SRC demands Glasgow caps intake saying students are sleeping rough due to uni expansion

The university has agreed to fully consider the demands made by the SRC and is drafting its response

The Student Representative Council (SRC) has demanded Glasgow University commit publicly to capping student numbers for the next five years alleging students are “couch surfing or even sleeping rough” due to the university’s rapid expansion.

The SRC’s Cap Student Numbers campaign, announced on Wednesday, hopes to “hold the university accountable for the unsustainable growth of student numbers” by imposing a cap until 2027.

Glasgow Uni Student numbers have risen by over 40 per cent over the past five years, more than double the UK university average growth rate, the SRC says.

This is equivalent to over 10,000 additional students.

In a video message sent out to students the SRC have four demands:

  • Cap student numbers for the next five years.
  • To review policies regarding admissions for 2023 and 2024
  • To support existing students in better funding teaching spaces, societies, and student services.
  • Finally for the university to form a group to address student experiences for the 23/24 academic year

On Wednesday afternoon, the SRC said it had met with a member of university senior management and the university will “fully consider” the demands.

Despite the uni’s student numbers having grown for the past five years, it’s accelerated in the past two years and came to a head this summer when students desperately struggled to find accommodation in Glasgow for this academic year.

As term began, Glasgow University advised students to drop out if they hadn’t found housing yet.

In an email to students, the uni warned those who didn’t follow its advice could face “significant impacts” and that “it may be more appropriate for you to suspend your studies or withdraw”.

At the time a spokesperson for Glasgow University said:“Regrettably, due to a significant contraction in the private rental market, demand for rooms continues to be substantially ahead of expectation both in Glasgow and more broadly across the UK. Like most urban universities, we cannot guarantee accommodation for returning students.

“As part of our efforts to address the issue, we have increased the number of rooms under University management by 25 per cent for this academic year. We have focused – as is our usual policy – on providing accommodation to first-year undergraduate students who live at a significant distance from our campus. There has been no significant increase in student numbers for this year.

Many students reacted with anger and continued to stay in Glasgow looking for housing. In October, a student-led group found at least 70 students were homeless in the city, whilst others had been put up in hotels by the university as they continued to search for accommodation.

Other students have been forced to give up looking and decided to commute from cities outside of Glasgow. Translation studies masters student Alex previously told The Glasgow Tab: “I spend more time on trains and in train stations than I do at uni.”

“I also can’t have a social life because of the last trains so I feel so out of everything.”

It wasn’t much better once term started. Without adequate lecture theatre space, students have found themselves being taught in a local cinema and even a church.

The SRC say there’s also been a strain in on-campus study spaces as well as clubs and societies being overwhelmed with demand.

It suggests “the university needs to fulfil its role to students to provide a safe and high-quality education.

“The strain on our estate and staff is damaging the quality of our education.”

The SRC pledge that on the university meeting its demands, it will work with the university to lobby Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to find longer term solutions to these problems.

The SRC encourages students to keep up the momentum of the campaign

Following the release of the campaign the university is currently drafting a response.

The SRC’s letter will be shared with the Principal and at Court (the highest governing body at the uni) after which the university’s response will be shared with the public.

The SRC has asked students to get behind its campaign following the university’s response. It suggests the need to “keep sharing, keep talking” in order to ensure their demands are met.

A spokesperson for Glasgow University said: “The University is sympathetic to the points the SRC make and is committed to working constructively with them on this – having already committed to zero growth for the next year.”

“Planned, appropriate growth is a positive thing, giving access to HE to more talented students who want to study at Glasgow and we have invested heavily in staff and facilities to meet this.”

“FTE on-campus student numbers show growth of 31.5% since 2017, with undergraduate first degree student numbers growing by 8% which is broadly in line with many of our peer universities in the Russell Group.”

“We continue to work hard to help meet the demands of a private accommodation shortage in Glasgow and Scotland.”

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Featured image credit via YouTube