greenest versity of London green were the words: hook, hoping that “Ed Resek says please you may find some recycle once you have relevance in the artiread another fine addicle, and may even tion of The Orbital” make some connec“The thought of peotions to your own stuple even contemplatdent life in the ing recycling the Student rags alone produce a capital. But as we magazine in the first shed load of paper. chug towards the end place is hard to deal Flickr User term, I feel it’s apt to with,” explain Beth Valerie Everett wrap up my loose Bridewell, Editor of ends, to drop the irony and to quit The Orbital. “But once you get over with the rhetorical questions. It's the initial denial, it is easy to see why time for some answers. recycling is needed. We consciously I shall start where I le6 off - with decided to lower our print run on the this paper. Last issue, I questioned basis that more people could share whether your copy would be recyone copy.” cled or simply le6 to rot at landfill. "We slap a big fat recycling logo on The answer to that is largely out of the back of our magazine. The mesyour hands and its unlikely we’ll sage really can't be big enough. We know one way or other thanks to an just thought: why not make a whole inefficient method of recycling back page feature out of it?! The iniadopted by many University of Lontial idea actually came from a studon institutions. dent who was keen on eco-blogging. Lets begin with the facts. London It was great to know she really cared Student prints 10,000 copies every about what happened once the magtwo weeks. Each year that amounts azine got read" to 120,000 papers. At 56 pages an So, I had a think. Why not do the issue - and with magazine supplesame with London Student? And so I ments thrown in too – London Stuproposed we place a reminder on the dent uses around half a million back. I hope it’s an idea that has square meters of newsprint each made the cut. And I hope the year. Fear not, London Student is thought of simply binning this bad printed only on recycled paper and boy makes your hair stand on end. its printers ‘Harmsworth Printing’ Reuse. Recycle. assure us that “100% of all producFollow Ben on @bparf tion waste produced is recycled.”



Accountability in the Congo

The international community has an obligation to ensure the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent elections were free and fair Democratic Republic of Congo Writer Free Fair DRC Free Fair DRC is a non-partisan organisation active in the UK, US, Brussels and the DRC, which has been working to ensure open and transparent elections in the Congo

The latest elections in the Congo –the country’s second since a devastating war ended in 2003 - represented a rare and fragile opportunity for the Congolese to have a voice on some of the most grinding social issues. Against a backdrop of violence surrounding the outcome of other elections across Africa, in states such as Zimbabwe, Cote d‘Ivoire or Kenya, the ballot held on November 28th may cause the DRC to implode once more if it is not perceived to be free and fair. Realizing the scale of the

ambition. If the social challenges are properly addressed, it will surely contribute to improving the security situation which has plagued the Congolese people for so long - ensuring that the police and armed forces receive their wages regularly, for instance, will not only reduce avarice, but also create incentives to protect civilians. The Congo faces considerable challenges in order to move itself off the bo4om of numerous international development tables. In the past, aid to the Congo has rarely had the outcome anticipated, or desired, by governments who a4empt to facilitate the transition from war to peace. This time the UK must work together with Congolese partners and other international actors in order to make aid more effective. However, as the

Congolese members of Free Fair DRC marching to the Independent National Election Commission (CENI), in Kinshasa, DRC. Image Courtesy of Free Fair DRC

problems faced by Congolese people – in a country ranked last in this year’s Human Development Index and the importance of the DRC to the region and Africa as a whole, the United Kingdom will send almost £800 million in aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo over the next four years, whilst the US has spent almost $1 billion over the past four years – yet progress is slow. On the ground, there is mounting frustration among those who do not benefit from the DRCs vast natural wealth, inclusive of diamonds, gold and copper. Evidence that public sector groups, including civil servants, teachers, soldiers, police, and nurses have all run out of patience with the long-held practices of patronage and predation is clear: UNIKIN (University of Kinshasa) professors are striking, although this receives li4le a4ention in the popular media. At UPN (Universite Pedagogique de Kinshasa), students were barricading streets almost on a daily basis complaining about the rise in student fees; yet this protest remains widely untold. Congolese society is on the move; it is demanding fairness as well as accountability and these elections are the first step towards that

election plays out, international society will not succeed by acting on behalf of the Congo – this will only perpetuate dependency and exonerate Congolese politicians of their responsibility – it should inThe UN are more s t e a d keen for the Constrengthen golese authoricivil society ties to deal with partnerships disturbances and work with compared to NGOs. It is es2006 and, with sential that detensions running velopment high, the police experts engage have already resorted to firing with the Contear gas and amgolese people munition at proand equip testors. them with the tools to move beyond aid and towards effective self-government. Such an ambition is a process, not an event, and these elections will represent the cornerstone of this process. At the time of writing violence is clearly escalating, unsurprisingly in urban areas. Free Fair DRC’s special representative in Kinshasa has informed us that gangs have been hired to intimidate rival candidates, to destroy banners and posters of op-

ponents and are even given the resources, including motorcycles and money to do this. Sources add that as campaigning entered the final week, it is not just the political leaders fuelling tensions. In Lodja Sankuru District, Kasai-Oriental, politically motivated hate speech escalated to involve the owners of two rival radio stations who took advantage of their ability to broadcast across the province, provoking one another for an entire day. It appears that the UN are more keen for the Congolese authorities to deal with disturbances compared to 2006 and, with tensions running high, the police have already resorted to firing tear gas and ammunition at protestors. All this took place before the first vote had been officially cast. Another critical consideration that

1960 1998 2003 2006 2010


Independence gained DRC hard hit by ‘Africa’s World War’ in which more than 5.4 million have died. First free elections in 40 years are held UN Representative Margaret Wallstrom calls DRC ‘rape capital of the world’estimated 48 women raped every hour. Country still struggles with violence and militias Present day elections, marred by violence

gage with the youth of the Congo effectively will have a serious impact on the country’s future. Recent ballots in Africa, such as those in Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire, powerfully illustrate how elections can exacerbate underlying religious, economic and cultural tensions. Just eight short years a3er the Second Congo War was formally concluded, the international community must not reduce its engagement with these elections to a policy of continuity over peace. It has been discovered that hundreds of polling stations are missing from several electoral Kabila Supporter shows her allegiances. constituencies in KinFlickr User ENOUGH Project shasa, whilst ballots papers have been reported to be ‘doing affects elections across Africa is the the rounds’ in South Africa [where role that young people play - the avthe papers were printed] and a top erage age in the DRC is just 18. For opposition candidate was shot dead many people this will be the first days before the DRC went to the time that they have voted and, whilst polls. Following the 2006 election, the government has done li4le to furimpunity was described as the ‘glue’ ther voter education since 2006, of the peace process – today the young people care passionately country still remains on unfamiliar about the big issues such as violence terms with the rule of law and secuin the East, rape, child soldiers and rity. These elections will fall short ununemployment: their significance in less the international community these elections must not be taken for holds those responsible for the vote granted. One need only look to the accountable. role that young people have played in past month’s across North Africa For more information about Free and the Middle East: a failure to enFair DRC see

Happy Holidays from the Community team

Christmas Gift ideas for the community enthusiast 1/4

Give a little love [COMMUNITY]

I am an avid Christmas fan, with its traditions of cold weather outfitting, huddling by fireplaces, and time spent laughing with family or friends from home. I relish the yearly opportunity to spend a modest sum and make my loved ones happy. Because of this I am, I’m afraid, not the kind who thinks a charitable donation in someone’s name fulfills the Christmas requirements. But yet, there is another way to give without forfeiting the scarf your mother has been coveting quietly for months, namely the charitable Christmas card. It costs little extra (indeed some options are cheaper) and the variety is extensive; whether a glitter snow fan or a humorous innuendo type there will be a card for you, all with the added bonus of knowing you did a little something in the spirit of the season for someone in dire need. See for their selection, 42 products and at least 19 charities to choose from. Currently on 3 for 2. Example image £3 for 8 for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People


Google Adword


Any entrepreneur is going to need to advertise their venture at some point. A lot of people won’t invest money in the early stages for this but as a gift many more will experiment with valuable services which could in turn provide a valuable return on the advertising investment. Why not put £20 in a Google Adwords account for them? This practical gift could be the starting point of exponential business growth!


