www.london-student.net VOLUME 32 ISSUE 01 FREE
Are there parallels between the student protests & August riots? Two students give their differing opinions in The Great Debate - page 12
As the University of London celebrates its 175th birthday, our Features editor takes a look back at its prestigious history - page 15
As well as science, entrepreneurship and academia news, our Community editors bring you a special freshers’ guide to help you settle in - page 21
Happy birthday University of London
Community freshers’ guide
The future of medical sports teams
With their fate in the balance, London Student examines the possibilities for medical sports teams - page 32
London braced for another term of discontent
LSE, UCL and SOAS Students’ Unions call for national demonstration
NUS President Liam Burns calls for “national manifestation of anger”
Writer Hesham Zakai Editor Illustrator Andy Murray
London is braced for another period of turbulence as student groups and leaders step up their campaign against the coalition government’s continued education reforms. LSE, UCL and SOAS Students’ Unions have formally written to the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) urging them to join the call for a national demonstration during the next academic term. They want NUS President Liam Burns to honour his manifesto pledge to “hold a National Demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the passing of the increase in tuition fees and scrapping of EMA”. Burns says he cannot do this anymore because NUS National Conference voted against it. However, whilst Burns has resisted pressure to call a national demonstration, in an interview with The Guardian last month he encouraged students to imitate the non-violent, direct action tactics of UK Uncut. He believes they protest “in a way that is not aggressive and is only intimidating to its target”. Burns added that such “national manifestation of anger” is a fair response to the government’s “savage” programme of cuts to education which have left young people angry. In their initial statement backing a call for a national demonstration, LSE Students’ Union said: “A national demonstration is an important signal from the NUS that the student movement is strong and alive, and that if we are united, we will never be defeated.” However, despite NUS’s non-partic-
ipation in an official capacity, a national demonstration is still set to go ahead in the capital. It has been called by various activist groups, including the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which was active in the student movement last year. The demonstration is scheduled for November 9 in central London and could spark another period of unrest across universities and colleges in London. Both politicians and university vicechancellors will be keen to placate as much anger as possible, after a summer which has seen widespread disorder across the country. They will also be keen to downplay any disturbances ahead of a year that
Now is the time for increased militancy. We need to strike, occupy and resist against what is happening to our society. Students need to play a key role in the general fight.
sees both the London mayoral elections and the Olympics. Current London Mayor Boris Johnson and his Labour rival Ken Livingston will take part in a specially convened election debate at ULU later in the academic year. The unofficial
hustings will be open to all students and is likely to see student groups trying to negotiate concessions from the mayoral hopefuls. Sean Rillo-Raczka, ULU Vice-President, said: “This year, as the government privatises education and excludes working class young people, we will continue the fightback. “Now is the time for increased militancy. We need to strike, occupy and resist against what is happening to our society. Students need to play a key role in the general fight.” More mayoral election coverage on page 26
24 PAGE CULTURE PULL OUT
A-Z of London
Our Play editors give you a quick guide to London’s cultural hot spots - page 17
“Disturbing” scheme to PREVENT radicalism at university Writer Hattie Williams News Editor
GOLDSMITHS - The President of Goldsmiths Students’ Union is questioning the morality of government anti-terrorism strategies following a “disturbing” meeting with PREVENT, one strand of the UK government’s four counter-terrorism strategies. James Haywood says the local PREVENT team in Lewisham asked the Union to pass on details of students – “with an overt focus on Muslim students” – who showed signs of "vulnerability" towards "radicalism". The PREVENT agenda states that “NUS is required to train its members” to recognise signs of vulnerability, including depression, family estrangement and opposition to foreign policy. According to Haywood, who expressed concern about spying on students, the policewoman conducting the meeting “actually asked if we had porters in the halls of residence that could look out for suspicious activity of students. This expanded to welfare staff and even the training of our college chaplain.” Under PREVENT’s policy “that HEIs [Higher Education Institutions] are alert to any activity that could serve to intimidate others”, local teams are requesting that those deemed vulnerable be “referred” to a panel, including police officers and the personal tutor of the student, for a character reference. Haywood said: “There would be a detective from Scotland Yard taking notes in these proposed meetings. All this would go on without the student knowing they were being referred.” The agenda’s FAQs include the question, “Isn’t PREVENT about spying on students?” In response to their claim that, “the PREVENT agenda is not about spying but supporting those who may be vulnerable.” Continued on page 02
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 8 LONDON STUDENT
“Disturbing” scheme to PREVENT radicalism Writer Hattie Williams News Editor
Continued from page 1...
Haywood said: “They can deny it all they like but it is spying. We are being told to “look out” and to “refer” secretly onto the police what students are doing. If that’s not spying then I don’t know what is.” As stated by all UK Universities and the NUS, student details can only be legally disclosed with a valid police warrant. Goldsmiths Students’ Union have called ideas of referral “morally reprehensible”, adding that the action proposed by PREVENT would “break the confidentially and trust needed in any normal welfare or advice service.” The Union intends to organise a cam-
paign to stop NUS working so closely with PREVENT. “NUS need to be held account,” Haywood said. “They’ve been working hand in glove with PREVENT. If we’re going to take their money and work with them, it’s a two way process.” Pete Mercer, NUS Vice President (Welfare) said: "Universities have an important role to play in ensuring and promoting a safe environment for their students, where they can be free from prejudice, physical harm and verbal abuse - and Students' Unions naturally are really significant in both calling for and supporting this work on behalf of the students they represent.” NUS is running a specific project aimed at improving the experience of students of faith within both further and higher education institutions, and building good campus relations, encouraging positive interfaith engage-
ment. Mercer pointed out that “part of the project also includes supporting Students' Unions and societies to consider and mitigate the risks associated with external speakers." Haywood conceded that “at Goldsmiths we love diversity and promote multiculturalism, and if we can get money from the government to improve further, then we are quite happy to work with PREVENT on their interfaith projects.” According to the Home Office website, the third objective of the PREVENT strategy is “to work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to address.” Since UCL graduate Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a bomb on a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, speculation has arisen as to whether the “underpants bomber”
and others have been radicalised at university. Whilst no such claims have been proven, universities are now listed as institutions at “risk” of radicalisation and are thus invited to take part in government counter-terrorism strategies. The “legal obligation of universities” referred to on the PREVENT agenda – to challenge, increase resilience and effectively address the grievances of violent extremism and extremist ideologies – was “police bullying”, Haywood said. He maintained that “the biggest obligation the university has is the welfare of students through counselling, pastoral care and prevention of criminal activity.” According to Haywood, two questions asked at the PREVENT meeting were “How many Muslims do you have at your University?” and “What is your relationship with the Islamic Society?”
He added: “There has been no evidence of extremist activity in Goldsmiths. We’ve had an absolutely brilliant relationship with our Islamic Society. “I don’t buy PREVENT’s evidence of extremist activity in universities, it’s all circumstantial. They kept mentioning the case of the UCL Student. There is still no hard evidence that he obtained his extremist views from university.” Haywood concluded that the meeting was “openly scandalous” and that it undermined the ethos of university in the encouragement of free thought and speech. “Goldsmiths is radical in creativity and innovation,” he said. As an example, “you can even buy a Goldsmiths logo badge saying ‘Radical’. We promote it.” Goldsmiths do not intend to take the advice of PREVENT on the grounds that it is “counter-productive”.
Welcome to London Student, Europe’s largest independent student newspaper
Editorial team LONDON STUDENT Malet Street ULU WC1E 7HY 02076 642054 www.london-student.net facebook.com/london-student twitter.com/london-student
Editor Hesham Zakai firstname.lastname@example.org --
News Editors Toby Thomas Hattie Williams Bassam Gergi Steffani Garcia email@example.com
Comment Editors Rosa Wild Tom Chambers Abubakr Al-shamahi firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editors Amy Bowles Ingrida Kerusauskaite email@example.com
Community Editor Victoria Yates firstname.lastname@example.org
Science Editors Hariett Jarlett Rachel Mundy email@example.com
Academia Editor Valeriya Nefyodova firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrepreneurship Editor Ahmad Bakhiet email@example.com London Loves Jessica Broadbent firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Editors Katie Lathan Niki Miklem Ayala Maurer email@example.com --
Art Director Rahim Hakimi firstname.lastname@example.org Designer Nathan Clutterbuck
Broadcast Editor Freya Pascall email@example.com Photo Editor Danielle Bergere firstname.lastname@example.org
A message from the editor
Welcome to London Student, the newspaper of the University of London Union. Established in 1954 and catering for over 120,000 students, it has a rich history and is presently Europe’s largest student newspaper. It is the only newspaper for all University of London students, and the fortnightly publication is available on all college campuses.
It has five main sections – News, Comment, Features, Community and Sport- as well as a cultural supplement, Play, which has 8 sections – Literature, Travel, Stage, Screen, Music, Food, Fashion and Arts. Its structural diversity allows it to cover everything relevant to students – as well as the odd not-so-relevant story!
All students are welcome and encouraged to get involved with London Student, whether they want to report a news article on university funding, argue a polemical point on protests, review a play they’ve recently been to see or share a photo they’ve taken; London Student is a paper for students by students.
London Student will also be organising journalism training events, debates and discussions with professionals in the field, open days, and a secondary school student scheme which sees university students visit disadvantaged secondary schools in London and help them set up their own newspaper, magazine or newsle&er.
For the 2011/2012 academic year, London Student will launch a new, dynamic, multimedia website: www.london-student.net. The website features a range of items, from breaking news through regular podcasts to diaries of students studying abroad. If you have any ideas or would like to give involved with any aspect of London Student, please send an email to email@example.com – I’d love to hear from you. Hesham Zakai
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Senate House cleaners fight for Living Wage Writers Arianna Tassinari
Cleaners at Senate House have held an unofficial strike and demonstration on separate occasions as they continue their campaign for a London Living Wage. The self-organised strike by workers on September 1 came after a number of cleaners who work at Senate House, Stewart House and the University of London halls of residence alleged that they had not been paid their proper wages for more than three months. This was followed by a demonstration on September 14 during a University of London open day as campaigners bid to target high profile events. Frank Dobson, Labour MP, was one of the speakers at the demonstration. He said: “It’s wrong that the University of London hasn’t been paying the London Living Wage. You have a right to have your Union recognised by your employers; I voted for that in Parliament. “If you fight for something, you fight for your rights, it might take a long time, but you can win. But if you don’t fight, you won’t get it.” Cleaners say that Balfour Beatty, the multinational company which is subcontracted by the University of London to provide cleaning and security services, had been delaying the payment of their overtime hours of work. The vast majority of the cleaners are migrant workers of Latin American origin with limited English skills. Cleaners say they had become exasperated by the unresponsiveness of Balfour Beatty’s management and decided to take direct action. They walked out of their workplace at 8am on September 1 to stage a demonstration in the car park of Senate House, demanding the immediate payment of the due wages and the reinstatement of one supervisor who had been suspended for a month the day before for organising this protest.
Imperial and UCL on top of the world Writer Toby Thomas News Editor
The fifty cleaners who took part in the unofficial strike action were promptly joined by tens of supporters from the neighbouring colleges – many students from UCL, Birkbeck, SOAS and Goldsmiths took part in the demonstration, together with many other members of staff and representatives of the trade unions and of local anti cuts groups. Sebilio Uribe, former Co-President of SOAS Students’ Union, said “This company receives £3.9 billion in profit a year and still doesn’t pay their cleaners properly. They take advantage of them as they are migrant workers and don’t speak much English so it’s easier to exploit them. We must stand up against this injustice!” The cleaning staff are currently paid £6.15 per hour, an hourly rate that the cleaners define as “poverty pay”, and say
they must rely heavily on overtime hours of work to sustain their living in the capital. The immediate payment of the London Living Wage, which is currently set at £8.30 per hour, is the top of their demands. The University of London have issued a statement saying: “We are surprised that the University is being targeted as we have already made a firm and public commitment that all contract staff will be paid the London Living Wage by July 2012.” Jason Moyer-Lee, who has been working with the cleaners on their campaign, responded to the University of London’s management by saying: “We’re not interested in waiting 10 months. We’ve got to keep the pressure on until they give in.” Speaking after the demonstration, one
of the cleaners, who asked not to be named, said: “We’re exploited. We’re treated badly. We can’t continue with a poverty wage. £6.15 per hour is a poverty wage. “This campaign started years ago and since then we have won victories at other universities, but not here. “At an assembly on July 9 we started this fresh campaign. Until we’ve crystallised our dreams we won’t stop fighting. We don’t live in prestige, we have to pay rent; our stomachs are waiting. Our day starts at 4am, people don’t realise this. We work 14 hours just to survive, including weekends.” The campaign is currently ongoing.
Imperial and UCL have continued their successful record in the QS World University Rankings, coming sixth and seventh respectively. The two London universities have now appeared together in the top ten international institutions for five consecutive years. King’s College London – ranked 27th is the only other of the capital’s universities to make the global top 50. However, the LSE, which is rated a lowly 64th globally, overtook Imperial to become London’s top university and Britain’s fourth best in the Sunday Times university guide. LSE hit back at the disparity between the global and national rankings in a tersely-worded statement on the university’s website. “LSE has long argued,” it said, “and produced empirical evidence to back its claim, that its small size and exclusive focus on the social sciences result in rankings underestimating its strengths.” Robin Hoggard, the university’s Director of External Relations, added: “We will continue to press for tables based on better evidence and analysis than we have at present." Danny Byrne, editor of the QS rankings website TopUniversities.com, gave London Student his response to the School’s comments. He conceded that “overall rankings favour comprehensive institutions that operate in a full range of disciplines, and LSE is naturally disadvantaged [in this respect]”. But he went on to suggest that LSE does not have strong grounds for its complaint: “We would point out that LSE performs better in the QS World University Rankings than it does in any other major international exercise (it doesn’t even make the top 200 in the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings).” The Sunday Times commended LSE’s mean graduate salary, which, at £28,594, is almost £9,000 greater than the national average, and its socially inclusive approach. 37 National Scholarship Programme awards, combined with a significant number of bursaries, has helped keep the proportion of working-class students 50% higher than at Oxbridge. The newspaper also praised the university’s “lateral thinking” in setting tuition fees at £8,500. Although it fell from third to fourteenth, Imperial was also singled out for praise, as the university’s “graduates are among the most sought-after in the world, which is probably why 95.7% are in graduate level jobs within six months.” The Sunday Times league table, which has been adjusted to include greater emphasis on factors such as teaching quality and graduate employability, saw UCL come seventh (from fourth in 2010), Imperial fourteenth (3rd), King’s 17th (10th), Queen Mary 23rd (28th), Royal Holloway 35th (31st), SOAS 43rd (32nd).
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
Student Union blows £120,000 on ball Writer Hattie Williams News Editor
Imperial College Union is being criticised for its Management accounts, showing this year’s Summer Ball resulting in a £122,123 net loss. Discounting a £20,000 donation, the festival themed event cost the College approximately £100,000. An internal investigation is being carried out. The total expenditure, including almost £85,000 for the entertainment acts, amounted to £191,490. This figure covered the cost of performances by Laura Marling and Ian Brown on the outdoor stages of the Queen’s Lawn and producers Chase and Status in the Great Hall. Approximately £51,000 was spent on additional attractions: fireworks, a funfair and food stalls. The ball budget showed an estimated profit of £23,760, a figure dependant on £161,500 of ticket sales. At £45 per ticket, over 3500 attendees were expected on June 8 2011. The Union said that this expectation was reasonable, “Based on expected commitments from other universities and a stronger lineup of acts.” Invitations were open to all London students under the slogan “London’s largest student ball”.
The success of the ball is widely debated among students. One second year agreed with the statement suggesting a lack of research. He said that in future years Imperial Union “should just get a DJ, make the tickets more like £2025 (or otherwise include dinner) and ask people to wear formal clothes." One forth year said the ball was “enjoyable” and continued: “I am not at all surprised that the event made a loss. It was miss-marketed - was it meant to be a cheap festival or a summer ball?” The Union admitted: “It is clear from the outcome of the ball that the assumptions made and research carried out were incorrect and insufficient.” Current Deputy President, Michael Foster, Finance and Services, said that the loss is “obviously regrettable”, adding: “We were expecting much greater attendance from other London institutions, and the weather on the day was awful, knocking our door sales down.” However, he maintains that these costs should not “materially affect” future Student Union events. Preparations for the event begin as early as the previous November. Last year’s Deputy President Ravi Pall (Finance and Services), is responsible for the budget and coordination of the Ball. Pall noted that the budget was approved by the Executive Committee in
KCLSU Elect All Female Sabb Team Writer Hattie Williams News Editor *
King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) has defied history having elected of an all female sabbatical team, the first time in King’s and UK history that no male is voted in as an officer. Simisola Smith, Vice President of Academic Affairs, is the first International/African student to become a Sabbatical officer at KCL. Smith came to King’s from Nigeria to study Biomedical Sciences. According to the KCLSU website, her motto is to, “Think big. Speak. Push Limits.” She is to introduce a new student group “KCL Nations United” and KCL’s first “One World Week” to celebrate “the cultural richness of King’s”. Smith joins Hannah Barlow, President of KCLSU, Fran Allfrey, Vice Presi-
dent (VP) Media and Engagement and Holly Walsh, VP Student Activities. President Barlow won her term from ten candidates including the Re-Open Nominations. Her closest rival was Dash Nada who secured 747 votes in each of the first three rounds. However, Barlow never fell behind, increasing her majority by an average of 26 votes per step and taking the final round with 282 votes over Nada to win. 8383 votes were cast over the election period, 9-11 March 2011, with the category of VP Academic Affairs attracting 2217 votes overall, 151 more than elections for President. Barlow, from Brighton, joined King’s in 2008 to study Biochemistry. In an introduction on the KCLSU website she writes, “I will work hard for KCLSU to be more visible and to connect with the broadest range of students possible, creating a greater sense of community across our five campus university.”
London Vice-Chancellor to step down Writer Toby Thomas News Editor *
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of London has announced his intention to step down from his post, with effect from July 2012. Professor Geoffrey Crossick, who was previously Warden of Goldsmiths, said the principal reason for his decision was that “the role requires far more of my time than I had
Miliband to tour ULU campuses ULU [POLITICS]
Students celebrate at the event that cost the Union well over £100 000. Photo: Felix
April and that he was not present, having taken leave. An article in Imperial’s student paper, Felix, attracted many comments. One student wrote: “It's sad that lessons could not be learnt a bit sooner and that those involved in the "ball" planning are still acting surprised and deflecting blame.” Many agreed it should have been an “Imperial only” occasion, blaming the “extreme incompetence” of the Imperial Sabbatical team for the
financial loss and general dissatisfaction. Union officials made it clear that the billing of the event, showing the largest financial loss of a Summer Ball in recent history, was “wholly unacceptable” and “lessons must be learnt” for future years. The Union have released a survey for the event which includes the question: “Should we have a Summer Ball in 2012?”
Only 14% of new university prioritise studying over socialising
Only 14% of first year students prioritise studying, with 59% of students believing that meeting new people is the most important aspect of their first year of university, according to a recent survey by studentbeans.com. The figures change dramatically by final year however, as 79% of students admit toswapping the bar for the library s in their last year of study. The figures seem to be a concrete example of the common notion that a student’s first year at university is the easiest and least important. As such, students are often encouraged to initially prioritise their social lives. With most first year courses counting minimally to a student’s overall result, perhaps universities aim to encourage such behaviour. The editor of studentbeans.com, Oliver Brann, seemingly agrees, saying: ‘University is more about the whole experience with studies often running alongside social aspects such as meeting
new people, getting involved with societies and learning to live independently.’ However, the survey also discovered that 82% of recent graduates felt that they could have worked harder at university, with 14% of students admitting they wish they had attended more lectures. Time management was revealed to be a big issue for students, with 21% of recent graduates stating that balancing their work load and social life was their biggest worry whilst at university. And yet, it is not truly a story of regret. Figures also claim that 52% of graduates name their friends as the best thing about their university experience, 21% claim their social life, with only 13% believing their course to be the best aspect of their overall experience. Joshua, a recent graduate from the London College of Communication, says, ‘If you don't have fun and go out you're not very likely to enjoy your course or your time at Uni.’ Whilst university is presently fabled for its social as well as academic aspects, with fees rising next year to up to £9,000 there may be a shift in priorities.
expected,” which has restricted his ability to take on “other roles in public life” and “secure the lifestyle benefits” he was seeking. Professor Crossick became Vice-Chancellor in September 2010 after five years at Goldsmiths college. Previous to that, he was head of the Arts and Hu-
manities Research Council. He is a social historian specializing in 19th and 20th century Britain and continental Europe. He told the Guardian in 2005 that he supports Tottenham FC, enjoys wine and music, but dislikes onions. Speaking about his retirement from the role, he added: “The University of London has a very significant future in the new environment for higher education, and I wish to stress that my deci-
Writer Amelia Tait
David Miliband, is to embark on his first major duty for Labour since his defeat in the party leadership contest by brother, Ed, last year. The former Foreign Secretary has vowed to visit more than 20 universities across Britain in the coming year to take Labour’s message to young people “by listening and encouraging them to see Labour as the voice for Britain’s future.” Through a series of discussions and question and answer sessions, which will be open to all students irrespective of party allegiance, Mr Miliband will also promote Labour’s campaign for a Living Wage for employees at higher and further education institutions. It is hoped that students’ opinions will help Labour to formulate a new agenda for the next general election, which will address the biggest challenges facing Britain today. The campaign will also have the active support of Mr Miliband’s own venture, The Movement for Change, which aims to train future Labour leaders.
