Saturday, 22 October 2011
Fox For Rector
I am proud and honoured to have been nominated by students at St Andrews University this week for the position of Rector.
The post is elected by a secret ballot of all 8,000 students and the Rector's job is to champion students interests on the University Court, its governing body. The successful candidate serves a three year term and chairs the Court meetings.
I stood for the position 3 years ago and we polled a very creditable 28% of the vote, coming second to Kevin Dunnion the Information Commissioner and current Rector.
The students promoting my candidacy have again presented a programme which restates our shared central belief that access to the best possible education should be a right afforded to everyone rather than a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. This principle is particularly important in this election as St Andrews has one of the lowest levels of admissions from the state sector.
The University authorities recently decided to impose the maximum possible £9,000 fee on students from the rest of Britain studying there. When you add in the cost of accommodation and other living expenses it becomes the dearest place in the country to study. That cannot be a good label to wear.
These are serious times for students. Who can forget the anger expressed by hundreds of thousands this time last year when the tuition fees introduced by New Labour were further increased by the CON/DEM coalition. The escalating cost of living, the enormous indebtedness and the immoral package of public sector cuts has inevitably been felt at St Andrews. The University has made cuts to accommodation arrangements and library improvements, all of which makes life harder still for students.
I do support the sustainable energy programme the University has embarked upon and it's ground breaking ethical investment portfolio.
But serious times demand serious candidates and I have pledged to be a 'hands on' working Rector.
I see the role as being very important indeed in these difficult times and I'm committed to standing up for students and improving the quality of life they experience in their time at St Andrews. I have pledged to hold regular surgeries where students can come and raise their concerns directly with me. I also plan to produce a regular bulletin/report explaining the issues developing and the decisions I have taken on their behalf. These are commitments I made [and kept] to my constituents when I was an MSP between 2003-07.
The Rector election takes place online between Wednesday and Friday of this week. The result is declared on Friday evening. There are five candidates standing and I am very much looking forward to the contest.