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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

I went to Imperial College, and all I got was...

Sep 21 2005 11:59
Simon Rawson
A degree certificate printed in "Arial" in a messy assortment of sizes, whose text is written in bad English, and with a barely visible image of the College Crest. But that's not all...
A "world class" degree certificate (NOT MINE!) from a "world class institution".

124 weeks at Imperial College London cost me (or more accurately my parents) £4450 in tuition fees and left me with over £16,000 of student debt - despite over 1,500 hours of paid employment in the Students' Union.

My cupboards are bursting with 33 ring binders and 10 lab books full of lectures notes and coursework from 823 hours of lectures and 626 hours of labs. I managed to only buy 4 text books, but I borrowed about 60 others from the library.

Worst of all, I spent 57 hours in the exam hall.

On the political side of things, I'll always remember the fact that I was at university at the time when Top-Up Tuition Fees reappeared on the political scene. I'll remember that I was at the "world class institution" whose Rector was spearheading the campaign in their favour. And, despite a uncharacteristically high profile campaign by ICU, I still remember where I was when the vote came in.

I'll remember, in hindsight with some amusement, the hype and panic that was caused by the proposed merger of Imperial with UCL. And moreover, the spectacular way in which the proposals fizzled out.

The top-up fees issue may have got the better of the merger plan, but undeterred, the College decided to rebrand instead. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine became Imperial College London (no comma) and the new brand was born.

A week is long time in politics and, unsurprisingly, these issues have drifted off into history. The college is left with a new logo and a couple of strange looking new buildings [[1]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=151], [[2]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=926]. Indeed, if new buildings are proportional to controversy then there must be a coup d'etat brewing in College given the construction work currently underway [[1]|http://www.imperial.ac.uk/sports/centre/index.htm], [[2]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=1028!]

Yes, four years at Imperial College has seen some frivolity.

And the Union always did its best to match the controversy. Naughty presidents [[1]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=584], [[2]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=610], [[3]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=934], [[4]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=1062], [[5]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=1074], taking control of the Reynolds Bar and then relinquishing it, employing Permanent Secretaries and then "letting them go, losing thousands in summer balls and holding annual farcical elections [[2001]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=106], [[2002]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=377], [[2003]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=641], [[2004]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=856], [[2005]|http://live.cgcu.net/news/?id=1056].

There really is nothing as petty as student politics. And, fittingly, the Union now has plans for its own building too!

But after the amazing dance that Imperial College has led me, I'm left standing somewhat breathless, dazed and confused. I don't exactly know what I'm supposed to do now. Maybe I'll find my direction sometime soon, maybe I won't. When I attend Commemoration Day at the end of October I'll look back warmly on my time here and smile, perhaps a little wryly, at the "quality" of my degree certificate.

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Discussion about “I went to Imperial College, and all I got was...”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Sep 21 2005 13:24
 

Just a minor point, Simon. The image is not actually a degree certificate, but a Diploma of Association (in this particular case, of the Royal College of Science). It's another qualification that you worked for in your time here.

Your degree certificate will, however, be lovingly prepared by the bods down at the University of London, as there they're the people we ultimately get our degrees from. At least, let's hope it's that way...

Sep 21 2005 13:47
 

<conspiracy>

That's still UTTERLY appalling. In fact, you wouldn't put that on your wall. So no-one would ask about it. In fact, you might not even put ARCS on your CV in case someone asked you to present that awful certificate... so ARCS could disappear :o

</conspiracy>

3. Dan L   
Sep 21 2005 15:16
 

Don't you mean October rather than November Simon?

4. Simon   
Sep 21 2005 15:31
 

You caught me just too soon... the article was literally being updated as you spoke. That was indeed a typo!

5. me   
Sep 21 2005 21:42
 

Ahhh, but was it fol-de-rol frivolity and did it all start in Venice?

Sep 21 2005 23:43
 

Feeling somewhat breathless, dazed and confused? Don't know what will happen once you've got your tatty certificate from IC? Want to gain valuable work experience before entering the real world?

Come to the Engineering Careers fair on the 19th October in Tanaka. It has 30 engineering companies offering careers and internships for engineers (and scientists who have seen the error of their ways).

