FAQ on what it means to be an LSE alumna/us
Over the years, LSE alumnae and alumni have frequently been posing similar questions to the Officers of the Association. To create an information resource for all to freely consult, the answers are collated, summarized and annotated with sources in this FAQ. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the Officers if you have a follow-up question or if you want to know something which is not addressed in this FAQ.
Am I an LSE alumna or alumnus?
Yes, if you are a former student or employee.
"Alumnae" and "alumni" are persons, who either have attended or graduated from a particular educational institution or who are former members or employees. "Alumnae" refers to multiple females, "alumni" to multiple males. "Alumna" is one female, "alumnus" one male. The compound term "alumni/ae" refers to both females and males. The gender-neutral alternative is the singular "alum" or the plural "alums".
To enjoy being an LSE alumna/us do I need to know all the details?
No, just enjoy.
Use this FAQ only, if you're curious about certain aspects of being an LSE alumna/us.
How many associations have LSE alumnae and alumni founded in Switzerland over the years?
One, in 1998.
The first Swiss alumnus is known to have graduated from the LSE in 1910 but it was not until 1998 when 47 LSE alumnae and alumni in Switzerland came together to establish their private membership association (privatrechtlicher Verein), the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA). Today, the 400 members of the Association make possible that over 2'000 LSE alumnae and alumni in Switzerland enjoy a great number and variety of activities, events, benefits and services. The Association is led by Officers, elected by the membership for 2-year terms.
Has the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA) supported the LSE financially?
Yes, we have.
The Association has made donations totaling CHF 26'400, financial support recognized by the LSE with the "Swiss Alumnae and Alumni Group Study Room" in the LSE library.
Are LSE alumnae and alumni members of the LSE?
No, only a negligible fraction of the LSE alumnae and alumni community (less than 0.05%) are members of the School.
By joining a national association of LSE alumnae and alumni, such as the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA), an LSE alumna/us becomes a member of that association and not of the LSE. To be enormously proud of your alma mater, you don't have to be its member. If you are unsure whether you a member of the LSE, you definitely are not.
The LSE is a regular Private Limited Company (plc) with the exemption of having to use "Limited" in the company name. The LSE was incorporated in 1901 as "The Incorporated London School of Economics and Political Science", changed by special resolution to the current name in 1957. As with any other company, the LSE is represented by its directors, not by all LSE alumnae and alumni.
The United Kingdom does not have any public higher education institutions as, for instance, Switzerland has.
Many LSE alumnae and alumni, however, are members of the University of London. See the respective question further below.
Are there "recognized", "unrecognized" or "derecognized" LSE alumnae and alumni?
Of course, not.
LSE alumnae and alumni are LSE alumnae and alumni by virtue of having studied or worked at the LSE, not by having been granted LSE alumni status by somebody.
Hence, there can be no "recognized" or "unrecognized" LSE alumnae and alumni. Logically, LSE alumnae and alumni also cannot be "derecognized" as LSE alumnae and alumni by anybody.
Such labels are unnecessary and insulting. A few years ago, the School instituted a formal process of getting "recognized". Naturally, the General Meeting of the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA) has never applied to the LSE and, for that matter, to the University of London for "recognition" or any other meaningless status, and will never do so. The General Meeting of Ordinary Members is and always will be the highest authority within the Association pursuant to Swiss federal law.
See also some of the questions and answers further below.
Are LSE alumnae and alumni members of the University of London?
Yes, not all but many.
LSE alumnae and alumni, who hold an academic degree in the University of London or from the LSE, are members of the University of London.
LSE alumnae and alumni, who don't hold an academic degree in the University of London or from the LSE, are not members of the University of London.
Membership is acquired pursuant to Art. 4.1 of the Statutes of the University: "The members of the University shall be the Chancellor, the members of the Board of Trustees, all staff employed by the University and the Colleges, all students, graduates and Emeritus Professors and Readers of the University and the Colleges."
This statutory provision reflects the Royal Charters through which the University of London was created and through which it evolved. At the time the University was established by Royal Charter granted by King William IV in 1836, graduates were not yet incorporated as members of the University. However, a new Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria in 1863 finally gave graduates membership in the University and they have held it ever since.
Can any LSE alumna/us participate in the activities and events of the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA)?
Yes, membership was never required.
You do not have to be a member to participate in any of the activities and events of the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA). You only have to be a member if you want to take advantage of any of the benefits and services of the Association.
Membership is open to all LSE alumnae and alumni. Members pay a small membership dues of CHF 40 per annum during their term of membership.
Do LSE alumnae and alumni in Switzerland directly support LSE students?
Yes, we do.
