Rectorial Election 2024


Dr Ghassan S. Abu-Sittah - MBchB, FRCS


Mr.Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a British-Palestinian Associate Professor of Surgery, completed medical education at the University of Glasgow and residency training in London. Specializing in Pediatric Craniofacial Surgery, Cleft Surgery, and Trauma Reconstruction, he joined the American University of Beirut Medical Center in 2011, becoming the Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2012. Co-founding the Conflict Medicine Program at the Global Health Institute in 2015.

Returning to the UK in 2020, he continued Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in the private sector. He is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College University of London, Visiting Senior Lecturer at King's College London University, and Clinical Lead for the Operational Trauma Initiative at the WHO's EMRO Office. He serves on the board of directors of INARA, and the Board of Trustees of Medical Aid for Palestinians in the UK. Additionally, he is part of the UK’s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) International Funding Committee.

Mr. Abu-Sittah has extensive publications on the health consequences of prolonged conflict and war injuries, including the medical textbook "Reconstructing the War Injured Patient" and "Treating the War Injured Child." As a war surgeon, he operated in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, South Lebanon, and Gaza. Notably, on October 9, 2023, he worked in Shifa Hospital and Al-Ahli-Baptist Hospital in Gaza for 43 days during the current conflict. His evidence contributed to the South African submission to the International Court of Justice, gaining recognition from media outlets such as La Monde, The Independent, Telegraph, BBC, and CNN.


In standing for rector, I aim to give Glasgow University students the opportunity to declare their opposition to Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza, to stand against the complicity of our government in solidarity with Palestine. As a Glasgow alumnus, I know how passionate this university’s students are about standing against injustice. I also know – having worked as a war surgeon during 4 wars in the Gaza strip, including for 43 days since October 2023 – the severity of the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza.

If elected, I have four key pledges:

  • Over the last few months, we have witnessed an assault on the means of life in Gaza: its hospitals, schools, houses, bakeries, universities, etc. Academic institutions in the West have been completely silent about the deliberate targeting of universities, most recently Al-Israa University – the last which was left standing in Gaza. I know that students are outraged at these unjustifiable attacks, and have been consistently protesting against them, spreading information, and expressing their concerns to management. This is why, if elected, I will put pressure on the university to officially and unequivocally condemn Israel’s ongoing genocidal campaign.
  • I am calling for the University of Glasgow to divest from the arms trade, ceasing its complicity in the slaughter of civilians in Palestine, and across the world. UofG currently holds shares worth over £6.8m in arms companies, including in BAE Systems, which produces components for the warplanes which are currently being utilised as part of Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The university is profiting from the killing of innocent people worldwide, and from the environmental devastation that these arms companies leave in their wake, this must end. UofG must divest from these companies immediately to show its dedication is to education, not killing.
  • I am dedicated to forging new connections and reinforcing existing partnerships with the leading universities in Palestine. This commitment stems from a vision of global collaboration, aiming to create a platform for shared knowledge, cultural exchange, and collaborative research initiatives. By fostering these relationships, we seek to cultivate a dynamic environment that benefits students, faculty, and communities on both ends. Through mutual understanding and respect, my goal is to enrich education, promote diversity, and collectively address global challenges. This initiative embodies the spirit of international cooperation and solidarity to foster a better future together.
  • In 2021, the University of Glasgow adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. While I am absolutely committed to tackling all forms of anti-Semitism, it is my belief that, by linking criticism of Israel to antisemitism, this definition threatens academic criticism of Israel and Palestinian solidarity events. My fear, shared by the University and Colleges Union, is that such a definition risks undermining freedom of speech and intellectual thought on campus. Accordingly, as rector, I would call for the replacement of the IHRA definition with the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. 

A vote for me is a vote of solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

Follow my campaign – @uofgsolidarity 


Ghassan Abu-Sittah

Susan McCabe


I was born and raised in Glasgow’s East End. 

I am a multi award winning Scottish standup comedian who identifies as a Lesbian. I started doing stand-up comedy as a drunken dare and would refuse to be beaten as such I have never looked back from January 2011.

I had a successful career in construction and trained as an adult apprentice electrician and then got the opportunity to become an electrical estimator. I worked in this role for 15 years also balancing my comedy career for 8 years.