The Mensa Brain Trainer [SCIENCE &TECH]

"Sick of university deadlines, but needing more stimulation that the Christmas drivel on telly? Try out the 'Mensa Brain Trainer' available for £18 from the Science Museum shop. Not only will you improve your IQ and memory over the holidays, you will probably do better in exams too!" See


Amazon Kindle [ACADEMIA]

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Flickr user mick y

The future is here: Download books in 60 seconds using wi-fi (no computer necessary); carry 1,400 books around for less weight than one paperback; books are cheaper than normal paperbacks and there are over a million free books available; excellent for reading any material from Wikipedia, or from any newspaper article (starting from London Student, of course). A must have for this Christmas from Academia! £89 on



Silicon Valley Comes to UK is bigger and be(er than ever before

Writer Ahmad Bakhiet

This year the Silicon Valley Comes to UK programme (now regularly abbreviated to SVc2UK) rolled out once again for its largest event thus far. We look at some of the highlights: About SVc2UK

SVc2UK is an annual programme welcomes pioneers of the most disruptive consumer internet and green technologies to the UK. The programme is organised by Co-Chairs Sherry Coutu and Reid Hoffman, the Executive Commi7ee and Partnering Organisations. Many of the SVc2UK events coincided with Global entrepreneurship week which is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups.

The APPathon The SVc2UK program kick off with the APPathon in which over 30 universities sent delegates to hack government data to create something useful. Sherry Coutu, Co-Chair of SVC2UK, said: “This is the first time the data has been made open in a tech friendly manner. All the data is

in database files ready to be utilised. With the wealth of data provided there are billions of possibilities of what we can do with it and thus real potential to a make notable impact to the country.” The students had the opportunity to gain advice and insight from industry experts working at the likes of Google, Microso6 and Facebook. The national winners include CourseHorse from Oxford, which provides its users aggregated information about local vocational skilling opportunities; A&Express from London, an app to help find the nearest hospital with the shortest waiting time; and Edinburgh’s EyeSore provides the community with a tool to crowdsource the reporting of local “eyesores” so that local authorities can act upon them. Emphasising its position as one of the highlight technology competitions of the year the winners from the SVC2UK APPathon were congratulated by the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street. Largest SVc2UK thus far In addition to its usual program this year the programme included over twenty societies across the country organising SVc2U Enterprise Events. Sherry Coutu, CoChair of SVC2UK, said: “Doing things through student societies is

How to finance your start-up Writer Martyn Hopwood

A start-up with no money is a bonfire without fire-wood. Money provides the engine and fuel. Without cash you have nothing. So you had better start looking for some start-up capital. Before you embark on your hunt for hard cash, make sure you have a potentially exceptional, high-growth business. You have to know what you are doing, and you’ve got to be absolutely focused. We live in uncertain times, money is tight people aren’t going to risk it easily. The lazy route for investment is asking friends and family. Knock up a business plan and get some easy funding. The problem with this avenue is it’s too unchallenging. Unless you have family or friends with business experience - how will you know if what you have is worth pursuing? Essential industry contacts and knowledge may also be harder to acquire. Business investment is often more than just about hard cash. Funding that is too easy to acquire could lead to complacency and misdirection. After asking the old man to invest in your fold-up radiator idea - he might

want to invest; to give you something to do, because no one will give you a job. The government could be a source for funding through its various initiatives. But don’t hope for a big amount. High street banks are also possible routes for low level investment. All you’ll need is a decent business plan, a bit of effort, and some smart clothes. Getting investment from your family, the government, or a high street bank is a good option if you are a Asmall novice seekamount of ing practice, start-up capior interested tal will make to see if a conyou more recept will sourceful work. In certain situations too much start-up capital may encourage profligacy and dampen drive. A small amount of start-up capital will make you more resourceful and careful with how you allocate cash. To drag a business up, in the face of financial adversity, would be a worthwhile experience. For the ambitious and able entrepreneur; the investors who invest for a living - are the people to look to for funding. Venture

be7er and more efficient than via the university.” Evidently, the SVc2U events bought the concept of the program on campus. London Universities taking part included London Business School, London Southbank, Imperial and University College London. As a prime example the UCL Enterprise Society arranged a ‘flight to the future theme’ in which Rob Fitzpatrick, who has consistently been ranked number one on Hacker News, delivered the keynote presentation on why failure can be a good thing. While Imperial Entrepreneurs partnered with the MIT Enterprise Forum UK for a day-long event which included speakers such Alastair Mitchell, Founder of Huddle and Martin Varsavsky a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. Silicon Valley comes to Tech City Another first for the Silicon Valley programme is the visit to Tech City. A7endees had the opportunity to hear from the top 20 investors and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley regarding their experiences and panels discussions addressing the foremost issues in technology entrepreneurship including keynotes by Reid Hoffman, Executive Chairman and co-founder of LinkedIn, and

Thomas Ryan, CEO of Threadless and Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons and head of the MIT Media Lab.

Silicon Valley Dinner at Science Museum The SVc2UK programme ended with an invitation dinner to the Science Museum. The dinner bought together a number of entrepreneurs and investors from Silicon Valley and thought leaders from the Gaming, Fashion and Consumer Internet Sectors from Silicon Valley and Europe alongside students from Oxford, Cambridge and London. The format of the evening included a number of short talks on the future and generally celebrating what can be achieved when you mix science, engineering, mathematics and entrepreneurship. Perhaps the most memorable quote of the night was when Sherry Coutu, related one of the museum’s airplanes hanging above a7endees dinner tables to Reid Hoffman’s famous analogy of entrepreneurship, “Jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down" and it is this kind of mindset that British entrepreneurs can learn from their Silicon Valley counterparts.

Flickr User: Images_of_Money

capitalists and Angel Investors are experienced businessmen who invest in start-ups on behalf of others and themselves. If you are after some serious start-up capital, these people can provide it. If an investor or a group of investors are happy to gamble several million quid on your business – you can be sure it’s got potential. If you have the wherewithal to go out and secure investment from these guys, you can be positive you have the ability to make things work. Professional investors will also bring advice, the right contacts, knowledge and mentorship to the table. Like expansionist countries, these guys work in their own interest. They will want to get a

piece of your cake - and understandably a nice return. Expect a relationship based on what you can get out of each other. Negotiate hard; don’t give anyone a free ride. Crowd funding - raising finance through willing contributors investing small amounts over the internet - is a cool way for the quirky, less traditional entrepreneur looking for an interestExpect a relaing way to get tionship based investment. If on what you you have a can get out of p o p u l i s t , each other. funky, egalitarNegotiate ian product or hard; don’t concept - it’s a give anyone a fun avenue for free ride. funds.

The DNA of Entrepreneurship

Writer Carolina Mostert Entrepreneurship is more than simply ‘starting a business.’ The most widely referenced definition of entrepreneurship is “a process through which individuals identify opportunities, allocate resources, and create value”. Various articles discuss whether entrepreneurs are born or made, a question which recalls the endless nature vs. nurture debate. The answer –I believe- is both, and it can be found in the very definition above. On the one hand, entrepreneurs are born as such when they ‘identify opportunities’. On the other hand, they are made, and this can be read in the word ‘process’. Entrepreneurship, in a way, can be pictured as a strong tide, a wave which makes its surfers surf. Entrepreneurs’ curiosity may know no restrictions or boundaries- yet, it needs to be channelled within a process. Another interesting statement is that “Entrepreneurs see ‘problems’as ‘opportunities’ ”. It suggests the optimism that must be at the heart of entrepreneurship and reveals the toil which is the core of entrepreneurial work: taking action by going back to the original ‘problems’. Opportunities are not illusions: they are sparkles seen in things which need to be changed, created, started. Seeing these sparkles, it may be argued, is a talent; keeping them alive is hard work.

Amazingly, respectable amounts can be raised - there are some tech based proposals on at the moment which have attracted serious cash despite looking a bit on the dodgy side. A benevolent international community of eager investors appears willing to give a helping hand to all kinds of projects. A nice dimension to crowd funding is you don’t necessarily have to pay back all the cash or allocate shares, there’s no need to give out a piece of your venture. You choose what you hand back to the investor, you have absolute autonomy over what happens to the cash you receive. You also get the advantage of the knowledge that, if people are willing to invest money in your project for not much return – people are definitely willing to pay for the product. When finalising contracts, agreements and share allocation, be sagacious, get things done on your terms and seek good advice. If you don’t manage to get investment the first time around – keep faith and persevere. On the ninth time an investment guru starts laughing at your concept - then maybe think about trying something else.



