Edinburgh University paid more than £17,900 to run Principal's £1.7m house last academic year
A Freedom of Information Request has revealed that the University of Edinburgh paid £17,910 last year to maintain and run the Chancellor's £1.7 million townhouse.
The property, which was donated to the University in 2015, has an estimated market value of £1,750,000.
Edinburgh University also paid a £4,243 council tax bill for the four-storey 200-year-old building in Ccntral Edinburgh, which has five bedrooms, four reception rooms, a kitchen, and a garden.
Other significant costs included £1,080 on cleaning, £4,932 for joinery works, £665 for landscape and gardening services, £300.55 for an aga cooker service, and £270 for window cleaning.
Professor Peter Mathieson, who is the current Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, had a salary of £342,000 when he was first appointed in 2018.
Jonny Dennis, a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh, who is also a UCU representative, submitted the Freedom of Information request. He said: "Principal Mathieson lives rent and bill free in a mansion on the most expensive street in Scotland.
"It is frustrating finding out that the university is paying the bills for someone earning more than any other public sector figure in Scotland. Currently, many of the Principal’s students have no suitable accommodation, and the university pays almost £20,000 extra for council tax, energy, cleaning, and an Aga.
"Mathieson has openly supported 35% pension cuts for university staff, claiming it is the financially responsible thing to do. The excessive pay and benefits for the top executive of a charity is deeply unfair and embarrassing for the university, especially in the midst of austerity and the cost-of-living crisis."
A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “In common with most other universities, accommodation for the University of Edinburgh’s Principal and their immediate family is provided as part of the role. The Principal’s residence is not used solely as a family home but also frequently as a venue for hosting formal university events, and as such, the institution covers fuel costs and costs for maintaining the building. The residence is used for official events to welcome international guests and dignitaries which strengthens the University’s global reputation and increases our partnerships and potential funding streams.
“We are acutely aware of the issues facing some of our students, and have significantly increased our hardship funding to provide more support to those who are experiencing financial difficulties. To protect students from rising bills, we have chosen to not increase prices for our accommodation since rent levels were agreed in November 2021. Our students pay a standard rent that includes all utilities and the University has absorbed recent additional costs; our rental rates remain some of the lowest in the sector.
“All students who met the requirements of our accommodation guarantee have been offered a place in University residences this year. We have also been in a position to provide offers of accommodation to more than 2,600 students over and above our guaranteed places.”