Before all the above I worked in Delmonica’s in Glasgow I was employed as a weekend Glass collector and then eventually became Assistant Manager/ Manager.



I may be the only rectorial candidate to say these words but I didn’t go to University.

I’ve had successful, fulfilling careers and I’m currently fortunate enough to have won many awards as a stand up comedian, something started as a dare!

I didn’t go to university because of the barriers I faced, barriers that many still face when it comes to getting in and staying in. That’s what I believe would make me an effective Rector of Glasgow University. I understand what it’s like to face and overcome those barriers and if I’m given the honour, my job, my passion will be to help you overcome yours.

They don’t have to be the same issues I had to contend with but let me give you an idea of where I’m coming from.

I was raised in a working class family in Glasgow’s East End. I was told that University was not for the likes of me. I now know that it IS for people EXACTLY like me with an avid interest in the Arts, Politics, History and Engineering. I know I would have embraced student life with gusto. I want to ensure you feel that same gusto.

The other barrier was, believe it or not, being a lesbian. At 17 I had to leave home because of my sexuality because being gay was still not accepted. Attitudes have changed but not enough. So, to those of you experiencing something similar now, please know I understand.

Without family support it’s much more difficult to go into further education. So I got a job in the bar Delmonica’s starting as a glass collector, ending up as assistant manager / manager. I had a great career in construction, became an electrician and later, an electrical estimator, a job I did for 15 years, the last 8 of which I did alongside building up my comedy career.

From working in the male dominated construction world to working in an LGBTQ+ Bar during the Section 28 campaign, it’s fair to say I enjoy a challenge. I challenge the status quo when necessary and I will continue to do so if I am elected as your Rector.

This generation of students hasn’t had it easy. You’ve had to contend with the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit and Covid. Many more are being diagnosed with mental health problems and neuro-diversities. Even those of you from seemingly privileged backgrounds have struggled. I would take a keen interest in what additional support the University offers.

Politically I’m left of centre and believe in Scotland’s right to be Independent, but I respect those who don’t share those views.

That’s my background and it’s given me a ‘healthy’ dose of imposter syndrome, something ANYONE can experience.

I’m here to tell you, you are not an imposter, you’ve earned your right to be at this wonderful university and if you elect me, I will do everything in my power to ensure you get the right support to remain here until you graduate.


Susan McCabe

The Hon Lady Rita Rae


A woman is “emotionally unsuitable for court work” – the remark which Lady Rae recalls as a moment which

may have driven her on to break through the glass ceiling of Scotland’s legal profession

Lady Rae graduated in 1972 with an honours degree in law, then began her career as a solicitor. She quickly rose to the position of Partner in a leading criminal firm. In the 1982 she joined the male-dominated Faculty of Advocates. Her workload as an advocate varied, including: children’s cases, high-profile criminal work and human rights cases. She worked as a Sheriff across Scotland, before being appointed as a Senator of the College of Justice and an Upper Tribunal Judge in immigration and asylum cases. She also served on the Parole Board for Scotland and the Sentencing Commission.

In June 2019, she was awarded an Honorary doctorate in Laws from the University of Glasgow in recognition of her career and contribution to the legal world.

Lady Rae’s contributions extend far beyond the legal profession. She has continually supported those who are underprivileged; whether that be through scholarship funding or supporting other charitable projects.  She served as the University of Glasgow’s first female working rector from 2021.

She is the Vice Chair of an Adoption and Fostering Society and in 2022 she became the first chair of the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency



Lady Rae is passionate about offering a voice to the student body.

 When asked about manifesto policies, her sentiment was clear: policy should be developed by the students based on their needs; not dictated by the Rector. She is committed to continue to be a working Rector: to be there to listen to students and voice their concerns.  In her term of office between 2021 and 2024 Lady Rae has developed a good working relationship with the University and has been listened to and issues raised have been acted upon.  She is however prepared to challenge and the University when necessary.

In her manifesto, she wants to set out the values that she has championed throughout her life. These would continue be at the core of her work during her term if re-elected.


1. Widening Participation & Gender Equality

  • It is Lady Rae’s firm belief that “those who have achieved their goals have a duty to encourage and support the young, particularly the underprivileged, essentially to give something back”.
  • She is proactive in supporting young people from underrepresented backgrounds – she has been a dedicated student mentor for a number of years, charity ambassador, and youth project patron.
  • Lady Rae has broken barriers, both personally and professionally. She will continue to ardently fight discrimination and promote diversity at all levels.