Simon Hughes unveils access report LONDON [EDUCATION]
Simon Hughes has called for schools to control the allocation of university scholarships in his final report as Advocate for Access to Education, which was published in July. The Liberal Democrat deputy leader proposed 10,000 awards of £3,000 each to be annually available to teenagers from low-income households on a basis of academic performance. Mr Hughes deemed the upcoming six months as ‘crucial’ in terms of preventing increased fees deterring poorer students. Enhancing the powers of the Office for Fair Access, imposing financial penalties on institutions failing to widen participation, would enforce such proposals, he believes. Currently, 13 of 16 Russell Group Universities are below target for state school access. Other recommendations include starting careers advice at primary school, and linking each school to a university. However, NUS President Liam Burns has dubbed the report ‘warm-worded but toothless... [coming at] the end of a year which has seen access to education curtailed.”
sion is an entirely personal one and no reflection on the University’s undoubted potential. “For the coming year I will remain fully engaged in my role and will continue to work closely with all my colleagues here and in the Colleges, as well as with our stakeholders.”
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Visa changes leave non-EU students feeling “unwelcome” Writer Toby Thomas News Editor Non-EU students feel “unwelcome” as a result of changes to the UK’s immigration policy, according to recent research which will have unsettling implications for London’s universities. When contacted by the London Student, four of the capital’s leading institutions refused to speculate on expected numbers of non-EU overseas students in 2011/12, with one of them admitting to being “very uncertain” about the figures. Dr Elizabeth Mavroudi of Loughbrough University told the Royal Geographical Society on 2nd September that “many [overseas students] may study outside the UK” because they believe it will now be more difficult to find post-study work following Home Secretary Theresa May’s visa reforms. A UCL spokesperson told London Student that the university is “very uncertain” about non-EU student numbers for 2011/12. Amid signs of widespread insecurity, King’s, LSE and Imperial refused to provide any comment on the numbers of overseas applicants they had received, and the numbers of places they expected to be filled. The facts will emerge in late October, when universities officially reveal the figures of enrolled students.
Richard Murphy, an academic at LSE who is a specialist in the subject, told London Student that the changes are unlikely to impact directly on London universities, but there is a significant chance that overseas students will be put off studying in the UK in general. Mr Murphy said: “The coalition policy to cut the number of student visas is unlikely to have a significant effect on London universities. It will be private colleges, sponsoring overseas students, who will be most affected by these tightening standards. “However, whilst these new regulations may not impact directly on the majority of UK universities, the raising of hurdles may lead overseas students to apply to more ‘immigrant-friendly’ countries. Overseas students contribute significantly to university finances and the economy as a whole and therefore the government should be very cautious from actions that may deter them from entering the country.” Mr Murphy’s warning echoes fears voiced in the international press, with recent articles from the Ghanaian Chronicle, the New York Times and the Times of India all raising concerns at the tougher visa regulations. Theresa May announced her plans to reduce the number of student visas by almost 25% in March. The impact of the reforms will only be fully felt at the
University graduates earning less than school leavers
Writer Steffani Garcia News Editor
Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics starkly contrast Government indications on salaries earned by young adults. The Government has previously claimed that those with degrees can expect to earn an extra £100,000 over their lifetime in comparison to students who leave education after GCSE’s or their A-levels. However, new statistics are proving a disheartening reality as one in five graduates now earn less than their school-leaving counterparts. On average, students who have just completed their first degree are earning £16,000, with said salary reaching £22,000 after two years. In other words, 20% of graduates are now earning less than £10 an hour, which is in fact the average pay for those educated up to an A-level standard. The pay gap between those with university degrees and those without is beginning to narrow. Moreover, university graduates are more likely to work in less highly
skilled jobs than ten years ago, as figures of graduates in job areas such as managerial positions and engineering have fallen by 57%. Considering that the number of A-level students applying to university has doubled in the past twenty years, this is a cause for concern. Additionally, the fact that universities across the country are increasing their course fees poses another issue for students, as many progress on to higher education in hopes of earning better wages and the prospect of employment security. However, with the above mentioned statistics, the question of whether or not all graduates will receive either better pay or secure employment, does not seem promising. The response to these statistics have mainly come from business groups and recruitment agencies who have warned that employers are beginning to see graduates in a very different light in comparison to trends in the 1980s and 1990s. They claim that the growth of university applicants paired with the surge in “soft subjects” degrees, employers can no longer distinguish skills amongst graduates nor with their school-leaving counterparts.
start of this academic year. The development represents a potential blow to London universities, who rely heavily on foreign students, partly to boost revenue. LSE, which describes itself as a “truly international”, stands to lose most from the changes: 38% of its undergraduates and 51% of its postgraduates last year were from outside the EU. LSE is somewhat exceptional in this respect, although other universities do have sizeable non-EU student populations. UCL, which describes itself as “London’s global university”, last year had 24.7% of its student population from outside the EU, while King’s had 18%. SOAS director and principal Paul Webley said in July that the reforms threaten to perpetuate the belief that British universities are “in it for the money”. But in his new role as chair of the UK Council for International
The development represents a potential blow to London universities, who rely heavily on foreign students, partly to boost revenue. LSE, which describes itself as a “truly international”, stands to lose most from the changes: 38% of its undergraduates and 51% of its postgraduates last year were from outside the EU.
Student Affairs he has made clear he wants to “repair the damage to our reputation”. The current low value of the Pound is likely to help him in this endeavor, as British courses continue to offer relative value for money for international students. British universities have seen a substantial increase in overseas students over the last two decades. The number of overseas undergraduates grew by 154% between 1994 and 2008, while the number of overseas postgraduates grew by 412% during the same period. During his visit to China earlier this year, David Cameron admitted that fees for overseas students have previously been used to keep the costs of domestic students down.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
World Briefing Writer Bassam Gergi
Illustrator Nathan Clutterbuck
Colleges seek foreign students for stimulus 1
USA [STUDENT BODY]
The international student population at U.S. colleges is rapidly growing, with about 690,000 foreign students attending in the 2009-10 school year, up 26 percent from just a decade ago. Driving the growth are affluent families, many from Asia, who value Western education and can afford to pay a full price. According to the Institute of International Education the biggest supplier of international students is China (18 percent) followed closely by India (15 percent) and then South Korea (10 percent). This academic exchange offers U.S. universities a chance to support their financial bottom line by charging out-of-state fees, but it also allows them to influence a rising generation of global business and political leaders. The influx of international students has forced colleges to refocus traditional orientations for students, who often have different questions and concerns than native freshmen. To help the students acclimate, colleges across the nation have begun to offer mentoring, road trips, Thanksgiving celebrations and cultural programs with local families.
Brazil develops uni access in rural areas 2
Following concerns over selective entrance examinations at public universities, Brazilian officials are striving to widen access to poorer rural regions. The government has approved an £815 million expansion of its public university system, which they hope will stimulate development in the country's poorest regions. The plans will add more than 250,000 new places and will go towards the establishment of four new universities, spread across 47 campuses. It will also encompass the construction of 208 professional institutes of education, science and technology, which will enroll 600,000 students between them. There are concerns about ensuring the quality at new institutions, particularly because public universities tend to be research universities that recruit stronger faculty and select students on merit. Rural communities may not be able to maintain a competitive advantage in the short term, which therefore requires a continued focus.
3 Ai Wei Wei
to teach at Berlin University of Arts
The 54-year-old Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has accepted a job at the Berlin University of the Arts. An outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Part, Weiwei’s detention on accusations of tax evasion has sparked an international outcry. Ai’s avant-garde work was on display at London's Tate Modern gallery until recently, and his arrest in April was part of a major government crackdown on dissidents in China. His outspoken criticism of China's controversial social campaigns -- such as a citizens' probe into school collapses in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake -- have long made him a thorn in the government's side.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
target West Bank university PALESTINE
seeks investment for public education
According to the Kenyan government, the number of students in public universities increased by over 40,000 last year. Higher education enrolments have been rising by around 40 per cent year on year for the past five academic years. As numbers continue to surge, Kenyan universities are increasingly seeking out private investors to help fill cash shortfalls. In the public sector, annual government funching has not kept pace with the rising need for expansion. Education experts have warned that a much larger number of students would have adverse effects if not acconpanied by a commensurate rise in funding.
In the West Bank town of Birzeit near Ramallah, vandals sprayed graffiti on the walls of a mosque and university. Although there has yet to be conclusive evidence, the attacks are suspected to be by a fringe group of Israeli settlers. It was the third mosque to be vandalized since Israeli troops demolished three homes in the settlement outpost of Migron. Hardline settlers have adopted a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government measures against settlements. Palestinian security officials told Agence France-Press that the graffiti was written in Hebrew and included threats of violent assaults and slogans insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
Shore’ opens in Florence
Season 4 of “Jersey Shore” is underway as a group working-class Italian-Americans who favor fake tans and call themselves guidos, collide with Florentines, who are known as the most elegant of all Italians. “Jersey Shore” is an Americanbased reality show that magnifies the vulgarity and bravado of a particularly colorful New Jersey stereotype. Though in Florence the cast does not seem to be appreciating the scenery; instead, it is a fresh spot for them to hook up, squabble, fight and drink, in slightly different configurations. In a taxi, one of the actors asks how to tell the driver to go fast. Another suggests he says, “Ciao.”
encourages boys to higher education
The ratio for university enrollment in Malaysia stood at 65 women to 35 men, with many universities recording a 7030 imbalance last year. Although officials have noted that there is a global trend towards greater numbers of women attending institutes of higher education, the contrast in this Muslimmajority nation is especially wide. Deputy education minister Wee Ka Siong has announced that Malaysia will introduce vocational training at schools from 2013 so that pupils can hone practical skills, such as repairing cars, in order to increase appeal to male students. Although the plan outlined still lacks specifics, Malaysia continues to look for ways to improve gender imbalance at universities.
Spying on Muslim students - why? We’re here to study, not to bring down Western civilisation Yomn Al-Kaisi - page 10
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 8 LONDON STUDENT
Palestinian Statehood will benefit an elite, not the people Ibrahim Adaci - page 10
The difficulty of defending the humanities in a world of capitalist orthodoxy David Paxton - page 11
The lecture is dead, long live the e-lecture Tom Chambers - page 09
The Great Debate
Are there parallels to be found between the student protests and the August Riots? page 12
Photo: Elizabeth Eisen
Matt Williamson Stage Editor
Realisitcally, few of us are here solely to land gainful employment. We’re here for that elusive “university experience”.
In spite of everything, University is still the right choice
When it comes to University it seems no one has anything that positive to say. Whether it is soaring fees or plummeting rates of graduate employment, the picture is bleak. Indeed, you might be forgiven for wondering just why we bother. Is there any point in going to Uni? Are universities useful for little more than helping governments to fiddle the unemployment statistics, or do they serve a purpose? Is it really worth the hassle? One thing seems pretty clear: it’s not about the money. In 2003, the graduate premium was supposedly £400,000. Now we’re told that it is £100,000. You can only wonder how low the figure will have fallen by tomorrow. Add to that the spiralling levels of student debt, and you’re not left with much in the way of a financial advantage. In a world where everyone has a degree, the qualification has ceased to be the gateway to privilege that it once was.
Still, if you want a job at all, you’re probably going to be thankful for that certificate. After all, one key result of rising numbers of people with degrees is a rising number of jobs that require you have one. And as the country’s economy continues its merry trajectory into poverty and despair, the few employment opportunities that arise will be hard fought for. Having a degree is no longer an advantage; for many jobs it is simply a necessity. But all this talk of premiums and fees makes it easy to forget that universities are more than simply job factories. Realistically, few of us are here solely to land gainful employment. We’re here for that elusive “university experience”. For one thing, this is the first and quite possibly last time in your life that you’ll get to study just one subject in detail. While school and college arguably prepare students for little more than the world of work, University at its best is about learning
for learning’s sake: it’s the chance to take a certain module simply because it interests you, and not because it’s likely to aid your career prospects. More than that, University is about independence. It’s a time to decide on what you want to do with your life, rather than just going along with what your parents and teachers tell you. The transition to Uni allows you to leave home and go to a city where you may well know no one at all. Even for those who stay at home, it means getting to know people from all over the country. It’s about the possibilities that arise when you bring thousands of young people together in one place. It’s about cutting yourself loose from the responsibility of your old friends and family, from the obligation to turn up at school or work all day every day. What you do with that freedom is up to you, of course. It might mean taking up sports or activities that you’ve
never previously had the chance to do. It might mean acting or volunteering, smashing windows at Milbank, or going into occupation. It might mean plunging into the murky world of student politics, or perhaps even coming to write for London Student. Whatever you do, it’s about living your life the way you want to. And it’s not often you get the chance to do that. Don’t kid yourself that you’re well on the way to a life of luxury and wealth. Don’t even go around thinking you’re guaranteed a job at the end of it all. But do appreciate Uni for what it is. The next time someone tells you to go and get a job, remember that you’ll be working for most of the rest of your life anyway, and that’s if you’re one of the lucky ones. If nothing else, University is about freedom. And we deserve the chance to control our own lives, even if it is for just a couple of years.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 8
Tom Chambers comment editor *
“Perhaps the physical campus will begin to dissolve as the reasons to go there become less compelling and students opt for the degree lite in order to save a bit of cash”
"with an increase in fees round the corner, this sort of work could become much more popular a few years down the line"
The lecture is dead, long live the e-lecture With the cost of higher education soaring and places dwindling, it’s about time to start looking at how the university of the future might look. Given that a prospective student applying this year is likely to be paying around £27,000 for their degree, and assuming that this isn’t likely to be decreasing in the near future, they might start to question if they’ll actually get enough back from that, especially if their choice is based on a desire for a well paid vocation, rather than a passion for the academic intricacies of Belgian agricultural policy in the mid-sixteenth century. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount that students pay and the amount they receive in person from universities: in my course last year I only had 8 hours of tuition, a far cry from the intensity of courses in my parent’s day. On average, face to face time has fallen from 14 hours to 13.4 in the last academic year. None of this is to dismiss the value of academia, or the use of accumulating knowledge for it’s own sake, but more to ask in what directions learning could travel, and where the market might push it in. Of course there are some courses which require your physical presence, in order to poke a scalpel into the squishy parts some unfortunate’s brain or tinker with robots, but there are a large proportion of courses that mostly involve the direct transmission of information and argument from teacher to student, a
lot of which could potentially be done online. Before the prevalence of PDFs and e-journals in a student’s reading, it was essential to copy down every word your lecturer said, since that was the only chance you had to hear about it. Now there is a much greater level of information written down, and as technology develops and writers and readers get used to it, that information is becoming increasingly less location specific. The box full of index cards at the library is no longer the first place to look for obscure thinkers that can now be found in moments on Google. The archetypal professor of the future will perhaps be surrounded by various electronic gadgets rather than piles of books and folders (the tweed jacket with leather elbow patches will live on though I’m sure). There is a wealth of free information online in blogs, wikipedia and news sites that is available to billions of people on earth if they choose to make use of it. There are of course still big roles for universities to play in administrating and dispensing education, but perhaps the physical campus will begin to dissolve as the reasons to go there become less compelling and students opt for the degree lite in order to save a bit of cash and come out with the same knowledge. Lectures can be streamed live to student’s computer screens or recorded for viewing at a convenient time, as the LSE already does with their Echo 360 system.
Seminars can be recreated online using forums or perhaps live webcam chats. Granted the technology is still some way off being reliable, but the bigger hindrance is peoples’ acceptance of the way it is used. Coursework and marks are increasingly being transmitted via email, and although exams would be a challenge to supervise over the web, one trip a year would be a significantly lower cost. In the past correspondence courses and the Open University have been seen as second best to a degree that requires you attend lectures in something a little more formal than your pajamas, but there is no reason why world ranking institutions should not now also offer such opportunities given that the technology is here to do so. There may be costs in terms of the way that students develop their skills within the learning setting, developing their debating power for example, but I think these can be developed in other ways given time to work out the kinks. The greatest disadvantage of the decentralised institution is the lack of community. What will become of rag week, the film club and above all the experience of a new exciting place away from your parents and immersed in the student community? Will anybody bother to move out of their sedate home counties villages anymore? Whether this sacrifice is worth it or not is a choice for the students of tomorrow.
Fee rises, female students and the rise of the Hooters Girls
As students living in a time of increasing fees, more and more of us are having to seek different routes of employment over the summer to financially support us through our studies. And there is now new controversy over the reports of rising numbers of students looking to lap dancing to make their money. This summer, in Bristol, I stumbled across another contentious source of employment for female students which appears to be increasing in popularity - that of the hooters girl. For those who don’t know, ‘Hooters’ is an American chain of restaurants, serving chicken wings and ribs, that heads itself under the slogan “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined”. The Hooters Girls work as waitresses and are required wear an extremely revealing set uniform: white leg warmers, a small pair of orange shorts and a tight white vest with the brand of hooters stretched across the front. Even in this sexualised environment, the restaurant is marketed with families in mind. The place I visited in Bristol is open every day of the week from noon, highchairs are available on request, and there are deals
such as “kids eat free”. In this, Hooters is an unusual hybrid of cultures – and a job there might be potentially troublesome for any of us concerned with female empowerment and equality. On the one hand, the job has been painted as merely working in a family restaurant with slightly less clothing. If this an accurate depiction then it begs the question - should this skimpy attire be a cause for concern? This calls up the memory of the Slutwalks earlier this year. One sentiment that can be gleamed from these marches was a celebration of female sexuality as well as a call to be treated as equals, free from victimisation regardless of what we wear. If it is enjoyable or liberating to wear the Hooter girl outfit, then strong attitudes against such work seem to be pointless. Objecting purely to the principle of wearing minimal clothing appears to be restrictive and limiting to women, falling into the same narrow thinking that Slutwalks worked to make a stand against. However, there are reasons to suggest that there is more to the job than just the clothes that are worn.
For one, there are large signs on the walls of the restaurants screaming out about more than just clothing - “caution blondes thinking”, “Hooters girls are flattery operated”, “high levels of hydrogen peroxide in the air”, “wanted XL men to fill our t-shirts see your Hooters girl”. And then there is the way that the girls are encouraged to do “tricks” for the customers (with props like hoola hoops), take part in swimming contests organised by the restaurant, and even sell the calenders of girls in bikinis that can be ordered from the menu. A Hooters Girl is not just a waitress, but a bikini model and performing animal. It would seem that the difficulties with working at Hooters lie not only in wearing a different set of clothes. Whether this should ultimately stand in the way of a student looking for work there, with the fear of debt on their mind, is another question. As more restaurants open and with an increase in fees round the corner, this sort of work could become much more popular a few years down the line. Now is the time to discuss just what impact it will have.
The Queer Column
Advice for Freshers, by Jen Izaakson
Let me guess, before now being completely ‘out and proud’ hasn’t been a possibility? Lots of LGBT young people don’t come out totally until they leave their hometowns into the safe and mostly accepting community of university and this newly found status is usually one of quiet inner excitement. If your sexuality has never been accepted and you’re put in a situation where a few thousand people don’t even bat an eyelid about it, it’s a huge relief. But, without wishing to put a downer on any rejoicing or 24-hour Vauxhall based clubbing sessions, many of your fellow freshers will have been comfortable with their sexuality for years and won’t be able to relate to the new freedom you now feel. Orientation for most people is only a small part of their existence and identity. It’s very tempting when new to being out to ‘buy the t-shirt’ (often literally) and transplant one’s old identity for a new ‘LGBT branded’ one, complete with Justin Bieber hair-cut, stock of 14 rainbow bracelets and written confirmation of lifetime pledges to several queer charities, but remember to take a step back. Getting involved with your local LGBT Society is a fantastic thing to do, but don’t simply subsume yourself. Most people are far more complicated than who they happen to fancy and you may find you have as much, if not more in common, with people who aren’t involved with anything LGBT on your campus. Keep those interests prior to University going, whether it’s a political persuasion, a cause your passionate about, a sport or language – it’s these things that distinguish you.
