UCL students launches new science magazine

Not helped by UCL’s impenetrable bureaucracy

An article written by Jason Murugesu of Kinesis

A group of second year students and I started working on a science magazine called Kinesis over the summer. UCL do not have a student led science magazine. Considering the success of SAVAGE – UCL’s premier Arts and Culture journal, we decided the sciences deserved an equivalent. Every other major university has one, why not us?

UCL is one of the most prestigious research universities in the world. In fact, UCL receives more money in research grants than it does in tuition fees per year. Our researchers are at the top of their fields. There’s been at least one Nobel Laureate at UCL for each decade since its establishment. Considering the new installation of The Francis Crick Institute nearby alongside the ever-generous Wellcome Trust – the university will likely continue this trend.

Unfortunately, UCL is not run by these academics or common sense – It is run by risk-averse bureaucrats who have prioritised funding UCL’s student population increase (and their wallets) rather than teaching. UCL has the most number of staff earning more than £100,000 in the whole country. It is hard to imagine that figure includes a large percentage of academics.

Nobody mention the BASc students

Nobody mention the BASc students

It started well – students were on board from a whole range of subjects and most encouragingly professors were, too. They understood instantly our whole ethos. So as we began working on the magazine, we started to look for ways to fund it.

The Maths and Physical Sciences Department agreed to meet with us. After a few meetings it became clear that both sides had very different ideas for the magazine. Whilst they did offer us funding, they wanted us to include pieces highlighting the student experience (only the good things I assume) and an editorial board including most tellingly a PR manager.

The magazine was never intended to attack UCL, we are just a science magazine after all, but the idea of essentially writing free PR for UCL was hard to take. Science in UCL has many issues, including but not limited to: PGTA pay, gender inequality, short term research contracts, increasing student numbers with smaller budgets and a lack of laboratory space. This magazine was intended to bridge the gap between the care-free undergraduate experience of UCL and the reality of teaching and working here.

Sir Tim Hunt

The infamous Sir Tim Hunt, who joked about gender segregation in labs

Our next issue came with UCLU affiliation. Affiliation to the Union provides advertising, the ability to book UCL rooms, and most importantly for us – the ability to gain official sponsors. The application process is relatively straightforward – essentially you must argue why the society deserves to exist, and how no other society is doing something similar.

Unfortunately, we were rejected from affiliation. Not because of our application, but because of an admin error. The application requires 30 signatures from UCL students. We had 29, as one student had left UCL. The Union has no appeals process. When confronted I was told ‘rules are rules.’

Fortunately for us, our professors continue to encourage and help us. Our magazine will in fact be launched next term alongside a new website! And tonight at 7:30pm, one of our wonderful professor’s has booked us the PhD Biosciences Common Room by the Printroom cafe. There we will hold our inaugural cocktail party which will help us fund the first issue.

It will be unlimited cocktails for £9 to celebrate how dreadful 2016 has been. Cocktails on offer include: Brex-it on the beach and Ha-rum-be and Coke. It will be all Christmassy and I promise, a wonderful way to end the year.