The University Court has introduced a Re-Open Nominations (RON) option for future Rectorial elections. Previously, if only one candidate had been nominated to the position of rector; no vote would take place and they would automatically be appointed, therefore running unchallenged.
This amendment was made primarily to address student concerns over the legitimacy of the Rector, as to gain a nomination the candidate only required 20 signatures from matriculated students. The changes to the election would allow students to de-select an otherwise automatically-nominated single candidate in the absence of any other nominees.
The office of the Rector is one of the oldest institutions of University government, and a new Rector is appointed every three years. In 2014, Labour MEP, Catherine Stihler, became the 52nd rector of the University of St Andrews automatically after running unopposed, thus denying 8000 students the opportunity to vote.
This is in stark contrast to the 2011 Rectorial elections, when five incredibly diverse candidates ranging from Socialist, Colin Fox, to the Conservative, Lord Michael Forsyth, took to St Andrews’ cobbled streets to win students’ votes.
However, the amendment by the University Court will mean that students will undoubtedly have a voice during the 2017 elections.
Since 1858, the student body has elected the Rector. Any matriculated student is eligible to vote.
However, many students are still unaware of the role of the Rector and its significance within the administrative branch of the University.
A Rector’s main responsibility is to preside at University Court meetings, where he or she helps to oversee the management of the University alongside the principal.
The University Court, led by the Rector, makes decisions about budgets and policies, development and fundraising, and provisions for both students and staff.