Research in Brief

Open wide

The Science of...Christmas Santa pulls on his lab coat Charlie Stokes


The Dental Institute at King’s College London has found that the body can ‘stall’ development of an embryo, while a critical developmental pathway increases its activity. Correcting potentially life threatening birth defects means that only three to five percent of babies are born with birth defects, which is very low considering the complexity of embryogenesis. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports how the growth of genetically defective molar teeth was ‘stalled’ for 24 hours in mice, while the developmental pathway was altered to correct the mistake.

Wrinkly worms


The anti-wrinkle cream you put on each day may be just a waste of money. In 1999, scientists found a chemical that made fruit flies live longer and is now used as the active agent in most of these creams. New research published in Nature demonstrates that this chemical, which activates the socalled ‘longevity gene’ has never worked when, after putting the cream on some worms, they lived no longer than others. The new findings cast doubt on the idea that we can extend life by targeting genes.

Have you seen that youtube video?


400 YouTube videos showing dogs tailchasing were analysed by researchers at The Royal Veterinary College London as part of a non-clinical study. Tail-chasing can be a form of play or an indicator of neurological conditions, physical discomfort and stress. PLoS ONE published results showing that one third of all dogs observed displayed clinical signs of problematic tail-chasing. The study highlights the need for better intervention, and education for owners to recognise play as distinct from stress.

Genetic pressures


High blood pressure is a major contributing factor to heart attacks and strokes. A new study published in The American Journal of Human Genetics, by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, looked at subtle genetic similarities between 25,000 individuals each having particularly high or low blood pressure. They identified five new genes that appear to be implicated in these conditions. Particularly exciting was the identification of a gene that may affect the expression of a small molecule (nitricoxide) that is already known to lower blood pressure.

Chrissie Jones and Harriet Jarlett

Writer David Simpson Saint Nick must dread December 24. If you’ve ever endured the thankless task of ge3ing up early in the middle of winter, while it’s still dark and everyone else is tucked up in bed asleep, to trudge from house to house delivering newspapers from a sack, then you might be able to relate. Santa’s responsibilities arguably differ: Roger Highfield, author of The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey, says he has to make an awful lot of stops, around 840 million. According to the United Nations Children’s fund, there are 2.1 billion children under 18. If we assume that each of the 840 million houses each contain 2.5 children and are

spread evenly A US Defence across the surface hypersonic of the earth, Santa plane is expected would have to to reach speeds travel 220 million of 13,000 miles miles in total. per hour. Santa So how fast must moves 360 times the jolly old boy quicker than travel? Well, Highthat. field explains that Santa carries out this feat at the moment the clocks reach midnight. “Fortunately, Santa has more than 24 hours to deliver the presents,” Highfield points out. Travelling against the rotation of the earth would give Santa almost twice as much time. “That way, he can deliver presents for almost another 24 hours.” Santa would still have to reach impressive speeds of over 1,300 miles per second.

Let’s put that figure into perspective. The US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency is currently testing what will become the fastest plane ever built, the Falcon HTV-2. This hypersonic plane is expected to reach speeds of 13,000 miles per hour. Santa moves 360 times quicker than that. Even so, the Falcon HTV-2 reaches temperatures almost 2,000°C ho3er than the melting point of steel. I think we can reasonably deduce that at temperatures above that poor Rudolph would be roasted. However, there may be a simpler and safer way for Santa to go about his business. Daniel Tapia from the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) laboratories in Geneva believes "maybe the reason why Santa Claus has never been seen is because, at least for that one night, he behaves like a quantum phenomenon." In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states knowing the value of one property, e.g. Santa’s speed, means that a simultaneous property, such as his position, cannot be known accurately. Tapia says that Santa could be anywhere in the world at one time. “That may be possible if Santa Claus is a superposition of quantum states, in other words a collection of Santa’s diffused all across the planet." Tapia warns that if a child were to catch a glimpse of Santa while on his duties it would have catastrophic consequences. “You would know his exact position, which would cause the quantum state to collapse and no more presents could be distributed." Let’s hope that doesn’t happen! While we wait to discover whether Santa does in fact yield his power this year, from advanced unknown technology or from an alien grasp of quantum physics, our questions of just how he does it may be be3er le2 to the imagination.

Home or Away: Beware the X-Ray! Writer Helen Brooks

As the Christmas season approaches many of us will be flying to see relatives, friends or to get away for a well-earned festive break. Passengers in the US will be scanned with x-ray body scanners to reduce the security threat that flying now poses, but passengers in European airports will not. Why? The European Commission has recently issued a ban on these x-ray scanners until March 2012, while they are tested by a specialist health commi3ee. According to the European commission, to avoid jeopardizing citizens’health and safety, only security scanners not using xray technology will be employed. This is because x-ray body scanners utilise ionizing radiation, energetic waves or particles known to damage DNA, and cause cancer. Exposure to radiation from these machines is very low, but several scientific studies have shown that a small number of cancer cases would result from scanning the hundreds of millions of passengers who would pass through them each year.

The body can o2en repair DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation, thus avoiding cancer-causing DNA mutations. If the damage is too severe and the damage cannot be repaired, the cells may undergo programmed cell death, a process called apoptosis, in order to eliminate the potential genetic damage from the body. More worryingly, some cells may experience a non-lethal DNAmutation and this can be passed on during subsequent cell divisions. This mutation may contribute to the formation of cancer. Around 250 x-ray scanners are currently being used in US airports. It has been suggested that since the 9/11 terrorist a3acks, security issues have outweighed the potential medical risks of these scanners.Aclaim that is given more weight by the fact that the final decision to use the x-ray scanners was not made by the FDA(Food and DrugAdministration), which regulates drugs and medical devices, but by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), the agency in the USwhose primary purpose is to prevent terrorist a3acks. However, the radiation risk from these

scanners needs to be put into perspective. Studies from the British Institute of Radiology and the Royal College of Radiologists showed that the dose from an airport scan is 100,000 times lower than the average dose of radiation we are exposed to annually, from natural background radiation and medical sources. We are exposed to radiation on a daily basis in the

Even Santa Has to go through Security Checks

LS_Science Online Tweet of the Week

Thomas Edison lightbulb inventor?It’s science FICTION. Brit Joseph Swan patented his light bulb a year before Edison but lightbulbs existed up to 50 years even before Swan. Sorry Tom! Follow us: @LS_science

60 Second Radio

We want to host a Science Sound Bite blog. If there’s a topic you love (in the realm of science) then we want to hear about it. It can be on ANYTHING and in any style: a conversation, an interview, or just your own ramblings,. Just record a minute of stuff, and then send it through to us. If you want to take part then message us:

Next Issue

After all the hubbub surrounding the Christmas issue and the launch of the BRAND NEW WEBSITE LS Science gets the January blues with an issue dedicated to mental illness and depression.

Science Editors

Harriet Jarlett Currently studying an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College. Rachel Mundy A 'Science Communication' student at Royal Holloway.

form of radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is everywhere: in our homes, the earth and the air we breathe. Dr Peter Riley is a consultant radiologist and lead investigator of the report: “You can't say there isn't any risk. Some people will be at risk - perhaps two or three out of all the people who fly every year, but it wouldn't put me off flying.”



