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University Principal apologises for trip to Wales

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Emailed apology states that South Wales Police “will not be taking any action”

By: Anttoni Numminen

Professor George Boyne - Photograph: UoA

All University of Aberdeen students have today been emailed a ‘sincere apology’ from the University’s Principal for a visit to Wales during which he stayed at a house that was ‘occupied’ by his son.

The statement from George Boyne, the University of Aberdeen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, says: “As I have reduced immunity, it felt like the safest option to be in our house, rather than in a hotel.

“It has been suggested to me that this may be not be in line with local guidance. I have checked the position with South Wales Police and have been advised that they will not be taking any action.

“However, I sincerely apologise for any concern this may cause. I have informed the Senior Governor of the University of Aberdeen."

The University recently threatened those breaking it's Covid-guidelines with “robust action” such as fines of £250 and possible suspension or expulsion.

The email states that Boyne travelled to Wales in order to visit a consultant he has “been seeing for some time”.

The sender of the email, Senior Governor of UoA, Esther Roberton, says: “The Principal has informed me of this matter and I will take advice and consult with fellow trustees to consider the full implications of his actions.”

This announcement is in stark contrast with the guidance recently given by the University, which threatened those breaking Covid-19 rules with “robust action” such as fines of £250 and possible suspension or expulsion.

The Gaudie has not yet received any response from an AUSA spokesperson or any current sabbatical officers. However, we spoke to Alexander Acheampong who served as AUSA's Welfare Officer last year and regularly interacted with George Boyne.

"George is someone I really admire, I believe he’s honest and sincere in everything he does. However, with the Covid-19 situation and the need to respect the restrictions coupled with measures announced by the university itself, I would expect George to pay the announced penalty of £250 by the university to serve as an example as well as a deterrent for the university community."

Martin Le Brech, Chair of Aberdeen University Labour Students, said the Principal's apology alone was not enough.

"Over the past two weeks, the University has put enormous pressure on students, whether it is through outrageously expensive food parcels offered to locked down freshers' in Hillhead or the recent threats of expulsion from our flats and from the University if we were to break the rules.

"And now that Principal Boyne broke the rules himself, it really seems like it's one rule for him and another one for the rest of us. I hope the University will listen and take a softer approach to how it treats the student community and puts meaningful efforts in making sure our experience this year is somewhat acceptable. Because it isn't the case so far.

"We need proper mental health services, total transparency as to what is done by the management as well as a University ready to listen to the concerns of all of us students."

More to follow...


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