University criticised over principal’s £339,000 refurbishment

By Natalie Barton


Strathclyde University and Sir Jim Davidson are under scrutiny once again after spending £339,000 on refurbishing a luxurious townhouse for the principal.

The Park Circus home was purchased by the university last year for £1.2 million. Despite being criticised at the time for buying such an extravagant home have spent thousands more on it bringing the total to around £1.5 million. This includes £4000 for a wardrobe and £1180 for a chair.

This comes at a time when there are restrictions on higher-education spending. Mary Senior, the Scotland official at the University and College Union said:

“Hardworking staff at Strathclyde University – especially those who are losing their jobs this summer – will no doubt be appalled to see that their employer fitted out a luxury home for the principal.”

“Sadly, this type of expense detracts from the vital teaching and research universities deliver, but it underlines the need for greater scrutiny in how they are run.”

The house was bought in order for McDonald – the highest paid Scottish principal – to have a place to stay when attending hospitality events when he already had access to other residences.

Plans show that the ground floor has twin Corinthian pillars, a marble fireplace and a “broad sweeping staircase.” As well as this there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, drawing room, “show” room, workshop, study, two sitting rooms and three offices.

In January, it was reported that McDonald had received a 7% pay rise, which took his remuneration package to around £334,000 a year which far exceeds that of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron.

A university official stated: “The University purchased the property in Park Circus to replace an existing property at Jordanhill. The purchase will enhance the university’s property portfolio and be a long-term investment for Strathclyde.”

Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland said: “It’s beggars’ belief that the university would press ahead with these plans, and these costs, when the money could have been put to far better use for the people that matter most. Lavish spending on projects like these comes across as nothing more than unnecessary and out of touch.”