Murderous Hermaphrodite Shrimp Writer Clara Ferreira

The shrimp Lysmata amboinensis seems to have it all: a beautiful scarlet colouring; a dazzling tropical reef habitat; an easy life scavenging for dead tissue and parasites, and no gender issues! But all this comes at a price. If three or more of these shrimps are found together, only one pair will survive; victorious champions after incurring vicious attacks from the others. These shrimps are protandric simultaneous hermaphrodites, which means they start off as males and, as they increase in body size, gain female function to become fully functional hermaphrodites. Despite having both working parts they cannot self-fertilize and instead form monogamous relationships. They can then, either in the few hours after moulting their armoured shell, mate and spawn as females or, at any other time, as males. The timing of sex is key. A study by Janine Wong and Nico Michiels based in Germany, published in Frontiers in Zoology, looked at what happens when these shrimps are placed in a series of aquariums in either singles, pairs, triplets or quadruplets. Each shrimp was given limitless access to food, the same volume of water, and a perch. Their results showed that the shrimps living in triplets

and quadruplets disappeared until all but one pair remained. By analysing night-time videos of the interactions between shrimps in groups, the researchers uncovered their aggressive interactions. The mortality events in these groups occurred shortly after moulting, when the shrimps shed their outer protective layer, indicating that the shrimps took advantage of these vulnerable phases to get rid of the competition. Once in pairs, aggression and mortality ceased, as they were back to the perfect number for their monogamous interactions. The conditions favouring social monogamy are related to the feeding ecology of this species. The reef ecosystems in the red sea Despite having and tropical both working Indo-Pacific are parts they canthe shrimps’ not self-fertilnatural habitat, ize and instead and these form monogashrimps are mous relationspecialized in ships. cleaning fish (their ‘clients’) by eating dead skin and parasites at ‘cleaning stations’. “A high number of shrimp may increase competition for the cleaning station, and access to clients. By keeping down the number of individuals in a group ,which would otherwise have to share clients, the potential for conflicts

and food competition are minimized,” said Janine Wong. However, in natural habitats, “individuals should prevent perilous conflicts by avoiding close proximity to established pairs on a cleaning station” so less extreme aggression would be expected, adds Wong. Social monogamy in simultane-

ous hermaphrodites is highly susceptible to cheating by both partners. By experimentally forcing individuals to stay together in a small area, this study discovered a causal explanation for how a simultaneous hermaphrodite can maintain social monogamy…enforcing it by attacking and killing each other.

regulating how awake and energetic we feel. It’s probably through mechanisms involving these cells that animals normally know, subconsciously, what to eat. Dennis Burdakov and his team at the University of Cambridge have been working on these nutrientsensing nerve cells. A few years ago, they showed that one cell type, orexin neurones, are downregulated when they sense increased sugar levels, meaning the animal will feel less hungry. Now, they’re reporting in the journal Neurone that the cells are also sensitive to another vital nutrient: amino acids, the component pieces of proteins. Burdkov’s team measured the electric voltage across nerve cells that had been placed in different concentrations of an amino acids. T h e y found that the c e l l s w e r e unexpectedly and very

significantly up-regulated – the complete opposite of the results they had obtained with sugars. The same was true of cells in live mice that had been fed a similar mixture. It seems to make intuitive sense that once a neurone senses an increased sugar concentration – usually as a result of the brain’s owner having a nice snack – that the urge to eat more should be toned down. But in this case, the results seemed to show that eating protein simply makes you want to eat more protein, which is a bit odd. Digging deeper, the scientists noticed a difference b e tween t h e nonessent i a l a m i n o acids we make in our bodies (NEAAs), and essential

ones, which we have to get from our diet (EAAs). When they tested individual amino acids the scientists found that, actually, EAAs on their own had little effect on the nerve cells, it was the non-essential ones that caused the increased activity. Speaking on BBC local radio, Burdakov had an explaination. “If you eat a meal which is unbalanced and contains too many non-essential amino acids, which you can make in the body, these cells will make you keep eating until you find some essential amino acids.” Although the cells are sending signals to say, ‘keep eating’, their complex effects on behaviour also mean they are telling the body to wake up a bit and burn more calories. “So overall they would keep your body weight down,” explained Burdakov. “And that’s the exciting thing,” continued Burdokov, “possibly we can find a dietary combination of nutrients now which can tune the cells and control body weight as well as alertness, and that’s what we’re working on right now.”

Ravenous Neurones Writer Josh Howgego

It’s important for animals - including humans - to eat a balanced diet so they get the right nutrients, in the right proportions, to stay healthy. And really, it’s amazing that most animals do this automatically, without thinking about it. Over Christmas many of us binge on chocolate and alcohol so wouldn’t it be incredible if our bodies could make us crave more sprouts and less sugar? Recent research has discovered that nerve cells can sense not just how much food we’ve eaten but the nutritional balance of a meal. Since the cells’ output affects appetite and how awake you feel it could explain how animals are instinctively able to eat a nice, balanced diet. And for humans, it could lead to the development of a nutrient formulation that curbs hunger and acts as a treatment for obesity. The brain is known to contain several populations of nerve cells that respond to nutrients in our food by

Courting violence in hermaphrodite Shrimp Elizabeth Eisen

Events under the microscope

Wildlife Photographer of the Year EXHIBITION REVIEW [NHM] Reviewed by Harriet Jarlett £9 / £4.50 conc

Walking up to the first photo, a close up of an evil-looking insect, you are drawn in by how beautifully focused, and composed it is. Let alone the mindblowingly incredible subject matter, where something normally reserved for David Attenborough is suddenly larger than life in front of you, you then realise the artist who took the photo is in the Under 10's category...yes, really! Much of the exhibition continues in this vein, a beautiful photograph with an underlying message or story, which makes you double take. The exhibition is curated wonderfully and the photos are beautifully presented on huge screens. The winner is placed slightly oddly and is a bit hard to pick out, especially when almost every photo seems incredible. However, when you find it and your eyes adjust to the image of the birds huddled in a crate, covered in oil after the Deep Horizon disaster, you can easily see why it’s the winner. Although, in my opinion, the Qinling Snub-Nosed Monkey baby cuddling itself on a branch, definitely stole those birds’ show.

Royal Institute Christmas Lectures

LECTURE REVIEW [RI] Reviewed by Rachel Mundy Theatre tickets: £30/£20 junior; Library tickets £6/£4 junior; BBC Four: free!

Feast your eyes and ears on this year’s RI Christmas Lecture series entitled Meet Your Brain, aired on BBC Four and recorded in front of a live audience. Experience the wonders of the human brain and explore what makes us truly human, with the enigmatic and amusing Professor Bruce Hood, an experimental psychologist at the University of Bristol, for a festive science treat. Attending the preview night on Thursday November 24 gave a taster of the engaging audience interaction that Professor Hood embodies through his live demonstrations, and startling revelations about the subjective feeling of reality. The lectures come in three bite size chunks: ‘What’s in your head?’, ‘Who’s in charge here anyway?’ and ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’, filmed on Monday December 12, Thursday December 15, and Saturday December 17 respectively. Lucky ticket holders will sit in the iconic theatre of the Royal Institution, and become part of the tradition celebrating original science events for children, started by Michael Faraday in 1825. Remember, you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own living room too.

Science Listings:


A pop-up exhibition of interactive art



New Wave of Student Visa Cuts: Is It a No-Win Situation? Writer Alireza S. Nejad In diplomacy, a “no-win” situation happens when there is no beneficial outcome from negotiations on either side. But it does not mean that there would not be any alternative option in front of negotiators to tackle problems when they are faced with a stalemate. A few days ago The New York Times published a news story about Nabil Sebti, a 25-year-old Moroccan graduate of HEC Paris that had to return to his home country due to the new immigration rules for North African students. Mr. Sebti, who was studyNUMBERS IN BRIEF Year

2000 2010


Proportion of non-EU students: 6.8%

11.3% 56%at post-graduate level 40%UG enrolled via preuniversity pathway. Suggested proportion of study visa cuts:

25%(80,000 students anually) The cost of the cuts for UK economy: up to £3.6bn

ing in Paris on student visa, set up two businesses while he was a student. “Collectif du 31 Mai”, his Facebook page against the new regulation in France has got around 9000 members since early October 2011. Although some North African students in France openly criticized the rights that the French government gives to its non-permanent resi-

dences, it is clear that many of these students are not feeling welcomed in France. Some of them say it is hard to lose everything that they have built up during their studies. The UK government wants to meet the target of reducing annual net migration to below 100,000 a year. Therefore, in the education sector, government has decided to execute tighter rules in terms of issuing student visas. For example, the eligibility for staying after graduation will involve having an offer from sponsoring employers with a salary of at least £20,000. Moreover, there will be a three to five year time limit on students’ visas, as well as not being allowed to work more than 10 hours each week during the course time. Additionally, non-EU students must provide more secure proof that they have sufficient funds to support themselves. But are these new immigration rules on non-EU students, who inject £2.58 million (10% income of higher education institutions in the UK, 2009/10) into Britain’s economy, going to make them feel unwelcomed, in the same way North African students are being made to feel in France? On November 2, the Home Office announced that new rules on student visas made more than 450 colleges ineligible as education providers for overseas students. The question that many colleges ask is why the education sector should be counted in the net migration figures. It clearly creates a danger that Britain loses its share on international market for higher and further education. Also, spilling highskilled people to other countries does not seem to be a thoughtful strategy. But let’s review the main topics re-

ACADEMIA and I: A Chance to Express Yourself in London Student

by Valeriya Nefyodova Academia Editor

Starting from January 2012, Academia is launching a new project aimed at better understanding how academia influences the lives of both students and academics. The idea is to provide a brief reflection on how you as a person have developed/changed/transformed after throwing yourself into academia. Students may reflect on how a university degree has changed their perception of the world and themselves, while academics could provide a more insightful look at “person – academia” interplay in the longer run.

