Monday October 10th 2011
In Black and White
Children At War
Is racism still a problem in British society? Page 7
New Turn debate the use of child soldiers in African warfare. Page 14
Barts Restructuring As the medical school looks to save £3 million, it predicts 42 staff will lose their jobs. Page 3
The Newspaper of Queen Mary Students’ Union
The Rundown Remembering Cable Street Hundreds of activists marched through Tower Hamlets to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. p. 2
Barts may lose 42 staff A consultation, commissioned after the HEFCE cuts, recommends that Barts loses 42 staff members. p. 3
Olympic fever sees rents soar Landlords looking to make money from Olympic tourists are raising rents and shortening leases at the expense of local students. p. 3
QMSU accused of bribery QMSU uses the promise of cash prizes to attract more students to its General Meeting. However, some students are not impressed. p. 3
New fee regime could exclude Muslims Increased debt and high interest rates could see Muslim students having to choose between education and religion. p. 6
Students protest at Tory conference QM students travelled to Manchester to join with thousands protesting against Government cuts. p. 6
t’s 7.45 am. The sun casts a shimmer of light over the colonnades of the Queens’ Building and lingering shadows stretch from its columns, creeping like grasping fingers towards the early morning traffic. Professor Simon Gaskell, Principal of Queen Mary (QM), walks, unnoticed, up the driveway of the institution, quietly surveying his kingdom. Described by some staff as the “everyman monarch”, Professor Gaskell is a man who “hates committees” and “the term ‘management’”. He commands definite respect, but in a subtle, almost self-effacing way. He is not what you think of as a university Principal and it’s believable that he doesn’t see himself that way either: “I’ve never planned further ahead than just the job above me,” he says, “there’s no right or wrong way of getting to this job, it’s just the way it happens.” The day starts with emails, Professor Gaskell has two accounts, his public address: principal@ qmul.ac.uk, managed by his personal assistant, and a private account which receives around 30 emails a day. His assistant filters the emails in the Continued on page 4...
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
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Marches continued throughout last week as protesters tried to take over Wall Street. Police used batons and tear gas to try and contain the protesters. The TUC Secretary General met with members of the government during the Conservative Party Conference for talks to try and avoid the strikes planned for the 30th November.
30,000 protesters gathered outside Tory party conference in Manchester last week to protest against government cuts. (Page 6)
QMUL Stop the Cuts and trade unions have complained that there has been a lack of consultation over proposals to make job cuts at the library.
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A QM professor has joined 400 others in signing a letter published in The Telegraph condeming the government’s Health and Social Care Bill.
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Queen Mary has made it into the top 150 of the world’s universities in the Times Higher Education ranking of the best research-led universities in the world.
The CEO of War Child spoke at Queen Mary last week about the need to address the problem of child soldiers being recruited to fight in conflict zones. (Page 14)
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QM scientists have carried out a study that suggest that specific facial characteristics can be applied to certain MPs that identify their party.
The world’s cheapest tablet computer has been released in India for £23 in an attempt to improve the education system there.
By Kaamil Ahmed Images by: Syria Protest by Syrian Freedom (Flickr) Occupy Wall Street by Paul Stein (Flickr) Busking for War Child by LexnGer (Flickr)
There are concerns that an armed movement could begin in Syria as protesters give up on diplomacy after UN failed to pass a resolution against the Assad regime.
The PLO have questioned Tony Blair’s effectiveness as the Middle East peace envoy, accusing him of looking after the interests of Israel more than the Palestinians.
East End activists remember Battle of Cable Street Kaamil Ahmed Hundreds of activists marched through Tower Hamlets to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street last week. Members of numerous groups, including RMT union, Unison, the Altab Ali Foundation and numerous socialist and communist groups, as well as seasoned anti-Fascism campaigners were at the demonstration.
“I think it’s really inspiring that hundreds of Londoners are coming together together to mark the 75th anniversary of when tens of thousands of Londoners came together, Socialist, the Jewish community and others to stop the Fascists, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts from marching on our communities,” said Owen Jones. “At a time when the far right are back on the march I think its more important than ever to mark this single good act as a warning from the past.”
“It’s a fantastic event with great unity between all different communities, all different faiths and none,” said Rania Khan, councillor for Bromley by Bow, “I think this is the real Tower Hamlets.” “We need to be just as strong as we were 75 years ago, because the tide has slightly turned to Islamophobia and towards Muslims and there’s a lot to learn.” Protesters assembled on Leman Street, near Aldgate East
station, before marching towards Cable Street, following the historic route that protesters took when they halted Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts attempt to enter Tower Hamlets - which had a large Jewish community at the time. Events celebrating the Battle of Cable Street and other anti-fascist movements that were based in East London, are running throughout the month at different venues in Tower Hamlets.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Barts consultation says 42 staff should go
Union offers students cash prizes for attending meetings
A consultation carried out by Barts School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) earlier this year has suggested that 42 jobs should be cut. The consultation was commissioned following the cuts to higher education, NHS and research funding. The recommendations are expected to save £3 million through infrastructure, admin and space cuts. Prior to the cuts, SMD enjoyed a budget surplus. However, the consultation predicts that without these cuts, SMD would be in a £4.35 million deficit by 2013/14 and even with the cuts, would still run at a deficit. Ross Spear, from Stop the Cuts, believes “the long term solution has to hinge around a political solution nationally,” and that “QM absolutely should be playing a bigger role in saving jobs.” SMD has already run a cost reduction programme that has saved 5% in core institutes and
QMSU has been accused of bribery for offering students attending the Union General Meeting on October 10 the chance to win prizes. Students attending the meeting will receive a raffle ticketupon entry. At the end of the meeting, a prize-draw will take place. QMSU is offering a first prize of £25 cash, with smaller cash prizes and QM merchandise for runners up. “While I’m all for increasing engagement,” said Mile End Campaigns Officer Ozzy Amir, “cash prizes sound a little desperate when other options haven’t yet been exhausted. The union needs to address the endemic problem of disinterest in a more proactive way rather than simply bribing students to show up to events.” In a poll of students conducted Library Square, 35% said they would like to attend the meeting and 60% said they would attend when told about the chance to win cash prizes. 65% of respondents did not know that a union meeting was planned. Concerning the claim the union is bribing students, QMSU President Sophie Richardson said: “I think it’s a shame if people do see it like that, because what we’re trying to do is engage with as many different students as possible and encourage as many people as possible to come to the meeting and have a say, and actively participate in the democratic functions of the union.” “We’ve got a plan of action,” said Richardson, “we’ll be flyering at social events at halls of residence in Mile End, Whitechapel and Charterhouse Square. We’ve been out on campus flyering, talking to students about the kind of motions on the agenda. Hopefully that will provoke a reaction from them and they’ll come to the meeting and voice that.” A UGM requires 120 members to be present to meet quorum (the minimum number of people required to conduct business). Though last year’s UGM was attended by 157 students, previous meetings have often failed to reach quorum. The UGM runs from 7-10pm on October 10 in Arts Two Lecture Theatre.
A consultation commissioned by Barts recommends cutting 42 staff in a bid to plug the funding get created by HEFCE cuts. Image courtesy of QMUL Press Office. the Biological Services Unit is now fully funded by research, removing the burden from SMD. Any further “suggestions made by staff will be considered by the School’s management team at the conclusion of the consultation process.” Students can direct comments and questions to Professor Anthony Warrens. “The loss of so many staff will naturally be a concern
for students.” commented George Ryan, President of Barts and The London Student Association. However, the College insists that: “Whatever changes result from the consultation, it is the School’s firm intention that educational standards will not only be maintained, indeed we continue to strive to look for improvements.” Speer said: “What were these 42 people doing before?
Presumably they weren’t being paid to stand around.” Remaining staff will be assessed on three tier selection criteria. Failure to satisfy any of the three can lead to staff being deemed redundant. A previous consultation in the summer said that QMUL should make 26 redundancies from the library. Conducted from April to June 2011, the review is open for consultation until 26th October.
