The Times, 1 June 2010

It is an alarmingly long time since I was a student, but I don't seem to remember it being hard to get a date. This is not because I was a minx, you understand. I wore men's army boots and two see-through dresses at a time, in the fond belief that duality and opacity were the same thing. Actually, that may explain the date thing. Also, I went to a college where boys outnumbered girls by maybe three to one, and you just can't fight those odds.

But times have obviously changed, because at UCL, dates have been thin on the ground. So thin that an undergraduate, Rich Martell, recently set up a website to help those pining for a bit of human contact over a shared bottle of WKD. FitFinder proved a spectacular hit, and students at universities all over the country were soon clamouring to join.

Their messages occasionally veered into the area of sexism I like to categorise as 'slightly manky', but they were generally rather sweet. 'I'd be his Helen of Troy', wrote one girl, who I like to think was wearing a flowery frock as she typed. 'Please notice my glances,' a boy implored, failing entirely to realise that he might simply look like he had something in his eye.

Given that Rich Martell is a final-year computer sciences student, you might think that UCL would be rather pleased with him. He's revising for his finals and he still has time to set up a hit website, which is surely precisely the kind of thing they've spent three years training him to do. Given how many graduates will be struggling to find work this summer, Martell shows the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that we hear will save us all from recession.

But not a bit of it: UCL are furious. They have fined him £300 for bringing the university into disrepute. Which is a bit rich, given that the last time a UCL graduate made the news it was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - known to most of us as the Pants Bomber - who is currently in US custody, charged with the attempted murder of 289 people. Obviously, you might feel very strongly about dating websites, but surely after that news-cycle, UCL's reputation can only be damaged in the same way that Roman Polanski can be libelled.

Martell's letter from the Dean informs him that non-payment of his fine could result in his degree being withheld. But since his name has appeared in every newspaper next to phrases like 'created hit website', it's hard to imagine that the job offers won't be pouring in, which should dull the pain of finding £300. After all, Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook while he was a Harvard student, and he is now one of the world's youngest billionaires. So perhaps UCL should spend their ill-gotten gains investing in Martell's next venture: it might just pay off.