Sunday, 20 May 2007

An Open Letter to SOAS Director and Principal Paul Webley

23 March 2007

School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Re: CeFiMS: Postgraduate Programme in Finance and Financial Law

Dear Mr. Paul Webley,

I am writing to you as a student in the Finance and Financial Law Programme at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I would like to express my disappointment with the programme as it has added little to no value in our future career prospects in the financial services sector. I know you held a meeting with some students a while back regarding out concerns a while back, but we have yet to hear anything back from you with regards to any comments or recommendations in addressing these concerns of ours.

In looking for jobs and internships, we lack the knowledge in being able to do the simple things, such as corporate financial accounting or how to value various types of bonds. These are a couple of the credentials that banks and financial institutions look for in prospective employees. Other schools with similar programmes offer student optional internships or coordinated industrial placements as part of the curriculum so that they can experience and practice what they are learning. They offer networking seminars with bank directors and law partners, where students have a chance to introduce themselves and find out more about the industry. Networking is essential. We have a weekly elective lecture series called the "Business Networking Seminar," but the name is quite misleading. We do not have the opportunity to network, nor are the issues discussed particularly fruitful.

As a student from Africa, I applied to this programme because the detials in the brochure and on the website indicated that we would be covering certain practical topics and issues relevant to finance. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. One such instance is in a course entitled, "Banking and Capital Markets." This course is entirely concerned about the econometrics of information. Most of us do not have an economics background, and it is extremely difficult to follow and comprehend the materials provided in lecture and in the readings, as admissions to the programme required no prereuisite knowledge in this field. The pre-sessional course over the summer to get us acquainted with the material was a complete and utter joke. Mr. Joachim Kolb did not have the ability to teach the material in an informative way. According to the information provided in the information pamphlet, I thought we would be studying the different kinds of markets, the different financial instruments in those markets, and how they operate in the financial economy.

I have been applying to jobs and internships, but I have come to find out that we do not have the credentials to successfully get an interview at the very least. We were told that we should not worry about finding a job from the beginning by our Academic Director Richard Alexander. All our lectures were in the evening, and this made us unable to atend any of the open houses in the City. Hence, we were unable to make contacts within the industry, and were at a competitive disadvantage to other students from such schools as the London School of Economics and Political Science and Imperial College. The department says that we have a global network of alumni with regards to our programme, but it is useless if these details is kept under lock and key.

I am not writing to you solely on my behalf. My peers are also very frustrated, and I do not want the same situation to confront the students enrolled in the programme the following academic year. I hope no one applies for fear that they will too will experience disappointment with this programme. To let these frustrations go unaddressed would reflect badly upon the reputation of the School of Oriental and African Studies as a premier global acadmic institution.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you will get in touch with us soon.


One of Many

Thursday, 17 May 2007

A Typical Day in Regulations with Richard Alexander

Dear Fellow Students in Regulation of International Capital Markets,

Please find below a draft version of a script based on true events in the lecture today given by Dr. Richard Alexander that Mel Brooks would be happy to produce and direct.

The information contained herein may be subsituted for the PowerPoint slides Dr. Richard Alexander will send to us by e-mail correspondence sometime in the future when he decides it would be useful for us to have to augment our studies.

For those of you not present in class today, I strongly urge you to miss class more often and try to get on with your lives through a fulfilling careers.

This means that you should attend networking events in the City during the evenings and should have applied for graduate jobs back in November.

With Warm Regards and a Return Ticket on Virgin Atlantic Airways,

A Conscientious Observer with an Investment Loss of 11,500 GBP in Tuition


Based on true events of Friday 22 March 2007 on the Vernon Campus of the School of Oriental and African Studies.



11:03 AM: Richard, standing three apples tall beind the lecturn with the same baggy suit he wore on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, stares up at the projector hanging from the ceiling. His demeanor is that of a smurf, but without the white hat. The hat is not red as is the colour of the one belonging to Papa Smurf as it is doubtful that he is a Socialist or Communist. His T-Mobile Sidekick, which he uses to connect to Yahoo! Messenger when he is not chatting away on his computer during office hours as you visit him to ask an important question, makes quite a bulge in the left pocket of his oversized trousers. Incidentally his Yahoo! Messenger ID is Dungeons and Dragons anyone?