Students pay as Olympic fever sees rents soar Arine Osman Landlords looking to make easy money from the influx of Olympic tourists are raising rent prices as well as shortening leases at the expense of local students. According to Foxtons estate agents in Shoreditch, East London, landlords are now increasingly short letting rather than long letting their properties at 5 to 6 times their original rate. Agents are warning against this sort of behavior due to the volatility of the housing market. They instead advise landlords to secure a tenant for at least 2 years so that they do not suffer the drop in demand for housing in the post-Olympic period. This deal would initiate fairer renting prices for students but is not proving popular with landlords and homeowners. Foxtons reports that in the past 30 days their company has received 73 properties, which will all be rented on the short term. A Foxtons agent said: “You
can’t give [a student] much advice, it’s going to be expensive prices and the market isn’t going to change any time soon, students are going to have to bite the bullet.” University of London Housing Services (ULHS) do not believe that the Olympics are the sole reason for the increase in rent, as prices have been growing steadily for the past year. A spokesperson said: “There is anxiety with some landlords expecting they can cash in [on the Olympics] but it is unlikely that will be the case.” Many London councils including Tower Hamlets are looking to crack down on irresponsible landlords and homeowners who will be renting their properties at high prices during the Olympics. People renting out their properties privately for a maximum of 90 days may have to apply for planning permission or face being charged with a £20,000 fine. It is debatable whether this proposal will be successful due to the time it will take councils to inform all property owners
of this new law as well as examining each case individually. Rejected planning permissions can also be appealed which would delay a case for a minimum of 6 months. None of this is good news for Queen Mary students, who this year faced their toughest challenge yet trying to find fair priced accommodation close to campus. This includes a record number of first years who have not been offered campus accommodation due to an increase in demand which the Residential Services have been unable to cope with. “The Olympics has been the overriding factor in pushing house prices in an area where housing is already is beyond limited capacity,” said third year English and Linguistics student Shafi Musaddique. “With new properties being created in Stratford, I think landlords are looking for young city types to be the next wave into the East End. That means that students will have extra competition.” Barbara Ashcroft, Housing Services Manager here at QM,
said “Since London was announced as the Olympic host city property prices have increased. The knock on effect is that fewer landlords are considering purchasing ‘buy to let’ properties and fewer young professionals will be getting on the property ladder as first time buyers. They will choose to remain in the rental market, meaning there will be fewer rental properties in circulation. Also, we cannot underestimate the impact of the inmigration of the Olympic construction workers, peaking at over 12,000 in January, competing with students for affordable rentals in the private housing market.” University of London Housing Services do not provide emergency accommodation as “universities have to balance the books and make money,” which would not be the case if rooms were kept empty. Students will have to find comfort in the ULHS’s comments that “London is big enough to find housing,” even if that means having to commute to campus.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
"Because you're on show you can' of trust between the executive and council, sometimes it’s an ...continued from page 1. outcome rather than a cause, former, replying or forward- but it’s always intertwined.” ing the messages not relevant to the Principal. “That cuts out INSTABILITY 80 to 90 percent of emails” he explains, “it works well as it The meeting is punctuated at doesn’t rely on my modest file- 8.40 am by the first coffee of keeping skills. I try and set aside the day. Gaskell and Curtis cona few hours a week for emails sider how the changes in Higher but there isn’t always time. Be- Education are impacting QM’s fore I went on vacation I got my ability to plan ahead. “The govinbox down to five messages, ernment, in its infinite wisdom, now it’s five pages.” has introduced huge instability into the sector,” the Principal HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS explains. Previously, QM has been able to predict the number Dean Curtis, Chief Administra- of new students, and the associtive Officer, strides in for the ated income, to within a margin first meeting of the day. They of two percent each year. Howdiscuss whether QM should ever, as QM recruits between 30 join UCLPartners, one of the and 35 percent AAB students, UK’s five accredited academic and under the new system instihealth science systems. A part- tutions can recruit an unlimited nership between universities number of students with these and NHS Trusts, it seeks to grades, QM could theoretically convert cutting-edge medi- see a drop in recruitment up cal research into treatments. to this number. “We’re modelProfessor Gaskell says that it ling for a number of scenarios,” makes sense for QM to join, Gaskell explains, “the worst of but that there are questions to which is for a decrease in stube asked: “Do we really want dents of 20 percent - it’s not goto join big, bad UCL next door, ing to happen, but the finance will they overwhelm us with committee were taken aback to their size?” The choice we have, say the least at the fact we were Gaskell explains, is, “be in the even modelling for it.” partnership and run the risk of Different departments in people disagreeing with us and Queen Mary perform at differbeing outvoted, or not being in ent standards says Gaskell: “For the partnership and definitely Law, we demand AAA from apnot getting what we want.” plicants, so if we started acceptCollege Council, the govern- ing AAB students we could have ing body of QM, will make the them queuing out the door. On decision of whether to join on the other hand, take bio-mediTuesday. Professor Gaskell cal science, the course currently muses, “It’s a major alliance. has a lot of AAB students, but Does Council really have the they tend to come to us through authority to say yes or no to clearing because they didn’t this? I’m not certain but I manage to get into an instituwouldn’t want to challenge it, tion that requires AAA. Under it would be foolish not to carry the new system this university them with us.” Gaskell is at- could just decide to accept the tending the annual dinner for AAB students and then they those Councillors not working would never get to us. Equally, within Higher Education this if we take AAB students into law, evening, a function aimed at we’re screwing someone else.” bringing them up to speed with developments within HE and PUBLIC FACES QM’s plans for the coming year. Professor Gaskell knows not Curtis quickly bustles out, himto waste this opportunity, “I’ll self a busy man, and Gaskell be lobbying them hard,” he ex- ushers in Kevin Kumar, his plains. executive officer. Kumar is the Professor Gaskell sees the re- Principal’s way of overcoming lationship between himself and the “inertia” caused by a blank Council as a very important sheet of paper. “Kevin and I will one: “If you look at those uni- sit down and I’ll say we need a versities that have gotten into Principal’s update on dot dot trouble over the last five years, dot and we’ll talk about that, it has always been because and then Kevin will go and write there has been a breakdown it in my style and I’ll then edit it
Words by Sam Creighton
Professor Simon Gaskell, Principal of Queen Mary, took up the position in 2009. Prior to this h chester and has lectured in chemisty at universities in the UK and US. Image by Sam Creighton. and change it.” “I see my job as making Simon more productive,” Kumar explains, “I help with these jobs so he can focus on the really key things.” Gaskell concurs, saying: “The real danger of this job is that important things can get crowded out.” Kumar exits the office, his todo list considerably longer. The time is 9.31 am. An appointment at Charterhouse Square means travelling to Barbican. “I find travelling provides valuable time for thinking,” Gaskell says. Delayed by the tube, he is running behind schedule and jogs from the tube to the campus. He is booked in to give a short speech at the induction for the university’s new intake of PhD students. He says he is proud of the “rather long shelf” of theses in his office representing his former students, and seeks to emphasise the place of a PhD student at QM. “Your work will con-
tribute hugely to the research status of this university. The job of myself and your adviser is to ensure that your appropriately egocentric aim, to get your PhD, is aligned with the broader aims of the research group, the school and the university.” With the speech over the Principal rushes back to Mile End. The time is 11.07 am. FILLING TIME The Principal is informed that the staff open meeting he had been preparing for in the morning with Kumar is not going to take place today. The date that has been confirmed with staff is November 1. “It’s frustrating,” he says, “there must have been two candidate dates and one was confirmed to me and a different one to staff.” Immediately, Kumar is in the office to fill the gaps with other business. “If a meeting is ever cancelled, I tend to leave it in the
diary,” says Gaskell, “it provides time to sort out other things that there wouldn’t otherwise be time for.” A respite in the pace of the day allows for smaller tasks like emails. At 11.52 am Wendy Appleby, head of the Academic Secretariat, and George Foden, Corporate Events Manager, arrive for a post-mortem of the year’s graduation ceremonies over a lunch of sandwiches. “It went very well,” Gaskell smiled, “the only things that need thought from the guests’ points of view, I think, are the queuing and the officiousness of the blue coats.” This was confirmed by a survey sent to all 2,000 students who graduated this summer, with a response rate of 25%, that returned only these two areas as points for concern. Foden suggests having a QM security presence at the venue during the winter graduations, so that there are people “with
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
't even be grumpy if you want to"
