Goldsmiths warden claimed nearly £20k from the uni for taxi money over a two year period
UCU reveals massive personal spending by boss while staff lost jobs
Goldsmiths warden Frances Corner spent nearly £20k of uni money on taxis since she took her post in 2019.
A portion of this, around £9k, was also paid by the uni for the warden’s personal use rather than “College business.”
A student at Goldsmiths tweeted: “Blood boiling amount of money being drained by senior management. Almost an entire salary, and more than a PhD stipend, spent on being ferried around.”
This revelation came from a Freedom of Information request sent by Goldsmiths University and College Union (UCU). The request covered 2018 to 2021, which includes one year under the previous warden, Pat Loughrey.
This made it possible to compare the two wardens, finding that while the previous warden spent an average of £8.58 per week on taxis, Frances Corner spent £200.55 per week in 2019-20 and £166.98 per week in 2020-21.
The current warden also used £1,995.90 in 2019-20 and £7,079.81 in 2020-21 on taxis for her personal use rather than uni purposes, which is disclosed as a “taxable benefit” in the FOI as spending on taxis for work is tax-exempt. The UCU noted that the previous warden did not spend uni money like this in 2018-19.
Goldsmiths UCU found these “obscene taxi bills” outrageous and claimed that “either public money or student fees [are] being funnelled into funding a luxury lifestyle.”
This finding comes as there have been various forms of strikes over the management’s plan to sack up to 46 staff, which the uni justified as needing to save “£9m in ongoing spending by 2023″ to recover from a £12.7 million financial deficit.
The UCU branches thought the spending was especially inappropriate in the context of the pandemic, tweeting: “In 2020-21, there was very little activity on campus due to Covid!”
It also noted a disparity between the regular staff and the warden, as the essential workers still expected at the uni during the pandemic, whose “health & wellbeing is of no less importance,” “weren’t offered the luxury of private taxis paid for by Goldsmiths.”
This finding, branded as #TaxiGate and #CornerCabs by GUCU, has not been well-received by staff and students either. Many thought this spending was ridiculous when staff were forced into redundancy, programmes faced being axed, and students have been struggling under waves of strikes and, currently, a marking boycott that might delay graduation.
In response, a Goldsmiths spokesperson told the London Tab: “The figures for 2019-20 show the current Warden’s first year in post and reflect travel and expenses including for meetings with key stakeholders such as higher education sector colleagues and supporters and funders as the Warden built new partnerships to further the College’s mission.
“The figures for 2020-21 include travel during a critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic. At this time it was essential for the Warden to be able to travel more safely to and from campus in order to provide leadership for the College.”