Alan Bissett

Playwright, novelist, performer, bletherer.

Glasgow University Rectorial Election

I have been nominated for the position of Rector at Glasgow University by the Glasgow University Yes Society, which campaigns for Scottish independence on campus. I plan to run on a platform of reining in senior management pay, promoting gender equality on campus and upholding the rights of immigrant and refugee students. You can read my full manifesto below and follow my campaign on Facebook and Twitter, or get in touch via email at
The election will be conducted electronically over two days from Monday 17 February until 4 pm on Tuesday 18 February 2014.


I’m thrilled to be standing to become the next Rector of Glasgow University, a fantastic institution which makes a great contribution to Scotland and to the world. My first and foremost priority as Rector would be to actively represent the interests of students on campus. I want to hold regular surgeries, aiming to have a surgery at least every three weeks, with dates of surgeries set out far in advance so that students know when they can come to me for advice or to air their concerns.

As Rector, one of my main aims would be to improve gender equality on campus and make Glasgow more inclusive. It’s striking that less than 25% of members of the University Court are women, which is below even the poor national average. For a body responsible for governing the University, the fact that it is so unrepresentative of the student population is unacceptable. If elected Rector, I want to use my position to pressure the University to change this, and would aim to get at least 40% of University Court members to be female by 2017. I want to support the Glasgow University Union in implementing the findings of its independent review, which discovered sexist practices, and work alongside the Union to make it more inclusive. I’m also interested in looking at how we can encourage more female participation in classes and tutorials. As a former tutor at Glasgow, I saw first-hand that male students were often more likely to participate in tutorials than female students. There’s no easy way to alter this situation, but if elected Rector I would want to hold discussions with academic staff and student bodies on how to change this. Finally, I think it’s important that we look at reforming the nomination procedure for Rector. The fact that all four candidates for Rector at a university with a predominantly female student population are male is quite an anomaly, and whilst I asked the University to extend the nomination deadline so that a female candidate could be nominated, this was not permitted. I’d be looking to change the nomination process to ensure a greater gender balance in future.

At a time when University staff are facing a real terms wage cut, I don’t think senior management should be awarding themselves substantial pay increases on their already-immense pay packets. As Rector, I would seek to use my position on the University Court to pressure senior management to show pay restraint in solidarity with staff.

I also want to help student asylum seekers and refugees to feel welcome coming to study here, and to stand up for their right to come and study in this amazing city. In doing so, I think it’s important that I listen to student asylum seekers and refugees, as well as groups such as GU Amnesty International, Student Action for Refugees and Crossing Borders, to find out what I can do as Rector to help.
I’d like to see the University add its support to the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, and to review its procurement procedures to ensure that it isn’t sourcing electronic goods produced with conflict minerals, particularly from the war-torn Congo. Since 1996, the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people in the Congo have died from war-related causes. Further to this, the trade in conflict minerals earns armed militia groups, some of those behind the worst human rights violations in the conflict, tens of millions of pounds a year. It is crucial that the University acts as a voice to pressure its suppliers to source their raw materials ethically in order to stop groups like these profiteering from violence and suffering.

Finally, I will do my best to support arts activities on campus, whether these are theatre groups, creative writing magazines or live music nights. These things, after all, form the lifeblood of a thriving student experience.

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