2. Student Safety

  1. A prominent judge in the criminal courts, Lady Rae has first-hand knowledge of the risks faced by students in Glasgow.
  2. Lady Rae’s experience makes her well placed to hear concerns about campus safety.
  3. Making student life safer will always be a priority for Lady Rae.

If you support these principles, want a working rector, and demand an advocate for the student body – vote Lady Rae!

 Lady Rae





Paul Sweeney MSP


Paul Sweeney was born and brought up in Glasgow and graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2011 with an MA (Hons) in Economic & Social History and Politics. He then followed generations of his family into the Clyde shipbuilding industry, before working on industrial development at Scottish Enterprise.

Since 2021, he has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow. He is also Scottish Labour’s Shadow Mental Health Minister. He was first elected in 2017 as the Member of the UK Parliament for Glasgow North East and was Shadow Scotland Office Minister until 2019. Throughout his time as an MP and MSP, he has been at the forefront of numerous high-profile campaigns for economic and social justice in the city.

These have included a community-based campaign against council service cuts which threatened the future of community centres and public libraries across the city. He helped deliver justice for hundreds of residents in Balornock who were mis-sold Green Deal products by rogue traders. In 2020, Paul was involving in operating an unsanctioned overdose prevention site in Glasgow, which reversed nine overdoses, and has successfully paved the way to an official pilot.

Paul won the Herald’s ‘Best Scot at Westminster’ Award in 2018 for his work to protect people seeking asylum from evictions and deportation. He has also been a strong supporter of the ‘Our Grades Not Visas’ campaign that successfully challenged SAAS rules that prevented people living in Scotland accessing student finance due to their immigration status.



Paul Sweeney (He/Him)

Students need a strong and unwavering voice that will stand up for their needs and make sure that student welfare and prospects are always key concerns of the university management.

Paul will ensure that solidarity between students and university workers deepen; what is good for staff is good for students. He will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with staff and students, defending their common interests.

As a signatory of the Global Alliance for a Green New Deal, Paul will continue to strongly advocate for an ethical investment strategy that moves away from the current focus on fossil fuels.

As Rector, Paul will be accessible, available and proactive – the student body deserve nothing less. Paul will hold monthly surgeries as well as regular ‘walk-abouts’ on campus to give students the opportunity to voice concern. Many students are unaware of the position of Rector and what the role entails, Paul would look to proactively raise awareness of the role so that more students know they have an advocate on their side.


Housing Crisis

One of the most pressing crises facing students at the University of Glasgow is the lack of housing available to them. More than one in ten Scottish students have faced homelessness during their studies – it is not good enough and the university must act.

For those students lucky enough to find accommodation, it is often unaffordable – 35% of students have been unable to pay their rent in full. The state of the housing on offer is poor, with mould, draughts and damp all too common.

  • Support the creation of a student housing co-operative in Glasgow.
  • Advocate for better student housing protections in the upcoming Housing Bill, including a comprehensive system of rent control to prevent exploitation by landlords.
  • Continue to advocate for more student housing development by the University rather than relying on private developers.
  • Promote bringing unused properties into student residential use across Glasgow, including the conversion and retrofit of disused University property.


Student Wellbeing

Student wellbeing should always be at the forefront of the university management’s mind. As Rector, Paul will relentlessly advocate for better provisions.

  • Campaign in Parliament and as Rector against cuts to student mental health services
  • Push for better mental health provisions on campus.
  • Bolster the widening participation scheme for people seeking asylum and refugee students.
  • Work with student bodies and campus authorities to bring about more study space during peak times.
  • Support the university in its ‘Together Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign and promote better provisions for gender-based violence victims.


Student-Staff Solidarity

Paul believes that a fundamental role of the Rector should be someone who helps to build a shared interest between students and workers - for too long these interests have been pitted against each other.

  • Show solidarity with university workers in industrial disputes and promote student solidarity with university workers.
  • Call on management to treat staff and students with respect and end disruption to teaching and grades through meaningful negotiations with trade unions.
  • Promote trade union membership amongst student workers.


Paul Sweeney