Setting Things Straight - QMU President's Response to the Glasgow Guardian

Hello, for those of you who don't know me yet I'm Courtney and I'll be the QMU President for 2019/20. This blog post is in response to an article published by the Glasgow Guardian on Sunday 28th July entitled 'QMU failing, according to QMU'.

Firstly, I'd like to start by saying that picking apart an article in this way isn't ideally how I'd like to be keeping our membership up-to-date on what is going on at the QMU. We had hoped to share with you the positive changes we've been making to the Union, and the results of our Student Body Survey, in our own time, however, this misleading article has forced my hand and I cannot allow misinformation to spread as a result.

Typically the press when writing about an organisation should go to that organisation for a comment. However, the documents which the Guardian have based their article on have not actually been made public at this time, as I'll explain further below, so we would have appreciated a heads up from them before they uploaded their story. I apologise that this will be a long post but I just want the opportunity to explain these issues fully and set things straight.

If you have any further questions after reading then please do not hesitate to contact me at, or come to my office on the Third Floor of the Union where I work full-time. We understand, probably better than anyone, that as an organisation we have a lot of work to do to rebuild our reputation and regain the trust of the students, however, hopefully after reading this you'll see that we are taking positive steps and doing the best that we can with what we have.


"The Queen Margaret Union’s own strategic report has shown that less than half of University of Glasgow students have a positive perception of the union"

This contains a kernel of truth but should really be understood in context...

The report which the Guardian refers to relies on data taken from our Strategic Market Research Survey (titled UofG Student Body Survey), which was conducted on our behalf in April 2019 by the trusted and reputable market research agency Red Brick Research.

The survey, which the University backed, asked students (c.1,800 of them) a number of questions about their experience at UofG including: what they think about each of the 4 student bodies at the University, any issues that they have come across during their time (such as depression), and how their experience could be improved.

We undertook this research to gain a better of understanding of what University of Glasgow students want, and therefore what we can do as one of the 4 bodies to try and provide for what students felt was missing. You may have taken part in this survey, and if so then we apologise that the results weren't made public sooner. We thought we would allow the University and the 3 other bodies to digest the somewhat concerning contents before we went public. You can read the full survey report here.

The question which the Guardian article refers to read 'How would you describe your overall perception of each of the student bodies you're aware of?'.Below are the results.

As you can clearly see, the survey shows that students have very similar feelings towards all of the student bodies. Our overall positive perception (combining very positive and positive) is only marginally lower than that of the other student bodies (by 3%) and our negative perception (negative and very negative) is in fact 1% less than the GUU's.

The overwhelming finding, which the Glasgow Guardian has failed to report on, is that the students who are answered our survey are mainly ambivalent towards all of the student bodies.

Although our positive perception may be lower than the other student bodies, there is clearly a much more worrying trend here that a large number of UofG students don’t interact with, and seemingly don't care about any of student bodies on campus. This is something that all 4 student bodies will have to work together to combat, and something QMU would love to collaborate on.

Of the many findings we gained from this survey, here are a few that the Guardian neglected to mention, some good and some rather concerning...

The Good Stats

  • 77% of the students sampled said they were satisfied with their university experience, with those who are QMU members being more likely to be satisfied

  • 84% of students sampled feel that university is helping them to develop the skills, knowledge and experience they need

  • 7 in 10 students believe that we benefit by having 4 student bodies instead of one at UofG

  • QMU is perceived by students who are aware of it to be the most friendly and welcoming student body

  • QMU members are more diverse than GUU's: we are more popular with postgrads than GUU is (18% QMU v. 10% GUU), with international students (18% QMU v. 13% GUU) with homosexual or bisexual students (35% QMU v. 15% GUU) and with students who identify in another way than male or female i.e. be trans or non-binary (8% QMU v. 1% GUU)

The Worrying Stats

  • 62% of students sampled have struggled with at least one mental health issue (stress and anxiety, depression or 'other mental health issues')

  • 50% of students sampled have not received the help they need at University

  • 50% of students have 'no idea' or are 'unsure' what they're going to do after graduation

  • 45% of students sampled don't have a clear understanding of how to get a maximum value from their University experience

  • 26% of students have seriously considered dropping out of University

There are a lot of points to unpack here, and we hope to address a number of them in our Strategic Plan 2019-2022 which I'll come on to now.

If you want to read the full survey report (and we recommend that you do) again you can find it here.


"The strategic plan, released this month and seen by The Glasgow Guardian, includes research conducted on behalf of the union by Redbrick Research."

The strategic plan has not been released, it is, as it currently stands, a confidential working document which we have been working on with our external HR partner Graham Atkinson since we received the survey results in April.