tions, the second and final engagement replacing the staff meeting. Gaskell is being filmed for The One Show later that day on the subject of honorary degrees and Nettle refreshes his memory on the process by which candidates are chosen and the differences between honorary degrees and fellowships. “We don’t believe in just picking some celebrity,” Gaskell says, “we’ve never given an honorary degree to someone who hasn’t a great intellect.” They also discuss their “big project”, a new push to increase the amount donated by alumni to the university’s annual fund. This new campaign will involve both a direct mail letter sent to over 70,000 QMUL graduates worldwide as well as a more targeted phone bank. Letters asking permission to telephone will be sent to 5,000 individuals who are either regular donors who haven’t given this year, former donors who have not given for an extended period of time, people who have contacted the College after graduation to update their contact details, a selection of people who have signed up to receive the alumni newsletter and a small sample of randomly selected alumni who had not interacted at all with the College since graduation. The main target group is those over 50 and Nettle predicts that he was Vice-President for Research at the University of Manout of the 5,000 letters, 4,000 will give permission to be conQM heads on” to deal with situ- terested parties. There is also a tacted, 2,000 will actually be ations on the day. He is also lengthy discussion surrounding contactable and then 300 will pushing for the venue, Central the preferred use of the comma actually donate. The drive will Hall in Westminster, to give QM in the name of the university. take place between November the power to send home ush- There are clear rules around 11 and December 13 and will be ers who act in an inappropriate this regarding the publishing carried out by 35 student staff. manner. The group discussed of academic work, as the autothe need for better communi- matic citation technology that ON SHOW cation in the preparation of fu- measures the number of times ture ceremonies and also how to research by QM academics is The discussion turns to the make sure people stop on stage referenced, producing the data three alumni trips planned for when receiving their award to used to rank institutions on this the coming year, one to North allow both for photography and criteria, picks up a comma as an America, one to the Far East also to respect the ceremony of end to the name of the institu- and one to India. These trips the event. The meeting wraps tion. This means that Queen are “exhausting” says Gaskell, up at 12.47 pm. Mary, Barts and The London, “the problem is that I’m away for University of London, as well a couple of weeks and you can’t BIG PLANS as individual research institutes be uncontactable for a couple are all represented separately of weeks, so you end up doing Sally Webster, Deputy Director on the tables, thus bringing the emails at weird and unusual of Communications, is the first institutions ranking down con- times and because you’re on of the two meetings organised siderably. However, the deci- show you can’t even be grumpy to fill the gap left by the aborted sion was made that in College if you want to. It’s important staff meeting. She talks the Prin- marketing, for now at least, the though, not just for financial cipal through the developments comma is here to stay. The time reasons, you get important in the stakeholder relations pro- is 1.34 pm. feedback and alumni can be terject which aims to increase the Sally Webster is immediately rific assets.” levels with which the College replaced at the desk by Susan Gaskell is informed that the disseminates information to in- Nettle, Head of Alumni Rela- camera crew from The One
Show has arrived and he quickly exits to get ready. “He’s so nice,” Susan Nettle whispers in his absence, “when you’re shaking hands with 150 different alumni a day it’s very easy to get frustrated, my job could be so much more difficult if someone other than Simon was in the post.” Nettle is almost run over by cameras and floodlights as she leaves the room and within minutes the Principal’s office has been transformed into a makeshift television studio. The time is 2.06 pm. Arthur Smith, of Grumpy Old Men fame, is the interviewer, light-heartedly quizzing Gaskell on the merit of honorary degrees. The Principal’s shirt is deemed too flamboyant and he quickly changes it to a more traditional white, this is followed by a frantic search for a pair of QM cufflinks. GLOBAL DEBATES
ideas. Last year, the organisation poured over £100 million into the higher education sector around the world. “I’m fascinated by your comments about internationalisation,” says Gaskell, “it’s a particular hobby-horse of mine. I think internationalisation is vital for a successful university. We are currently developing new relationships in China, and Brazil is also high up on our priority list.” “This sounds like a club we should be in,” says Ogden. Gaskell agrees: “I think this is terrifically exciting and I’m very anxious to take it forward.” With a preliminary agreement struck and another meeting rearranged for next week, Santander leave. The time is 4.45 pm. WRAPPING THINGS UP Only one task now keeps Gaskell in the office, a phone conversation with his last remaining student. A professor of chemistry, Gaskell has supervised numerous PhD students but he gave up teaching when he became a Principal: “It’s not realistic to give a course, it wouldn’t be fair to students. When I became Vice-Principal in Manchester I was initially determined to carry on teaching a few undergrad courses, which I did, but because my schedule was so busy and constantly changing, it wasn’t fair on students to have their lessons changed so far into the year.” However, this last student, doing her PhD part-time while working for GlaxoSmithKline, has Gaskell seeing her through to her theses’ completion. He spends half an hour on the phone before leaving to meet the College Council for dinner. The time is 5.15 pm. “I have evening commitments pretty much every night Monday to Thursday, so I get home about half ten to eleven. I usually get Friday and weekend nights off though, although recently they have been full too.” Tomorrow he starts at 7.30 am with a breakfast meeting in Borough Market with Richard Trembarth, the new Vice-Principal for Health, the only mutually free time they can find in their busy schedules. “No two days are ever the same,” says Gaskell, “it’s what I love most about the job.”
Take after take sees both Gaskell and Smith regurgitating questions and answers almost verbatim. They strike an easy rapport, cracking jokes between takes, with Gaskell riposting Smith’s comical jibes and several times leaving the comedian stumped. After over an hour, Smith leaves, with enough footage for a 90 second interview segment. The time is 3.10 pm. A 20 minute break sees Gaskell back on the computer until representatives from Santander Universities are ushered into the room. The Principal is joined by Senior Vice-Principal, Phillip Ogden, for what he describes as “a long overdue meeting.” Luis Juste, Director UK and Portugal for Santander Universities, explained the rationale behind Santander setting up this philanthropic branch 15 years ago: “We were growing so much, it was about time to give back to society. We looked at defence, health, many things, but we realised that the best thing we could do is invest in the future and to do that we need to invest in education. I don’t know who is going to be the next Prime Minister of the UK, but I do know that he is somewhere sitting in a university classroom.” Santander has built a global network of universities, including 50 UK institutions, helping pair them for joint projects Make sure you attend the student open and to bankroll innovative meetings on 24th and 27th October.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Higher tuition fees could stop Muslims going to uni
Queen Mary students join protests against coalition cuts Max Burman
Kaamil Ahmed The new higher tuition fees that will be introduced by universities across the country next year could create a barrier for young Muslims wanting to go into higher education. The issue of how to pay for university fees without building up large debts, and having to pay interest, already concerns many in the Muslim community, but the worries have increased since the government announced its new plans for univeristy funding. Under the new system which will be introduced for students beginning university in the 2012/2013 academic year, fees will be tripled and a new student loans system will be introduced that will mean that students have to pay an interest rate above inflation. This has led to some students looking for alternatives to taking out a student loan, which they have to pay interest on, something that is not allowed in Islam. 1st Ethical, a charity that helps Muslims in the United Kingdom deal with the financial and legal
aspects of their religion, has recently highlighted the problem and has advised Muslims on what their alternatives are. “With the devastating decision to introduce such expensive tuition fees coupled with rising living costs across the board, the inability to access thousands of pounds a year will clearly impact the Muslim community in a major way,” said Abu Eesa, a Strategic Director at the charity. “No doubt some will turn to part time courses instead and work part time, or indeed take a few years out and earn enough before they apply again for full time study. The more fortunate will have to ask family and friends to bear some of the burden with personal loans, but there is no doubt that all students, not just Muslims, will suffer under these new changes in higher education.” Taufiq Ali, a final year history student, works part time to pay off his fees instead of taking the student loan, but said that he thinks he would struggle to pay off £9,000 a year. “At the moment paying for my fees myself means having to be able to raise a little over £400 a month through work. On the
national minimum wage, that means working at least 22 hours per week, leaving around £100 spare for travel and other costs,” said Ali. “I couldn’t begin to imagine how many hours I would have to work to pay off £9,000, this would mean triple the work and three times less focus on my studies.” The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), which gives support to Muslim students, claimed in a statement in August that the new loan scheme, which includes paying a rate of interest above inflation, will increase educational inequalities. In the statement FOSIS said: “It is clear this issue mostly affects Muslim students, who as a British faith group already have the lowest level of university graduates and the highest levels of unemployment.” “The government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have been in discussions with various parties including The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), National Union of Students, 1st Ethical Charitable Trust and Al Qalam Shariah Scholar Panel to explore whether it is pos-
sible to devise an alternative to the new interest bearing loan based scheme.” “I would probably look into learning a skill or craft through an apprenticeship as it would be too high a price to pay both financially and morally for a £9,000 degree,” said Taufiq Ali. “I would be put off by a £9,000 a year fee regardless of my faith or views on usury, as it may not even be worth it in the end.” “Unless the Muslim community comes together to set up some infrastructure or system to help their youth pay for university in a halal manner, I think the issue of student loans will increasingly just be swept under the carpet and accepted as an inconvenient fact of life, more so than it is now.” According to the National Union of Students (NUS) it is likely to take at least two years for an alternative system to be set up to cater for Muslim students though there is opposition to the idea from right-wing political organisations. In 2004 FOSIS made a similar attempt to pressure the government into introducing an alternative system but the move was unable to gather enough moment.
