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VC house costs spiral

Queen Anne Square

Cardiff University’s purchase of a property for the new vice-chancellor has cost almost £100,000 more than previously suggested. The house, situated in the prestigious Queen Anne Square, has been purchased for £765,000, making it £90,000 more expensive than the cost of £675,000 reported in issue 970 of gair rhydd.

As previously reported, the house has been bought by the University as a home for new Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan, who takes over from the retiring incumbent Dr. David Grant in September 2012.

The University had previously come under criticism for its judgement in spending such a large amount of money on a property when Professor Riordan will earn around £225,000 per year. In response, a spokesperson had explained that “the University requires a variety of venues for formal and informal events with existing and potential partners. The intended new property, which will be used by the new Vice-Chancellor as a residence, will also host social events with key University partners.”

However, it has now also come to light that in addition to the £765,000 spent on the house, the University will also be paying for a number of developments which will ‘bring the property up to the specification required’. These will include a small extension, a modernisation of the heating and electrical systems, and improved facilities for University guests. The house will also be redecorated and refurnished.

A spokesperson explained that it is hoped that these redevelopments will make the house ‘suitable to welcome existing and potential partners of a world-leading University’, while helping to establish the house as a long-term asset for the future.

The University is currently contracting the jobs, ‘seeking best value in all cases’, so no total cost is immediately available. However, a source in the University has suggested a conservative estimate of £65,000.

Asked how students would benefit from the investment in a house for Professor Riordan, a spokesperson said: “The University is in a highly competitive environment for the development of learning and teaching. Development of educational resources can often only be achieved by building relationships with external partners. The University believes this asset will help secure productive partnerships for the benefit of the entire Cardiff community, including students.”

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