Richard Baker

December 24, 1999

By all accounts Richard Baker, leader of the National Union of Students in Scotland, is the very model of a modern student leader.

Once criticised by some for backing the formation of the Cubie committee - seen as government prevarication - and for toeing the Labour Party line too closely, Mr Baker has since earned praise from Scottish universities in and outside the NUS for energetically pushing the pro-grant policies they favour.

Mr Baker's lot is not a particularly happy one, some say, as it involves not only trying to please the diverse institutions in Scotland, various political student factions and the English NUS, but also maintaining good relations with the large group of non-affiliated Scottish universities. He apparently deals with this by being "a pragmatist", although critics suggest his pragmatism may be in place of principles.

Mr Baker was born in Edinburgh in 1974 to an episcopalian vicar and an English teacher. He is a godson of the Archbishop of Aberdeen, but friends say he is "no choirboy", being partial to port and parties.

Educated at St Bees School in Cumbria, he studied English literature at Aberdeen, where he founded the university's Anglican Society and was involved in the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

In 1995, Mr Baker became senior vice-president of the students' representative council, NUS North of Scotland Area convenor a year later, depute president of NUS Scotland a year after that and president last year. He has twice been elected to the post unopposed.

A Labour Party member despite opposing government policy on fees and loans and helping to organise the campaign persuading peers to vote against the Scottish anomoly, Mr Baker is described as "more a tax-and-spend Brownite" than a "third-way Blairite".

His interests include politics, the church and the theatre. He is thought to be inclined towards work in the voluntary sector. 'Mr Baker has earned praise from Scottish universities in and outside the NUS for energetically pushing the pro-grant policies they favour'

Send all information to Lynne Williams

The THES

Admiral House

66-68 East Smithfield

London E1W 1BX

Tel 020 7782 3375

Email lynne.williams@thes.co.uk

Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on The THES website Netgazette@thesis.co.uk

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