"Live!- plugging CGCU events since the era of Tang"

Sep 26 2005 11:47
 

Yea, come to the "Engineers careers fair" - btw, what happened to the student run Internship Fair Chris?

"Live! - A presidential propoghanda machine since 2004"

8. c!   
Sep 26 2005 21:56
 

cool. engineering companies rather than just banks

Sep 30 2005 13:58
 

Live! is presedentially independant, and it's editors are unlike Sanjeev in that they have never had to defend a no confidence motion for been totally c**p at a job and not having the guts to stand up and resign when they realised they had bitten off more than they could cope with (Oh, and assist the people left with the responsability once they had technically resigned from a job)

10. zico   
Oct 01 2005 17:57
 

the dission get enlarge

i hope that you provide me a chat place to talke to each other

11. Bob   
Oct 02 2005 11:08
 

A bit like the LMS this year then Chris.... - "people in tanaka shouldn't throw stones"

Oct 02 2005 12:10
 

LMS is exactly what I Was refering to. As soon as I realised I was going to be unable to give it the time it deserved I said so and stood down, I then provided Chris McIver with a list of potential sponsors for the theme we were looking at and ranked them so that the research I had done was not wasted. (btw the top firm on this list is now the sponsor of the event).

Prior to my resignation all the paperwork to the LMS organisers was on time and approved. Looking back to last year (And I'm sure Mr Collins will advise further) this was not the case.

Resigning was the correct thing to do rather than not doing anything and letting the whole thing decend into yet another farce and losing any remaining credibility with Dominic Reed that was left after last year (Which was probably none).

13. Sam   
Oct 04 2005 10:19
 

My ACGI certificate looks rather nice, but I'm not surprised that a c**ppy Association has c**ppy certificates ;o)

Oct 04 2005 17:48
 

But your AGCI certificate was presumably issued before this year, and possibly even pre-rebranding?

15. tom t   
Oct 04 2005 18:45
 

didn't anyone else get their certificate delivered on a convenient cardboard tube, with pre cut perforations? Mine was soft, long and strong, if i recall correctly...

16. Dan   
Oct 05 2005 00:04
 

But you will find Sam's ACGI (like all ACGIs) is issued not by college but by external people at the CGI. Hence there should be no c**ppy Arial fonts....

Nov 18 2005 15:44
 

My ACGI arrived today ... I think it looks better than my degree certificate, to be honest.

Certainly better than that awful ARCS one.

18. Sam   
Nov 20 2005 11:42
 

Ditto Ashley. I doubt the ACGI certificate has changed - mine too looks better than my Degree Certificate which frankly looks like something I'd expect one of them there new "Universities" to produce.

Frankly, the Crest is still supposed to be used for Heritage Items - I'd count Degree Certificates and other formal awards as part of this.

Jan 19 2006 18:46
 

Hmm, I just got through my ARCS certificate through the post. It would seem that the seal is half missing from it. Looks like another telephone call is in order...

Jan 19 2006 19:00
 

Yeah, my seal only half came through too. Pretty shoddy quality control. Could you post if you have any success with getting a new one? I'm not convinced you will. Good luck!

Jan 19 2006 19:38
 

It wouldn't be so bad if it hasn't been about a month of constant nagging Student Records and pointing out that I didn't get mine in August as I was still a student before they got off their a**es and actually did one for me. For an institution that wants to prepare it's own degree certificates they've gota long way to go before they can do it.

Jan 25 2006 20:01
 

As some people seem to be mildly interested in this I'll just give a quick update:

I finally recieved a reply from Sarah Rowell (the person in charge of the certificates I'm led to believe) actually saying that the seal was basically at the end of it's useful life. Finding the e-mail slightly amusing, i sent the following reply -

"

Dear Miss Rowell

Many thanks for your e-mail. I just feel I should raise a couple of pertinent points regarding this issue.

Firstly, the seal affixed to my certificate is not quite faint - a far better description would be almost non-existent. In the seals current form, it actually looks like I've forged it - and badly forged it at that. Nobody from outside the College would recognise it for what it was. This for all intents and purposes renders the certificate useless to me, as it is unable to fulfill it's function of proving a qualification that I have.

