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4 May 2002

Scottish Report to 2002 Worlds Council

At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country.  It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.

Scottish Report to 2002 Worlds Council

1) General overview
Although I was upset that no Scots teams broke at Worlds this year that fact is not, in my opinion, generally reflective of Scottish debating. Although there have been problems over the last couple of years, they are now, mostly, resolved. In essence there are six debating institutions in Scotland - the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde. All of these run their own competitions as well as participating in the Scottish leg of the John Smith Memorial Mace Competition, the Scotsman Debating Championship and a couple of specialist competitions - for first year speakers etc. Plans to resurect the debating societies at Glasgow Caledonian University and Herriot Watt University are progressing, albeit slowly.

2) Controversial institutions

Frankly we don't really have any so the only issue that could possibly come up for us is when someone is perusing an unusual form of study, e.g. part-time students. Frankly, I have two thoughts on this subject. Firstly we will never be able to come up with a form of words which will cover all types of courses and certainly not one which will remain relevant for more than about an hour after we leave the meeting room. This isn't defeatist it's the pragmatic reality of modern higher education. Secondly, therefore, there are two rules of thumb that I have long used in settling eligability issues in other circumstances. I will continue to defend the honour system

- if someone is determined to be deceitful there's not all that much we can do about it. But generally speaking I think that if someone's eligible to speak in the own national/regional championships then they should be eligible for worlds. Rather than trying to come up with the format for how we decide eligibility I think it is more important to decide the method. In essence the one we have works but could probably do with some tweaking. A distinction need to be drawn between those situations where the host organiser is perfectly happy to allow someone to enter but doesn't know whether they can and those situations where the host institution wants to actively discourage participation. The situation with Ross MacDonald this year being a prime example of the latter. As most of you will be aware I argued that Ross should be allowed to enter

- this wasn't because I necessarily thought Glasgow were wrong but simply because that's what the constitution said - as I understood it. or what it's worth I think an institution should be at liberty to ban individuals they deem to be a risk to the safe running of the tour

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