Uni boss gets grilling

Mar 16 2007

By Craig Robertson

THE MAN in charge of Glasgow University’s Crichton withdrawal came under fire during a business debate on Monday night.

Sir Muir Russell was “put on the spot” by a student nurse who asked him if he felt the departure would damage the economy of Dumfries and Galloway.

Crichton campus protesters also picketed the event outside.

But according to an MSP, Sir Muir was “unsympathetic” towards the plight of the campus.

SNP member, Jim Mather, who sat on the Question Time-style panel with the university principal, told the Standard: “I don’t think he was expecting the question from the audience member and had certainly been put on the spot.

What was clear from what he said in the answer was that he is running things to his own Glasgow University agenda and not on a Scotland wide agenda.

“The implications of his decision to withdraw from the Crichton cannot be overstated but he seemed unsympathetic.

“He turned the problem back on the Executive and the Scottish Funding Council.

“He was very keen to stress the reason for the decision was best for the future of Glasgow University.

“He should instead be using his influence to find a way forward by seeking the help of the executive which will include the Crichton campus as part of the future of Glasgow University.

“We need him to get behind an agenda for the future of higher education which will benefit the whole of Scotland.”

Conservative MSP, Murdo Fraser, who was also on the panel, said: “I think Sir Muir felt he had to explain the decision but made it clear it was a financial one.

“But I was unhappy with his response and I think the decision he has taken is the wrong one.

“We need not point the finger of blame exclusively at the university but at the funding council and the Executive as well.”

The Scotland’s Financial Future event was held at Glasgow University’s main campus.

It was organised by the university’s business school and Sir Muir sat with panellists including four MSPs to engage in debate with the audience. The question was asked by 30-year-old Glasgow University student nurse Alison Young who is also a member of the international workers union, IWW.

Yesterday, Alison, who lives in Glasgow, said: “I felt it was the perfect opportunity to say something to Sir Muir. He is the principal of the university and I think he needs to know that there is support and concern for the Crichton campus and that he can’t make a decision like that without opposition.

“I don’t think he was expecting my question.

“But the university should be for everyone not just for Glasgow and there has been a lot of talented students come from the Crichton to the main campus.

“We need to keep the pressure on him.”

Officials at Glasgow University declined to make any comment on Monday’s event or the comments about Sir Muir Russell.

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