Deputy News Editor


With three confirmed candidates and elections this month, Rector campaigning on campus is on the rise.

The University of Glasgow Rector Elections are coming up, and students will soon be able to vote for one of three confirmed candidates: councillor Junaid Ashraf, John Nicolson MP, and Lady Rita Rae. The nomination period closed on 31 March 2021, with elections to run from 9am on 20 April to 4pm on 21 April 2021. Want to know a little more about the candidates and what they offer? The Glasgow Guardian has you covered:

Junaid Ashraf

Junaid Ashraf is a University of Glasgow alumni, previously studying Mechanical Engineering at the University and graduating in 2019. Junaid is also a Councillor in North Lanarkshire and is one of the youngest elected councillors in Scotland. He previously ran to be the SNP candidate for the constituency of Glasgow Cathcart in the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections, but lost to incumbent James Dornan MSP. Junaid’s manifesto pledges to improve four main areas: increased support for mental health; climate change emergency action; promoting equality on campus; and increased support for international students. To read more about Junaid’s manifesto, click here

Junaid is endorsed by the QMU, with President Ruaraidh Campbell commenting: "As a recent graduate, Junaid can understand and relate to the current University climate and will actively bolster the student voice at a senior management level. However, as an experienced local councillor, Junaid also has the skills and understanding necessary to work with the University and its institutions."

Discussing his running for rector, Junaid stated: “To see the revolutionary change on campus that students are calling out for, I believe the University of Glasgow requires a young working rector for a cultural change on campus - I hope to be that champion for students."

John Nicolson

John Nicolson attended Glasgow University to gain an MA in English, History and Politics. During his time at the University, John was very active in University campus life. As a member of the SRC committee, he set up the Sexual Harassment Committee, allowing students to report abuse by academic staff. John was also a member of the GUU committee, GUSNA (GU Scottish Nationalist Association) and the Glasgow branch of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. John is also the first openly gay BBC news presenter being part of programmes as Newsnight, Panorama and Breakfast, the atter where he revealed his sexuality and presented live coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the BBC. Currently he is the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, and the SNP spokesperson for digital, culture, media and sport. For more on John’s political views and career history, click here. He is being endorsed by the GUU. 

John believes that being both a journalist and MP, his high profile and varied skills would ensure he would act as mediator between students and faculty. He hopes to chair the University Court if elected, “ensuring that the voice of students is always heard”. John pledges to set up regular office hours to meet with students and with “cross campus executives to gain a wider view of the issues that campus is facing”. He also wants to push the University to increase funding for its Counselling and Psychological Services, promote carbon-footprint-reducing policies and encourage University divestment “from unsustainable and unethical investment portfolios”. 

The Honourable Lady Rita Rae

The Honourable Lady Rita may, if elected, become Glasgow’s “first active female rector”, joining Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as the only female rectors of the University. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in Law from the University of Glasgow in recognition of her career and contribution to Scottish Law. Described as “paving the way for women in the legal industry at a time when women were considered emotionally unsuitable for court work”, Lady Rita quickly became a successful partner in a criminal law practice, before joining the “male-dominated” Faculty of Advocates in the 1980s. Her work has made her present at children’s adoption hearings, high-profile criminal cases and the European Court of Human Rights. More recently, Lady Rita has been made a High Court Judge, and an Upper Tribunal Judge in immigration and asylum cases. 

Lady Rita’s manifesto states the importance of students having an “active impartial rector” with policy directed by the needs of the students and not the wants of the rector. She pledges to be a committed working rector, and at the forefront of her manifesto are values that she “has championed throughout her life”. Her three overarching policies include: "Widening participation and promoting multiculturalism", where she discusses her previous experience in representing young people from marginalised backgrounds; "Student safety and welfare", where she believes her experience in criminal courts place her at an additional advantage to both listen to student concerns and create “pragmatic” solutions; and "Internationalism and opportunity", where she wants to further promote global relations, aware of the restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on the University’s international opportunities. Her manifesto can be found here.

The Glasgow Guardian plans on having further coverage of the rector elections which will be available here on our site. 


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