Credit: Dimosthenis Violaris

SRC demands cap on student numbers until 2027

By Kimberley Mannion

The University of Glasgow has been asked to review its policy relating to student numbers.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) has launched a campaign entitled “Cap Student Numbers Now!” demanding the University of Glasgow cap the number of students admitted each year until 2027. A gradual increase of a maximum of 1200 students will be allowed by the SRC over the five-year period, with no more than 200 coming in the next academic year of 2023/24. 

This comes in the context of student numbers at UofG having risen by almost 40% over the last five years, a total of over 10,000 additional students and more than double the growth rate of other UK universities. This rise has contributed to the student housing crisis, with inadequate accommodation to house all the University’s students and students being housed in hotels, insufficient space on campus for classes leading to lectures being held in churches and cinemas, as well as strain on academic staff experiencing “excessive workloads.”

Along with the cap on student numbers, the SRC has made a further three demands to the University. It asks the University to commit to a review of its accommodation and admission policy for the year 2023/24; support existing students by providing adequate space for learning and teaching, and include the SRC in conversations about incoming students next year. 

It is expected that by 2027 the campus development project’s planned expansion will be completed to allow more study space. The SRC also notes that this five year period gives the University time to expand its offering of University-owned student accommodation, in order to take pressure off the private rental market. The SRC has also requested the establishment of a working group which includes student voices on how the student experience has been affected by rising student numbers, and a firm commitment to funding for additional learning and teaching spaces and student services. 

The University of Glasgow has responded to the SRC through a meeting with a member of Senior Management, and agreed to fully consider the demands made with a SRC letter sent to Principal Anton Muscatelli to be shared at the next session of the University’s court. 

GUSRC President, Rinna Väre, states that the strain on the campus and the wider Glasgow community is becoming increasingly clear: “The rapid increase in student numbers over the last few years has put students in unsuitable housing conditions, made it difficult for them to access the wellbeing resources they need to complete their degrees, and negatively impacted the quality of learning and teaching. All these issues have an impact on the student experience at the University of Glasgow and they must be addressed by preventing further growth in student numbers.

We returned to campus this year for in person classes only to find that it was not prepared to support the number of students. Many students are commuting long distances because of the lack of accommodation; some are trapped in a cycle of couch surfing or even sleeping rough. Should the University agree to our demands, we will work with them to lobby both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to find long term solutions to these issues.”

Unison, which represents groups of non-academic staff at the University of Glasgow, said: “Rising student numbers has affected everything from student wellbeing to staff morale, and more widely has contributed to a housing crisis which has been hugely detrimental to the wider community. We fully support SRC in their demand for caps on student numbers.”


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