Nominations for the position of Rector at the University of Edinburgh opened on 11 November.
To be nominated as a candidate for Rector, nominees must provide written confirmation accepting the nomination and must be supported by a minimum of 40 signatures from university staff or students.
The nomination period will last until 12 noon on Tuesday 13 January 2015 and voting will take place on 10 and 11 February.
The votes will be counts on February 11 and the new Rector will be officially announced on 12 February. Once confirmed, the new Rector will preside over the first meeting of the University Court on May 11.
The current Rector is Peter McColl, a political activist and editor of left-wing blog Bright Green, who was elected unopposed in 2012.
McColl has said that he will be standing for re-election and, if he wins, he will be only the third Rector to have held office for two terms.
The university describes the role of the Rector on its website:
“The Rector presides at meetings of the University Court, the governing body of the University of Edinburgh. Uniquely elected by students and staff, the Rector ensures that the interests of the whole University community are considered in the courts decision making processes. ”
In addition to these duties, the Rector also attends and hosts a number of official ceremonies and events, including graduations.
The university has had a significant number of notable rectors since Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone became the first in 1859. In total there have been 7 Prime Ministers who have held the post including Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Stanley Baldwin, Sir Winston Churchill and Gordon Brown.
Other rectors have included medical pioneer Sir Alexander Fleming, Mastermind host Magnus Magnusson, and the former Liberal Party leader Lord Steel.
At the University of St Andrews’ rectorial elections there was controversy as Catherine Stihler, a Labour MEP, was elected unopposed. Students were disappointed by the procedure for the election of rectors at Scottish universities where if only one candidate runs they are automatically appointed.
Critics of the rectorial elections said that the rector should have a “democratic mandate” to assume their position.
Speaking to The Student, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “We’re keen to avoid a similar situation here so it’s important that students get nominating so that we can make sure we’ve got a good selection of candidates to choose from.”