Commissioner sweeps to victory as new rector of St Andrews University

THE man responsible for enforcing Scotland's freedom of information laws is the new rector of St Andrews University after polling more than half of the votes cast in last Friday's election.

Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion, who is based in St Andrews, won an all-Scottish ballot in gaining 941 votes to lead Scottish Socialist Party spokesman Colin Fox (515 votes) and round the world yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth (401).

The total vote count of 1859 represented 26 per cent of the full-time student population at St Andrews University.

The rector is elected by the matriculated students, holds office for three years and presides over the University Court, the institution's governing body.

Mr Dunion, born in Bridge of Allan and a graduate of St Andrews, officially took up his post on Saturday and has pledged to continue the good example of his predecessor Simon Pepper and be a ''working rector.''

"Students want someone who knows the university, is available to meet with them to hear their concerns and is able to chair the court effectively," he said.

Fourth year student Georgina Rannard, who nominated Mr Dunion, said he was a perfect choice for a working rector.

"He has a strong connection to the university and town, a track record of being effective nationally and internationally, and will dedicate the necessary time and effort into being rector," she added.

St Andrews Students' Association director of representation, James Shield, seconded the nomination.

He said: "Affordable accommodation is a huge issue at the moment, the university library is not ageing well and facilities are deteriorating as the university grows.

"We want a rector who will ensure that students' concerns and views are properly taken into account, and Kevin's commitment to transparency and accountability is exactly what we need."

Former rectors of the university include Frank Muir, John Cleese, Sir Clement Freud and Rudyard Kipling.