So if you feel that Academia plays an important role in you self-esteem, if it really makes a difference in your life, feel free to share your comments and ideas with London Student, let us know about your personal experience for the mutual benefits! Contact Academia Editor at for more details and have a lovely Christmas!

garding these new immigration rules. Figures show that 40% of undergraduate students in UK universities have enrolled via a pre-university pathway course. This subject has seriously drawn the attention of the Home Office in their new immigration policy. A non-EU student who has done an international foundation course and has been enrolled at KCL stated: ”I think the new policy is good. I have done a foundation course but most of the good universities in the UK such as UCL don’t evaluate it. If the UK universities do not trust each other on this matter, how can I claim that I have got an “international foundation” degree in my field?! I wish I had done A-levels here.” It is clear that overseas students need an organization that can provide clearer information regarding the education system in the UK and give them some advice as well. Another issue is related to permission to work. The new tighter rules are going to limit working hours during the term times from 25 hours to 10 hours a week. A medical student at UCL who has got a part-time job in a Nando’s restaurant said: “I can only earn £700 of my expenses each month by working here. I

should pay £25,000 in fees this year as well as my accommodation rate, transportation, etc. The new rule doesn’t sound very satisfactory to me.” Some non-EU students claims that while they are paying a significant higher tuition fee, there is no banking firm or international student loan company that can offer a supportive option to their education as other European students get. The new rules also removed the available option allowing graduates to stay and work in Britain for 2 years. This year the UK government is going to limit the total number of job offers by recruitment companies for skilled workers from outside of the Eurozone. However, this is not the whole story. It’s absolutely right for the government to control the net immigration and slow down the current abuse of student visas. Therefore, by getting clear statistics regarding people who arrive in the UK, they would be able to come up with an immigration strategy that will definitely work; as the PM David Cameron says: “what matters most is not who comes into the country, but who stays.” On November 2, Universities UK said that the UK cannot afford to

WHAT’S ON: It’s Christmas time, everyone! RELAX AND ENJOY

UCLU Charity Concert in the Quad and Festive Market

Join UCLU and local schools for the switching on of the festive lights with a celebration of all that's merry. Get mince pies and mulled wine, and much more. Santa will be on hand to give gifts to all. On that note families are most welcome! Time: December 6, 1-8pm Place: UCL Main Quad


Natural History Museum Ice Rink This 1,000-metre-square outdoor ice rink is one of the Christmas season's highlights. Pop on those skates and head down to The Natural History Museum because it is open and ready to be carved up. Yay! Time: NOW Place: Natural History Museum, SW7 5BD

make costly mistakes such as those made previously in the USA and Australia. Ill-thought out cuts in those countries seriously damaged their universities’ international competitiveness. Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “International students are not economic migrants. They come to the UK to study, and then they leave. The vast majority of international students return home once their studies are completed, and those that do not, need to reapply for a separate visa.” As the result, we can already see rise of fees for non-EU students. For instance, an MSc course in Management at UCL in 2012/13 will cost 10 percent more than this year. So, if increasing the tuition fees for non-EU students and making tighter rules are the only good ways to control immigrations, the question remains: “what would make the UK education system unique for non-EU students in comparison with other countries?” If they are not be able to pay less (or at least equally with other students), apply for bursaries, or get a permission to work after completing their studies, what would attract fresh and clever minds to this country? Policy-makers know that the recovery path of economy and immigration would not be easy or quick. So, on the range of global challenges, they should try to move ahead with their bright and great commitments to introduce new and sustaining services for overseas students. Otherwise the chances of having a win-win situation are highly unlikely.

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London Listens

Dr Saul Hillman works as a psychologist at The Anna Freud Centre/ University College London. He also has his own practice as a hypnotherapist/life coach/NLP practitioner.


Burning a Hole in Your Pocket


We will be looking at the psychology of New Year’s Resolutions. Please email me with any letters or experiences you have in this or any other area

Saul can be contacted on 07939 523 025 or For more information and resources visit The locus of control is essentially Our relationship with money is a how much we feel we can control psychological one and o/en has life’s situations. It is hypothesised deep roots. We tend to project onto that those who a0ribute success or money the power to fulfil our fanfailure to outside fortune are more tasies, calm our fears and ease our likely to be in debt than those who pain. a0ribute it to their own behaviour. According to Credit Action, UK Perhaps, most relevant and indebt is growing by £1 million every five minutes. In the current economic climate with inc r e a s e d tuition fees, students are ge0ing embroiled with this insidious problem. So why does this slippery slope happen? There is a psychological principle The holidays are a particularly easy time of year to called ‘future lose control of your spending. Flickr User Frostis discounting’ grained is the assumption that which applies in all areas of life spending money is equated with where we fail to work out in detail happiness, so we naively believe imhow we are going to deal with it, for pulse spending will take any pain example, pu0ing off the idea of reaway. Naturally, being in debt is paying loans and limiting spending. then equated with low esteem and And as students, we have grown up depression. Our relationship with bombarded with the pressures of consumption whether it’s a particuMoney buys both self-fulfillment lar brand or a lifestyle dictated by aland social acceptance—a lifestyle cohol and cigare0es. This in which wants are transformed into consumption allows us to feel conneeds nected and engaged with life. money no doubt stems from our own Our behaviours with respect to childhood experiences and parental money and debt are very specific. We values. But money does not define justify our overspending in spite of who we are and the biggest chalthe debt we are in. The rationalisalenge in the capitalist society we are tion of spending beyond our means immersed in is to slowly change this also includes the optimism that we perception. trust the future to cure the problems We can of course go as far as denywe may be faced with. This deluing that there’s a problem so we may sional defence is convenient and alagree to paying for things without lows us to continue the way we reading the small print or thinking of behave. We o/en equate over the consequences. In essence, we our spending with not being in control.

burying our heads in the sand and pretending nothing is wrong. But debt does not go away, if we ignore it, it grows larger. The emotional impact of debt can be crippling. For many people, being in debt drains their energy and enthusiasm for life. So money buys both self-fulfillment and social acceptance—a lifestyle in which wants are transformed into needs. We come to believe that we are entitled to what those around us seem to have, and in the media-fuelled world somehow spending appears perfectly normal. Practical solutions Whilst there is no easy or painless solution to overcoming debt, with a bit of hard work and determination to succeed, it is possible to change one’s spending habits and free oneself from debt. 1 Identify your weak spots – note those situations or triggers in which you find yourself losing control of your spending and explore ways to reduce these urges. The challenge here is that you need to get rid of the thought processes and behaviour and not just the debt. 2 Face the music – don’t hide from the problem by avoiding repayments and bills as this will only make things worse. Dealing with the problem allows you to take control of the situation. 3 Budget yourself - on a practical level, you will need to write a budget and stick to it. However obsessive this sounds, it at least pro-

In Conversation with the Doctor

AD is a second year female student at UCL. PROBLEM: I am in really bad debt and haven’t told my parents or anyone how bad things are but I know I need to do something about it. Saul I can see things have really gone on top of you. AD I’ve never really thought about it. I just thought it was normal. Saul What was normal? AD I guess just spending lots of money, buying clothes, going out on nights out, and going away for li(le trips. It really didn’t seem bad. Saul You just got used to this sort of life and never questioned it. AD I knew sometimes I blew it too much but then so do others. Saul It is very easy to fall into a state of denial as in not seeing that there is a problem. AD Yes, I know I just loved my life and didn’t... Saul ...want anyone taking that away from you? AD Yes I suppose so...