Discrimination starts here! Here’s a piece of advice most seasoned students will be aware of but no on tends to mention in Freshers Guides and it applies to heterosexuals as much as LGBT. You will likely spend the latter years of your degree avoiding some of the friends you make in the first year, so be selective right away. Choose who to spend your time with carefully – there will be less individuals to avoid later, once you’ve realised soand-so from Wednesday’s seminar who seemed ‘quirky and intelligent’ is actually ‘vacuous and annoying’. It’s great to make friends immediately and find people you’re comfortable hanging out with during the first few weeks of term – it will definitely help you get to know other people, but this shouldn’t mean overlooking anyone unpleasant or someone who’s conversation makes Geordie Shore seem like an intellectual step-up. Time is precious and first year is an experience not to be relived, so be wise; you can’t do it again.
“The rise of Islamaphobia is a reality that Muslims from all walks of life have dealt with for the past ten years –whether that’s at school, work or even on public transport”
“In 1948 an entire group of people was wronged. Justice for just half of those people is not the solution."
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
Monitoring muslim students? Why? We’re here to study, not bring down the West Islam: a word with strong connotations, usually associated with the ‘War on Terror’, unfamiliar religious practices and of course, “radicalised fundamentalist youth”. It is hardly surprising that since the devastating events of 9/11 it is this definition of Islam that has been associated with Muslims; a dangerous stereotype that has rocked the worlds of Muslims in all four corners of the earth. For any confusion that we mere simpletons may have had, a simple equation has been formulated by the media and foreign policy of the reigning superpower: Muslim=Terrorist. The rise of Islamaphobia is a reality that Muslims from all walks of life have dealt with for the past ten years – whether that’s at school, work or even on public transport. It is a phobia and stereotype that many Muslims have dedicated their lives to try and break – yes I wear Hijab and work in fashion, no I don’t have an AK47 under my bed, and of course I watch Friends! As an Arab Muslim female, I know exactly what it can be like to be pigeonholed into the coffin-stereotype of what Muslim women “should be”. Targets of world media, fascist rightwing groups, and nut-heads in power, you must learn to deal with the problems that the world throws at you, which -shocking though it may be- do
not involve strapping yourself to a home-made bomb and detonating it in a public space. However, our fantastic and loving Tory government, naturally, disagrees. Police officials have been asked to talk to students, university staff and academics and be informed of any “vulnerable and unstable” Muslim students. This is part of the government’s revived “Prevent” strategy, which basically allows any Muslim student at university to be submitted for a fully-fledged Scotland Yard investigation –all without the student’s knowledge. That’s right ladies and gents, any Muslim guy or girl –that guy with the beard? That girl with the multi-coloured scarf on her head? Take your pick. The world is your Muslim-infested oyster, and you have Mr Muscle to deal with it. So I’m thinking how is this Sherlock Holmes novel going to play out? Is it your natural “Muslim-Fundy” instinct that gets you going? Your fantastic observational skills (“LOOK, SHE WEARS A LONG SKIRT, GO GET HER!”)? Or perhaps your stone-cold ignorance? It actually amazes me as to how far and how institutionalised Islamaphobia has gone and what it has become. To go to the level of quite literally spying on one another is something that Tory MPs must have
wet dreams over. Because, of course, I didn’t go to university to study a subject that I love and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds –I went to university to weed out all those Muslim FUNDIES! Sometimes I wonder, am I in some sort of twisted comedy show or is this just the reality that Muslim students have to face today? Attacking Islamic Societies at universities and isolating Muslim students seems to be the rational, logical and completely understandable explanation –how could I be such a fool? That’s right, poke me once, poke me twice, and please poke me a third time, but it kind of hurts when you poke me a fourth time. Why do these governments not get it? Isolating Muslims is only going to make them feel even more frustrated with how they are being treated. When are they going to understand that we are just normal people who lead normal lives (or we’d like to anyway; those rare moments of peace that we get when we’re not kicking the EDL out of London) and would like to get on with that?
For the past six months I have constantly heard the phrase ‘Palestinian UN statehood bid’ describing the events which are expected to take place this month. Most Palestinians are accustomed to never get excited about any of the latest ‘initiatives’ because every Palestinian over the age of 15 has seen at least two great pushes for peace,: the ‘roadmap’ and Obama’s latest attempt, fail miserably. The older you are, the more you remember; whether it’s Camp David in 2000, the beginning of the peace process in the late 80s, or even the first Camp David accords in 1978. The more sham and futile attempts you have witnessed over the course of your life, the more nauseous you feel every time a new attempt is made. This is because those who claim to represent us have absolutely no connection to us. We had ‘our’ leadership imposed upon us thanks to Arafat’s ability to convince the rest of the world that he and his cronies were our representatives after gaining some of the Palestinians’ trust. However whatever trust this leadership did hold has been all but lost. Just last January another scandal appeared to prove this with the ‘Palestine Papers’ exposing them
once again. This is however where my scepticism over this ‘statehood bid’ next month comes in. This bid has been led entirely by the PA. The men who we are supposedly entrusting to deliver a result are the same men who in negotiations gave up large settlement blocks in the West Bank, the right of return and Jerusalem, and were willing to recognise Israel a Jewish state. It is in this context that you also begin to see why even ‘success’ next month does not spell good news for our cause. What has been overlooked is the question of what would happen if the ‘perfect’ situation was realised and a state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital was born. The Palestinian cause is NOT just the cause of those of us holding green cards and living in decent economic and social conditions. We are a collective cause and when we find a solution we want a solution for all of us, because in 1948 an entire group of people was wronged and justice for just half of those people is not the solution. Just to show one way in which some Palestinians will suffer, let’s look at the 1.2 million ‘Israeli Arabs’ who
will be the victims of the PA’s plan. The abuses and discrimination that they face is often overlooked thanks to the ways in which Israel can claim to be an “equal” society. But in practise the range of discriminatory obstacles they face in their daily lives means that the abuses they face are just as grave as those suffered by Palestinians elsewhere. The PA and those going to the United Nations next month don’t care about the Israeli Arabs. Lacking any understanding of what the Palestinian struggle means, they would consider the Palestinian problem solved. This attitude towards the rest of our cause was exposed in talks when chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said, of recognising Israel as a Jewish state: “call it what you want... it’s their issue, not mine”. And this is just one reason why I refuse to be swept away by the excitement that sections of the pro-Palestinian media are trying to create. It may all sound good on paper, but my instincts tell me that there is a sting in the tail somewhere. Feeling my own bitterness as the bitterness of all my family, forgive me for being the cynic who sits in the corner and refuses to put any more faith in these men and their plans.
Palestinian statehood will benefit an elite, not the people
Unremembered Afghanistan Tom Stevenson
In a small park just outside the sleepy Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, there are 35,000 wooden crosses planted in neat lines. Each has a red poppy pinned to its centre; many have photos of the smiling faces of deceased British soldiers clipped to them by loved ones. The ‘Garden of Remembrance’, as it’s called, is a dignified testament to the memory of dead British soldiers. Wootton Bassett itself has received the bodies of fallen soldiers repatriated at RAF Lyneham since 2007, but this month the Union flag was lowered in the town’s final ceremony. From now on, the British army’s fatalities will be flown to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The end of Wootton Bassett repatriations, the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, have prompted a spate of television programmes and news stories. Britain is remembering Afghanistan and the 378 British soldiers who have died there since October 7th 2001. But what of the Afghan civilians killed in this war; what are their stories? When US General Tommy Franks was asked this question, at Bagram Air Base in March 2002, he replied: “we don’t do body counts”. To a degree he was right. The British army, like its brother across the Atlantic, does not count the bodies of its victims. But Marc Herold, University of New Hampshire Professor, does. His research is startling. In the first three months of the war (codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom), NATO’s bombing campaign killed 3600 Afghan civilians. That means that by December 7th 2001, NATO had surpassed the death toll of alQaeda’s 9/11 atrocity. For every 10,000 tonnes of bombs that were dropped, 2,643 Afghan civilians were killed – one of the worst civilian death ratios in history. By 2002, the war had pushed millions of people into extreme poverty, and as the aid agencies fled the death toll rose. “The bombing prevented supplies from reaching the refugee camps”, Professor Herold explains. How many died? In 2002 alone he “estimated this number as between 10 and 20,000". A total estimate of Afghan civilian deaths since 2001 is difficult, but a cautious composite exceeds 40,000. The name of every British soldier killed in Afghanistan is known, yet estimates of the innocent Afghan dead vary by the tens of thousand. Take Karam village, 18 miles west of Jalalabad in Nangahar province. On October 14th 2001, a NATO bombing raid killed 160 of its civilians. Or the Continued on page 13
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
“The catastrophe facing the humanities is symptomatic of something wider and on-going: the colonization of human life by economic systems”
The difficulty of defending humanities in a world of capitalist orthodoxy It is more necessary than ever to defend the humanities. On top of everything that has happened to universities in general, and the humanities in particular, over the past year, new figures show that the AHRC is in the process of cutting funding for a significant number of its MA and Ph.D. students. As these funding bodies contract, the actual cost of taking postgraduate study may rise in the way that undergraduate costs have. The problem that we face has to do with mounting a passionate defence of ‘English’ and its peers in the university, and we face crippling problems. For a start, the catastrophe facing the humanities is symptomatic of something wider and more ongoing, which is the colonization of human life by economic systems. An alternative to capitalism has today become almost impossible to imagine, so entrenched has that disfiguring system become in our lives. It is astonishing that even the most intelligent and sensitive people have come to think and speak in almost exclusively financial terms, for example by taking
concepts like ‘enterprise’ to be selfevidently laudable things. In a society like this, things like art come to be seen as things that one ‘likes’, things that areaccessory to what is truly important, which is making money, and turning that money into more money. And the idea of studying poetry in an ‘English Literature’ department is lunacy and selfindulgence to so many people. Academics in the humanities have actually gone some way towards appeasing these people, calling what they do ‘research’, which gives the activity of, say, listening to music a ring of the scientific, and a more distant ring of the business world. Ideas about the humanities, then, are founded on deeper preconceptions about the nature of civilization and human life. To cut through these preconceptions one must be skilled in critical and analytical thinking: the problem is that humanities departments are where these skills are taught and, because of previous shifts in the university structure, even now these skills seem to be becoming an
increasingly distant and poignant memory. There is no one way, of course, to think critically: one can finish an English degree as a Leavisite, or a Foucauldian, or a Marxist; or, for that matter, a Shakespearian, a Lawrentian, or innumerable other things. One may even – the least responsible option - dabble simultaneously with as many ideals as possible, enjoying one’s imaginative freedom. But what is common even now is that huge swathes of students leave university as none of these things; probably most of them have never read the great theorists beyond the cursory five pages that were skim-read in undergraduate classes. These students are the product of a number of factors: the expansion of universities, the incorporation of the university within the business world, the shift of emphasis within universities from education to democratic involvement (and the bolstering of CVs), and the change of status of a degree. None of these things encourage the student’s resolute and courageous at-
tempt to strengthen his or her mind, and to deepen his or her intuitions and emotions, by engaging with things like great writing and great music. Yet this sort of engagement is, today, especially necessary if one is to cut through state policy and popular prejudice, and defend what one feels to be important. If a defence of the humanities is not made – if humanities departments are drained of funding, while the university itself is subordinated to the systems of late capitalism, and if teachers turn into form-fillers and students into consumers and entrepreneurs – we will, to quote F.R. Leavis, ‘ensure a major human disaster.’
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
Are there parallels to be found between the student protests and the August Riots? THE GREAT DEBATE
Twice in the past year London has witnessed smashed windows and chaos on the streets. With speculation rife about the causes of this summer’s riots, London Student asks: could they share their roots with the tuition fee protests? YES
Marie le Conte
The most unsettling thing about this summer’s riots wasn't the looting; it wasn't the burning cars, or the smashed windows. What is already being forgotten, but is vital to remember, is that deep feeling of powerlessness which paralyzed the country for nearly a week. From the people reluctant to leave their homes after dusk, to those calling for water cannons, rubber bullets, or indeed anything capable of bringing England back to calm and order, it was incredible to see how a population reacted to something it could not make sense of. Civil disobedience with an ideological aim is generally frowned upon, but the idea of a city burning for no apparent reason is simply terrifying – which is why everyone seemed so keen on blaming it on anything they could think of. It was an apparent attempt to rationalize the chaos, and reassure themselves. However, the general consensus appeared to be that what had happened wasn’t, or couldn’t even be political : the most popular options ranged from gang culture and single parent families, to benefits culture and pure greed – it was all down to, as Cameron said, ‘mindless violence’ ; an appetite for destruction that was an end to itself. After all, they destroyed their own communities, their own youth centres and local shops, so why should we try and understand them? The only answer was a decision to reclaim the streets, take back what never should have been theirs anyway, and go back to normal as quick as possible. Interestingly, during that period, the vocabulary the government used sounded incredibly similar to what could be heard during the student protests ; whilst most of the chants were about free education and the vileness of the Coalition, there would
always be a time when protesters would shout ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ And this is exactly what our generation is about. The anger of the students not only came from the treble of the tuition fees, or cuts to the education sector, but more deeply from a feeling that we were being left out of a world and a future that should unquestionably be ours. The higher education system, jobs and free healthcare we thought were part of our society are all slowly being taken away. And what’s scarier than to realise this, at an age when uncertainty about our futures is already a central part of our lives. What’s even scarier is feeling that whatever you’re doing or saying, your voice will remain unheard. That’s where this visceral desire to reclaim the streets comes from; if nothing is done to give our youth hope in their future, no wonder they’ve become so nihilistic. No wonder, also, why they’re always keeping it local. Whether it’s the students occupying their universities, or the hoodied teenagers looting from their high streets, it’s a question of appropriating these institutions we should have access to, but are being kept away from us for the sake of other people’s money or privileges. It is a way to reclaim a sense of power and get rid of this raging feeling of being left aside without being expected to react. The only difference between last winter’s protests and this summer of riots is that we students had a way of making ourselves heard: a platform on which to negotiate, and, to some extent, a voice that could be listened to. Instead of blaming video games and hip hop culture, we should try to think about why it happened, and what we can do to stop it from happening again. We can all agree on saying that it was a disaster, but how can we assume that going back to normal will be the solution, as it was “normal life” which caused it all in the first place?
“What’s even scarier is feeling that whatever you’re doing or saying, your voice will remain unheard. That’s where this visceral desire to reclaim the streets comes from; if nothing is done to give our youth hope in their future, no wonder they’ve become so nihilistic.”
“This is not behaviour we simply witness in Hackney and Peckham. Our own MPs did the same thing: they stole our money because they knew there was no accountability. I am not sure you can sustain an argument that our politicians are underprivileged.”
Ibrahim Adaci SOAS
The instant I heard it suggested that the student protests last year had a connection to the riots that took place across the UK in August, I was perplexed. However, as I thought about it, it became clear that there are two reasons why this connection could be made. And both of them wind me up. The first is the stance that views last year’s protests as just misbehaving middle class kids who wanted to cause trouble, essentially denying the essence of what they were about, and trying to deny the government as a cause of the protests. Regardless of the fact that some of the protests got slightly out of hand and saw some violence, they were perfectly legitimate and no different to any of the mass protests we regularly see in this country. I personally may not have gone on any marches or even supported the protests that greatly, but it is immoral to obscure the nature of what these protests were. The violence was simply a side effect, and the fees grievance was the core element of the events; to compare them to the riots is quite silly. On the flip side however the other way in which the two compared, and for me more worrying, is how parts of left-leaning Britain have sought to try and portray this as a natural reaction to unfair or bad government among the lower classes that has just got out of hand. Well I am sorry to say that this is totally incorrect. These riots were, to anyone who had their eyes open, simply a natural consequence of the sick society we are living in right now. We are living in a social order where the sense of moral accountability among large parts of the population has been eroded almost out of existence. This is what the riots in August were all about: not some
kind of drive for justice or to get one up on the government, but people noticing that a window of opportunity had arrived to steal whatever they wanted and get away with it. The left-leaning community have spoken much of how these are people who feel alienated from society, again trying to pretend it’s only a problem that exists in Britain’s council estates, but this is not behaviour we simply witness in Hackney and Peckham. Our own MPs did the same thing, as we all know: they stole our money because they knew there was no accountability. I am not sure that you can sustain an argument that our politicians are underprivileged or feel alienated from society. Whether it’s from the taxpayer or JD sports, theft is theft. Looking at the riots, yes, the events that set things in motion were grievances over police behaviour and issues of social justice, but you can in no way convince me that people looted shops over any of those issues, just as you can’t justify why MPs collectively stole millions. So, aside from superficial connections that your granny in middle England who reads the Daily Mail would make between the two phenomena, you couldn’t really draw a serious connection between the two unless you had some sort of agenda. So to keep things simple for her just leave it this way: student protests, good; they have cause. Rioters, bad; they are just thieves. That should clear the confusion.
Carry on any of the debates from the Comment section - or spark your own on Twitter: @LS_Comment and @LondonStudent
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Abubakr Al-Shamahi comment editor *
“One thing is certain though: Gaddafi is gone, never to return. The age of fear is over in Libya"
“After getting through the first year, the realisation of the costs bites you like Reggie the Lion on Jeremy Bentham’s body.”
The Arab Spring in Libya has ended decades of terror Of the many images and videos that are emerging after the liberation of Tripoli, one is particularly poignant and meaningful: footage showing anti-Gaddafi fighters and civilians breaking open the cells of Abu Salim prison and releasing the hundreds of prisoners inside. As each cell is opened a great roar goes around and the poor men inside the bare cells step out with faces brimming with joy. Their freedom was the best outcome they could have hoped for. Abu Salim has a dark history: it is here, in 1996, that the Gaddafi regime committed one of its worst crimes. In the aftermath of a revolt, protestors and rebels held here were told to gather in the central courtyard. Once they were assembled the prisoners were massacred, attacked by weaponry from all sides. The killing went on for hours. The dead were buried in unmarked mass graves. Figures vary, but Human Rights Watch puts the number of murdered prisoners at 1,270. There were countless other victims throughout Gaddafi’s 42 year reign of terror. The Libyan people know the pain of the disappearance of a family member or a friend. They know the pain of the murder of those close to them. They have seen the young men hanged in school gymnasiums for the crime of speaking out. And for what? Gaddafi’s bizarre political philosophy? The people’s com-
mittees, supposedly the most direct form of democracy; in reality another of the Brother Leader’s charades? The dictator’s obsession with the colour green? Legions of Libyans fled into exile – but Gaddafi’s henchmen continued to terrorise them in their adopted lands. Gaddafi actively promoted the assassination of dissidents living abroad, and many unfortunate souls met their fate at the hands of Gaddafi’s agents. Men like Mohammed Ramadan and Mahmoud Nafi were assassinated in London, ‘liquidated’ by the regime. And it was not just Libyan dissidents who were targeted by Gaddafi. Whilst the Lockerbie bombing is still shrouded in mystery and uncertainty, the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984 is undisputed. While policing a protest of Libyan dissidents, she was shot by an official inside the Libyan embassy in London. Gaddafi has garnered support from those who have overlooked his oppression of the people he ruled and feted him as a supposed anti-imperialist hero of the third world. But even this face of Gaddafi is simply a façade. The Colonel’s attempt to portray himself as the simple Arab Bedouin, always travelling in his tent, is belied by the lavish personal jet he travelled in, the mansions and villas owned by the Gaddafi clan, and even the tent itself – a colossal structure suggesting a life of anything but modesty..
For most students, a huge part of university life is about maturing, freedom and independence. The essential factor which enables these qualities to emerge from the typical student is moving away from home. This seems like a simple equation, requiring little thought, but to those who embark on further education in the capital, this could be a hell of a stressful ordeal! Fine – most people get student halls guaranteed for their first year, and this is often a reasonable price for London, but still quite dear for those who are literally living on government loans and grants. The maximum financial support given to a student studying in London per year is £8,381 (assuming they are not entitled to disability allowances, child support etc.) and the cost of a 40 week contract in college halls can easily be in excess of £6,000 which takes up almost three quarters of the year’s funds. This would leave approximately £2,500 for a year’s maintenance, including textbooks and equipment. A lot of people would argue that this is reasonable and that a stu-
dent’s life is not expected to be comfortable, but the standard of living in London is excessively high (for example, a bag of crisps in London can be up to as much as double the price of towns not too far from the capital) and these calculations are based on the assumption that the student has the full financial support – which is often not the case. After getting through the first year, and sharing great ideas of living arrangements for the second year with your friends, the realisation of the costs bites you like Reggie the Lion on Jeremy Bentham’s body. In the corporate climate of London, students are limited to more expensive rent options and longer contracts, stretching the wallet at its seams. With costs such as internet, gas, electricity, water and TV license on top of rent, the monthly expenditure is shocking. It seems, almost as a subtle hint that the city is filtering the poor, disqualifying them from living in it. In most cases, deposits are required and held for the duration of the rent period which rubs salt in the wallet’s wounds.