Queen Mary students joined 30,000 anti-cuts activists who travelled to Manchester last weekend to protest at the Conservative Party conference. The demonstration was organised by the TUC as a rally for “the alternative – jobs, growth, justice” in opposition to the coalition’s public sector cuts. Though the mood was generally described as good-natured, campaigners maintained the seriousness of their action. “A trip to Manchester is the least I can do to fight back against the austerity measures that are hitting our class worldwide,” said Ross Speer, of QMUL Stop the Cuts. “The mood amongst the student block was very much that they were back and just as angry at what is happening as they were last year. People know they can win when they fight together.” Speer stressed that government cuts were having a direct impact on the Queen Mary community. “Spending cuts are directly affecting us at Queen Mary. One hundred job losses have already been announced, split between Barts and the London and the Queen Mary Library. “The library is already not fit for requirements, cutting staff from it will reduce the quality of work of the remaining staff (as they will have to do more work for the same amount of pay) so will directly and quite drastically harm library provision for students; which is a service absolutely instrumental to the quality of education. “Every student at Queen Mary and Barts should be incredibly worried about the future quality of their education, especially at a time when next year students will be asked to pay 3 times more than they do currently.” Activists at Queen Mary have said that they will bring up the issue at the Student Union’s Union General Meeting which will be taking place on Monday 10th October in the Arts Two Lecture Theatre. Britain’s largest three Trades Unions are planning a co-ordinated strike action for November 30th, though it remains to be seen what impact the action will have in the battle to reverse the government’s cuts.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Is racism still a problem in British society? You (Should) Get What You Pay For With fees set to rise to up to £9000 a year, its not just Muslim students who are worried about financing their university career. Taufiq Ali summed it up perfectly – fees that high will put off students regardless of their faith, because in the current economic climate a job isn’t guaranteed at the end of their degree. Debt isn’t an attractive prospect for anyone, but for Muslims it actively contradicts the doctrines of their faith. Muslim students are often having to take on hours of low level paid work just to afford a degree that will only hopefully get them some high level paid work. Why should they have to work three times harder come September? Studies shouldn’t suffer because of the need to pay for them. If we have to work harder, then so should universities. A hike in fees should also come with a hike in student services, contact time, library provisions and the quality of academic staff. Whether this will happen remains to be seen, and in the meantime students should be wringing every last drop of employability from their Students’ Union, be that from their student media, clubs or societies. Cuts to HE budgets mean that we will all be getting less for our money, and students for whom that money is hard earned, that will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Not So Bad Afterall Being involved in the student movement tends to skew one’s views. You can end up feeling that university management consists of ghoulish relics of the bourgeoisie, intent on sacking lecturers and then probably killing some kittens. However, after prolonged exposure we can now attest that at Queen Mary at least, we can be sure that even if we don’t always agree with the decisions of the senior executive, they are the kind of people who are willing to listen, to engage and to debate. The article on the day with the Principal reveals that there are exciting, if maybe uncertain, days ahead for Queen Mary and we should be happy with who we have steering the ship.
Kamilla Baiden Whenever racism is declared as no longer a problem, I literally laugh my arse off, and then get extremely worried. Racism is not something that can be erased within a few generations. It is not something that can be killed, buried and forgotten about- even though we would all like it to. Thankfully, we have moved away from the norm of the British Empire. A norm of extrovertly racist mindsets, exacerbated through the slave trade. Stereotypes were created, and founded on the one fundamental difference – skin colour. There is nothing biologically inherent to say that one race should have dominion over another – it was merely created and exercised to allow one race to dominate. Law in Britain abolished slavery in 1833 – less than 200 years ago. Imagine, in good old, tolerant, multicultural Britain had people walking around in chains- based on the colour of their skin. But, we have moved away from the days of chains. We have become compassionate, tolerant and most importantly, multicultural. It is now socially unacceptable, to be racist, but that does not mean that ignorant people do not exist in Britain. It is unacceptable to make racial slurs publicly, but what about in the private space of one’s home – or more importantly their mind? The rise in immigration, the failing economy, the European Union, has made racism become increasingly linked to a fear. A fear of terrorism, a fear of losing your job to an Eastern European worker, contributing to a sense xenophobia across the country, even more so in certain areas.
Does that make all people who feel this way racist? The English dictionary defines ‘racism’ as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” People always generate ideas about a person before they even know them – that’s what humans do. You judge a person as soon as you see them – and because a person’s race or gender is the most immediate feature – it is inevitable that you will judge and make assumptions about them based on preconceived ideas. The event, which sealed the fact that racism still existed in the UK, was the summer riots. Why was it assumed by a large number of people that the majority of the rioters were black or youths? Just because hoods are mainly associated with an ‘urban’ culture does not mean it is necessarily a black only culture. Many people blamed the Afro-Caribbean culture for the causes of the riots. Does that mean you assume the whole of that race and culture to behave like the minority who were looting? I could then apply the same flawed logic to any white male I see with a shaved head – does that mean all white males with shaved heads are racist thugs? Applying the same prejudice logic, based on a flawed set of ignorant beliefs isn’t exactly promoting a harmonious, multicultural, tolerant society. Racism still applies in Britain today, you just have to watch David Starkey’s take on the riots, there was nothing different about his views than the views in the British Empire and he was not alone in his views either. Racism is still more alive than ever – just hidden well.
lic of its prejudices. In his controversial statement he announced that although Britain may have become less racist our overall cultural values have seen little improvement. And in many ways he is right – British society has swapped racism for culturalism. In the twenty first century people are more likely to be negatively stereotyped for their culture rather than their race. Although many did not agree with Starkey’s bigotry, his later comments on the dangers of the hip-hop culture struck a chord among the British public. It is no longer an intolerance of skin colour which per-
There’s no doubt that racism still exists in British society – only a few weeks ago a British man allegedly yelled racist slurs towards the singer Kelis at a Spanish airport. However, if you are to look at the characteristics of racism today in comparison to those 40 years ago, it is possible to see how blatant racism has become far less acceptable. David Starkey’s recent outburst on the London riots is a perfect embodiment of racism from decades past. The response to Starkey’s Newsnight appearance, however, was a far more modern one. British society was horrified by his xenophobia. For the majority of British citizens, racism is not something to be endorsed or associated with. In 2001 only 2% of the population in the British Isles held self reported prejudices, 23% claimed to hold a few prejudices and 73% had no self reported prejudices. In the recent Runnymede vades the British psyche, more Trust Race Debate Prospect’s a narrowmindedness to difEditor David Goodheart used fering cultures. We are judged these figures to argue a sig- on the music we listen to, the nificant closure of the racial things we read and even the divide in the past years. Al- clothes we wear. though self-reported figures Who can forget the infaare not completely reliable mous “hoodie” debate which there can be no doubt that branded any shoppers wearBritain is progressing towards ing hooded tops as criminals a liberal and equal society. or even worse – chavs. This We are by no means cured ‘Bluewater debacle’ instantly of racism, but racial prejudice demonised the young workseems to be becoming a char- ing class, branding their exacteristic of communities de- pression of identity as inferivoid of diversity rather than or. What’s worse, this bias was the social norm. In cosmopol- and still is, actively encouritan London we are immersed aged by the mass media. in a multitude of races, resultRacism is no longer the maing in less ignorance and few- jor problem plaguing British er instances of racism. society; there is a new intolerFor John Cleese, however, a ance penetrating Britain and rise in multiculturalism has all too often it is accepted and done little to dislodge the pub- supported by the masses.
Racial prejudice is becoming a characteristic of communities devoid of diversity rather than the social norm.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCOTBER 10 2011
Student speakers captivate the annual Labour Party conference
Ed Milliband addresses the Labour conference. He performed much more adeptly than his critics thought he would. Image by courtesy of The Labour Party (via Flickr cc) sire to get the economy growing again. They felt that sticking to an economic plan which is very The Labour Party Conference in flawed is worse than suggesting Liverpool last week marked Ed a change. Of course, now the exMiliband’s first year as Labour act state of the economy is beleader. coming more apparent. Many saw the conference as The Guardian called Ed’s a test for Ed, an opportunity speech “the most radical […] deto silence his critics by laying livered by a Labour leader for a out substantial policy plans, a generation”. Ed attacked the irchance to prove to the party that responsibility of bankers and he deserved the victory over his vested interests of the corpobrother David, and above all, a rate world, rigged markets, enway of showing the electorate ergy conglomerates and compahe is a Prime Minister-in-wait- nies “powerful enough they can ing and can take Labour forward. get away with anything.” In doTo people, both in and out of ing so, he hopes to bring about the conference, he performed better than anticipated. Certainly, the frank apologies for the mistakes of the Labour government and a genuine desire to usher in a new era of responsibility went down well. I spoke to a number of Liverpudlians outside the confer- a “new economy”, ditching the ence: cab drivers, builders and old rules: backing producers waiters, who all spoke of their against predators, wealth credisenfranchisement with politi- ators against assets strippers, cians, in particular with the Con- real engineering instead of fiservative-led coalition. Yet they nancial engineering. were largely impressed by Ed’s The enthusiasm and passion honesty, his strength in dealing with which Ed spoke took some with the Murdochs, and his de- by surprise. Before, they said, he
enthusiasm “ The and passion of
Ed’s speech took some by surprise.
had come over as shy, and had never really seemed a strong contender for Prime Minister. Now it seems he is beginning to step up to the challenge, despite lacking Blair’s charisma. Yet for all its strengths, Ed’s speech did not spell out the party’s policies in the way critics, and indeed, many Labour members, would have liked it to. From the whole conference, only a couple of main policies were outlined. One is a cap on tuition fees at £6,000 per annum to “ease the debt burden on students.” Ed stated that Labour would fund the reduced cap by scrapping the government’s planned cut in corporation tax for financial services and increasing the interest rate on the loans of the highestearning graduates. He said Labour’s intention was to ease the pressure on the squeezed middle, and also generate the idea of the British promise, the concept that the next generation should do better than their parents. He said the policy was part of his plan to “change the way our country works” and end the “short-term, fast-buck economy.” Also captivating the confer-
ence and grabbing headlines with their speeches were two students, Rory Weal and Helena Dollimore. Sixteen year old Rory gave a passionate speech attacking the cuts targeting young people, for which he received a standing ovation. He told the conference he first became involved in pol-
are be“ Students ing abandoned halfway through their courses.
