Andrew Quinn, Jack Corban and Bethany Woodhead

Deputy Editors and Editor-in-Chief

Nominations have opened to select the new rector of the University, as Aamer Anwar's tenure ends in March 2020.

Rector nominations close on 27 January 2020 and electronic voting opens 23 March 2020, ending the following day. All registered students are eligible to vote. 

Only five universities in the world have an elected rector. These are the four ancient Scottish universities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrew’s) and the University of Dundee. What does the rector do and how does it affect the students? The Glasgow Guardian gives you all the information you need about what the rector does, previous rectors and how you can nominate someone to be rector.

What is the rector?

The rector represents the students in university court and brings student concerns to the university management. This is a pivotal role, as they have a fair amount of influence in the university’s decision-making process. It is important, then, that the students pick someone with their best interests at heart. They are expected to work closely with the Student Representative Council. 

The rector is also invited to attend several different events over the course of the year, including graduations and the Freshers’ Address.

In the past, some rectors have made themselves available to students by holding surgeries where students can raise their concerns.

The role is unpaid; the University may cover reasonable travel and accommodation expenses but, barring this, the rector receives no salary for the position. 

The successful candidate will take the position on 31 March 2020, holding it for three years.

The type of rector differs every election. In the past, students have chosen a symbolic rector, who cannot fulfill the duties of the role. This can make a real statement about the views of the students. Other candidates have been elected on the presumption that they will be a “working” rector.

Who is the current rector?

The current University of Glasgow rector is Aamer Anwar. The Scottish lawyer and human rights campaigner was elected in March 2017, having been nominated for the position twice previously. He has worked on some high-profile court cases, representing Tommy Sheridan and the family of Surjit Singh Chhokar. He is also an active participant in the Stop the War Coalition and is a supporter of the Time for Inclusive Education campaign for LGBT inclusive education in Scottish schools. Anwar’s election campaign was based on his promise of being a “working” rector. He was elected with 54% of the vote after the first round, beating 11 other candidates, including second-placed high court judge, Lady Hazel Cosgrove, on 17%.

Who has held the role previously?

The University of Glasgow has an illustrious list of rectors. Some of these have been "working" rectors and others have been more symbolic. 

Previous rectors include the philosophers Adam Smith and Edmund Burke, prime ministers Benjamin Disraeli and Edward Gladstone, and trade unionist Jimmy Reid. 

In more recent times, the students have elected South African activist and politician Winnie Mandela, former Liberal Democrats leader and ex-GUU President Charles Kennedy, and US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who exposed global surveillance programmes. In 2001, Ross Kemp resigned from the post after the Students’ Representative Council voted to request his resignation due to high levels of student dissatisfaction.

Can anyone be rector?

The rector is independent from the University, they must not be currently enrolled at the University and they must not be a member of staff. In accordance with the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966, no person currently appointed in any of the old Scottish universities (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews) is eligible to be elected as rector. 

The Glasgow Guardian is recommending 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg for nomination

This year, The Glasgow Guardian are choosing to recommend Greta Thunberg for rector. Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist who has inspired global climate strikes and increased international activism. 

If Thunberg were elected, it would demonstrate how important University of Glasgow students consider the threat of the climate crisis. It would prove to the University that we are not satisfied with their declaration of a climate emergency, and want them to take more action. A place to start would be introducing a two-way cycle lane on University Avenue as part of campus redevelopment.

Thunberg also shows us that young people can make a difference. She sparked a global movement by striking from school every Friday. She is a source of inspiration for us, and to elect her as rector would emphasise that we, as young people, are the future of the world.

We have chosen a symbolic nomination for several reasons. We believe that  a “working” rector undermines the role of the SRC president. The president is elected to represent the students in university matters and is a student. To bring in someone from the outside suggests that we need an older figure to stand up for the students’ interests. The SRC president is more than capable and understands what University of Glasgow students want better than a “working” rector. We do not need an “adult” to stand up for us.

Moreover, there have been cases in the past where rectors have used their influence to put across their own agenda, or have not fulfilled the wishes of the students. Individual ambitions are sometimes more important for the rector, as it is a high-profile role which brings about media coverage. Again, the SRC president is better-suited to fulfill the duties as they have the students’ best interests at heart.

It is hard for a “working” rector to dedicate time to the role as it is unpaid. They are likely to have another occupation, so it would be extremely difficult for them to complete all of their required tasks. As there is no financial incentive, the role of rector could fall down their list of priorities.

How do you nominate someone for rector?

You should approach your chosen candidate and ask if they are willing to be nominated for rector. If they are happy, they need to fill out a Candidate Confirmation Form and return it to you. You must then fill out a Nomination Form with another student who is willing to take an active role in the campaign process. After this, you require 40 registered students to sign a Sponsors List to confirm their support for your candidate. Collect a high resolution photo of the candidate, their contact details, a short biography of the candidate’s work history (maximum 250 words) and a manifesto statement (maximum 500 words), including links to campaign websites/social media. Hand in your Nomination Pack to the Assistant Director of Registry by 12pm on Monday 27 January 2020. Once you have done so, send an email with all of the requested information to [email protected]. You will receive an email confirming whether your nomination has been successfully validated by 6pm on Monday 27 January 2020. You will then be invited to attend the compulsory Nomination Meeting on Tuesday 28 January at 6pm.

Nomination Packs can be downloaded at

How do I follow the campaign process?

Once nominations have been made, The Glasgow Guardian will be conducting interviews and providing manifesto analysis of the candidates.

We will also provide social media links for the nominated contenders and live tweet the results in March 2020.

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