Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


PhD Paperbag Protest Highlights Culture of Fear at King’s


Photography by Ryan Chang

A protest was held outside the entrance to Strand Campus calling for a better deal for PhD students at King’s. The protesters wore paper bags over their heads to illustrate the self-censorship caused by what they called a ‘culture of fear’ amongst doctorates.

Anya Govus, 2nd year Physics and Philosophy undergrad - photo by Ryan Chang

Two undergraduate students supported PhD student Roger Hallam in canvassing and staging the public sit-in. The absence of doctorate students reflects an academic world in which reputation matters and speaking out is perceived as putting their careers in jeopardy.

Andy Warren, 2nd year Philosophy undergraduate - photo by Ryan Chang

Andy Warren, a 2nd year Philosophy undergraduate said “It’s a case of exploitation. Undergraduates must help to give PhD students a voice.”

“For me, the catalyst for joining the cause was reading the anonymous survey of graduate students in Roar News! I found it quite shocking that up to 90% of the GTAs (graduate teaching assistants) had to work more hours than they had been contracted.”

“King’s College should make paying their academics their first priority – there’s enough money swilling around and if the College can upgrade the campus to incorporate Bush House across the street then it can definitely treat their staff fairly.”

Roger Hallam, PhD researcher, organiser of "Radical Think and Do Campaign" - photo by Ryan Chang

PhD student and activist Roger Hallam said, “There is a huge gap between how PhD posts are publicised by King’s and the reality faced by the doctorates. How treatment of PhD students has a knock on effect on standards across the university and ultimately its reputation.”

Currently King’s has 2745 PhD Students with a large amount teaching undergraduate students in many departments.

The college came under fire last year over its treatment of the PhD students who teach following a campaign for better pay conditions.

In a statement the College said, “We are strongly supportive of our Graduate Teaching Assistants and believe that the important work that they undertake deserves to be fairly remunerated. Postgraduate research students are restricted to 6 hours per week of paid work in order to ensure that the primary task of studying for a research degree is not jeopardised. Our policy on rates of pay is clear, fair, and the evidence suggests that it is followed by most Faculties and Departments.”

KCLSU Vice President Ben Hunt has issued a statement on behalf of the Students’ Union stating that: “KCLSU stands in solidarity with GTAs in their fight for proper pay for all their hours of work, both in teaching and in preparation time. I will continue to lobby the College for pay increases across the board, as well as supporting student campaigners and actions that will lead to this end. I support the promotion of GTA issues that was done yesterday and will continue to fight for more PhD space across our campuses, and argue against the College culture of treating our GTAs like free labourers or apprentices rather than employees.”



Staff writer Alisa Sheludko examines the implications of guerrilla journalism on traditional news media and the possibility of their collaboration in the future. Introduction...

Women's Football Women's Football


Staff Writer Grace Holloway writes how despite recent successes, women’s football is still far from equal with the men’s. Women’s football has become increasingly...

Wisteria on a white wall with a window Wisteria on a white wall with a window


Staff Writer Charlotte Galea takes a look at the new season of the famed Netflix show and concludes that giving up on historical accuracy...

Protesters in favour of Ali as KCLSU president on Strand campus Protesters in favour of Ali as KCLSU president on Strand campus

KCLSU & Societies

Advait Joshi, who received the second most votes in the King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) March elections, has refused to assume the office...


Staff writer Douglas Gibb scrutinizes the First-Past-The-Post system and its impact on true representative democracy in the wake of the recent UK elections. On...


A Roar investigation into the expense claims of King’s College London (KCL) Vice-Chancellor Shitij Kapur has uncovered several cases of extravagant spending. Receipts and...


Staff writer Anoushka Sinha reports on this year’s Higgs lecture, delivered by Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell and hosted by the KCL Physics department...


Staff writer Ewan White discusses a recent peanut allergy study and its subsequent media coverage. Recent research from King’s College London (KCL) has found...


Staff writer Samira Siakantari, an exchange student at UCLA, recounts her experience of the police crackdown on the UCLA Pro-Palestinian encampment, arguing student protestors...