Secondly, I am not the only recent graduate who has expressed dismay at the quality of the seal. I have already had missives from a number expressing a desire for a replacement certificate due to the non-existent seal on theirs - they're just waiting to see how willing the College is to do it's job properly.

I therefore submit that the first thing that should be done is that a new seal is purchased by the College, such that a proper impression can be achieved on certificates. This is especially important due to the fact that the College has an intention of awarding it's own degrees, and such quality would never be permissible on degree certificates. When I have received an indication that the College has purchased a new seal, and that it has been checked to ensure that seals are attached properly, I will gladly return my certificate for a proper impression to be made. I also feel that the Registry should advertise to all recent Alumni that a proper seal can be attached to their certificates, due to the fact that it is probable that a reasonable number would be interested.

I await your reply,

Edward Joseph Piggott

"

Jan 26 2006 09:17
 

Nice to see Mr Piggot is as anal as ever really.

24. Ruth   
Jan 26 2006 10:18
 

Fish in a Fryer, I don't think Ed is being anal, I think he has a valid point. I want the stamp on my ARCS (assuming I manage to not to fail and get one) to be readable and would have thought most graduates of Imperial college would feel the same.

Also he's prepared to use his real name on Live! unlike you who is hiding behind a pseudonym to be rude about other people.

Jan 26 2006 11:05
 

Fish in the Fryer - This time Mr Piggott is using his bloody-minded anal-retentiveness for the forces of good. He can be a powerful force in this respect.

Of course, you should've all been Engineers, then you'd get a proper certificate. Although, it does have some weird swirly thing and a lion in the background, rather than seal. Maybe that's the solution.

"The seal is near the end of its useful life" is certainly not an acceptable excuse.

"Sorry, our degree certificate printer has no ink, have a blank sheet of paper with the Rector's signature on it"

(Pedantry on the subject of how certificates are actually printed will not be appreciated.)

Jan 26 2006 19:08
 

It's Piggott, not Piggot.

Seriously though, the College does appear to be striking a concilliatry note. I should have a reply within a week or so. Will give further info towards this end.

Jan 27 2006 04:05
 

The aptly named ARCS certificate - fit only for the purpose of wiping ones bottom.

Jan 29 2006 20:04
 

Well done Edward! I'm glad someone has done something about this, my suspicion is that College wants to do away with the ARCS altogether, and issuing worthless certificates is probably the first step.

Apr 14 2006 17:13
 

Any news, Edward? I'm rather looking forward to getting mine!

Apr 17 2006 20:15
 

Does anyone have any figures as to how much money has been wasted splitting the RCs into life and physical science, then patching it back up again? Or the amount of admin hours spent doing so? Job creations and redundancies as a result?

31. tom t   
Apr 21 2006 18:30
 

I'm sure Psyko does. He loves his life sci so much that he created their very own lovely faculty. But it fell on its face and has to be propped up with research grants from us physical scientists. So, err, that's a new job for Sir Peter Knight, ex Physics HoD and a redundancy for the Life Sci person who's name I've forgotten, weirdly. Not to mention hours of Sherfield fun with renaming and recreating and reinventing the wheel...

32. Bored   
Apr 21 2006 19:25
 

Actually Tom the Life-Sci guy was Borys, who was (and still is) the Deputy Rector. Putting him one below Dickie Sykes. The only person who comes out of this out of pocket is the ex-Phys-Sci guy (Prof Duff) who college had to hastily create a new chair in Physics for. Not surprising really since he was pretty incompetent as Faculty Principal.

What is the diiference between a MSci and MSc???

Apr 22 2006 01:22
 

Msci is a 4year undergraduate masters degree, wheras an Msc is a one-year postgraduate masters. In biochemistry they are scrapping the Msci and encouraging people to take the Msc or Mres instead, but all other courses seem to have stuck to the 4-year Msci course system. Anyone know why?

Apr 22 2006 10:39
 

AIUI, the government will only pay for the first degree - so if you want to do a PG masters you have to pay for it yourself or get research council/industrial funding. I guess College gets more money from MSc than the 4th year of the MSci, as they can charge whatever they want.