With the inspiration of their Arab neighbours, the long-suffering Libyan people rose up in the February 17th revolution. They took to the streets and faced the bullets of the Gaddafi regime long before Nato intervention was even talked about. Those in Benghazi, Misrata and other places were able to overpower the loyalist forces and liberate their towns and cities. Others who rose up in Tripoli, Zawiya and elsewhere were brutally put down. The massacres committed by the regime over the last few months are only just coming to light – but there will no doubt be more ghastly discoveries to come. The NTC faces many difficulties in the coming months: not everyone who was a part of the revolution can be trusted and there are many opportunists waiting to take advantage of the new chaos. They must be wary of being viewed as a puppet regime of the West. One thing is certain though: Gaddafi is gone, never to return. The age of fear is over in Libya. The age of terror is over in Libya. Libyans can finally breathe again.
Universities must do more to help accommodate students
As a second year student, I am also in the process of securing a place to live for the next year, and speak with experience with regards to the effort, stress and trouble it takes to sort out housing even after you have managed to find a place. The need for guarantors makes sure that those whose family are on low income or retired are unable to rent a place and likewise for international students who don’t have local contacts for guarantors. I do not disagree with the concept of guarantors, but it is a factor which highlights the need for universities to provide more spaces in accommodation for students. London is an expensive city. Students are less likely to be drawn to London for education, when otherwise it would have been a perfect option. To relieve such burdens, universities should provide more accommodation and by proxy lower the costs of London life. In doing so, perhaps the quality of work students produce would be higher if they didn’t have to keep up part time jobs or live in discomfort.
Continued from page 10
family of 4 in Kabul who, on October 15th 2001, were killed as an American F-18 released its 2000lb cargo, also leaving 12 year old ‘Nagina’ severely injured. What passing bells for these who die as cattle? Nagina, if she survived her injury, now lives in a country ravaged by war. Her life expectancy is just 45 years, and one in eight of her Afghan sisters die while pregnant. Over 400,000 of her countrymen are internally displaced, and a further 3 million are international refugees. While in Wiltshire fields poppies decorate a place of remembrance for dead British soldiers, there are thousands of graves across Afghanistan that remain unmarked, and their residents go unremembered. And the poppies that blow in Helmand, Herat, Kandahar and Kabul are a sign not of remembrance, but a forgotten dead.
Meet the new sabbaticals
An early look at the new ULU sabbatical officers and their priorities for the upcoming year - page 14
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
As the University of London celebrates its 175th birthday, our Features editor takes a look back at its prestigious history - page 15
Staying safe in the capital
London is one of the world’s busiest cities. Find out how to stay safe and comfortable in your surroundings - page 18
Every year thousands of students from ULU opt to study abroad. Features follows some of their exciting journeys page 19
London Student brainstorms some of the things final years wish they’d known when they were freshers page 44
A closer look: The two men now at the helm of ULU Writer Hesham Zakai Editor
After a sequence of high profile campaigns last year, ULU’s standing has been catapulted out of relative obscurity, bringing its President and VicePresident further into the spotlight than ever before. Vraj Domalip was elected President of ULU after serving as a Sabbatical Officer two years in a row at Queen Mary, whereas Sean Rillo-Raczka is the former Chair of Birkbeck Students’ Union and beat off competition from four other candidates to become VicePresident. After a prolonged wrangle with their diaries, I met the new men at the helm of ULU separately to get their thoughts ahead of the upcoming year.
Here’s a selective transcript of our respective interviews to give you a taste of what you can expect from your ULU representatives this year. LS: There are thousands of new students, many from outside of London, about to begin their long journeys at university. What is your message for them? VD: Welcome to London; an extremely vibrant and lively city with so many opportunities to get involved, so you should be extremely excited about coming to London. Explore the city and make the most of the opportunity. SRR: Welcome to the University of London; it’s a great place to be, there’s lots going on, and hopefully ULU will be a resource you can come to for various things, from political campaigning, to housing, to advice, to having a drink.
Vraj Domalip, ULU President, speaking at Draper’s Hall, May.
This year’s all male line up replace the successful partnership of Viktoria Szmolar (left) and Clare Soloman.
LS: How do you see yourself as a leader and as compared with your predecessor? VD: If you refer to my manifesto, I didn’t run on a political agenda. [Former and the Olympics and I will be looking to negotiate good deals for students. The student vote is a huge vote and the candidates will be looking to win as many students over as possible so we should use that to our advantage. SRR: Well, it’s better than starting next year and having to pay £9,000 fees! We have to engage with what’s going on outside of our walls and try to really strike a blow at this government and combat the challenges that we as a society face. I will be looking to try and win concessions for students on issues such as transport and housing in London. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not crazy about sport, but Russel Square is where all the journalists are going to be based for the Olympics and we’re helping to facilitate that too. LS: What was the best thing you did as a fresher? VD: The best thing I did as a fresher was to join a sports club; I met so many like-minded people and they then became my family for the rest of my time at university. LS: What kind of legacy do you want to leave? SRR: I want to show that ULU is central to the student movement and activism and for ULU to become synonymous with activism and action. I want to start liberation networks across ULU for black, disabled, women and LGBT students, and I hope that will be a tangible legacy that will continue.
ULU President] Clare did some great work in campaigning for the Union, however my strengths are in other areas, such as the commercial side, representation and negotiating with inter-
Sean Rillo Raczka, ULU Vice-President.
nal and external companies, so I won’t be doing that many campaigns. If any student has any ideas on any campaigns, then they should contact me and we can discuss that. SRR: I’ve been a political campaigner for many years, and helped with some of the student movement stuff last year and showed that as students we aren’t apathetic. This year I hope to keep that up. We’re going to be going to the Tory Party conference to protest on October 2, we’re celebrating Black History Month, we’re fighting with the cleaners. I’m much more of a Clare character, militant and I believe in direct action, and would like to continue what she started in showing that ULU is central to campaigns. LS: 2012 – a good year to be a student in London? VD: Yes, there is the mayoral elections
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
University of London makes an exhibition of itself Writer Amy Bowles Features editor
When Senate House first opened its doors to London students in September 1936, the 209-feet building was known as London's tallest skyscraper, and considered to be so tall that the London County Council wouldn't let it be built any higher out of concern for health and safety. Authorities even banned the use of the central tower above the eighth floor, under fire safety laws. Now these laws are long history, and generations of students have freely travelled all over the building in order to receive library cards, study in the reading rooms, and have their PhD thesis recorded for posterity in the Senate House catalogue. This year, Senate House – which was originally designed with a lifespan of 500 years – is celebrating its 75th year as the permanent home of the University of London. Today, the building houses Senate House Library, seven research institutes, and the central staff of the University of London, but during its life on the corner of Malet Street and Montague Place, the landmark has been home to secrecy, scandal, and literary history. Senate House was the inspiration for George Orwell's 'Ministry of Truth' in 1984, during his career there in World War II when the building was taken over by the Ministry of Information. It also served as the romantic spot where former poet-laureate John Betjeman fell in love with a member of the University's catering staff. Intriguingly, a now rare 1933 coin, of which only six were minted, is also hidden in Senate House, under the foundation stone laid by George V. For London students these days, Senate House is mostly just another library, one to check for elusive books that aren't to be found at your university's own library. However, at the time, it meant a lot more for the University of London. The previous homes of the University of London were comparably smaller, less “great architectural features” than functional administrative buildings. Lord
The library also served as the romantic spot where former poet laureate John Betjeman fell in love with a member of the University’s catering staff
The Shard of the thirties, Senate House, being contructed in 1936. Below and bottom left, Graduates in the same year.
William Beveridge, while he was Director of LSE, once asked a taxi driver to take him to the University of London. The driver replied, "Oh, you mean the place near the Royal School of Needlework." After this, Beveridge, in his later role as ViceChancellor, decided that the new Senate House was to be a landmark: “the central symbol of the University on the Bloomsbury site. It should look like something that could not have been built by any earlier generation than this, and can only be at home in London. It means a chance to enrich London – to give London at its heart not just more streets and shops...but a great architectural feature...an academic island in swirling tides of traffic, a world of learning in a world of affairs”.
Although few students now would look to Senate House as a symbol of modern day cutting-edge architecture – although it was the art deco Shard of the 1930s – it is true that the building does have the air of a “world of learning in a world of affairs”. Walking from bustling Russell Square Gardens through the back of SOAS and into the peaceful marble halls of Senate House is definitely a journey which highlights the contrast between London's world of endless events, errands and affairs, and Senate House's quiet rooms of learning. Created by Charles Holden, the building was designed according to the rhythm of 1930s jazz music. Holden explained to the Royal Institute of British Architects that he had been influenced by syncopation in jazz when he changed the rhythm of the windows on the top floor, so that on the west and south elevations they do not align with the windows of the floors below. The University of London is also celebrating this year: it has been 175 years since the 1836 Royal Charter brought together the two then-recent institutions of London University (University College London) and Kings College (Kings College London) in order to provide “a regular and liberal course of Education to all classes and denominations without any distinction whatsoever”. The University awarded its first degrees in 1839 to 29 students, with the first
four women graduating in 1880. To mark the anniversary, an exhibition of “rarely seen items” from the University of London's archives has been opened to the public. Archivist Richard Temple who helped to create the event commented “So much has happened at the University of London over the past 175 years, and our archives have such a surfeit of extraordinary items, that we struggled to squeeze all the exhibition pieces into one room. The University has much to be proud of, and it's great to
celebrate this on its very special anniversary”. The exhibition is being held in Senate House, and includes rare photographs of its construction, which is another opportunity to visit the historical Bloomsbury building for a reason other than a pressing essay. 175th Anniversary exhibition is open to the public until the 23rd December on the fourth floor of Senate House, Malet Street. 09.00-18.00 Monday-Friday and 09.45-17.30 Saturdays.
THE LYRIC PIC
From the next issue, we will 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: firstname.lastname@example.org The best submissions will feature in the paper throughout the year.
INSTITUTION: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, LONDON CAMERA SETTINGS: Nikon D3000
CAPTIONS: All that glitters is not gold.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
New in the capital? Here’s how to stay safe Writer Nabeelah Baccus
Writer Jenni Graham
Photographer Danielle Berger
When attending any Fresher’s Fair for the University’s of London, students are given Time Out magazine's Guide to Student Life in London, providing lists and reviews of the best clubs, bars, restaurants and any other activity or pastime imaginable. It's packed with all the information needed to ensure one would never be faced with a dull moment whilst living in the City. However, it must be stressed that whilst enjoying the nightlife, some level of sobriety and awareness must remain to avoid the potential consequences of lack of personal safety. Being hardworking students round-theclock at what can sometimes feel like weeks on end, undergoing exams, and having coursework deadlines along with other essays, research, as well as personal activities and working, nights out are always greatly appreciated. They allow us to relax, unwind and let off steam; a fact highly supported by counsellors and doctors. Although we do enjoy the buzz and excitement of the City nightlife, and most students sensibly think ahead to their journey home, it is still often assumed that tubes will still be running at two in the morning or that it is easy to get into a taxi or locate a twenty-four hour bus. However, it is well known that London in the early hours is not at all safe. Recent stories have arisen concerning student stabbings, the rape and assault of young women getting into unlicensed taxis, and theft of student property within the London area. Although these stories are common, they still seem unlikely. Nevertheless, we can never predict what may come our way and many of us tend to take our safety for granted. There may be some instances where we’ll decide to take a shortcut home down a backstreet or alleyway, or choose to use our laptop on the tube, toying with our safety and security. As individuals, we are always optimistic about our safety. We are aware of the consequences, but we never expect them to happen to us. Statistics from the Metropolitan Police website show 1 in 7 women are raped from using unlicensed cabs and walking through poorly lit areas do not appear to shock, let alone deter us in any way. In fact we assume that we are one of the lucky 6 that unaffected; as with the majority of other risks that we take, we simply hope for the best. Simiran Sembi, a London based student speaks of her frightening experience: “I was on my way home for university. I was at the back of the train, and so was the last one out, separated from the crowd of people. It was dark, but not that late, but I was really tired. I got out of the station and went under the subway when I suddenly realised someone was shouting behind me, I hadn't see where he'd come from. I glanced back to see who he was shouting at, and trying to not take any notice. When I realised he was call-
All abroad the languages ship
How to have a crime-free university life To reduce the risk of mobile phone theft
- Don’t leave your phone on tables in pubs and restaurants. - When you leave a train or tube station don’t use your phone immediately, leave it a while. - Don’t walk and text at the same time, you’ll be less aware of your surroundings. - Keep calls in public places as brief as possible. The longer you talk, the more likely you are to be targeted. To stay safe
- Make sure your jewellery is not visible. - Plan your journey in advance. - Avoid dark or deserted areas late at night - Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
ing after me and referring to the red coat I was wearing, saying ‘Hey you, lady’, ‘Wanna go out?’, ‘What’s the time?’ I didn’t really pay attention and I just walked faster and tried to get away, I didn’t even turn back. I felt scared and panicked, I didn’t know what to do, I could feel my heart racing, and I tried to walk faster to get home. My first instinct was to call someone, so in case anything happened, I would have someone to comfort me. I called my mum and sister and my friend but they didn’t answer and that made me panic and I felt even more scared and I just wanted to get away. I didn’t know where he was and was too scared to turn around. I just walked as fast as I could trying not to look interested which would give him incentive to follow me, and I got out of the subway. When I got to the other side and crossed the road, he was
gone but I still felt really unsafe until I reached home.” When speaking to the London Metropolitan Police about Simiran’s story, they told me the mistakes she made, such as pulling out her phone, as this could give the man further reason to attack her, however on the contrary, other official advice says that attempting to call someone close to you can prove to be a good move, as it means that someone is aware of your whereabouts and the situation in the case of something bad occurring. Simiran's story is a common one, and when asked of how it may be prevented, the Metropolitan Police suggested: “Young people, in particular students travelling around London after hours should opt for carrying an alarm of some sort to alert others when they feel threatened. They should keep valuables hidden from their pursuers and attempt to steer clear of people they feel wary of. This may mean crossing the road or finding a different route, but it has to be done. This, of course applies to young men as well as girls, as there are situations in which men get attacked or harassed. We have many circumstances in which casualties occur from someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or believing that they must fight back, but this rarely ends well. It is usually this person that winds up in the back of an ambulance. Crime rates in London are increasing, and the majority of the stories appearing in the news today involve young students. There are ways to avoid this and of course we are here to help.” Being a London based student myself, I have encountered many situations where I have been followed by individuals, and have been unsure of what to do. The most frightening scenario occurred when a man driving a car openly pursued me and unashamedly camped outside my house for several hours. Unsure of what to do I took down his registration number and openly showed my aware-
ness that he was there. Looking back now, and after seeking advice, I realise that I should have informed a relative if not a neighbour of my situation, or requested assistance from my local Police Station. Fear is an unfortunate barrier that prevents many from coming forward. North London student Priya Vyas describes an evening when she felt her safety was at risk: “It was a Saturday evening and I had just left work. I noticed a crowd of men standing in one corner and one in particular kept staring at me as I left my workplace. I felt quite paranoid as it was dark and quiet at the time. It was around half past eight in the evening and I was making my way to the local train station. I began to walk fast, trying not to make it too obvious that I was frightened by their presence. I glanced back once and saw two of them behind me smiling. I began to panic; they followed me for ten to fifteen minutes. Once I reached the busy area of the town centre I felt slightly at ease as there were more people and taxis driving around. As I walked on, one of them approached me and asked me for my name. I ignored him and continued to walk, once I reached my destination I noticed they hadn’t changed their direction but I managed to disappear into a crowd and escape.” Coming forward to inform someone of your circumstances is generally the best way to get help, by walking into a shop and speaking to a customer or the shop owner. However, being afraid of the reaction of another to your situation, or even the fact that you may be rejected or brushed off can worsen the state you are in, knowing that people are aware of what is happening, but they are unwilling to help. For help with any situation regarding safety within London, visit www.safe.met.police.uk/index.html.
With tuition fees set to rise to £9,000 for most students starting at University of London universities in 2012, many of the school and college leavers of 2011 will have chosen to forego a gap year and take advantage of the last year of comparatively cheap tuition fees. Nowadays, taking a gap year is widely considered to be a rite of passage: an exciting opportunity to travel and earn some money before university or simply to leave home for the first time and just chunder everywhere. If you are a fresher and you feel that you have sacrificed your gap year as a result of tuition fee hike, you may wish to consider spending a semester or a even a whole year abroad as part of your degree. If you are a languages student and a non-native speaker, a year abroad will be a compulsory part of your degree and, if you choose to study abroad at a European partner university as part of an Erasmus programme, you will receive a grant from the British Council to help fund your time abroad. The opportunities available to you include teaching assistantships at schools abroad and work placements, but do be aware that it is very likely you will have to find and apply for any work placements independently. The benefits of a year abroad are countless. Whether you want to go abroad because you are interested in learning a new language while studying at a partner university or because you simply want to gain relevant work experience at a company based abroad, the experience you have will most certainly be an unforgettable one. The clichés are true: you will discover so much about yourself during the time you spend abroad. Upon your return, you may find yourself looking at your hometown from an entirely different perspective. Your time abroad may even cement in your mind the idea expatriating after you graduate. It may be that the time you spend away from London will result in the realisation that this city is the only place in the world you want to be. So, what should you do next if you want to do some further research into your perfect year or semester abroad? Find out if there is a year abroad coordinator specific to your school or department and consult your university web pages to see what opportunities are available to you.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Madrileño’s Diary Writer Taym Saleh
As the final weeks became the final days before my departure for Spain, my apprehension towards it all grew. My instinctive distrust of any radical change in my surroundings and circumstances and the panic over the search for accommodation (more on this later) had their role, but also there was the fact that I was, with the possible exception of a week’s return during Christmas or Easter, to be away from my home and my homeland for more than ten months. Sadness at this sprang not from any conscious, constructed or boisterous love for the United Kingdom, but from the hard unknowability of such a deprivation. It is to be quite unprecedented for me, and being someone who takes a deep interest in the public life of my country, I do not like detachment from its ebbs and flows. Of course, telecommunications allow me to speak with friends and family, and let me see the various websites that chronicle and analyse events, but none of this can compare to the full immersion inside a society, to overheard conversations in pubs, or to glances along the front pages of newspapers one would never dream of reading. Without these, with only active incursions into the discourse, I fear things will be missed and my biases and im-
balances will show through, dominate and perpetuate. I wonder whether I will see in England anything unfamiliar when I return. While flying over the Spanish countryside, for the first time I grasped that the country in which I shall for many months live is a foreign one. Earlier in the flight, I looked down on a segment of rural Dorset. I saw fields and villages, barns and houses, roads and railways. But none of it looked truly distant, or even very small. Every market town I saw was immediately populated in my mind with the inhabitants and features of an English market town – say, Romsey. And the little country railway station I spotted was of the same form as Farnborough’s, and in every village pub I could discern the same conversations and laughs and accents as in any in rural Hampshire. When, though, I saw the features of rural Spain, with different roofs and contours to those with which I could connect, I realised that however much affection I have for Spain, for all the interest I have in its history, art and culture, I had no idea what to mentally populate those places with – those features on the far-away ground were nothing other than what I saw, just as well scooped in or scooped out from their soil. When I fly away from Madrid I do hope to see and hear familiar things when I look down. Over my departure for Madrid the spectre of accommodation loomed
Plaza de Canalejas, Madrid Photo: marcp_dmoz
ever more. I had arranged to participate in a scheme whereby my university in Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) would sort out flatshares for Erasmus students, relieving me of all the legwork. A month before I was due to move to Madrid, they emailed me to say there was no room for me or for any applicant from King’s College London, because they were oversubscribed by a factor of ten, and in any case we should have applied in February, not in June. There are various reasons why this is a deeply iniquitous stance to take, but I don’t want to waste words explaining why, so please just take my side in the argument. For the record, the Study Abroad Office in King’s too acted very shabbily indeed. Anyway, I was left with the need to find a room
myself, in a foreign language in a foreign city. I soon decided that I did not want to commit to any place based solely on photos and descriptions put online. So I had to wait until arriving, book into a hostel and find somewhere within a week. As I write, but hopefully not as you read, that is the situation I am currently in. I think I have found somewhere, but before this stage trying and failing to find somewhere to live under the pressure of tight time limitations is truly disheartening. I have seen various places that have their unique, custom-made shortcomings. On one occasion, the landlord was charming, spoke excellent English, laughed and joked, and answered all my questions fully. And I hated him. If looking for accommodation is unpleasant, looking for tenants is
because of a Yoko. Although this Yoko was also a friend of ours and was decidedly cooler than any of the rest of us. The main worry we had was how to find a new housemate at relatively short notice. We had we no idea who would want to move into our place and also how to find any madman, or
woman, who would be brave enough to give it a go. I would be away during the time needed to find someone and so the other three guys would advertise it, show anyone around and, after having spoken to me, pick the lucky candidate. The plan was complicated but fun, a kind of Deal of No Deal where the lucky candidates don’t pick a box, but move into one. Having advertised on spareroom.co.uk we were amazed to have over forty replies in the space of a few hours. The replies varied in terms of quality; whilst some described who they were and what they were looking for, other emails simply stated, ‘Am interested, give us a bell’, followed by a number. As I was away, I arranged with one of our house, Mat, to text me Pitchfork style reviews of the potential housemates after their visit. Pitchfork reviews are out of ten and seemed a decent way of doing things. The scores soon started flowing in, varying from 8.2s to 3s. This scoring method may sound a little harsh, however, we decided it necessary to try and avoid problems in the future. The potentials really did differ, from trendy art school kids and
The trauma of house hunting Writer Harry Hughes
To misquote Madness, our house is not a very fine house. Situated in the rougher, if not the roughest, area of South East London and with a regular record of burglaries, it would not be described by an estate agent as a, ‘desirable residence.’ A four bedroom block, built above a twentyfour-hour off license, the design would have been rejected by councils in Cold War East Berlin for being too inhospitable. The rooms have little to no furnishings, the plumbing is temperamental, the street below littered with empty beer cans, used needles and their users. However, the almost sadistic satisfaction of living in, as my friend calls it, ‘Mogadishu on Thames’, means we not only want to stay but have actually grown to love the place. Three friends from uni and I moved in at the start of second year and have had a great time there. A year
of replacing stolen laptops and worrying about security has also been a year of short walks to uni, being close to some great pubs and a constant supply of exotic substances. So it came as a shock when one of our merry band decided he was leaving to live with his girlfriend. The split of our Beatles had come and it was
surely worse – having one stranger after another come to your house and examine its contents critically, and make clear what they don’t like must be harrowing. So to look as if he is enjoying the experience a man must be an expert liar and fraud. Never trust the jovial landlord – go and seek refuge with he who scowls and scoffs. The bleak shall inherit the Earth. This year London Student is bringing you diaries from University of London students studying abroad.
