After discussions between the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and Senior Management at the University of Glasgow, the University and the SRC are pleased to confirm an agreed action plan on the issue of student numbers on the Gilmorehill campus. Read the full statement here.
The SRC is demanding that the University of Glasgow commit to a cap on student numbers until 2027.
Over the last 5 years, the number of students at the University of Glasgow has risen at an alarming rate. According to the University’s own data, student numbers have increased by almost 40% during this period – that’s over 10,000 additional students.
This is more than double the growth rate of other universities across the UK, who on average have grown by approximately 16% in the same period. In particular, the past two academic sessions have seen most of this growth including over 8,600 additional students. This is not sustainable or acceptable.
The strain on the campus and the wider Glasgow community is becoming increasingly clear:
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,
We returned to campus this year for in person classes only to find that it was not prepared to support the number of students,
Clubs and societies can't accommodate all the students who want to be involved in student life,
and the strain on our estate and our staff is damaging the quality of our education.
As the legal representative of the student body, the SRC has a responsibility to hold the University accountable for the unsustainable growth of student numbers. Similarly, the University needs to fulfil its role to students to provide a safe and high-quality education.
UPDATE 16:45 16/11/22: We are pleased to report that following a meeting between the SRC executive and a member of UofG Senior Management, the University has agreed to fully consider the demands made by the SRC and is drafting their response. We've been informed that the full letter sent to the Principal has been agreed to be shared at Court, the highest governing body in the University, where the actions will be agreed. The University's response will then be shared with the public.
The SRC has 4 demands:
1. CAP STUDENT NUMBERS NOW - The University makes a public commitment to a moratorium on student number growth until 2027.
We are asking the University to consider the evidence we have set out and make a public commitment to cap student numbers, and if they agree to do so, the SRC will work with the University to lobby both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to find long term solutions to these issues.
By 2027, the University campus development project estate's planned expansion will have been completed to an extent that will allow students adequate space to study and socialise. This is also a period in which the University can expand its student housing provision through University-owned buildings in order to take some of the strain off the rest of the student housing market.
Given current University planning around departmental growth and in recognition of the additional space provisions that will be made with the opening of new buildings, the SRC will accept a gradual increase of a maximum of 1200 students over the 5-year period. No more than 200 of these students should be added for the 2023/24 academic year which will be in line with the rate of growth across the UK-wide HE sector.
2. REVIEW YOUR POLICIES - The University commits to reviewing its accommodation guarantee and admissions policies for 2023/24 to enable incoming students to make informed decisions about their choice of university
This will enable incoming students who are currently considering applying to the University to have all the required information on their eligibility for University accommodation before applying.
3. SUPPORT EXISTING STUDENTS - The University commits to provide adequate space for learning, teaching, and clubs and societies
We ask that the University make a firm commitment to investing additional funds for learning and teaching space, student services, and student clubs and societies. A cap on student number growth will go a long way to ensuring a better student experience, however we must also consider that the campus is already oversubscribed and that current students must have adequate support. This includes suitable provisions for clubs and societies to host their activities on campus and be able to use storage spaces for their club materials where necessary.
4. INCLUDE STUDENT VOICES - The University includes the SRC in conversations about incoming students to the University and planning for the 23/24 academic year
We ask for the University to establish a working group addressing the experience of incoming students and planning for the 23/24 year. Given the impact that the accommodation crisis has had on students for two consecutive years, it is vital that student voices be included and respected as part of discussions about student numbers going forward. Suggested membership includes the SRC sabbatical officers, Head of External Relations, Head of Planning Insight and Analytics, Head of Student and Academic Services, Head of Accommodation, Head of Commercial Services, and Head of Admissions.
On Monday 14th November we sent letter to the Principal of the University evidencing each of the above demands and have asked him to respond before Friday 25th November. The letter contains thorough research including confidential data and insights from the University, the Scottish and UK Government as well as external sources, and focuses on 3 key areas:
The impact on student welfare caused by the student accommodation crisis and reduced access to support services,
The impact on learning & teaching caused by the strain on learning and teaching space, over- recruitment according to academic staff, and conduct processes and the academic integrity of our degrees,
The impact on the student experience caused by the strain impact on the lack of facilities and space open to clubs and societies, and evident dissatisfaction and the impact this has on the University’s reputation.
For students, societies, and student organisations reading this – we would ask you to share this post far and wide and show your support for the campaign to #CapStudentNumbersNow.
For staff at the University who agree with our aims – we would ask you also to share and show your support. From our discussions with trade union representatives across campus in recent months, we know that the increase in student numbers is creating a massive strain on all of you. Help us to get the message across to senior management.
For anyone wanting to promote our campaign, you can use the below resources. Make sure to tag @glasgowunisrc on any digital posts.
Social Media Assets
Presented by SRC Executive 22-23
Rinna Väre, Micaela Levesque, Hailie Pentleton, Katie Fish