FFS: UCL spend tens of thousands on biscuits

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FFS: UCL spend tens of thousands on biscuits

Rebecca Pinnington reveals the results of her latest ridiculous FOI request.

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.

And boy have we got some Cutting Edge Journalism for you this week: how much does the Provost spend on biscuits?

Well, not exactly. Individual staff spend on biscuits isn’t information UCL holds on to; plus, they wouldn’t be allowed to tell me even if they knew, as personal information is exempt from freedom of information requests. So we don’t know what the Provost’s favourite biscuit is.

But we do know that between January 1, 2014 and October 7, 2015, UCL spent £57,196.75 on biscuits. Yes, really.

What kind of gold-plated biscuits could possibly have cost UCL £57, 196.75, you ask? Well, according to records kept by Sodexo, the company that supplies food to functions and runs UCL cafés, the answer is actually: quite a lot of pretty average sounding biscuits.

A handy visual aid: what types of biscuits did UCL spend all that money on?

A handy visual aid: what types of biscuits did UCL spend all that money on?

This frankly astonishing set of data brings up some interesting questions, one of them being: how is it possible that 120 kosher biscuits could be provided for free, when sending a biscuit to the Whistler Room five times cost £2.75? I’m afraid I can’t answer that one though.

The “classic wrapped biscuit selection”, costing UCL a hefty £10,546.55, was ordered 23,194 times, while the “wrapped biscuit selection” (apparently not classic), which cost £41,974.95, was ordered 76,238 times. That’s enough for every UCL student to have two wrapped biscuit selections, with some left over.

And the total biscuit spend of £57,196.75 in a mere 21 months is equivalent to 6.355 years’ tuition fees: two-and-a-bit undergraduate degrees.

In summary: I am gobsmacked and very amused.

Featured image: Luke McGarey

FFS: UCL spend tens of thousands on biscuits Reviewed by on October 16, 2015 .

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.

ABOUT AUTHOR /

Rebecca Pinnington

Becky is the President of UCLU Pi Media for 2015/16 and has written freelance for Guardian Students, openDemocracy, A Younger Theatre, and The National Student. She will be graduating with a French and German degree in 2016, much to her alarm. Job offers welcome.

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