Saul Our addictions to spending are not that dissimilar to how we are around other more obvious ones. It is hard to control and becomes a cycle. AD Sure, I suppose I was addicted to having fun. Saul So how are you trying to change things? What are your goals? AD I want to clear the debt for starters as I feel bad about how it is my parents’ money! Saul Maybe start with small steps, write down your spending as this will help you see where you can make savings. You needn’t remove all treats but definitely reduce these down to the minimum to begin with. AD Miserable life (laughs) Saul That’s only because you have paired spending with happiness when actually you will now learn that happiness can be achieved in other ways. AD I know you’re right. I just don’t want to miss out. Saul Your life is not stopping – you are just changing things before they get worse and it affects all areas of your life.

vides you with a framework and a sense of what is happening and where you could make savings. 4 Action plan – create a way and set of targets for clearing debts to maintain motivation. Remember to take small steps to achieve this and write down your spending so you can visualise what is happening.. 5 Buy what you need - we waste money on the trappings of impulse purchases and though some spontaneous treats are fine, the emphasis needs to be on spending sensibly and pu0ing money aside into a savings account. 6 Get the best deal – one way in which it is impossible to avoid debt is by making the money you do

spend go further. If you are looking at making a purchase, it goes without saying that you want to pay the cheapest price possible for that item. It is worth investigating the options. 7 Communication– o/en, people do not get the information or support they need to deal with money problems since they are ashamed of their debt and afraid to talk about their situation. It is important to communicate with your family and friends. There are also organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, National Debtline and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service. Finally, counselling and therapy can help you talk through any worries you might have.

LONDON LOVES with Aphrodite





A second year from Goldsmiths, Neil

A first year historian from Queen Mary,


Popular Music

etables. Bad experience has left him doubting the realities of finding that “university partner” so often spoken of... London Loves is here to help him try! All of a sudden Christmas is all around in the capital, snow is falling, and guys: it’s cold outside. Somerset house skaters are abundant, German markets are storming the pavements and some London students are feeling the emptiness of their hearts as well as their purses. Dah-ling we can’t all throw parties like the ‘Made in Chelsea’ lot or simply pluck a new man out from a débutante ball – no, love lingers in the more obscure corners of the city and it needs someone to go and grab it by its furry antlers and force it to help them out. This issue saw two people bravely tune their ears to the jingling bells of Christmas romance – will they be lonely this Christmas? Read on to find out...

The Date: Neil’s Report

Not a great lover of Christmas, I decided to find out what all this festive romance lark was about. As the present-shopping looms and my fridge supplies have begun to dwindle, I thought, why not? I arrived at Dishoom in good time, on the way meandering through Covent Garden - sickeningly sweet in all its fes-

tive consumerist glory. Escaping into the warmth of the restaurant, I felt a few predinner nerves as the staff (who were lovely) showed me to the table. I loved that Dishoom don’t embrace Christmas fully with decorations and special menus until mid-December – that’s the way it should be! I’m one of those bah-humbugs until Christmas is actually within spitting distance, and then I get totally into it – Santasocks and everything - I just don’t have enough to last me from early November – who has that many socks?! When Joanna arrived she was friendly and smiley – the best recipe for first impressions. We got on like a chimney on fire and never stopped chatting until the food came. Perhaps, I thought, festive romance isn’t such a myth of Christmases past... Conversation ranged from Christmas (of course) to my vegetarian habits and our poor student-budget meals – turns out I’m not the only one who likes to make pea and humus sandwiches every now and again! I do occasionally enjoy a little experiment in the kitchen when there’s time, but the meal at Dishoom far out-did anything I have made recently. We carried on talking through the mains and the mango and fennel lassis

Joanne hasn’t ventured far from her home in east Lon-

don since coming to university in September. Christmas, free food and romance seemed like the perfect reason for her to start exploring! (SO good), and even across the cobbles to the tube station, via a bar. The evening was splendid. I would love to see Joanna again and am pretty sure our romance will not just be for Christmas - she’s one to meet the parents.!

The Date: Joanne’s report

A true sucker for festive flirtation, I was thoroughly excited about my date with Neil, despite being a complete newbie to the blind-date experience. My mother couldn’t help but tell me (in her best northern voice) that I’d be meeting “our Ne-yul from ‘ull”. Travelling over from my Bethnal Green abode, the sparkling lights of the surrounding area to Dishoom really put me in the Christmas mood especially after a testing day in the library! Neil was smartly dressed and very welcoming as I was led over to the table. Having never met a Goldsmiths’er before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, you know what they say about those south of the river-types! Skillfully avoiding greeting him with “hello number 1 what’s your name and where d’you come from”, I gave him a smile and sat down. We had immediate chemistry and I

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studies Popular Music and has a penchant for veg-


loved his company, we had a good few hours of interesting conversation before the tube closure drew us to our departure – I always said midnight is way too early to stop public transport! Wanting to share a dish of lamb Keema Pau so as not to look over-eager, my hopes of a lady-and-the-tramp-esque moment were scuffed as Neil’s pescy secret was unveiled. We were able laugh about his vegetarianism – a trait he supposedly picked up after witnessing a lamb being ‘prepared’ for dinner whilst travelling through Greece. - Vegetable Biryani it was then. The food was delicious – as a lover of all things meaty I tactfully chose the fish option, grilled prawns, and luckily for Neil there was an abundance of options suitable for a pescetarian such as himself. The laughs just kept on coming and we’d swapped numbers before we’d even left the restaurant after a tactful move on his behalf. Venturing west of my usual hot spots was great and I loved the chance to wander through Covent Garden at night and spend some time more centrally. We took to a bar before parting at the tube, and as any peeping paparazzi might tell you, it seems likely that we will meet again!

Festive Anecdotes: For a little festive cheer.

“He got up in front of the whole lecture hall and yelled that Charlie Brown's Christmas tree was his favorite book in the history of the universe. then he stumbled out the fire exit setting the alarm off. I could've jumped him right then and there.” “dipping my christmas buscuits in kahlua. santa would be proud.” “did all my christmas shopping this morning at 4am drunk. never went to sleep. i was walking home last night when i passed a tesco and saw 3 kids having a dance off. had to join. somehow they convinced me to go shoopping with them. i bought 4 disco balls and a lava lamp.” “he was like a christmas ornament you would hang on the back of the tree....not great but still made the cut.” Girl: there r dinosaurs outside my house i hear them Friend: pretty sure those are just snow plows....go back to bed “ does Santa get into Hogwarts?”

“- you screamed SANTA and jumped in front of 50 kids to tell him you wanted your tax back for christmas?” “..and a pension for my mum if he had space”.

Afterthoughts from Aphrodite

I know that all we want for Christmas is less essays, but what we here at London Loves can offer you is a little romance and free food enough to leave you rocking around that Christmas tree. This issue we saw a jolly success that even Santa would be proud of... here at London Student we are expecting some wedding bells to chime in the new year! And a Merry Christmas, everyone.

If you are a Lonely Londoner and fancy some good old fashioned romance to bring in the new year - AND a free meal, do contact Aphrodite at: with your name, age, university and 3 words to describe you. Find some romance today....



Chelsea’s Portuguese pair

Injuries in university sport

Strictly sport

- page 29

- page 30

- page 30-31

Alex Hess considers the similarities and (more to his point) differences between AVB and Jose Mourinho

Daniel O’Donnell tries to get to the heart of what it means to be a sport

Jonathan La Crette investigates some excruciating sports injuries from the University of London

Goodbye Gary Speed

A fan looks at the tragic passing away of the popular and talented Welshman - page 31

Photo: Flickr user vramak

André Villas-Boas marks a break from his compatriot’s era They may both be Portuguese and highly talented, but the comparisons should stop there. Football reporter Alex Hess examines AVB’s departure from Mourinho’s trademark style.

