The third round table talk with Rector Aamer Anwar revealed his frustration with the University management and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC).
Near the beginning of the meeting, Anwar stated that he felt that he felt “things were not particularly that great on campus”. Anwar stated that University staff of all levels felt as though they were “paying the price” during the billion-pound development project currently ongoing. He went on further to say that they project would be redundant if the student and staff experience was badly compromised.
Furthermore, he criticised the University for the way in which the staff at the Garscube Sports Complex are being treated which he described as “cursory”. The plans for layoffs concerned Anwar not only in terms of unfair treatment but also health and safety.
He also feared that the facility would eventually be sold and damage the University experience.
Foreign students were also a concern for Anwar. He revealed that foreign students have to come to him feeling “discriminated against” by a university that is only concerned with money. He also stated that integration of foreign students is poor, and many students felt that the University wasn’t giving them much support, which led Anwar to believe that when students return home they will tell their friends “don’t go to Glasgow”, and thus damage the University’s reputation.
Anwar had some sharp criticism for the SRC also. He lampooned the SRC’s naivety for believing their letter requesting more resources for mental health services led to the £200,000 increase in mental health funding, going so far as to ask “what planet are they living on?”. Anwar went on to state that the University had already planned to increase the budget before the SRC had sent their letter. Anwar also went on to criticise the lack of mental health access students are receiving after having a conversation with a suicidal student who had attempted to take their own life multiple times. He was horrified at the length of time it can take for students to receive counselling. He also questioned whether £200,000 is enough, and over what period of time it would be given.
In comments made directly to The Glasgow Guardian at the round table talk, Anwar commented on the University’s connections with arms manufacturing, saying “if you want to be world leaders and talk about ethics” then it was unacceptable for the University to continue its association with arms manufacturers. Anwar also stated that it is highly immoral for the University to potentially accept students from from countries where people may be suffering at the hands of arms made by a company with which the University has financial ties.
Later, Anwar went on to discuss that despite the fact that the University of Glasgow had recently been named the number one University in Scotland. While the issues he discussed were grave, he did not believe they took anything away from the University’s recent placing. The University should be “proud of the achievement” but ultimately it should not “rest on its laurels”.