LECTURERS have tried to have the Army banned from recruiting students at Edinburgh's Stevenson College.
Members of Scotland's biggest teaching union have taken exception to the Ministry of Defence setting up recruitment stalls to talk to students, mostly aged between 16 and 18, about a career in the Armed Forces.
Following a vote of around 50 union members at the college, they made a formal approach to Stevenson's management asking them to ban MoD recruitment drives from the campus.
The college has turned down the request, but union members have vowed to carry on campaigning, taking their fight to a national level.
Gordon Plews, secretary of the Stevenson's branch of the EIS, which has about 220 members, said: "We asked the college to suspend marketing of the Army inside its doors.
"You have a lot of young, impressionable people in a college and we are asking whether this is the right environment for them to come in and recruit."
He said both opposition to the war in Iraq and the increased risks to soldiers which that campaign had brought, as well as the one in Afghanistan, were factors behind the vote.
"There are elements of both," Mr Plews said. "For some it's definitely about opposition to the war in Iraq. It's not about being anti-military or anti-Army.
"It's more dangerous for soldiers since we entered Iraq."
One of the teachers who backed the move, Donny Gluckstein, who teaches history at the college, claimed the Army were targeting low-income students with promises of free driving instruction and sports facilities.
He said: "These recruits are no more than economic conscripts, and the army is playing on their poverty and deprivation."
Stevenson lecturer Penny Gower, who is a member of the EIS further education national executive, is hoping the union will adopt the issue as a national campaign.
She has arranged for the question to be put to a vote of the union's full council when it next meets in June, alongside a similar call for a ban on Army recruitment in schools.
Susan Bird, principal of Stevenson College, said: "At Stevenson we run an active roster of careers fairs, volunteer fairs, and higher education fairs to present our students with opportunities that will help them plan for their lives after college.
"We invite a wide range of organisations to these fairs, including the police, the Army, local businesses, banks and charities. We feel our students have the ability to make the best decisions for themselves when they are presented with a range of options.
"In the past we have invited representatives of the Army to participate in these recruitment fairs, and we intend to maintain our relationship with the Army as it continues to provide career prospects, training and personal development opportunities."
She added: "We recognise the sensitivity of direct recruitment, and will not allow any organisation to set up displays without first discussing the merits of such a display with the college."
An MoD spokeswoman said: "The Armed Forces do not send any teams into schools unless at the request of the headteacher.
"We don't go into schools and colleges to recruit people to send them to Iraq - if there's a career fair then we would go in.
"Those who are not joining the Armed Forces because of Iraq, are equalled by the number who join up because of it.
"They don't join up to sit in barracks all day, but to do interesting challenging jobs, and the majority are keen to deploy.
"There's no secret what the Army is all about - it's explained at every level. We offer an exciting and rewarding career, operations and training overseas are a part of that."
Edinburgh Evening News