Edinburgh University is paying to service its vice-chancellor’s Aga while he lives rent-free in the city’s most expensive street.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the university paid £17,910 last year to maintain and run the £1.75 million townhouse where Prof Peter Mathieson is living amid a student accommodation crisis.
Maintenance costs paid for by the university included £300.55 to service the Aga, £665 for landscape and gardening services and £1,080 on cleaning.
The university also paid the vice-chancellor’s £5,799 gas and electricity bill and covered a £4,243 council tax bill for the property in Regent Terrace, which has five bedrooms, four reception rooms, a kitchen and a garden.
The house - close to Calton Hill and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the King’s official residence in Scotland - was donated to the university in 2015.
Details of the bills covered by the university come after fourth-year students who have struggled to find private accommodation in the city started sleeping in bunk beds in common rooms converted into dorms.
Jonny Dennis, 26, a PhD student at Edinburgh University who submitted the Freedom of Information request, said he was “quite shocked” when the results came back - with the Aga servicing costs being “the cherry on top of the whole thing”.
“It seems that absolutely all of his housing costs are covered, but with someone earning almost £400,000 a year they should at least be paying their own bills,” he said.
“There’s a shortage of student accommodation so the university has converted common rooms into dorms, with up to six people in bunk beds, and it is still charging students for them … so it’s just the unfairness of the situation.”
Principal's accommodation 'provided as part of the role'
The university has previously been under fire for Mr Mathieson’s pay package. It agreed to move his cat and dog from Hong Kong as part of a £26,000 relocation bill when he joined Edinburgh in 2018.
His annual salary in 2021 was £353,549, down from £392,053 in the previous year.
A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh 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.”
The university said it has “significantly increased” its hardship funding and kept frozen rent levels to where they were in Nov 2021.
It guarantees accommodation to first-year undergraduates and said it has provided housing to more than 2,700 additional students this year.