The oldest student newspaper in Europe has been saved from closure after its volunteer staff raised more than £3,000 in emergency crowdfunding.
A free newspaper, the Student was founded at the University of Edinburgh in 1887 by the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, who served as its first arts editor.
Financially independent, it faced closure after a major advertiser, the university’s student association, pulled out of a long-running partnership where the newspaper covered the association’s elections and ran adverts.
The title launched an initial fundraising appeal to reach £1,000, but the Scottish newspaper publisher DC Thomson, which publishes the Sunday Post and the Beano, donated £730, to push it above £2,000. By 8pm on Wednesday, the crowdfunding had raised more than £4,800.
Lucy Jackson, the Student’s president, said: “I’m absolutely blown away. We didn’t expect to get that much support.”
Run as a student society with a core group of about 25 volunteers, she said the newspaper’s main source of income was the £10 membership fee it charged students to join rather than being dependent on funding from the university or student association.
“It’s good in a sense because it allows us to remain editorially independent,” she said. “A lot of our reporting focuses on the university and on how bad they’re doing, really, so it’s really important that we do have that independence.”
With a fortnightly circulation of 750 copies, the Student has tried to raise additional advertising from local businesses, but the pandemic and financial crisis had made it difficult to bring in extra adverts.
Local pubs, clubs and restaurants were able to reach students for free through social media, Jackson added.
The newspaper has been a nursery for many prominent journalists and public figures, including the former Labour leader Gordon Brown, who was its editor; the BBC presenter Laura Kuenssberg; the late Labour foreign secretary and leader of the house Robin Cook; the political journalist James Kirkup; the Guardian’s Helen Pidd, Jonathan Liew and Phil Maynard and the author Amy Liptrot.
Joe Sullivan, its editor-in-chief, told the BBC its greatest expense was the paper it was printed on but the team felt it was essential the newspaper remained in print rather than went online, where it would struggle to remain visible.
“As a community publication having a presence in print, on counters, in newsstands, across all the student parts of Edinburgh – without that visibility we might not be able to survive as a digital publication,” he said.