Peter McColl

Peter McColl (born 9 May 1980) is a political campaigner and writer who was Rector of the University of Edinburgh 2012–2015. He has been involved with charity work and is editor of the progressive blog Bright Green.

Peter McColl
McColl at his rectorial installation
Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh
In office
11 January 2012  11 February 2015
Preceded byIain Macwhirter
Succeeded bySteve Morrison
Personal details
Born (1980-05-09) 9 May 1980 (age 41)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partyScottish Green Party
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
OccupationCharity worker

Early life

McColl was educated at Methodist College Belfast.[1] McColl is a geography graduate of the University of Edinburgh and was previously a Vice President of the Edinburgh University Students Association.[2] He was assessor to Mark Ballard during his term as Rector of the University from 2006–09, and was involved in the campaigns to elect both Robin Harper and Tam Dalyell as rector.


McColl was confirmed as Rector of the University of Edinburgh on 11 January 2012, following an uncontested election.[3] He took up the three-year post on 1 March 2012.

As Rector McColl supported successful campaigns to freeze international student fees; for more affordable student housing, including the establishment of the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative; for the University to divest from weaponised drone manufacturing and the wider arms trade; and to stop the University using zero hour contracts.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

He also campaigned for better pay and conditions for academic and support staff, to improve teaching, for free education, for improved education funding, to improve university governance across Scotland, for fossil fuel divestment, and ethical procurement.[3][4][11][12][13][14]

In 2015 McColl became the fourth Rector to stand for re-election. He lost to his opponent, media executive Steve Morrison, who won with 61.9% of the vote.[15]


McColl has stood as a Scottish Green Party candidate in several elections. In the 2007 local authority elections the Greens stood candidates in all Edinburgh council wards for the first time and won three seats, although McColl himself was unsuccessful in contesting the Portobello/Craigmillar ward.[16] In 2010 he stood in the Liberton/Gilmerton ward by-election.[17] and in the 2012 election for the Portobello/Craigmillar Ward but was again unsuccessful.

McColl was the Scottish Green Party 2015 Westminster parliamentary candidate for Edinburgh East, the party's national target seat.[18] He was a candidate for Scottish Parliament on the Green's Lothian list for the in 2016.[19]

He is an editor of the Bright Green blog, and was voted the UK's top Green blogger in the 2011 Total Politics poll.[20] and 7th top left wing blogger.[21]

Mccoll has also served as the Co-Chair of the Edinburgh Green Party and (until 2011) as Chair of climate action group Transition Scotland Support.[22]


  1. "Former Pupil Peter McColl (MCB 1991-98) – Rector of University of Edinburgh". Old Collegians. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  2. "Peter McColl confirmed as new Rector". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  3. Kernohan, Marcus (12 January 2012). "Campaigner elected Edinburgh rector in one-horse race". The Journal. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  4. Gourtsoyannis, Paris (5 February 2015). "Working Title: Interview with University of Edinburgh Rector Peter McColl". Holyrood Magazine. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  5. "Edinburgh University ditches drone firm investments". Reprieve. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  6. Biagi, Marco. "Joint statement with Peter McColl, Rector of University of Edinburgh". Marco Biagi MSP. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  7. Bradley, Sam (5 March 2014). "UK's first student housing co-op launches in Edinburgh". The Edinburgh Reporter. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  8. "What Does The Rector Even Do?". FreshAir. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  9. "Edinburgh MSP wants action on planning requirements for affordable housing". The Edinburgh Reporter. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  10. "Edinburgh University rector calls for review into student accommodation". UIA Insurance. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  11. Dewar, Gavin (27 January 2015). "Plunging Oil Price Costs University £4 Million". The Student Newspaper. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  12. Minghella, Dan (31 October 2013). "Edinburgh staff strike over university pay". The Journal. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  13. "Scottish independence: Debate on education in Scotland". BBC News. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  14. "New report on ethical procurement released". People & Planet. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  15. Bugajski, Matt; Dewitt, Ethan (11 February 2015). "Steve Morrison wins rectorial election with 61.9% of vote". Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  16. "Labour swept out by a new broom". 5 May 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  17. "New Labour member elected to Edinburgh council". The Guardian. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  18. "Membership Surge Sets Up Strong Scottish Green MP Campaign". Scottish Green Party. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  19. "Scottish Greens regional list candidates". Holyrood. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  20. "Top 20 green bloggers 2011". Total Politics. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  21. "Top 20 green bloggers 2011". Total Politics. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  22. "Top 20 green bloggers 2011". Total Politics. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2012.