The future of the "London Student" has been thrown into question after it was confirmed that funding will be cut this year.
TheLondon Student is Europe’s largest student-run newspaper, representing over 120,000 students in the capital. The paper has been in publication since 1979.
The University of London confirmed that “the post of editor will no longer be funded from the college subscriptions, which have now been redirected to support Student Union activity within each individual college in the federal university.
“In future, if the student body wants to run a university-wide student newspaper it can of course do so. If it also wanted to pay for an editorial staff it could presumably do so from sales or advertising revenue – but this is up to the students,” the university added.
Oscar Webb, current editor of London Student, has expressed concern: “The option of running London Student purely on advertising revenue is, I believe, unsustainable,” he said.
“We’ve tried very hard over the past year to bring in advertising revenue, which has covered perhaps a quarter of our costs. Ultimately, the paper may have to lose its funded editor position.”
This announcement comes at a time when there is still fierce resistance against the decision to change the way the University of London Union is run after August 2014 – known as the “Save ULU” campaign. Proposals to replace ULU as it currently stands with a management-run student services centre have been met with strong criticism.
“I’m still hoping that the decision to shut ULU can be reversed. That’s the option I’m currently pursuing,” said Oscar.
In a recent referendum, the overwhelming majority of students responded positively to the question: “Should ULU’s building, activities and campaigns continue to be run democratically by students?” Out of 5,000 participants in the referendum, which took place across all the University of London’s colleges, 86 per cent voted yes, 12 per cent voted no and two per cent abstained.
ULU President Michael Chessum said “London Student is published by ULU and if the university gets away with abolishing ULU [as it is currently run] there is no reason at present to believe that the newspaper would survive.
We will be fighting hard for the ULU building and its entire operation – including London Student – to remain in democratically run student hands.”
He added that the university’s approach over the past year has been “an outright disgrace, and an affront to both democracy and the university community more broadly”.
He hopes that a short- to medium-term future for the London Student can be secured by writing an open letter to the vice chancellor, university trustees and collegiate council, requesting negotiations on a range of issues.