itics after his family home was repossessed when his mother struggled to find work. He said he owed his “entire well-being to the welfare state”, which is being “ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious right-wing government”. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net,” Rory said. “So I take this opportunity to plead with the government to reconsider their measures. Their measures for young people, which will divide a generation and seriously threaten the British promise that Ed Miliband has spoken about, where one generation
does better than the last”. A-level student Helena Dollimore told the conference how she had to teach herself chemistry because of the cuts to education. She said the coalition’s cuts were appalling and were having a devastating impact on children across the country. She went on to accuse the government of “stealing the future of the next generation”. Speaking at her first conference, Helena informed delegates her college is set to lose £1,000 per student by 2014. Schools, she stated, are making teachers redundant, leading to bigger classes, with around 25 students in an A-level lesson being common. She said: “Subject choice is being restricted, with less popular but nonetheless crucial subjects being cut. Students are being abandoned halfway through their A-level courses. I am 17 and I have to self-teach the second year of my chemistry A-level because of these cuts”. Both Rory and Helena’s speeches stood out because they echo the concerns of so many disaffected students around the country at this time.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Comment A rise in fares for disgusting tubes will eat further into student loans where all underground lines England and the USA should be ran a good service. And for capable of maintaining cheap that we had to pay more of our fares for commuters. student loans or wages. Please, Mr. Johnson still has a lot to Students in London often face Boris Johnson, can you not at learn – Japan have an efficient money issues due to living in least make underground trains method of public transport, one of the most expensive cities a 24 hour service? providing clean and regular in the world. While many run their loans Forgetting about the irregular dry paying for nights out, service, delays and signal gym membership, food and failures, the underground accommodation – it is frequently (more so than the overground) forgotten that a major factor for is always packed to the extent money shortages is actually the that people are in horrible incredible amount of money conditions; sweating or on the spent on transport. the services are even worse? verge of fainting during peak Of course we all know there Has the Jubilee line ever not times. And they have to pay were tremendous rises for the had a delay or signal failure? higher off-peak fares. This is cost of travel, some travel cards From April 2010 to April 2011, alongside the appalling hygiene. services for commuters. Not increasing by about 18%, while there was only one day in May Developed countries like only that, but if trains are late,
others had risen up to 74%. This hit London as a shock in January. Why should we have to pay these high prices when
should we “ Why have to pay these
“Developed countires should
high prices when the services are worse?
be capable of maintaining cheap fares
the commuters get their money back, and a receipt to show their work, school or university that they had a valid reason for their lateness. Imagine that in London... Fares are set to rise again before next year, by over 7%. It seems London is currently in an awkward position of allowing tube drivers to strike, raising their pay and in turn raising our fares, while commuters will have to continue using these services as it is the only feasible mode of transport in the city. It is ridiculous, not only for us students, but for any commuter. We do not deserve this.
UK universities need to The frenzied imperialism of the Daily foster a culture of giving Mail kicks off as the BBC goes metric A.C. Grayling’s announcement of the opening of the New College of the Humanities earlier this year caused widespread anger, mainly from the Left. But Grayling has the right idea. The American model is what the British system needs. The Ivy League can charge fees of up to $36,000 for tuition alone, with a fully inclusive year at Harvard costing around $60,000 (£38,000). This compares with around £12,000 for a decent standard of living at a London university. However, Harvard offers financial aid to 70%. Every year, students from families with a combined income of around £35,000 are not expected to pay a cent for their education. Queen Mary only offers up to £1,500 a year bursaries, and even then only for students with a maximum combined household income of £42,600. For bright students from across the globe, the US system is a generous offer, considering the prestigious reputation, impeccable job prospects and unbeatable facilities. How is the American system able to support this? It has roots in civic pride: the idea that alumni, grateful for what the university has done for them, will express that appreciation in the form of a financial gift. This system encourages the university to provide a better experience, and ensures that the money comes rolling in. Endowment funds are big business – former Wall Street executives are routinely put in charge
and approximately 63 universities stateside had endowments totalling more than $1bn in 2010; Harvard alone had $27.5bn. In contrast, Britain hosts just one billion dollar endowment, Cambridge, and only after a gigantic fundraising appeal. Queen Mary had just £36 million in 2006. One thing to be garnered from these statistics is that Americans are more generous. British students, mainly, regard university as three drunken years of frantic revision and apologetic talks with the bank’s overdraft manager, with the expectation that a degree will lead to a better job and earnings with little effort from either the student or the university. As a result, students look back at their university days with fondness,
American “ The model is just
what the bloated British system needs
but laugh at the appalling accommodation, minimal contact time and long holidays. There’s no incentive to give back to their university. With some fairly ordinary British universities choosing to charge £9,000 this September, and a new age of private universities on the horizon, perhaps graduates will put their money where their mouths are and give back to their university, so the next generation of students, whatever their background, will be able to succeed like never before.
Mike Brown The Daily Mail has managed to find its new rage of the month. The paper has started a new crusade against the BBC’s adoption of the far more sensible BCE/CE dating system, whipping up the middle classes into a frenzy just before they dash off to pick their kids up in their gas-guzzling 4x4s. But there’s something scarier going on here. In their initial article on it, one telling line reveals the Daily Mail’s real reluctance to accept the new dating system: “Its increasing reliance on metric measurements rather than the imperial system and its occasional reference to expenditure in terms of euros rather than pounds has infuriated many viewers.” What’s disturbing is that the Mail has listed the logical and technically superior metric system as a downside of the BBC’s coverage. I’d like to make my stance on this clear: nobody should ever be using the imperial system in this day and age. Ever. SI-approved units of measurement are based on unquestionable scientific fact, precise to an unfathomable level of accuracy. They all work in powers of 10, and if anybody said that the length of a road was 1 megametre it wouldn’t be too hard to find out how many metres that is. Imperial, on the other hand, is a relic. 12 inches to a foot makes no sense, and
Stacked: it’s the attitude newspapers represent that draws their fame Image by .Michael Scott
the fact that the system uses different words for the same measurement is illogical. There is nothing about the words “inch” and “foot” to suggest that one is bigger than the other. Call me a militant metric system user. My blood boils when road signs list speed limits in miles per hour. Why do I have to have a pint at a pub? I’ll take a half litre, please, and you can forget about your yard of ale. I stand behind the BBC’s
decision to move to the metric system. It’s a sign of progression. It’s not Europhilia or political correctness or whatever you want to call it, it’s removing the shackles of a bygone era. It’s time to move on and switch to a superior system. Can you imagine if we’d never switched from shillings? It might be a big change to come to terms with, but if we don’t start propagating changes like these through our media, what hope do our children have?
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Comment It's going to be a fantastic opportunity to have your say on some of the things planned for QMSU Sophie Richardson President
If you’re reading this and it’s before 7pm on Monday the 10th October then this is my last chance to urge you to come to the General Meeting taking place tonight in the ArtsTwo lecture theatre. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to have your say on some of things planned for QMSU and some of the proposed changes, including
revamping Student Council and Sabbatical Officer positions, so make sure you come down and cast your vote. Last week saw myself and your Vice Presidents start our ‘talking sessions’ which means we spend an hour a week out on campus asking you questions about a certain topic or on a particular issue. I thoroughly enjoyed the
session last week and talking to some of you brought up further issues that I didn’t previously know about it so I’m really glad that we did it. Thanks to those of you that took the time to talk to me and any of you see me in future weeks please don’t walk away! We want to hear from as many of you as possible of the year.
Finally for this week, it was really great to meet some of our Postgraduate Research students at your induction day, check out www.qmsu.org for future QMSU Postgrad events. T’rah for now, Sophie
The new structure was a hindrance, so you can see why relations may have been tense George Ryan BLSA President
I’ve been researching the history of QMSU and it’s fascinating how it explains relations between QMSU and BLSA. BLSA became a part of QMSU in 1994; before then, it had its own infrastructure, made up mainly of the BL President and their Student Presidents’ Council, whose responsibility it was to represent students and oversee the running of
the Students’ Union. QMSU didn’t have such luxuries, from 1999-2004; it made 5 years loss amounting to £670,000 and was on the brink of bankruptcy. BLSA had gone from being a fully functional student body, supported by the hospital and other sources of income, to being under the threat of closure because of QMSU. QMSU had no money to provide staff support
for students, in fact 50% of staff were made redundant in 2004. In the eyes of BL students, the new structure was a hindrance to the development of our Students’ Union; so you can see why relations may have been tense. At this point, a new QMSU CEO was hired, money was invested from the university and things began to turn around. Since 2004 QMSU has made a surplus
every year, with this money going into the construction of 2 gyms and, more recently, the investment of £1 million into the much needed refurbishment of the Griffin. Four new staff members have been hired over the summer whose job it is to support students in their activities. QMSU and BLSA have come on leaps and bounds and we are all benefitting from it.
