University overflow

Glasgow University, where lectures were relayed on TV monitors

The lecture halls and tutorial rooms ofScottish universities are overflowing with new students due to an unprecedented 1-1 per cent rise in entrants across the country. At some institutions students have been forced to sit in the aisles during hour-long lectures. numbers in tutorials have doubled or even tripled. and one-to-onc time with staff has been drastically reduced. Due to government initiatives. pressure is being applied to Scotland's educational institutions to increase student numbers in order to secure extra funding. but student leaders and many lecturers themselves feel that academic standards are being threatened as a result.

Although official figures are not yet available as students continue to matriculate. it is clear from those registered for Freshers’ Weeks that numbers have. in many cases. exceeded targets. At Glasgow University it is understood that there are now nearly 16,000 students although the 1992/93 target was only 15.000. Edinburgh University Students Association estimates that numbers are tip more than 1000 on last year. with some first year classes experiencing a 50 per cent increase on 1991 ()2.

Across the country there are tales


unheard-of measures to cope with

the rise. At (ilasgow University.

overcrowded lectures had to be relayed to other rooms by a basic video camera’l'V' monitor method. while students at the newly renamed Napier L'nivcrsity found themselves being taught in the unusual surroundings of Edinburgh‘s Dominion Cinema. At a time when graduate unemployment is higher than ever. there is concern that in some vocational courses. such as law. the universities are taking in more students than can ultimately be placed with law firms. ()vercrowding is also causing other problems with one law postgraduate alleging that. at Edinburgh University. the number of first year law students was greater than the fire limit in the faculty‘s bigger hall. Even ifthis were not the case. the fact that students are blocking steps and exits is surely a safety risk.

‘Because departmental resources have not increased to the same extent as student numbers. they are stretched. and so extra expense is being transferred to the students themselves. who now have to pay for photocopying notes and books.‘ commented Paul Williamson. President of lit'SA. ‘lfthe universities are getting increased income from increasing numbers of students. it's essential to use some of that money to decrease pressure at a departmental level. otherwise higher education faces a crisis.' l Alan Morrison)

_ Dome threat

_ Glasgow‘s Dome of Discovery, one of

Scotland‘s very few science and

technology public exhibitions, will close permanently in November unless

new funds are raised to secure an

opening next spring. The Dome. which

is run by an educational charitable organisation, was set up in 1990 as a one-year exhibition, but its widely acclaimed success encouraged the Glasgow DevelopmentAgencyto undertake studies as to its future. These studies have been delayed. and the Dome has now effectively run out of funds.

Part of the problem is the poor condition of the former Garden Festival

4'l‘hc List 6 1‘) November 1993

site and the South Rotunda building where the Dome is housed. The building requires extensive development. new exhibits need to be acquired. and vandalism and burglary on the insecure site have caused an unnecessary £30,000 in overheads.

‘Unless somebody gives usthe necessary money and is prepared to develop the building. which is terribly derelict now. it‘s just notviable on that site,‘ said Dr Graham Durant. Director of the Dome. ‘If we had other attractions alongside us. we could share the cost of security, advertising, etc. but being on our own is not doing us any favours. One thing this city really needs is a science centre to try and show people that science can be fun - it's not all doom and gloom and boring.‘ (AM)

| _

Arts report

Any shake-up in the structure of local government in Scotland should ensure that local authorities continue and expand the vital support they give to the arts, warned Dr William Brown, chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, as the SAC published its Annual Report and Review for1991/92. In his first year as Chairman, Dr Brown drew attention to the importance of the SAC’s collaborative role in such ventures as the Charter for the Arts and its ongoing partnership with various tourism, business and sponsorship bodies. Altogether, 9:19.453 million was received from the government as grand-in-aid, with the result that over 800 grants and 120 bursaries were awarded. The year saw the demise of Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery and Glasgow’s Third Eye Centre although both have now reopened in slightly different forms with financial support from the Council. The SAC’s commitment to Gaelic resulted in the formation of Drama-na h’Alba, a

T The Scottish

inrts Council

separate forum with its own development officer, while the number of new plays commissioned in Scotland was particularly high. But plans for a Scottish Contemporary Dance School are on ice after the first stage of a feasibility study failed to provide sufficient market information.

Looking to the future, SAC welcomed the government’s proposal for a National Lottery, which would contribute to the upkeep of the country’s arts buildings. Although the scheme could net between £20—£30 million extra funding forthe arts in Scotland, Director Seona Reid added a note of caution: ‘Arts buildings without artists are pointless and our greatest need remains funding to sustain the

wealth of artistic talent which already

exists in Scotland and to nurture those with potential still to be realised.’ (AM)

' .j'NsP ..

Scottish Conservation Projects. the leading hands-on conservation charity. is hoping to find a pot of gold at the rainbow-Ts end. Or. more precisely. the S( ‘P 'l'rust hopes to raise £1 million for the development of its activities through the newly launched Rainbow Appeal. Each year around 10.000 individuals from all walks of life get involved in the 'l‘rust‘s practical conservation projects across Scotland. from recycling initiatives and freshwater conservation (principally under the Operation Brightwater banner) to keeping alive traditional skills such as [hatching and drystane dyking. .‘yloney raised by the Rainbow Appeal will be put to a variety of uses. including the purchasing of specialised tools. equipment and vehicles. the recruitment of more \ oluntecrs and the expansion of S( 'l"s network of affiliated grottps. {300.000 is cttrrenlly being earmarked for setting tip and

Appealing notion

training of new groups of

unemployed Midweek Volunteers in lnverness. Perth. Aberdeen and Dumfries. given the success of the (ilasgow and Edinburgh groups.

‘Scotland‘s very beauty. renowned throughout the world. brings its own pressures from ever increasing numbers ofvisitors seeking peace and refreshment.‘ said Prince

‘- Charles. Principal Patron ofthe

Appeal. "l‘he 'l‘rust provides a channel for practical environmental action which benefits the whole community. and particularly the many people who live in Scotland's urban areas. and might not otherwise have the opportunity to

i contribute tothc conservationofour

scenic and wildlife heritage.‘ Details of the Trust's work and of how to make donations cart be obtained from lan Campbell. The Scottish Conservation Projects 'l'rust. Balallan House. 24 Allan

Park.Stirling FKb’ 200. (AM) i