Rector’s Charter

While I was Rector’s Assessor to Mark Ballard, the then Rectors of Scottish Universities drew up a charter for Rectors. This covers what a Rector should do, what the commitment should be and how a Rector should behave.

Since Higher Education Governance is again a live topic, I thought it would be useful to post the Charter Rectors charter (.docx file) for people to see, and maybe even use.

Rector’s Charter

I (name of candidate) confirm my commitment, if elected as rector, to:

– give a guaranteed minimum of time to the university (an average of 2 days a month during the academic year);

– get to know the university in the round – students, academic, non academic, estate;

– be available to meet/liaise with students in societies, residences and academic settings;

– hold regular surgeries as opportunities for direct consultation (preferably at least one monthly);

– attend all Court meetings;

– recognise that as Rector I have the right to preside over Court meetings;

– to chair impartially and allow all voices to be fairly heard;

– ensure student views not overlooked, in and out of Court;

– use the right to attend all Court sub-committee meetings when I see it as appropriate;

– use my best offices in the service of good governance – open, fair, accountable;

– appoint an assessor;

– liaise with rectors of other Universities in twice yearly meetings of the Rectors’ Group to address shared issues;

– act as advocate for the universities with rectorships;

– be accessible to the SRC and sabbaticals as required;

– promote and act as advocate for the role of rector to the student body itself.


– promote and act as advocate for the role of rector to the student body itself.


Time for Labour to stop talking about Scotland?

The most overrated underrated politician of my lifetime is Alastair Darling. Not content with being responsible for conceding the need for austerity to George Osborne in 2008, he has since been the face of Tory front organisation Better Together. Now he’s chosen to enter the debate engineered by the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland (1995-97) Michael Forsyth and the Conservative leadership. It’s the hallmark of the man that Darling can’t see a political play even as he’s blundering around within it. While Labour were desperately trying to win the referendum to protect their 40 Scottish MPs seats in Westminster, the Conservatives were plotting the downfall of the Labour Party.
At 7am on the 19th September, with Scottish oil secured for the UK Government, David Cameron stabbed his erstwhile Better Together comrades in the back by demanding English Votes on English Matters. This was calculated to set up a dynamic where Labour were seen in England to argue that Scottish MPs should vote on things that don’t affect their constituents, while the notion that they were only in favour of the union to save MPs’ jobs left them looking self-interested in Scotland. Labour have ended up in a nightmarish position: they look like the ‘party of Scotland’ in England, and the party of Westminster in Scotland.
Over the past few weeks, as the Tories have discovered that the electorate are underwhelmed with their economic performance they have sought a new campaign strategy. That strategy is to crush Labour between the millstone of English grievance at the attention paid to Scotland and the grindstone of a newly invigorated SNP.
To give the story legs, the Conservative leadership have deployed an old public relations trick – extending the story by giving it a twist. They contrived an argument about whether it’s a good idea to talk about this. On one side Michael Forsyth saying that it’s a bad idea, on the other David Cameron, William Hague and John Major saying it’s very important. The aim is to reinforce the message by creating a debate about whether Labour should be allowed to do a deal with the SNP.
Into this fray (onto the Today Programme) the man of the hour in every Labour disaster, Alastair Darling strides. By turns defensive, terse and aggressive, Darling came perilously close to ruling out a Labour administration supported by the SNP. He certainly won’t have left listeners any clearer as to why Labour have a strong message about 1,000 more nurses – which is Labour’s lead story for today. Instead he got hot and bothered about how bad the SNP is, and played right into the Conservatives’ hands. Labour need to stop talking about Scotland, and get back onto the territory where they’ve been successful: pointing to the terrible mess the Conservatives have made these last 5 years.

Why I’m running to be a Holyrood Candidate

The referendum shows we can have a new politics; a politics that is participatory, a politics committed to equality and sustainability – a Green politics. We must use this exciting chance to change our country and our world.

I am a long-standing Green activist and am well known as Rector of Edinburgh University. My day job is as Director of Policy for Common Weal. I have 8 years experience in the voluntary sector, including as Chair of Transition Scotland, as a Policy Officer for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. I am currently working hard in Edinburgh the Scottish Greens national target candidate for Westminster.

We can elect a second (and maybe even third) MSP in Lothian, and I’m seeking nomination for the second place on the list.

If elected as an MSP I will:

  • Oppose austerity and cuts and make the case for social investment, not privatisation like TTIP;
  • Use participatory methods like £eith Decides to ensure party members decide my actions;
  • Campaign on climate change, pollution and species-loss;
  • Fight fracking and support green jobs in renewables;
  • Work to combat inequality, using new powers coming to Scotland to increase social justice.

Having moved from Belfast to Edinburgh in 1998 I’ve always worked for political change as a community activist in East Edinburgh, as a student and as Rector of Edinburgh University, as well as through the Scottish Green Party:

  • Co-founder and board member – PEDAL-Portobello Transition Town;
  • Community Councillor in Portobello;
  • Vice President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association
  • Campaigner to save Castlebrae High School.

I was Rector of Edinburgh University between 2012 and 2015. In this role I :

  • Campaigned for divestment of University funds from fossil fuels and the arms trade;
  • Won a campaign to fix international student fees across the course of a degree;
  • Worked with students to create a 106-unit student housing cooperative;
  • Campaigned to close the gender pay gap;
  • Ensured the University commit to ending zero-hour contracts;
  • Fought against £9000 fees.