scholarly MA students to the mad, bad and dangerous to know. Some really knew how to make an impression but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Having had six people looking around in one day the last arrived in the late evening. She was shown around by Mat and seemed quiet before heading straight into the living room and taking a seat with the other two flatmates. They were settling down to watch a film so were not particularly impressed when she made herself at home, helped herself to their wine and spoke about herself, uninterrupted, for around twenty minutes. Suffice to say, she scored a 3. Fortunately for us, ‘the one’, arrived soon after and it was clear we had found someone who would not only be easy to get on with, but could become a friend. The fact he had a PS3 and discounted drinks at a London Bridge bar clearly had nothing to do with it and the trauma of housemate-hunting was over. Well until the next one of us moves in with a girlfriend, which judging by our current relationships, may be some time.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
If we could do it again ... London Student brainstorms all the things we wish we’d known back in Year 1. Writers Roz Schwitzer Nindya Atmodipoero
The most important advice I received about freshers’ week was to talk to everyone, and this means not judging a book by its cover. Sure, you might end up hating that guy in the Arsenal top because you support Spurs, but you’ll never know without talking to him. In reality, however, you will never speak to the majority of those you meet again unless you are a super socialite and incredibly tolerant. The best way to meet new people is to appear approachable. If you're not naturally a social person it helps to take along a couple of "icebreakers" such as a crate of beer. "Fancy a beer?" is a sure-fire way to get the conversation rolling and I am yet to see it fail. However, go easy on the drinking. Yes its freshers’, but you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons. Halls are small, meaning gossip spreads fast. Being constantly reminded about “that thing you did in freshers’”, gets boring by about week 3 and there’s still 37 weeks in halls to go…joy. A favourite post-fresher's week activity is looking through your phone at the numerous drunken numbers acquired and attempting to match names to faces. It’s not easy, especially when your drunken self decides that names like “shdke” are perfectly legible. Do not panic if you don’t meet anyone you click with in this first week – freshers’ makes everyone slightly crazy and it will be easier to get to know people when things calm down a little. Just try and get involved as much as possible. You will need to register to get your student card – registration queues are long so go along with the mates you’ve made so far and get ready to discover much more about them. It’s also a good idea to make it to your course registration so you’re prepared study-wise. This may be the last thing on your mind during the hectic first week but it’s best to start well, even if it’s all downhill from there! Even if you’re too hungover to function, make yourself get up for freshers’ fair. It’s usually on two separate days and all day so there is no excuse – if you’re still throwing up at 4pm, wow. The fair is a great time to sign yourself up to whatever societies and clubs float your boat from hockey to hummus (LSE) to Harry Potter (King’s). There will also be a ton of freebies. Definitely reason enough to remove your head from the toilet. Resist calling home about every little thing that's gone wrong. After all, you're independent now. If you have no idea how to do your laundry, ask the nearest person. Two birds killed with
one stone - you've likely made a new friend and learnt that you don't need to put water into the washing machine. Yes it's been done and it was at Cambridge, showing that good grades don't always buy common sense. Without wanting to sound like anyone’s mum, it’s also important to keep safe and healthy. Last freshers’ I went home with severe flu and sat feeling sorry for myself while the mates were jamming at Fabric. Don’t let this happen to you – drink plenty of water and take a breather if it’s getting too much. Finally, don't worry if you're not the sort of 5-drinks-down-now-I'm-off-toMinistry type of person. Freshers’ week is definitely not just drinking and parties. There will be events to keep the non-drinkers happy such as pub quizzes, movie nights and much more. It’s your fresher’s week so spend it how you want, then you'll meet those with similar interests and can look back on the week happily.
You’ll be surprised with the amount of good books and great movies they have in the library. Not to mention, as a student of University of London, this means that you have access to not only your college library, but also every UoL library in the city – definitely should take this opportunity while it lasts! Oh and I almost forgot, usually good-looking people hang out in the library so it’s an excellent venue for some ‘eye-entertainment’.
A freshers’ bracelet is useless, if you’re not into parties.
Last year, for the sake of socializing, I spent £35 on a freshers’ bracelet that would guarantee my free/discounted entrance to all of the parties held during the freshers’ week. I didn’t attend a single party during those couple of weeks because I was too busy exploring London. Plus, it turned out that without having to buy the bracelet, you could still attend those parties – there’s an entrance fee, of course!
Do come early for secondhand sale.
From used books and corkboards to pans and cutlery, you’ll never know what you’ll find in the students’ secondhand sale. Usually, the stuff being sold here are in moderately good condition and ridiculously cheap prices and since (almost) every fresher is after it, you better chop-chop and shop!
Societies aren’t members only.
After I found out that I was lucky enough to have an empty schedule, I decided to spend some money to join lots of societies, ranging from History to Photography to B-Movie, hoping to get involve in fun activities and make new friends from around the campus. It turned out that not all societies managed to organize a single activity (and you don’t get a refund) and even if they did, you don’t have to be a member to participate in it!
Amnesty SOCIETY SPOTLIGHT
Do come home for Christmas. Or go with people who do.
I was one of few international students who didn’t go home for the holiday and trust me; it is pathetic being alone in your dorm room watching movies while eating a Pot Noodle on Christmas. So I don’t recommend you to experience that, besides, after 12 weeks of being away from home with all those intense lectures and assignments, I believe that you deserve a proper home-cooked meals (and maybe laundry too), so don’t hesitate to buy the ticket! Or if the tickets are expensive and your home is too far from London (and by 'far', let’s say ‘home’ is in a country in Southeast Asia), at least ask one of your local/EU friends if you could come and celebrate Christmas together.
The library is your Mecca.
Procrastination: the ultimate survival skill.
During your first year, you are going to have lots of distraction from your studies. Whether it’s parties, the Internet, homesickness, relationships, or simply laziness, you’ll find yourself delaying your papers and rushing the night (or even a couple hours!) before it’s due. Therefore, it is highly crucial for you to master this art of cramming the most amount of knowledge in the shortest time possible.
You’ll never walk alone.
Some people might say that university is all about being independent, to finally have control over your choice of study habits, to be yourself. But it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be all by yourself. Instead, chances are, you’ll meet people who are just like you! Unlike primary school, where being ‘different’ is ‘weird’ and there is a pressure to fit in, here in university you are encouraged to embrace your unique, true self!
Writer Telha Arshad
The Amnesty International society at LSE is one of the University’s largest campaigning groups. It is made up of a number of students from a range of academic backgrounds who are passionate about human rights and want to help make a difference. Our main goals on campus are to promote greater awareness of human rights abuses around the world and to fundraise for the wider Amnesty International movement. The Society has four dedicated campaigns; 'Women's Rights', 'Terrorism and Security', 'Refugees and Asylum Seekers' and 'Business and Human Rights'. A week of campaigning packed with events was organised for each of these. Over the past year, I co-ordinated the Refugee and Asylum Seekers campaign and as part of that campaign
alone, we held documentary screenings and hosted guest lecturers including a leading Asylum lawyer. We also helped to organise the “Sleep Out” in co-ordination with STAR (Student Action for Refugees) to campaign for destitute and homeless asylum seekers. We work with a number of campaigning groups at LSE to get the best out of our events including the Feminist Society and the Anti-Slavery Society. Last year one of the society’s greatest achievements was launching our own human rights journal – Justitia Omnibus (meaning ‘justice for all’ in case you were wondering!). We’re always looking for imaginative ways to fundraise and that’s the slightly less serious part of being involved with LSE Amnesty. Last year we held a stand-up comedy night with performers ranging from ‘Live at the Apollo’ acts to our own student comedians. We also had open mic nights, ‘Jamnesty’ and an ‘AmnesTEA’ party. The society is a lot of fun to be a part of and a really worthwhile extra-curricular. So, if you’re interested, make sure you visit us at the LSE Freshers’ Fair and sign up!
Rosh Hashanah message from the Jewish Council of Racial Equality As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we look back on a turbulent year: famine in Somalia, massacres in Norway, riots in UK towns and cities – and all this within the context of global economic instability. It is tempting to close ourselves off from the unsettling realities of the world we live in, but to do so goes against the grain of Jewish social activism and our own history of refuge.
That tradition of social engagement is what has inspired us and informed JCORE’s work for over thirty-five years, whether we’re delivering race-equality education in schools, lobbying politicians, or supporting refugees and asylum seekers in need. We believe we must never cease to strive for a world where human rights and human dignity are sacrosanct.
If you’re passionate about multiculturalism, refugee rights, or ending asylum destitution, we extend our hand and ask you to volunteer with us, or support our work. In this New Year, 5772, we ask you to work with us in pursuit of social justice, equality and a better world where racism, poverty and hunger have no place. Sign up to the JCORE newsletter at: www.jcore.org.uk Follow us on Twitter: JCOREUK
Add us on Facebook as ‘Jcore Britain’ Distribute JCORE materials in your workplace/school/community - email email@example.com
Charity in the spotlight
Royal Holloway graduates discuss their philanthropic initiative - page 21
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
A different kind of fresher London Student’s Community editor pens an open letter to fellow anti-socialites - page 22
Community freshers’ guide
To help students (re-)settle in, London Student presents a short and varied freshers’ guide - page 46
How humour can heal hearts and proof that knowledge is good for the brain page 24
Charity Spotlight: Mapping Ugunja
After a teacher who also works as a porn star was offered his job back, Michael Jarvis looks at the question of teachers and their private lives - page 26
Aims Assist in mapping the UCRC GIS project and communicating the impact of the project to the community of Ugunja.
Writer Victoria Yates Community Editor
Recent Geography graduates from Royal Holloway Ben Parfitt, Olly Parsons, and Jamie Gregory are in Kenya exploring the power and potential of community mapping on small, impoverished towns. As Olly Parsons explains, “if a community can map their own space, then it opens up a whole world of possibilities. The ultimate aim is to make decision makers aware of local issues and to convince them this is a community worth investing in”. We spoke with Ben Parfitt about their unorthodox graduate project. The team’s journey to Kenya began in December 2010 when they attended ICTD 2010 hosted at their alma mater, Royal Holloway. The conference is three days of discussions, panels, and workshops aimed at those interested in utilising information and communication technologies for development work. Amongst those projects highlighted was MapKibera. Kibera, in Nairobi, is one of the largest slums in the world at 4,450m2. Deemed illegal in 1963 by the Kenyan government those living there were denied access to basic services, with many being denied all together; 9 out of 10 Kiberans weren’t acknowledged on the 2009 census. It was a geographic blind spot, effectively non-existent and therefore easily ignored. However, in 2009 a group of motivated young people from the local area learnt how to create maps using OpenStreetMap and began painstakingly documenting the realities of their community. The core elements such as the train tracks and main roads were recorded and thematic issues such as health, education, security, and water were built in. It was hoped that with this information people would be better informed about how to help and improve the community. Through the geographical resource sustainable and effective policy change could start to occur. Initially the team hoped to travel and work in Kibera but following advice by the FOC they were instead pointed towards Ugunja. Similar to Kibera, the Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC) was founded in 1988 to provide access to local information and to create initiatives for the alleviation of
Objectives 1.To investigate the process by which the map is produced by partaking in its production and dissemination. 2.To understand the consumption patterns of the map amongst local residents, their uses of it and to assess if access could be improved. 3.To assess if and how the map is integrated into local policy decisions concerning the delivery of social, political and economic provisions. Open air food at Zanzibar town seafrontThe beach at Kendwa, Zanzibar. Ben Parfitt
After the events of the past year, the qualities of activism and proactive passion have attached themselves to London students as much in the city’s unconscious as on the windows of Topshop and the traffic lights of Oxford Circus. Beyond the headlines and in more varied pursuits students from all colleges are playing a key role in charities here and abroad. Over this year we hope to bring you a snapshot from some of these students’ lives and the causes they dedicate themselves to promoting.
poverty. The team’s aims were simple, as Ben explains “we wanted to help out with the mapping project but it was important to take a back seat, letting the local team lead the whole thing. Our role is to suggest improvements and help identify new ways in which the project can progress” but the situation on the ground was not quite as they had imagined. “When we arrived the project was at a much earlier stage than we had expected. Much of the previous data had been lost and many of the trained staff had left. They didn't have the resources to keep going with the project as it was. We saw a budget proposal which estimated the project to cost 70,000 US
dollars in the first year. That funding never materialised and the most detailed map of the area had just two main roads marked on it. The busy market town of Ugunja was nothing but a point at the crossroads. It was a blank-spot and an outsider would not know it existed”. Halfway into their tenure the boys suggested a move to a free online mapping software widely used in East Africa, and the results were swift: “Within two weeks the local team of three have made tremendous progress…The really important thing was that it was local guys mapping their own community. It is their map, not ours. And now it’s out there for the whole world to see. Our aims have been to make a tangible difference. To show them how they might progress. We have wanted to work with them, facilitating their work.” This grassroots emphasis is one that is palpable throughout our discussion, for Ben they are “almost redundant at this very last stage and it’s a great feeling to be able to sit back and watch the project move faster and faster”. The group will come away not only statistically richer but with a great deal of practical experience besides. By project’s end the team will have been in Kenya for 9 weeks; 6 spent on the research and 3 spent exploring the surrounding countries. For those 6 weeks they have been living immersed with a host family in the community with
If a community can map their own space, then it opens up a whole world of possibilities. The ultimate aim is to make decision makers aware of local issues
whom they are working side-by-side. “We initially thought the description of a mud hut with a mattress could have gone horribly wrong but it’s turned out very well. We soon settled down into eating local food, washing clothes in a small basin of cold water and squatting! The biggest thing is lighting as it gets dark around 7pm and we have no electrical lighting in our compound. This tends to shorten the days. But I love Kenya, our host family are wonderful and it will be a shame to leave.” Ultimately, their role and purpose was always as researchers, hoping to bring back information and an optimism of just what can be achieved, “we want our report to show the huge potentials that we have seen. If it helps to secure funding for further training or something similar, then that’s a great outcome”. It is an enthusiasm that is catching. You need only look at their research and that of similar projects like MapKibera to see that what seems a simple idea is fundamental to the fu-
Context “Maps construct – not reproduce – the World” Wood (1992: 17) Research into the impact and effects of participatory GIS requires the untangling of a complex web of social relations and consideration for the broader geographies of the local context. There shall be no universal model to be derived, and no easy answers to be found. Within the realm of participatory mapping, one size does not fit all.
ture of these undocumented communities. When asked what he hopes those following their blog will take away from their work Ben admits honestly, “the best feedback we have had is that our travel diaries are slightly amusing. Everyone says the geography stuff is dull and uninteresting. Maybe a few tales of adventure!” You’ll find that and a lot more besides. For more information visit http://ugunja.wordpress.com/ or follow their progress on Twitter @UgunjaResearch The Ugunja Research Team working in partnership with the Ugunja Community ResourceCentre (UCRC) with the kind support of the Royal Geographical Society's Gumby Award and the ICT4D collective at Royal Holloway, University of London.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
A Different Kind of Fresher
Community Fresher’s Guide
An Open Letter to Anti-Socialites
Night out in the museum
Writer Victoria Yates Community Editor
Being a fresher in London is wonderful, you have so many events, exhibitions and generally cool things to do. One of the things LS_Science would say is a must- do is to visit the Science Museum Lates. It’s an adultsonly event run on the last Wednesday of every month and themed around things, like sex, which we all actually find interesting. The next one is on September 28th. To learn more read our review on page.
When on one dreary August day I was invited to write an article on my exhilarating experience of fresherhood I had to choke back a snort of derision. It was not simply because I feel there are only so many pieces that can be written to immortalise Minnie’s planking experience on the top of the UCL dome or her harrowing introduction to the biohazard qualities of student hall bathrooms. Indeed, I could have added to the library of these requisite warnings against the Dionysian excesses of your first week at university, inevitably bathed in pride and a healthy dose of hedonistic recollection, but it would have been a concisely crafted lie. My first week at university I went to
There are only so many pieces that can be written to immortalise Minnie’s planking experience at the top of UCL dome
all the faculty, university, subjectbased, and tutor related gatherings. I sat through the commencement speech, the IT induction, the librarian’s slightly frightening rendition of the laws of silence, and I even popped into the activities fayre; the closest approximation to a livestock auction I have yet encountered in the manicured confines of Kensington. But alas I then went home. I did not invest in the all party pass, nor join the numerous and, I’ve been told, well executed bonding enterprises. I carefully labeled my new range of folders, read a book whose Russian heritage makes you seem a snob or an intellectual poser, and made myself an understated dinner. This sort of social dorkdom is something with which I can reconcile on the back of a firm belief that somewhere, out there in the darkness of London, there are others like me. Now, I have never met them but then I guess I wouldn’t. If I am taking myself as a guide, to uncover my kin I should have to sit next to the politely quiet individuals who arrive early and choose a seat that in my second school years would fall comfortably beyond the invisible divide demarcating the coolly indifferent seat choices, and race after them on the close of class on their purposeful march to the nearest tube. In defence I would state that this is not because I am an antisocial person who dislikes human contact or who has some sort of awkward manner that is self-serving in the creation of a parameter that others choose not to cross (or at least I hope not). I simply go to university to learn, and I am shy as I go about it. For those of you who are like me I wish you luck. It may be harder to settle in away from home than for those
Service in full swing at Kaffeine, Fitzrovia. Travis Riley
rambunctious party people for whom American teenage movies are a homage, and you may be judged on the back of your choice to read in lecture breaks and to actually do seminar readings in advance (silence, I have found, best follows the inevitable “god has anyone actually done this reading?” at least in the early days). But that doesn’t make your experience any less rich. If you are looking for an alternative to a night out clubbing in an optimistically labeled ‘up-and-coming’ area where night buses seem to be the intro to a BBC news piece on the tragic loss of ‘that unique soul’, I can only advise cultivating a new interest - generic advice I know. I was enveloped into the expansive coffee scene whose I was domination by the enveloped into antipodeans the coffee means a warm scene whose domination by welcome is all but the guaranteed, and antipodeans its ideal partner, means a warm art, where I have welcome is all learnt that modern but guaranteed art does not mean a vulgarly sexualised Emin or a piece whose sheer simplicity makes the convoluted explanatory notes a bit of a farce (who can’t paint a blue canvas?). Of course, these are far from the only options; the beauty of London lies in its variety. Samuel Johnson was perhaps the city’s most underrated tourism minister when he vehemently asserted that “you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. And who can argue with the sentiment. What he failed to fit into his city brief,
and we can forgive him his lack of foresight, was that within this cornucopia lies, like a mini matryoshka counterpart, the ever expanding ULU. Inevitably within its broad confines you will find a like-minded anti-socialite with whom to bond; I need only look around our average editorial board meeting to see that I am not alone (I wouldn’t gaze too hard though or you may feel painfully untrendy, it’s a balance thing). The hyper-idealised imaginings of university as a sanctuary of learning and a shrine for the serious endeavor of debate that optimists tote around secondary school with a wishful sigh is perhaps not something found outside
the ivy walls of the Oxbridge set (granted though those kids are not always textbook nerds either) but it does exist fleetingly on each campus, a smoke and mirrors society who are either so cunningly demure you fail to recognize their nature or so obnoxiously outspoken even fellow workers cannot help but disdain of their ethic. Take heart socially awkward, painfully shy, and academically singleminded individuals, shake off some of that agoraphobic tendency and enjoy everything university has to offer from the safety of your comfort zone. Lord knows, I won’t judge you.