Writer Alex Hess

So, can the lazy comparisons between Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho finally be put to rest? A4er three defeats (and nine goals conceded) in the last four home games at under AVB, it's fair to say that the two Portuguese managers are very different beasts altogether. Jose Mourinho may well have been criticized on grounds of pragmatism, but there is no doubt that under his stewardship, Stamford Bridge was very much the proverbial fortress. In the summer of 2004, he took the reins of a club struggling to transform newfound wealth into trophies, added focus to their previously sca5ergun transfer policy, and immediately instilled a formidable winning mentality. Over his three years at the helm, Mourinho put together an imperious Chelsea side whose success was founded primarily upon their resilience, aggression, and physicality. Pace and creativity, though present, tended to be confined to the wings – most effectively with Damien Duff, Joe Cole and Arjen Robben – while the players that formed the team’s spine almost all boasted some combination of height, strength, and energy of either an explosive (Michael Essien) or durable (Frank Lampard) nature. On top of that, a good dose of rule-bending know-how was introduced through the likes of Claude Makelele and Ricardo Carvalho. That’s not to say that these players were at AVB’s arrival all short of foothas brought balling talent, but about a marked the priority was departure from clear. Mourinho’s the established Chelsea would status quo at not be outmusStamford cled, and, while Bridge. they could knock the ball about adeptly enough, they were always

ready to revert to a long ball game. Despite the club having changed manager four times between Mourinho

AVB during the press conference where he was unveiled as the new Chelsea manager. Photo:

and Ancelo5i, the Portuguese’s approach (and his key playing personnel) had until this summer retained its much of its essence, if not having gone completely undisturbed.

Paradoxically, given his much-publicised traineeship under Mourinho, André Villas-Boas’ arrival has brought about a marked departure from the established status quo at Stamford Bridge. Having built his daunting reputation in Portugal with a Porto side characterized by their positional fluidity and the high tempo of their a5ack-

ing play, he is clearly a5empting to implement such an ethos into his Chelsea team. With the faith already invested in Torres and Sturridge, Villas-Boas has displayed an obvious preference for pace, technique and perceptive movement up front to the raw physical presence of Didier Drogba, while the midfield recruits of Raul Meireles and especially Juan Mata are just as significant. Mata, though so far deployed on the wing, is at heart a central, dri4ing playmaker in the mould of Luka Modrić or David Silva (who too began their time in England out wide), and will doubtless be appointed to such a position eventually. Meireles is a smart, tidy player, who is

at his best darting between midfield and a5ack with subtle link-up play and cleverly timed surges forward. And, while there is heady room for improvement as far as David Luiz’s temperament and concentration are concerned, he too will undoubtedly become a prominent member of the first team, and is the type of mobile, marauding centre-half that represents a liberation from the mobile and technical limitations of the likes of John Terry. Looking further to the future, Oriol Romeu, cheekily swiped from Barcelona in the summer, is a deep-

lying midfielder in the style of Xavi rather than Essien, while Josh McEachran’s slight build and inclination towards quick, short passing invite comparisons with Jack Wilshere. Romelu Lukaku, by all accounts, promises to combine the best of both worlds, though li5le has been seen of him in a blue shirt as yet.

The point to be made here is that there is a fundamental reshaping of the club’s footballing philosophy being implemented by Villas-Boas, and indeed he himself asserted a4er his side’s loss to Arsenal that "philosophy is a personal value and a club value. You should never sell it cheaply."

Whether or not it produces immediate results, his new policy of a high defensive line, swi4 passing, and pacey attacking play is there to stay. His is not only a long-term strategy but also one which foregrounds aesthetics and sophistication in a way that Mourinho's regime never permi5ed. Moreover, this shi4 in emphasis from physique to technique is not only an exciting move for the club itself, but one which could encourage similarly progressive values in English football as a whole. Any knee-jerk reactions to AVB’s stut-

tering start to life at the Bridge should be suppressed and reconsidered. Though the stalwarts from Chelsea’s previous era remain present in the current squad, it is a ma5er of time before they become gradually but definitively marginalised by younger and more mobile replacements – as Didier Drogba will surely a5est to – and there is absolutely no question that this is a positive, progressive shi4. Yes, AVB is probably guilty of trying to change too much Any knee-jerk too soon with his reactions to current squad (as AVB’s stutterAlex Ferguson ing start to life continuously at the Bridge proves, the transishould be tion between suppressed great teams is betand reconsidter approached as ered. evolution as opposed to revolution) and his systemic transformation has le4 the likes of John Terry and Ashley Cole looking like a far worse players than they are used to. Looking deeper, though, there is certainly a demonstrable ambition and long-term game plan behind it all – something which is entirely necessary with such an ageing group of core players, and something which none of his immediate predecessors have attempted. In this respect, then, maybe one of the few genuine likenesses Villas-Boas has to Mourinho is that he is the first Chelsea manager since 2004 to set his sights on building his own long-lasting legacy. There is no doubt though that he is of the right age to oversee such a project, and it's no fluke that such relative youth is shared by the majority of his recruits. The fundamental ingredient, however, is likely to be a generous sprinkling of patience from a certain yacht-dwelling oligarch – not something he has a history of being particularly charitable with. Roman Abramovich certainly won't have enjoyed Chelsea’s recent form, but I for one hope he has the foresight in this instance to appreciate the value of keeping an eye on the bigger picture – likewise, I’m sure, does Villas-Boas. And if the Chelsea fans remain in Jose Mourinho’s heart as much as he does in theirs, the Special One himself might even grudgingly agree.



University sports injuries: The horror stories Writer Jonathan La Crette

We are all told that we should take up sport at University. It is a way to make new friends; a way to lose the inevitable pasta induced weight gain; and a way to add extra CV points. We rush to buy the hockey sticks, personalised hoodies and pitchers of snake bite to play sport. We are also told that too much of anything is a bad thing: sport is no exception.

Although not as dreaded as a Doctor telling a patient “I’m sorry”, the words “I’m sorry but you’ll have to rest,” is a phrase no sportsperson

wants to hear. In this series of articles on injuries in University sport, you will soon find that a sportsperson is often a patient, and the phrase “I’m sorry you’ll have to rest” becomes “I’m sorry but we’ll have to operate”. Theo Muth, a first team hockey player for GKT, was left with supra-orbital nerve damage and a fractured frontal bone following a hockey puck to the

face. He recalls being constantly asked by paramedics if he was okay, as b l o o d gushed from his brow after the puck rocketed into his left eyebrow from less than five metres away. So deep was the gash- bone was visible. E i g h t months on he still complains of an itchy forehead and no sensation above his left eye. He remains afraid; admitting that he cannot fling himself at

Strictly Come Sporting Writer Daniel O’Donnell

Many questions have been raised in years gone by as to what actually constitutes a sport. Whether it be those throwing missiles at a board whilst sinking pints of beer, or men with glasses on upside down using a stick to guide acrylic-metal spheres into baize pockets, it seems the most recent

of debates comes in the form of men and women in leotards with a stage, cameras and lighting. So is, the traditionally artistic, dance now classified as a sport?

I was taught wisely at my previous university to start any argument with a definition, as to give a ‘yard stick with which to measure against’ so I’m going to start in exactly that fashion. Sport is defined as ‘competitive physical activity’ (Oxford English Diction-

the puck with the same intensity post-injury.

Nonetheless, he considers himself lucky: “if everyone is supposed to have one serious injury in their career, it’s good that I have got mine out of the way.” After I challenged Theo’s use of lucky, he expanded, “I was lucky that it happened just before summer allowing most of my studies to be uninterrupted.” Daniel OseiBoredom suffered a broken fibula in October 2009 which resulted in his having to repeat a year. He tells of the two hour journey his mother would make every morning to ensure that her son wouldn’t miss out on his £3000 a year education. Daniel required thirteen pins in his

Whilst running a marathon to raise funds for Cancer research, A.V. attempted to sprint the last 100M, so that he could cross the finish line at full speed. Instead, he crossed it limping, shifting weight from his now fractured Fibula

What actually constitutes a sport. Is the traditionally artistic dance now classified as a sport? ary 2011 - if you must know) in its most pure and basic form. Though obviously I would not want to define these activities as the proverbial black and white, for I wouldn’t believe anyone should consider many things as such. I was even bought to question that basic maths is no longer ‘black and white’ but now has many shades of grey in between – something

leg with a matching disc inserted into his broken ankle. Regardless of being told that he would wear a cast for two months, Daniel returned to University a week later only to be floored once again when told the wound had not healed p r o p e r l y. Weeks of recurrent infections ensued, culminating in further surgery.