The government will happily(!) pay for a 4-year first degree, which is the reason for a 4-year masters and also why they don't give out a BEng/"BSci" after 3 years on those programmes.

35. simon   
May 27 2006 21:26
 

So, amusingly all of last year's RCS certificates have now be reprinted an reissued.

Sadly the wording is now as follows:

"The Council of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medecine has admitted {name}, who has completed an approved course of study at the college in {subject} with {degree classification} honours, to be an Associate of the Royal College of Science."

which, frankly, is no better than before.

Are they really "admitting me to be an Associate of the RCS"? Have IC been denying it all along?

Or are they admitting me to the RCS to be an Associate?

What a shame.

May 27 2006 21:39
 

Does it say "Medecine" or "Medicine"? Because "Medecine" would be a worse mistake...

37. Sam   
May 28 2006 01:14
 

My ACGI certificate still looks fine - perhaps Physics wasn't a good choice Simon.

38. Simon   
May 28 2006 01:30
 

It says medicine. My typing is worse than theirs.

But the grammar of the RCS certificate still looks dodgy to me!

May 28 2006 09:59
 

The grammar is still dodgy. The ACGI says:

"THE ASSOCIATESHIP AWARD IN COMPUTING"

"IS AWARDED TO"

"<name>"

Then in small text at the bottom:

"This Diploma certifies that the Council of the Institute has Conferrerd Associateship of the City and Guilds of London Institute on successful completion of the approved course of study at the City and Guilds College, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine."

Which I still think is a bit of a mouthful.

May 28 2006 14:11
 

So do the CGCI award the certificates, or do College? If so, do you reckon that the RCSA could award their own certificates instead of the awful College rebranded ones?

May 28 2006 17:28
 

As I see it:

The City and Guilds Institute award the ACGI.

Imperial College awards the ARCS, ARSM, AICSM and DIC.

The University of London awards everything else (i.e. the degrees)

42. Dan L   
May 29 2006 09:09
 

Richard,

The RCSA and CGCA have nothing to do with awarding Associateship, so I am afraid you will have to stick with an ICL branded certificate.

43. Sam   
Jun 01 2006 10:32
 

UoL degree certificates look a bit c**p as well

Jun 04 2006 14:26
 

"I went to Imperial College, and all I got was"...well, I got a disposable camera from the post-graduation graduation ceremony pack, who uses them anymore???

45. Ruth   
Jun 05 2006 10:47
 

Disposable cameras are good to give to children to take on school trips as it doesn't matter if they lose them. Does this suggest that college think of postgrads like small children? ;-)

Jun 05 2006 11:24
 

The idea is that you take photos of your graduation then send the whole camera back to alumni services, who develop them.

I think at my graduation there was a prize for the best photos (although you could email electronic ones in if you wished).

47. kodak   
Jun 05 2006 13:55
 

disposable cameras are alos good for nights out when you plan to get smashed and don't want your digital camera to get...well...smashed. they'll be with us for some time yet.

Jun 07 2006 10:29
 

Maybe they think postgrads will have kiddies of their own who'd love the cameras. And fair enough some postgrads do, I'll keep my camera till I have them. The night out idea seems good too or holidays, I have lost enough cameras on holiday.

49. kit   
Jul 13 2006 10:19
 

Just wanna ask if the degree cert do display the grade(honours) i.e. stating 1st class or 2nd upper..etc?

Jul 13 2006 10:46
 

Yes, the degree certificate shows the honours classification.

The ACGI/ARCS don't.

Jul 14 2006 09:28
 

The AGCI ones might not, but my ARCS one does... as does the ARCS one in the picture.

Jul 14 2006 10:12
 

Very true, I should pay more attention. The ACGI ones don't have a degree classification, probably because they're awarded by the City and Guilds Institute and not College.

53. Isaac   
May 14 2009 04:51
 

I'm about to take my finals. Looking at these comments, I never would be in any doubt as to which university they originated from.

Take your degrees and run, guys... it's the only good thing to come out of this place. :)

Sep 29 2011 16:44
 

I graduated back in the early 70s and have a professional looking ARCS certificate. (Lucky me!) However, I thought RCS is now defunct. Why are they still issuing certificates?

Maybe my information is incorrect.

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