Students aren't the only ones trying to sneak what should be a corporate booking in for free Dom Bell VP Student Activities
A couple of weeks ago you may have read that a student booking on campus had to be cancelled after it was found that Tower Hamlets students would be refused entry. It was reported that new rules meant that students’ and societies’ bookings would now not be able to include external guests or the general public in their events on campus. However, having investigated further,
some misinterpretations have been made. First, no rules have been changed. It came out that the rules had been changed because the event above didn’t go through the normal procedure. The event had to be cancelled, not because of the guests invited, but because there was confusion over who the booking was coming from. As soon as it was heard there were external guests the
booking was moved to a corporate booking and charged, which obviously our students couldn’t afford. Students aren’t the only ones trying to sneak what should be a corporate or external booking in for free. Secondly, external guests and the public can’t be invited to student events. They can, as long as the event can be regarded as safe. A lack of information can make bookings unsafe,
if the person making the booking isn’t authorised by the SU, if other students or external organisations register a complaint, or if there is bad press about anything to do with the event or guest.Things are done on a case by case basis and to avoid cancellations there needs to be the right assurances that the college won’t be brought into disrepute or the campus made unsafe.’
It's fine for private companies but for unions it looks like a constitutional crisis waiting to happen Oscar Williamson VP Education & Welfare
QMSU has recently registered as a charity, and the Charity Commission and Companies House require us to adopt Articles of Association to replace our Constitution. The passage of this document through our democratic structures – Student Council, the Broad of Trustees, and Monday’s Union General Meeting (which you should all
attend) is being slowed by some surprising clauses. One pair has proved particularly baffling. The first clause mandates the Trustee Board – five Sabbs, five elected student Trustees, five externals – to override any Student Council decision if it “may not be in the best interests of the Union.” This is tempered by another clause that
allows Council to ‘no confidence’ individual Trustees and replace them. If this were to happen, we don’t really know how it would affect our charitable status, or indeed, the liability currently borne by the Trustees. This arrangement may be suitable for a private company but for unions it looks like a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.
It has been suggested that the exposure is purely theoretical; that we will be fine because the source document for the Articles was co-produced by the NUS, their solicitors, and Companies House; that it is being adopted by all unions. I’m less convinced. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that widespread practices have led to widespread crises.
Spending a day with the principal has taught me how our the student body should be run Sam Creighton VP Communications
People have told me that I write the angriest columns. I think that’s probably right. As I’ve said before, I love my job, but it can also be immensely frustrating. Spending a day with the Principal last week has actually increased my bubbling vat of lingering resentment. It amazed me how much he was able to get done in a
day. Decisions were actually taken, he didn’t even have to fill in any forms or anything! It was quite astounding. Sarcastic tone aside, I felt a bit disappointed to see that the College is more dynamic and responsive than the Union. Surely, as students, we should be the innovators, the trendsetters and the mould breakers on this campus?
Representation has been reaffirmed recently as the buzzword of QMSU. This is right, representation should be at the heart of the Union. However, you need to represent your members for something, towards some sort of goal. Otherwise you find youself stopping people who are actually doing things in order to ask them if they feel
represented whule doing it. If you try to over-analyse every single good idea, just to make sure every aspect of it is the right kind of representation, you’re never going to get anything done. This is kind of a continuation of my last column I suppose, but flogging dead horses seems to be what I’m good at at the moment.
Know Your Queen Mary Graduate Attributes - for your Academic, Personal and Career Development
Do you know your Graduate Attributes? An important new initiative designed to enhance your graduate employability and support your personal, academic and career development has been launched at Queen Mary. This article is the first of a number of QMessenger features to focus on this major project and the ways in which the Statement of Graduate Attributes can help set you apart as a Queen Mary graduate.
a leading University of London College and member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive Universities, with a well-established reputation for the quality of our research and teaching. We are proud of our diverse and cosmopolitan student population, and our lively campus environment with a vibrant community spirit in the heart of East London.
Queen Mary, University of London wants you to make the most of your student experience. We want to help you identify and take advantage of the rich and varied learning opportunities that exist within and beyond your formal programme of study. We want to prepare all our students for the complexities and challenges of the world of work, and to encourage you to contribute effectively to your social and professional communities and networks, wherever you are in the world.
In order to capture these distinctive qualities for our students, our staff and employers, we have produced the Queen Mary Statement of Graduate Attributes – a framework identifying the behaviours, values, skills and knowledge we want all our taught programme students to develop during their time with us. Our Statement identifies 32 attributes – grouped into 7 themes – that will help you prepare yourself for your future employment and enhance your understanding of what employers expect of you. According to the Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell, Queen Mary aims “to produce graduates with both high levels of subject and professional expertise and the capabilities to exploit the distinctive attributes they develop while studying with us. By means of the Graduate Attributes initiative these complementary dimensions will be manifested increasingly in all our graduates.”
At Queen Mary, we are conscious of our distinctive features – we are
To develop our Graduate Attributes Statement, we worked with current
You may have already heard about the Queen Mary Graduate Attributes – through your School induction session, as part of an extra-curricular activity or through last week’s feature on graduate employability in QMessenger. So what are the graduate attributes and why are they important for you?
students, academic and professional services staff, recent alumni and top employers to capture the distinctive features of Queen Mary student experience. Employers have called our project ‘inspiring’, ‘very valuable’ and a ‘great initiative.’ Queen Mary is one of the first universities in the UK to launch a Statement of Graduate Attributes – a policy that has been successfully developed in Australian Universities since the mid-1990s, with research indicating that such statements helped foster a culture of teaching excellence. All Schools, Institutes and Professional Services departments, together with the Queen Mary Students’ Union, are collaborating to embed the Statement of Graduate Attributes into all curricular and extra-curricular programmes. The project is overseen by a Steering Group, chaired by Professor Elizabeth Davenport (Institute of Dentistry) and including the Deans for Taught Programmes, senior staff from Schools and Institutes, the QMSU President and members of the Learning Institute and Careers. Sophie Richardson, QMSU President, said that ‘Queen Mary Students’ Union strongly supports the work being carried out in developing the Graduate Attributes Project. It is a priority for us to ensure that our students have the opportunities to develop both personally and professionally while studying at QMUL. In a time
when the graduate job market is becoming increasingly competitive, it is essential for students to fully understand the skills they have developed throughout their time at QMUL and know how to use them in future employment.’ So how can you ensure that you develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that employers value during your time at Queen Mary? Whether you’re studying for an undergraduate or taught postgraduate degree, make sure you identify where in your programme the opportunities for developing graduate attributes occur – and ensure that you engage fully in these learning activities! You can further enhance your progress by recording and reflecting on your progress through your School’s academic advising and personal development systems. Find out more through your School and your School website. Your opportunities to develop your graduate attributes extend beyond your degree course. Queen Mary offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities to enhance your employability and personal development – whether you get involved in a QMSU society or sports club, serve as a course representative, mentor or ambassador, volunteer through Provide or lead social enterprise projects with Queen Mary SIFE. Sign up for an award or certificate –
such as the Queen Mary Certificate of Student Achievement – that is designed to enhance your ability to reflect on your learning and to help you gain the most from your student experience. More details and resources on how your degree programme and extra-curricular opportunities can develop your graduate attributes are available on Mind the GAP, our new Graduate Attributes and Employability-focused website for all students – http://mindthegap. qmul.ac.uk You can be active in your career decision making and preparation for employment from your arrival at Queen Mary – by taking part in your School Careers programme, signing up for College wide activities, such as XING enterprise events, or planning for a summer internship. You can also develop key skills by undertaking paid part-time work, whether on or off campus. Queen Mary Careers can help you to ensure you maximise the opportunities available to you to support your future career throughout your time as a student at Queen Mary. Look out for further articles on the Queen Mary Graduate Attributes coming soon in QMessenger – and don’t forget to check Mind the GAP for regular updates on developing your graduate attributes and making the most of your student experience!
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Satire All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Please don’t mistake anything on this page for fact.
Read this! . . . . if you can find it Feeling enthusiastic? Cameron is. A special report into why you can never find the books you need. Aaron Barber As you may well know, the university libraries’ index number appears on many a prospectus with numbers ranging from one to ten. The number is a weighted ratio based on the amount of in demand course books the library has available for borrowing on its shelves on any given day. This means if a library has 4 copies of Space Time for Beginners on its shelf doing nothing it will have a higher ranking than a library that has all four of its copies on loan. As expected, Oxbridge’s libraries have rankings nearing 10 whereas Queen Mary scores a measly 4.8. For a university, the higher the ranking the easier it is to attract renowned doctors and professors. It also helps to bounce the university higher up the league tables, The Times’s league tables are especially weighed by the library index. The obvious way to increase this ratio would simply be to buy more books, but books cost money, money that was earmarked for new book stacking robots and librarians’ redundancy pay. A more cunning solution would be to make it more difficult for students to take books out the library. Measures such as preventing you from taking out books once your library fines reach £12 (instead of the £15 last year) and reclassifying books as non renewable one day loans all help to slide the uni up the table. Oh, and if you’re having trouble finding your books due to the rearranging of the shelves (specifically in the
highly in demand teaching section), you’re not alone, this is yet another more subtle method to stop you taking books out. Perhaps a greater reason to stop you reading is a generous government grant issued annually for the most improved university libraries in the country. Queen Mary received this grant two years ago and spent sixty percent of it on a revolving door designed keep the heat in and reduce the gas bill. The remainder of the money was spent on two regular doors either side of the revolving door to let the heat back out again. Still it could be worse – the University of Warwick has closed one of its libraries for what it calls “budget realignment” but what its union cites as “an attempt to manipulate league table standings and meet irrelevant government targets at the expense of students studies”. On questioning Liam Burns, head of the NUS, he said: “It’s really such a shame that libraries are seeking to stop books being taken out. It’s kinda what they’re there for.” When asked what he would do about it he said “Ooh, umm... perhaps a march, maybe some people may attend if it happens”. A march against needless and pointless target setting would be a great idea, we could get on the news, the police could beat us and the government could ignore us. Again.
