Europe’s Largest Student Newspaper May Shut Down; ‘Emergency Funding’ Request Denied

The London Student is dying. The editorially-independent college news outlet strives to reach and claims to represent 120,000 readers across the University of London’s 19 campuses. To that end, its editors boast that the pub is nothing less than “Europe’s largest student newspaper.” They also say it’s in desperate need of cash.

The 90-second backstory: The Student has been financially supported since its start in the early 1920s — under a different name — by the university’s student union. Alas, next month, this union, led by UL undergraduates, is being disbanded (or at least majorly discombobulated). So with the newspaper’s main funding source disappearing, an appeal was made to UL officials for the school to cover publishing fees just for the next academic year — an “emergency funding” request totaling roughly $92,000. The hope was that this “one-off payment” would give Student editors and related supporters time to secure alternative funds for the pub’s long-term survival. But the school said nope. And so the Student is on the brink of extinction.

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A front-page screenshot from an issue published last year.

For his part, the student union president is, ahem, slightly pissed off: “The University of London is engaged in an act of vandalism against organizations and activities that have taken students decades to build up. It costs peanuts to fund London Student and it is profoundly sad that vice-chancellors will not put forward funding for a vital source of community, news and scrutiny.”

According to a report in The Guardian, this scrutiny has extended to many significant areas over the years. Among the highlights:

“The newspaper … has a strong campaigning history, including supporting the miners’ strike in the 1980s and stories backing South African students against apartheid in the 1950s. In the past year it has reported on student-led protests in London, from Occupy Senate House to Justice for Cleaners. … Stories broken by the publication include the 2006 revelation that the Mail on Sunday had offered student reporters money to infiltrate and record meetings of student Islamic societies following the London bombings of 7 July 2005, and the story that departing University College London provost Malcolm Grant’s leaving party had cost the college more than £17,000. The story was picked up by national newspapers.”

With UL chancellors declining to offer monetary support, the paper’s last chance at school-sponsored help is the university trustees, who are meeting next week. Editors are also apparently putting together an open letter protesting the university’s decision to leave the news outlet in the lurch.

Comments
One Response to “Europe’s Largest Student Newspaper May Shut Down; ‘Emergency Funding’ Request Denied”
  1. It “represents” 120,000 students, but how many copies does it actually print? Perhaps instead of a college subsidized model it can move to a truly independent model, surviving on advertising, but the real numbers will need to be revealed.

    Just checked. According to Wikipedia, it prints about 12,500 issues 12x a year, which is not much more than the paper I run, Community College Campus News, in the USA, and also hits multiple campuses.

    Based on what I know, $92,000 would be a windfall; they could probably print, distribute and pay freelance student writers for about half that in the USA based on the Wikipedia numbers.

    I’d love to see them survive in print; the print experience helps student journalists in many ways more than just writing for the web. Hopefully someone there helps them with their business model during this transition.