elb's hovel of thoughts

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Imperial College breaks free from the University of London

Imperial College (IC) has been under the spotlight a lot recently, for two issues: the 'dress code' that they introduced last month, and their plans to become independent of the University of London

Let me go through the dress code briefly, they introduced a 'no covering up the face' policy. This means no balaclavas, no walking around in surgeon masks, gas masks, veils, and the sort. This is mainly to help identify suspects if break-ins occur, etc. Which is fair enough except that some parties have taken offence at it, but I think that is because they can't tell 'face' from 'head'.

Is it necessary? IC has in theory, the resources that terrorists would love to get their hands on. After all, we have dangerous chemicals, biological agents, and nuclear facilities. I leave it to you to decide whether that is a good move or not.

On to the second issue: IC's decision to pull out of the University of London, approved by the council on Friday 9th December. How do this affect students?

When you go to interviews, or attend company presentations, you would almost definitely introduce yourself as a student from IC/LSE/UCL instead of 'University of London', unless well, the collective clout of UL is much better than your individual institution. Mention 'Imperial College' to a prospective employer, and they would be more likely to pay attention to you.

If you look at the UK or world university rankings, the various London institutions are ranked individually and not collectively as the University of London, unlike Oxbridge, where the various colleges there are grouped together as Cambridge and Oxford.

The biggest change (for students anyway) is that instead of UL degrees, the degrees would be issued by IC. Apparently that for all institutions, the name of your institution appears in a very small size beneath 'University of London'. I would wager that IC students would prefer more to see the words 'Imperial College' instead of 'University of London' prominently on their degrees. This is applicable for intakes from 2008 onwards, but if I am not mistaken, current students and those of the next intakes could appeal for an IC degree instead.

Negotiations for perhaps continued access to UL Union facilities and intercollegiate halls are under way. But frankly, IC pays 800 000GBP a year to be part of the UL, and it doesn't get much benefits for the price it pays.

Perhaps the loss of IC itself is not much of a big deal. But hearsay suggests that LSE and UCL, two other 'heavyweights' are also considering leaving the UL. If that happens, the UL is on the beginnings of a downward spiral.


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