Fact of the week Studies reveal that people who have more birthdays are likely to live longer. Those who have fewer birthdays die younger. Leif Halverson Joke of the week Q: What do you get if you cross David Cameron and Nick Clegg? A: David Cameron Michael Hammond
At the Conservative Party have no time to deal with this cle continues.” When asked if conference this week, Prime shit.” Fiona Mactaggart, Shad- he had anything to add to this, Minister David Cameron anow Equality Minister, said she Mr Balls said, “That’s all well nounced that he would like thinks that, “An enthusiasm and good, but you’re missing to see the national currency currency would be a terrible the sodding point. I honestly changed to “enthusiasm”. He idea. Those individuals who cannot believe that we’re still said, “The British public know are depressed will be lacking discussing this. This has to be that we are all in this togethin enthusiasm, thus making some kind of fucking joke.” er and never fail to After waiting on show passion. Our hold for 45 minutes economy has been with the IMF, we gave devastated over the up and asked 70s pop 10 years of Labour sensation, Leo Sayrule, but despite now er, for his opinion not producing anyon the matter. “Ten thing of any valyears ago, the obviue, we British folk ous choice of currenhave tried our best.” cy would be the Euro, Chancellor George but in recent years it Osborne added, “The has been notoriouspound is, as we all ly unstable. This could know, performing be the real alternapoorly in the globtive we need.” He addal market. We need a ed, “I swear to god if change.” that cheque bouncHowever the propes, I’ll come over there ositions have not and chop your robbeen without conbing balls off.” And troversy. Shadow it seems that the PM Chancellor Ed Balls agrees with Mr Sayspoke out in oppoer, “If we really are sition of the plans all members of the saying, “Enthusiasm Image by the The Prime Minister’s Office. Big Society, which we isn’t even a real, tanare because I said so, gible thing. This is stupid, why them poor. Their lack of mon- then we’ll embrace this change did anyone vote for this bunch ey will then make them less and see a brighter economic of utter pricks?! I literally enthusiastic, and so the cyfuture for Britain.”
Facebook Status of the week “One thing about QM are those pathetic small fat bouncers! Hate having a private union bag of utter shit!” Toby Jeff Quote of the week “Study harder at A-level and go to UCL.” Simon Gaskell, Principal of Queen Mary
Fancy yourself a cartoonist? Then email Maria D’Amico at email@example.com
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Games Sweaty Brow of the Week
Image by the Zings Info This foxy lady is less than relaxed as she legs it back home before they change their minds. She hasn’t dunnit, but who is she? Answers for all puzzles, including a freshly moist brow in next week’s QMessenger.
Shape Algebra Rules: Each of the shapes corresponds to a number. What are those numbers?
Last week’s answers: The sweaty brow belonged to Mahmoud Abbas.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 3 2011
Societies Society Spotlight: Film Society Lauren Mason Every Thursday, a group of eager and not so eager film lovers from departments across the university gather in the Hitchcock Theatre in Arts One to watch something new. A comedy starring people whose faces you just about recognise, but can’t quite place; a decades old B movie that’s as pointless as it is entertaining, or a gore-filled European horror. The line-up changes every week, as films legendary, unknown, or films that have become cult classics are shown to the delight and delectation of all present. Well, sometimes. Because the point of Film Society is to give you the chance to see something different, something you won’t get the chance to see elsewhere. And then we go to the pub and you tell us what you thought of it. It’s a simple formula, admittedly, but one that’s worked well for
quite a few years. You might hate what you see, but it could become your new favourite film. Think of it as a game of Russian Roulette, but of course without quite so much at stake. The film showing this week will be David Lean’s classic 1945 drama Brief Encounter, depicting a woman’s struggle to remain faithful to her husband. This year, we want to encourage the audience to choose the films we screen, because frankly we’re getting tired of choosing on the committee, and it seems a bit unfair for us to dictate to you every week. So come along, and don’t be shy to tell us what you want to see, or what you thought of the films we’ve shown. We want your opinions, so much so that we’re planning on having a screening this semester where you, our lovely audience, each bring a DVD you want to see in the majesty of the Hitchcock Theatre and we’ll all vote on
the options. If your film gets the most votes, it’ll be shown – be it The Little Mermaid, Inception, or something you love that no one else has heard of. Truly democracy in action. As well as flexing your electoral muscles, we want to explore the great cinemas London has to offer and get off campus for a bit. We’re planning trips to screenings at the BFI, as well as visits to smaller independent cinemas around London like the Rio or Prince Charles. If you know of any other film-related events in the city you think would be ideal for a Film Soc visit, please get in touch! If this sounds like a pretty good deal and you’d like to find out more, join our Facebook group ‘QMUL Film Society’, email us at qmulfilmsociety@ gmail.com or simply turn up and see us at our screenings, held every Thursday at 6pm in the Hitchcock Theatre, Arts One. We look forward to meeting you!
The hole in the cupboard Shafi Musaddique Student culture can sometimes force the most hardened of mini Gordon Ramsays to hide under the blanket. Cooking itself is a laboured process, hurried between lectures and thrown together at the expense of taste, cash and time. But the same could be said about any given sport and societies. So the big question is: why does Queen Mary lack the presence of a cooking club? Societies currently range from the Pakistani Society to the Film Society. Every corner of the globe and genre of entertainment has been covered. But there is no sign of confronting the most common fear of the student: cooking.
With many students opting to pay an extra £200 to eat lunch and dinner at The Curve, it will make bad reading for the food editor. The advantages of a cooking society would be like any other society. Beginners mingling with experienced cooks to share ideas, and share the common bond that is food. Unlike many of societies, however, a cooking club will bring out the best of Queen Mary as a university – those looking for jobs could utilise projects in a cooking club for a Drapers menu. Residence dinners, usually done during Christmas and end-of-term, could also be student led. And of course, the next celebrity chef could be hidden at our university. Whether it’s a career in cooking, or bringing together friends in your flat, this hole in the society list must be filled. With the cooking society yet to be established, who will take the initiative? Food for thought, anyone?
New Turn: Are child soldiers the new face of African conflict? Katrine Knudsen Queen Mary’s New Turn society hosted its second event of the academic year, and invited both QM students and other ULU students to an interesting speech on the topic: are child soldiers the new face of African conflict? The atmosphere among the nearly 90 students quickly became serious and at times shocked as Mark Waddington, CEO of War Child, held his presentation on how the nature of conflict in Africa has been changing as there are now 250,000 children worldwide who are associated with armed groups and where 80% of those are younger than 15. Waddington began his speech by challenging preconceptions and breaking down the typical stereotypes around the topic of child soldiers and thus made the audience susceptible to the shocking statistics, which Waddington presented both verbally and through the use of graphs and diagrams. He continued his speech by addressing the important issue of whether child soldiers are
Students at a New Turn event watch Mark Waddington, CEO of War Child, lecturing about child soldiers Image by Robert Pritchard.
coerced or if they are recruited voluntarily. Building on this, he identified certain push factors such as poverty, discrimination, domestic violence and sexual abuse, which are determining factors; and pull factors like food and money the child soldiers receive when recruited. Waddington traced many of these factors back to the lack of access to education and emphasised the importance
of the work that War Child do in providing children access to education. The last half of the speech was devoted to explaining what needs to be done in order to address such a serious issue, and in order to highlight this topic Waddington argued that not nearly enough funds are invested in this, and that NGOs need to cooperate as War Child is not able to address this issue alone. Waddington
stressed the importance of spreading the word so that the issue of child soldiers receives the attention and support that it needs. Walking out of the lecture theatre, one was left with a strong feeling that this serious issue must be addressed and a desire to participate in fundraising for War Child, which is a reflection of the convincing arguments presented by Waddington.
Next week on Tuesday 11 Oct 2011, Maajid Nawaz, the former leader of the UK radical Islamist party, will be hosting a speech on Islam and the rise of Al-Qaeda. If this is a topic that interests you then I highly recommend attending, as these New Turn events are well organised, interesting and very relevant to the issues we are dealing with today at a national and international level.