Abandoned on the curb with a care-package and carefully edited selection of personal belongings we may feel inordinately grownup, but, as with any conscientious endeavor, be sure you know where the emergency slides are. Personal tutors are an undervalued resource; take the time to work out who your scout leader is. Should face-to-face not appeal (or your problem run to the more uncomfortable end of polite chats over biscuits) Saul Hillman is always there for you. See page for contact details
Seeds of Brilliance [ENTREPREUNERSHIP]
If the budding entrepreneurs amongst you find yourselves with some free time this fresher’s season then you should wander to the London Business school where seedhack will be running their first ever seedcamp, a place to bring together the business doers and idea makers in the hope of sparking genius… Runs from Friday the 23rd to Sunday the 25th, see www.amiando.com/seedhack.html for details.
Find Your Forum [ACADEMIA]
One of the amazing bonuses of being in the University of London are the extracurricular opportunities available. If you fancy yourself a savvy individual with an interest in current affairs and real world academic debates be sure to look at the remarkable free lecture circuit available. Particular highlights are the offerings at LSE and the RSA.
Caffeine Culture [COMMNUNITY]
The clue is in the name; coffee haven on 66 Great Titchfield. Travis Riley
If we can leave you with one piece of sage advice it would be this: be it for the morning after recovery, socialising alternative, epic textbook sessions, or sheer pleasure find your nearest caffeine source and tap that vein. London is home to a thriving coffee connoisseurship and while you may pay more than the 99p Pret option its worth every extra penny. Graciously I priviledge you with my favourite haunt, Kaffeine, sure to get your journey into coffee nerdom on its way. See kaffeine.co.uk for details or follow them on Twitter at @kaffeinelondon
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Changing the Recruitment Game
We talk to the team behind thestudentjob.com: Part of our ongoing search for UoL student run businesses. Writer
Ahmad Bakhiet Entrepreneurship Editor
Jack Tang and James Alexander met at a Christmas party – respective other halves of two Kent based cousins. Jack, a KCL student, and James, a UCL graduate had an instant connection with their passion for new, innovative ideas. Leaving the girls behind, they set about discussing an array of different ideas – one of which being how to find a way of dealing with the difficulty of finding part time work as a student. From this, thestudentjob.com was born. The following eight months were filled with several all-night planning sessions, building a team, a website and a company. I’m about to interview them and its 06:30 on a Saturday morning. Both Jack and James have had just two hours sleep after finishing an all-night Friday coding session with their developer. On top of that, James just flew back from Italy the previous night. Regardless, they arrive enthusiastic to tell me about their startup and are well prepared with an informative slide deck. LS: Tell me more about the idea and how it developed: Jack: “We want to help students find flexible job opportunities to fit around their studies; both short-term and longterm part time jobs as well as one off roles. We’re also trying to put more power into the individual student’s hands by introducing a greater level of transparency
between student and employer. Currently, there are no efficient or immediate tools for employers to post one off job vacancies”. James then walks me through an example which pans out as follows: Tim owns a restaurant and his waiter falls ill, he posts a one-off job vacancy, requesting cover for tonight. Ellie, a student living around the corner, receives a notification, logs on, and applies. When Tim accepts, Ellie receives an automated PDF of key details such as a location map, time, and any specific requirements. Once Ellie has completed the job, both Ellie and Tim provide impartial feedback on each other via a rating system. The feedback feature is crucial as it forms part of their respective profiles going forward, incentivising both Ellie and Tim to perform to a high standard.
James adds: “We want to be the voice for students in the flexible labour market; we want people to approach us with student job-related issues. thestudentjob.com is a website built for students, by students.”
LS: Are there any current challenges you’re facing? Jack: “Timeframe is always a challenge as we are aiming to launch in early October, so we’re working to a very tight deadline.” James: “Sometimes we also have to work hard to convince employers we are different to anything else that already exists, which we are!” LS: So what does differentiate you from other similar platforms? James “We focus on part-time and oneoff roles. Our aim is to ensure that stu-
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dents only find out about jobs that they are interested in, through location and/or industry preferences. Our location oriented platform allows students to decide how far they are willing to travel for a job. Realistically, living costs are a genuine concern for students, and this includes travelling to and from the workplace. We create direct relationships between the two parties, something that could be invaluable upon graduation. Our impartial feedback system ensures that both employers and students take accountability for their actions, and introduces a mutually beneficial level of transparency. Finally, we have a message broadcast function that allows businesses to promote their products and services to our Student population, meaning that students come to thestudentjob.com in search of both money making and money saving opportunities.” For a start-up that is yet to launch, they have progressed well behind the scenes, including over 6,000 student sign-ups and securing the likes of Walkabout Temple, Hummus Bros and Soho Gyms. LS: I ask Jack about the strategy he used to secure some well-known brands. “With Walkabout, for example, I just walked in and asked for the manager. They told me to return the following day, I came back, gave my elevator pitch and the manager signed up on the spot. It’s a similar story for most of our sign-ups”.
An entrepreneurial approach indeed! James adds: “We also found that some companies understood our vision and were very accommodating, Hummus Bros, for example, even offered to provide detailed feedback and work with us as a key supporter.” Thestudentjob.com currently comprises of a small but very committed team; Ashish - a Science graduate from Cambridge - and Rosaria - a Mathematician from King’s College - make up the sales team. Giles, a trusted and talented developer, completes the team of five. As founders of a start-up, Jack and James have quickly learnt how important it is to promote their business. For all students they are organising a competition to win an iPad2, for all employers who use the site they are offering a free one month trial period from date of launch of the website. Moreover, they’ve remained committed to addressing student issues at ground level by booking Fresher’s Fayre stalls at UCL, KCL and Imperial with a ground team also promoting around South Bank, London Met and Queen Mary University. On a final note, if there is one piece of advice that you’d give other students interested in pursuing something similar, what would it be? James provides great words of wisdom: “Don’t procrastinate, if you have an idea, the chances are that someone will want to hear about it, maybe even us!”
Why Entrepreneurship? with Mandeep Metharu
Ahmad Bakhiet Entrepreneurship Editor
I’m always interested in understanding why different people choose to go into entrepreneurship. Today, Mandeep Metharu, an LSE Law Graduate shares his experience with us. He is currently working in the mobile commerce space, but I asked how he first developed an interest for business. “From my earliest memories of life, I can remember my desire to create. After several small scale ventures at high school I finally had a crack at initiating two larger projects back to back called Reclaim Happiness (RH) and Rediscover Dreams (RD) during my final year at university. When we first started we didn’t know how to register a domain yet alone how to register a company. It was an ambitious project with a shoe string budget, and little expertise but it was designed to raise awareness of how we can lead a richer life where we heavily value our own mental wellbeing. We recruited ten interns, managed a web design and development team in India!”
What is your advice for students looking to enter the world of entrepreneurship? “It’s all about spotting trends; exploring new business models and continuously studying the market. There’s no excuse, in such a connected world, to not being up-to-date with the latest developments. Learn about RSS feeds and start subscribing to relevant blogs and forums. To get you started check out Springwise.com and Quora.com. The more exposure you get the better the quality of your ideas and ability to execute. Most importantly, be ready to take some real setbacks and don't expect overnight success.” Where do you see the trends at the moment? “To name a few, digital publishing/marketing, mobile commerce, near field communications (NFC) and software as a service (Saas) business models” Where do you go from here? “I want to continuously create and commercialise some great products and services that add real value and genuinely improve the quality of people's lives. I've got a lot to learn and long way to go. Just looking forward to being a part of some great emerging
RESEARCH IN BRIEF
Genetically Thin IMPERIAL COLLEGE [GENETICS]
So, we had the fat gene, now we have the thin. Recent research from Imperial College London, published in Nature, has identified a gene that promotes extreme thinness. It found that the DNA of 9,500 people deemed underweight had a duplication in part of chromosome 16. Previous duplications and deletions in this region have been linked with schizophrenia and autism. Men are 23 times more likely to have this duplication whereas women only
QUEEN MARY [TECHNOLOGY]
Ever wondered how happy the people around you are? Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have launched an iPhone app called Sentimental which tells you exactly that. The app uses GPS to detect where you are, then ‘sentiment detection software’ collects publicly available tweets to detect the emotional leanings of people in your area. It can automatically understand the idiosyncratic language, misspellings, hashtags, and emoticons featured in their tweets. So next time you rant about a bad day at work, be aware of your influence on happiness levels around you.
Homemade Suncream KCL [BIOTECHNOLOGY]
Ever seen a sunburnt coral? Corals produce their own sun cream so that they don’t burn in shallow waters. Researchers from Kings College London have been observing the algae that live inside corals. It is now thought that they make a product that the coral modify. Fish that then eat the coral also have some UV protection! The research, which is part of a three-year project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is continuing to see if the algae component can be made synthetically.
QUEEN MARY [BIOLOGY]
Have you ever wondered what a bumble bee thinks? A study at Queen Mary, University of London has found that although bumble bees have very tiny brains, they are capable of complex problem solving! It had been assumed that bees use the simplest method to find their next nectar fix. However, the research, which was published in Biology Letters, reports that bumble bees can (and do) learn where each flower is, so they can plan their route more effectively.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
Humour Heals Hearts
LS SCIENCE ONLINE
Tweet of the Week
Mythbusting: No human would pop when exposed to Space's vacuum. We would actually only suffocate through lack of oxygen. Much nicer!
Writer Anna Dejardin
A good sense of humour has long been advocated as the best way to someone else's heart. Now research suggests it could also be one way to protect your own.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have found significant links between laughter and mechanisms that lower the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases. “Laughter is not only an important component of the socialisation process in higher order species,” says the lead researcher, Professor Michael Miller, “but we now believe that laughter may result in the direct release of neurochemicals that affect vascular function.” He postulates that laughter directly impacts on the function of the endothelial tissue that lines blood vessels, positively affecting the ability of those vessels to Watching a react to stimuli. funny These tissues segment from run through the Saturday entire cardiovasNight Live cular system and resulted in...a help to control similar vascular tone, response to movement of the beneficial white cells in the effects of body and the aerobic formation of excercise. new blood vessels, as well as vascular reactivity. Poor endothelial function, which has been linked to negative emotions including stress and depression, can lead to serious inflammation and cholesterol
Follow us @LS_science
Diary of a PhD
Ruth Angus is beginning a PhD in October. Read about her move to London. The process of starting a PhD and the trials and tribulations she faces over the coming year.
Life after a Science degree Healthy hearts indeed!
build-up, and eventually to heart attacks. The team used a non-invasive method, called the brachial artery reactivity test (BART), to measure the difference in blood vessel diameter after watching either a stressful or humorous video clip. After watching the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, participants showed vasoconstriction, an unhealthy response. Watching a funny segment from Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, resulted in an average increase in vessel diameter of 22%, a similar response to the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise and cholesterol lowering medications. “We saw this effect after 15 minutes, though the response time may be shorter,” says Professor Miller, “Isn't it amazing that something so simple can have such a profound biological effect?”
Heart disease is a major problem in the UK - on average, someone dies from a heart attack every six minutes. While the jury is still out on whether a couple of good belly laughs a day could prolong your life, the four big behavioural risk factors remain smoking, eating badly, drinking too much and not exercising enough. “The biggest impact on cardiovascular disease rates in terms of the population as a whole is due to diet,” says Dr Pete Scarborough of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford, “if people adhered to current government guidelines on healthy eating, it would potentially save over 30,000 lives a year. Around two thirds of the deaths avoided would have been from coronary heart disease.” And while we're all working on that, maybe laugh a little more too.
25,000 streets in the city and the locations of all places of interest, usually by travelling the routes over and over again on a small motorbike.
London bus drivers, on the other hand, don’t undergo similar changes. Why is this? We think this is because the bus drivers follow a small set of pre-established routes, rather than having to learn a detailed mental map of London’s layout.
Proof Knowledge IS Good for the Brain
James Lloyd spoke to Dr. Katya Woollett from London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience about her research into the gruelling exam known as “The Knowledge”, which makes London Taxi drivers and their memories very intriguing LS: Katya, why are some neuroscientists so interested in taxi drivers?
London cabbies offer a unique opportunity to study the mechanisms of memory and brain plasticity in the healthy brain. Understanding how the brain can change is potentially important for the rehabilitation of brain injury patients with memory problems. LS: What is ‘The Knowledge’ test that every London cabby must pass?
This involves learning the layout of over
LS: In what way does a taxi driver’s brain differ from that of ‘Joe Bloggs’?
Eleanor Maguire and colleagues were the first to show that intensive learning can change the brain’s structure. They discovered that grey matter increased in part of the cabbies’ hippocampi, a region of the brain important for memory and navigation.
LS: Your work suggests that navigational know-how is acquired, rather than being innate. Could this help to understand how talents develop?
Each Issue we’ll talk to a different alumni. Covering all disciplines and aa range of careers they’ll attempt to give you advice and an idea of what their job actually involves. Go online to find who we’re interviewing this week and see the Q&A forum where they’ll answer your most pressing questions.
Each Issue we aim to bring you a new podcast. Covering the Science news YOU want to know as well as delving deeper into the article we cover in the paper.
Harriet Jarlett is a Geologist turned Science journalist studying an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College.
Rachel Mundy is a freelance science writer, and 'Science Communication' student at Royal Holloway.
I believe so. Our results show that you have to study and practice to gain an expertise. Similar structural brain changes have also been seen in other experts such as musicians and bilinguals.
Have you had chance to discuss your work with the cabbies? Yes, the majority find it absolutely fascinating!
LS: This new information learnt for ‘The Knowledge’ physically changes a taxi driver’s brain? Yes, this would seem to be the case. The changes become more marked the longer they spend taxi driving. LS: You’ve shown that the brains of
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Getting aHEAD Without the Widget
This week, in our regular Science of... column David Simpson looks at the science of beer.
A team of mathematicians from Ireland
have been studying bubble formation
in stout beers, and believe they have
discovered the secret to pouring a pint
with a smooth, creamy head.
Getting frothed up.
The froth that sits on top of a lager is produced by bubbles of CO2 dissolved within the beer. These bubbles form spontaneously around cellulose fibres in the beer and inside the glass. Unlike carbonated lagers, stout beers like Guinness require a push to get them going. As well as the dissolved CO2 they already contain, nitrogen is
injected into stouts. This is added for two reasons: it reduces the acidity of the drink, giving a creamier taste; and it encourages smaller bubbles to form producing a thicker, smoother head. The bubbles are produced in the same way as lager, but the presence of nitrogen makes the process 15 times longer. Good things, it seems, come to those who wait. And so Guiness’ slogan would have remained even more apt, had it The perfect not been for the head on a invention of the stout requires widget. The 1 million bubbles widget is a hollow plastic sphere pumped up with compressed nitrogen that sits at the bottom of a can of draught stout. Upon opening, the pressure within the can drops, forcing a bubbling jet of gas out of a tiny hole in the widget. This jet stirs up and rapidly disperses the nitrogen and CO2 to make larger bubbles and form the head. This little device, patented in Ireland by Guinness, was a highly innovative creation. Applying the mathematical model of bubble formation in carbonated drinks to nitrogen-containing stouts required Dr William Lee of the University of Limerick and his team, to account for the different size of the bubbles and the
Facebook Fondness can be Fruitful
REVIEWS AND EVENTS
slower speed at which they form, in stouts. “I began by looking at the well understood literature on bubble formation in champagne,” he explains. “We used cut up coffee filters to pour the stout over and watched through a microscope as bubbles began forming underneath the fibres.” According to their figures, the perfect head on a stout requires 1 million bubbles. The enthusiastic mathematicians calculated that to produce this quantity over the 30 seconds it takes to pour out a stout, a 3cm square of cellulose fibres would be needed. -
Dr Lee believes that the widget’s day is almost over: “Coating the top of a can with these fibres so that the stout flows through them as you pour would generate a good head.” He is also confident that future stout brewers will benefit from replacing the widget with these cellulose fibre coatings. “Oxygen can affect the drink’s flavour. The process of removing this oxygen, then pumping the widget with nitrogen takes time.” The biggest gain, he believes, will be in cutting manufacturing costs. “Though making widgets comes at a tiny cost it undoubtedly adds up if you’re selling millions of cans of stout beer on a global scale.”
Writer Gemma Sharp
If you’ve just started uni then you’re probably concerned with juggling your schoolwork, the 14 clubs you signed up to at the Freshers Fayre and all your new social activites. So, you’ll be pleased to hear that spending more time on Facebook could actually leave you feeling more relaxed and better prepared for the year ahead.
As thousands of freshers around the UK pack up ready to begin their new lives at university, preliminary findings of research from Keele University, suggests Facebook might be able to help them settle in. The researchers found that during the first few months at university, students who receive more Facebook messages and comments feel less stressed and have greater well-being and self esteem than those receiving fewer messages and comments. The researchers used standardised questionnaires to assess 141 students in their first-term and monitor their levels of stress, well-being and self-esteem, as well as the extent of their Facebook usage Dr Chris Stiff, lead researcher from Keele University, presented his prelim-
Reviewed by Alexandra Ashford
MUSEUM EVENT [SCIENCE MUSEUM] Last Wednesday of every month Free (over 18s only)
The most frustrating thing about the Science Museum is trying to play with all the interactive exhibits, experiments and games, when swarms of noisy children are trying to do the same thing. Much better to visit when it’s all over 18s with a beer in hand, listening to a DJ playing chilled out techno. Then you can have a go on everything! There are many sub-events within the Adults-only night - pub quiz, speed dating, silent disco - but the main “Laughter is universal” talk was disappointing and little more than a series of mildly amusing TV ads. Nevertheless, overall a very enjoyable alternative evening out.
EXHIBITION [NHM] Until 2nd October 2 2011 Adults £8, conc. (incl. students) = cut ‘=’ £4
How much do you know about the birds and the bees? Do you know your pizzles from your wuzzles?* You probably remember sex education in biology at school as dry and clinical. Not so at the Natural History Museum’s Sexual Nature exhibition, where you are encouraged to giggle at the bizarre and shocking intimacies of the animal kingdom. Upon entering the exhibit you are confronted with a huge screen showing videos of bonobos (the notorious nymphomaniacs of the ape world) having sex in a variety of anthropomorphically pornographic positions. No room for inhibitions here! The exhibition delights in detailing the range of strategies and adaptations nature has evolved for the business of getting it on, in a thought- provoking collection of videos, taxidermy, and interactive exhibits. Highlights include the quirky, yet educational, videos of actress Isabella Rosselini donning cardboard and lycra to act out the primeval urges of various species. It all gets a bit mushy towards the end though, as visitors are encouraged to share their thoughts on love and sex amongst our own kind. Aww... *“Pizzle” is a the word for a nonhuman penis; “wuzzle” is a the word for a dolphin orgy.
That facebook addiction may just be the key to your success Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fbouly
Sending a lot of Facebook messages and comments was “ineffective at best, and detrimental at worst.”
inary findings at the British Psychology Society’s Social Psychology Section annual conference in Cambridge. In his presentation, he revealed that students who received a lot of Facebook communication enjoyed the psychological benefits - but sending a lot
of Facebook messages and comments was “ineffective at best, and detrimental at worst.” Further analysis of the responses of 169 first years in their second term, suggests the psychological benefits are short-lived. At this stage there is no relationship between the extent of Facebook use and any of the measures. In further contrast to first term students, the number of Facebook friends appears to be an important factor, with second term students who have more friends being more likely to report
higher self-esteem and well-being. Dr Stiff said: “Facebook is not just a tool for superficial social networking; it is also a highly effective conduit for social support during students' first few dizzying months at university.”
Next, the researchers plan to investigate the groups more closely to find out if contact with university friends or home friends is more important in the first year.