11:05 AM: Richard approaches Jahanzeb and Jackson seated in the back of the classroom. He saunters towards the two with his teeth grinding and fists clenched, as if he were in a petit mal seizure. As he makes his way to them, his head slowly twists to the left at an upward angle with the slightest hint of saliva glistening off his first mandibular premolar. After what seems like hours, Richard reaches their desks. Still standing three apples tall in front of Jahanzeb and Jackson, he makes a grand pause. Jackson immediately tries to back away, while Jahanzeb leans forward in his utmost interest to get closer to Richard


"This isn't surprising. Attendance is FUCKING appalling, and I think I know why. Students always tell me that it's much cheaper to fly before the official start of the holidays. I do know for a fact that you can save up to 100 to 200 pounds. But you know, this is no excuse."

11:19 AM: Richard, literally inches away from Jahanzeb's face, makes a disgrunted facial expression reminiscent of a lactose intolerant person who accidentally takes a bath in expired unpasteurised milk from Somerfield.


"Especially Michael. He has no excuse. I can probably understand missing class on the last day of lecture if you are travelling far away, but Michael is constantly going back and forth to Paris."

11:21 AM: At this point in the dialogue, Michael walks in, quietly sliding the door knob. Meanwhile, Richard, unaware of Michael's presence, continues to bitch about him.


"I don't think it would be unfair or illogical to assume that most of you are financially well off. I would indeed assume so if you live in a city such as Paris. So, what difference does it make to Michael if he can save 5 or 10 pounds by traveling on Friday instead of on Saturday? Michael needs... Michael...

11:24 AM: Richard immediately changes the direction and tone of his diatribe after realising Michael is now seated behind him towards the front of the class. He tries extremely hard to contain his embarrassment.


" the mines, groups of people take other groups of people as hostages, mainly Nigerians. It's a pity that Tosin isn't here."

11:37 AM: Richard informs the class excitedly, but about 20 years to late, about a technological breakthrough in the advanced progress of the telecommunications industry.


"In the past, we needed telephone operators. Today, we have international direct dialing in almost every jurisdiction in the world. Consumers, such as you and I, can now call anyone in the world freely."

11.25 AM: Stephanos arrives with his Grande Triple Shot Soy Extra Hot No Foam 2-Pump Mocha with No Whipped Cream Mocha from Starbucks Coffee.

11:30 AM: Tosin and Stephen arrive and take seats in the front of the class. They have resigned to the fact that they will have to listen to Richard speak about random things for an hour and half.


"It's a pity that you're so late. We were talking about Nigeria, and you could have defended yourself."

11:32 AM: In the meanwhile, Jahanzeb eagerly seeks Richard's attention by waving his hand in the air and leaning

forward in his desk. His eyes get shiny, as if he was telling his classmates about his so-called "job offer," he has from several investment banks in London.


"Sir? Sir? Sir. Sorry. Hard not to interrupt, but I have an urgent question that is buzzing in my mind. Sir, if I choke a smurf, what colour will it turn?"



11:37 AM: On the unemployment in the French coal mines.

11:42 AM: On the thorny issue of whether or not Turkey should join the European Union.

11:46 AM: On prostitution and the use of pickled eggs as sex toys.

12:05 PM: On the effectiveness of soy sauce mace sprays compared to throwing a 21 stone man holding two canisters of whipped cream at an burglar in King's Cross.

12:14 PM: Tosin convinces us that he had a clairvoyant conversation with God. God said that He would no longer oppress him and that he has a free pass to Heaven. He falls back asleep. This time to have a conversation with Jim Henson and his muppets.

12: 29 PM: Jahanzeb raises his hand to ask yet another question. The class collectively makes a silent grunt that could be heard by farm animals from Dorset to Somerset.


"Sir, is Romania part of the European Union?"


"Sir, how many steps are there to the top of the Eiffel Tower?"


"Patience, my son. I mean Jay. We're getting there. But first, can anyone tell me, as you all are taking a class entitled, 'Regulation of International Capital Markets,' how many carriages there are on the London Eye? It is also known as the Millennium Wheel, for those of you who are not familiar with the its vernacular name.


A Warning to Prospective Students of Finance and Financial Law, M.Sc.

Did you have a good look through the lovely red coloured brochure that the Centre for Financial and Management Studies sent by post to your house? Perhaps you perused through the website at the following address: Like what you see? Well, the students enrolled in the programme have a word of advice for all you interested candidates: "DO NOT APPLY." Why do we say this? We say this because we do not want you wasting a year of your valuable life doing a worthless programme taught by lecturers of such a dismal quality that you will end up having to teach yourself. You pay 11,500 pounds to get an education where you have to teach yourself. Oh by the way, the Director of the Programme won't answer your questions. All he says, "I don't have any answers, discussion is the best." Maybe this is due to the fact that he does not have a Ph.D. More to come.