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
Yohan Blake: The Pupil challenges the Master Muireann McCann Over a million people were hoping to get tickets to the men’s 100m, which was the most sought after event of London’s 2012 Olympics. Until the IAAF World Athletics Championships this September in Daegu, South Korea, it was almost a given that the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, would be on the podium holding the gold medal. However, in the Daegu 100m final Bolt false-started, resulting in instant disqualification (a rule surrounded by controversy). This opened the way for a relatively new face on the sprinting scene, Bolt’s training partner Yohan Blake, who took gold with a time of 9.92s. Although clearly an excellent performance from the twenty one year old and the youngest ever 100m world champion, it is still way off Bolt’s 9.58s world record. Many said that had Bolt not been disqualified, he would have retained his title. These sentiments were only strengthened with his 200m success the following week. However, in light of recent events at a meet in Brussels, Bolt’s dominance in the field of sprinting no longer seems so sure. After wowing the crowd with a season’s best of 9.76s in the 100m, Bolt was upstaged by Blake’s astonishing performance
Sport Ruby World Cup Round-up Ashley Sweetman
Sprinter Yohan Blake is in strong form in the run up to to the 2012 games. Image by Andre Zehetbauer (via Flickr cc). in the 200m (19.26s). Blake’s performance. Some sceptics coming. sprint puts him right behind have already accused Blake Nevertheless,London’s Bolt with the second fastest time of succumbing to the lure of Olympic sprints will be about ever in the event. performance enhancing drugs. more than Bolt and Blake. With In interviews that followed, Not long ago, ill-informed fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, Bolt was highly congratulatory commentators were suggesting and America’s finest, Tyson Gay, of his training partner and that the main man of sprinting hopefully back in the game for explained that he’d given himself (Bolt) was doping. 2012 (both were out injured this him some advice on running It is true that in 2009 Blake summer), as well as Christophe the bend section of the race. was accused of being involved Lemaitre (France) and Walter Evidently, Blake gave this advice in a doping scandal, but was Dix (USA) in the 200m, there some serious consideration quickly cleared as it turned will be fierce competition in both and it would now seem that out the substance discovered the 100m and 200m. Perhaps Bolt is going to have some real was not on the World Anti- their combined threat will prove competition next summer in not Doping Agency’s banned list. to be the spark that pushes Bolt only the 100m but the 200m as So let’s let the figures speak to make history yet again. But well. for themselves. Anyone can it is undoubtedly the case that Sprinting’s past has been a glance at Blake’s track record Blake’s recent performance has murky one, with numerous and see that, despite a few dips created an even greater buzz athletes using various banned in performance due to injury, around what will surely be two substances to improve their this man has been a long time key events of 2012.
Sport in spotlight: QM Netball Team Emma Swan QM Netball (QMN) is one of the largest and most thriving clubs within the university with over 60 members, and is the hub of the social scene at Queen Mary. It holds four competitive teams ranging in levels of ability with each team playing matches on Monday evenings and Wednesday afternoons. QMN compete in both BUCS and the ULU leagues and train every Tuesday and Thursday with an ex-England playing coach. It is a great way to keep fit and socialise and for those that either do not make it into the four teams or simply want to play for fun, QM have introduced netball into the Get Active scheme with a Intramural league held at Mile
QM Netball, one of the largest, and loudest, clubs at QM. Image by Grace Hunt. End Park playing courts. These plays games and socialises. amounts of money for these are held every Thursday at 7pm It is a must for any budding great causes. In the last week with training sessions Tuesday, netballer to become integrated of term, we are organising Wednesday and Thursday into the club. QMN are also a Netball Christmas Sports evenings at 6-7 in QMotion very involved in charity work Ball which invites all sports Sport Centre. and have participated in 10k club members to celebrate Sessions are held every runs as a club for Alzheimer’s Christmas before the end of Wednesday at 7pm in Drapers and Help for Heroes along with term. More details of this event where the club gets together, the naked calendar, raising vast will follow soon.
The Rugby World Cup has been underway for nearly a month now, and this weekend sees three of the home nations taking part in the quarter finals. But can any of them go on to win it? As a Welshman, I would love nothing more than our run to victory to begin with a win over Ireland in Wellington on Saturday. Our relentless battering of Fiji last weekend showed that we are arguably the most prepared we have ever been for a World Cup. As a realist, however, I think our chances are extremely slim when we come up against someone far stronger such as Australia or New Zealand. Even without the majestic Dan Carter, New Zealand pose a huge threat to even the most aggressive of defences. Almost everybody expects them to breeze through the notoriously tricky Argentina side they face on Sunday, but rugby fans will be watering at the mouth at the prospect of seeing the All Blacks take on one of their Tri Nations competitors in the semi final. And what about France? The free-flowing rugby and daring passes of the likes of Vincent Clerc and Dimitri Yachvili are usually enough to undo most defences, yet their shock upset at the hands of a physical Tongan side last Saturday will lead many to believe that they are simply not consistent enough to put up a serious challenge. They’ll be boosted by the fact that their opposition have come under so much scrutiny from the press this week. Jeremy Guscott slammed them saying “Martin Johnson’s got a few kids that aren’t acting as though they’re playing for England, or at a World Cup”, and such significant criticism cannot be helping their preparations. This weekend is set to serve up some mouth-watering rugby. England will be more determined than ever to overcome their critics, and it would take a brave man to bet against Jonny Wilkinson leading his men to victory against France. As for the overall winners, it could be one of about three or four teams, but if pushed I would have to say New Zealand. Their sheer physicality and intensity is just too much for any of the other sides left in the competition. Not even Wales can match that…
QMESSENGER MONDAY OCTOBER 10 2011
QMFC 5ths for League Glory? Sean Mahoney As soon as the 2010/11 season finished, 5ths captain Ashley Sweetman moved to make his first major signing of the summer – to make the loan deal of 4ths keeper Sean Mahoney a permanent one after single handedly keeping the 5ths from relegation with a string of impressive performances towards the end of last season. The deal was seen as a real coup for the 5ths and vice captain Sam Lowe spoke of his sheer delight that Mahoney had agreed to drop down, especially amidst strong interest from the 1sts and even Leyton Orient. “It’s brilliant, for the club and for me personally, he’s a model professional and for me to play alongside someone of his calibre would be very special to me”, said the lightweight midfielder. Mahoney had this to say: “I personally don’t see it as a drop down, its more like a homecoming for me”. Manojee Thadani, Adam McDaid, Oliver Westlake, Mitch Ingram and Jack Gibbs also follow Mahoney from the fourths but despite a deadline day deal falling
Can the 5th march to victory this season? They’d have to avoid relegation to do so, maybe Sean Mahoney can help with that. Image by Finn Daniels-Yeomans. through for defender Max Thompson, 5ths skipper Ash Sweetman remains in a buoyant mood ahead of their opening game against Goldsmiths next week. “I am very confident”, he said. “We have managed to sign some very good players from trials but we did have to settle with Olly Westlake at full back. Plus we have kept the
nucleus from last season and I think Mitch Ingram can step up if called upon. I really do think we can win this league – despite narrowly avoiding relegation last year”. When questioned on whether or not Sam Lowe will feature in his plans for this season, Sweetman refused to comment. QM veteran Adam “Drapers” McDaid hopes he
can break his personal record of three goals in one season. The Darlo born striker thinks he can fire the 5ths to glory this season, saying, “This is my 5th or 6th season playing for QM and I think this is the best bunch of lads we’ve ever had, who knows, the double could well be on”. McDaid’s sister, Hayley, has become
something of a good omen for the fifths, as they are yet to drop a single point whenever she has been watching. The lads will be hoping she puts in a few appearances this season. If Sweetman can lead the fifths to glory, it will represent the club’s best era since the days of West Ham being a solid Premier League side.
Don't get angry ... Get Active Ashley Sweetman During this period at the beginning of term, it is always tough to think about what to write. There are only so many times that I can tell everyone to “get involved in as much as you can” or “at least try something out - you’ll never know if you like it otherwise!” Everybody is slowly settling down into their routines, getting used to their timetables and realising just how much
sport or other activities they can manage. But for those who don’t make it into their chosen teams, this can be a pretty rough time too. However, the beauty of QM now is that people can get involved in a number of different ways, not necessarily through playing club sport. QM Get Active, where we have advised a number of our football trialists to go if unsuccessful, is a great way to play in an exciting atmosphere without the same level of
commitment. Get Active has had a lot of publicity lately, but this really is because the scheme offers so much, even to those already involved in more competitive activities. As for those sports teams who have picked their players, the next couple of weeks provides a great opportunity for preparation, be that through social events or team training. James Mountain and Toby Emmerson are visibly working as hard as possible to ensure that QM reach the next
level in sport participation, and it is up to captains, treasurers and even new members to ensure that their hard work pays off. If none of these options are for you, then why not get a few of your course mates together and organise something yourself? Most departments would love it if you and your friends set up inter-department games or staff vs. students fixtures, so why not try it out? Go to the park and have a kick around
with a football, throw a rugby ball around, play some tennis or hire out the squash court at QMotion. If you didn’t make the team this time around, then there is nothing stopping you heading back to those teams during the Refreshers Fair after Christmas to show how you have improved and are now more determined than ever to get involved. Good luck to all QM sports teams in their first fixtures of the season, and let’s hope it is as successful as the last!
QMessenger, the student newspaper of Queen Mary, University of London. The paper spends a day with the principal, Simon Gaskell. Reports on...