Here on Earth BOOK REVIEW
Here on Earth is based on james Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis. It engagingly explains the reasons why many now believe we are part of an entire planetary ecosystem; including all life, the atmosphere, the oceans and even the soil. The theme is made relevant by discussing how we must work in cohesion with these elements if we are to survive and flourish... Read the rest of Poppy Hollom’s fantastic review of Tim Flannery’s book online at www.london-student.net
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
London Voters: Make your vote count! Writers Alex Peters-Day Benjamin Westhead
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON - In May 2012 the London mayoral and Greater London Authority elections will take place. London students are in an excellent position to enact real change in London for students- we have an excellent opportunity to canvas the candidates running for these roles as they vie for the affections of the voting public. Our campaign hopes to bring student issues to the forefront of the GLA and mayoral agenda. Students make up around 1/10 of the London electorate. However, currently student issues in London are poorly accounted for and in turn vastly under represented by both the London Mayor and the GLA. With 433,000 students living and studying in London, not to mention the 70,000 Londoners who have moved to study in other areas, we should have a strong united voice that leaves no other option other than to be listened to. Increases to travel expenses and a lack of affordable student accommodation mean that a spiralling number of London students will struggle to juggle the combined work load of a full time degree and a part-time job just to survive. Our campaign is made up of unions across London working together and is designed to create a cohesive voice that is representative of the interests of London students. We believe that for
too long the concerns of London Students have been over looked and our views not proportionately represented. London students have a huge impact on London culturally, economically and, of course, academically. In order to put things into perspective, London Higher Education Institutions account for around 4% of London’s GDP and 1% of the UKs national GDP – whereas the UKs agriculture industry in its entirety produced only 0.9%. We intend to demonstrate to those candidates running for positions what an effect the students of London can and will have on the election. We will outline a number of pledges that students will benefit from and encourage can-
didates to sign up in order to gain the support of the student vote. For us to fulfil the potential that we have and become a powerful voting force we are recommending as many students as possible to register to vote in the election. You will not only being voting for a difference to your own student experience and that of your peers, but you are voting for those students of the future who do not have a vote yet. To get involved further find out what your students union is doing to be a part of this campaign. Together we will make a change for London students. current and future.
London Mayoral Elections Key Facts When: May 3 2012
Current Mayor: Boris Johnson
Key Candidates: Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick, Jenny Jones
Interesting Fact: The three main political parties are all standing the same candidate they stood in the 2008 elections.
Ken and Boris will both be closely courting the student vote. Photo: lewishdreamer
More info: www.londonelects.org.uk
Teachers and their private lives: Do we separate the two? Writer Michael Jarvis
Benedict Garrett is a teacher at a school in Essex who has recently and controversially been offered his job as teacher of personal, social and health education back. His offence? Masquerading at
night as the gloriously unimaginatively named ‘Johnny Anglais’: stripper, naked butler and porn actor. Of course some of the UK’s press struggled with the concept (the ever composed Daily Mail went with “What DOES it take to fire a teacher?”) and many of the general public shrieked almightily about the prospect of their precious snuf-
There is increasing scrutiny on the private lives of teachers. Photo: Jay Yohe
flekins being taught by a teacher with an alternative scantily clad income. Incidentally and hilariously, Mr. Garrett’s additional identity was serendipitously unearthed when a pupil ‘discovered’ him in a porn trailer, which was then duly plastered all over Facebook.Imagine being that pupil. Our intrepid internet trawler must have experienced a writhing mixture of bemused surprise, onerous embarrassment and fearful joy of what impact this finding could have. Kind of like if Galileo founded the earth’s orbit of the sun upon doodlings of breasts. However, let us bypass the sensationalisms. According to his students he was an extremely amicable, entertaining and accessible teacher from whom they learnt a lot. It seemed that his nocturnal nudeness did not impact on his success as a teacher and so why should it matter? Mr. Garrett’s life aside from the school must be his own to lead, regardless of how lurid or degrading some may deem it, if it does not restrict or inhibit the learning of his pupils. For a school to discipline anyone for actions beyond the sphere of education seems unnecessary and undeserved. It has echoes of the grossly publicised infidelity case of the England foot-
baller John Terry, which resulted in the England manager removing Terry’s captaincy. This was another example of private behaviour being punished within the person’s field of work and for many that does not lie happily. As Mr. Garrett himself points out in his intellectually dull article for the guardian, “teachers who publically indulge in… smoking, drinking and overeating are tolerated” yet these are harmful behaviours, an apparent inconsistency in judgment from the public and the teaching judiciary. If Johnny Anglais and his startling array of jock straps is entirely separate from Mr. Garrett the sex education teacher then what legal or moral right does the school have to punish him? The General Teaching Council reinstated Garrett’s right to teach with a frighteningly passive aggressive statement, saying that, “the committee considers it unlikely that you will seek to return to the teaching profession whist working as a stripper or in pornographic films”. Essentially they have prohibited Garrett from continuing his life as he was and presumably struck fear into other teachers about how they spend their private hours. They evidently disagree that a teacher can separate crutch thrusting from the
classroom. Most strikingly with this case is that Mr. Garrett was found to purposefully communicate with his students via Facebook, an activity specifically banned by the school. If Garrett deserved punishment for anything it is for this blatant misconduct concerning his contract with the school, yet this seemed to be overshadowed by the looming presence of Johnny Anglais and his pecks of steel. The almost legally unassailable task comes when determining when an individual has let their personal life permeates their professional one. One may remember the revealing of a list of BNP members, supposedly containing several teachers, doctors, policemen and clergymen, along with other influential positions. Currently a BNP member is allowed to be a doctor and a teacher (following Michael Gove’s uturn on his policy) as long as they are dormant in their beliefs and do not actively participate in protests. Are we to say that an individual harbouring such extreme ideals and harmful beliefs can conduct their work without impinging upon others? I am not so sure.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
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. Saul can be contacted on 07939 523 025 or email@example.com. For more information and resources visit www.saulhillmantherapy.com In Conversation with the Doctor
JK is a second year male student studying Civil Engineering at University College London.
PROBLEM: I’m going into my second year and really found the first year difficult. I have a long term girlfriend back at home. I didn’t mind the course but just couldn’t fit into the student life that everyone else seemed to. I’m dreading it all starting again. Saul It must be hard to be away from loved ones when you are embarking on something new. JK It is. I speak every day to my girlfriend. We really miss each other but she has a job far away. She knows that the course will be best for me but I hated the first year and seriously thought about not coming back. Saul Well, it’s good that you have come back. I doubt that would have been what she wanted? JK Sure, she wants me to study and get a good job so we can set up home but she’s still at home... Saul ... whilst you are in a new exciting place with so many opportunities. It is not surprising if you feel a bit guilty that she’s at home and you’re here. And she’s given you the permission to be here but you’re not feeling like you deserve it? JK Yeh, I know. She is stuck in her boring job and just waits for me. Saul I think it must be really hard to be somewhere where you feel bad about looking forward and living in the present. Is it not possible to still keep what you have and allow yourself now the time to enjoy some parts of student life? JK I couldn’t. I wouldn’t know how. Saul Well, put it this way, if your girlfriend was in your position, would you want her to isolate herself, be miserable and hold back. What would you want? JK Well, yeh, but wouldn’t want
We will be looking at motivation and study skills. Please email me with any letters or experiences you have in this or any other area her to go off with guys and go partying. (laughs) Saul Sure, I understand but wouldn’t you want her to be happy and active? JK Sure, I know but all the students are just out partying the whole time. I don’t have anything in common with them. Saul And you know that for sure? I think that’s a bit of a presupposition. Do you want to change and make this next year easier? JK Sure, but how? Saul Its straightforward advice really. Think about yourself and stop neglecting yourself . You are not neglecting your home life if you do this. So, rather than feeling discouraged by the enormity of life here at uni, break things down – join something, do some activity, find some course mates or friends to hang out with....basically, build on what is positive about having this opportunity to be at this university rather than trying to manage the negatives from the separation. JK Sure, I guess I do need to do that a bit as I get so bored. Saul Yes, and I am sure your girlfriend will get tired and frustrated if you call up with nothing to say to her (both laugh) JK So what do you prescribe Doctor? (both laugh) Saul You prescribe yourself three things you can do for yourself this term. JK Well I did think about joining the squash club but never got round to it. Saul Great...exercise will help! And... JK I guess I can say yes when some of my course mates suggest we go out......and I could go to the odd gig. Saul Sounds a great start... and of course study. Talk to your girlfriend about it. I bet she’ll be happier. JK Sure, she’s sick of me moaning!
A New Life
When we think of the university experience, we tend to think of the excitement that comes up with novel friends and relationships, new courses, the hall of residence experience, the sleep deprivation, the alcoholic fog and, of course, the cost.
The transition from school to campus/university life is the challenge of adapting to a new setting where our framework changes. Instead of being a central person in a relatively small community, one becomes initially a pretty anonymous member of a huge community. This is a huge adjustment and a shock to our sense of identity. Erik Erikson, the psychoanalyst, is most known for his 8 stages of psychosocial development and the particular conflicts that different age groups are faced with. The majority of students are in the fifth stage of ‘identity versus role confusion’ as they lie at the cusp of adulthood and everything that the future offers. But, perhaps, here lies an often downplayed element that is associated with coming to university, and one which often entails leaving one’s country and familiar roots, namely separation anxiety. For those who find the transition easy, this may be hard to empathise with. However for those who do find the change and loss that comes with it anxiety provoking, it can be painful and debilitating. Research by institutions including the National Institute of Mental Health have all found that greater academic demands, financial concerns, changes in social life, exposure to new people, ideas and temptations can take a negative toll on the coping abilities of young people. When we think of ‘Separation Anxiety’, we normally associate it with infancy yet it occurs throughout the life span whenever there is a transition. According to one of the most notable psychologists who studied attachment, Mary Ainsworth, significant life changes or transitions, such as attending college, are likely to activate the attachment system and trigger attachment insecurity. For securely attached students, leaving home for college is an opportunity for exploration and mastery, whereas for the more insecurely attached, this may not be the case. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), individuals with separation anxiety disorder tend to come from families that are close-knit. Thus, when suddenly faced with the prospect of spending time away from home (and the person(s) to whom they are attached), a number of anxiety symptoms can be exhibited including recurrent distress when separated, the anticipation of separation, excessive worry about important attachment figures who they are no longer with, a resistance to getting into university life including the academic parts, and considerable psychosomatic symptoms. Most of us within our lifetime will ex-
perience some form of anxiety. Whether this anxiety originates from exams taken in school, isolated phobic situations, or traumatic accidents, it is very much a part of life. The college experience is one of the most significant since it entails leaving behind a familiar schedule, a set of activities, friends, and of course the stability of one’s family. This new phase is disruptive in that the new life involves moving away, having to live with strangers, making new friends, and creating a schedule since there will not be anyone facilitating to make sure you get to class on time, get any assignments done, get enough sleep, or eat right. It is a challenging period but as with all transitions, has huge potential to be a positive one fitting in to a new network. It can be challenging, albeit stressful at times, Even now in to explore new the 21st censocial norms, tury, it is amazlearn a new set of ing how much behaviours, and taboo is atconsider adopttached to any ing a particular indications of identity and vulnerability group affiliation. What university and college offers is a huge assortment of opportunities for advancement and distraction with extracurricular activities, courses and potential friends. How you can make it easier There are two tasks involved in starting at University. First, leaving behind familiar things, people and places and secondly adapting to a new world. We all have different levels of tolerance to change and have our own ways of coping with situations. In a new place, the usual comforts and support systems are not there, and the various challenges can impact upon our confidence and self-esteem. Even now in the 21st century, it is amazing how much taboo is attached to any indications of vulnerability – and separation anxiety is one of those. Many of us are brought up in an environment where it is not encouraged to talk. This approach is counterproductive to having an easier life. We can lessen anxiety levels by creating an environment with open and honest discussion, and where thoughts and feelings can be shared, whether this is with family or friends. So, what can you do to alleviate any difficult feelings you may have at the start? Appreciate that you are not alone in experiencing such feelings and that the majority will be struggling in their own ways to manage the transition. Accept that anxiety is not a toxic enemy that you have to fight against; Assimilate into college life through the diverse and vast range of activities and distractions there are on offer. Embrace the new since this will help break any negative state; taking on new interests and going outside oneís normal comfort zone. There is no shortage of things to occupy yourself and meet like-minded people. Be patient. It takes time to understand the rhythm of a new academic life and for students to develop a personal learning/studying style. Never ignore a problem. Both academic and emotional challenges are most successfully managed early when small.
Look after your emotional and physical wellbeing ñ this can be positively affected by healthy and regular eating, lots of sleep and regular exercise. You are not expected to work the whole time or you will burn out, whilst at the same time, you canít socialise the whole time or you will get behind. It is worth being realistic about the balance. Often, the pressure that comes with university life can create a sense of feeling overwhelmed about competing demands. With any transition, we react differently, just like we do with relationship endings. Some will be more ready to immerse themselves in the new attractions whilst others may find it harder to relinquish what they had. Ideally, we all prepare ourselves for such change by talking to family and friends about any anxieties or doubts we have beforehand, whether this is related to academic, interpersonal, sexual, or lifestyle issues. If you feel you need further reassurance, it is stating the obvious to suggest calling close family or friends. We can manage the change by doing a few sensible things. Transitional objects from home may help with the change as you adapt to college life since it allows you to keep your home life in mind, and may include obvious comforts such as photographs, music, and sentimental mementos. Contact with home - how much time you connect with the past is the most controversial and may need to be self-monitored. There are countless ways of staying in touch with loved ones through emailing, social networking sites, and Skype, and though these can be comforting, they can also become addictive and counterproductive. Making a plan for a trip home, if this is feasible, will allow you to keep homesickness at bay and have something to look forward to.
All universities and colleges have counselling services where confidential advice/guidance/therapy can be sought. Talking is the best remedy whether it’s to friends or to a professional so don’t wait.
What is most important to you whilst you are at university? a) The present / NOW! b) The past, present and future c) The future d) The past If you start to miss something about your home, what do you do? a) Hang out with some friends b) Do some studying c) Spend time on social networking sites d) Make contact with someone (e.g. family, partner) Do you talk to your peers about what youíre feeling (good and bad)? a) All the time b) I talk to family and friends back at home c) Only when they ask me e) Never How often do you need to communicate with someone back at home? a) Once a week b) Most days c) A few times a term or less d) Several times a day
If you are scoring d’s , you are not helping yourself settle into the new place. If you are scoring a’s, you are doing fine but don’t forget where you’ve come from!
LONDON STUDENT’S VERY OWN BLIND DATE SERVICE Maia
Everyone likes a bit of fresher’s flirtation, though the sophistication of this date avoided your typical TigerTiger making out session, or the awkward “your halls or mine?” In fact, UL students Maia and Jon firmly eschewed such frivolities.
Although only a stone’s throw from The Haymarket, our first date took place in the lovely Henry’s Café bar. Located just off of Covent Garden, I thought this would be an apt setting for any budding romance. Easy to find, the restaurant neighbours plenty of post-meal drinking locations in case conversation was still going strong. With the proximity of bars taken full advantage of after their meal, it seems the evening did not disappoint for either side!
Or tweet at @LondonLoves1 for your chance to be in our next issue
bane vibe that Maia’s Chicken and Avocado salad so emphatically did. We then decamped to Le Beaujolais, an intimate and smouldering wine bar, where the conversation – like the wine – continued to flow. The temptation to discuss HG Wells over another bottle of Red didn’t quite take hold, so I walked Maia back to the Tube, to say our goodbyes and exchange numbers. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and felt it went well. I’d certainly like to see her again, if only to prove that my culinary tastes extend beyond that of the barren north. Perhaps a Mexican? What she thought: Having never been on a blind date before, I was unsure what to expect as I nervously approached Covent Garden tube to meet Jon. A mix-up in communi-
cations meant that I was half an hour late and the poor guy had been standing around for 40 minutes. Despite this initial hiccup and some awkward jokes made about my being worth the wait, the date ran relatively smoothly from then on. We talked about mutual friends, how we’ve never quite crossed paths before, Yorkshire, television and George Orwell. He was a very funny and engaging date, who kept me laughing throughout the evening with impersonations of Blackadder characters and his ideas for future comedy sketches. We were laughing so much at one point that I certainly dipped out of ‘coy-attractivegiggles’ territory into ‘bellylaughing-and-diet-coke-outof-the-nose’ zone. We skipped dessert and headed on to a wine bar in Soho, where we were back
to talking about films, family, friends and other first date fodder. When the bar closed we both headed back to Leicester Square and exchanged numbers. Overall I would call the date a success, if only for having found a lovely new friend with similar interests to me, and the ability to make me laugh more raucously than any men I’ve met in recent years. I definitely hope we see each other again soon. The Verdict: So as you can see, a beautiful friendship has been formed, if nothing else. Hopefully we will be hearing good things from some sort of Mexican evening in the near future – whether they get further than Nando’s is left to see!
sS mber nogged nu S
ed gg ha
If you want to improve your fresher’s experience from club-lovin’ to some London Student love sophistication, email in at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, age, university, year of study, and three words to describe both you and your perfect date.
What he thought: Despite of hours of mental preparation, the nerves kicked in shortly before we were due to meet. I met Maia in Covent Garden. As we headed over to Henry’s Bar and Bistro, we chatted about date practices. I think my lack of a flower bouquet said a lot for how dating has changed through the ages. After an initial mix-up with our booking, we tucked into the wine and conversation. Maia was someone who I felt understood the art of conversation, being refreshingly engaging and perceptive. We conversed about comedy, the arts, music; we extolled about travel, finding remarkable common-ground in the process. In retrospect, I feel that I may have dropped a clanger in ordering the steak and ale pie, it didn’t give off the ur-
A northern chap through and through, Jon's Yorkshire roots were a certain contrast to Maia's international upbringing alongside their contrasting courses: War studies v. English Literature. Friendly and comical - though with a reputation for terrible timekeeping - his northern charm promised positive results however, and I assured Maia she'd be dining with a true 'war stud'.
Hello and Welcome to the first London Loves of the new academic year, where love, it seems, is already in the air.
I set Jon up with the classic 'blonde hair, blue eyes' young lady: Maia. Clever, sophisticated and well traveled, I knew her film, literary and comedy interests would soon spark conversation with Jon -and was not disheartened by her report. A girl with a desire to be wined and dined, I hoped that the location of Covent Garden would suit Maia's love of enjoying Central London with a good glass of wine and good company. Let's see if she agreed! ...
LOVE-O-METER IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR LOVE GET IN TOUCH AT LOVE@LONDON-STUDENT.NET
State of the Union
Rugby enthusiast Natalie Khan previews the upcoming Rugby World Cup page 29
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
A rose by any other name?
In a special report, Andrew Smith looks back over the history of medical sports teams and considers the future - page 30
Three ULU rivalries
A closer look at three of the countless ULU sporting rivalries - page 30
Why join a sports team
A ULU alumnus and hockey player explains why joining a sports team was one of the best decisions he made page 31
King’s student to carry Olympic torch
King’s representatives will be amongst the fortunate few to carry the Oympic torch this summer - page 32
The State of the Union
London Student looks at the start of the Rugby World Cup and considers the growing popularity of the UK’s toughest sport. Writer Natalie Khan
On the 9th of September around 60 000 people at Eden Park welcomed the world in union back to New Zealand and six weeks of nerve wracking, exhilarating rugby. For a diehard fan like myself, this will entail ungracefully rolling out of bed at ungodly hours in the morning. Fortunately, the opening ceremony and a hot cuppa proved rousing enough. A powerful Haka and a spectacular firework display kicked off the seventh Rugby World Cup with a bang. The lavish ceremony stands in sharp contrast to the opening of the first Rugby World Cup, also hosted by New Zealand, 24 years ago. Back in 1987 players were paid nothing but the honour of wearing their nation’s colours and the audience barely filled half the seats at Eden Park. In 2011, the opening game pitting the All Blacks against Tonga drew millions of viewers worldwide. The sport continues to grow but the exposure of the World Cup, especially for countries that don’t get the chance to play in annual tournaments, remains crucial. The opening game was always going to be exciting, plunging the world into this six week rugby bonanza. More important however, is the host country’s status as the top ranking team in the world. The All Blacks are favourites to win and are setting their sights no lower than to once more lift the Webb Ellis Cup on home soil. What’s baffling about the All Blacks, the most iconic team of the sport, is that they haven’t actually played in a RWC final since 1995. They’re always stumbling on the finishing line in the World Cup and yet consistently on top in the IRB World Ranking. This conundrum has frustrated the Kiwis for decades and being on their own turf should only make it worse. Gauging the form of the All Blacks is as such the first point of order of the 2011 World Cup.
