Welcome to FFS: For Freedom’s Sake, a regular investigations instalment where we tell you everything you really didn’t think you needed to know about where UCL’s money goes, through the power of Freedom of Information requests.
They are a symbol of culture and class seen only in fancy university events, lecture theatres and the kitchens of UCL’s finest students. A stylish souvenir that shouts ‘I go to the 7th best university in the world’ whenever one pours water for an impressed guest. That’s right, I’m talking about those bad boys – UCL branded glass water bottles.
‘How can I get hold of one of those exquisite containers?’ I hear you cry.
‘Well,’ I reply. ‘If I told you that, I’d have to kill you. Or worse, UCL wouldn’t let me re-enroll next year.’
But through the power of the freedom of information act there is one thing regarding these bottles that I can tell you. I can tell you that UCL’s catering contractor, Sodexo (a company who also happen to be the largest provider of private prisons in the UK – reassuring isn’t it?), spent £2850 on UCL branded glass water bottles last year.
‘How many bottles does £2850 buy you?’ you may be wondering. Well, I can answer that too – 1140. Yes that’s right, one thousand one hundred and forty. At a unit cost of £2.50 a bottle, one wonders why a university as commercially minded as UCL hasn’t yet put these on sale in their shop at a 500% mark-up.
Hundreds upon hundreds of the bottles get ‘acquired’ by freshers each year, in an attempt to pretend to friends who visit from home that they’re ‘totally over’ their Oxbridge rejection. ‘Look, would I be buying this gorgeous glassware if I wasn’t happy to be at the 7th best university in the world? Yeah I know the Guardian only ranks it twelfth in the UK, but like who reads the Guardian anyway?’
Just contemplate for a moment – if each of the 1140 bottles bought in the 2014/15 academic year, potentially to replace those stolen over the previous year, were sold at a price of £12.50 per unit to those ultra-keen fresher’s – UCL could make a solid profit of £11,400. That’s enough to buy 6000 pints of lager in the Phineas on Sports Nite. Or to maintain Jeremy Bentham for eight years.
It really makes you make you think, doesn’t it?
The author would like to note that he most definitely does not condone the theft of university property.