The exciting referendum campaign attracted support and I will ensure our Holyrood campaign repeats this, learning from my experience as Convener of the Edinburgh Green Party, Chair of the European Campaign Group in 2009 and 2014 and as a candidate in the 2007 and 2011 Holyrood elections.

Re-elect Peter McColl!

As many of you will know I am the serving Rector of Edinburgh University. I want to continue working for a fairer, more sustainable University, as I’ve done during my 3 years as Rector.

As your Rector I think I’ve made a real difference to the University for students and staff. Campaigning for free education, a better deal for staff and fairer accommodation has helped create a better University community. I want to continue making that difference.

I have supported and led campaigns for:

• A better deal for international students – freezing fees through course of your degree;
• Fairer housing – a landlord accreditation scheme and 106-bed housing cooperative;
• The new student housing just opened and nearing completion;
• Better feedback for students;
• A more sustainable University – withdrawing money from the arms trade;
• Better conditions for postgraduate tutors and demonstrators;
• Living wage for staff and an end to unfair zero hour contracts.

I am running for a second term to continue the fight for staff and students:

• Opposing fees: free, fair and funded education for all;
• A rent cap and tenants’ union – fairer housing;
• Investment in teaching quality and feedback;
• Ethical investment of University reserves.

If you want to get in touch, please do so below.

Vote Peter McColl #1 for Edinburgh East

I am standing for selection to be the Scottish Green Party’s candidate for Edinburgh East in the 2015 General Election. This election gives us the opportunity to build on what was our best ever result in Scotland in the 2014 European Elections. Whilst we did not get a Green MEP elected, we did reach a range of new voters who showed their support for our message of a just and welcoming Scotland. We must build on this electoral advance, securing our place as the Party that stands up for public services and workers, immigrants and the vulnerable, and for a Scotland that builds peace in the world.

Edinburgh East is the best opportunity for a Scottish Green MP. I am well known in Portobello and Edinburgh University, two important Green areas of the constituency. I am a local candidate who can deliver a big Green vote here.

I will use the campaign to:

  • Fight for action on climate change and biodiversity;
  • Oppose austerity, cuts, and attacks on social security;
  • Build Edinburgh Greens ahead of Holyrood election;
  • Combat inequality.

As a community activist in Portobello I have been:

  • Founding board member – PEDAL-Portobello Transition Town;
  • Community Councillor;
  • Campaigner to keep Castlebrae High School open;
  • Council candidate twice, increasing the vote substantially.

As Rector of Edinburgh University I:

  • Campaigned for Fossil-Free University investments;
  • Won fixed international student fees;
  • Created a 106-unit student housing cooperative;
  • Fought against £9000 fees.

I will be a high-profile candidate with the ability to generate momentum. The exciting European campaign attracted support and I will ensure our Westminster campaign repeats this.

I have a long record in the Green party:

  • Former Edinburgh Convener and longest-serving committee member;
  • 2014 European campaign co-convener;
  • Council, European and Holyrood candidate.

For a local candidate who can deliver the Party’s message to a range of voters, select Peter McColl #1 for Edinburgh East.

Neil Chapman obituary

Neil Chapman, who died last week lived a life devoted to music and family. Born to a farming family in Underberg in what is now KwaZulu Natal in 1933, the youngest of five children, his family moved to Pietermaritzburg while he was young. After school at Merchiston Preparatory School and Maritzburg College, where he was Dux, he trained as a mathematics teacher. But his real passion was music, and he used the money he saved while teaching to fund study in Europe, with a view to a career in music. He studied in Vienna and later in Italy.


As an accomplished pianist he was an expert accompanist, he also excelled as a voice coach and conductor. His career took him to a role as Head of Music for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. At this time he met the love of his life, Emma, whom he married in 1971.

On one of their earliest dates, he took her to a concert which he was conducting. Afterwards Emma accompanied him to an after-party where he lay on the floor for a sleep, leaving her alone with a house full of musicians she didn’t know. Such was his charisma and loving nature this didn’t matter. His eldest daughter, Catherine was born in 1976. Having had enough of the internal politics of the SABC and seeking a better quality of life he started a new chapter of his, and his young family’s life with a move in 1978 to what is now Harare, Zimbabwe. While the liberation struggle was still going on, this may have seemed a risky move, but it was one that he never regretted.

His younger daughter Margaret (Maggie) was born in 1979 and he enjoyed the majority of two decades as head of the Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare. He was central to much of the musical life of the country, running the City of Harare Orchestra with his characteristic precise but un-showy conducting. He became a Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur for services to music, and was commended for his work on the new national anthem. He also created courses on the traditional Shona and Ndebele music of Zimbabwe and on enthnomusicology.

The Chapman house was a centre of recitals, after-concert parties and what Neil would describe as “all manner of conviviality”. One of my abiding memories is enjoying listening to Chopin waltzes played on the piano and filling the house. An imposing but humane man he was incredibly proud of his two daughters and two grand-daughters.

After retiring from the College of Music he enjoyed his garden, traveling to see his daughters in the UK and his continued teaching of piano and voice. He particularly enjoyed several productions at the Edinburgh Festival, and took great pride in the role Maggie played on the Edinburgh International Festival Board.

He died after complications from an operation. He is survived by Emma, his two sisters, his daughters and his grand-daughters.