Unsurprisingly, the first try of the tournament came from the All Blacks within the 10th minute of the opener. With the initial nerves thus settled, the All Blacks cruised through the Tonga defence line and scored three more tries before halftime. Tonga only narrowly managed to get three points on the board before the whistle. In the second half things got decisively more interesting. Tonga fought back tooth and nail, squashing two certain try scoring opportunities. While the All Blacks scored two more tries to make the final score 41-10, Tonga showed how a more experienced team could possibly beat the hosts. The try for Tonga was the result of a never ending pick and go assault on the All Blacks’ defence, leaving them frustrated, losing discipline and fraying at the edges. This weakness in the All Blacks’ game is what other teams would be looking out for during the opener. The tournament got well and truly under way with the subsequent pool matches the following day, starting at a nifty 2 am. Not only is this a more appropriate time to watch rugby, it is also a more appropriate time to drink beer, two activities that are essentially the same thing spelt differently. While it’s understandable that some might have forgone the Scotland vs. Romania, Fiji vs. Namibia and France vs. Japan games in favour of some sleep before the entrance of the Redcoats (Blackcoats?) onto the scene, they were missing out on some spectacular rugby. More importantly, they inadvertently dismissed what necessarily has to be the future of the game and consequently the World Cup. It is the tier 2 teams, without standing invitations to the Six Nations or Tri Nation tournaments, that will determine the future of the sport. If rugby is to enjoy the same popularity as football, teams without an
established presence on the international stage have to be allowed into the lime light. Including more nations in annual tournaments can only serve to increase the exposure of the game and as such attract more people to the sport. Scotland vs. Romania in particular was a thrill to watch, that is if you were cheering for the underdogs. Romania played hard hitting, entertaining rugby and absolutely dominated in the scrum. In the second half the Oaks, representing their small eastern european nation, even got in the lead against the much favoured Scots. To the immense relief of their tartan wearing fans, the Scots picked up the pace and scored two decisive tries, earning them a first and important win. The scull cracking physicality of the Romanian players was warmly welcomed though, especially in a game which on the international level too often gets entrenched in arial ping pong. Japan also proved engaging to watch in their match against the hulking French, putting up a good fight against a side which more and more tend to resemble walking refrig-
And then, resisting every bodily impulse to collapse, onwards for England and St. George. Skipping the cup and drinking straight out of the teapot proved a sensible decision, since what followed the first whistle was nothing short of nerve wracking.
erators. And then, resisting every bodily impulse to collapse, onwards for England and St. George. Skipping the cup and drinking straight out of the teapot proved a sensible decision, since what followed the first whistle was nothing short of nerve wracking. The lack of discipline, the sheer number of penalties conceded, the reluctance to take quick ball when the ref finally raised his arm in England’s favour was exasperating. Jonny being perfectly capable of having a bad day should surprise no one, but that the team would consistently go for the penalty kick rather than make a run for the try line boggles the mind. It makes for decidedly frustrating and incredibly boring rugby. Argentina fought hard and it was only with the substitution of Ben Youngs that light suddenly appeared at the end of the tunnel. The game drew to a close under nightmarish conditions, with the Pumas putting England on the back foot and bringing the average lifespan of an England supporter down by about ten years. Having secured a very narrow win, the England vs. Argentina game wrapped up the first night of heart palpitation in the Rugby World Cup. With massive contenders Australia and South Africa yet to play as well as Ireland, Wales and six other hopefuls, the field is wide open. The turnout so far promises an immensely engaging and probably completely infuriating World Cup. While the struggle amongst the top ranked nations might monopolise the attention, the underdogs are definitely proving they can play hard and exciting rugby. And that is the most important development for the world in union. Honourable mentions: “Come at me bro” signs in the stands at Rotorua and the infinitely superior Alternative Rugby Commentary. Stream online and mute the bores on ITV. Sin Bin: The numbers on the England away kit. And the colour of the England away kit.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
A rose by any other name? Writer Andrew Smith
On Wednesday 3rd March 1875, two teams stepped out onto the field at The Oval to contest a game of – not cricket – but rugby. In doing so, they began the first cup competition in world rugby (four years prior to the instigation of the Calcutta Cup and two years before Ireland had even entered a team into the international fray). The tournament was the United Hospitals (UH) Challenge Cup and the teams; Guy’s and St. George’s Hospitals. From thenceforth, the London hospital sides, amongst others, were pivotal in the development of the modern game and throughout the ages have contributed world-renowned players to the international scene, including the infamous JPR Williams. It is not only in rugby that the UH clubs were held in high regard however. When Arsenal Football Club first turned professional, amongst the first teams to play them was the UH team. Since these early days all manner of sports are now represented on the UH circuit including hockey, rowing and cricket. Apart from hosting competitions between the medical schools the UH clubs field representative squads that play a variety of teams which have, and continue to include, the likes of the RMA Sandhurst, the RAF and Oxford and Cambridge. With all this activity it is an interesting move for BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) – the institution responsible for running the majority of university sport in Britain – to announce plans to deny medical faculty teams (which may include medics, dentists and related para-medicals) from playing as a separate entity. Inevitably, this would not only greatly affect just medical school sport but also affect the teams from partner universities.
It is fair to say that times have moved on somewhat from ‘the good old days’ and changes to admissions as well as evolution in the delivery of medical training has changed the landscape of hospital sport. Many of the London medical colleges – previously totally autonomous institutions – were forced to merge with neighbouring universities. Nonetheless, the passion for the history of these historic clubs remains embroidered on sports kit, entwined in traditions and pumping through the hearts of players. The medical colleges have fought hard to remain separate entities and maintain their own identity and sports teams Although much talk has been regarding the UH colleges, it is important to bear in mind that it is not only in London that this divide is present but also around the country.
from their sister universities. It is unfortunately fact that there has already been a vast change in structure and independence at certain colleges within London (such as GKT (Guy’s, King’s and St. Thomas’) Medical school being renamed King’s Medical School and RUMS (Royal Free, University College and Middlesex) being branded as UCL (University College London) Medical School). What is important to realise, however, is that despite the slow degradation of medical school autonomy with some unions being reduced to a society within the larger university union – this is just a superficial change. At the heart of the societies are passionate and dedicated students, fighting to protect the privileges and history of their hospitals. This undercurrent of student pride is not a force to underestimate. It can be debated that there is a great need separate representation for medics, dentists and other para-medicals. Medical faculties are arguably a special case when compared to other university faculties, not least due to the remnants of autonomy from years gone by. Related to this, there remains vast and numerous differences between healthcare education and other courses. Students in these vocations often have incredibly intensive and long timetables, added responsibilities and expectations and, in many instances, alternative campuses and sporting facilities. Although much talk has been regarding the UH colleges, it is important to bear in mind that it is not only in London that this divide is present but also around the country. In addition, it is fully exemplified by the existence and popularity of NAMS (National Association of Medical Schools) tourna-
ments. Focussing back now to the matter at hand; BUCS’ idea first came to the public eye via a small paragraph embedded in an appendix ahead of their AGM in July 2011. In summary the paragraph stated that: “...BUCS is aware that some HEI’s [Higher Education Institutions] currently permit some schools or departments within HEI’s to compete as individual members despite actually being a formally recognised part of the University (This applies mostly to former medical schools). BUCS will work with those institutions affected by this to remove this anomaly in the coming year with a view to all such arrangements ceasing from 2012...” Knowledge of this potentially dangerous paragraph circulated around students quicker than herpes during Freshers’ Week and before long, many people had got to work to raise awareness and question BUCS on their motives. The resistance included an online petition (which I encourage you all to sign despite it having reached its very humble target of 1000 signatories: www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/apetition-against-the-plannederadication-of-medical-school-sports-t
Within the motion there remains the possibility that within each university, the medical faculty could still compete as a separate entity but they would have to be rebranded under the main university’s name.
eams-by-bucs/3140); input from universities around the country; contact from the ULU (University of London Union) MedGroup and other national institutions such as the RFU (Rugby Football Union). Mark Brian, Head of Sports Programs at BUCS, willingly discussed the issue and informed me that this paragraph was “never meant to be antagonistic”. Therefore, in response to all this communication a decision was made by BUCS to remove this paragraph from the appendix. The paragraph was never intended to be “up for discussion” at the AGM, rather it was a point of clarification. This is certainly comforting; nevertheless, it remains on BUCS’ agenda for change. BUCS’ attention was originally drawn to the ‘anomaly’ of separate teams for related institutes due to a change in
BUCS’ membership plans regarding Further Education (FE) establishments. FE colleges are providers of continuing education which are linked to other Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). The HEIs confer onto the FE the ability to award accredited degrees. The decision was made to allow the FE schools to compete as a separate entity to the HEI that it is linked with. Thus, the overriding question that BUCS poses is whether medical schools should also be allowed to be an exception to the rule. Within the motion there remains the possibility that within each university, the medical faculty could still compete as a separate entity but they would have to be rebranded under the main university’s name. For example, teams from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry could still compete as a separate squad but they would have to take the name of Queen Mary, University of London, for which they are a subset of. It is of my opinion that this would cause great disruption at both campuses. Firstly, in some instances the number of teams would double (there could be around 10 or more “Queen Mary” football teams for example). Ignoring any logistical and
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1
Three key ULU sporting rivalries
For those new to ULU or new to sport, we bring you up to scratch with three of the countless sporting rivalries around. Writer Valeriya Nefyodova
Rivalry between UCL and King’s is one of the longest and the most wellknown across UoL institutions. It is known as “Student Rags” and has been always centered on the respective mascots of the universities. Fortunately, after a century of mascot thefts and kidnapping stories, the rivalry is mostly friendly and most prominent in rugby. The annual Varsity Game for the Jeremy-George shield, named after the founders of UCL and King’s, is a very important event for both institutions. Until 2008, UCL team proudly carried the award home each year, however the winners has been changing annually since then, and King’s is the latest winner of 2011. The award itself changed its appearance after UCL had lost it, so a replacement in the form of the cup was provided. University of Queen Mary (QM) has proven to be another rival for both King’s and UCL throughout the history. The university is especially famous for its attempts to obtain King’s College mascot, with detailed plans and tactics developed in advance. Fortunately, clever King’s’ students chained their mascot in steel to the wall, so QM was left with nothing but slight shame. Another infamous accident for QM was during its football rivalry with UCL, when QM fans prepared some special paint that stayed and couldn’t be easily washed off. To their surprise, the paint didn’t help their
team to win, however brought a sticky nickname for the university: UCL team called for three cheers for the loosing “College of Decorators”. Nowadays, however, football rivalry between the two universities has a friendly character. It is quite dynamic, with different match scores each time, to the delight of the fans and supporters. Another dangerous competitor and rival among London institutions is Imperial College London. Known for its academic excellence, the university is strongly determined to excel in sports as well, even offering free use of all sports facilities for their students. Imperial College Vectors Basketball Team is worth mentioning in particular, these guys compete both in ULU London leagues as well as in BUCS (British Universities and College Sport) Leagues on national level. Both men’s teams and one women’s team are consistently in top 3 in ranks, providing a healthy competition for LSE and Queen Mary basketball teams. Look out for these – and more – throughout the year!
administrative issues with this number of teams, many of the original teams from the main university would have to change their name to accommodate for their medic counterparts who may play at a higher standard. In other words, say the medics’ 1st team played in a higher league than their university cousin, the university team would have to rename themselves a 2nd team and so on and so forth down the rankings. In due course, there may be issues with league standings and promotions. This is due to the fact that firstly, BUCS place caps on 2nd team promotion in certain divisions and would therefore inhibit further progression of certain squads. Secondly, it is not an unrealistic scenario to believe that a 3rd team (say from the main university) improved one year and placed above the 2nd team (from the medical school). This would lead to the rather odd situation of a lower seeded team being placed above their higher seeded squad! Even if these creases were ironed out, there is a lot in a name. Despite being a slippery-slope argument, before long
it is feasible that the autonomy between institutions would slowly decay and the divide would blur. Matters related to this have already been highlighted to have occurred at certain institutes and anything that may speed up this process must surely be ferociously combated. As each year graduates and each new batch of freshers arrive, there is a real fear that without separate banners to play under and defend, the memories and passions of past students would start to dissolve. The best players from either institution may then choose to play for the best team they could get in; even if that did mean leaving their home institution’s squads. Considering sport is one of the biggest arenas for student participation in their union, ultimately this could have far reaching repercussions, not only on the sports teams, but on the colleges as a whole. What is of note is that prior to now, little consultation had occurred between BUCS and the institutions involved to explain either a reason for this move or to find out what effect it may have. It would seem that such a plan would go against BUCS’ vision
Why everyone should join a sports club Writer Matt Ricketts
When you attend a London University Open Day you are sold certain things. The University is rated one of the ‘Top 25 in the world’, our library has every book ever printed, the department you are looking to join is one of the top 2 in the country etc etc. However when you talk to graduates it’s not these things they reach for when describing why their Uni experience was so great. Invariably it is the stuff away from their courses which provided the added value that made University so much more enjoyable than school. For me it was joining a sports Club, Kings College London Hockey Club to be precise. It was the best decision I made in my 3 years at University. Hockey not only meant I remained active and largely avoided the depressing weight gain that seems to accompany the large amounts and alcohol poor diets which form a part of everybody’s fresher year it also brought with it a range of other benefits. Through sport I met many great people most of whom I still considered to be good friends even after leaving University. My flatmates in 2nd and 3rd years were all met via University sport. The opportunity to meet a large number of people with a shared interest and active approach to life so early on when realistically your friendship circle is limited is invaluable. As many freshers will quickly discover Wednesday nights at Uni are great fun. They’re even better if you are part of a sports team who are sponsored by the Club. When you and 30 of your closest friends get given free entry and “to enhance the student experience in three key areas: • • •
Performance Competition Participation”
Firstly, it is not fiction to report that in many instances, the medical school teams play at a higher standard than their sister university squads. This also allows for highly competitive and entertaining varsity matches between clubs which always prove popular events. The possibility of forming a “super team” (i.e. putting the best players from the medical school and the university proper in the same team) would undeniably have potential to increase the performance of the new uber-team, but this move would surely have detrimental effects on the quality and leadership of all the remaining teams. This would also link with detriments to competition and participation in student sport. With potential merge and removal of teams there will be an inevitable loss of opportunity for players to get involved as well as a decrease
complementary drinks it’s a great way to start a night and what follows never fails to live up to the early promise. Events such as Easter and Summer tour, End of Season Dinners and Games against UCL an LSE become fixtures within your calendar looked forward to almost as much as Christmas. The overall experience of sport at university is one of a strong group of mates enjoying all the fun that London has to offer. It is more than simply playing games on a Wednesday afternoon, it’s the nights out afterwards and
the opportunities that University Sport puts your way such as appearing on The Apprentice as KCL Rugby did recently. And when you finally graduate the sporting fun doesn’t end. The Kings College London Association Games taking place on the 8th October are just one example of the type of Alumni sporting events that run throughout the year and are open to sporting alumnus. Sport will only make your Uni experience more fun so get involved.
of quality teams in the BUCS leagues and competitions. Furthermore, a final hammer blow to the value of participation is that some players may choose to abandon the university teams altogether and instead play for local club team – thus missing out on their opportunity to play student sport which is positively a unique experience. In response to these concerns, Mr. Brian is currently in the process of developing a briefing document that is scheduled to be delivered to institutions around the country with the aim to gather feedback and views upon these ideas. He acknowledges that BUCS “is a membership organisation and therefore needs to speak to its members”. This consultation period provides an incredibly important opportunity for the student body to campaign and lobby each university to ensure that BUCS is aware that within this little paragraph is enough kindling to destroy multiple heritages and enough venom to erase the hard work of generations of students and alumni. Although most of this talk is currently just speculation (and some may say
fear mongering), if this plan did go into effect it holds within it the power to have vast reaching impact on students throughout the country whether studying a health related course or not. Although Shakespeare wrote ‘that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet’; I am unsure whether it can be said for sports teams. Let us all, therefore, take an interest so as to ensure that for many Wednedays and weekends to come, we can all continue to pull on those shirts, vests and/or trunks of the clubs we currently hold near and dear.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 1 LONDON STUDENT
Concerns arise over the future of university medical school sport Writer Kaanthan Jawahar
The summer is a quiet time for university sport. This is a stressful time of year for many students around the country, with exams and deadlines to meet. Often the students flee their university after they have concluded for a (well earned) break. This invariably means that sport and other extra-curricular activities take a back seat during the summer months. However, this is far from the case. This ‘off season’ is when governing bodies meet to review the year and make plans for the future. One such meeting is that of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) annual general meeting, which took place in July. BUCS is the main national governing body for competitive sport at UK universities. Institutions enter sides in a variety of sports and compete in their respective leagues and cups, but also for BUCS ‘points’ for their institutions. These points effectively create a national ranking table and provide one of the most valid indicators of sporting excellence at higher education institutions (HEIs). In the run up to the BUCS AGM, the publicised agenda attracted controversy regarding one of the appendices. Appendix 2 discussed a future plan to admit further education institutions (FEIs) into BUCS. This was not the contentious issue – a point of further information in this appendix addressed the ‘anomaly’ of single institutions admitting more than one club in the same sport. For the most part, this refers to the national trend of HEIs allowing their medical schools to enter separate teams from their host institutions. This further point outlined BUCS’ inten-
tions to phase out these ‘anomalies’ from 2012. London medical schools have always been proud of their identity and often attribute themselves to their medical school and not their official host institution. Needless to say that this appen-
King’s to carry Olympic torch Writer Roya Chomez
King’s College London has been selected by Samsung to be one of the 30 UK institutions to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Holly Walsh, VP Student Activities and Facilities at KCLSU, said: “One of my main plans for the year ahead is to utilise the Olympics to the best of our ability here at King’s, using it to engage with more students and the local community.” A total of 8,000 people will bear the
torch in stretches of 300 metres at a time. King’s College London has been invited to nominate one senior staff representative and two student delegates to be Torchbearers in what promises to be one of the most memorable occasions in the country’s recent history. Holly Walsh added: “Nominations are flooding in for people that have ‘gone the extra mile’. If you know a King’s student or staff member that deserves the chance to be part of one of the most momentous sporting occasions in the world, nominate them at www.kclsu.org.
dix met with fierce national opposition from medical students. Within 5 days of this issue coming to light, the use of social networking (a facebook group with 1000+ members) and an e-petition (2500+ signatories) had mobilised a substantial amount of support against
any such proposals. ULU MedGroup (the representative body of the London medical schools) lobbied BUCS to remove the further information of the ‘anomalies’ from the appendix, and a similar stance was adopted by several student unions around the country. BUCS had no choice but to oblige before the AGM took place later that week. However, BUCS have made it clear that in the coming academic year they will hold a consultation process to achieve these mergers from 2012. London medical students were genuinely surprised to see such a powerful governing body suggesting forced mergers. But why is it that this further information point almost found its way into the AGM? The most likely reason for BUCS is that it will (in theory) increase the standard of university sport. This is important for HEIs, and even more so that tuition fees have risen. When choosing a university, prospective students will look at the whole picture, including academics and extra-curricular opportunities. If an institution has a high BUCS ranking, then that is a good indicator of sporting excellence. Thus it is also in the best interests of HEIs to put out their strongest competitive sports teams. So it seems that both BUCS and HEIs should be singing from the same hymn sheet, but it is far from simple to implement this. The reasons against such mergers are vast. The logistics are challenging – bringing together two very different groups of people, travel between campuses, differing social circles, sufficient facilities, traditions etc. The historical and cultural differences also provide barriers. It is possible that some medical schools will simply ignore the merger and compete in other leagues (e.g. NAMS – National Asso-
ciation of Medical Students), effectively negating any potential strengthening of university sides. The notion of doing this simply for BUCS points may also be short sighted. Points brought in by university sides in London are twice that of their respective medical school teams, questioning whether merging will actually increase BUCS points per HEI should the students collaborate. At present, students feel these mergers are undesirable. Implementation is challenging in the long term and nigh on impossible in the short term. So what next? BUCS will conduct this consultation process in the coming academic year. Student Unions must consult with their medical school representatives and agree on an institution-specific course of action. This is certainly not something which London medical schools can implement as early as 2012. The kind of merging that BUCS has proposed will take 10+ years in the case of ULU universities. A start may be to introduce elite university sides that compete in BUCS, drawing on the best talent from medical school and university squads, much like how colleges feed into the university sides at Oxford and Cambridge. However, the popularity and uptake for such sides would be questionable. University sports associations 1919 1923 1962
Inter-Varsity Board of England and Wales holds its first meeting. Women’s Inter-Varsity Board established. British Universities Sports Federation replaces InterVarsity board, though excludes colleges and polytechnics. British Universities Sports Association established. Incorporation of BUCS.