Cambridge Strategies was CUSU and SJH's most recent publicationLouis Ashworth

CUSU yesterday confirmed a new, one-year publication deal which will bring in an estimated £60,000, distancing itself from previous comments in which it blamed business partner St James’s House for delays which led to substantial financial losses.

CUSU President Amatey Doku first announced that the student union would be signing the new contract with publisher St James’s House (SJH) during Monday’s ‘Super’ CUSU Council meeting. In a statement, CUSU said it is “pleased to announce that it has agreed a new contract with St James’s House for a 2017 publication titled Innovation 800, in its Cambridge Strategies series, which is due to be published in a digital format in June.”

The confirmation of a new collaboration comes after CUSU had initially suggested that its financial difficulties were largely down to “slippage” on the part of SJH, resulting in a delay in the arrival of publications which meant CUSU did not receiving expected income.

However, CUSU has since sought to clarify those claims, claiming instead that its present financial difficulties were down to an over-reliance on SJH as an income stream rather than any failure on the part of the publisher to fulfill its part of the contract. Doku did not directly address the discrepancy in his response to questions at Council on Monday.

The new income will soften the financial blow which CUSU’s General Manager, Mark McCormack, has said is expected at the end of this year. McCormack claimed that CUSU ran a £59,000 deficit in the financial year ending last June, and that it anticipated a deficit of £140,000 for 2016/17. With the new publication income taken into account, as well as a tax rebate, the expected losses will instead be around £70,000.

Asked by Varsity to clarify why the initial allegations had been made, Doku declined to answer. He did however point out a section of CUSU’s official statement, which says the student union “would like to make clear that it has had a longstanding and productive working relationship with St James’s House, and that St James’s House has paid in full all sums owed to CUSU. Over the past decade, St James’s House has provided almost £1m in funding to CUSU through media licence fees and royalties, and has at every stage sought to accommodate CUSU’s financial situation.”

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In an attempt to diversify income streams, other fundraising ideas were suggested at Monday’s Council, relating to the Freshers’ Fair and graduate recruitment. Doku refused to go into more detail regarding these proposals, following the advice of McCormack, who stated that discussion of these activities would be unwise.

At Monday’s Council, Doku amended the minutes from the previous Council meeting, officially correcting the record of his previous comments on ‘slippage’.

A statement released on CUSU’s website says that Innovation 800 “covers subjects that range from the philosopher Erasmus to Monty Python, and looks into the University of Cambridge’s Education Under Supervision tutorial system that encourages students to think for themselves.” It is CUSU and SJH’s first new publication since Cambridge Strategies, which launched in early 2016.

CUSU has previously come under criticism for its affiliated careers publication, with some questioning their relevance and value to students. In 2009, both CUSU and Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) came under criticism after a joint publication, The Oxford and Cambridge Careers Handbook, contained job adverts from weapons and tobacco companies. A mass burning of copies of the Handbook was subsequently organised in Oxford. As a result of such criticisms, and declining print revenue, CUSU made it a strategic aim in 2014 to move away from a reliance on such publications.

Doku said said “CUSU’s financial difficulties are attributable to its historical over-reliance on funding from St James’s House, and CUSU is presently addressing this situation by diversifying its income streams with the full support of St James’s House.”