• Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

SNP MIA: What happened to the University’s SNP society?

ByDom Croot

Feb 16, 2024
A crowd at a protest holding Scottish flags, EU flags, and Barcelona flags at a Yes movement rally

On 28 January, The Student published survey results showing that 57 per cent of Scottish students at the University of Edinburgh would vote in favour of Scottish independence. 

Despite there being support for an independent Scotland within the student community, as of February 2024, the University of Edinburgh has no Scottish National Party (SNP) society.

In 2022, it was reported that the University of Edinburgh’s SNP society (SNPsoc) had seen its membership drop to ten, and the society was not re-registered for the 2023/24 academic year.

Both the Edinburgh University Conservative & Unionist Association and the Edinburgh Labour Students remain active on campus, holding events and having over 900 and 1500 Facebook followers respectively. 

Dwindling participation in the SNP society comes amidst low Scottish student enrollment at prestigious Scottish universities.

As of 2022, the University of Edinburgh had 49,065 students, with only 12,475 (25 per cent) of these being domiciled in Scotland. 

Despite this, The Student has previously reported strong support from non-Scottish students for Scottish independence, and the SNP allows people to join as members regardless of nationality.

Since March 2023, the SNP has elected a new leader, seen multiple defections to its rival pro-independence party Alba, and been embroiled in a scandal over its finances.

After the SNP’s controversial and volatile 12 months, the Yes Student Society has become the voice of the pro-Scottish independence movement on campus.

The Yes Student Society describes itself as being: “for students who are interested in self determination for Scotland and is open to all registered students of all nationalities at the University of Edinburgh”.

Founder of the Yes Student Society, Jules Sheridan said: “The Yes Student Society is not affiliated with any political party and accepts members from all parties and none.”

The society offers events including political debates, fundraisers, and quiz evenings.

Sheridan continued: “We are now up to 45 [members] and growing slowly but surely.

“New members are very much welcome, it is our members that are the lifeblood of our society, and it is ultimately them who will move the society forward.”

Between December 2021 and March 2023, SNP membership numbers fell by over 30,000  to around 72,000 members.

SNP membership is still relatively high when compared to the UK-wide Labour (432,000 members) and Conservative (172,000 members) parties.

Scotland has an electorate of 4.2m, whereas, at 48m, the UK electorate is over ten times larger.

Scottish Independence Rally, George Square, Glasgow” by bob the lomond is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0