Unis are paying for VCs’ TV licenses and spending £5k on mowing mansion lawns

A few unis also pay their Vice Chancellor’s rent, which is nice for them

Universities are paying for their Vice Chancellors’ TV licenses and spending thousands on cutting the grass in official mansions.

Strathclyde, Ulster, and the Royal Academy of Music all forked out the £155 TV licence fee for their head honchos last year.

UEA spent nearly £11,000 on “grass cutting, edging and lawn maintenance” for its VC’s residence, along with £5,241 on “shrubs, borders, and beds”.

SOAS spent £60k on rent for its VC, while the Royal Academy of Music managed to find a property fit for a VC for just £10,000 a year. The London Business school paid £8,000 in rent for its Vice Chancellor, according to figures uncovered by lobbying group the TaxPayers’ Alliance and seen by The Tab.

Meanwhile, students across the country are calling for rent refunds on uni halls they’re legally not allowed to return to.

Around two thirds of Vice Chancellors aren’t provided with an official residence. Some unis, including Lancaster, have even done away with their Vice Chancellor’s residence.

However, most residences are owned directly by the university. The most valuable VC residences include Cambridge’s, valued at £4.5 million; Oxford’s, valued at £2 million; UEA’s, valued at £1.7 million; and Strathclyde’s, valued at £1.2 million.

Those with lavish spending say the grace-and-favour houses are used to host important guests and even more important dinners.

Exeter says its VC’s residence, which it spent £29,909 on last year, is used for university business 85 per cent of the year.

UEA says its upkeep costs include the expense of employing staff to maintain the residence’s grounds.

James Price, president of the Oxford Union, said: “Students, stuck paying enormous tuition fees in spite of considerable disruption from COVID, will be aghast at these revelations from the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

“University vice-chancellors are already well rewarded and valued for the important responsibilities and complex roles they hold, and shouldn’t receive extra stealth payouts on luxuries.

“Higher education institutions must take this opportunity to refocus resources on supporting their students, not least with more mental health support.

“At least this report shows Oxford doing better than Cambridge; some things never change.”

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