Students call for cap on Glasgow University population

Glasgow University (top picture) has been urged to act on cutting student numbers.

By Lucy Ashton

The University of Glasgow’s student council is calling for a cap on numbers over claims the student population has grown 40% in just five years.

It said 10,000 additional students had put a strain on accommodation and was damaging their welfare and the quality of education.

But the university said there was not a “significant negative impact”.

It comes after new students were told by the university they could not be guaranteed accommodation this year.

The university blamed increased demand and a “significant contraction” in Glasgow’s private rental market.

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) raised the issues in a letter to university principal Professor Anton Muscatelli.

GUSRC president Rinna Väre said: “The rapid increase in numbers over the last few years has put students in unsuitable housing conditions, made it difficult for them to access wellbeing resources they need, and negatively impacted the quality of learning and teaching.

“All these issues have an impact on the student experience and they must be addressed by preventing further growth in student numbers.”

Around 38,204 undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at the university in 2021-22. This is up from 26,635 in 2017.

Figures for the current academic year have not been released.

The SRC said Glasgow’s student roll had grown 40%, while the average growth for UK universities in this period was 16%.

Ms Väre said the university was unable to support these numbers and called for a cap to be put in place until 2027.

She said: “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.

“Should the university agree to our demands, we will work with them to lobby both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish government to find long-term solutions to these issues.”

The university said it had invested “proportionally in facilities, student services and in staffing” as the student population increased.

A spokesperson said: “We cannot accept that there has been a significant negative impact on both the quality of education and the student experience offered by the university.”

The university said the 35,000 figure represented all students, including those who might not need accommodation near the campus, such as online learners and part-time students.

It said that since 2017, total full-time equivalency (FTE) growth in on-campus students was 31.5%.

It said the majority of its growth was in international postgraduate students.

The university committed to not exceeding student intake targets for next year.

The university added: “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 next year.

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

Leave a Reply