The charitable scholarship foundation (gemeinnützige Stipendienstiftung), the LSE Alumnae and Alumni Foundation of Switzerland (LSEAAF), was co-founded by individual LSE alumnae and alumni and by the Swiss LSE Alumni Association in 2017. It is supervised by the Federal Government. The Foundation uses income from its sizable financial endowment to fund scholarships to LSE students and grants to LSE researchers. As the federal and cantonal governments granted the Foundation tax-exemption, donations to the Foundation can be deducted from taxable income. The Foundation is led by an independent Board of Trustees.
How can I become a member of the Swiss LSE Alumni Association?
By applying for membership.
The Swiss LSE Alumni Association is made up of Members, who are LSE alumnae and alumni. The 47 LSE alumnae and alumni, who incorporated the Association in 1998, are its Founding Members. The membership grew over the decades with LSE alumna and alumni joining and adding to the vibrancy of one of the leading national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni.
To become a member, please use either the traditional and handy paper method of joining or the modern and guided digital method. Most new members prefer the latter to save themselves from having to visit the post office. At other Swiss associations, one can join by oral application but not at our Association.
How can I exit the Swiss LSE Alumni Assocation?
By resigning your membership.
You enter the Swiss LSE Alumni Association by joining and exit the Association by resigning. For your resignation to take effect on 31 December of the same year, it must be received in written form, either postal or electronic, by the General Secretariat on or before 30 June. Please ensure at the time of your resignation that you have paid your membership dues for the entire term of membership.
Are national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni, including the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA), part of the LSE and/or the University of London?
No, all are independent and autonomous.
Proper national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni have been and will be established by LSE alumnae and alumni, not by the LSE or the University of London.
Claiming that any national association of LSE alumnae and alumni has at any time been a part of the LSE and/or the University of London is simply false.
LSE alumnae and alumni establish national associations usually for their own benefit. Incorporated national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni number around two dozen, a count which has increased only slightly over the last 20 years.
Sources: Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code
Does a worldwide "LSE Alumni Association" exist?
No, it doesn't.
An effort was launched in 2005 to establish a worldwide umbrella organization serving the national associations and individual LSE alumnae and alumni. However, the "LSE Alumni Association" has failed to incorporate. The "LSE Alumni Association" is neither an incorporated association nor an unincorporated association. The latter would have required a group of LSE alumnae and alumni to come together to create it with them as the first members, each personally responsible for any debts and contractual obligations. This did not happen. Instead, the creation is that of the School Council, of a wholly different type of corporate vehicle.
The "LSE Alumni Association" may fittingly be described as a service and marketing label of the LSE to connect to and build goodwill with LSE alumnae and alumni. Nothing wrong with that but it is not an association.
Can you as an LSE alumna/us choose to become a member of a worldwide "LSE Alumni Association"?
No, you cannot.
The current "Constitution" of the "LSE Alumni Association" states that "individual membership shall be automatic to every alumna and alumnus", which is, of course, utter nonsense. You become a member of an association by joining it not by being joined by it.
Sources: The "Constitution" through which the School Council "created" the "LSE Alumni Association"
Can any national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni declare themselves "official"?
No, they cannot.
As no third party – not the Swiss or UK Governments, not the University of London and not the LSE - has authority over private national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni, an "official" designation cannot be so used. Hence, there simply are no "official" national associations of LSE alumnae and alumni anywhere.
In regard to Switzerland specifically, federal law mandates that the general meeting of members ("Vereinsversammlung") always is the highest authority in regard to an association, not any third party.
"Official" or similar terms can only be used by the national associations themselves to refer to their own persons or entities over which they have authority. National associations, for instance, have officials, usually members elected to positions of authority by the membership at large.
Sources: Article 64 of the Swiss Civil Code
Are Officers of the Swiss LSE Alumni Association (SLSEAA) aware of the negative comments by some LSE employees, alumnae and alumni?
Yes, they are and respond with background and factual information.
Since many years, Officers have been aware of public comments by (former) LSE employees, ranging from the unwittingly misinformed to the knowingly false, fuelled by a corporate agenda which is not ours. They arose from a bizarre conflict about money and power between the SLSEAA and the LSE in 2014. Such behavior by School staff reflects very badly on our alma mater. The Association is not responsible and the Officers try their best to not get involved.
Officers are also aware of disparaing comments by those from whom unpaid membership dues are being collected. Members, who have paid their dues, are not really thrilled about being publicly disparaged by and having to pay the debts of the few members, who are defaulting on their dues. The Officers strictly enforce the statutory dues obligation and the respective federal law provisions for reasons of equality and equity.
Sources: Article 73 of the Swiss Civil Code