“To get injured playing for the first team, a feat that is hard to achieve yet harder to hold, made the injury that more painful.” He goes on, “having to study an extra year, for a course renowned for its length – Medicine- did weigh him down. “ Though he says he is more determined than ever.

Repeating the year is a problem which concerns A.V, a runner who prefers to remain anonymous. Whilst running a marathon to raise funds for Cancer research, A.V. attempted to sprint the last 100M, so that he could cross the finish line at full speed. Instead, he crossed it limping, shifting weight from his now fractured Fibula. Despite being told he did not need to have surgery, he remains damning of the on-site St John Ambulance crew who underestimated the severity of the injury by instructing him to “walk it off.” Injuries can hurt your wallet almost as much as your body tells Sam Diab, a KCL footballer, who

that baffles me and I would welcome anyone to explain to me just how 1+1 no longer equals 2.

Maths aside few would argue that dance is a particularly attractive and elegant skill – whether it be the sensual, seductive and often outrageously flirtatious ballroom or the extreme athleticism of the break and street variety. Just watching some of those guys and girls just makes one feel exhausted. Though as dance has not traditionally been associated with winners and losers (the competitive edge in the definition) just

had to pay for the rehabilitation of his torn Crucicate ligaments. I challenged his use of “had” seeing that it suggests that he was left with no choice other than to take up an extra job, which he did, in order to get care which comes at a premium. He cited his desperation in causing him to equate premium care to care which comes at a premium. Much like A.V., he does harbour some animosity. He mourns the loss of nights out with his sports team. He now “parties” with his Computer Science classmates, whom he describes as hardly going to bars and when they do won’t drink.

Sam has recovered physically and within a few years he should recover financially. Unfortunately, Christian Thomas’ titanium cheeks will remain with him forever.

During a game against Brunel, he contested a header and won the race to meet the back of his opponents head. Five hours of surgery was spent trying to correct a dislocated nose, a fractured jaw and a snapped palate.

My interest in running this series stems from my own battles with injury. Such is my propensity for injury I have jokingly been called Darren Anderton. Perhaps Andy Cole would be a better nickname as I find shin splints most cumbersome. During my fleeting moments of being fully fit, I noticed that in a team full of Medics and Physiotherapists, we spent few minutes warming up and a warm down was often a light jog to that bar for post-game drinks. Next edition I’ll be speaking to leading figures in Sports Medicine and ex-professionals, to see if they have any preventive measures they would take, or have taken, based on years of expertise.

what makes it a sport? Well one answer comes from the Americans. Apart from creating Apple and super-sized fries whilst dramatically redesigning the traditional English games, (football, rounders and netball come to mind, though with phenomenal success it must be said) they also invented Cheerleading – as was touched upon in the last issue. The quick stereotype comes out over cries of sexism mainly over the rise of feminism in the 50’s, though to have that view is a narrow one. Cheerleading was conceptualised by men... continued on p. 31


Gary Speed: A fan’s perspective Writer Ben Jackson

I write this from a stuffy bedroom in Camberwell, si2ing at my desk with posters and articles on the walls around me, placed in an effort to make the room seem less mundane. There’s time for reflection when one’s alone, away from the blowing winter It’s difficult to winds outside conceive the curtained other people’s window. Hidden p r i v a t e from the world’s thoughts. How prying eyes, I’m do we know free to think my how our loved thoughts and do ones are feelwhatever I want. ing? When a It’s hard to imagseemingly ine what people happy man reflect on when such as Gary they’re alone. It’s Speed comdifficult to conmits suicide, ceive other peothis is just one ple’s private of the questhoughts. How tions people do we know ask. how our loved ones are feeling? When a seemingly happy man such as Gary Speed commits suicide, this is just one of the questions people ask. I saw Gary Speed play for Bolton Wanderers during his three-and-ahalf year stay at the Reebok from 2004. A well-seasoned player, he’d enjoyed much success before his arrival, winning the First Division in


1992 before moving on to Everton and then Newcastle. He played 139 games for Bolton and became a firm favourite in the fans’ eyes. From there, he went on to Sheffield United and became manager before being selected for the top Welsh job. Wherever he went, he became a cult hero and the fans sang from the terraces “Speedo, Speedo”. With such an illustrious and varied playing career behind him, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the Welshman. The possibilities that lay before him vanished on the night he took his own life.

I met him once. It was the Bolton Wanderers Family Fun Day, held before each season outside the stadium. All the players turned up to sign autographs. We shook hands and exchanged greetings. He With such an was a model illustrious and professional, an varied playing ambassador for career behind British football him, it seemed and he epitolike the sky mised the way was the limit footballers for the Welshshould behave. man Unlike modern players such as Jack Wilshere and Joey Barton, there could be no questions asked of Gary Speed’s character. Thinking about this season’s debacle at Manchester City, it would’ve been unimaginable for a player such as

Tributes left to the popular Welshman at Cardiff City Stadium. Photo Flickr: joncandy

Speed to refuse to play for any of his clubs.

Soon a1er Speed’s death, it emerged that he hadn’t argued with his wife in the days leading up to it. There was no evidence to indicate he intended on taking his own life. He appeared happy in Salford a1er filming Match Of The Day, just hours before his death. These facts leave one feeling quite unse2led and to wonder, how do we spot the signs

continued from p. 30 ...and they still participate in too. Competitions are held all over the world (particularly in the States) and carry huge kudos, various definitions and anecdotes dictate that to compete then a Cheerleader must possess the strength of a gymnast, the organisational skills of a rugby captain, focus of a tennis player, the energy of a rower and artistic creativity of a football playmaker. Cheerleading is very much well within the guidelines of a sport and is a tough one at that.

Zidane pushes football’s physicality to its limits. Photo Flickr: sha-put-ski

How about the others then? Well, Strictly Come Dancing is the most influential programme since the 60’s for a return to ballroom danc-

in our loved ones? The fact is, sometimes there are no signs for depression. Inner turmoil doesn’t always manifest itself in behaviour. Thinking speculatively, for someone as publicly observed as Gary Speed, it must have been a learnt art to hide whatever was going on inside that mind.

consciousness dies, it alters the way we conceive the world around us. Something is lost in our minds, our homes. Nostalgia becomes tainted. Especially for the north of England, where Speed represented some of the iconic northern clubs, there’s a strong, lingering feeling of loss that permeates the households of the towns and cities he played for. Having watched him play with immense pride for my own town, I also feel a sense of loss.

ing, and try telling Nancy Dell'olio that it’s not a competition. Besides that obvious form of television entertainment there are numerous competitions in the calendar across the country celebrating and letting ballroom dancers compete against each other. The rise of High School Musical, Glee and the like have also bought a new dimension to dance in the street and popular culture. There are now various school teams competing against each other, dance-offs happen against individuals spontaneously in nightclubs, ala Disco Fever, and ‘break-downs’ occur regularly on street corners – or so I’m informed.

With all that in mind, I guess it’s quite difficult to argue that dance isn’t a sport, I mean if you are talking about artistic flair - just watch tapes of Zinedine Zidane caressing that football around a pitch - he’s generally considered a sportsman. Stage, lights, camera? Well just watch a game of American Football, that’s a bigger stage than any (Superbowl anyone?). If you’re looking to attack a sport for defamation, maybe try one of those examples I listed in the first instance instead. Next time you don the leotard, the suede shoes or the ballgown, remember you’re an athlete my child, an athlete.

It’s a curious thing to mourn the passing of someone you never knew. But when someone in the public

Issue 6, London Student, Volume 32, 2011  

London Student newspaper, Issue 6, Volume 32, 2011

Issue 6, London Student, Volume 32, 2011  

London Student newspaper, Issue 6, Volume 32, 2011