Scottish students disillusioned with celebrity rectors

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The Independent Online

The television comedian Tony Slattery is under pressure from students and academics amid claims that he has failed to fulfil his duties as rector of Dundee University.

The television comedian Tony Slattery is under pressure from students and academics amid claims that he has failed to fulfil his duties as rector of Dundee University.

Mr Slattery, star of Channel 4's programme Whose Line is it Anyway?, was criticised for failing to attend the university's welcome for freshers earlier this month after missing the graduation ceremony during the summer.

The controversy comes after students at Glasgow University called on former EastEnders actor Ross Kemp to resign as their rector after a vote of no-confidence earlier this month.

Mr Slattery was voted rector of Dundee in 1998, succeeding the actor Stephen Fry, to represent students on the university's governing body.

But a spokeswoman for the university said: "There is a sense of disappointment at his lack of attendance. His attendance record has been poor and we have sympathy with the students who have a right to feel let down."

The rector, elected for a three-year term, is a position unique to Scottish universities, and represents students on the governing body. The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, made history as the first student rector at Edinburgh.

David Cunningham, president of the Dundee University Students' Association, said: "Tony Slattery's term of office expires in February and we have no indication that he wants another term. It has been unfortunate. He has had personal reasons which have kept him away from Dundee."

Mr Slattery's agent, Paul Becker, said that the comedian had not been asked to stand down from the post and "had nothing to say about the controversy".

Universities in England have no equivalent of the Scottish rector, relying instead on the post of chancellor as figurehead.

Celebrity figures pack the list of those filling such a role, including Lord Melvyn Bragg at Leeds, the film maker Lord Puttnam at Sunderland and the actor and writer Peter Ustinov at Durham.

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