THE rector of one of Scotland’s oldest universities has launched a savage attack on the institution.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, the current rector of Glasgow University, accused the 567-year-old institution of a “callous disregard” for its students and staff.

Mr Anwar said Glasgow was dealing with a trickle of complaints about racial discrimination - while female students raised the issue of sexual harassment.

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He went on to suggest the university treated its postgraduate and international students - who pay substantial fees - as if they were “cash cows”.

And he accused the university of losing sight of its duty to students and staff because of its focus on a £1 billion campus development.

However, a university spokesman dismissed the accusations and said the experience of students was of paramount importance.

Writing in the Glasgow University Guardian student newspaper after a year in post as rector Mr Anwar said: “Many of the staff I have met see little recognition, face severe financial pressures, lack of job security and feel patronised and harassed, all of which impacts on the student experience.

“Many of the staff feel bullied and pulverised by a system that refuses to listen to them even when they provide evidence that student lives will be put at risk if cuts take place.

“The university has lost its direction in its obsession with building a billion pound complex on the backs of students and staff.”

Mr Anwar said international students had told him “horror stories” of isolation and anger at “segregation” and being treated as “cash cows”.

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He said: “The drip drip complaints of racial discrimination continue to trickle through, which if released publicly would wreck the reputation of this university.

“Female students talk of sexual harassment while the university boasts of policies on paper.”


Mr Anwar said mental health remained an “indictment” of Glasgow’s priorities with students “slipping through the cracks” with little or no support.

He said: “In some instances, students I have met have tried to take their own lives – usually while waiting weeks and weeks for an appointment.

“The exploitation of graduate teaching assistants, who went unpaid for months on end, was an absolute disgrace, while so many postgraduates feel they are just a cash-cow for the university.

“If you can spend £1bn on a building that today’s students will never benefit from, how about raising money for services that will actually give our students the quality of life they deserve?

“It’s time that senior management deployed the same ingenuity and ruthlessness in resolving problems as they do when making cuts.”

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A university spokesman said the student experience was core to the institution’s mission.

He said: “Our recently commenced campus development programme will ensure that our students and staff have truly world class teaching and research facilities.

“This is not just about investment for the future, but also includes significant sums which are being spent upgrading and improving existing buildings and creating more space for teaching and learning.”

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The spokesman said the institution had prioritised mental health provision, publishing a mental health action plan jointly with student leaders and committing “substantial additional resources”.

He added: “We constantly engage with our students, both home and international, and are delighted that Glasgow scores so highly in the National Student Survey.”

Mr Anwar also used the article to suggest the university’s ruling Court was “intimidating” with controversial topics rarely discussed.