The Student is a fortnightly independent newspaper produced by students at the University of Edinburgh. It held the title of Best Student Newspaper in Scotland, awarded by the Herald Student Press Awards in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. It was founded in 1887 by Robert Louis Stevenson, making it Europe’s oldest student newspaper.
The newspaper has been independent of the university since 1992, but maintains a commercial agreement with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association.
All staff are volunteers, who fit work for the newspaper around their studies. The newspaper is distributed on a Wednesday and consists of 32 pages. It has a physical circulation of 1,000 copies per issue and is read by some 30,000 people in Edinburgh.
The Student newspaper was launched in 1887 by Scottish novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson, as a small weekly magazine published by the Students’ Representative Council. The first issues of The Student opened with an editorial and a short biographical piece of a notable person, followed by articles from university societies, sports results, poetry and literary reviews and profiles of new lecturers. The magazine was funded by advertising and a price of two pence.
By the 1970s, The Student had become a weekly newspaper that would report on important news for the student body. One of the biggest scoops ever reported in The Student was an exposé reported by the then News editor Gordon Brown (who later became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 2007-2010) on the university’s investments in apartheid South Africa, and the following campaigns that forced the university to disinvest. Within the same year, Brown was also alerted to a loophole in the university’s constitution which allowed a student to run for Rector (which he then did, to the fury of the university). The content of The Student by this time was reflecting the greater reach of the university on society, with sections for news, the environment, society, features, politics and entertainment reviews. The price had risen to five pence.
The 1990s brought the age of computers to The Student’s publication process, and the offices were moved from the Student Publications Board offices at 1 Buccleuch Place to their current underground location in The Pleasance (a charmingly cluttered cellar which is affectionately referred to as The Bunker, that was supposedly a reclaimed monkey-testing laboratory). Around this time actor, singer-songwriter and author Darius Campbell wrote briefly as a film and music critic.
In 1992 The Student (current price of thirty pence) was dropped by the student union for financial reasons, and funding was replaced with a £5,000 grant from the University Development Fund to allow it to continue as a student society and regain editorial independence, distributing around campus free of charge, as it does today.
The Student has won the Herald Student Media Award for Best Newspaper in 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 and the Guardian Student Media Awards for the “Best Newspaper on a Shoestring” in 2001. The paper has undergone several redesigns, the latest being in September 2018 when we moved from a Berliner to a Tabloid format. The most recent controversy was an interdict issued by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association to prevent the distribution of an offending front-page article.
Many of The Student’s former writers have gone on to become internationally recognised journalists and politicians (some we’re proud of, some we’re not). Past staff members of The Student include the British politicians Gordon Brown; Lord Steel of Aikwood; Robin Cook; and many of Fleet Street’s reporters and editors. Recent graduates include Guardian staff writer and editor Helen Pidd, BBC radio reporter Chris Page and deputy Political editor James Kirkup.
Today The Student consists of ten sections: News, Comment, Features, Lifestyle, Science & Technology, Voices, Culture, Music, Film & Television and Sport.
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