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22nd April 2016

Union budget cuts threaten future of The Cambridge Student

Despite bringing revenue to CUSU, trustees have told The Cambridge Student their resources will be cut, forcing the publication online only

The Cambridge Student, the official student newspaper at the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), has been informed that their budget will be significantly cut with only two term days to appeal, meaning they will have to end the print edition of their newspaper.

On Friday the 15th of April, senior editorial staff at TCS were sent an e-mail from Union trustees and officers informing them that the 2016/17 budget would see a “reduction in resource allocation” taking place, a move that would kill the print edition of the weekly newspaper after 17 years of existence.

TCS reports it has requested a year-long deferral of the decision, in which time period it can work on reducing costs and increasing profit. None of its members, it says, were made aware that cuts were to be made until the e-mail was received, and at no point were they asked how the paper’s running could be made more affordable.

In an article titled CUSU budget threatens 17-year TCS print legacy, TCS says: “According to the CUSU Constitution, the budget should have ‘been made available for inspection at the CUSU Offices during office hours for the 2 weeks prior to the day of the meeting.’

“This would have been April 18, however it has not yet been done.”

TCS cost CUSU £24,430, and brought in £32,140 in sponsorship and contract income.”

“Totally baffled by @CUSU proposals to cut funding to @TCSNewspaper”, tweeted incumbent Student Publication Association Chair Jem Collins. “LOOK AT THESE FIGURES. #dothemaths”.

Editor-in-Chief of The Cambridge Student Elsa Maishman said: “We cannot switch immediately, with almost no warning, from being a primarily print newspaper to an online-only presence with the capability to rival the large scale, large investment organisation that is the Tab.”

The SPA also released a statement in response to the proposed cuts, calling upon the Union “to abandon proposals to cut budget for The Cambridge Student as a matter of urgency.” TCS was shortlisted for many prestigious SPA awards at this month’s SPA National Conference.

Collins said: “It may sound overblown, but student media really is vital to both university life and democracy, keeping students informed and holding power to account.

“It doesn’t just benefit those who participate, but the whole student body. For SUs to try and pull the plug on funding for something this important is frankly an embarrassment, especially when you look at the consistent quality of the work at TCS.

“Print media is still of paramount importance on campus, and enables engagement in ways you can’t emulate online and it’s important to safeguard this for future students.

“The SPA will work with TCS to help lobby against these proposals, which would be wholly damaging to the university, union and it’s students.”

At the NUS National Conference 2016 which came to an end yesterday, delegates voted in favour of Motion 314 which resolved to work towards more transparent Union election coverage and strike a balance between fair coverage and accountability, amid concerns of SUs exerting excessive control over what their media outlets could release during the election period.

The Cambridge Student‘s latest edition can be read online here.

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