Not a very ExCellent idea…

KCL needs to move the May 2014 exams from ExCel to ensure students have the best chance of success.


In the early days of 2014, passengers on the DLR found their numbers greatly swelled by a mass of young and slightly panicked King’s students. At the moment, this great exodus to the East will be repeated in May as well.

And that’s what we’re trying to change. In spite of a number of complaints, KCL have so far refused to move the exams. We’ve still got 4 months to try and persuade them to change the venue to a more central location.

The ExCel Centre is too far away for most students to get to. It takes significantly more time for most students to travel there than it would to travel to a central location. Having the venue at a more central location would make it easier for students to access it via public transport: it takes half an hour to travel from Bank to ExCel if you took the DLR – and that’s if everything goes according to plan.

If there were a problem with the DLR, or any of the other underground services in Central London, it would be almost impossible to get to ExCel on time by alternative means. There have been some cases where this has happened. Having the exams in Central London would mean you could always take a different train or bus if one of the services weren’t working, and still make it on time. In addition, ExCel is in Zone 3, meaning most students have to pay more to travel to ExCel than we would if it were in Zone 1.

The ExCel Centre is also located about 5-10 minutes away from London City Airport. When I did my exams last year, my train of thought was regularly disrupted by the roar of a 747 above my head. I suspect the same is probably true for a number of other students.

Then we have the infamous pigeons in the exam hall. Being put in an exam hall for 2-3 hours with pigeons flying around is probably going to push some anxious students into an even greater state of panic. There were also some cases where pigeons defecated on students’ exam papers. The lack of sunlight and sheer size of ExCel also exacerbates nerves and anxieties for many already nervous about exams.

There are also problems with the toilet facilities. It takes much longer to go to the toilet in ExCel than it would at a smaller venue, wasting valuable exam time. There were also some cases last year where some of the toilets were locked. Given the fact that in some exams the interval where candidates are allowed to go to the toilet is only around 15 minutes, these inconveniences can prove very damaging to someone sitting their exams.

Students who have worked hard do not deserve to lose marks because they were distracted by loud aeroplane noises, or because they did not have enough time to finish their papers because the toilets were locked. The ExCel Centre does not enable students to perform at their best, because it is not a suitable examination venue.

If the exams were held at any venue in Central London, it would eliminate a lot of factors affecting travel. I did my first year exams at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Strand Campus and Westminster Hall, which were all much easier to get to via public transport. Some have even suggested Kensington Olympia. Any venue that is in Central London, has easily accessible toilets and has no pigeons in residence would be a lot more suitable than ExCel.

At the KCLSU AGM on Thursday 23 January, a motion was put forward in favour of moving the May 2014 exams to a more suitable location. 278 votes were cast in favour of the motion, with only 85 against. A campaign to ‘Get KCL to move the May 2014 exams from ExCel to a more central location’ has also been launched on Facebook, which has been liked by more than 1,300 people. Students can share their experiences of going to ExCel here.

The university needs to listen to the voices of its students, and ensure that people who study at King’s have the best possible chance of success in their exams. If the exam venue is not changed, students’ grades will needlessly suffer and they could ultimately lose those few crucial marks that can make the difference between a bright future and a pile of rejection letters.