Embattled student leader Stuart Ritchie has insisted he has no plans to resign as president of Glasgow University Students' Representative Council (GUSRC) in the face of pressure from a band of campus activists.
In an exclusive interview with The Journal, the GUSRC head said he has become an unjust target of a politically-motivated campaign by local and national campaigners.
An open meeting between Ritchie and members of the Glasgow University student community was scheduled to take place as The Journal went to print with members of the Glasgow Coalition of Resistance calling either for the leader's resignation or a vote of no confidence.
The move comes after a series of emails between Ritchie and Glasgow University's Corporate Communications chief Susan Stewart intimated that the GUSRC leader lobbied for an alternate structuring of recently-set fees for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The ancient institution last month elected to enshrine fee levels of £6,750 a year, taking the total cost of a four-year degree to £26,000. Ritchie is believed to have argued over the course of negotiations in favour of £9,000 across three years instead.
However, the student president told The Journal he has no intention of stepping aside in the wake of the revelations, firing a parting shot at the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland for wading into the issue.
NUS Scotland last week labelled Ritchie's behaviour as that of “a president who thinks he’s untouchable and entirely unaccountable to his own students” – a move that sparked controversy because of Glasgow's unaffiliated nature.
Ritchie told The Journal: "Why have the NUS been contacted? It's because there is a direct correlation between the anti-cuts network and the NUS. They share the same agenda at heart and I have been a victim of that.
"This began in March when my election campaign started and the Anti-Cuts network ran a candidate and lost.
"I think I have done my best for Glasgow university students up until now and will continue to do so. It is very telling that this campaign is being run by the same students who went up against me in March and lost – an anti-cuts campaign that has lost focus on this campus in the last five months."
However, NUS Scotland together with the Glasgow Coalition of Resistance hit back at the criticism amid claims the GUSRC chief has failed to fulfil the responsibilities bestowed to the elected position.
NUS Scotland President Robin Parker told The Journal: "For Stuart Ritchie to call himself a victim shows he's lost all touch with reality. The victims here are students from the rest of the UK that will have to take on a mortgage debt to come to study in Scotland.
"Where Stuart Ritchie is absolutely right is that it's up to Glasgow students who their president is. The trouble is that they chose a president to stand up for their views not his own.
"A university should be judged by the quality of its education, not by the size of its price tag. I'm sure Glasgow students, just like students across Scotland, believe that, even if Stuart Ritchie himself does not."
A petition calling for Ritchie's resignation was launched this week with activists around campus attempting to drum up support. The GUSRC's constitution is seen to provide no formal mechanism for a vote of no confidence to remove the president, though it is thought Ritchie could be susceptible to complaints submitted through the body's grievance procedure.
A Glasgow Coalition of Resistance spokeswoman said: "What we're dealing with is facts. It's not about a political campaign.
"He [Ritchie] has taken a stance publicly and has completely reneged on that... it's not a matter of left or right-wing policies. It's naming a liar.
"All he has done is fail the students every time he's had the opportunity to stand up and be a representative," she added.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that there was no mechanism in the GUSRC constitution to bring a vote of no-confidence against Ritchie. The constitution does in fact allow for such a vote, though it is not clear what impact this would have on his position as president. The article has been updated to reflect this.