Starbucks is coming to campus

“It is just another example of our student services being sold off to dubious outside interests.”

Students have hit back against plans to open two branches of the Starbucks coffee chain on campus, raising questions about the company’s tax history that have gone unanswered by the University.

The first will open in two weeks time in Wentworth College, within ‘The Edge’ food outlet.

Another branch will open on Heslington East in 2017, when the new Piazza building opens.

The plans were branded “outrageous” by Socialist Society Secretary Katie Smith, with other students also questioning the company’s track record on tax, in light of the revelations made by the Panama Papers that have made the topic an increasingly sensitive issue.

University Registrar David Duncan told The Tab that the Starbucks branches will be “run on a franchise basis through our wholly-owned subsidiary, YCL.”  meaning that a percentage of profits will go to the University, but this percentage will be dependent on the franchise agreement.

Starbucks will be a direct competitor of YUSU-run coffee outlets such as Alcuin Kitchen, an outlet where all of the profits go back into improving the facilities of the YUSU-run cafes and bars on campus.

Alcuin Kitchen is a popular, YUSU-run cafe that will have to compete with Starbucks for custom.

The Tab approached Jon Greenwood, the university’s director of commercial services, for comment, he told us:

“We are pleased to be bringing more choice on to campus to further enhance the student experience especially with a global brand such as Starbucks.”

When asked about Starbucks’ less than transparent tax history, the explanation offered by Greenwood was to send The Tab a blog post written by Starbucks’ own CEO entitled Setting the record straight on Starbucks UK taxes and profitability.’ 

Socialist Society Secretary Katie Smith told The Tab: “I think large global firms such as Starbucks have a moral duty to pay taxes fairly. The University of York should have considered the company’s bad track record on this issue before allowing them onto our campus.”

“It’s outrageous that we as a university seem to be accepting companies who are dodgy with their money. We already have a Prime Minister who does that so let’s not join the ranks alongside David Cameron.”

David Duncan told The Tab that Starbucks is just the start: “There will be a number of privately owned outlets which will be within easy walking distance of the colleges on the Heslington East Campus.”

Left-wing campus commentator Peter Bunce added: “It is just another example of our student services being sold off to dubious outside interests, surely there are several moral, tax paying (local) companies willing to provide York students with their coffee!”

Starbucks were contacted for comment.