Eyre told the meeting that relations between TCS and CUSU were "hopefully good"Louis Ashworth

CUSU refused to release more detailed information about The Cambridge Student’s finances at CUSU Council on Monday night, just days after publishing a document which claimed that the student union-funded newspaper is facing a “significant loss in revenue” by the end of the year.

The response came in the course of a brief discussion about CUSU’s mid-year budget review, a new initiative aimed to improve transparency ahead of the presentation of the annual budget in Easter Term.

Addressing questions submitted by Varsity, CUSU president Daisy Eyre and student trustee Daniel Dennis said that “availability of precise, current knowledge” pertaining to the paper’s finances “may have an impact on strategies” for income.

After expressing her desire to be “as transparent as possible”, Eyre declined to disclose current figures for the paper’s contract and sponsorship income, saying: “The question was asked by a direct competitor, therefore is quite sensitive”.


Mountain View

New tensions over TCS as CUSU claims paper is facing ‘significant’ losses

In a briefing document released on Friday, CUSU said a “significant loss in revenue from TCS expected for the end of the year,” following a decline in print revenue.

The paper’s board of directors rebutted CUSU’s claims on Saturday, saying the student union’s portrayal of TCS’s finances had “regrettable inaccuracies”. Eyre later said she had contacted TCS’s directors, and told them the briefing had been “accurate”.

Eyre said that TCS’s directors are aware of its sponsorship and contract income – likely to primarily come from web and print advertising – for the year to date.

TCS’s print edition was threatened with abolition in 2016, after CUSU passed a budget which include significant cuts to its funding. After reaching an agreement with Amatey Doku, the former president, student volunteers agreed to produce a fortnightly edition of the paper.

The student union has made wide-ranging cuts to its activities as a result of ongoing financial issues, which have also included lowering budgets to Liberation Campaigns, student elections, and personal spending allowances for sabbatical officers.

Explained Why is CUSU in such financial difficulties?

The student union is currently suffering substantial losses following the collapse of a publishing contract. CUSU had previously had deals with St. James’s House (SJH), which produced publications including a series of careers guides. CUSU has been attempting to move away from the contract, on which they claimed SJH had been slow to deliver – a claim they later attempted to backpedal on.

Without the SJH income, and following the collapse in years past of its nightlife enterprise, the student union has been shorn of its two major revenue streams. It has already suffered substantial losses to its reserve funds, likely in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and received a bailout from the University in 2015.

Until it can figure out new ways to make money, the student union is being forced to make cuts to services. It can also go to the University itself for more funding, but central administration has criticised the student union before for a lack of clear objectives, and any increased reliance on Cambridge’s money damages CUSU’s ability to credibly act independently of the University.

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TCS, which has a spending budget of £7,000 for this year, remains a potential target for future cuts. Asked how relations between the paper and CUSU stood following their tense exchange at the weekend, Eyre said they were “hopefully good”.

Eyre said that she wished to clear up “inaccuracies”, stressing that the paper had not overspent its budget – something which had not been said in CUSU’s briefing or either group’s statements.

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Speaking after Council, TCS’s board of directors, a group of students who oversee the paper’s activities, told Varsity in a statement: “We appreciate Daisy acknowledging that the wording of the statement was misleading, and that she clarified this at CUSU Council. We would like to reiterate that the fiscal responsibility of TCS lies with the CUSU Finance Team, and not with the Board or Editors. Our financial situation is reliant on advertising revenue brought in by the CUSU team, and we always encourage their efforts.”

CUSU has already lost hundreds of thousands of pounds as a result of a collapsed publishing contract, and the end of its nightlife activities. At Council, Eyre said expected losses for this year would be slightly lower than previously anticipated: £70,000 instead of £75,000.

After answering questions submitted in advance, Dennis and Eyre took a limited number of questions about the budget.

Dennis, who sits on the committee which oversees TCS’s finances, said he would be in favour of releasing full figures for the paper’s income at the end of the academic year, when Council presents its next budget, but said that releasing information in the middle of the financial year could impact its ability to make money in the future.

“Availability of knowledge of precise, current knowledge of paper may have an impact on strategies,” he said. “It’s not to hide figures for any other reason than to provide the best possible revenue streams for TCS.”

Dennis said that CUSU’s income generation team were currently dedicating 10% of their operating time to securing income for the paper.

After acting chair Mark McCormack – CUSU’s general manager – said that further questions should be submitted via email, activist student and NUS delegate Angus Satow commented that the budget review did not “seem like much of a discussion”.

“It’s not supposed to be, it’s supposed to be informative,” Eyre responded

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