Epigram, Bristol University’s student publication, is at times more than a just another student publication. As the publication’s Arts Editor (and my Kettle colleague, Culture Editor Rosemary Wagg) says, it shines a light on the goings on at Bristol, in an age where student satisfaction rates with the university can be at all-time lows. “Bristol Uni sometimes has fairly low student satisfaction results on surveys and I’d like to hope that Epigram can help address some of the concerns which make this so,” Wagg said. “I hope people see that it is independent to the university establishment and therefore makes a keen effort to voice student concerns both about the university and the education system as a whole.”
Wagg got her start on Epigram during the first year of her MA, starting as a subeditor. “Before I started at Bristol last year, I emailed the newspaper team asking if they had any positions to fill after simply googling to see what publications the uni had,” Wagg said, adding that she was on the mailing lists after signing up at Fresher’s Fair, and that she regularly wrote for the paper and attended the meetings. “At the end of that year I applied for both the Fashion and Arts editorial roles and was appointed Arts Editor.”
Wagg says that when she is finished with her MA, she is considering either going straight into a journalism career, or pursuing a PhD. “At present I am trying to not close any doors and therefore will be applying in the near future for PhD opportunities and also, over the rest of the year, keeping an eye out for any job opportunities,” Wagg said. “In an ideal world, I would like a future which combined academia, fiction writing and journalism. I think that mixed careers may be the way forward into the future job market and so hope it may be an advantage to have several routes to follow.”
Epigram, Wagg adds, is always welcome to contributors. “The editors are always keen to have contributors and ideas etc thrown at them, so people should be less scared of coming forward to contact us,” Wagg said. “We are students ourselves, so there is no need to be overly formal. As long as someone can meet the agreed deadline and is enthusiastic about a topic, we would always like to hear from you.” Wagg adds that she is proud of the design aspects, especially the last issue of term, where illustrations and letters drawn by a student were used to create a neo-Victorian affect for the publication.
For student journalism in the UK, Wagg says, it is essential in lieu of the current environment. “As internships etc have become so much more integral, student journalism is very important as it is a way of gaining experience without having to undertake massively expensive and long internships either alongside or after university, which many people cannot afford, particularly if they live outside of London,” Wagg said. “The political situation right now in Britain is instigating massive changes to the higher education system and to the employment opportunities of young people. Therefore it is particularly important that students have a voice and make the most of it.”
Epigram is one of those publications where the idea of student journalism is most conveyed—it engages students, it champions students, and moreover, it allows students to have an enriched experience at university.
This piece is part of a series for Kettle examining UK student publications and student journalism.